Covid-19 Week in Potomac

Potomac 20854 Cases: • June 29: 297 • July 6: 324

Montgomery County Cases: • June 29: 14,675 • July 6: 15,163

Maryland Cases: • June 29: 67,254 • July 6: 69,904

United States Cases: • June 29: 2,504,175 • July 6: 2,886,267

Montgomery County Deaths: • June 29: 697 • July 6: 711

Maryland Deaths • June 29: 3,048 • July 6: 3,121

United States Deaths: • June 29: 125,484 • July 6: 129,811

Tuesday, July 7

DENTAL IMPLANTS: Montgomery County Council introduced a special appropriation of $3 million to help meet the medical and dental needs of County residents. The Council is scheduled to hold a public hearing and vote on the appropriation on July 14. The special appropriation earmarks $2 million in funding that would create a grant program to assist independent primary care medical and dental providers who serve county residents and are struggling financially due to office closures and reduced patient visits caused by Covid-19. In addition, the Department of Health and Human Services would receive $500,000 to support the work of Montgomery Cares community clinics and provide services to residents who live in communities that have been disproportionately impacted by Covid-19. Another $500,000 would be allocated for grants to provide additional access to healthcare by expanding telehealth or supporting medical innovations with a focus on reducing disproportionate health outcomes.

“It is imperative that we support our primary care medical and dental practices to ensure that they remain stable during this pandemic,” said Councilmember Albornoz, who is chair of the Council's Health and Human Services Committee. “If many close at the same time, it will have a devastating impact on our public health infrastructure.”

Monday, July 6

IMMUNIZATIONS STILL NEEDED: Montgomery County health officials urge parents of children to get recommended vaccinations, even during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Department of Health and Human Services’ Immunization Clinic will reopen on Monday, July 6 at the Dennis Avenue Health Center at 2000 Dennis Avenue in Silver Spring. There are 14 vaccine-preventable diseases that children can be protected from before the age of two and it is important that parents keep up to date with recommended vaccinations. Children entering school will also need to show proof of vaccination in compliance with Maryland vaccination requirements. See the 2020 recommended childhood immunization schedule at the Maryland Department of Health’s website. The vaccination clinic is intended for children who do not have health insurance, are covered by Medical Assistance or have health insurance that does not cover vaccinations. Call 240-777-1050 for more information and to make an appointment.

COUNTY POOLS: Montgomery County Recreation will open its seven outdoor pools and three indoor aquatic centers. Pools will be open to pass holders only. All swim sessions will require a reservation. Reservations can be made online at https://apm.activecommunities.com/montgomerycounty/Home. Instructions on how to reserve your swim session can be found at https://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/rec/facilities/aquaticcenters/.

The following procedures will also be in place:

All patrons two years old and over must use a face covering while on the pool deck, in common areas, and when social distancing is not possible. Face coverings are not required when in the water.

Family groups are asked to stay together. Individuals and family groups are asked to maintain at least six feet of social distancing from others at all times.

Pool features including crossing features, saunas, hot tubs and the lazy river will remain closed.

Fitness rooms in aquatic centers will also remain closed.

All wading pools — also known as baby pools or tot pools — will remain closed.

Slides and diving boards will be available for use.

For outdoor pools, patrons are encouraged to bring their own chairs or blankets.

Shared equipment such as kickboards will not be available.

Restrooms in locker rooms and bath houses will be available. We ask patrons to minimize their time in those areas by coming to the pool in their swim attire and showering at home. Marked alternate exits will be available for those who wish to avoid exiting through the locker rooms and bath houses. Lockers at the aquatic centers, however, will not be available for use. Patrons will have to take their belongings with them on the pool deck and place them in a chair assigned to the lap lane they are using.

INSPECTIONS: County officials have visited more than 1,900 businesses to provide education about the requirements to comply with reopening. They closed a few businesses for not complying with restrictions. “We are going to do what we need to do to ensure we stay safe. As part of that, we've opened up more of our businesses,” said County Executive Marc Elrich. “We've had business ambassadors visit businesses to share reopening requirements, provide checklists and to answer questions and help as we can. The overwhelming majority of our businesses are open, following rules intended to keep everyone safe and enthusiastic about being able to serve their customers and clients once again. I will reiterate what I've said before and about which I have been very clear: Businesses will stay open provided they follow the public health guidelines. If they choose to ignore public health guidance, we will shut them down.”

