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Bradshaw sworn in as Cambridge mayor

CAMBRIDGE — Cambridge’s new mayor took the oath of office at a ceremony Jan. 4 in Cambridge. Andrew Bradshaw became the city’s twentieth and youngest ever mayor when he was sworn in during a midday ceremony at the Dorchester County Circuit Court building.

Other speakers made remarks before Bradshaw took the oath of office administered by Clerk of the Court Amy Craig. Former Cambridge Mayor Dave Wooten, who would hold the Bible when Bradshaw took his oath, was the first speaker. “I’ve always felt Cambridge had the potential for greatness,” Wooten said, “I anticipate great things happening in the days ahead.”

Former District 37 State Senator Richard Colburn quoted John F. Kennedy’s statement that “The torch has been passed to a younger generation.” Colburn paraphrased another famous Kennedy quote, stating that “We (local citizens) should ask what we can do to make Cambridge a better place.”

Department of Natural Resources Secretary Jeannie Haddaway said, “Cambridge really is a special place,” and she passed on sentiments from Governor Larry Hogan on the importance of public service at all levels of government.

Commissioner-elect Lajan Cephas said Bradshaw motivated her and other candidates with his energetic example.

“He was the perfect example of touching every resident — if he’s going to execute his term in the way he campaigned, I know Cambridge is definitely going to be going in the right direction,” Cephas said. “It doesn’t matter if it was a shack or if it was a mansion, he was there knocking on the door.”

“We come together ready to mark a path forward for our city characterized by a youthful energy, collective hope and renewed success across every ward and every neighborhood in our city,” Bradshaw said.

Bradshaw thanked outgoing Mayor Victoria Jackson-Stanley for her service as an elected official and also as “a leader in the community and as a voice for right and for fairness in our city.”

He identified housing quality, violent crime and economic growth as top priorities.

“Together, the mayor, the council and all of you, the citizens, are going to set the path. Together we are going to define Cambridge’s success,” Bradshaw concluded.

COVID-19 Response Team honored for outstanding customer service

CAMBRIDGE — The COVID-19 Response Team of the Dorchester County Health Department has been recognized as with the state Department of Health’s Secretary’s Customer Service Spotlight for the month of December for their “outstanding contributions in customer service.”

“If you have visited our testing clinic, you know that it takes an entire team. We don’t do it for the recognition; we do it because we care about our community. We hope you feel that every time we have the privilege of serving you,” said Angela Grove, public information officer with DHS.

A special December 2020 edition of the MDH Secretary’s Customer Service Spotlight recognized the entire State of Maryland workforce has been hard at work fighting the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic that is affecting constituents across the state, nation and world and those MDH employees for their exemplary service and contributions during the COVID-19 Pandemic specifically COVID-19 Response Team Dorchester County Health Department team members.

Nominated by Mindy Black-Kelly, social work supervisor, Dorchester County Health Department, DCHD was commended for providing readily available COVID-19 testing. Dorchester currently leads the state in percentage of residents tested within a jurisdiction. Although many staff are responsible for carrying out this essential service, special recognition is deserved for the coordinated effort of Lanise Mohn, director of nursing; Brice Strang, program administrator, emergency preparedness; Hannah Mayhew, public health emergency planner; and Angela Grove, public information officer.

The DCHD COVID-19 testing clinics have been running independently two mornings per week since July and include a regular monthly evening clinic and a Saturday clinic. Between 15-20 Health Department staff, from various departments, both English and Spanish speaking, commit to assisting with each of these drive-through clinics. Direct patient care is provided “car-side” in two drive-through lanes, each with COVID-19 educators, registrars and nurses. Additional staff direct traffic, process the registration forms, and organize and prepare the testing samples for pick up by the State lab. Testing at the DCHD does not require an appointment, payment, insurance, or Dorchester County residency.

Additionally, the IT department worked to move registration from a paper and pen process to tablets for better efficiency. Currently during a three-hour clinic DCHD tests between 180-275 people. Consumers are contacted by telephone with results within 2-3 days and can request that results be sent in an email either to them directly or to a physician or employer. Often staff are calling consumers after hours and throughout the weekend as test results come in.

