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Democratic official threatens school closures, new mandates over COVID-19 booster numbers
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Democratic official threatens school closures, new mandates over COVID-19 booster numbers

A Maryland Democratic official is threatening new mandates and "virtual school" if residents in his county fail to increase the county's COVID-19 vaccine "booster numbers."

What are the details?

Marc Elrich (D) is the country executive of Montgomery County, the most populous county in Maryland. Over the weekend, he threatened residents with new draconian restrictions.

Elrich said that weathering a future surge without new restrictions would require residents to "increase our booster numbers," thus implying that if COVID-19 vaccine booster inoculation does not become more widespread, the county would enact restrictions in the face of a new COVID wave.

"Being fully vaccinated at this point is not being completely protected," Elrich said. "For us to weather future upticks and surges without mandates, virtual learning, or restrictions — we must increase our booster numbers."

Ironically, Montgomery County is one of the most vaccinated counties in the United States.

Data shows that 93% of Montgomery County residents age 5 or older are vaccinated against COVID-19, including 95% of residents over 65. Meanwhile, 77% of residents 65 or older — the age demographic most vulnerable to COVID-19 — are boosted while 47% of all residents are boosted.

Elrich's threat predictably drew backlash.

One critic pointed out that booster shots do not prevent case surges. A self-avowed "fellow liberal" urged Elrich to "please stop," suggesting that he should instead focus on issues that actually impact Montgomery County residents, like crime. Another local resident called Elrich an "authoritarian."

"This is very misguided, wrong messaging and application of science all in 1 tweet! Threatening virtual learning for the Least at risk, based on knowing the negative impact it had, because of booster rates, even though having booster doesn’t prevent cases and prevent an 'uptick'!" said WTTG-TV senior vice president Patrick Paolini.

"At least they’re open about it: Do what we say or we will force you with mandates or taking away school from your kids," noted conservative commentator Karol Markowicz.

Anything else?

Elrich's threat to send kids back to "virtual school" (i.e., closing schools) is particularly jarring because of the well-known negative impacts of closing schools.

Not only did students suffer significant learning loss during school closures, but mental health struggles are now plaguing children and teenagers. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization says the impact of school closures is "particularly severe for the most vulnerable and marginalized boys and girls and their families."

Elrich has been endorsed for re-election by the local school union.

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