Thursday, July 2, 2020
Potomac 20854 Cases: • June 29: 297 • June 22: 287
Montgomery County Cases: • June 29: 14,675 • June 22: 14,141
Maryland Cases: • June 29: 67,254 • June 22: 64,603
United States Cases: • June 29: 2,504,175 • June 22: 2,275,645
Montgomery County Deaths: • June 29: 697 • June 22: 683
Maryland Deaths • June 29: 3,048 • June 22: 2,945
United States Deaths: • June 29: 125,484 • June 22: 119,923
Monday, June 29
CHILD CARE: Child care providers in Montgomery County can apply for funding to help offset financial losses caused by COVID-19 and assist with reopening expenses beginning Monday, June 29. The Early Care and Education Initiative Recovery Fund will provide financial assistance to eligible licensed child care center programs, registered family child care homes, and letter of compliance programs. Priority will be given to programs serving families with limited incomes and children with special needs.
BOOK DROPS: Montgomery County Public Libraries will resume some services at library branches beginning Monday, June 29 with adjusted hours. The branch bookdrops will be open at all branches for return of borrowed library materials except for Go Kits, laptops/hotspots, and items from the Library of Things Music. Fines on books will continue to be suspended.
FIRST AMENDMENT: Rep. Jamie Raskin, the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, held a remote briefing on how the violent treatment of protestors and journalists across the country by federal and local law enforcement has violated the First Amendment. The First Amendment is a fundamental right that protects the freedoms of speech, assembly, press, and religion, and this police violence threatens our country’s democratic norms.
Friday, June 26
FIREWORKS? NEXT YEAR: Fourth of July celebrations; “Germantown Glory” and “Mid-County Sparkles” have been cancelled. “In light of the current public health and social distancing requirements, we found that it would not be possible to host the Fourth of July celebrations while ensuring the safety of our residents and staff,” said Montgomery County Recreation Director Robin Riley.
As residents make plans for the upcoming July 4 holiday, health officials recommend that everyone celebrates at home. Large, outdoor gatherings still pose a high risk, especially when people are close together and cannot properly maintain physical distance.
VISITING LOVED ONES: Gov. Larry Hogan today announced a phased reopening plan for Maryland’s assisted living facilities. This plan requires universal screenings and face coverings for staff and visitors, mandates widespread testing, and allows for limited visitation.
Assisted living facilities must meet a series of prerequisites to begin relaxing any restrictions:
The facility must not be experiencing an ongoing outbreak of COVID-19, defined as one or more confirmed cases of COVID-19 in a resident or staff member.
Absence of any facility-onset COVID-19 cases within the last 14 days.
Universal source control must be in place, requiring anyone else entering the facility to wear a face mask or cloth face covering at all times while in the facility.
Staff must have access to adequate personal protective equipment (PPE).
Provided a facility has met the prerequisites, limited visitation is allowable if:
Visitors and residents wear a face covering at all times.
Visitors and residents maintain proper social distancing at all times.
There is not an ongoing outbreak at the facility.
Additionally, it is strongly recommended that there are no more than two visitors at a time per resident per visit.
Assisted living facilities are required to adhere to the following protocols and restrictions for the foreseeable future:
Universal screenings. Facilities must screen all persons who enter the facility for signs and symptoms of COVID-19, including temperature checks. Facilities must refuse entrance to anyone screening positive for symptoms of COVID-19.
Face coverings. All staff, volunteers, vendors, and visitors when permitted, must wear the appropriate face covering at all times when they are inside the facility. All residents should wear face coverings under certain circumstances, including if they leave their rooms and are within close proximity of others, and for any appointments outside of a facility.
Widespread testing. For all assisted living programs with less than 50 beds, upon identification of a resident or staff member with laboratory-confirmed COVID-19, the facility must report the case to their local health department and test all residents and staff for COVID-19. Testing must be performed at weekly intervals until no new resident infections are confirmed in a 14 day period since the most recent positive result. In addition, all assisted living programs with 50 or more beds must test all staff, volunteers, and vendors who are in the facility regularly on a weekly basis for COVID-19.
Resident Checks. Facilities must screen all residents daily, including observing for signs and symptoms of COVID-19—asking questions about signs and symptoms of COVID-19—and where appropriate, temperature and pulse oximetry checks.