Residents from all over the Eastern Shore flock to DCHD clinics because of the efficiency and ease with which they are conducted. Recently, the DCHD testing clinics have affectionately been called the “Chick-Fil-A” of drive through clinics.

In addition to the regular clinics conducted at the Health Department, additional mobile clinics are conducted as needed and have occurred at all of the county’s public schools, community locations both in the city of Cambridge and in rural areas, and at several local businesses such as large food processing plants. While each person who has assisted with testing cannot be named individually, along with this small group, many of them have helped with every clinic and those employees also deserve recognition for the time they have invested to serve our residents.

Not only has the COVID-19 Response Team coordinated outstanding public service, they have taken excellent care of staff assisting with the clinics throughout this pandemic, Black-Kelly wrote. PPE has been provided in abundance and reflective vests are available for safety. During hot weather, there were coolers of cold water, ice pops and snacks, a misting tent and fans. As the weather started to turn cooler, coffee and hot cocoa appeared, as did heaters and cold weather gear. The team also has flares to use to direct traffic and music to keep us going, especially during times when clinic hours are extended to meet community need.

This team has made a concerted effort to support and pull staff together amidst a crisis and in the name of keeping the community safe, according to Black-Kelly, “They deserve an enormous amount of thanks and recognition for their tireless efforts and I have never been more proud to be a part of this amazing Health Department.”

Downtown Cambridge celebrates New Year with boat drop

Dorchester begins COVID-19 vaccinations

CAMBRIDGE — The Dorchester County Health Department received its first shipments of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine to begin inoculations for Phase 1A priority groups. Due to limited vaccine supply, the initial phase includes health care workers and first responders that are considered high risk because they often come into contact with people who are COVID positive.

DCHD held its first private vaccination clinic on Dec. 29 for DCHD’s vaccinators and testing staff, which also allowed staff to practice providing clinics. Among the 31 employees vaccinated were Dorchester Health Officer Roger L. Harrell and Deputy Health Officer Dr. Casey Scott.

“The vaccine is another tool in our toolbox to control this virus,” said Harrell. “It’s an exciting day to have this science-based, safe vaccine to offer to our community. However, we still need to wear face coverings, social distance and wash our hands.”

DCHD is working with the identified priority groups to coordinate vaccination efforts and Dec. 31 held its first clinic for 42 health care providers not affiliated with the hospital. Additionally, DCHD collaborated with Walgreens to coordinate vaccine administration for 136 first responders from Emergency Management Services and law enforcement and other health care professionals. Statewide, Walgreens and CVS pharmacies are working with the Maryland Department of Health to vaccinate staff and residents of long-term care facilities and hospital personnel.

“Vaccination is an important step in the process to end this pandemic,” said Scott, “and we will make every effort to get this vaccine to our citizens promptly and equitably.”

DCHD anticipates receiving COVID-19 vaccine shipments regularly. If the allotment is consistent, they plan to vaccinate most people in Phase 1A by the end of January. Once most of the people in Phase 1A are vaccinated, DCHD will begin vaccinating other priority groups, such as people at significantly higher risk of severe COVID-19 illness and additional essential workers, at announced clinics. The timing of vaccination in each phase depends on vaccine availability and other factors.

The vaccine, which will require two doses three to four weeks apart, is not yet available to the general public. People interested in being vaccinated should talk with their health care provider and check the health department’s website at dorchesterhealth.org and Facebook page at facebook.com/dorchesterhealthemergencypreparedness, as well as other local media, for updates about the vaccination process. People will have to pre-register for scheduled vaccination clinics.

Maryland Department of Health’s website at covidlink.maryland.gov includes resources and information about safety, efficacy, vaccine ingredients and more.

“We have received a lot of inquiries about vaccine availability, which we hope is a good sign that people are eager and excited to get vaccinated and are confident in the science and data,” said Angela Grove, DCHD public information officer. “There is so much misinformation about vaccines, and understandable hesitancy and concern, and we are doing our best to provide accurate and factual information.”

Dorchester County residents with general questions or concerns about COVID-19 can call the Dorchester County Health Department at 410-228-3223 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday or 2-1-1 after hours.