Prince George's CountyWilliam J. Ford

Prince George’s Focused on a Post-COVID Future

Prince George’s County colleges and universities should connect with small and medium-sized businesses to recruit and hire graduating seniors, public school and county officials need to meet more frequently and more WiFi “hotspots” are needed throughout the jurisdiction.

These are three of the 29 recommendations in a report released last week worked on since last year by a 42-member task force announced by County Executive Angela Alsobrooks to enhance and provide better services in a post-COVID-19 climate.

“With the release of this report, I will turn my focus to implementing the recommendations to enable our county to better deliver services and make a difference in the lives of all our residents,” she said in the report.

The group, chaired by former Prince George’s Community College President Charlene Dukes and David Velasquez, president and CEO of Pepco Holdings, assessed ways to improve the county through five subcommittees: government operations, economic development, education, health and human and social services.

A few recommendations already in the works include creating more county services online as some agencies continue to work virtually and develop policies and procedures for residents in need of accommodations. These and other items could be completed within the next year.

A county executive spokesman said in an email Thursday, June 10 at least a half dozen recommendations could take several years to launch.

For instance, an “economic resiliency function” would require an annual budget in preparation for emergency situations.

When the coronavirus pandemic forced the closure of businesses in March 2020, the county lost 10,000 jobs in 10 days, said David Iannucci, president and CEO of the county’s Economic Development Corp.

Entrepreneurship and leadership skills are proposed as part of an education plan to create a dual-enrollment program for students “that emphasizes creating innovators with social responsibility … to develop the critical 21st-century skills they will need to succeed.” Those particular programs usually involve high school students also enrolled at a community college or local university.

In terms of health, officials and residents view the newly opened University of Maryland Capital Region Medical Center as a way to boost care.

In the state of Maryland, the county has the highest rates of obesity, diabetes and infant mortality.

The majority Black jurisdiction leads the state in confirmed coronavirus cases, but vaccinations improved with slightly more than 40 percent of those ages 12 and older are fully vaccinated with the two-dose or single-dose vaccines.

One strategy to improve health, according to the report, is creating a database to collect and store patient information for clinicians to track over time.

Another proposal would be to expand the county’s “HealthAssure” program to cover the estimated 12.5 percent of uninsured residents that include low-wage workers, part-timers and employees at small businesses.

Dukes has a message for residents reading the report: “Please get a COVID-19 vaccine.”

To read the report, go to https://bit.ly/3iy6jux.

William J. Ford – Washington Informer Staff Writer

I decided I wanted to become a better writer while attending Bowie State University and figured that writing for the school newspaper would help. I’m not sure how much it helped, but I enjoyed it so much I decided to keep on doing it, which I still thoroughly enjoy 20 years later. If I weren’t a journalist, I would coach youth basketball. Actually, I still play basketball, or at least try to play, once a week. My kryptonite is peanut butter. What makes me happy – seeing my son and two godchildren grow up. On the other hand, a bad call made by an official during a football or basketball game makes me throw up my hands and scream. Favorite foods include pancakes and scrambled eggs which I could eat 24-7. The strangest thing that’s ever happened to me, or more accurately the most painful, was when I was hit by a car on Lancaster Avenue in Philadelphia. If I had the power or money to change the world, I’d make sure everyone had three meals a day. And while I don’t have a motto or favorite quote, I continue to laugh which keeps me from driving myself crazy. You can reach me several ways: Twitter @jabariwill, Instagram will_iam.ford2281 or e-mail, wford@washingtoninformer.com

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