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Government to issue COVID vaccination cards

ANNAPOLIS — Marylanders who get COVID-19 vaccinations well get government-issued cards showing they received the vaccines.

That is according to the Maryland Department of Health.

“Vaccination cards are included in the COVID supply kit that comes with the vaccine. They should be provided to everyone vaccinated,” said Charles Gischlar, spokesman for the state health agency.

Gischlar said "the vaccine supply kits contain everything required to administer a vaccine, including a syringe, swab and band aids".

Vaccination cards are also being distributed by U.S. states and other organizations in conjunction with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. The state also will store patient’s COVID-19 vaccination information in the state’s electronic medical records database ImmuNet.

The state has started offering coronavirus vaccinations to hospital and nursing home workers as well as nursing home patients.

First responders are also in the initial groups offered the vaccine, followed by people in high-risk groups for the virus, as well as judicial officers and prison and jail inmates.

Vaccines are not mandatory, according to Gov. Larry Hogan. Some employers could potentially try to require workers to get COVID vaccines. They will have to prove vaccines are essential to their business. They will also have to navigate the Americans with Disabilities Act and its vaccine exemptions based on religion and medical disabilities.

Other countries along with event venues and airlines could also potentially look to require vaccines for travel and admittance.

Maryland health agencies and hospitals have launched advertising and public outreach campaigns to encourage vaccinations and overcome concerns about how fast vaccines were developed. There are also substantial ‘anti-vax’ sentiments among various communities ranging from African Americans to conservatives.

Maryland has received 191,075 doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, Hogan said on Monday, Dec. 21.

“As laid out in our statewide vaccination plan, our earliest vaccinations are focused on our front line health care workers, the residents and staff of our nursing homes,” Hogan said. “We encourage our hospitals and local health departments to get our critical front line health care workers vaccinated as safely and quickly as possible.”

The state also is sending early doses to local health departments to vaccinate local vaccination teams.

TCPS approves 2021-2022 school calendar with pre-Labor Day start

EASTON — The Talbot County Board of Education unanimously approved the school district’s 2021-2022 academic calendar, with an Aug. 30 start date ahead of Labor Day next year.

The calendar approval came after the district put out a survey for feedback on the proposed school year schedule and received more than 400 responses from students and family members across its eight schools.

Dr. Helga Einhorn, Talbot County Public Schools assistant superintendent for instruction, said 80.5% of respondents were in favor of the draft calendar and only 19.5% opposed it because of the pre-Labor Day start date.

Based on the survey results, the board voted to adopt the calendar as drafted. Below is a non-exhaustive outline of the schedule.

• First day for students: Aug. 30

• Labor Day closure: Sept. 6

• Thanksgiving break: Nov. 24 through 26

• Winter break: Dec. 23 through 31

• Spring break: April 11 through 18

• Memorial Day: May 30

• Easton High School graduation: June 6

• St. Michaels High School graduation: June 7

• Last day for students: June 8

To view the full calendar, visit http://talbotschools.org/.

Christmas Star lights up night sky

EASTON — The Christmas Star lit up the night sky on Monday, Dec. 21.

The star is really a convergence of the alignments of Jupiter and Saturn as they are viewed from Earth.

The two planets appear so close together that they appear as one shining star.

It is the closest the two planets have appeared together at night in 800 years and is not scheduled to happen again until 2080.

The planets appearing as a star also have ties to the biblical story of the birth of Jesus Christ. The Star of Bethlehem guided the three wise men and shepherds to the birth of Christ.

Henry Throop, astronomer in the planetary science division with NASA, describes the astronomy of the event that culminated Monday night.

“You can imagine the solar system to be a racetrack, with each of the planets as a runner in their own lane and the Earth toward the center of the stadium,” said Throop.

He said from Earth’s vantage point Jupiter has been gaining on Saturn in the night sky this month and finally the two finally converged Monday night.

The event drew attention from astronomers and everyday stargazers across the Shore on Monday night — just days before Christmas. The once-in-lifetime convergence was seen on the Shore early Monday evening when there were clear skies. Clouds would later obstruct some of the views of the Christmas Star.

It has been 400 years since Jupiter and Saturn got together so closely and 800 years since it happened at night, according to NASA.

A statue atop a half-scale replica of Seville, Spain’s La Giralda Tower stands in the foreground as Saturn, top, and Jupiter, below, are seen after sunset Friday, Dec. 18, 2020, in Kansas City, Mo. The two planets are drawing closer to each other in the sky as they head towards a “great conjunction” on Monday, Dec. 21, where the two giant planets will appear a tenth of a degree apart.

Space Planets Merge

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Shore hospitals tells community to stay in their 'bubbles' over holidays

EASTON — University of Maryland Shore Regional Health has asked the Mid-Shore community to only gather with those in their “bubble” this holiday season, citing “growing concern” among hospital leadership for the impact of further coronavirus spread during upcoming holiday gatherings.

The hospital system said a large number of recent cases have been attributed to family gatherings, where masking and social distancing are not usually or consistently practiced.

“Experts continue to encourage people to limit holiday gatherings to their individual “bubbles”—those you live with and/or interact with on a regular basis, SRH said in statement.

Senior leadership across the regional system, as well as the COVID-19 incident command team, pledged to “stay in their bubbles” during the holidays. SRH President and CEO Ken Kozel said, “We must remain vigilant.”

As reported COVID-19 cases rise across Maryland and the country, there is growing concern among hospital leaders for the potential impact of the upcoming holidays. A large number of recent cases have been attributed to family gatherings, where masking and social distancing are not consistently practiced. Experts continue to encourage people to limit holiday gatherings to their individual “bubbles” — those you live with and/or interact with on a regular basis.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci have also cautioned against travel and larger gatherings for Christmas echoing similar warnings they issued for Thanksgiving.

Members of University of Maryland Shore Regional Health’s senior leadership team and COVID incident- command team pledged today to stay in their bubbles during this year’s holiday season.

“For the health and safety of myself and the greater community, we pledge to enjoy the holidays with only our immediate family members and those friends we see on a regular basis,” Kozel said, adding, “While this is not ideal, it is necessary to slow the spread. I hope that the community will join us in this pledge.”

Infectious Disease Specialist at Shore Regional Dr. Rosa Mateo said all team members at UM SRH have been asked to remain diligent over the holidays.

“Maintaining our bubbles, social distancing and handwashing remain the best ways to control this devastating virus,” Mateo said. She asked that “all community members pledge to stay in their bubbles over the holidays, for the protection of everyone.”

“Please, help us keep our community safe and healthy,” Mateo said.