PPE. Facilities must make good faith efforts to maintain adequate supplies of all appropriate types of personal protective equipment (PPE) for staff, and as appropriate, residents.
Regular Reporting. All facilities must provide informational updates on COVID-19 to residents, residents’ representatives, and staff within 24 hours of the occurrence of a single confirmed infection of COVID-19, and/or whenever there are three or more residents or staff who have new-onset respiratory symptoms within a 72 hour-period.
Last week, the governor announced the beginning of limited outdoor visitation at Maryland nursing homes, where the state is conducting follow-on testing for all staff, as well as facilities with active cases. As of today, there are active COVID-19 cases in 87 of the state’s 227 nursing homes.
PREVENTING EVICTIONS: Gov. Larry Hogan announced $30 million in new funding to prevent evictions and help Marylanders affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.The Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) intends to deploy $20 million in expected federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program funding across all 24 jurisdictions in Maryland to help address eviction prevention needs.
The residential rental industry is experiencing a reduction in rental payments combined with increased maintenance costs. Approximately 9,000 of the 45,000 state-financed rental units in Maryland are currently delinquent at an estimated cost of $3 million per month. The Assisted Housing Relief Program is intended to help bring rental delinquencies current for those units and provide relief for the tenants affected by the COVID-19 pandemic through direct payments to the eligible property management company. Once a payment for back rent from the Assisted Housing Relief Program is received by a landlord, tenants will have their rental debt eliminated and no longer face the threat of eviction.
Thursday, June 25
LOOK AT THE SCIENCE: ”We do not want to see a spike in cases and we cannot relax in fighting COVID-19,” said County Executive Marc Elrich. “It is good to be in Phase 2 and for people to visit the businesses and restaurants that opened this past week with the reopening guidelines. However, I keep stressing that everyone must wear face coverings (except when seated at a restaurant) and maintain physical distance. Although we have reached a bit of stability, the virus is still here. It is not going away, and we will watch those numbers carefully over the next couple of weeks.I have been asked about Phase 3 of reopening. I cannot give you a date because, at this point, we are watching the data and following the science.”
COVID-19 IN MARYLANDERS UNDER 35: Maryland’s statewide positivity rate dropped to a new low of 4.92%, and hospitalizations fell below 500 for the first time in 12 weeks.
“While we are unfortunately seeing rising case numbers in states across the country, here in Maryland, all of the key health metrics continue to trend in a very positive direction,” said Gov. Larry Hogan. “But the fight against this virus is far from over. The positivity rate among Marylanders under the age of 35 is now 34 percent higher than the rate among those 35 and older. We simply cannot afford to stop being vigilant and cautious. Our long-term recovery can only be effective if all Marylanders continue exercising personal responsibility.”
Maryland has now conducted 613,513 COVID-19 tests, including 9,914 tests in a recent 24 hour period. The state’s seven-day average positivity rate has dropped to 4.92%—down nearly 82% from its peak level on April 17. The positivity rate in Montgomery County has dropped more than 79% from its peak, down to 6.75%.
The Maryland Department of Health has launched a coordinated public outreach campaign encouraging Marylanders to continue to wear face coverings as the pandemic continues, and as summer activity increases.
DEBIT CARD, NOT MONEY? U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin (MD-08) joined Rep. Lois Frankel (FL-21) and 28 other representatives raising concerns expressed by constituents who received their Economic Impact Payment in the form of prepaid debit cards. “While most EIP recipients have received their payments through direct deposit, the IRS announced on May 27, 2020 that they would issue nearly 4 million payments in the form of debit cards instead of paper checks,” according to the representatives. “This has raised serious concerns about the ability for many Americans to seamlessly access this critical relief created by Congress to help the American public during this time of great uncertainty and desperation.”
The Treasury Department did not alert Americans who would receive their payment through a debit card, and many Americans missed or threw out the debit cards because they looked like a scam. Now, these individuals can face fees to get the card replaced and fees when they try to access their payments, as well as difficulties individuals may face transferring funds from the card to a bank account.
WORK SHARE PROGRAM: Senator Chris Van Hollen, U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) and other senators and representatives introduced the Rebuilding Main Street Act, legislation to help small businesses, nonprofits, and workers weather the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and support safe reopening. The legislation expands the existing work share program to allow employers to share their payroll costs with the federal government, while receiving grant help to cover other fixed costs such as rent and needs for reopening safely like cleaning and protective equipment. After 14 straight weeks in which more than one million workers filed for unemployment benefits, the legislation would help laid off workers safely return to their jobs at reduced hours while continuing to receive a prorated unemployment benefit to compensate for their lost wages.
