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Coronavirus Updates: Governor Designates Howard County as “Hot Spot”, Fire Marshal Guidance, Unemployment FAQs

Coronavirus Updates: Governor Designates Howard County as “Hot Spot”, Fire Marshal Guidance, Unemployment FAQs

April 7, 2020

Media Contact:

Scott Peterson, Director of Communications, Office of Public Information, 202-277-9412

 

ELLICOTT CITY, MD – Howard County was designated by Governor Hogan today as a “Hot Spot” within the state of Maryland, allowing the region to be a priority for federal assistance.

“With our large federal and security workforce, it is critical to ensure our region has the necessary resources to mitigate the spread of COVID-19,” said County Executive Calvin Ball. “I’m grateful the Governor has advocated for Howard County as we continue to face an escalating outbreak. Thank you to all our residents that have followed the stay-at-home order and been vigilant in practicing social distancing – your efforts are not going unnoticed and are having the impact needed to slow the spread.”

Ball is hosting a press conference tomorrow, April 8th at noon to provide updates to the community on the government response to COVID-19. The press conference will be live-streamed here.

Testing Site

Today, County Executive Ball visited the new testing site at the Columba VEIP Station, providing drive-thru tests for residents who are displaying symptoms, have a referral form their provider, and have scheduled an appointment. Video from the visit can be found here.

Fire Marshal Guidance for Businesses

The Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services, Office of the Fire Marshal will be sending a letter to many, if not all, retailers to promote fire/life safety and ensure no fire code violations occur during the pandemic.

Many businesses are changing protocols intended to maintain the health and safety of employees and the public, however any condition which creates a situation where life safety measures normally in place are diminished is prohibited.

Most significantly, exit access cannot be obstructed, nor can a marked exit door be “locked” in any way to prevent the use of an exit in any circumstance. If a place of business desires that the public use a specific exit, they may position an employee or store associate at other exits and request that they use the “preferred” exit discharge. However, under no circumstance can anyone be prevented from using a marked exit in case of emergency.

The complete letter can be read here.

Unemployment FAQs

The sharp increase in unemployment claims has overwhelmed the Maryland Department of Labor. The Division of Unemployment Insurance has provided a frequently asked questions guide as a resource, this includes an explanation of the exemption from the weekly work search requirement:

Am I required to search for work during this state of emergency? The Maryland Secretary of Labor has ordered, effective March 20th, 2020, a ten (10) week exemption from the requirement that claimants actively seek work every week in order to be eligible for benefits. Labor is temporarily waiving the work search requirements for all current and new unemployment insurance benefit recipients. This exemption will apply to individuals who become eligible to receive unemployment insurance benefits no later than thirty (30) days after the termination of the state of emergency.

Claimants who are selected to participate in a federally-required reemployment workshop during this period will be required to complete a one-on-one telephone session with a RESEA facilitator to develop an individual reemployment plan (IRP). The claimant will not be required to complete the duties detailed in their IRP until the state of emergency has been lifted.

The entire document of FAQs can be viewed online.

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