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COVID-19 (coronavirus) is caused by a respiratory virus first identified in Wuhan, China. This is a new virus that hasn’t caused illness in humans before. The first human case of the COVID-19 virus in the United States was identified on January 21st in a Washington state resident who had recently traveled to Wuhan.
Health officials are still learning the details of how this new virus can spread. Previous coronaviruses spread from an infected person to others through:
The immediate risk of being exposed to this virus is still low for most Americans, but as the outbreak expands, that risk increases. Cases of COVID-19 and instances of community spread are being reported in a growing number of states, including Maryland.Health care workers caring for patients with COVID-19 are at elevated risk of exposure.Close contacts of persons with COVID-19 also are at elevated risk of exposure.Travelers returning from affected international locations where community spread is occurring also are at elevated risk of exposure, with level of risk dependent on where they traveled. Older adults and persons who have severe, chronic medical conditions such as heart, lung, or kidney disease are at higher risk and should take additional precautions, including:
We encourage residents to:
If you feel you are experiencing symptoms like cough, fever, and shortness of breath, call ahead to a health care provider to discuss your symptoms before going to the doctor. You can also call the Health Department hotline to discuss: 301-883-6627.Residents should practice social distancing and stay home as much as possible, except to go to work, buy groceries, and other essential actions.
Please visit the Health Department’s dedicated coronavirus webpage (health.mypgc.us/coronavirus) for the latest case counts for Prince George’s County and Maryland.
Governor Hogan issued a stay-at-home order effective at 8:00 pm on March 30, 2020. This means Maryland residents must stay in their homes except for essential reasons. Essential reasons to leave the home include getting groceries, prescriptions, or some exercise such as going for a walk or a bike ride as long as you stay at least six feet away from other people when doing so. (Pick-up sports games of any kind are prohibited). Residents deemed essential by their employers are still able to leave their homes to go to work, if required.
As of March 16, 2020, Governor Hogan has said take-out, food delivery, and some drive-through options are still open for restaurants. For more information about businesses or impact on businesses, contact the Prince George’s County Economic Development Corporation at 301-583-4650.
The Prince George’s County Health Department is taking the appropriate steps to keep Prince Georgians safe and healthy from the novel coronavirus or COVID-19. They are receiving regular updates and guidance from the State of Maryland Health Department, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as well as other state and regional public health partners. The County activated the Emergency Operations Center and Joint Information Center at an enhanced level for Prince George’s County on March 4, 2020. The level was raised from enhanced to a partial activation by County Executive Angela Alsobrooks on March 10, 2020. The County Executive declared a state of emergency on March 16, 2020. This allows us to more closely monitor the situation and quickly respond as this situation evolves, and also provides us greater access to resources to support our residents and small businesses impacted by COVID-19.
Residents desiring COVID-19 testing should first contact their primary care physicians. If you do not have a primary care physician, contact the coronavirus hotline at 301-883-6627 between the hours of 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM daily. The testing site at FedEx field is accessible by appointment only, and the process is as follows:
Those who do not meet CDC guidelines will not be tested. Those individuals who do not meet the criteria but are symptomatic will receive instructions on home self-care and self-isolation, as needed. Those individuals who are asymptomatic will receive instructions on home self-care and social distancing. The individual will then be escorted to the exit.
There is currently no vaccine to protect against COVID-19.
We encourage every resident to stay informed. The Prince George’s County Health Department has a dedicated coronavirus webpage that updates regularly: health.mypgc.us/coronavirus. The State of Maryland website is also available: Health.maryland.gov/coronavirus. If you need further assistance or have additional questions, please contact the Health Department at 301-883-6627. You can also call Maryland 2-1-1, 24 hours a day.
All levels of government, though, have taken some action to prevent evictions/foreclosures during this time. In Prince George’s County, no evictions from residential or commercial properties are allowed during this time. The County does have an Emergency Rental Assistance program run through the Dept. of Social Services, who received just under $500,000 to administer for this year. The Dept. of Housing and Community Development is reviewing the eligible activities under the CARES Act to assist both renters and homeowners in anticipation of the available funds. The goal is to partner with the Department of Social Services and other non-profits that currently provide these services.We also seek to provide additional support to our non-profits that provide housing counseling for homeowners who are now unemployed. We will be providing more information about these resources as they become available.
The CARES Act, signed into law Mar. 27, 2020, provides 120 days of eviction relief for tenants in federally-backed housing. Specifically, you may not be served with an eviction notice until July 25, 2020, and the notice must give you 30 days to leave the property (Aug. 24, 2020).During the 120-day eviction moratorium, your landlord may not charge you late fees, penalties, or other charges for paying your rent late. It’s important to note that the eviction moratorium does not relieve you of your obligation to pay your rent. It merely forbids your landlord from evicting you during that period for late payment.
