Montgomery Co. health department operations not greatly impacted by state website outage

An investigation into the security breach that brought the Maryland Department of Health’s website offline over the weekend is ongoing, but in the meantime, the Montgomery County Health Department said its ability to deliver crucial services was not affected during the outage.

In a Wednesday news briefing, Sean O’Donnell, with the county’s Department of Health and Human Services, said the interruption has crimped the ability to track and report data, but otherwise, operations have not experienced severe impact.

O’Donnell said some of the data coming from the state “may be a day old, or more,” adding that automation of the very latest data “helps us to be as current as we would like to be in providing information to our leadership, who are making decisions, as well as to the community, who are tracking along with us.”

The state’s website was restored on Monday, but some services remain offline and employees are being advised to avoid using state-issued computers “out of an abundance of caution,” health department spokesperson Andy Owen told WTOP.

Owen also said daily reporting for hospital census data became available again as of 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, and that the department continues moving toward resuming regular data reporting.

The extent of the security breach has not been specified yet, but the department said there is no evidence that any data were compromised.

Dr. Earl Stoddard, the county’s assistant chief administrative officer, said they have been able to continue enrolling people in county services, despite the outage.

“We’ve been able to continue to enroll new people in programs and have them participate in programs, but often the knowledge on the back end — the most obvious examples being vaccination rates from 5- to 11-year-olds — we’ve been getting that information much more sporadically,” Stoddard said.

He said the process of getting vaccines out to the community was not greatly affected by the outage.

Zeke Hartner

Zeke Hartner is a digital writer/editor who has been with WTOP since 2017. He is a graduate of North Carolina State University’s Political Science program and an avid news junkie.

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