Vaccines and Unemployment Update
Maryland Vaccine Update
The lack of availability of the COVID vaccine in Maryland has many constituents reaching out to me for information and answers. I am grateful and encouraged by everyone’s willingness to combat the virus by seeking a vaccination, I also share your frustration with the confusing distribution process. First, please understand that Maryland has been provided an extremely limited number of vaccines; the entire State of Maryland received only 88,000 doses of the vaccine last week. Maryland's adult population is approximately 4.6 million people, requiring 9.2 million vaccines to provide 2 doses of vaccine to the entire adult population. As the Maryland Department of Health re-allocates vaccine supply to hospitals and pharmacies, the Anne Arundel County Health Department has seen a decreased supply of the vaccine over the last two weeks. This has led the number of vaccines available at public and private distribution sites to fluctuate week to week; which in turn means it is more difficult to get an appointment because these vaccination sites cannot count on a steady vaccine supply.
The Senate Vaccine Oversight Workgroup recently met with Acting Secretary of Health Dennis Schrader to discuss the report that multiple hospitals and health systems were having trouble getting second doses. Secretary Schrader said that the federal government is responsible for Maryland’s shortage of second doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, he believes there was confusion with allotment numbers from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, as a result of the federal transition. A spokesman for Health and Human Services said Maryland is however getting its correct allotment from the federal government at the present time. Lawmakers also asked questions about how Marylanders should sign up for the vaccine, given Maryland’s decentralized approach resulting in numerous providers having their own sign-up lists. Schrader said he expected to have answers to this by next week’s meeting.
The Senate Vaccine Oversight Workgroup meets at 4:00pm on Mondays, their meetings are live streamed on the Maryland General Assembly website. To view them click here and scroll down to "Senate Vaccine Oversight Workgroup".
I encourage everyone in District 32 to pre-register for the vaccine, at each of the links provided below. When vaccine doses become available for your phase, you will be invited to schedule an appointment. Please sign up for an appointment immediately upon receiving an invitation to do so.
You can register with the following private vaccine distribution sites in Anne Arundel County.
Anne Arundel County Health Department or call 410-222-3663
The County is also providing Taxi Vouchers for those who qualify. Please call 410-222-4222 for additional information.
The vaccination plan changes frequently. We are still waiting on the Governor’s plan for mass vaccination sites. While I do not have all the answers now, I will make sure to keep you as up to date as possible with useful information as it becomes available.
Today, Senate President Bill Ferguson, House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones, and Democratic leaders in the Senate and House announced a package of reforms to fix the broken unemployment insurance system that has denied so many Marylanders the life sustaining benefits they deserve.
”For the last ten months, we have been in a crisis in our state when it comes to Unemployment Insurance,” stated Senate President Ferguson. “This legislative package will make certain that Marylanders experience better customer service, faster response times, and will prepare the Department to make certain this crisis never occurs again.”
The legislative package will includes the following fixes:
Modernizes the UI system by ensuring that people can receive their unemployment benefits through direct deposit and simplifies the steps to get a paper check
Ensures the call center is adequately staffed, makes it easier to allow people to leave a call back number and requires Caller ID for UI calls to claimants
Requires adequate language access and a comprehensive review of all UI materials – including the website – for reading accessibility
Provides UI applicants a checkbox to get their information to the Health Benefit Exchange for health insurance assistance
Requires the Department of Labor to track the percentage of laid off workers who apply for benefits
Creates criteria for claim adjudication and requirements for response times
I will keep you up to date as this critical legislation moves through the legislature. In the meantime, my office along with all of Team 32 will continue working hard to make sure District 32 residents get the unemployment insurance benefits they are entitled to. We know that it has been a long and difficult process and many people still have not received the help they need. My office continues to assist those who are unable to get through to a representative at the Department of Labor. Please fill out this form if you require assistance or if you are continuing to have difficulties. Please provide updated information and we will pass it along to the Division of Unemployment Insurance.
Lawyer's Mall Reopens
In keeping with COVID guidelines, the general public cannot come visit us during this legislative session but I am happy to report that Lawyer’s Mall has reopened and the Thurgood Marshall Memorial has been returned for all to see!
A native of Baltimore, Marshall was one of this our country’s foremost leaders in the struggle for equal rights under the law. In 1967, Thurgood Marshall became the first African American to be appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Following Marshall's death in 1993, the state of Maryland decided to honor the great civil rights leader and jurist with a memorial at the State House in Annapolis. This wonderful memorial was unveiled in October 1996.
My office remains in Room 202 of the James Senate Office Building. Unfortunately, this Legislative Session, we cannot have constituents stop by and meet in person but my Chief of Staff Nancy Lipin Crawford, my Legislative Aide Joe Cadman and our Session Aide Molly Cannon will be happy to assist you and help with any issues or questions you have. You can email my office at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 410-841-3593. Make sure to follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for more news and session updates.
Thank you for allowing me to serve as your State Senator from District 32,
Senator, District 32
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