As you know, the voting is over and ballot counting continues in Maryland and elsewhere around the country. A record number of people in Montgomery County voted by mail and we greatly appreciate the many people who did so. It made early voting and Election Day voting go smoothly, even with the drastically reduced number of Election Day voting sites. Thank you to everyone who voted, volunteered and worked in this historic election.
Although there are still many votes to be counted, it appears that Questions A and C on the Montgomery County ballots have been approved by the voters. Passage of Question A removes a harmful and archaic system of collecting property tax revenues. The current system does not protect people from individual tax increases and does not provide sufficient resources to fund important needs. In fact, Moody’s credit rating agency has called passage of Question A a “credit positive” action for our County
Question C will add two more district representatives to the County Council, increasing the total number of Councilmembers to 11. I believe this will help provide better representation for our residents.
While many of us have been closely following voting and election results, we have also been following the numbers of COVID-19 cases—and the trends of increasing positive cases are highly concerning. I discuss some of the issues in my video this week, but you can also look at the numbers yourself on our County website at https://montgomerycountymd.gov/covid19/data/. Information also is available on the State website at https://coronavirus.maryland.gov.
You will see that the numbers are going up around the State, the Washington region, elsewhere in the country and around the world. Because of these developments and based on the advice of our public health officer and other public health experts, I have issued an Executive Order re-imposing some restrictions on gatherings and capacity limits for businesses. We also once again will be restricting late-night (10 p.m. to midnight) on-site alcohol consumption. Later at night, people tend to get lax in wearing masks and they forget about physical distancing. And doing those things leads to spreading the virus.
The County Council discussed the Executive Order today with our County health officer, Travis Gayles, and other Executive staff who have been working nonstop to address the COVID-19 impacts on our County. The Council requested some changes to the order, which will be reviewed and discussed and voted on at the Council session on Tuesday.
I know these increased restrictions are hard on people, but contact tracing is showing that gatherings of all kinds are correlated to the spread of the virus. Right now—until we have treatments and a vaccine—our actions are the only tool we have and we need to act.
I also want to remind people that dining out will still be allowed, but it is important to wear a mask when you are not actually eating or drinking. This includes even when you are seated at the table. If you would like to review the Executive Orders and guidance, you can find the information at https://montgomerycountymd.gov/covid19/news/index.html.
Finally, I want to acknowledge the upcoming Veterans Day holiday on Wednesday, Nov. 11. It is a day we set aside to thank and honor veterans. On behalf of Montgomery County, I extend our sincere appreciation to all our veterans.