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Our View: Next year’s State of the County depends on cooperation leading to a successful COVID-19 vaccination campaign | COMMENTARY

When the five commissioners provided their views on where Carroll stands during the annual State of the County address on Tuesday, it sounded much different than recent years, then they largely talked about how great thing are while noting a few areas that could use some improvement.

This year, they acknowledged the obvious. “To stand here and tell you that the state of the county is currently strong would be misleading,” Commission President Ed Rothstein, R-District 5, said.

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It’s been a terrible past nine or 10 months thanks to the various effects the coronavirus pandemic has had. That includes the politicization of it, the anger at various enforcement measures, the chasm that has developed between the board of education and teachers and the dozens upon dozens of small businesses that have been hit with the double-whammy of reduced capacity by order of the state and potential customers scared to leave their homes.

None of which, of course, is as important as what the 6,000 or so Carroll residents who contracted COVID-19 endured, chief among them the nearly 200 who have died.

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The commissioners lauded the job they did in getting federal and state funds out in a timely manner to the businesses who were struggling as well as some other positive aspects of 2020 from their points of view, such as hiring the county’s first fire and emergency services director, Carroll maintaining it’s AAA bond rating, reaching 75,000 acres of agriculture preservation, revamping the mass transit schedule and Carroll’s relatively low unemployment rate.

And, as they often do, they congratulated themselves about how well the various departments and agencies in Carroll County work together, noting that the level of cooperation seen in this county is almost unprecedented around the state.

Let’s hope they are right about that. Because working together has never been needed more than it is today, as Carroll moves forward with COVID-19 vaccinations amid a state and national rollout that hasn’t gone as smoothly as had been hoped. Plus, they’ll be dealing with a population that is at least somewhat reluctant to participate.

Getting the vaccine out to everybody as quickly as possible is not only the fastest path back to normalcy, it might be the only path that actually leads there. Gov. Larry Hogan said last week that Maryland is speeding up the expansion of its vaccine distribution so that teachers will be among those getting their shots next week and all older resident will be able to within two weeks.

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Cooperation and coordination between the Carroll County Health Department, other governmental departments, pharmacies, Carroll Hospital, urgent care centers, and elder care facilities will be critical if we are to reverse the upward trend of COVID-19 cases and get the metrics back to more manageable levels.

Resources need to be put into convincing those in every phase of the distribution period about the safety and efficacy of the vaccine. It’s also important that the health department — again, working with other agencies — come up with a solid estimate of the number of people who are eligible to be vaccinated during each phase. And if certain groups are not registering and getting vaccinated, the county needs to be nimble to ensure that every available dose of the vaccine is being used each week.

Make no mistake, the tenor and tone of the 2022 State of the County address will depend entirely on how successful Carroll County is during this vaccination campaign.

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