Dear Friends,In-person voting has begun! Early voting started on Monday and people came out in droves to the 11 early voting sites around the County. Early voting will continue from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. through Monday. Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 3. You can register and vote the same day at the polls. For information on voting, go to 777vote.org.
And please vote FOR Question A and AGAINST Question B. Recently, at a virtual forum on the budget, I explained why it is important to vote for Question A and against Question B. You can listen here. You can also read about it here.
Last week, I explained why I had vetoed Bill 29-20, and I was disappointed that this week the Council overrode the veto. You can read about my position here. My opposition to and concerns about the bill remains. Despite the rhetoric, Bill 29-20 does not prioritize affordable housing or fair payment of wages. The bill is too costly and does not produce sufficient public benefit to justify the cost. It is an expensive, and unnecessary approach, particularly at this moment when the County is struggling to fund critical services. And at the risk of stating the obvious, using our limited funds to subsidize market-rate (not affordable) housing development means fewer funds for other services including affordable housing, recreation and education. This bill allows housing to be built for those who can afford it, not for lower income populations who are disproportionately Black and Latino. You can read my full veto message here.
Last week, our public health experts, led by Public Health Officer Dr. Travis Gayles, released updated indicators that are being used to guide decisions to protect the public health. The primary indicators are the daily case rate of positive tests of COVID-19 per 100,000 people, the test positivity rate and the rate of transmission. There are other indicators. You can see the data dashboard here.
We are watching a disturbing climb in daily positive cases, but that is not true just for Montgomery County. All but three states in the country are either described as “active or imminent outbreak” or “at risk of outbreak” according to the CovidActNow website, which can be found here. And cases are rising around the region as well. That information can be found here.
We continue to ask that everyone not relax their caution. Please follow the guidelines to maintain physical distance and wear masks. We are carefully watching the situation. I thought you might find this long, but informative, article from El Pais helpful explaining how the virus is transmitted. You can find the article here.
In my video this week, I talk about why the idea of herd immunity is a dangerous concept. You also can read here more about why this should not be considered.
We continue to try to help businesses and residents who have been hit hard by COVID-19. Our Reopen Montgomery grant program helps businesses to reopen. This includes restaurants that want winterized outdoor seating. Our rent relief program is targeted for households that have lost income during the pandemic and are struggling to pay for rent.
You may have noticed that we have changed the name of this weekly newsletter to better reflect that we are providing information on a variety of events and issues around the County. We will continue to keep you updated.
Marc Elrich, County Executive
P.S. I wanted to note an amazing project by one of our own residents, Suzanne Firstenberg, to honor and remember the more than 200,000 Americans who have died from COVID. Suzanne is an artist and longtime hospice volunteer who has created a powerful statement that you can visit at RFK Stadium or view via webcam. Learn more about her project here.