WASHINGTON – Officials in the District of Columbia are accustomed to being short-changed in different ways.
There's the long-standing issue of D.C.'s quest for statehood and proper representation in Congress. And when the $2.2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package was passed by Congress in March, Washington, D.C., was classified as a territory — a distinction that cost it $700 million in funding.
But when the latest shortfall hit the local allotment of new COVID-19 vaccine doses, Washington's neighboring states pitched in to help make up the difference. In a heartening demonstration of interstate collectivism, Maryland and Virginia are each sending 8,000 vaccine doses, more than tripling the amount available for health care workers in the nation's capital.
D.C. health officials have complained for weeks that the initial allotment formula followed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provided Washington with just under 7,000 doses — less than one-tenth of what would be needed for local health care workers.
The dosage allotments were based on population, but many of Washington's health care workers live in the intertwined neighboring communities of Maryland and northern Virginia. D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser had sent a letter to U.S. health officials claiming the “one-size-fits-all formula for distribution” would prove “woefully insufficient.”
Govs. Larry Hogan of Maryland and Ralph Northam of Virginia apparently agreed, and each state will send 8,000 vaccine doses to D.C.
“Thousands of nurses and doctors live in northern Virginia but work in the District — and they deserve equal access to the vaccine," Northam said. "It’s the right thing to do for Virginians and for our region.”
The donations are just the latest indication of the close informal partnership Bowser, Northam and Hogan have pursued for the DMV region since the early days of the pandemic.
The trio have coordinated regularly on virus restrictions and rollbacks, though Washington has consistently stayed more cautious than its neighbors on its reopening restrictions. In some cases, the two governors have allowed the counties closest to Washington to pursue their own virus shutdown policies closer to those of the capital.
None of the three jurisdictions will receive anywhere close to enough doses in the first batch to cover all their health care workers. And some states are already receiving word that upcoming vaccine shipments will be smaller than initially promised.
Virginia's Department of Health announced Friday that its total expected dosage shipment for December had been cut from 480,000 doses to 370,650.
Associated Press writers Brian Witte and Alan Suderman contributed to this report.