Montgomery County Public Schools sent the following community message on Tuesday, January 17:
”Dear MCPS Community,
On Thursday, Jan. 12, county leaders shared their concerns about rising rates of COVID-19 in our community. Since hospital admissions for COVID-19 have increased, our county’s community risk level is now at MEDIUM. This stresses the importance of heightened awareness and preventing severe disease in our most vulnerable community members. On our school dashboard, we saw a higher number of positive cases the first week after school reopening, with fewer cases reported the following week.

Everyone should practice healthy habits, which prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses. Here are some other steps individuals can take to reduce the impact of COVID-19 in our community:

  1. Consider COVID-19 risk when making health decisions.
    Understand COVID-19 risk so you can take extra precautions in high-risk situations, if you have risk factors for severe COVID-19 infection, or are around someone at increased risk. Adults older than 50 years, pregnant people and individuals with certain medical conditions, including diabetes and asthma, are at highest risk from severe disease due to COVID.

  2. Wear a mask to prevent spread of infection, especially in high-risk situations.
    Our county health department strongly recommends wearing a well-fitting face covering in crowded indoor spaces. Consider wearing a mask in other situations if you have risk factors, or will be around a family member with risk factors for severe respiratory infection. If you have COVID-19 or have been exposed as a close contact, please mask according to CDC’s isolation and exposure guidelines. Staff and students may be asked to mask temporarily in local outbreak or other high-risk situations.

  3. Stay up to date on vaccinations, especially if you have risk factors for severe COVID-19 infection. 
    COVID-19 vaccines are an important way to help prevent severe infection and are approved for those 6 months old and older. Because the effect of vaccines can wane over time, an updated booster provides additional valuable protection against serious illness for individuals at higher risk.

  4. Get tested for COVID-19 if you have symptoms or a possible exposure.
    It may be difficult to tell if symptoms are from COVID-19 or another flu-like illness. Testing is an important way to identify individuals with active COVID-19 infection, who can then seek care if needed and also avoid spreading the virus to others. Consider testing before spending time with a high-risk family member.

  5. If you test positive for COVID-19:

    • Seek advice from your health care provider promptly if your symptoms are severe or if you are at high risk for a severe respiratory infection. Treatments are available that can help prevent severe disease, and are most helpful when given early.
    • Follow the CDC’s recommended isolation guidelines to reduce spread to others.
    • Staff and students testing positive should report their results using MCPS’ online tool. Reporting results helps MCPS track outbreaks and take measures to reduce further transmission, when an outbreak occurs in our school spaces.

MCPS continues to work closely with the Department of Health and Human Services to monitor data trends and plan health and safety measures. Internally and with community guidance, we are working on reducing the impact of COVID-19 on our school operations. We thank everyone for their continued support in working together to keep our community healthy.

Patricia Kapunan, M.D., M.P.H.
MCPS Medical Officer”




Per Montgomery County:

Dear Friends,

The most important data point we have consistently monitored since the beginning of the COVID-19 health crisis is the stress that our hospitals are experiencing due to significant increase in patients who need care. When our hospitals are too overwhelmed, patients have to deal with long delays before receiving care or getting a beds when they have urgent needs. I think about what happened to former Councilmember Craig Rice’s mother last year after suffering a heart attack and worry about how many more families have gone through something similar. Our ambulance turn-around times at the hospital have slowed down, potentially taking lifesaving services off the street for longer periods of time.

These are real world consequences when our COVID, flu, RSV and other health maladies impact our hospitals. This week, during my weekly media briefing, Patsy McNeil, the chief medical officer at Adventist Health, shared how her hospitals have capacity issues, staffing shortages and how they impact the health care system. The surge in COVID patients is difficult for staff and is a strain on resources. Her comments mirror what we have seen throughout our community with fewer people taking the virus seriously and not protecting themselves and others.

