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Coronavirus Updates: County Executive Ball Press Conference, Maryland Business Loans at Capacity

Coronavirus Updates: County Executive Ball Press Conference, Maryland Business Loans at Capacity

April 8, 2020

Media Contact:

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

 

ELLICOTT CITY, MD – Today, Howard County Executive Calvin Ball hosted a press conference to provide updates on the COVID-19 response. Ball announced the third Howard County death from coronavirus, a woman in her 80s with underlying health conditions. Video of the press conference can be found here.

“I was saddened to learn early this morning we lost another Howard County resident to coronavirus. We must continue to do whatever we can to make sure we are looking after our family members, friends, and neighbors. Our actions are making a difference, but this crisis is far from over,” said Ball. “Howard County has the extraordinary ability to face challenges with unity, resilience, and compassion. This time is no different – our community will persevere.”

Ball also announced and signed an Executive Order (EO) clarifying the guidelines for government operations and services for residents during the pandemic. The EO allows processes that are necessary for the continuity of government, and that can be performed in a safe manner to continue operating to the extent possible. A copy of the EO can be viewed here.

Additionally, Ball shared that this week Howard County government implemented an immediate conditional hiring freeze and began a review process for all General Fund vacant positions. He noted this action is necessary to avoid painful furloughs and layoffs, while continuing to provide essential services. The County employs 3,000 people in total. The hiring freeze impacts all positions, except sworn public safety positions.

The decision stemmed from the financial repercussions of the coronavirus pandemic, with County revenues expected to be severely strained, while demand for certain services will spike. The expected revenue impact is at least $35 million in revenue loss between March-June. The County has expended $3.5 million towards COVID-19 as of last week.

Ball also highlighted the new testing center in Columbia, noting it conducted 30 tests yesterday, and expected to test 48 people tomorrow. The testing center is open 10am – 2pm Tuesdays and Thursdays and has a capacity of up to 60 tests a day. Howard County cases can be tracked online at www.howardcountymd.gov/coronavirus.

“We are looking forward to the upcoming days of our drive-thru testing where we will be able to test more individuals for the coronavirus.,” said Dr. Maura Rossman, Howard County Health Officer. “We remind those who think that they might be sick with the virus to contact their healthcare provider who will make the appropriate determination for testing.”

"I want to recognize all of the Howard County educators who must balance the responsibilities of providing instruction to their students while simultaneously caring for their own families, as well as our food service workers and all other staff members who have worked tirelessly during this period to ensure continuity of learning,” said Dr. Michael Martirano, Superintendent of Howard County Public School System. "We are continuing to ensure that supports are provided to our families by expanding the number of meal distribution sites, providing devices to support distance learning, supporting our international families, and working to ensure that high school seniors experience a timely and memorable close to their final year."

Maryland Small Business Loans

The Maryland Small Business COVID-19 Emergency Relief Loan and Grant programs will not accept any further applications.  The State has reached capacity at nearly 40,000 applications and are diligently working to review and process current applications as quickly as possible. To check the status of an existing application, create a Maryland OneStop account: https://onestop.md.gov/users/sign_up. You must use the same email that you registered with your initial application.

For more information on other business assistance programs, visit the Howard County Economic Authority portal: http://www.hceda.org/coronavirus.

Chinese Americans Support Hospitals (CASH)

The Chinese Americans Support Hospitals group today delivered more than 7,000 surgical masks and face shields to the Howard County Health Department. County Executive Ball was on-site to thank the volunteers, photos can be found here.

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