As the coronavirus spreads through the region, 16 Prince George’s County Fire & EMS Department members are under self quarantine “out of an abundance of caution” after encountering individuals with the disease, according to county Fire Chief Tiffany Green announced March 18, 2020. “That number will continue to fluctuate in the coming days,” wrote Green. Fire officials said on Twitter the possible exposures occurred in both work and non-work-related situations. “None of our members have tested positive for COVID-19,” fire officials said on Twitter. “We are in close consultation with the Prince George’s County Department of Health on every call where we come in contact with a patient who is exhibiting signs or symptoms similar to that of COVID-19,” reads Greens announcement, posted on Prince George’s County Nextdoor sites.
The top news today: expanded school meals distribution sites, and Whole Foods launches elder hours. But first: Route 1 Reporter is launching a hopefully recurring series of articles to compile new information about food assistance available for Prince Georgians during the coronavirus pandemic disruptions. The hope is that this will be a daily-as-needed series, but the situation is rapidly changing and I’m experiment to see what works and what doesn’t, so who knows? On to the news:
Prince George’s County expands grab-and-go school meals distribution sites
NEW! We've expanded student meal sites.
Beginning March 19, new sites are Calverton, Clinton Grove, Gladys Noon Spellman, Laurel, Lewisdale, Springhill Lake, Thomas S. Stone and Waldon Woods elementary schools, and Benjamin Stoddert, Kettering and Oxon Hill middle schools. RT pic.twitter.com/XFXZKvAWSz
A Prince George’s County resident in his 60s has become the first Maryland resident to die from the novel coronavirus pandemic, according to Gov. Larry Hogan. The man suffered from an underlying medical condition so far un-detailed by state or county health officials. “It is with profound sadness that I announce the first death in Maryland as a result of the coronavirus pandemic,” said Hogan in a brief statement issued March 17, 2020. “We must use every possible resource at every level of government to save lives and keep people safe.”
Hogan will hold a press conference at 10 a.m., March 19, 2020 to discuss the death, and provide more updates on the state’s pandemic response. According to the latest numbers provided by the Maryland Department of Health as of Wednesday, March 18, 2020, there were 85 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus documented across the state.
Nineteen cases of novel coronavirus have so-far been confirmed in Prince George’s County as of March 17, 2020, said Prince George’s County officials in a Tuesday evening conference call. Most of the infected are under quarantine in their homes. One is hospitalized, but is stable. As the outbreak spreads in Prince George’s health officials said during the conference call that residents need to practice “social distancing” to the greatest extent possible for the time being. “We have to hunker down,” said Dr. Ernest Carter, chief health officer for Prince George’s County.
As regular readers may have noticed, Route 1 Reporter is making major changes to its newsgathering operations in the face of a global coronavirus pandemic which is now spreading rapidly in Prince George’s County. The goal of these changes is to serve as a reliable source of freely-accessible information for all of Prince George’s County’s communities about this rapidly-evolving and deadly-serious viral outbreak.
The first duty my newsgathering efforts will be to convey and amplify the messages from official government agencies bearing new information about the hyperlocal, county, state and federal impacts of the coronavirus outbreak. The second duty of my newsgathering efforts will be to highlight the complications, controversies, and implications of our governments’ and our communities’ response to the pandemic.
Both parts are needed. Emergency management and government officials in Maryland and beyond are actively using local journalism reports – where available – as critical parts of their feedback loops to develop or modify policies and direct government action. Those reports will sometime lead to uncomfortable questions for government officials about this deadly pandemic.
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.
Route 1 Reporter has compiled information about the current state of the coronavirus outbreak in Prince George’s County. Below, starting at the Federal level, is a summary of the weekend’s pandemic response news for the federal, state, county and municipal levels in Prince George’s County. Federal Update
Gatherings of more than 50 people should be cancelled for the next eight weeks, according to new guidance issued March 15, 2020, by the Centers for Disease Control. Here’s a link to the full guidance. The CDC’s official coronavirus information website is https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/
Maryland announced over the weekend it revamped the state’s official coronavirus information hub to be more accessible.
Coronavirus is moving through Prince George’s County “among people who are not particularly ill or showing symptoms,” according to Prince George’s County Health, Human Services, and Education Deputy Chief and pediatrician Dr. George Askew. Thursday, county officials said residents should take immediate precautions to limit social contact and prepare for serious disruptions to their daily lives. “The best way to address it is through non-pharmaceutical intervention; social distancing…increased levels of social distancing,” said Askew. “Close down events where large crowds might be. Close down smaller events even.”
Without major changes, a majority of Hyattsville City Council opposes a proposal to “legalize” backyard chickens in the city. At its March 2, 2020, meeting, Hyattsville City Council again discussed proposed legislation from Councilor Danny Schaible that would eliminate provisions in the city code that prohibit residents from owning chickens and other domestic fowl. But the proposed legislation was not amended from the last time City Council discussed the matter, when several City Council members expressed concerns that simply deleting the existing prohibitions without creating a regulatory framework for backyard fowl would be irresponsible. As a result, those concerns had not changed. In all, a majority of six of Hyattsville’s 11 City Councilors expressed concerns with Schaible’s proposal during the March 2 discussion.
Developers hope to build a Wawa gas station and convenience store on what is now a parking lot near College Park’s Ikea store on Baltimore Avenue, according to documents recently filed with county planning officials. Last week, Washington D.C., based developer Roadside Development filed a detailed site plan application for review and approval by the Prince George’s County Planning Board. The plan calls for the construction of a 4,740 square-foot gas station retail facility on 1.4 acres near Baltimore Avenue.
A map shows the relative location of the planned Wawa near Ikea Circle. According to the documents, the facility is planned for the southeast corner of the circle at the intersection of Ikea Way and Ikea Boulevard, to be more precise.
The Wawa, if approved, would have some familiar company nearby. Almost exactly one kilometer to the north is the Wawa at 10515 Baltimore Avenue in Beltsville.
Wawa’s application is tentatively set to be considered by the Planning Board at its April 30, 2020, meeting.