If you are a homeowner, you most likely qualify for a forbearance as a result of the federal stimulus recently passed, which means you can delay your mortgage payment (for up to a year) if you’re having a financial hardship. The most important point is that you need to call your bank; you cannot simply stop paying your mortgage. If you have a federally-backed mortgage (like FHA), your bank is required to give you an option that does not raise your monthly payment once you resume payments. Many lenders are also offering similar types of assistance for auto loans and credit cards, but again, you must call your lender.
Eligible individuals will receive assistance based on income. Individuals earning less than $75,000 will receive $1,200. Couples earning less than $150,000 will receive $2,400. Individuals making up to $99,000 and couples earning up to $198,000 will receive reduced amounts. An additional $500 will be given for each child under the age of 17.
We recognize that there are not many resources available at this time, but we are working with our foundation and faith partners to see what we can do to help provide resources.The Community Foundation of Greater Washington and many other organizations are working through the federal CARES Act and determining what can be done to help our community.We will continue to provide information on assistance for individuals who do not qualify for federal stimulus aid as it becomes available.
We are working with the Capital Area Food Bank to get an updated listing of local organizations that distribute food. We are also working with the County Council and our Office of Community Relations to identify all sites in the County that are still open and providing services to residents. Continue to monitor our website for information on pop-up food events. We expect to have updated information the week of April 6, 2020.
As we continue to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, the Prince George’s County Police Department is moving to ENGAGE, INFORM & ENCOURAGE when it pertains to County residents following Governor Hogan’s STAY-AT-HOME Order. ENGAGE - Officers will approach and speak to those in violation of the Governor’s Executive Order.INFORM - Officers will advise the person of the conduct that violates the Executive Order and the need to comply to protect their health and the health of those in the community.
ENCOURAGE - Officers will encourage those in non-compliance to disperse and go home. If the person does not comply with the directive, the officer will advise that a violation of the Executive Order is punishable as a misdemeanor and could result in an arrest.ENFORCE - If, after all reasonable efforts have been made to obtain compliance and the person(s) continues with noncompliance, enforcement actions may be taken, to include arrest.
The County launched the COVID-19 Business Relief Fund to assist local small businesses facing economic hardship by the spread of COVID-19. The new initiative is a public-private partnership of County and private resources providing loans and grant funding of up to $15 million for area businesses. The Prince George’s County Council approved $10 million in EDI Funds and $5 million of the relief fund comes from local banks and private entities.The COVID-19 Business Relief Fund will assist small, local, and minority-owned enterprises, now facing closure and layoffs, retain their pre-pandemic workforce and sustain operations during the global pandemic. For those who would like more information, please contact the Prince George’s County Economic Development Corporation at 301-583-4650 or visit their website at www.pgcedc.com.
Small businesses will have access to loans up to $100,000 and grant funding of up to $10,000. Eligible businesses can apply for the funds through the Prince George’s County Economic Development Corporation beginning April 13, 2020. The application period will be open until May 15, 2020.
In addition to the $15 million relief fund for small businesses, the Prince George’s County Strategic Partnership Office is coordinating efforts with philanthropy, nonprofits, government, and small business leaders to collect and organize resources and funds for those providing COVID-19 relief efforts for Prince George’s County. This innovative public-private partnership will provide an additional $900,000 in grants to support local nonprofits to help them deliver the resources and assistance needed by the community during these challenging times. Two of the organizations raising funds include the Greater Washington Community Foundation and the United Way of the National Capital Area.
The grants will be administered by The Greater Washington Community Foundation, as part of its COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund. The fund was established to support emergency preparedness and response efforts to mitigate the impact on disadvantaged communities in the area. For more information on this fund and others, please visit The Greater Washington Community Foundation website at www.thecommunityfoundation.org.
The Division of Unemployment Insurance’s website and call centers are currently experiencing a high call volume due to COVID-19, result in longer than normal wait times.To file for unemployment insurance via phone, contact the Claim Center at 410-949-0022. The call center telephone hours are Monday through Friday, from 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.To file online, visit: https://secure-2.dllr.state.md.us/NetClaims/Welcome.aspxIf you are having difficulty placing a call or accessing the website, claimants can e-mail questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Employers can e-mail questions to email@example.com or contact 410-767-2412. You can also contact Employ Prince George’s at 301-618-8400 or visit their website at www.employpg.org.