Guardsmen join forces with Health Department

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CAMBRIDGE — Reinforcements arrived last week, to help continue the fight against the COVID-19 virus. On March 3, soldiers from the Maryland National Guard pitched in to assist staff at the Dorchester County Health Department’s vaccination clinics.

“We are so lucky to have them provide assistance with testing efforts in March, as much of our staff will be supporting our local vaccination efforts that are quickly ramping up,” a statement from the health department said. “We also greatly appreciate Governors Hall at Sailwinds for allowing us to use their space for COVID-19 testing while it remains chilly outside. As always, we are happy to continue providing necessary services to our community.”

Those services will continue this week and beyond. Testing clinics are scheduled at Governors Hall on Wednesdays this month, from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Appointments or doctors’ orders are not necessary. Spanish interpreters are available. As for vaccinations, “Appointments have been filled through March. The current demand far exceeds the supply,” a statement from the department said. “We continue to process all of the responses received through our online interest form and have established a notification system to acknowledge receipt of submissions. We will call you to schedule an appointment when the vaccine becomes available to you.

“You can access our online interest forms in English and Spanish by visiting our website at dorchesterhealth.org and clicking on the links in the blue alert box. Please do not complete the form more than once per individual. Those in need of assistance with the online interest form can call DCHD at 410-228-3223.”

Solemn anniversary The Guard’s arrival happened during a significant week — the one-year anniversary of the state’s first confirmed cases. On Friday, Governor Larry Hogan held a twilight vigil on the steps of the Maryland State House in honor of the 7,748 Marylanders lost up to that time.

He was joined by First Lady Yumi Hogan, Lieutenant Governor Boyd K. Rutherford, Senate President Bill Ferguson, House Speaker Adrienne Jones, and the Rev. Johnny R. Calhoun. The governor proclaimed March 5 COVID-19 Day of Remembrance, and ordered the Maryland flag to fly at half-staff. County and municipal governments across the state joined the observance by illuminating landmarks amber, reflecting the State House dome and Government House.

Statewide clinics • Consistent with federal guidelines, Maryland is in Phase 1C of its vaccine distribution plan, prioritizing all residents 65 and over, as well as critical workers in high-risk settings. • More than 275 providers are now listed on covidvax.maryland.gov, a one-stop shop for finding providers. Vaccinations are by appointment only, and supply remains very limited. • A telephone-based support line is available for residents without Internet access who require assistance finding providers and making appointments for mass vaccination sites. The COVID-19 Vaccination Support Center — available at 1-855-MDGOVAX (1-855-634-6829) — is open seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.