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COVID-19 Latest: Maryland Will Launch A Campaign To Urge Residents To Take Vaccine

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) -- Gov. Larry Hogan is expected to give Marylanders an overview of the state's COVID-19 vaccination plan Tuesday afternoon as the state readies a campaign to get people to trust the vaccine.

LATEST: COVID Vaccine Could Be Available In Maryland As Early As Dec. 14 And Who Will Get It First

The governor's communications director Mike Ricci said in a tweet Monday that Hogan will give Marylanders a look into what they can expect on receiving first doses of the coronavirus vaccine and the state's plan.


On Monday, the Johns Hopkins International Vaccine Access Center held a forum with some of Maryland's top health officials stressing the need for people to get vaccinated once COVID-19 vaccines are available.

"Vaccines do not work to protect people; vaccinations do," said Dr. Jinlene Chan of the Maryland Department of Health.

Maryland will soon begin a high-profile campaign to convince the public to trust the vaccines.

"It'll be important to really target and focus our messaging to address and dismantle what we know those concerns are. We have to address and acknowledge the root cause, and they're rational. They're rational concerns and rational fears," said Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Letitia Dzirasa.

The vaccines can't come soon enough: Maryland reported more than two thousand new infections Monday, but the positivity rate and hospitalizations went down slightly.

Dr. Stuart Bell, a MedStar Health vice president, told WJZ Investigator Mike Hellgren he is still worried about hospitals filling up.

"It is very clear we are in a significant second surge and have been for at least three or four weeks," Dr. Bell said. "... It's sort of a slow, steady crescendo increase."

It comes as they are also trying to care for patients without COVID-19.

"The next two or three weeks will really tell the tale," he said "If we do a really good job, we can stay just a little bit ahead of where the COVID numbers are -- as long as we don't have a major surge. If we have a major surge, I think all bets are off."

Dr. Bell acknowledged there are different strains of COVID-19.

The Baltimore Ravens said four unique strains were found in their facility during a recent outbreak and one was highly contagious.

To date, 4,705 people have died in Maryland. Among the recent COVID-related deaths: Rob Cadrette, a 22-year veteran of the Charles County Sheriff's Office and Antwion "Busta" Ball, a 43-year-old teacher from Baltimore City. Ball's family has now raised more than $6,000 from a GoFundMe for his funeral expenses.

During the early days of the pandemic, Maryland struggled to buy ventilators and personal protective equipment.

Back then, Governor Larry Hogan blasted Blue Flame Medical, a company run by Republican operatives that he said did not deliver more than $12 million worth of equipment on time.

The state later settled with Blue Flame with both sides admitting no wrongdoing. The co-founder of the company defended his actions in a new interview with CBS' 60 Minutes.

"We have been under a lot of pressure," Blue Flame's John Thomas told CBS' News Lesley Stahl. "And while I couldn't disagree more in some of the things people have said about me and my company, I can assure you this, first and foremost... that my company and I have behaved 100% legally and ethically."

For the latest information on coronavirus go to the Maryland Health Department's website or call 211. You can find all of WJZ's coverage on coronavirus in Maryland here.

This story was originally published on Dec. 7, 2020.

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