‘Not ready for that’: Montgomery Co. executive says it’s too soon to reopen

Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich speaks to WTOP's Ken Duffy.

Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich is still expressing reluctance about revealing a date to start the first phase of reopening in Maryland’s most populated county despite other localities doing so in recent days.

On the same day that D.C. and Prince George’s County detailed potential reopening plans for May 29 and June 1, respectively, Elrich, whose county has more than 1 million people, continues to hold reservations about offering any kind of timeline at this point.

“I don’t like dates,” Elrich told WTOP. “If I give a date and I’m off by a day, people are going to be screaming at me because I didn’t open on the day people wanted me to open.”

Elrich said he is very focused on what Dr. Travis Gayles, the county’s health officer, tells him about the way forward.

“He’s the doctor and I’m not,” said Elrich. “He feels that we can get there [reopening] in a reasonable length of time. We should be able to do this in one or two weeks, but that assumes everyone keeps behaving.”

The reluctance to pick an exact date comes as the county just locked up a new agreement to expand its COVID-19 testing.

AdvaGenix, based in Rockville, will initially provide a minimum of 7,500 oral swab and saliva tube tests per week and will eventually supply 20,000 per week by early June.

Elrich called the contribution a “game changer” and an important step in the path to reopening.

“With this testing, we will be able to test people when we do the contact tracing,” said Elrich. “So if we know you’ve had contact, we can ask you to come and get a test and send you to a testing site. Everybody that’s negative, that’s great. Everyone positive, we can immediately start an immediate contact trace with that person.”

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Ken Duffy

Ken Duffy is a reporter and anchor at WTOP with more than 20 years of experience. He has reported from major events like the 2016 Democratic and Republican National Conventions, 2016 Election Night at Trump Headquarters in Midtown Manhattan and the 2007 Super Bowl in Miami.

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