It is not just one hospital. This week, the Maryland Hospital Association reported a 90 percent capacity rate, with some hospitals already completely full.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last year developed the community level status barometer, two-thirds of which is based on how busy hospitals are with COVID patients. For several weeks, our community status has been at the “medium” level, but now we are dangerously close to reaching the “high” category. We are still not close to the transmission levels we saw last winter, but we are trending that way again.

Emergency room data shows a recent spike of more than 300 visits to local hospitals, which is a high we have not seen since the peak of the Omicron surge last winter.

Montgomery County was the first major jurisdiction to reach, and then surpass, the 90 percent full vaccination rate. However, less than one in three eligible residents have gotten the bivalent booster, which is the best defense against COVID-19.

All we have to do is look back over the last several weeks to see the impact. December was our worst month for COVID deaths in Montgomery County in nearly a year.

In response, we are going to focus on how we can increase our outreach to vulnerable communities. Data tells us more than half of our 65-and-over population has received a bivalent, which is good news because they are among the most vulnerable. But we have a lot more work to do with young people and our Black and Latino residents.

We are at a point in the pandemic where vaccines are widely available, but many have tuned out or just do not realize how much protection the new booster provides.

These are numerous studies that show the effectiveness and safety of the retooled vaccine meant to target the Omicron variant. It is still effective despite the fact that we are seeing more subvariants like the X.BB.1.5 accounting for more cases.

Beyond vaccines and boosters, voluntary facemask use in indoor public places is strongly recommended. Facemasks should be worn in health care and congregate sites like shelters and nursing homes. Other safety measures like washing your hands frequently and staying home if you are sick can help stop the spread of disease. Mild and even moderate cases of COVID can be treated at home after consulting a family doctor and do not necessarily mean a trip to the hospital is required.

Let’s remain vigilant and keep everyone’s health in mind as many activities and gatherings are going to be indoors. Please consider those in our hospitals and on the frontlines. Get boosted. Get tested. Wear your mask when appropriate. And, continue to wash your hands regularly.

Preparing for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Celebration

On Monday, Jan. 16, we will celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Despite it being a holiday, the idea is to not treat it like a “day off,” but as a “day on” to volunteer, participate in community service and take action to serve and assist neighbors and those most in need.

In Montgomery County, we are not just honoring Dr. King for a day, but an entire “Week of Service” from Jan. 16-21. Please follow this link to find out about some of the many projects happening that you can participate in. I encourage everyone to sign up for a service event set up by the Montgomery County Volunteer Center from noon until 3 p.m. at the Bethesda North Marriott Conference Center.

We are thankful for the many community groups that step up to organize volunteer days like this. The Montgomery County Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. will host a service project at the Silver Spring Civic Building from 10 a.m.-noon. Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., Eta Pi Zeta Chapter will host a service project at the Bauer Drive Community Center in Rockville from 10 a.m.-noon. There will be a service project in Germantown hosted by Journey’s Crossing Church from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. This year will be the first time the organization will hold the event in-person since 2020. However, the church is offering a virtual option for service for those that are not able to participate in-person.

There also will be a free community concert at 4 p.m. Monday at the Strathmore Music Center in North Bethesda in honor of the life-changing impact of Dr. King and his tireless work for equality. Each year, the Office of Human Rights settles on a theme for the performances. This year’s theme is “We Are Martin.”

Each of the performances will honor the theme and pay tribute to the positive impact Dr. King had on communities nationwide. We are asking concert goers to help those in need by donating toiletry items. Suggested items include portable shower caddies for carrying items, bars of soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste, floss, lotion, lip balm, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, new wash cloths and towels. Interfaith Works will use those donations to help in homeless shelters and others.

Tickets are free for Monday’s special event, but they must be reserved ahead of time through the Strathmore ticket system so everyone that wants a seat can have one.

I was fortunate to attend the 1963 March on Washington when I was 13 and witnessed Dr. King deliver his “I Have a Dream” speech. At the time, I had no idea that his speech would become such one of the most remembered moments in history, but I was aware that the thoughts he conveyed were important for how we look at America going forward.

I am proud of the way so many in Montgomery County have embraced his ideals, commitment, compassion and commitment to justice. Please join us in celebrating Dr. King’s legacy next week.

