Dear Charles County,
With corona virus in the news, I thought it would be helpful to send a special newsletter to inform the community about the situation in Maryland as well as efforts by the General Assembly, Governor Hogan and state agencies to address and mitigate the spread of the disease.
State Efforts to Stop the Spread of Corona Virus
After weeks of monitoring the coronavirus, known as COVID-19, we are now seeing the virus affect our state and communities. The Maryland General Assembly, the Governor and all state agencies are unified in the effort to keep residents safe in the wake of this public health threat.
Maryland now has 17 confirmed cases of corona virus, a flu-like illness which has recently been introduced to the U.S. Most of the cases in Maryland were from individuals who recently traveled to countries experiencing the corona virus, like Italy, Egypt and South Korea. However one new case was recently confirmed from community transmission, meaning that it spread from one person to another within Maryland as opposed to contact from overseas travel. There is one reported case in Charles County — a retired military professional who recently traveled to South Korea. He is currently in self-quarantine at home in order to limit his exposure to others in the community.
Public health research shows the more steps we can take right now to prevent transmission, the better off Marylanders will be. Out of an abundance of caution, Governor Larry Hogan recently announced that Maryland will continue to operate under a state of emergency and will take additional precautionary measures to help mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 virus:
- The Maryland Emergency Management Agency (MDMEMA) has fully operationalized to mobilize all state resources.
- Beginning on Monday, March 16, all public schools throughout Maryland will close through Friday, March 27, 2020. Charles County Public Schools remain open today, Friday March 13 to plan for closures. School meals will still be distributed to students during the closure at several sites. More details on meal provision will be released later today. For more information on CCPS contingency planning, see the CCPS website here.
- A mandatory telework policy for all non-essential state employees is effect. My legislative office staff are now working remotely and will be available for constituent services via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Access to the General Assembly House and Senate Office buildings and Legislative Services will be restricted to credentialed personnel.
- Mass gatherings and events of 250 or more people are cancelled or postponed.
- Senior activity centers will be closed.
- The cruise ship terminal at the Port of Baltimore will be closed in the coming days.
- The National Guard has been activated to respond and support if the need arises.
For a complete list of actions the State will be taking to protect public health and safety, please visit the website HERE.
While the virus will cause some disruption to legislators’ normal schedules, the General Assembly will remain in session to finish critical bills, expedite legislative solutions to address public health concerns, and fulfill our Constitutional duties. State agencies will also continue to develop comprehensive and coordinated prevention and response plans for the coronavirus.
For the most accurate and up-to-date information, please check Maryland Department of Health websites and follow their Twitter and Facebook pages for real-time updates:
The General Assembly under leadership of Speaker Jones and Senate President Ferguson recently introduced two bills which will help the Maryland State Department of Health, county health departments and other state and local agencies contain the virus and help our communities keep residents safe and healthy. The emergency legislation allows for no-cost testing, increased access to telehealth services, prevents price gouging, protects workers in quarantine, and opens access to the MD health insurance exchange, known as MD Connect. The legislation also gives funding to our state agencies to support with public health efforts to contain the virus.
We have also received multiple briefings by Secretary Neall, who runs MD Department of Health, about the illness and how our state can best respond. Thus far, MD Dept. of Health has conducted testing, provided guidance to doctors and other medical professionals, monitored individuals returning from travel, and coordinated with local and federal partners to ensure an organized response.
How You Can Help Prevent the Spread of COVID-19
We encourage all residents to remain calm and take preventative steps to protect yourself and your families. Preventative steps that are always recommended to slow the spread of respiratory illnesses like colds and flu include:
- Washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds,
- Using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol if soap and water are not available,
- Covering your coughs and sneezes with a tissue or your elbow,
- Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces using standard cleaning practices,
- Avoid touching your face,
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick,
- And staying home if you are sick, except when seeking medical care.
- Practice social distancing, avoiding crowds when possible.
If you do experience any symptoms such as fever over 100.4 degrees, coughing, or shortness of breath, please contact your primary care physician or call 2-1-1 for assistance.
Remember that Maryland employers are required to give their employees 40 hours (5 days) of paid sick leave annually, according to state law. You can learn more about MD Paid Sick Leave from the MD Dept. of Labor here.
Particularly if you have any symptoms, health officials recommend you stay home in what’s known as a “self-quarantine” for 14 days to avoid possibly spreading the virus to others. It’s incredibly important to understand how to stop the spread and flatten the curve of infection. Please help others understand by sharing this information.
The health and safety of every Marylander is our number one priority, and we’re taking a few extra, but necessary precautions to ensure that all of our residents are safe. As this very unusual situation continues to evolve, we will continue to take the appropriate steps to protect the well-being of all our residents and provide updates.
Stay on top of the latest updates with these resources:
Reminder: Delegate Scholarship Application Now Open
The online application for my Delegate Scholarship program will remain open until the deadline on April 1. Students can access the online application form here and can also find the application form on my Facebook and Twitter pages. I’m a first generation college student myself and would encourage all first generation students to apply! Please note that the state of Maryland offers many other scholarship programs outside the delegate scholarship program, you can learn more about these financial aid opportunities here.
Please reach out to my office at email@example.com if you have any questions or concerns about any of the resouces listed above. My office remains open and available to help with constituent services and will continue to share information and resources to keep the community informed. Please take every precaution to keep yourself and your loved ones safe and healthy. In this challenging time, please be kind, be safe, and be a good neighbor, especially to those for whom this will be an especially difficult time. We are a resilient county and a resilient people and I’m here to support in any way I can.