The leaders of D.C., Maryland and Virginia pressed the federal government Wednesday to supply coronavirus vaccines for essential federal workers and not use any doses dedicated for those respective jurisdictions.
In a letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and Govs. Larry Hogan of Maryland and Ralph Northam of Virginia said vaccines have been designated for certain workers such as employees of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement and defense contractors.
At least 30,000 of the more than 281,000 federal employees and contractors are labeled as “critical personnel” who reside in the D.C. area, the letter said.
“We write to request the federal government directly supply and distribute COVID-19 vaccinations to individuals in our jurisdictions for whom the federal government has direct and sole responsibility,” the DMV leaders wrote. “The District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia simply do not have the resources available to support these priority vaccinations, due to the additional burden on local resources that this mission would require—especially when considering the amount of vaccine each state receives.”
The leaders sent the letter to Health and Human Services’ acting Secretary Robert Cochran and senior FEMA official Robert Fenton Jr., requesting the federal government establish a site for federal employees to receive vaccines. The mayor and governors would work with federal officials to find a specific site.
Essential workers would include those with Metro, the U.S. Postal Service and members of the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government who reside in the region.
“We would respectfully request the federal government continue to expand its vaccination efforts to the entire NCR-based federal workforce as additional supply becomes available and as future phases of the vaccination effort open,” the letter said. “We welcome the opportunity to support the administration’s efforts to ensure the continuity of operations for the United States federal government.”
Although the Biden administration pledged 100 million vaccines in 100 days, each jurisdiction continues to deal with high demands and low supplies.
When the vaccine distribution began in December, Maryland and Virginia provided about 16,000 doses to the District for those who work in the city.
Bowser provided an update Monday, saying that 67,688 doses have been administered in the city with another 11,475 available this week.
Virginia’s health department statistics show that about 1.1 million state residents, or 11% of the population, had been vaccinated through Wednesday.
Debate continues in Maryland on whether the vaccine rollout has worked so far.
The state health department data shows 752,036 doses have been administered, but about 5% of the majority-Black jurisdiction of Prince George’s County received them. As of Tuesday, the county has the highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the state with 70,265.
The zip code of 20783 registered the highest number of cases at nearly 5,000. That area, which includes Adelphi, Hyattsville and Langley Park, has a high population of Latinos.
Prince George’s County Council member Mel Franklin (D-At Large) of Upper Marlboro called the state’s vaccine distribution “racially discriminatory.”
“African-American and Latino communities have borne the brunt of this virus, but, in our state, are receiving an unfairly low share of COVID-19 vaccine doses,” Franklin said in a statement. “This strategy will slow our state’s recovery and cost lives.”