Covid-19 Rental Relief Opportunities Closing

Applications for the Federal government’s Rent Relief Program intended to help families struggling with COVID challenges ends today, Friday, Jan. 13.

This program has helped approximately 14,000 households in Montgomery County receive $92 million dollars in assistance. However, the Federal government is no longer funding the program.

The County’s Department of Health and Human Services is closing the program to applicants because it is expected that the existing funding will be fully exhausted on approved applicants and current recipients.

We knew the Federal funds would not be enough, so I joined several County Executives and advocacy groups in asking Governor Hogan for emergency funding to help prevent the eviction of thousands of people. That help did not come.

It is unfortunate that the program is ending because there clearly is more need. The program excluded many families that were also struggling, but did not fit the parameters of qualifying for Federal assistance. That is too bad, and I hope that we will be able to help them with future different affordable housing and economic development growth.

As a County, we will continue to offer emergency eviction prevention services whether those hardships are COVID-related or not. For those in need of immediate help because of an eviction, we urge them to call 311 to request housing stabilization services or visit the Department of Housing and Community Affairs website.

Free Rec Passes for County Residents Now Available

Montgomery County Recreation created a buzz online in December with the announcement that passes to use recreation fitness centers would be free for County residents in 2023. Now it is time for County residents to take advantage of free passes. Check out this story from Fox 5 that aired last weekend about this program.

So far, we have had more than 7,500 people sign up for gym passes. This is up from only 40 during the first week of the year last January.

Signing up for a free fitness pass makes it easy for any County resident to work out close to home, near their office or at any center of the nearly two dozen locations.

Aquatic passes remain separate, and pool passes for anyone 10 and over remain available for all indoor pools.

Montgomery Recreation also is focused on Active Montgomery summer camps. Registration for those activities begins Jan. 17. These camps fill up quickly. Click here more information about the camps that we are offering this summer.

Radon Action Month

January is “National Radon Action Month.” The County’s Department of Environmental Protection is alerting residents to discounts available on radon testing kits.

Radon is an odorless and invisible gas that contains radiation. It can be released from rocks, soil and water exposed to deteriorating uranium in the soil. When it is trapped inside homes and families are exposed to radon over a long period of time, it can lead to serious health problems, especially for former smokers. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that radon is responsible for 21,000 lung cancer deaths yearly.

A study done by the U.S. Geological Survey found that parts of Montgomery County did contain elevated amounts of radon in random testing, above what is considered acceptable amounts of natural occurrence. Since 2016, the EPA has recommended radon testing when preparing to buy or sell a home and after major renovations are done.

The Maryland Department of Environment has an online application you can use to order a kit for $3 if you provide your name, email address, home address and answer a few questions. More information is available at our Radon Awareness page. Take advantage of this opportunity to learn more about the dangers of radon and get a low-cost test kit to protect your loved ones.

Korean American Day

Korean American Day is today, Friday, Jan. 13. This year marks 120 years since South Korean immigrants first came to America. Montgomery County is grateful for the immense contributions of the Korean community. Residents of Korean descent make up 16 percent of our County’s Asian American-Pacific Islander (AAPI) community.

Earlier this week, I hosted a meeting with community leaders including Maryland Senator Susan Lee and Consul General Kwon from the Korean Embassy. It comes in anticipation of the Lunar New Year celebrated by our Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese communities.

I am wishing everyone a happy, healthy and prosperous Lunar New Year, which will be celebrated on Sunday, Jan. 22.

Maryland General Assembly Back to Work

There are certainly many things to look forward with the start of the 2023 Maryland General Assembly legislative session this week. I was in Annapolis for the first day of the session and plan to return regularly over the next 90 days to work with the outstanding legislators who represent Montgomery County as we advocate for greater resources to support projects and initiatives that will improve the quality of life for our residents.

The County will be seeking State assistance on critical projects to propel our growth and boost the economic engine of the State. Exciting planned projects include our Bus Rapid Transit system and the Institute on Health Computing. Building on the progress of the last legislative session, we will be working to increase State support for our comprehensive Bus Rapid Transit system to link more neighborhoods to business corridors across the County.

