May 27, 2021

Message from the County Executive

Dear Friends:

All COVID-19 capacity restrictions and many face covering requirements will be lifted tomorrow, Friday, May 28. This is happening because a majority of our residents are fully vaccinated, which is great news. You can see more about vaccination rates on the County’s COVID-19 information page and on the CDC information page.

We will now follow Maryland State health regulations regarding face coverings. Face coverings must continue to be worn on public transportation and inside schools, health care settings, youth camps and childcare facilities. More information is available here.

I want to remind everyone that businesses, other establishments and workplaces can set their own guidelines—they can still choose to require face coverings. Please respect these decisions. In fact, the County is continuing to require face coverings inside all County-owned and operated buildings.

Additionally, the State health department is encouraging all individuals who are older than 2 and who are not fully vaccinated to wear face coverings in all public indoor settings and outdoors where physically distancing is not available.

We continue our efforts to vaccinate and reach the “hard-to-reach” communities. This past weekend, I visited one of our mobile clinics at Lakeforest Mall.

We still have thousands of our residents who are not vaccinated, and we remain committed to finding them and encouraging them to be vaccinated.

I have so much appreciation for our public health and logistic teams, led by our Public Health Officer, Dr. Travis Gayles, and our Director of the Office of Emergency Management, Dr. Earl Stoddard, and by so many County employees who have worked incredibly long hours to manage the impacts of this pandemic.

We also appreciate our nonprofit partners, health care workers, essential employees, volunteers and many more. Together, we have made our County a place that prioritized public health and safety and worked hard to protect our most vulnerable. And of course, the cooperation and support from you—our residents—has been central and essential to all these efforts.

One year since the murder of George Floyd

I do want to note that this week was the first anniversary of the murder of George Floyd. This murder sparked a social justice movement of a scope that has not been seen since the Civil Rights Era of the 60’s, and it is long overdue.

To be clear, George Floyd was not the first Black man wrongfully killed at the hands of police. Nor has he been the last. We have witnessed over the past weeks more incidents between police and unarmed victims come to light. Here in Montgomery County in Takoma Park, last month, Dominique Williams and James Lionel Johnson, of District Heights, Md., were killed by an off-duty officer of the Federal government.

But the problem is far deeper than these killings and we know it. If the killing stopped tomorrow, the instruments that consign people to poverty and that bar access to what we like to call the American Dream will still be in place. Dismantling racism will not be possible without addressing poverty, discrimination, structural impediments, and frankly, becoming capable of talking about America’s racist history and the long-term consequences that it has had on our society.

We have been working on reimagining policing since I was elected. We have had a working group of residents and a team of consultants work with us to discuss what works, what doesn’t, and most importantly, what we need to change.

That work will soon be completed and we will then begin implementing revised policies. Police cannot and should not be saddled with every social problem we have. Many issues that we have left to the police are properly the purview of social service agencies. We will begin to realign services accordingly.

County budget

The County Council has voted to approve the 2022 Fiscal Year operating and capital budgets. I want to thank the Council for its thoughtful review, analysis and questions regarding my budget proposals. To have the executive and legislative branch agreeing on 99.85 percent of the total budget is a big win for our County residents.

Over the last three budget cycles, the County has had to overcome deficits, respond to the pandemic, and now, recover from the devastating impact the health crisis that took the lives of more than 1,550 County residents.

To accelerate that recovery for all residents, I am proud that my administration has provided balanced budgets that fully fund education, provide affordable housing, fight climate change and keep our residents and neighborhoods safe. We have increased transportation funding in ways that will spur economic development, address racial equity considerations and improve the environment. We have done all that while providing a response to COVID-19 that respects the science and protects our residents.

And we have been able to accomplish all of that thanks to the enormous support from our U.S. Senators, Members of Congress and our State Delegation to the Maryland General Assembly.

Memorial Day weekend

This Memorial Day is the first holiday since the vast increase in COVID-19 vaccinations.

I hope that everyone has a safe weekend and uses common sense as they safely enjoy weekend activities.

As it is Memorial Day Weekend, I encourage everyone to also take a moment to appreciate the millions of men and women who have sacrificed their lives for this country. Let’s remember and pay tribute to all of them this Memorial Day.

With appreciation,

Marc Elrich
County Executive