Weekly Message from County Executive Marc Elrich
Per Montgomery County:
I am pleased to report that we have had another week where our COVID-19 positivity and case rate numbers have been consistent. Although we are in a good place, the Delta variant continues to be concerning. Currently, the Delta variant makes up more than 50 percent of the cases nationwide as cases are rising in 26 states, including Maryland. Like most counties in the state, we have seen a slight increase in our cases per 100,000, which is a sign that the more infectious Delta variant is present in our community. However, with so many of our residents vaccinated, our hospitalization rates continue to remain low.
The County’s Vaccination Numbers Are Impressive
Thanks to so many of our residents who have been committed to get vaccinated, our numbers continue to be impressive: Currently, 82 percent of our eligible residents (12 and older) have received both doses of Pfizer/Moderna vaccines or a single dose of Johnson & Johnson vaccines according to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). That data show 90 percent of eligible County residents have received at least one dose of the vaccine. The big news is that we remain the most highly vaccinated county in the nation for counties with a population of more than 300,000 people.
These are great results, and this week, The Washington Post and the Business Insider each published articles that highlighted our success at getting people vaccinated. With all of the work we continue to do, I feel very confident that we will vaccinate 90 percent of our 12 and older population in the near future.
As we recover from the COVID-19 health crisis, it is important that we continue to address the growing need for rental relief. So far, the County has distributed a total of $25 million to more than 5,000 households and we are still taking applications for funds. I encourage anyone who is a renter whose income was impacted by COVID, to go to our website and apply for rental relief or call 3-1-1 for more information.
Supporting Councilmember Jawando’s Bill to Protect Renters Impacted by COVID
This week, Montgomery County Councilmember Will Jawando joined my weekly press briefing to talk about his new bill (Expedited Bill 30-21), which will extend the existing limitation on rent increases. The bill would put a limitation on rent increases from 90 days to one year after the expiration of this public health emergency. It will also prohibit charging late fees during this period. I support this bill because, even though we are getting COVID under control in this County, our economy has not fully recovered. Thousands are out of work and many are struggling to pay rent. This legislation will help those so desperately in need.
“Streeteries:” A COVID Innovation That Remains Popular
COVID forced us to do so many things differently over the past 16 months, and some of the changes have produced positive innovations, including the creation of outdoor dining areas called “streeteries.” I want to thank the many employees at the County’s departments of Alcohol Beverage Services and Transportation for their partnership and collaboration on our successful and popular streeteries. It is my hope and intention that the streeteries will become a part of our new normal.
County Received National Recognition for Innovative COVID Solutions
July 1 was the start of County Government’s new fiscal year, which means it is the start of new initiatives and activities that our departments will take on. As I reflect on the past fiscal year, I am reminded of how much we were able to accomplish. I am proud of the tremendous amount of work we did to support residents, families, organizations and businesses during the height of the COVID pandemic.
County employees devoted long hours to helping people through a very difficult time. Now that we are on the other side of the pandemic, we see the fruit of our labor—some of the highest vaccinations rates in the country and many, many lives saved. And through it all, we kept working to make government work better for you.
I am extremely proud of the initiatives that Montgomery County Government put in place. Before the pandemic hit, I had asked employees to be innovative and think differently about how we deliver services and support to residents and businesses in the County.
Our employees used the pandemic as an opportunity to explore how we could improve results by reexamining how we do things. As a result of some of the bold steps that our employees took, Montgomery County was the recipient of 38 Achievement Awards from the National Association of Counties (NACo). Out of the 18 “Best in Category” Awards, Montgomery County won two.
One of our “Best in Category” awards was for our innovative COVID Corps summer youth employment program. We had high school and college students helping with COVID testing facilitation, food distribution and other important tasks during the height of COVID. The other “Best in Category” program was the conversion of an in-person program for seniors, called Senior Planet Montgomery, into a virtual program. After the transformation of this program to an online program, Senior Planet saw increases in attendance and there were several local news stories on the success of the program.
Another highlight was when we learned that we won a Capital Emmy Award for the County’s outreach TV public service announcement campaign to the Latino community. We also learned that the County was nominated as a finalist for the Public Health and Social Services Smart Cities North America Award in recognition of the County’s 311, Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Technology and Enterprise Business Solutions efforts to provide a better experience for callers.
These innovations are just some examples of County employees thinking outside the box about how to serve you better. Many of the creative ideas they put into action will set a new standard of how we serve you long after the pandemic is behind us. I have said that crisis can create opportunity and I am proud of the work we have done over the last year.
There are a lot of great things happening in Montgomery County. Now that more places are open for business, I encourage you to get out and enjoy the many attractions that the County has to offer. Our collective efforts have yielded impressive results because we made a commitment to first get tested for COVID and then get vaccinated. I want to thank you again for getting us to this point.
We are safer because we stuck together.
Thank you and take care.