Just two months ago, I joined representatives of the University of Maryland College Park, the University of Maryland Baltimore and the University of Maryland Medical System to announce the formation of the Institute for Health Computing (UM3 IHC). This new institute will bring together our County’s globally recognized life science community with the Universities’ internationally ranked bio-health and quantum computing programs to create the next generation of medicine and care.

In addition to these two very important projects, we will work with our State delegates and senators to secure financial support for significant school building upgrades, to keep the promise of the Blueprint for Maryland’s future, to combat climate change, to improve public safety and to care for all residents. You can look at a list of our legislative priorities by following this link.

Montgomery County has an outstanding delegation in the State Assembly made up of 35 senators and delegates. In fact, it is the largest delegation in the State., including a portion of District 9A that now includes part of our County. I would like to welcome Sen. Katie Fry Hester, as well as five new delegates: Del. Aaron Kaufman, Del. Bernice Meriku-North, Del. Joe Vogel, Del. Chao Wu and Del. Natalie Ziegler. I am excited to work with each of them to produce real results for Montgomery County.

Once again, our delegation members are well represented in leadership across the General Assembly. Del. Marc Korman has been selected as the new House Majority Leader and Del. Emily Shetty has been named chair of the House Democratic Caucus. They join Del. Kumar Barve, chair of the House Transportation and Environment Committee, as part of the House senior leadership team.

In the Senate, Majority Leader Nancy King and Senate Judicial Proceedings Chair Will Smith will be joined in leadership by Sen. Brian Feldman, who will lead the newly created Committee on Education, Energy and the Environment. In addition, Del. Jheanelle Wilkins will serve as chair of the Legislative Black Caucus. With other County legislators chairing several critical policy and budget subcommittees, our delegation is primed to deliver results for our County. I also look forward to continued partnerships with Senate Delegation Chair Ben Kramer and House Delegation Chair Julie Palakovich Carr.

Congratulations to all the new and returning legislative leaders, especially House Speaker Adrienne Jones and Senate President Bill Ferguson. Their leadership has been critical to the State over the last three years. I value their continued partnership.

As always, my appreciation for all of you,


Per Montgomery County: The fourth phase of Montgomery County’s COVID-19 Rent Relief Program will close to new applications at midnight on Friday, Jan.13.  Phase Four of the Rent Relief Program will close because it is expected that the current pool of applicants will exhaust  the remaining funds available for the program, which provides financial assistance for tenants who have experienced a financial hardship due to the COVID-19 health crisis.

Furthermore, the County offers Emergency Eviction Prevention services.  Renters facing an immediate loss of housing should call 311 Monday through Friday from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. to be connected with the Department of Health and Human Services’ (DHHS) Housing Stabilization Services.

Last month, Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich joined county executives from Anne Arundel, Baltimore and Howard County; the mayor of Baltimore; and a number of advocacy groups, in sending a letter to Governor Hogan to request emergency funding for rental assistance.   In the letter, county and city leaders asked the State for $175 million in additional rent relief funds that would prevent the eviction of approximately 17,000 households across Maryland.

To date, DHHS has approved assistance for approximately 1,500 households and has processed more than 3,300 applications for Phase Four of the program. As of Jan. 11, approximately $15.5 million in direct assistance has been provided to applicants. Since the start of the COVID Rent Relief Program, more than $93 million in assistance has been provided to more than 11,900 households.

More information and answers to frequently asked questions about the COVID-19 rent relief program can be found at Visit the Department of Housing and Community Affairs website for additional resources for renters.


There will three testing and vaccination sites open on Monday, Dec. 26 and Monday, Jan. 2.

Dennis Avenue Health Center
2000 Dennis Avenue, Silver Spring
10 a.m. – 7 p.m.

East County Regional Service Center
3300 Briggs Chaney Road, Silver Spring
9 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Upcounty Regional Services Center
12900 Middlebrook Road, Germantown
10 a.m. – 7 p.m.