MORE STUDENTS HUNGRY: Beginning July 6, Montgomery County Public Schools will add about 50 new sites to distribute free meals to students and Montgomery County children over the summer. MCPS will operate 68 meal sites to distribute free packaged breakfasts and lunches on weekdays (except Thursdays; extra meals will be given out on Wednesdays). Community organizations will distribute meals at 30 other sites. See the MCPS website for locations, schedules and other information. If MCPS gets a waiver from the federal government, it also will distribute dinners.

LIBRARY TO GO: Montgomery County Public Libraries (MCPL) will begin its contact-free holds pickup service, Holds to Go, on Monday, July 6. Holds to Go will be offered at all MCPL branches except Noyes and Long Branch libraries. Customers can reserve items online or over the telephone. When the items are available, customers will then schedule an appointment by telephone or online to pick up their materials. At their scheduled appointment times, customers pick up their bagged materials from tables inside the branch vestibules or just outside the front doors. https://montgomerycountymd.gov/library/services/holds-to-go.html

REOPEN MONTGOMERY: The Council’s Planning Housing and Economic Development Committee met Monday to review a special appropriation of $14 million to create the Reopen Montgomery Program, which will provide grants to County businesses and non-profit organizations that incur reopening expenses to comply with new state and county health regulations due to the Covid-19 public health crisis. Funding for this appropriation comes from Public Health Emergency Grant funds and the federal CARES Act. The PHED Committee will receive a briefing about Montgomery Recreation’s plans for reopening recreation facilities and summer activities for youth.

LIQUOR QUARANTINE: Montgomery County’s Department of Alcohol Beverage Services closed its Darnestown Liquor and Wine store after three store employees tested positive for COVID-19 this last week. The store was immediately deep cleaned and sanitized, but out of an abundance of caution, ABS decided to temporarily close the store. All other employees at the Darnestown store have been asked to monitor themselves for symptoms and are on paid administrative leave for two weeks. The store is tentatively scheduled to reopen on Monday, July 20. As a precaution, anyone who has visited the Darnestown store within the past week should monitor themselves for symptoms.

STATE METRICS: Maryland’s key COVID-19 health metrics continue to trend in a positive direction, with the statewide positivity rate dropping to a new low of 4.51%, and total current hospitalizations falling to 403, according to Gov. Larry Hogan.

“As we continue to see encouraging trends in all of our key health metrics, widespread testing across each of Maryland’s 24 jurisdictions remains a critical component of our long-term recovery,” said Hogan.

Maryland has now conducted 724,463 COVID-19 tests. The state’s seven-day average positivity rate has dropped to 4.51%—down more than 83% from its peak level on April 17—and the daily positivity rate is 3.36%. Current total COVID-19 hospitalizations have dropped to 403, with 142 ICU beds in use.

The positivity rate among Marylanders under 35 (6.06%) is 58% higher than the positivity rate for Marylanders age 35 and older (3.83%).

Maryland now has more than 220 testing sites available statewide. To further increase convenience and accessibility at COVID-19 testing sites, the Maryland Department of Health and local partners are now providing patients with the ability to schedule their own appointments online at more sites.

Sunday, July 5

RIDE ON EXPANDED: Montgomery County will expand Ride On bus service starting Sunday, July 5. Changes beginning this weekend include activating additional buses to provide more trips on about half of the routes in service. Changes are being made in response to increased demand, current traffic conditions and to reincorporate some “diversion” stops that had been temporarily removed from service. The expanded “Essential Plus” plan starting July 5 will maintain the same 53 weekday routes, 49 Saturday routes and 42 Sunday routes that have been in service since June 7. See https://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/DOT-Transit/essential-plan.html. All passengers are required to wear a face covering to board and must continue wearing the covering for the entire time riding on a bus. Riders are asked to make best efforts to maintain maximum physical distance between themselves and other riders who are not from the same household. Bus interiors will continue to be cleaned by the County’s Department of General Services on a nightly basis with hospital grade disinfectant. Bus filter and ventilation systems also are treated each night with a disinfectant.

Thursday, July 2

ELRICH’S BRIEFING: From County Executive Marc Elrich:

“As of this writing, only three states and the District of Columbia have a declining number of cases. Maryland is one of the three states. Here in Montgomery County, and with Prince George’s County, we have almost half the cases in Maryland. We have worked together, along with the District of Columbia and other neighboring jurisdictions, to make sure that we did not reopen too soon and that reopening includes the necessary precautions. Our caution has prevented the huge spikes in cases that we see elsewhere.

