Notes From the February 3rd COVID-19 Media Briefing

by Patrick Herron

Notes From the February 3rd COVID-19 Media Briefing

Notes from today’s media briefing with Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich, County Health Officer Dr. Travis Gayles, Dr. Crowel, and the County’s Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security Director Dr. Earl Stoddard:

Assistance Phone Line: 240-777-2982
-Intended for those that need help navigating the system or don’t have access to the computer technology. Please help those 65 and older to register who aren’t tech savvy.

Mark Elrich:

Dining Ban & Reopening:
-Restaurants could be back to 25% capacity by February 9th. Sale of alcohol will stop at 10PM, and they are suggesting a one hour limit for diners. The longer you stay, the greater the exposure. The longer you stay exposed, the greater possibility of being infected. Idea for the one hour limit came from a restaurant owner; people were staying an exceedingly long time, not fair to the owner that has to turn over limited seats which is an impediment for maximizing seating capacity.

-Everything we do when we open something up increases risk of spread. There has been a downward trend in numbers, around when we stopped indoor dining. 5.22 positivity rate this week, 5.9 last week, hopeful those trends maintain themselves.

-359 cases last week

-There are reasons why we have some of the lowest rates in state, it is not by accident. Planning to continue to be more proactive than other counties.

-How much we open depends on how widespread the virus is.

-Elrich said he “understand how tough this has been on businesses. They are the collateral damage in this”. The decision is to prioritize public health. Money can be replaced, loved ones cannot.

-On equal distribution, some people at a disadvantage with a first come first serve basis.

-Health Department is able to vaccinate everyone they have vaccines for.  Total doses have been stable; shifted from replying on county health clinics to other providers.

-There are 200,000 people competing for 12-15,000 doses.

-Montgomery County received 12,275 doses this week.

-Supply is constrained. Federal Government has not increased supplies. There was no nation reserve of vaccines. It is going to take time for more doses to be manufactured.

-Please do not share online links with friends and family, it could take away a vaccine from someone that could be eligible. The State said they are working on fixing this.

-“It is a tough time, it’s not fun, and continues to be very stressful for a lot of people.”

-Hoping Federal Government puts together an aid package. They have an obligation to help rebuild this country and undo the damage done by the virus. People are suffering through no fault of their own.

Dr. Gayles:
-We are moving back in the right direction, numbers similar to the fall, before the winter surge.

-Optimistic, although two new strains of the virus have been detected within the state. Two preliminary positive cases pending. Believe its tied to travel, not community transmission.

Dr. Crowel:
-We’ve seen that the virus has hit us in minority communities the hardest in terms of case rates and deaths.

-The populations most severely affected by virus are the most under-registering for vaccine.

-We need to attack the virus where it’s attacking us.

-There is a great deal of hesitancy, particularly in minority communities, and we need to address those concerns by sharing facts and addressing the needs. Ongoing town halls planned. Print and digital media campaigns. Engaging with community partners to make sure the message about equity and distributions of vaccines to help carry the message.


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