Take-home rapid test kits and masks provided at libraries will not be available when libraries are closed Dec. 25 and 26 and Jan. 1 and 2. Beginning on Dec. 30, County testing clinics will be walk-in only, unless otherwise stated, and no appointments will be needed.
The County’s COVID-19 email box ([email protected]) will be discontinued as of Dec. 30.  If anyone has a question about COVID-19, they can call the COVID-19 call center at 240-777-2982.
Find out more information on COVID-19 testing and vaccination on the County’s COVID-19 website.


 The increase in transmission has occurred both in the County and in other jurisdictions around the region.  Combined with influenza cases and other significant respiratory disease, emergency department visits and hospitalization rates have increased as well.

“Our current surge in cases is coming right before the holidays and with increased travel and gatherings, there is concern that transmission may increase and strain the health care system,” said County Executive Marc Elrich. “I encourage all residents to take extra precautions and to make sure they are up to date on vaccinations, including getting a flu vaccine.  We want people to enjoy being with family and friends, but we want to do it safely.”

Although the County is currently an area of low-level community transmission as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the case rate is quickly approaching medium-level community transmission.

Based on the advice of Montgomery County  Health Officer Kisha Davis, it is strongly recommended that people voluntarily engage in the following precautionary measures to slow transmission, protect the most vulnerable populations and keep hospitalizations down:

  • Use a well-fitting face covering during visits to congregate places and indoor spaces with limited social distancing.
  • Use of testing and test-to-treat antiviral medication after returning from travel or gatherings.
  • Stay up to date on COVID-19 vaccinations, including booster-shots.
  • The County continues to offer free at-home rapid test kits and N-95 masks at libraries.

Visit the County’s COVID-19 data dashboard to review the latest metrics and key indicators. Find additional information on masks and transmission levels on the COVID-19 website.

If you are not vaccinated, find free vaccination clinics at  If you feel sick or think you may have been exposed to COVID-19, get tested. Find free testing clinics at

For the latest COVID-19 updates, visit the County’s COVID-19 website and follow Montgomery County on Facebook @MontgomeryCountyInfo and Twitter @MontgomeryCoMD.

# # #


Per MCPD: As the holiday season coincides with a rise in respiratory virus cases, Montgomery County, in partnership with Por Nuestra Salud y Bienestar and Westfield Wheaton, will provide free COVID bivalent boosters and flu shots during the 2nd holiday “Boosterama” vaccine event. The event will take place from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 17, at Westfield Wheaton mall. Boosterama will be held outside of Carter’s on the 2nd floor of Westfield Wheaton. No appointment is needed. Pediatric booster shots will not be available at the event. Individuals who receive their COVID booster or a flu shot at the event will be eligible to win one of eight gift cards that can be used throughout Westfield Wheaton’s wide variety of retailers.

Respiratory illnesses such as RSV, flu and COVID are currently on the rise. While there is no vaccination for RSV, there are vaccinations available for flu and COVID. Boosterama events are part of a broader effort by the County to encourage residents to use common sense health measures, including staying up to date on vaccinations.

“The holiday season can be stressful for a variety of reasons,” said County Executive Marc Elrich. “This year, give yourself the gift of health. Boosterama is a convenient way you can receive the COVID booster and flu shot, saving you time and keeping you and your family safe. It is easy and helps to ensure your holidays remain free of respiratory viruses.”

To date, nearly 37 percent of County residents aged 50 and older have received the bivalent booster shot and nearly 21 percent of all residents have received the bivalent booster shot.  If it has been at least two months since completing your primary series of COVID shots, you are eligible for a bivalent booster.
“The health and safety of our guests and staff is priority No. 1,” said Stuart Amos, senior general manager of Westfield Wheaton. “Boosterama is a free and convenient way to keep ourselves and community safe from the spread of respiratory viruses this holiday season. We are grateful for our partnership with Montgomery County in hosting this event.”