“Now, as we view what is happening in the rest of the country, we see many states have reopened too quickly and without strict guidelines. They are seeing dramatic spikes in the number of COVID-19 cases and they are having to reverse reopenings and to close businesses again. I know, at times, it is frustrating to some, but we are not going to make the mistakes that others have made. We will continue to be guided by data because this is the only way to keep our residents safe.

“It is still vital that all of us follow the guidelines that are in place: Wear face coverings in public spaces and businesses, keep physically distancing and wash hands often. It is likely that these practices will be with us for quite some time, but we need them if we are to stay safe. The fact that we have made the progress we have is testimony to the wisdom of County residents and their willingness to act in ways that protect our families, our neighbors and our larger community. We will not let up until the job is done.

“In addition to businesses and restaurants reopening with limitations, this week Montgomery Parks started reopening playgrounds and sports facilities. Our libraries are providing limited service and our County pools will reopen July 6.

“Unfortunately, the County’s traditional July 4 celebrations had to be canceled.

“This week, we began our program to provide financial assistance to child care providers to help with reopening costs. We also held our first popup testing event and more are scheduled. ....

“Earlier this week, I spoke before the Maryland General Assembly’s Environment and Transportation Committee about the many people who may be facing evictions after the Governor’s moratorium on evictions ends. We have implemented some programs here, but the need is great. Frankly, it is more than the County alone can handle and we need to work with the State and the Federal governments to find solutions so that people can stay in their homes.”

HOGAN'S ORDERS: Governor Larry Hogan today announced additional steps to further expand testing, including a new Maryland Department of Health (MDH) directive instructing physicians to order a test for any individual who requests it, as well as additional testing site options. The governor also announced that state health officials are strongly encouraging anyone who works in close-contact settings, as well as individuals who have traveled or returned to Maryland from out-of-state travel, to get tested.

SENIOR HOUSING: U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) joined Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) today in introducing the Emergency Housing Assistance for Older Adults Act – legislation that would provide $1.2 billion to ensure that federally-assisted senior housing facilities have the necessary resources to effectively protect residents during the COVID-19 pandemic. “Recent reports show that more than 40 percent of COVID-19 deaths have occurred in nursing homes and long-term care settings. This is unacceptable,” said Van Hollen.

MARYLAND’S REQUEST: U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin (MD-08) joined Members of Maryland’s Congressional delegation, including U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen and Congressman Steny H. Hoyer, Dutch Ruppersberger, John P. Sarbanes, Kweisi Mfume, Anthony G. Brown, and David Trone (all D-Md.) in writing to Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Peter Gaynor Wednesday, urging the approval of Maryland’s request for an increase in the federal cost share for eligible public assistance program expenses to 100 percent, up from the current 75 percent. In such a large-scale emergency, the local cost-share could cost Maryland and local communities millions.

Wednesday, July 1

VIRTUAL REC: Montgomery County Recreation opened registration for a schedule of summer virtual programs and classes to promote active and healthy lifestyles as the County gradually reopens from the COVID-19 health crisis. Virtual programs will begin the week of July 6. Programs and activities are tailored to a variety of interests, skill levels and ages. Summer programs include arts, sports, dance, exercise and wellness and more. In addition, week-long virtual summer experiences are available for children ages six to 12. See https://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/rec/activitiesandprograms/recroom/index.html.

Tuesday, June 30

PREVENTING EVICTIONS: The Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development intends to send $20 million of the expected $30 million CARES funding to all 24 jurisdictions in Maryland to help address their eviction-prevention needs. Ten million dollars of the CARES funding will provide relief for tenants in state-financed rental units through direct payments to the eligible property management companies.

UPCOMING

SCHOOL PLANNING: The Board of Education will continue its discussions on recovery of learning plans for MCPS for the summer and fall at its July 14 business meeting. The meeting, which will begin at 3:30 p.m., will be streamed live on the MCPS website and on MCPS TV (Comcast 34, Verizon 36, RCN 89).

COVID TESTING: Montgomery County has three sites in Germantown, Wheaton and White Oak where residents can get tested for COVID-19 for free. Appointments can be made by calling the Testing Helpline at 240-777-1755 but doctor’s orders are not required. The test sites will use oral swab tests so the tests are easier and quicker. Results will be issued in approximately 72 hours.

The test site operation hours will be as follows:

Germantown. Parking garage behind the Regal Theaters at 20010 Century Blvd. Mondays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Wheaton. Montgomery County Parking Garage No. 45 at 11304 Amhurst Ave. Wednesdays and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

White Oak. Vehicle Emissions Inspection Program (VEIP) site at 2121 Industrial Parkway. Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m

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