Prince George’s County Coronavirus Daily Digest: Managing expectations

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DeMatha Catholic High School

DeMatha Catholic High School teacher Fr. Damien leads instruction remotely from an empty classroom in the Hyattsville school.

Route 1 Reporter has compiled information from the past day about the hyperlocal effects of the coronavirus pandemic in Prince George’s County. Today’s edition covers the events of March 16. Below is a rundown of the new announcements from state, local and city leaders in Prince George’s County.

Federal update:

According to the Centers for Disease Control, there have been 3,487 total documented or under-investigation cases of novel coronavirus in the United States as of 4 p.m. March 16. There have 68 deaths in the United States so far. Illnesses that began between March 8 and March 15 may not yet be reported, according to the CDC.

Regional update:

According to The Washington Post, 101 people have “tested positive” for the disease in the Washington D.C. area as of March 16, 9:40 p.m. Maryland and Washington, D.C., officials issued sweeping executive orders closing down bars and restaurants, save for to-go, drive-thru or delivery options. A Metro Transit Police officer tested positive for the disease.

Maryland update: Hogans order closes bars, eateries – and a lot more

There are 37 confirmed cases in Maryland as of March 16, according to data from the Maryland Department of Health. Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties account for 25 of those.

Bars, restaurants, fitness centers and theaters were ordered closed by Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, the latest statewide measure to try to slow the pandemic. The measure took effect March 16 at 5 p.m. Additionally, Hogan’s order bans gatherings of more than 50 people for any reason, effective immediately.

“It is impossible to know how long this threat will continue,” said Hogan. “We cannot afford to wait to take action. While these measures may seem extreme, if we don’t take them now, it could be too late.”

In addition to the prohibition on public gatherings, Hogan’s executive order directed the Maryland Department of Health to reopen closed hospital facilities and to take “other measures necessary” to add 6,000 hospital beds to the state capacity. It also activates the Maryland Medical Reserve Corps, an organization of 5,000 volunteers designed to be deployed in emergencies. The order also restricts elective medical procedures and allows any inactive medical practitioner to “engage in activities that would have been authorized” under their inactive licenses.

On the bright side: the first three patients in Maryland diagnosed with the disease have recovered, according to WJLA.

Business info

The Maryland Department of Commerce launched a website to provide a central hub of information about state resources available to workers and business owners impacted by the pandemic.

Get Health care

The Maryland Department of Health has opened a special one-month period to enroll in the state’s health care program.

MARC commuter rail service reduced

Prince George’s County update:

Drive-thru testing in Prince George’s? Manage your expectations

During a March 16 press conference from the Prince George’s County Emergency Operations Center, Rep. Anthony Brown announced during brief remarks on the pandemic response that Prince George’s County would launch drive-through coronavirus testing this week. That was very shortly walked back by county health officials who emphasized that it might launch this week in one or two locations, and that it would require a doctor’s prescription to pull up and get tested. The fear is that there may be a rush by the public to get a test when not needed at facilities too-few-in number to handle the demand.

Hotline questions

A source working in the operations center not authorized to speak publicly said March 16 calls from residents lacking coronavirus symptoms but inquiring about where to obtain a test are common on the county’s coronavirus hotline. The source also said another common complaint on the county coronavirus hotline came from workers reporting their bosses had banned them from the workplace unless they could prove they were not infected with the disease.

The most-common category of calls, according to the source, came from the operators of bars, restaurants and clubs seeking guidance. There are also concerned family members looking to keep their loved ones indoors:

Expanded school lunch program

Prince George’s County announced March 16 an expansion of the grab-and-go school meals program from 11 to 25 schools across the county.

Other food resources for Prince Georgians

The Prince George’s County Food Equity Council released on March 16 a list of resources for residents facing food insecurity issues during the pandemic.

The Mount Rainier Community Emergency Response Team is organizing a community emergency food drive to prepare for eventual delivery to individuals under quarantine for the novel coronavirus. According to Mount Rainier CERT President Jack Priestly. The group is collecting the food at the Mount Rainier City Hall Parking Lot on Perry Street on March 21 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Mount Rainier Residents can also donate by leaving food on their porch and calling 301-655-5274 to arrange a pick-up.

The group is also looking for volunteers to eventually distribute the food packages when the need arises.

Priestly said the group is in need of the following items specificially:

  • dried beans 
  • bags of rice (brown or white) 
  • pasta 
  • pasta sauce (store bought) 
  • ramen (chicken, beef, oriental) 
  • bullion (chicken, beef, vegetable) 
  • canned veggies (beans such as black, pinto &others, corn, peas, green beans, carrots, potatoes, etc) 
  • canned soups (stock not cream. Chicken or vegetarian preferred) 
  • bread (white or wheat) 
  • crackers (plan or with peanut butter) 
  • peanut butter 
  • jelly (store bought) 
  • canned or pouch tuna 
  • canned or pouch chicken 
  • powdered electrolytes (Gatorade, etc) 
  • tang 
  • tea bags 
  • toilet paper 
  • kleenex/facial tissue 
  • paper towels 
  • hand soap (bar or liquid) 
  • tylenol/Ibuprofen 
  • cough drops 
  • Musinex (expectorant only)
  • Vitamin C Chewables (we will break these down and put a ziploc of 14 per person in each care package) 
  • Ziplock bags (snack size)

Berwyn Heights

Bladensburg

On March 16, Bladensburg added a new splash message to its website that details the town’s response to the pandemic. The town also debuted a new coronavirus information hub on its website. A day ago, the website had no information about the pandemic, though the town continues to be active on social media about the topic.