Wednesday, June 24
EDUCATION AND BROADBAND: Governor Hogan committed more than $45.6 million in additional education funding, including $10 million each for K-12 technology improvements, community college workforce programs and rural broadband as well as $5 million for internet service in urban centers where access to the internet can be scarce for underprivileged populations.
Tuesday, June 23
MOBILE CRISIS UNITS: Mobile Crisis Response Services were enhanced by the Council’s appropriation of $592,202 to the Department of Health and Human Services. Currently, the County only has funding for one Mobile Crisis Team which can only respond to one call at any time. This appropriation would fund six social workers to lead additional Mobile Crisis Teams, and hiring people who can also serve residents for whom English is not their primary language is a priority. The Mobile Crisis Team is a two-person team that responds to calls made directly to the Crisis Center, and when the police request their assistance as a part of a police response. Response from a crisis response team can help deescalate a situation and immediately begin a health-based response to safely deal with the underlying cause of the crisis.
PARTNERSHIP TO ADDRESS HUNGER: The County appropriated $10.3 million to address the food security challenges of County residents, while simultaneously supporting local food banks, restaurants and farmers through a public-private partnership with the Greater Washington Community Foundation. The full Council sponsored this special appropriation that was initiated by Councilmember Will Jawando. This appropriation provides up to $300,000 to the Greater Washington Community Foundation to initiate and administer the Montgomery County Food Security Fund, which will accept private donations that will support implementation of the food security response strategy. This appropriation also provides $10 million to implement the strategy with the goal of raising $5 million in private donations.
FAMILY COACHES: More than $565,000 will provide support services for families in crisis to prevent jeopardizing the safety of vulnerable youth during COVID-19, including $183,846 to Identity Inc. to provide culturally responsive and trauma-informed services that support underserved children and their families. Almost $382,000 will be used to support a family strengthening and intervention program that provides one-on-one coaching for families who are struggling with instability and violence at home. The full Council sponsored the special appropriation that was initiated by Councilmembers Nancy Navarro and Gabe Albornoz.
The Covid-19 public health crisis has disproportionately affected communities with lower incomes and communities of color in the County. Moreover, restrictions intended to slow the spread of disease have led to more than 87,000 unemployment claims filed by County residents since the beginning of March. As a result, Covid-19 has placed significant financial and mental stress on these families and support services are necessary for families in crisis to safeguard vulnerable youth and avoid risky behaviors.
TERRACOTTA WARRIORS: Xi’an, a city in China, donated 20,000 masks to protect Montgomery County frontline workers during the COVID-19 health crisis. In 2013, Montgomery County established a “Sister City” relationship with the city of Xi’an, which is home to 12 million residents and the famous TerraCotta Warriors. Montgomery Sister Cities, Inc. was established in 2009 to connect Montgomery County to the world.
LOOK AT THESE NUMBERS: More than 50 million units of personal protective equipment (PPE) has been distributed by Maryland to hospitals, state agencies, local health departments, and front line workers. The state has distributed more than 50.8 million units of PPE, including: 15 million pairs of gloves, 1.5 million gowns, 19.4 million surgical masks, 8.4 million KN95 masks, 5.7 million N95 masks, and 854,200 face shields. The state established the Maryland COVID-19 Emergency Relief Manufacturing Fund to incentivize Maryland businesses to manufacture PPE and other supplies to meet the current needs of the healthcare industry. To date, the Maryland Department of Commerce has awarded $3.2 million for PPE production to companies that applied to the fund.
POTOMAC PIZZA: More than 200 Maryland companies and nonprofit organizations across the state have supported their communities’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Hogan. This includes Potomac Pizza which has raised more than $40,000 and has given free pizza to front line health care workers throughout the pandemic.
ENERGY SAVINGS: U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), and Chris Coons (D-Del.), along with U.S. Representatives Peter Welch (D-Vt.) and David McKinley (R-W.Va) today introduced bipartisan, bicameral legislation to help homeowners retrofit their homes to cut their monthly energy costs, stimulate the energy efficiency market for jobs and suppliers, and help protect the environment by investing in clean, efficient technology.