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Want to end the pandemic? Pay people to get vaccinated

When I received my first dose of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine last December, nobody paid me to roll up my sleeve. Yet, as vaccination efforts approach an expected tipping point, at which the amount of available vaccine exceeds the number of willing recipients, with the rate of vaccination far below the threshold required for herd immunity, paying people to take their shots likely offers our society’s best chance at stemming the pandemic. Private employers — including American Airlines, Marriott and Dollar General, have already taken the lead in this regard — but payouts are generally low: an extra day off or a few hours pay.

Read More: Baltimore Sun
Chesapeake Bay fate depends on many states

The health of the Chesapeake Bay is dependent on the cooperation of six states and the District of Columbia, making it difficult to consistently tackle pollution across the estuary. New York, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Maryland, Delaware and Virginia all contribute to the health of the Bay. In September, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation sued the Environmental Protection Agency claiming that the agency has not held New York and Pennsylvania accountable for helping to clean up the Chesapeake Bay through the U.S. Clean Water Act.

Death in prison: Arthur Biddle had been incarcerated for nearly 65 of his 86 years. Why?

At nearly 65 years, Arthur Biddle’s stint as a Maryland prison inmate must have been among the longest ever. It ended in February when he died, at age 86, in the Roxbury Correctional Institution in Hagerstown. The Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services confirmed his death but not its cause. (The department has since reported that a Roxbury inmate in his 80s died in February of COVID-19. The state did not identify the inmate.)

Read More: Baltimore Sun
Biden, Harris, Pelosi and the changing of the guard

If Americans remember anything from President Joe Biden’s first address to a joint session of Congress (a State of the Union in all but official title) Wednesday evening, it will likely be the image of Vice President Kamala Harris and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi seated directly behind him. Not because they are both Democrats. (Been there). Not because they wore pandemic-appropriate masks. (Thirteen months into a pandemic, done that). But because never before have two women occupied those two seats of power, a highly visible demonstration of a changing of the guard in Washington. Appearances count. And around the world, people just witnessed a powerful statement about equality, equal opportunity and women in leadership.

Read More: Baltimore Sun
covid-19 vaccine stock photo ig: @hakannural
Our Say: As vaccinations plateau, work to spread vaccines must get creative

Two private schools in Anne Arundel County have shown the path forward on achieving COVID-19 vaccination goals. Indian Creek and St. Mary’s schools, both working with Soleil Pharmacy in Glen Burnie, set up their vaccination clinics on school grounds for students, staff, alumni and families. A few hundred doses were distributed, and more clinics are planned.

Lewis: In an Unusual Year, Democrats Still Delivered Results

It’s been an unusual, difficult year for all of us. But despite the atypical times, this year’s legislative session went as it usually does, with Democrats in the Maryland General Assembly overriding Gov. Larry Hogan’s vetoes to deliver results for our state. The unusual year compounded high expectations coming into the 2021 session; Maryland faced intertwined economic, public health and racial justice crises that required immediate action.

Revamping the Social Security Administration: Small changes would make a big impact

With the change in presidential administrations, some are demanding that President Biden fire the current Commissioner, Andrew Saul, of the Social Security Administration (SSA), appointed by President Donald Trump. Under current law, Commissioner Saul may stay in office through the end of his term (another four years), although a recent Supreme Court decision does put the law around independent agencies into constitutional question. Legal and political issues aside, what is, as a matter of good public policy, the correct governance and political structure for this massive, critical federal agency, with considerable decision-making authority and policy responsibility?

Read More: Baltimore Sun
Maryland is awash in guns, and more are on the way

U.S. firearms sales have reached a record high thanks largely to first-time buyers. As a result, the federal background check system is swamped. Gun violence is up and mass shootings are a regular occurrence in this country, with the April 15 attack on a FedEx facility in Indianapolis that left eight dead just the latest example. In Maryland, there’s been a big uptick in not only in firearm sales, but specifically in people wanting to carry handguns.

Read More: Baltimore Sun
Close up of electric lamp against black background
What do 42% of drivers do on the JFX? Hint: It’s not safe

Last spring, city workers placed a data collection camera at the 41st Street overpass on the southbound lane of the Jones Falls Expressway for one week. What they discovered was stunning — although perhaps not to anyone who has driven the highway during the COVID-19 pandemic. Of the 360,984 vehicles traveling along the highway between the hours of 6 a.m. and 8 p.m., 151,897, or 42%, were going at least 12 miles per hour above the posted 50 mph speed. The top speed recorded: a mind-blowing 173 mph, which is fast even by NASCAR racing standards.

Read More: Baltimore Sun
Anne Arundel students wield rare power to pick a voting school board member. They should respect it.

Once again, Anne Arundel County students are about to choose a student member of the school board. As the other seats moved from appointed to elected on the Board of Education, the choice for student member — known by the unlovely but widely used acronym SMOB — is voted on by representatives from student councils and then appointed by the governor. For a student, it is a position of immense responsibility and considerable power.

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