BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Since the start of October, confirmed COVID-19 cases in Anne Arundel County have increased by more than 17% and cases in rural areas are increasing at an even higher rate.

This comes as state lawmakers criticized the federal government’s approach to PPE and testing early in the pandemic where states were left competing against each other.

Experts say there’s a lack of clarity on the national vaccine distribution approach.

“I think the state is scrambling from an MDH level to understand and coordinate a response,” Dr. Wilbur Chen, UMMS Professor of Medicine, said.

CORONAVIRUS COVERAGE:

Those in charge of getting a vaccine approved and distributed assure the public it will be safe and free with the first doses available by the new year.

“It is unprecedented with respect to the speed. We are taking absolutely, positively no shortcuts with respect to safety or efficacy,” Rerited Lt. General Paul Ostrowski, with Operation Warp Speed, said.

The state laid out who will be first in line for the vaccine when one becomes available. Healthcare workers, first responders, judiciary and those at higher risk will be among the first.

Health department officials say they’re already purchasing ancillary supplies, like syringes and alcohol swabs.

In Baltimore City, gatherings are still capped at 25, with the exception now of Ravens games with limited attendance.

“Just because we’re COVID fatigued, COVID itself does not have fatigue,” Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Letitia Dzirasa said.

Entering Halloween, Dr. Dzirasa cautioned against indoor holiday activities.

“Indoor haunted houses and house parties, these are not advised,” she said. “This year is not like other years in that we want to be especially safe, especially cautious.”

Dr. Dzirasa also confirmed an outbreak in the 21215 zip code. That’s in northwest Baltimore.

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.

Paul Gessler

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