ELKTON, Md. (WJZ) — Linda Latch-Bottger already survived COVID-19. Still, she can’t wait to get vaccinated, and it won’t be long.
“It was very frightening. I’m 76 years old. I didn’t want to die from it,” Latch-Bottger told WJZ. “It’s a wicked disease. You don’t want to have it if you can avoid it.”
She said she has no hesitation about the shot, adding, “It’s a wonderful thing that it is available in nursing homes.”
At the nursing home where she lives, Elkton Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, 216 people got the Moderna shot Wednesday.
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They invited WJZ to watch their first vaccination clinic, which they were able to do with the help of a local hospital and the Cecil County Health Department.
Julianna Lau-Hawthorne, the nursing home administrator, said she hopes residents will be able to visit loved ones again.
“From March until November, we had no COVID cases in the facility. We were one of the last facilities to get COVID, and when we got it on November 2, we really got hit hard. Our families haven’t seen their loved ones since March. Our residents miss their families,” Lau-Hawthorne said.
She said 96% of their residents consented to have the vaccine Wednesday.
“This is a huge number. It’s really, really good that they did that,” she said.
The announcement that a more contagious strain of COVID-19 has now reached Maryland is fueling a race to quickly vaccinate as many people as possible. That B-117 strain was first found in the United Kingdom.
Maryland’s first two cases of the new strain are a couple from Anne Arundel County, one of whom traveled internationally. They are in quarantine with their two children, and contact tracers are tracking their past movements.
“We should worry that it could overwhelm our hospital systems and lead to a spike,” said Dr. Esti Schabelman of Baltimore’s Sinai hospital.
He urged people to keep wearing their masks and washing their hands to avoid getting sick.
Anne Arundel County’s health officer noted the strain is not more deadly, just easier to catch.
“It has not been shown to cause more severe illness or increase risk of death,” Dr. Nilesh Kalyanaraman said in a prepared video statement released to WJZ.
The Anne Arundel County executive said Wednesday he would keep restaurant and retail capacity the same for now.
Today I signed Executive Order #41, which reinforces our current COVID restrictions, & includes new provisions that allow for outdoor "garden dome" seating for restaurants, limited sports practices or skills sessions & additional @AAHealth contact tracing. https://t.co/Jj5oJQMv0Y
— County Executive Steuart Pittman (@AACoExec) January 13, 2021
Governor Larry Hogan acknowledged this week the pace of vaccinations is slow. Only 3% of people in the Baltimore region have gotten the vaccine.
Baltimore City’s health department has only distributed 17.8% of the doses in its possession, far less than neighboring counties.
Local health departments have now administered 49,345 (35.9%) of the doses they have received. pic.twitter.com/JNPOCu9w4K
— Governor Larry Hogan (@GovLarryHogan) January 13, 2021
But Hogan said he is not changing the system for distributing the vaccines.
“I don’t want to lie to people and tell them, ‘Oh, we’re going to open up the floodgates.’ Right now, we don’t have enough for the front line health care workers and the people who live in long term care facilities,” Hogan said at a news conference Tuesday.
Hogan on #COVID19 vaccine distribution: I don’t want to lie to people and tell them we’re going to open up the floodgates. Right now, we don’t have enough for the front line workers and the people in long term care facilities. @wjz pic.twitter.com/eHiGHQeF5L
— Mike Hellgren (@HellgrenWJZ) January 12, 2021
The governor plans to speak again Wednesday at 5 p.m. WJZ will have live coverage.
“I don’t ever want to see in Maryland what we saw in Florida where we have tens of thousands of older people in walkers and wheelchairs waiting all night, camping out to get a vaccine and then be turned away in the morning because they don’t have any vaccine,” he said.
— Mike Hellgren (@HellgrenWJZ) January 12, 2021
Already, neighboring Washington, D.C., is registering people 65 and above for vaccinations.
Starting today, DC residents 65 and older can sign up for vaccination appointments. Still not the case in neighboring Maryland pic.twitter.com/aL0ph2goCE
— Mike Hellgren (@HellgrenWJZ) January 11, 2021
In Maryland, those 75 and older are expected to start getting access to the vaccine later this month.
St. Mary’s County is already registering citizens in that age group.
— St. Mary's Health (@SMCHD_gov) January 12, 2021
A majority of the 37 people who died from the virus in Maryland Wednesday were 70 and older.