Prince George’s County officials urge vigilance as COVID-19 cases rise

Officials in Prince George’s County, Maryland, warned against “COVID fatigue” and said the county would remain in Phase Two of pandemic-related restrictions as cases in the county continue a recent rise.

Prince George’s County was “the hardest-hit jurisdiction in our region,” County Executive Angela Alsobrooks said at a briefing Thursday, adding that “our COVID-19 metrics are still higher than we would like them to be. In fact, they have gone up.”

County Health Officer Dr. Ernest Carter had the numbers: There were 852 new cases in the county for the week of Oct. 18, the highest weekly mark for the county since August.

The percentage of coronavirus tests that come back positive is up to 4.3% from 3.9% a month ago, and the infection rate — the average number of people each patient goes on to infect — stands at 1.07, just under the “high” range of 1.1 and well above the 0.9 that health officials look to as a sign that the virus is receding.


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Alsobrooks and Carter both warned that Halloween, Thanksgiving and likely Christmas wouldn’t look like the usual holidays this year.

Indoor haunted houses are not permitted this Halloween, Carter said, and residents should “consider holding a virtual gathering” for Thanksgiving, given that contact tracing for most of the new cases shows family gatherings — even small ones — as a major factor in the spread of the virus.

“In the name of safety,” Carter said, “show your love a little bit differently this year.”

Rental assistance

Alsobrooks said the county’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program was relaunched Tuesday to help renters who have fallen on hard times due to the economic fallout of the pandemic.

The revived system differs from the previous one in an important way: Landlords and property managers have to apply on behalf of their tenants.

There’s almost $6 million ready to be disbursed, up to a maximum of $1,800 a month and a maximum of six months.

Landlords should go to the county’s Landlord Portal for more information and to apply.

Schools

Alsobrooks pushed back against state schools Superintendent Karen Salmon’s assertion earlier this week that schools should be reopened Dec. 7, when the winter sports season has been cleared to begin.

“I will rely on Dr. Carter, but … all of those are indicators that we are not headed in a direction where we would feel comfortable” with in-person learning, Alsobrooks said. “We will absolutely respect the opinions of our families and teachers and administrators.”

That said, she empathized with parents and students who were having trouble with distance learning, particularly in subjects such as physics and geometry. “These things are not easy for our kids,” including her own 15-year-old daughter, Alsobrooks said.

Election

The county executive said more than 65,000 Prince Georgians have already voted, the most in the state.

Alsobrooks advised voters who haven’t cast their ballots yet to drop them off at one of the 42 drop boxes in the county, but that anyone who wanted to vote by mail should take it straight to a post office in order to ensure that it’s postmarked by 5 p.m. on Nov. 3.

This content was republished with permission from CNN.

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