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Coronavirus Updates: Testing and Contact Tracing, Recreation & Parks Online Offerings, HCC Google IT Class

Coronavirus Updates: Testing and Contact Tracing, Recreation & Parks Online Offerings, HCC Google IT Class

May 18, 2020
Media Contact:
Scott Peterson, Director of Communications, Office of Public Information, 202-277-9412
ELLICOTT CITY, MD – The Howard County Health Department is in the process of hiring and onboarding contact tracers to add to its team of current and volunteer investigators. As the contact tracing operation expands, residents who are contacted by the Health Department investigators should answer phone calls and respond to questions as fully as possible.

“Our Health Department is working around the clock to increase our contact tracing operation, but we need community support and cooperation to track and stop the spread of COVID-19,” said County Executive Calvin Ball. “This effort started with just two staff members before the COVID-19 pandemic and will continue to ramp up to more than 20 times that amount over the coming weeks to manage the work ahead. Please be sure to be forthcoming with vital information and follow Health Department guidelines.” 
To protect patient privacy, contacts are never told the identity of the patient who may have exposed them. All information is kept confidential. Contacts are provided with key information and support to understand their risk, monitor their symptoms and health, and to prevent the spread of the infection in their households, workplaces and community. Contact tracing is an essential component, along with testing, to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The Howard County drive-thru testing site has conducted 1234 tests to date and is anticipating testing another 500 individuals this week. There are appointments available for those that meet the testing recommendations. People should contact their healthcare provider if they believe they should be tested. Testing recommendations include:

  • Persons with symptoms of potential COVID-19 infection, including fever, cough, shortness of breath, chills, muscle pain, new loss of taste or smell, vomiting or diarrhea, and/or sore throat. 
  • Persons without symptoms who are prioritized by health departments or clinicians, for any reason (including but not limited to: public health monitoring, sentinel surveillance, or screening of other asymptomatic individuals according to state and local plan).

Beginning this month, Howard County Recreation and Parks is now offering online versions of some of its popular classes and programs. A full list of these programs can be found online, with new classes added each week. The online programs are broken down by age group and include activities for pre-k, youth, adults, and 55+. The website also includes free videos and print out activities for crafts & fine arts, cooking, fitness, history, and nature. 
Howard Community College will offer Google Information Technology (IT) Support Professional Certification to prepare community members for an in-demand career in an essential field. With a commitment of at least five hours per week, this career training can be completed in less than six months and is designed for anyone seeking for an entry-level position in IT.
For a limited time, Howard Community College is offering the online program at no cost to students who enroll. The program is open to all interested students but is designed to support the educational needs of displaced workers, veterans, and career changers. To be successful in the program, students must have basic computer data entry skills and Internet access. No degree is required.
Students may also choose to increase their skills by taking the college’s A+ certification course. Once students take and pass the Comp TIA A+ certification exam, they will have earned a CompTIA and Google dual credential. The A+ certification course does have a tuition charge.
Space is limited, so interested students are encouraged to start their application process as soon as possible. Contact for more information or visit
BGE filed a multi-year customer relief and energy infrastructure investment plan with the Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC) designed to aid in the region's recovery from the pandemic and to continue improvements to the electric and natural gas systems serving 1.3 million electric customers and more than 680,000 natural gas customers in central Maryland. Covering the years 2021 through 2023, the plan details how BGE will invest $5 billion in the electric grid and natural gas system. The Economic Alliance of Greater Baltimore calculates that these investments will have an economic impact of $15 billion, supporting more than 26,000 jobs. The multi-year customer relief and energy infrastructure investment plan includes:
•    Customer rates frozen at current levels through end of 2022 with deferral of any rate increase to 2023.
•    Customer total bills decreasing in June 2020 due to dropping electricity supply costs.
•    More than 300 energy infrastructure projects and BGE operations in central Maryland support $15 billion in local economic impact and 26,000 jobs over the next three years.
•    $1.5 million contribution to Fuel Fund in 2020 to assist limited income customers with energy bills 
•    $1 million contribution in 2020 to business relief funds administered by counties in central Maryland and establishment of small business assistance grants in 2021.
•    Extending suspension of service disconnections and late fees to July 1, 2020.