In addition to Boosterama, flu or COVID booster shots are widely available at locations throughout the community. Make an appointment or find other locations at The County continues to provide free N-95 masks and rapid COVID test kits at multiple locations. The Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services also offers tips to keep you and your family ‘COVID-Prepared’ this holiday season. For more information about Por Nuestra Salud y Bienestar, visit its website.


Per Montgomery County: The third holiday season with COVID-19 is underway, and everyone agrees that COVID fatigue exists. A few simple steps of caution can make being with family and friends enjoyable while reducing the risk of illness from COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses such as colds and flu. Montgomery County’s Department of Health and Human Services offers the following things to keep in mind when planning for family gatherings:

  • Make plans with the highest-risk person in the family and friends group in mind. Talk to family members ahead of time to figure out the plan. Encourage everyone to take additional precautions if a high-risk family member is attending. This means being up to date on all vaccinations and could include limiting the number of people invited. If the weather cooperates, think about moving meals outdoors.
  • Get the new bivalent COVID-19 booster. Everyone who is eligible (ages 5 and up at least two months after their latest dose) should get the new booster to add an extra layer of protection. There are County-operated clinics and private providers offering both the Moderna and Pfizer bivalent boosters. Visit to see dates, times and locations.
  • Pay attention to symptoms. In the days before the event, and especially the day of, watch out for COVID symptoms: sore throat, congestion, coughing, fatigue, headaches and muscle pain. People infected with BA.5, the dominant variant, are less likely to report losing their sense of taste and smell. If you feel sick, stay home—even if you have a negative rapid test.
  • Test wisely. Everyone should test before a family gathering—the question is when to test and how many times. There are differing opinions on the exact timing and combination of tests that should be taken, but for the most accurate measure of whether or not you are contagious, take an at-home rapid test immediately before an event. If you have been wearing masks regularly, limiting contact and do not have symptoms, a negative test is a good measure. If you wake up with a scratchy throat and have interacted with someone who tested positive, consider staying home even if the tests are negative.
  • Consider a mini-quarantine before a holiday gathering. Wear a mask in public indoor spaces and limit the time spent around crowds—for example, time trips to the grocery store for when they are not overwhelmingly packed. If traveling, check case counts for the area you are visiting.
  • Mask up when traveling. Whether taking a plane, bus or train, make sure to wear a mask.
  • Ventilate your space. If holding an event outside is not an option, increase air circulation and reduce the risk of trapping and transmitting the virus. Portable air purifiers with HEPA filters can be expensive, but even opening windows slightly can improve air flow.

The County continues to provide free N-95 masks and rapid test kits at multiple locations.


Per the State of Maryland—Governor Larry Hogan and the Maryland Department of Health (MDH) today announced that more than one million Marylanders have received their COVID-19 bivalent booster since September in order to be COVIDReady in time for the holidays. “Through our COVIDReady plan, Maryland continues to be one of the most vaccinated and boosted states in the country,” said Governor Hogan. “We are grateful for the everyday vigilance of Marylanders, and the leadership of our GoVAX ambassadors, who have reminded us that we truly are all in this together.”



Recognition For GoVax Ambassadors. The state is recognizing the efforts of the state’s GoVAX ambassadors from all walks of life with governors’ citations and a new ad, which will play on WBAL during Thanksgiving programming. First launched in January 2021, the initial GoVAX campaign highlighted around a dozen Marylanders—including former UMBC President Dr. Freeman Hrabowski, Del. Joseline Peña-Melnyk, and Associate Professor of Medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine Dr. Kathleen Page.

Enthusiasm quickly grew for the campaign, attracting many more ambassadors, including community leaders, health care workers, faith leaders, and Maryland families. Each of these Marylanders have been essential in sharing information about the safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines and boosters, helping Maryland earn national recognition for its COVID-19 response.

“Surpassing one million COVID-19 bivalent booster shots administered since September shows that Marylanders understand the importance of staying COVIDReady,” said MDH Secretary Dennis R. Schrader. “Fighting COVID-19 has always been a statewide effort, and Marylanders have pulled together to protect ourselves and our families against this virus by getting boosted. We are grateful for our GoVAX ambassadors who have played a role in this effort.”

