ELLICOTT CITY, MD – Howard County Executive Calvin Ball emphasized a roadmap to recovery today as he lifted the local State of Emergency, two years after it was first implemented in Howard County. Ball cited Howard County’s high vaccination rate, with more than 90% of residents 5 and older fully vaccinated, and low positivity rate at 2.28% and a case rate of 6.6 per 100,000 residents. He also noted the historic progress made over the last year implementing 93% of key recommendations from the HoCo RISE Collaborative report, a recovery blueprint developed by community stakeholders, which was released one year ago. Photos of the event can be found here.
As we look back on the past 24 months, it is important to reflect on what we’ve lost, think about what we’ve learned, and move forward with purpose. Howard County has always been a leader in our region, and how we’ve handled this crisis is no exception. We’ve already implemented 14 out of 15 key recommendations from our HoCo RISE Collaborative. Ranging from working to close the digital divide, to providing equitable access to vaccines, and leveraging big data to provide relief and support to different sectors. This is your government working innovatively and efficiently to keep people safe and stay focused on create the best quality of life for all. We are now confident that when Howard County faces a new threat, no matter who is serving in our various roles, we know we can meet the moment to help our community recover and rise.
County Executive Ball launched the HoCo RISE Collaborative in November 2020, tasking 50 members to provide key recommendations in five areas:
- Public Health Response
- Government Response
- Jobs and the Economy
- Education and Workforce
- Family Opportunities.
The resulting report listed 15 key recommendations to help Howard County’s continued response and recovery from the pandemic.
Ball also highlighted additional response and recovery efforts including:
- Boosting our restaurants, local small businesses, and childcare providers with more than $20 million in HoCo RISE business grants
- Expanding broadband to 85% of households who lacked service
- Supporting educators with $1,800 bonuses
- Distributing more than $15 million in rental and mortgage relief funding for those facing housing insecurity from the pandemic, supporting more than 2,000 households.
- Providing $1 million to nonprofit organizations to support most vulnerable residents
- Investing $2 million in funding for mental health supports so that all 78 middle schools have access to a social worker.
- And investing approximately $1.5 million for HoCo STRIVES expanding wrap around services for vulnerable students.
“I appreciate the County Executive’s thoughtful leadership through this challenging time, and I applaud his focus on the opportunities to strengthen our families, businesses and the county for the future,” said HoCo RISE Collaborative Chair Ken Ulman.
“This workgroup focused on a vaccine equity plan, and vaccine operations were set in motion to deliver on that plan,” said Public Health Workgroup Chair Dr. Elizabeth Kromm. “There were mobile vaccine operations across the county, clinics popped up in community centers, senior centers, apartment buildings, schools, businesses, HCC, and even parking lots. My team at the hospital partnered with our faith-based organizations to hold clinics at different congregations and houses of worship. If you have not yet gotten a vaccine, it isn’t too late! If you have been vaccinated but haven’t received your 3rd shot, please make time to get boosted this week.”
“Traditionally, we think about social workers and nonprofit leaders when we think of human services,” said Family Opportunities Workgroup Chair Shonte Eldridge. “However, I am proud that Howard County was able to integrate business and technology solutions to help our most vulnerable residents during the pandemic and beyond.”
“While each workgroup had its specific issues to examine and provide recommendations, our entire community truly is a collaboration, and the better we work together, the better our community becomes,” said Jobs & Economy Workgroup Chair Marcellous Frye Jr.
“If we were able to accomplish all of this with all the ups and down of the past year, just imagine what we can continue to accomplish together,” said Education & Workforce Workgroup Chair Minah Woo. “I eagerly await all the great work we will continue to do together with this commitment to collaboration and excellence to make our recommendations a reality.”