Although coronavirus cases in Prince George’s County continue to decline, officials still warn residents that the pandemic hasn’t gone anywhere.
County Council member Jolene Ivey (D-District 5) of Cheverly praised residents for doing a simple gesture: wearing masks.
Ivey makes cloth masks so residents can wash and keep them, compared to the light-blue, disposable masks. It took 15 minutes to distribute 150 of her cloth masks (100 for adults and 50 for children) in Cottage City on Friday, July 10.
“The more people who have masks, the better we are,” she said. “I do think things are improving, but I don’t want people to let down their guard.”
Prince George’s has more than 20,000 confirmed cases, which continues to lead the state of Maryland and higher than about 20 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
According to the county’s COVID-19 dashboard, several trends show improvement that include weekly decreases in deaths, fewer confirmed cases and about 58 percent of intensive care unit beds available.
Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks sent a countywide text message Friday to remind residents to remain vigilant.
“While we substantially decreased the positivity rate in the county to 6%, we are still asking residents to practice social distancing wear a mask and wash and sanitize their hands regularly,” she said. “COVID-19 is not finished, and we must continue to do our part to reduce the spread of the virus.”
It helps more than 10,000 people have been tested the last week of June going into the Fourth of July.
The county’s Health Department manages five COVID-19 sites and pop-up site became available Friday at Langley Park Community Center.
The state Department of Health runs slightly more than two dozen testing sites in Prince George’s that include Six Flags America in Upper Marlboro, Adventist Healthcare in Laurel, Medstar Health Urgent Care in Hyattsville and several CVS pharmacies.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan released a coronavirus update on how half the state’s counties and Baltimore City tested at least 10 percent of its population. Prince George’s stood at 10.6 percent and ranked second behind Baltimore amongst the state’s most populous jurisdictions.
“There were many sacrifices that had to be made over the last several months with graduation celebrations and other significant milestones, but we now have the data to back up the fact that Prince Georgians had each other’s back,” Alsbrooks said at a press conference Thursday, July 9 in Landover.
During that time, the infection rate per person increased several days last week in the county at .92, but remained lower than the state average of .99. The county data doesn’t include the Fourth of July weekend.
Ernest Carter, the county’s chief health officer, said the current infection rate figure puts the county “at medium risk spread, but at a slow and controlled fashion.”
Carter said the goal will be to lower it below .90 to place the county at a low risk of contracting the virus.
In early June, he said the figure stood at .72.
Carter, as he has done at previous press conferences, stressed for residents to wear masks and other face coverings, stay home if a person feels ill, people should stand at least six feet apart and avoid large crowds.
“If you still don’t feel comfortable sitting at a restaurant, order take-out and give the person a generous tip,” he said. “Unfortunately, COVID-19 is going to be a part of our daily lives and it’s going to be that way for a while. We just can’t let up at this point.”
In addition, Carter said residents who receive a phone call that states “MD-COVID” on a caller ID should answer the phone. That person calling works as a contact tracer to help people who tested positive to determine who they interacted with and the process for quarantine.
When asked if residents could face any fines for not responding to contract tracers, Carter said no.
“We are not at the point of fining somebody for not responding to that, but we will be very intense about finding those folks,” he said.