COVIDReady Maryland. Marylanders can protect themselves from flu and COVID-19 by getting a “Flooster,” a flu shot and COVID-19 booster. It’s safe to get both at the same visit and is the best way to protect against severe illness and death. As always, Marylanders are encouraged to practice basic health hygiene by washing your hands, covering your cough, and staying home from work and school when sick. This helps slow the spread of respiratory illness like RSV as well, which can be dangerous to small children and older adults and doesn’t have a vaccine.

Find a vaccine provider at or by calling 1-855-MDGOVAX (1-855-634-6829). For more information about COVID-19 vaccines in Maryland, visit For the most recent Maryland COVID-19 vaccine data, visit


Maryland Governor Larry Hogan announced today that he has tested positive for COVID-19. In a tweet Hogan said, “Just wanted to let Marylanders know that after testing positive for COVID-19, I am working from home. Fortunately, I’m up to date on my boosters and my symptoms are minimal” and directed residents to visit to find a nearby vaccine clinic.

Last week Hogan announced that over 710,000 Marylanders have received the COVID-19 bivalent booster. Addition COVID-19 information courtesy of the State of Maryland below:
State Continues Joint COVID-19/Flu Shot Campaign.
Earlier this month, state officials further expanded COVIDReady Maryland, the state’s long-term preparedness plan, by adding the COVID-19 bivalent vaccine booster shot for residents five years old and older. In addition, adults now have the option of receiving a Novavax monovalent booster if they have not previously received a booster and if they cannot or will not receive mRNA vaccines.

To date, more than 710,000 Marylanders have received the COVID-19 bivalent booster, further protecting themselves against severe illness, hospitalization, and death. With flu hospitalizations also increasing earlier and faster than in previous years, state health officials continue to encourage Marylanders to get their COVID-19 and flu shots simultaneously. Starting next week, state health officials will launch a new “Flooster” television, radio, and social media ad campaign to amplify this message.

The state maintains a robust vaccination infrastructure of more than 900 providers. Some locations offer both COVID-19 and flu shots during the same visit. Find a vaccination clinic near you.

Enhanced Awareness and Outreach. The state’s GoVAX Call Center (1-855-MD-GOVAX) continues to be available seven days a week. In addition to providing a number of services for help with getting tested and boosted, the call center is launching a texting campaign focused on preventing COVID-19, flu, and RSV.


Per the State of Maryland:
Directs Hospitals to Utilize Recent $25 Million in State Funding to Prioritize Pediatric ICU Staffing
Expands Critical Care Coordination Center to Include Pediatric Surge Operations
State Surpasses 700,000 COVID-19 Bivalent Boosters Administered
Launching New Statewide COVID/Flu PSA Campaign Next Week

ANNAPOLIS, MD—As hospitals in the region and across the country experience an increase in Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) admissions, Governor Larry Hogan today announced a series of new mitigation actions, along with preparedness efforts for potential fall and winter COVID-19 and flu surges in Maryland. “After meeting with our multi-agency public health task force yesterday and reviewing all of the data, I am announcing these steps to give our hospitals more tools to expand bed capacity for pediatric patients,” said Governor Hogan. “We also continue to encourage Marylanders to be COVIDReady, so that we remain one of the most vaccinated and boosted states, and stay ahead of the virus.”

Hospitals Directed to Utilize Additional State Funding to Prioritize Pediatric ICU Staffing. RSV hospitalizations are increasing earlier and more rapidly than in previous years, with the 0-2 age group comprising 57% of hospitalizations. On October 14, the Maryland Department of Health announced $80 million in additional funding for healthcare providers across the state. Hospitals will receive $25 million and have been directed in award letters issued today to utilize these resources to increase the hiring and recruitment of staff. For facilities with pediatric ICU and/or inpatient beds, awards should prioritize staffing those units appropriately before considering other non-pediatric units. All hospitals are also strongly urged to collaborate with neighboring hospitals on pediatric patient care coordination.

