Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks Sept. 3 announced the county will not move to a more open state of business with the rest of Maryland.
With Prince George’s County continuing to lead the state of Maryland with more than 27,000 confirmed coronavirus cases, crowds at movie theaters and other indoor entertainment and commerce venues will remain under Stage Two restrictions.
Although the overall rate of COVID 19 test results for the county remain below the 5% positive threshold for moving to phase three, about 13 of the jurisdiction’s zip codes are above it. The 20783 zip code of Hyattsville has recorded the highest number of confirmed cases in Maryland with nearly 2,900.
“We are not there yet,” Alsobrooks said about reopening other businesses. “We remain concerned about rolling back restrictions before we see progress.”
Under the current phase two designation, Prince George’s residents can still shop at grocery stores and deposit and retrieve funds at banks and gather in limited numbers to attend religious services.
County and health officials will reassess COVID-19 data in the next few weeks to determine whether to reopen fully.
Montgomery County, which has the second highest coronavirus confirmed cases in the state, will also continue to limit indoor and outdoor gatherings.
Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich said during a press briefing Sept. 2 officials there will constantly review health data and make possible modifications in terms of reopening some entertainment venues. He declined to set a specific timeline “because that’s not the way to make health-based decisions.
“We’re making progress, but we’re not where we need to be,” he said. “When we are where we need to be, we’ll have a great celebration of being able to reopen things in a more normal way.”
Gov. Larry Hogan (R) announced last week the state will move into its third and final recovery stage that relaxes restrictions on certain activities that began Friday, Sept. 4.
Movie theater and indoor venues can open at 50 percent, or up to 100 people. Outdoor performance venues are also at 50 percent, but with a limit of 250 people that can attend.
In addition, retail businesses and places of worship can extend from 50 percent capacity to 75 percent capacity.
Hogan’s plan released in April called “Maryland Strong: Roadmap to Recovery,” said the third phase that would require a “FDA-approved vaccine or safe and effective therapeutics.”
At a press conference Sept. 1 in Annapolis, Hogan said, “things have changed since then.”
Officials in the majority of Maryland’s jurisdictions have decided to enter the final stage of the recovery plan. That can be viewed at https://bit.ly/3jPwD0R.
Ernest Carter, chief health officer for Prince George’s, explained some of the metrics the county used in its decision included the county averaging nearly 1,000 new cases weekly since the Fourth of July. That figure decreased the last week of August to an average of about 700 new cases.
Carter said one out of every four of those in the state diagnosed with the coronavirus have been Prince George’s residents.
He continued to stress residents should wear face coverings or masks in public and maintain social distancing of six feet from other people. He added that residents should not be discouraged that other jurisdictions are relaxing restrictions before Prince George’s County.
“Don’t host large parties. Don’t attend large parties,” Carter said. “I know how disappointing it can be to hear some of our neighbors are reopening more quickly than we are,” he added, cautioning that the county shouldn’t “take a backwards trend.”
Meanwhile, childcare providers in Prince George’s that remain closed or reopened after July 30 due to the coronavirus pandemic can apply for grants. Some of the money would go toward personal protective equipment, payroll, supplies, rent and other operating costs.
Licensed centers can apply for up to $$20,000 and those registered as a home center can request up to $3,000.
The county will allocate $2 million from the federal CARES Act to provide the funding.
Eligibility requirements can be reviewed at https://www.pgcedc.com/covid-child-care-recovery.