Frederick County officials on Friday briefed local members of the state delegation on vaccine distribution and a potential timeline to get students back into public schools by next month.
The delegation meeting was held over Zoom instead of the typical delegation meeting room in Annapolis, one sign of how state legislators are handling business this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Dr. Barbara Brookmyer, the county's health officer, told the delegation there have been logistical challenges of not knowing when doses of the vaccine will be received from the state. She's gotten them on different weekdays during past weeks, and she can't schedule clinics until she has the vaccine.
She and County Executive Jan Gardner (D) said it would be nice for the health department staff to be able to receive overtime pay instead of comp time, because that time has to be used within a year.
"I know a lot of people do that in a lot of businesses," Brookmyer said of her staff working long weeks. "But it would go a long way to be able to say to our staff, 'We appreciate what you’re doing and we recognize what you’re doing.'"
Frederick County Public Schools Superintendent Terry Alban and Jay Mason, the school board president, also informed the delegation that they hoped the school system could start a hybrid model by mid-February.
Del. Carol Krimm (D) asked Alban if the vaccine distribution to school staff would affect that timeline. The superintendent said it's not the only factor, but that it's another "mitigating strategy" to help return students into school buildings.
Alcohol bills to be voted on next week
The delegation, as it normally does each year, will consider whether moving forward multiple alcohol-related bills.
Many were simple tweaks to bring local laws in line with state code. Some allowed for more flexibility in the use of alcohol, including allowing barbershops and salons to increase a serving of beer for customers from five ounces to one bottle or 12 ounces per customer, per day.
Another bill allows businesses to sell to-go cocktails or other drinks even once the coronavirus pandemic ends. That flexibility is one way restaurants and bars have tried to offset revenue decline due to pandemic capacity restrictions.
The Frederick County Liquor Board has had few issues with the law change, and a bill in the Senate allows local jurisdictions to create regulations on how it would be implemented post-pandemic.
None of the delegation members present Friday objected to any of the bills, and Del. Karen Lewis Young (D-Frederick), the chair, said discussion and votes on any of the bills would occur next Friday.