December 3, 2020

Message from the County Executive

Dear Friends,

I hope your Thanksgiving celebration went well, even though it likely was quite different from previous years. 

Unfortunately, as we head into the winter and holidays, our numbers are not looking good, and the situation will likely get much worse. Our hospitals are in jeopardy of experiencing significant increases in COVID-19 cases that will put a strain on their capacity and staffing. You can see from our data dashboard that the percentage of hospital beds that are occupied by patients with COVID-19 is worrisome. 

Percentage of hospital inpatient beds in the community that are occupied by patients with COVID-19

The upward trend of the line of positive cases is concerning, as is the number of new confirmed cases per 100,000 residents. 

Seven-day average number of new confirmed cases per 100k residents

We are in regular contact with our hospitals to understand how we can assist them and we are monitoring how this surge is impacting the number of beds available for patients. Our focus is to keep people as healthy as possible. The best tools we have are to follow the guidelines of physical distancing, wearing a mask and limiting the size of social gatherings.

In fact, a private White House coronavirus task force report published by the Center for Public Integrity includes the statement that “the COVID risk to all Americans is at a historic high” and that “we are in a very dangerous place.” The report said, “improved public observance of social distancing measures is urgently needed to limit overrunning hospital capacity and additional preventable deaths.” 

Many people are getting tested, which is important and necessary, but the high volume of testing is causing delays in getting results. These delays are not just in Montgomery County. There are delays throughout the State and the country, at least partly because people were testing before and after holiday travel. Our labs are working seven days a week, so please be patient as you await results.

I am excited and hopeful about recent news regarding the coming vaccines, but they will become available slowly and it will be quite some time until they are widely available. Until then, we have only our actions to slow the spread.

In other news, earlier this week I vetoed Bill 38-20 that would reduce revenues available for infrastructure – schools and transportation – that are needed to accompany development. Those revenues come from impact taxes paid by developers of new projects. The projected revenue loss from this bill is estimated to be between $12.5 million and $20 million per year. These losses come at a time when we know we don’t have sufficient funding to address current needs, make the investments to grow our economy and maintain our high-quality schools. We must make sure that we have the resources needed to provide the infrastructure for a growing community. If new development does not pay its fair share of the costs of infrastructure, then residents pay a disproportionate share. I could not support that approach. You can read my veto message HERE.

Please stay well, stay home as much as possible and wear a mask.

With appreciation,

Marc Elrich
County Executive

P.S. Even though Small Business Saturday has come and gone, I urge you to “shop local” as much as possible as you go about your holiday shopping. Our businesses are hit hard by this pandemic and these restrictions. While we have programs to try to help them, I know they need and appreciate support from all of us.