COVID-19 Update: Prince George’s County Remains in Phase 2 of Reopening
Dear Prince Georgians:
Yesterday I announced that Prince George’s County will remain in phase 2 of reopening since the County’s key COVID-19 metrics have increased, similar to trends seen in other jurisdictions across the State of Maryland. This decision was made under the advice of County health officials after analyzing COVID-19 data and trends over the past three weeks.
Preliminary data for last week shows our positivity rate has increased to 4.3%, after falling under 4% for two consecutive weeks. There were also 852 new cases for last week, a 19.2% increase from the previous week and the highest number of new cases in one week in the County since the beginning of August.
Our infection rate has also increased, sitting at 1.07 as of October 20. The virus is still spreading in the County in a slow but controlled manner. Finally, the County’s average daily case rate has steadily increased over the last three weeks, sitting at 13.4 new cases per day per 100,000 residents as of last week.
The COVID-19 trends we are seeing in our County and jurisdictions across the State are concerning and a stark reminder that this virus is still very much present in our community. I want to thank all of our residents and businesses who have done a tremendous job of following COVID-19 safety precautions, but we still need your help. We need everyone to continue wearing face masks, practicing physical distancing, and washing your hands frequently. We will continue to monitor and analyze the data and trends, providing an update on our progress in another two to three weeks.
Our Health Department also released guidance for the upcoming holiday season. We know from contact tracing in our County and statewide that when we ask people where they have been recently, the number one response is a gathering of family or friends. That is how this virus is spreading, and as we move closer to the holiday season, gatherings with those outside of your household will continue to pose a high risk for the spread of this virus.
This unfortunately means that Thanksgiving and other upcoming holidays will not look the same this year. As difficult as it will be, as we approach the holiday season and the weather gets cooler, it is very important that we all avoid gathering at each other’s homes. What we do not want is the upcoming holiday season, which is usually a time of joy, to be marked by tragedy.
Instead of traditional holiday gatherings, the Health Department recommends hosting virtual gatherings for family and friends. If hosting an in-person gathering with people outside of your household, it should be small with a limited number of people so social distancing can be enforced. Everyone should also wear masks. In addition, be sure to wash and disinfect guest areas before and after these small gatherings.
The Health Department is also advising everyone to reconsider travel during the holiday season. If you must travel, consider the mode of transportation you will take as well as the dates you will be traveling. Carry a small personal sanitizing kit with hand sanitizer, wipes and masks. If traveling, driving your own vehicle can reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19. Full holiday guidance will be posted on our Health Department’s Coronavirus page at health.mypgc.us/coronavirus.
I am also proud to announce that on Tuesday, October 27, we relaunched our Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP). Unlike the first round of the ERAP, landlords, property managers and owners are now responsible for submitting applications on behalf of tenants. Landlords, property managers and owners may apply for each tenant’s delinquent rental payments beginning on or after April 1, 2020. The tenant must have a COVID-19 triggering event, among other eligibility requirements. The amount of rental assistance available has also increased, capped at $1,800 per month for up to 6 months.
We allocated $8 million for the ERAP when the program was launched in May. To date, our Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) has distributed more than $2.1 million in funds for rental assistance to Prince George’s County residents. However, during the first round of funding, we received thousands of incomplete applications, with applicants not responding to multiple phone calls and emails.
The relaunch will now make landlords, property managers and owners responsible for submitting documentation on behalf of their tenants to help streamline and expedite the application process. Almost $6 million in rental assistance is available on a first-come, first-served basis for the relaunch of the ERAP, and the final deadline to apply is November 10, 2020. Because we don’t want anyone to miss out on this critical resource, tenants are encouraged to speak with their landlord or leasing office to see if they may qualify for rental assistance. More information, eligibility requirements and the application portal can be found on the DHCD website.
As we approach Election Day, we are taking several steps to eliminate barriers to voting. The County’s public transit system, “TheBus”, will extend service hours on Election Day, November 3, until 9:00 PM on all active County bus lines. In addition, service is free for all riders. Voters should check route and schedule information at mypgc.us/thebus, as not all polling locations are served by transit.
