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Coronavirus Updates: Community Organizations Active in Disaster Impact, Rental Assistance Update, Testing Locations

Coronavirus Updates: Community Organizations Active in Disaster Impact, Rental Assistance Update, Testing Locations

July 9, 2020 
Media Contact: 
Scott Peterson, Director of Communications, Office of Public Information, 202-277-9412 
ELLICOTT CITY, MD – County Executive Calvin Ball highlighted the important impact of the Howard County Community Organizations Active in Disaster (COAD) throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. The COAD is a collaborative effort of community stakeholders, each having an equal role in the organization. Their goal is to organize and deploy community resources in an efficient and timely manner, effectively contributing to each phase of a disaster. The Howard County COAD was formed to improve the awareness of the needs of the community and connect those needs with organizations that can provide support.  
“The COAD has clearly demonstrated its effectiveness in supporting the critical needs of our residents during this crisis,” said County Executive Calvin Ball. “Many of our neighbors and friends have donated their time and money to support the distribution of groceries and other essentials. We could not be more grateful or inspired by the collective action of our community.” 
After officially launching the Howard County Community Organizations Active in Disaster (COAD) in November 2019, the COAD has provided key support to the County throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Since launching, COAD has: 

•    Held over 20 meetings to coordinate COVID-19 efforts. 
•    Created five specific Workgroups within COAD for targeted conversation and efforts. 
•    Distributed 5,462 bags of food and 837 boxes of produce at 41 Pop Up Pantries to local communities. 
•    Collected food at community grocery stores for donation to the Howard County Food Bank. 
•    Filled requests for home grocery delivery to vulnerable populations. 
•    Created and distributed over 7,000 homemade masks to vulnerable individuals throughout Howard County, made by seven different organizations and over 30 individuals in the County, since mid-April. 
•    Served more than 2,050 collective volunteer hours, specifically for COVID-19 response. 
•    Rallied COAD members to respond to sudden needs by Howard County organizations, ranging from a senior citizen group home to ARC reaching out asking for help and half a dozen COAD members coming together to respond.   
•    Generated additional supporting projects, ultimately led by COAD member organizations, such as online school-aged webinars and independent Pop Up Pantries 

"The organizations in the COAD put their heads together as soon as the pandemic started and came up with so many great ways to help our fellow residents during the crisis,” said Kathleen Koch, COAD Chair. “The dedication and hard work of our volunteers has just been astounding. They never tire and never complain - even in the rain or the heat or after hours handing out food or making face masks. I am so proud of them!" 
Rental Assistance Update 
Last week, Howard County announced residents may apply for financial assistance to pay past due rent payments to prevent eviction starting July 6th. The $1.5 million in housing payment relief is being allocated through local non-profit partnerships. Applicants must be Howard County residents, provide proof of home address, and provide evidence of loss of income due to COVID-related job loss, reduction in hours, and/or medical illness. The maximum assistance per household is three months of housing expense. 
Special Exceptions for Rental Assistance – Update 
If you rent a unit in a property owned by the Howard County Housing Commission, you may be eligible for rental assistance from the Howard County Housing Commission. Residents should contact the property managers in their buildings to apply. 
Testing Locations 
At this time, Howard County has conducted approximately 35,973 COVID-19 tests, with a positivity rate of 3.53%. Howard County has tested 9.6% of the population, with the goal of testing at least 10%. It’s important for residents who have attended gatherings, have returned to work in close proximity with others or live with someone who is more vulnerable, go and get tested. 
Many of the testing sites in Howard County are more accessible than ever. The Columbia VEIP testing site no longer requires a doctor’s order to get tested. Residents are able to get tested by simply making an appointment by visiting  
Residents may access testing at any of these locations.