Critical Care Coordination Center Expanded to Include Pediatric Surge Operations. To help mitigate an increase in hospital admissions, particularly among children experiencing RSV, Rhinovirus, or Enterovirus D68, the Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services Systems (MIEMSS) will expand its Critical Care Coordination Center (C4) capability to include pediatric surge operations. This action will optimize existing capacity, increase statewide capacity of pediatric ICU beds, and facilitate the transfer of pediatric patients to available beds in Maryland hospitals and Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, DC.

State Continues Joint COVID-19/Flu Shot Campaign. Earlier this month, state officials further expanded COVIDReady Maryland, the state’s long-term preparedness plan, by adding the COVID-19 bivalent vaccine booster shot for residents five years old and older. In addition, adults now have the option of receiving a Novavax monovalent booster if they have not previously received a booster and if they cannot or will not receive mRNA vaccines.

To date, more than 710,000 Marylanders have received the COVID-19 bivalent booster, further protecting themselves against severe illness, hospitalization, and death. With flu hospitalizations also increasing earlier and faster than in previous years, state health officials continue to encourage Marylanders to get their COVID-19 and flu shots simultaneously. Starting next week, state health officials will launch a new “Flooster” television, radio, and social media ad campaign to amplify this message.

The state maintains a robust vaccination infrastructure of more than 900 providers. Some locations offer both COVID-19 and flu shots during the same visit. Find a vaccination clinic near you.

Enhanced Awareness and Outreach. The state’s GoVAX Call Center (1-855-MD-GOVAX) continues to be available seven days a week. In addition to providing a number of services for help with getting tested and boosted, the call center is launching a texting campaign focused on preventing COVID-19, flu, and RSV.


The following message was released by MCPS Medical Officer Patricia Kapunan, M.D., MPH on Friday, September 16:

“Dear MCPS Families,
Here is an update on COVID-19 as we wrap-up the third week of school. Though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) COVID-19 Community Risk Level for Montgomery County is “low,” we are seeing an expected modest rise in positive COVID-19 cases reported to MCPS, after summer travel and the return to school. The highest number of positive tests so far were reported last week, after Labor Day weekend. Fortunately, fewer positive cases are being reported this week.

Thank you to our staff and families for continuing to test when they have symptoms or after a possible exposure, for using the online tool to report positive COVID-19 test results, and for following CDC isolation guidelines. Core health strategies like staying home when sick and good hand-washing are also important for limiting the spread of infection. As our schedules get busier, remember the basics—rest, good nutrition and staying active all help to keep students healthy and ready to learn.

Please remember that while masking is optional, masks are temporarily required in some situations:

  • Students presenting to the health room for evaluation of possible COVID-19 symptoms.

  • Staff or students who test positive for COVID-19 at school or work.

  • Staff or students with COVID-19 infection, after completing five days of isolation, who feel well enough to return to school or work (masks are worn until day 10).

  • Individuals exposed during an outbreak, as an alternative to 10-day quarantine. Exposed staff and students do not need to quarantine as long as they are symptom free, and can safely wear a mask for 10 days after the exposure.

Children who cannot wear a mask safely due to health considerations, young age or other factors, may need other preventive strategies in an outbreak. At any risk level, we respect an individual’s decision to wear a mask for their own health reasons or to protect another person.

Vaccination is still our most effective tool for preventing serious complications or death due to COVID-19, and can decrease the risk of becoming infected. The new updated COVID-19 boosters that also include protection against the latest Omicron subvariants are now available at county-sponsored clinics, including school-based vaccine clinics or at retail pharmacies or other locations.

Vigilance, preparation and prevention are necessary to support our commitment to safe, in-person learning. We continue to monitor data trends closely at the county and school levels with our public health partners, and encourage everyone to engage in prevention measures to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Thank you again for your help and commitment to keeping our MCPS community healthy. Enjoy the upcoming weekend!


Patricia Kapunan, M.D., MPH
MCPS Medical Officer”


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