The County is also helping accommodate seniors and those with disabilities who are voting in person. If there is a line at one of the County’s Vote Centers, election workers are performing line checks to look for seniors and voters with disabilities who may have trouble standing in line for extended periods of time. These voters are brought inside to a waiting area where they are able to take a seat while given a “placeholder” number for their spot in line. In addition, the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission is providing golf carts to pick up seniors and voters with disabilities from parking lots and drive them to the buildings.
I am proud to say that Prince George’s County is already seeing historic turnout. We received over 267,000 requests for mail-in ballots, and over 193,000 Prince Georgians have already returned those ballots. In addition, we are seeing high levels of turnout during early voting, with 81,574 County voters already casting their ballots in person. Prince Georgians are truly showing that we are “Proud to Vote.”
If you have not yet returned your mail-in ballot, please do so immediately at one of our 42 secure ballot drop boxes. The deadline to return your ballot to a drop box is 8:00 PM on November 3. While we do not advise returning your ballot by traditional mail at this time, if you choose to do so, you should take your ballot directly to the post office to have a teller physically postmark it, as the postmark must be on or before November 3. You can find a list of drop boxes here.
If you plan to vote in person, we strongly encourage you to utilize early voting, which will continue to run through November 2. The County has 11 Early Voting Centers that are open each day from 7:00 AM to 8:00 PM. If you must wait until Election Day to vote, the County will have 41 Vote Centers available. You can vote at any of these locations in our County, not just the one that is nearest to your home. Please remember to wear a mask and practice physical distancing when voting in person. You can find a list of Vote Centers here. However you plan to vote, remember to make your plan today.
Finally, we have included several additional updates below, including next week’s Stand Up & Deliver locations, an upcoming Listening Session hosted by our Police Reform Work Group, and a grant opportunity through the Greater Washington Community Foundation. I encourage you to read through these resources and opportunities, and share them with family and friends.
Thank you, Prince Georgians, for continuing to look out for your loved ones and each other. I am truly Prince George’s Proud of this community, and I am proud to be your County Executive.
Yours in service,
Prince George’s County Executive
Stand Up & Deliver
We are continuing to work hard to address food insecurity in our County, and we want to provide information on next week’s distribution locations for our Stand Up & Deliver program.
Friday, November 6 at 12:30 PM (Groceries)
- St. Paul Church – 6419 Marlboro Pike, Forestville, MD
- Beltsville Seventh-Day Adventist Church – 4220 Ammendale Road, Beltsville, MD
- First Baptist Church of District Heights – 7234 Lansdale Street, District Heights, MD
Saturday, November 7 at 11:00 AM (Groceries)
- First Baptist Church of Highland Park – 6801 Sheriff Road, Landover, MD
Sunday, November 8 at 10:00 AM (Groceries)
- Community of Hope A.M.E. Church – 3737 Branch Avenue, Temple Hills, MD
Additional food distribution locations can be found on our website by clicking here. This map is updated regularly. If you are able to make a contribution to our Stand Up & Deliver program, please click here to donate.
Police Reform Work Group Final Listening Session
The Police Reform Work Group, created by County Executive Alsobrooks, is charged with studying and reviewing police department policies covering the full spectrum of its operations, including hiring, training, and use of force policies. Members of the Work Group will host a final public Listening Session on Thursday, November 5 at 4:00 PM to gain valuable feedback and input from Prince Georgians.
Community members are invited to share their questions, comments or concerns with the Work Group as they draft their recommendations on reforms to our Police Department. The Work Group will submit a report with their final recommendations to County Executive Alsobrooks no later than December 4, 2020. To participate in the Listening Session or to submit written comments to the Work Group, click here. If you wish to present comments live during the virtual meeting, you must sign up by November 4 at 5:00 PM. For more information about the Work Group or to view prior meetings, click here.
Greater Washington Community Foundation Community Action Awards
The Greater Washington Community Foundation is offering small awards of up to $2,000 to individuals and nonprofits working to make our County and region a more equitable and inclusive place for everyone to live, work, and thrive. They are interested in supporting and advancing neighborhood-level projects that will engage diverse communities and help grassroots leaders implement their ideas.
To learn more about this opportunity and to submit an application for a grant award, visit the Greater Washington Community Foundation website. The application will close on November 2, 2020.