Meeting critical health care needs

Dear resident, today the County Council approved a $20 million emergency appropriation to provide grants to small businesses (including nonprofits) affected by the COVID-19 shutdown. We expect the application system to be available soon (i.e. days not weeks). Please reach out to me if you are a business owner with questions.

We also approved $6 million for emergency health and human services needs, such as providing safer housing for the homeless and meeting emergency needs for families.

Following are a few additional updates about my work over the past few weeks.

If you have any questions, please let me know, councilmember.riemer@montgomerycountymd.gov.

Sincerely, Hans


MORE HOSPITAL BEDS
Because we are in a health care emergency, the first priority should be strengthening our health care system and its ability to respond. That is why I am grateful to be able to share with you that today the County Council approved a $10 million appropriation to help accelerate the delivery of additional hospital beds in Montgomery County. I initially recommended this to my colleagues on March 23 and worked with Council HHS Chair Gabe Albornoz to advance it. After deliberation with County hospitals, funding was introduced and approved on March 31. Learn more »

HOTEL ROOMS FOR HOSPITAL WORKERS
On March 31, the Council approved funding I proposed to provide hotel rooms to nurses and other critical workers. The goal of this funding is to ensure that nurses, technicians and other critical hospital employees can get more rest and recovery time during the expected surge of COVID-19 cases, and improve healthcare delivery. Many hospital employees commute over long distances, but soon they may be needed around the clock for days and weeks at a time. Learn more »

DISTILLERY SANITIZER FOR CRITICAL NEEDS
On March 14, I reached out to the County emergency services operation to propose a partnership with local distilleries to manufacture sanitizer for the County’s critical needs. With support from the emergency services director, the County Department of General Services visited the first distillery, Twin Valley, the next day to view the sanitizer production operation. I then put the Department in touch with McClintock Distilling in Frederick as well as the statewide alcohol manufacturers association, Grow and Fortify. After careful work by DGS to establish the manufacturing system, the product is now being delivered. The hand sanitizer will be used by County Police, Fire and Rescue Service, Health and Human Services, Department of Correction and Rehabilitation, County Sheriff’s Office and Montgomery County Department of Transportation.
Learn more »

Montgomery County Police Chief Marcus Jones said, “We are grateful to our local business community for pitching in and helping to make hand sanitizer for us. As first responders, we are focused on protecting our community, as well as our own families.”

NEXT UP
Other key issues I am working on:

  • Working with the Montgomery County Economic Development Corporation, supporting local manufacturing of masks and medical equipment; if you know of a company that can support local needs, please let me know by emailing Councilmember.Riemer@montgomerycountymd.gov
  • To help restaurants survive or rebound, I wrote a letter to the County Executive requesting that ABS provide restaurants with delayed payment options for alcoholic beverages purchased from the County warehouse. Learn more »
  • Ensuring child care providers can reopen and support our workforce by providing critical financial support

SIGN THE PETITION ON A SIMPLE SOLUTION
I have been working with business leaders to promote this concept of how to combat the virus: put a moratorium on financial debts and rents, provide cash assistance to support staying home, and fight the virus. I encourage you to sign it.

LOOKING AHEAD
Finally, looking to the future, I encourage you to read this report about the “roadmap to reopening”. Getting our economy going will take measures that we do not have in place now, but that we must work towards. According to public health experts those include benchmarks such as widespread testing for the slightest symptoms, intensive case tracking, general PPE availability, and more.

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