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 .

Let’s wear masks. (And if you make them let me know)

Dear Resident:

The CDC is now recommending that everyone wear cloth masks in situations where social distancing is difficult.

Wearing masks will help reduce spread from non-symptomatic people who are infected and not aware.

That means you. That means us.

Here is the advice of the CDC.

CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies) especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.

Masks aren’t easy to get yet, but there are options that you can make at home that do not require a sewing machine; search “no sew mask.” Keep reading >>

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. Keep reading >>

Using ABS to help stabilize our restaurant sector

Earlier today, I sent a letter (reprinted below) to County Executive Marc Elrich asking that he direct the County Alcohol Beverage Services (ABS) to help stabilize the restaurant sector, which is experiencing a catastrophic decline in revenue as a result of the COVID-19 shutdown.

My proposal would allow restaurants to defer payments on beer, wine, and liquor purchases from the County warehouse for 12 months. Unlike grants, the money will be repaid (it will be effectively a zero interest loan; businesses that fail can be required to return their inventory to the county). The program will help restaurants with very low cash flow in a very uncertain environment to regain their footing. Keep reading >>