As we continue opening…

Keep wearing your facial coverings or masks
The science on facial coverings is clear: they are “the most effective means to prevent interhuman transmission,” as the Washington Post observes.

I first reached out to my community of email readers and urged everyone to start wearing and making masks on April 4. The response was inspiring.

As one of the first elected officials advocating for a mask requirement, I also received a lot of pushback, including in County government. But I was glad to see that not only did the County ultimately agree with my proposal to require masks, but DC and the state of Maryland did as well. Governor Hogan even thanked the County for leading on the issue.

To support access to facial coverings, I also worked to establish a successful grant program to help businesses pivot to mask and PPE production, supporting both our health response and economic development.

But now I am concerned that the sense of urgency around masks is fading as we move to reopening. In fact, now as we reopen, is when masks will become even MORE crucial (along with testing, tracing, and isolating programs).

Please keep wearing your facial coverings. This must be a community effort, and we have to be vigilant together. When one person eases up on wearing masks it sends a message to others that they can do the same. When we all wear them together, we uphold the norm while at the same time significantly reduce the spread of the virus in our community.

Let’s keep wearing our facial coverings. Now is not the time to let up.

Reaching out to unemployed workers
I am so thankful for the historic Federal Unemployment Insurance package, which included not only the $600 weekly UI supplement to benefits but also provided benefits to workers who were not otherwise covered such as independent contractors and gig workers. Because of this unprecedented eligibility expansion, I proposed an outreach campaign to get the message out to county residents who might not realize they are eligible. Our families and businesses need every penny of wage replacement flowing into our community. Now moving ahead, our UI campaign aims to help by bringing together County communications channels, housing providers, nonprofits and more to get the word out. Please reach out to me directly (Councilmember.Riemer@montgomerycountymd.gov) if you are having issues with unemployment insurance or if you (or your organization) would like to get involved in the outreach effort.

Helping businesses ReOpen, ReLaunch, ReImagine
I am happy to share that the Council just approved a proposal I developed with our Montgomery County Economic Development Corporation to provide technical assistance and small grants to retail and restaurants. Our goal is to help businesses rebound in this new environment by providing 1:1 consulting with regional experts and funds to make a new vision come to life — for example with outdoor dining in our urban districts and suburban shopping centers. Business owners should get in touch with MCEDC to learn more.

Workers can’t return without child care
As a parent of two kids I know that we cannot recover unless parents have access to childcare. Our child care providers, however, have been as hard hit as any of our business sectors, and recovery prospects are uncertain as many workers are unemployed while others are teleworking. While there is no question that our schools will “be there” when it is time to reopen them, child care is a service delivered under more of a public-private partnership model. That is why we need strong action to ensure they can make it through a reopening phase. I was pleased to lead the development of a grant program with my colleagues Nancy Navarro and Andrew Friedson, which the Council just approved.

Thank you and as always, if I can provide some assistance please reach out to me at councilmember.riemer@montgomerycountymd.gov.

Sincerely,
Hans Riemer

print