[Sun Gazette Newspapers provides content to, but otherwise is unaffiliated with, InsideNoVa or Rappahannock Media LLC.]

When a government entity puts out a press release in the 8 p.m. hour on a Friday night, it’s either bad news, news the government doesn’t want to answer questions about until Monday – or some combination of the two.

And thus the Arlington government last Friday evening announced that all those thousands of people who had signed up through Virginia Hospital Center and received what they presumed were confirmed, date-specific appointments to get a COVID vaccine were back in limbo, purgatory or an equally unpleasant place.

(To its credit, the Arlington government was answering questions from the paltry local press corps[e] over the weekend. There wasn’t much clarity to this very confused situation provided, but it did prove helpful on some specific details.)

As our hard-to-miss front-page coverage this week notes, the effort to use Virginia Hospital Center as the conduit for vaccinating large swaths of the Arlington public fell apart last week. The hospital has pulled out, at least temporarily, of the vaccination effort, pointing at the Virginia Department of Health’s decision to focus its efforts on supplying doses to health departments, not hospitals.

As a result of the chaos, some 10,000 Arlington residents who had been in the Virginia Hospital Center queue now await word from county-government officials so those appointments can be rescheduled. Those multiple thousands  in the under-75 age group who had received appointments are now going to have to wait until the over-75ers get their shots (which, to us, seems eminently reasonable).

Considering all angles in this mess, it seems as if the state government is the one that messed up. The hospital and county government appear innocent bystanders. As County Board member Libby Garvey succinctly put it, it’s hard to vaccinate people when you have no vaccine.

It appears Gov.-Dr. (or is it “Dr.-Gov.”?) Northam and crew simply were hopelessly overoptimistic in the amount of vaccine Virginia would be getting in these early stages. And when stark reality hit them in the face, the Virginia Department of Health had to start tap-dancing as fast as it could, changing the rules in the middle of the game. 

Everyone downstream from Northam et al merely ended up as collateral damage.

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