Prince George’s County limits free covid testing

Several Prince George’s County residents say they were recently denied free coronavirus tests from the county Department of Health because of a little-known rule limiting free tests to one-per person. 

The rule surprised County Councilor Deni Taveras, who represents Langley Park and Adelphi neighborhoods hit hard by the pandemic. Taveras said she was denied a test Aug. 5, 2020, at the Rollingcrest Community Center in Chillum because she had already received a free test. One county resident who previously received three tests through the health department, also was turned away from Rollingcrest this week for similar reasons. Another resident, a teacher in Prince George’s County Schools, 

County officials provided little additional information about the policy.

Hurricaine Isaias closes Prince George’s Covid test sites

In anticipation of heavy winds and rains from Hurricaine Isaias, Prince George’s County Covid-19 testing sits will be closed Aug. 4, 2020. As of this time, all testing sites are scheduled to reopen for normal hours on Aug. 5, 2020. Editor’s note:Route 1 Reporter is – normally – a subscriber-supported local news website.

As Prince George’s lags in Census response, a last-ditch push to be counted

With news that the Census may cut-short its door-to-door data collection, Prince George’s County officials are urging residents to take matters into their own hands and self-report their Census info by phone or online. Prince George’s County lags well behind state averages and behind other suburban-metro Maryland counties when it comes to Census response rates, with only an estimated 64.7 percent of county huoseholds responding as of Aug 3, 2020. Statewide, 66.9 percent of Marylanders have responded to the Census. 

Within Prince George’s County, areas inside the Beltway, such as Chillum, Langley Park, East Riverdale, Landover, and Hillcrest Heights, lag well behind other county Census tracts when it comes to Census response rates. Prince George’s County will host a covid-conscious Census completion and food, medical and school-supply distribution event at Ebenezer Church of God at 7550 Buchanan Street in Landover Hills on Aug. 8, 2020 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. During this event, county officials will provide free meals, backpacks, school supplies, personal protective equipment, Census swag and information.

Data: Coronavirus growing in rural Maryland

Coronavirus is on the rebound in Maryland and – to a lesser extent – in Prince George’s County, according to official state numbers. This surge in cases is being driven by growing outbreaks in rural areas of Maryland, according to an analysis by Route 1 Reporter. In particular, exurban communities in central Maryland and along the Chesapeake Bay’s western shores have seen the number of positive tests increase most-dramatically since July 1. Meanwhile, urban areas closer to Washington D.C., hard-hit by the virus early on, have seen far less-dramatic changes in the number of new positive coronavirus cases. !function(){“use strict”;window.addEventListener(“message”,(function(a){if(void 0!==a.data[“datawrapper-height”])for(var e in a.data[“datawrapper-height”]){var t=document.getElementById(“datawrapper-chart-“+e)||document.querySelector(“iframe[src*='”+e+”‘]”);t&&(t.style.height=a.data[“datawrapper-height”][e]+”px”)}}))}();

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As of July 21, Total cases have risen to 79,545 across the state, and include 3,402 deaths.

Prelim plans for Cheverly Amazon facility approved

Prince George’s County Planning Board unanimously approved preliminary plans for a massive Amazon warehouse facility just outside Cheverly. Built on nearly 18 acres of land, the project – dubbed Washington Gateway – will see a one-story, 172,200 square-foot “last mile distribution center” built near the intersection of Columbia Park Road and Cabin Branch Drive southeast of Cheverly. 

The vote took place at the Planning Board’s July 16, 2020 meeting. The project, from industrial developer Prologis, has been controversial in Cheverly, with neighbors in the town’s fourth word concerned about possible traffic impacts from the distribution facility. You can read more about their concerns here. Kayce Munyeneh, Cheverly’s Ward Four City Councilor noted a small neighborhood of 50 homes is near the site of the proposed facility. 

“Our primary concern is safety and making sure that Amazon trucks do not decide to use 62nd and 62st as a cut-through,” said Munyeneh during the meeting.

A middle-aged African-American woman with gray hair and a white, short-sleeved shirt sits at a table during a meeting of some kind.

Robinson sues Mount Rainier for $1.5 million over alleged ‘racist’ records request blowback

Charnette Robinson is suing the city of Mount Rainier for $1.5 million. The suit alleges Robinson’s rights were violated in 2019 when City Councilor Celina Benitez issued an open letter on social media characterizing an earlier Public Information Act records request from Robinson as “a racist pursuit.” Robinson’s records request, filed February 2019, sought a variety of documents regarding city officials, including information about the citizenship status of city elected officials. In a March 2019 open letter, Benitez – a Hispanic immigrant and naturalized citizen – described the records request as “no better than a racist pursuit for a president’s birth certificate.” These incidents occurred in the run-up to the May 2019 Mount Rainier City Council elections, which saw Robinson challenge the incumbent Benitez for her Ward One seat.

Data: See which Prince George’s businesses got Paycheck Protection Loans

As the coronavirus delivered a shock to the local economy, 9,442 Prince George’s County businesses and nonprofits received emergency loans from the Paycheck Protection Program, including 1,447 loans valued between $150,000 to $10 million, according to data released by the Small Business Administration last week. Below this article, Route 1 Reporter presents a database that allows you to search for any Prince George’s County entity that received loans greater than $150,000 under the program. 

The official dataset has been criticized for not providing enough information about the loans. For example: information on loans greater than $150,000 identifies the recipients by name, but only provides a broad range for the loan each received, in buckets ranging from between $150,000 to $350,000 to the top-tier, which received loans of between $5 million and $10 million. Meanwhile, exact dollar amounts for loans less than $150,000 were noted for every recipient, but their names were kept under wraps. 

Additionally, transparency advocates – as well as many loan recipients – have complained the data released by the SBA contains inaccuracies. In particular, SBA officials said inconsistent data-collection practices show many loan recipients to reporting zero jobs were retained with the funds.

Q2 sees prime Route 1 properties trade hands

Despite the coronavirus pandemic, it’s been a busy few months for property sales along the Route 1 corridor in Prince George’s County. Several major commercial and multi-family properties have traded hands in the second quarter of the year, according to state property records. The biggest transaction of the quarter in the Route 1 corridor belongs to Varsity Apartments in College Park, which traded hands for $146,022,026 in a sale recorded March 27, 2020. The 900-bed property was bought by Greystar Properties from American Campus Communities. Greystar Properties also plans a 343-unit student housing development on Knox Road in College Park.

Data: As Prince George’s enters ‘full’ phase 2, covid cases decline steadily

Today, Prince George’s County crosses a milestone in its struggle to contain the local spread of coronavirus. At 5 p.m., June 29, 2020, the county will enter a “full phase two” reopening of county businesses. The move will allow gyms, fitness centers, casinos, shopping malls, spas and tattoo partners may re-open for business, with restrictions. 

But last week, Prince George’s County crossed another milestone in the local fight against covid-19. For the first time since April, the rolling 14-day average count of daily new cases dropped below 100 cases per day. This happened on June 26, 2020.

Prince George’s County gets high marks from bond underwriters

Despite facing significant a projected loss of $130 million in revenue heading into the next fiscal year at the end of June, major financial ratings agencies have maintained Prince George’s County’s triple-A bond rating. The news was announced by Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks June 15, 2020. According to the announcement, financial ratings agencies Fitch, Moody’s and Standard and Poors all gave top marks to the county. A bond rating like a credit score for a government. A good bond rating, and a triple-A score is good, is helpful to have if you plan any major debt-financed projects because it gets you access to lower-interest loans.