Bowie

On March 16, Bowie also shuttered the town’s buildings to the public in response to Hogan’s orders. The announcement, from Twitter:

Bowie maintains a city coronavirus response information hub at the following link: cityofbowie.org/corona

Bowie has also been actively tweeting about the situation over the past week. The city’s Twitter handle is @CityofBowie.

Brentwood

No new announcements.

Capitol Heights

No new announcements.

Cheverly

No new announcements.

College Park

College Park City officials announced they would be launching a platform to host “virtual” city council meetings starting March 17. The platform would so elected officials could meet remotely with staff and members of the public to conduct city business.

The city announced the cancellation of a further slate of events, including all seniors programs, youth programs, monthly city board and committee meetings, notary services, and others.

The city’s parks, fields and recreational facilities remain open, but gatherings must be smaller than 50 people. Animal control officers will only conduct outside patrols.

The city also announced it is still accepting electronic applications for its University of Maryland summer camp scholarship program for rising kindergarteners.

The city posts the latest on its pandemic response at Collegeparkmd.gov/notices.

Colmar Manor

No new announcements.

Cottage City

Cottage city moved its March 16 budget meeting to a conference call and announced it would be cancelling all public meetings for the time being.

District Heights

District Heights, as of March 16, 2020, continues to have shared no information about its coronavirus response. The city’s Facebook page hasn’t been updated since March 3. The Twitter account linked from the city’s website appears to have been hacked two years ago by a sunglasses spammer. The city’s website still advertises a city council meeting on March 24, 2020.

Eagle Harbor

No new announcements.

Edmonston

Forest Heights

No new announcements

Glenarden

The city of Glenarden still hasn’t shared information about its coronavirus response on its city website. The city’s Twitter account hasn’t been active since late 2019. The city’s Facebook page hasn’t shared much beyond reposts of county and state-level coronavirus information.

Greenbelt

Greenbelt provided an overview of Hogan’s new orders, as well as updates on visitor restrictions at Doctors Community Hospital and Anne Arundel Medical Center. City services are continuing with a rotating telecommuting staff. This includes refuse/recycling pickup, the Greenbelt Connection, the Food Distribution Program, and more.

Hyattsville

Hyattsville City Council postponed its March 16 City Council meeting to March 23. The rescheduled meeting will have a streamlined agenda, and city officials are exploring ways to hold the meeting remotely. The city also made other cancellations and reductions in service:

Landover Hills

Specific of the town of Landover Hills’ hyperlocal response to coronavirus are still unknown. Interestingly, the town announced on Facebook it would hold an executive session to discuss personnel evaluations after its March 16, 2020, meeting. The town maintains a Facebook page, but has mostly just shared announcements from other agencies. The town’s website is unsecure.

Laurel

On March 16, Laurel Mayor Craig Moe updated the city’s emergency declaration to match Hogan’s earlier order. The Laurel Police Department announced it would close its records section to the public. The police department remains open for individuals with emergencies, as well as for town releases. Otherwise, the department is shifting a lot of its work to telephone.

Morningside

No new announcements from the very strange, mixed-martial-arts content-heavy feeds of the official digital organs of the municipality of Morningside.

Mount Rainier

City officials appear to be ironing out a new teleworking policy. In a March 16, 2020, letter addressed to staff, city manager Latasha Gatling said city employees would shift to an alternating-day teleworking schedule:

“Tomorrow, I will send out a telework schedule in which we will have staff alternate days. I want to make sure we do our due diligence to protect everyone. This is not optional, therefore all employees must adhere to the schedule. This does not include Public Works and Police Officers. However it does include administrative and code employees. We have to be cautious. We will also have thorough cleaning scheduled as well. If you have any questions do not hesitate to contact me.”

New Carrolton

No new announcements.

North Brentwood

No new announcements.

Riverdale Park

The town of Riverdale Park announced March 16 Town Hall and the Department of Public Works are closed through at least March 30, 2020. The town cancelled in-person committee meetings, police ride-along program and finderprinting services.

Seat Pleasant

Seat Pleasant didn’t provide any new information about its coronavirus response today. We did, however, get a video on Twitter detailing Mayor Eugene Grant’s recent trip to Winter Haven, Florida, for a smart cities conference that ended March 12, 2020.

University Park

No new announcements.

Upper Marlboro

No new announcements.

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