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Maryland Races To Vaccinate Vulnerable Communities As COVID Variant Cases Rise

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — James Adams did not hesitate to get the COVID—19 vaccine at a mobile clinic in South Baltimore. He's lost many people he loves to COVID-19. "I've lost count. There are a lot of hurting families that are still hurting," Adams said.


He was the 1,000th person vaccinated as part of MedStar's mobile efforts.


"I'm just glad I have it. It's like insurance," he said.


At the University of Maryland Baltimore, another vaccine clinic opened. It is only for those who live in the city, and those eligible must be referred here by the Baltimore City Health Department.


"I'm just scared. I was too scared not to get it," said Michelle Peaks who received her first dose Friday.


On the Eastern Shore, the Maryland National Guard set up a mobile vaccine site in Princess Anne. Staff Sergeant Brittany Barnhart spoke to WJZ from the bus they drove here after stocking up in more than 130 miles away in Baltimore. "There are places that don't have the access to get to Baltimore for the super sites or to Waldorf, so coming over here is a huge deal for the community," Barnhart said.


 The vaccination rush comes as the governor is about to open up eligibility. He promises everyone 16 and older will be able to make an appointment for a vaccine e by the end of next month.


"We're getting close to two dozen states having either opened eligibility to all adults or are planning to do so," said Dr. William Moss of Johns Hopkins.


Maryland is seeing a rise in troubling variants. The Centers for Disease Control reports there are now 272 total cases in the state. That is up about 15 percent over last week.


"We are by no means guaranteed to be spared from another surge in cases. I don't think any of us want to have that setback now when we're so close to the finish line," said Dr. Jennifer Nuzzo of Johns Hopkins.

 The Baltimore Teachers Union tweeted Friday morning there are 24 new COVID—19 infections in city public schools.


 The BTU issued the following statement to WJZ:


"The dramatic increase in positive Covid cases in Baltimore City schools is not evidence of a safe and successful expansion of in person learning. This data is particularly alarming given that City Schools is considering relaxing safety guidelines right now and further expanding in person learning by opening up another 6 grades. Since expanding in person programming, the case rate per 100k over the past two weeks has risen back to the "Highest Risk of Introduction and Transmission of COVID-19 in Schools" category after a prolonged period of decline. Pod closures and internet outages have already disrupted the education of both virtual and in-person students and the district should be controlling the current chaos and protecting the health and safety of our staff and students."

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.

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