A Prince George’s County task force made up of a former Maryland governor, college presidents, government and health officials and others released a report Monday in efforts to provide better services once the coronavirus pandemic ends.

Some of the nearly three dozen actions either will be enhanced or implemented by Jan. 1, including the development of a smartphone app for the county’s “Buy Prince George’s” program, a universal laptop program for the public schools and the establishment of a community liaison for senior citizen living facilities and nursing homes.

The “Actions Today” document represents the first of three reports. Short- and long-term plans for possible implementation by the end of fiscal year 2021 are expansion of telehealth, financial assistance for residents without health insurance and increase options and partnerships for access to fresh food.

“We find ourselves in certainly challenging times as we deal with COVID-19 and all of the aftermath,” said Charlene Dukes, co-chair of the work group and former president of Prince George’s Community College. “What we want to do is to ensure Prince George’s emerges stronger and better than ever before.”

County Executive Angela Alsobrooks announced in May the creation of a 42-member task force to assess the county through five subcommittees: government operations, economic development, education, health and human and social services.

Health received the most recommendations, especially with Prince George’s recording the most confirmed coronavirus cases in the state. As of Saturday, the county has recorded 30,378 cases with 825 deaths.

Joseph Wright, senior vice president and chief medical officer of the University of Maryland Capital Region Health who chairs the health subcommittee, said some of the lessons learned must be improved upon with a possible next wave of cases. One health focus objective seeks to ensure data collection addresses diversity and equity that also leverages small and minority-owned business participation.

Wright said the virus has created a “triple pandemic” through health, economic and racial inequities.

“The intersection of these three elements is stressing and challenging our system in a way that has not previously been experienced,” he said. “Our work is quite focused on identifying those gaps and ensuring equitable distribution of resources as we prepare for the next wave.”

One item not mentioned in the report deals with the county’s hiring practices, which Alsobrooks mentioned more than a year ago needed improvement. As part of Alsobrooks’ transition team report in March 2019, it was highlighted the average time for a new hire can take up to six months.

On Monday, former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, who serves as chair of the government operations subcommittee, said immediate recommendations didn’t focus on hiring practices.

“To the extent we talked about that the hiring process, we talked about the need to backfill when positions become vacant and to do so quickly,” he said.

To read more details of the report, go to <a href=”https://princegeorgesforward.com/reports-recommendations” target=”blank”>https://princegeorgesforward.com/reports-recommendations</a>.

Coverage for the Washington Informer includes Prince George’s County government, school system and some state of Maryland government. Received an award in 2019 from the D.C. Chapter of the Society of...

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