BALTIMORE, Md. (WJZ) —Ten percent of Baltimore City’s population has now received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Letitia Dzirasa said Monday.
In a press conference Monday afternoon, the city officials revealed Baltimore is seeing a 60% decrease in COVID-19 cases in the last month, with the positivity rate in the city down by 58% and hospitalization metrics down as well.
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However, despite better numbers, Baltimore City Mayor Brandon Scott urged people to stay vigilant. He also reported that 782 city residents have died from the coronavirus so far.
Dr. Dzirasa urged people’s patience as more shipments of the vaccine are coming, despite not getting a shipment last week because of the winter weather.
In line with this effort, the city also will begin a partnership with Ascension St. Agnes to distribute COVID-19 vaccines. It will extend vaccinations to other eligible groups according to state and federal guidelines.
City employees are continuing to be vaccinated daily, with 10% of city health department employees and 45% of the Baltimore City police force vaccinated.
Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison and Baltimore Fire Chief Niles Ford both encouraged residents to get vaccinated as soon as they can, and revealed they both have gotten their vaccine doses.
“I look forward to visiting my new granddaughter, without putting her at risk,” Harrison said.
Chief Ford also confirmed he tested positive for the virus in May 2020 but recovered.
He recently got his coronavirus vaccine and called for people to get their vaccinations, wear a mask and practice social distancing. He said with the vaccine, he was ready to visit family, friends and his fire stations without putting people at risk.
The state will open a new mass vaccination site at M&T Bank Stadium on Thursday—despite grappling with a lack of supply. Only 6% of Marylanders were fully vaccinated as of Monday.
Maryland’s Acting Assistant Secretary of Health Bryan Mroz told WJZ Investigator Mike Hellgren it remains crucial to open these sites “to really get the large engine running so when we get a lot of gas from the federal reserves, we’ll be able to support it.”
When asked about city residents being able to use the two mass vaccination sites stationed in Baltimore City, Mayor Scott said he believes half of the initial doses at M&T Bank Stadium should go to city residents.
“Half of the doses that are given at those sites should go to folks who live in that jurisdiction,” the mayor said.
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He and Dr. Dzirasa added those requests to do so have not been granted and they have not heard back from the state yet.
Mayor Scott also said he will continue to work with the governor’s office to make that happen.
Scott said they had asked for 15,000 seniors in Baltimore City to be prioritized to get vaccinated at those sites.
“We’re going to continue to work and push with the state to see if we can get those things happening,” Scott said.
Dr. Dzirasa said they now have a list of 20,000 older adults who are eligible.
Watch the full news conference below:
Since the start of the pandemic, 7,550 Marylanders have died.
Among them is Crystal Hardy-Flowers. She ran Baltimore’s Little Flowers childcare center and died from COVID-19 on New Year’s Eve.
Flowers suffered from COPD and was considered high risk. Her family said she wanted the vaccine.
“When we first heard about the vaccine, she was really excited about it because she really, really wanted to get it,” said her niece Jasmine Hardy.
Flowers was 55 years old.
“Even if I can just have another day, another minute, just to tell her everything that we wanted to tell her, that would make all of the difference,” said her daughter Ashley Flowers.
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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.