racial justice and police reform

Dear resident,

Tensions in our country are extreme. Our racist president Donald Trump has failed to manage the COVID crisis and has steered us into an economic collapse with devastating consequences that are exacerbating racial inequalities.

With these flames burning, incidents such as the murder of George Floyd by police officers, the murder of Ahmaud Arbery by a retired officer and the ominous threats to call police against Chris Cooper by the woman in Central Park have brought us to a moment of reckoning about racial justice.

In order to create real change, “aspirations have to be translated into specific laws and institutional practices,” to quote Barack Obama.

As part of a broad agenda on racial justice that includes health, housing, education and more, this is a moment to take stock of where we are on police reform, which in Maryland requires change at the County and State level. Keep reading >>

Council funded grants support local businesses to pivot to PPE, emergency response

Councilmember Riemer spearheaded special appropriation to create Local Production Fund

ROCKVILLE, Md., May 15, 2020—Supported by a special appropriation by the Council, the Montgomery County Economic Development Corporation (MCEDC) has awarded 25 local businesses with funds totaling $200,000 for the manufacture of Covid-19-related personal protective equipment (PPE).

Councilmember Hans Riemer initiated the appropriation and partnered with MCEDC to create the Local Production Fund. MCEDC administers the fund and matched the Council’s $100,000 appropriation with $100,000 from their budget.

“I proposed this fund because we need the ingenuity of public private partnerships to get through this trying time,” said Councilmember Riemer. “These grants are going to help provide essential Covid-19-related equipment, much of which is in short supply. At the same time, it stimulates several sectors of our local economy and positions them for longer-term growth and recovery. I want to thank MCEDC for their work to support local business.”

Keep reading >>

Testing and tracing

Dear resident,

We all need this lockdown to end, and the only true solution is a vaccine.

Do we want schools and workplaces to reopen? Of course we do.

The only way that is going to happen successfully is if we have MUCH more aggressive public health management systems in place. So that is what I have been working on.

First and foremost we need to test more people — in fact, everyone.

That is why I have been pushing for weeks to expand testing. We MUST build a testing strategy…

  • For all workers and residents in long term care and group homes; systematic and regular testing regardless of symptoms
  • For essential workers, testing regularly regardless of symptoms
  • For anyone who has a concern and wants a test

Keep reading >>

updates

SUCCESS WITH FACE COVERINGS
I am really happy that the Governor has ordered facial coverings on a statewide basis similar to what I first proposed here — all customers and workers in retail settings and all public transportation riders and operators. That’s just what we need.

Wearing a facial covering is proven effective to reduce your “aerosol” emission cloud when you talk or breathe. Because many of us carry the virus but are asymptomatic, wearing a covering is a symbol of your care and commitment to protecting other people.

To promote equity, the Council is considering an appropriation to provide masks to those who may have more difficulty in acquiring them. We are also considering an economic development grant for local makers and businesses to manufacture masks and face shields.

But don’t forget, staying home is the first precautionary principle; and you can use a scarf, bandana or other wrap to cover your mouth and nose when you are out for an essential purpose; you don’t necessarily need a “mask”.

Keep reading >>

Councilmembers to Introduce Regulation Requiring Face Coverings in Public Spaces to Help Stop the Spread of the Coronavirus

Measure Would Apply in Retail Stores, Other Essential Businesses

ROCKVILLE, MD, April 7, 2020– Councilmembers today announced their intention to introduce a new Board of Health regulation requiring employees and customers of essential businesses to wear face coverings when interacting with customers or coworkers. The regulation will be introduced and voted on at the Council’s virtual meeting on Tuesday, April 14. Councilmembers Hans Riemer and Gabe Albornoz are the lead sponsors, and Council President Sidney Katz, Councilmembers Nancy Navarro and Evan Glass are cosponsors.

The regulation will take effect in two phases. Beginning April 16, 2020, essential businesses will be required to provide face coverings for employees who work outside of the employee’s residence, and employees will be required to wear masks when interacting with customers or coworkers. Beginning April 23, customers will also be required to wear face coverings when visiting essential businesses. The Council may consider amendments to require certain social distancing measures or other measures to curb the spread of the the novel coronavirus Covid-19.

“Workers at grocery stores, pharmacies, hardware stores and other essential businesses are putting their lives at risk to keep us all fed and cared for during this emergency,” said Councilmember Hans Riemer. “We must do everything we can to protect them. Combined with keeping our distance, staying home as much as possible, and washing our hands, wearing a mask helps protect both the wearer and those around them.”

“We have a chance to significantly reduce the spread of Covid-19 and save lives by requiring face masks in public,” said Councilmember Albornoz. “This virus is a stealthy adversary, being passed by people who have no symptoms to those around them. Covering our faces in public is just good common sense.”

County Executive Marc Elrich and Chief Administrative Officer Andrew Kleine recently announced that County employees would be provided face coverings to wear while performing essential duties that must be done in-person. The same protection should be afforded to all essential workers.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recently advised “wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies).” See the CDC’s guidance here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/cloth-face-cover.html and advice on making and using cloth face coverings here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html

In order to act quickly in response to an ongoing health emergency, the Council President has waived the normal public input process for this new regulation. However, the Council does seek written input, which can be provided by email at county.council@montgomerycountymd.gov or on social media using #MoCoFaceCoverings .