Even though Uvalde, Texas is far from Montgomery County, we are reeling from the mass murder in the elementary school where 19 children and 2 adults were killed. We feel the loss and the anguish of the community. And we feel the anger that almost ten years after the mass killing at Sandy Hook Elementary School, we have made no progress on meaningful gun control.
The idea that our society allows an 18-year-old to walk into a gun store and buy weapons with no background check and no waiting period is insane. It is absurd that it’s more difficult to get a driver’s license than it is to buy a gun. We know that there are way too many guns on our streets and available for purchase outside of any regulations, but where we can regulate and limit sales of weapons designed solely for killing people, we need to do it.
Incidents like this anywhere undermine people’s sense of security everywhere. Many parents, teachers, students and families are worried and we understand. Our police and school security and administrative staff are in daily contact to provide a safe environment in our schools. Our schools are also acknowledging and supporting the increased mental health supports many may need, and we will support them.
A Vigil for Buffalo:
Unfortunately, Uvalde was not the only recent mass shooting in this nation. Earlier this week we held a meeting and vigil with faith and community leaders following the targeted shooting at a grocery store in a Black community in Buffalo, NY as well as the shooting of an Asian American church in Southern California. Our Black and faith communities remain concerned and worried for their neighborhoods and houses of worships.
We understand that fear, which is why the Montgomery County government has been providing and will continue to provide security grants to help our nonprofits and faith organizations with security operations. The Council just approved my recommended $800,000 for the coming fiscal year to help nonprofits and other groups protect themselves.
At this vigil, we sent a message of support to the Buffalo Mayor and City Council that Montgomery County stands with their residents and community during this difficult time.
As Summer begins, protect yourself from COVID:
As we approach the Memorial Day weekend, a lot of people will be traveling and so it is an important time to take precautions to protect yourself, friends, and family from COVID-19 as much as possible. We implore you to stay up to date on your vaccinations and boosters.
Vaccinations are the best way to avoid hospitalizations because vaccines are effective at reducing severe illness if you do catch COVID. It is an effective public health tool for bringing down transmission levels and stopping the spread of COVID. The CDC is still recommending masks on public transportation. CDC is also recommending masking indoors in crowded spaces where social distancing is not possible.
This past weekend, our health department began providing boosters to children aged 5-11. All children ages 5 through 11 years should now receive a booster vaccine 5 months after completing their primary series. Children ages 5 through 11 years who are moderately or severely immunocompromised should receive a booster 3 months after completing their primary series. Since authorizing the vaccine for children down to 5 years of age in October 2021, emerging data suggest that vaccine effectiveness against COVID-19 wanes after the second dose of the vaccine in all authorized populations.
Rapid tests - antigen vs PCR?
We also need people to take COVID tests and report their results when they feel sick or when they’ve been exposed to someone who has tested positive. We’re getting asked more often now: Which COVID-19 test is right for me? At home rapid antigen tests are recommended if you notice COVID symptoms. Results come back in 15 minutes.
The alternative to an antigen test is a PCR test. It's for anyone who has been exposed to someone who has tested positive but is not showing any symptoms. It’s commonly used by anyone returning to work after an extended absence like a trip or to travel.
The county has several PCR Test drop off boxes available which we encourage people to continue to use. If you drop a test off before 5 p.m. you'll typically get the result the next day by email. With this option you must register online to get your results. That helps us track COVID in the County.
Remember you can pick up COVID tests at libraries across Montgomery County along with N95 masks. We want to thank you for doing your part to keep the community safe. For more information about COVID testing, please click here.
Paying tribute to those who sacrificed:
This Monday is Memorial Day and, there will be several ways to honor our veterans and service members here in Montgomery County including the annual Memorial Day Ceremony and Parade that returns to Rockville Town Square starting at 9 a.m. Monday.
You can also pay tribute to members of the military from Montgomery County lost to war through the Fallen Hometown Heroes project. The Montgomery County Commission on Veterans Affairs is honoring many “Fallen Hometown Heroes” with County connections dating back to World War I with detailed tributes displayed on a special website created by the Commission.
This website honors veterans who were killed in action in World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Gulf War and the Global War on Terrorism. The website includes photos and military histories of Fallen Hometown Heroes who were either originally from the County or who lived in Montgomery after their service. The site can be viewed at www.montgomerycountymd.gov/fallenheroes
Dive into summer at our County pools:
Montgomery County’s seven public pools will open at 11 a.m. on Saturday, May 28.
- Bethesda Outdoor Pool, 301-652-1598, 6300 Hillandale Road, Bethesda
- Germantown Outdoor Pool, 240-777-8067, 18905 Kingsview Road, Germantown
- Long Branch Outdoor Pool, 301-431-5700, 8700 Piney Branch Road, Silver Spring
- Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK) Outdoor Pool, 240-777-8066, 1201 Jackson Road, Silver Spring
- Sara E. Auer Western County Outdoor Pool, 301-349-2217, 20151 Fisher Avenue, Poolesville
- Sergeant Hector I. Ayala Wheaton/Glenmont Outdoor Pool, 301-929-5460, 12621 Dalewood Drive, Wheaton
- Upper County Outdoor Pool, 301-840-2446, 8211 Emory Grove Road, Gaithersburg
KID Museum opens doors in Bethesda:
This past weekend I was able to watch eyes light up and imaginations go into overdrive as we celebrated the grand opening of the KID Museum's new flagship location at 3 Bethesda Metro Center, located near the intersection of Wisconsin Avenue and East West Highway. Since the KID Museum began 8 years ago, they have served 330,000 students, families and teachers. With this new facility, they will be able to serve many more. More than half of the students who participate in KID Museum programs attend Title I schools or are from under-resourced communities.
Last summer, I visited a KID Museum class at the Universities at Shady Grove, and sat in a classroom while they learned firsthand how to make a circuit breaker. The instructor was engaging, and the students were attentive and learning while they were having fun at the same time. This is what the KID Museum is all about.
The KID Museum sees the world with the “mind of a maker” and values curiosity, creativity, collaboration, and compassion. These are values that we embrace here in Montgomery County, making this a perfect home for Kid Museum!
Montgomery County Government receives awards and accolades:
This week, Montgomery County was nominated for four National Capital Emmy awards. Salud y Bienestar, our Latino Health Initiative, won an Emmy last year and has two nominations this year. Our Department of Environmental Protection and HHS were each nominated as well. This is a great recognition for our County communications and outreach efforts.
Additionally, the Montgomery County government earned 31 National Association of Counties Achievement Awards. The Achievement Awards recognize programs that offer new services, improve the administration of an existing program, promote better training, more effective policy making, or intergovernmental cooperation.
Our government is committed to being innovative, equitable, transparent, and responsive to our residents, businesses and visitors. These awards honor the incredible work that is being done by our departments and employees. I want to thank our employees for their dedication which led to these Achievement Awards.
Council approves Silver Spring Plan and Modifies the Plan Boundary
I want to note my appreciation to the County Council for listening to the requests of many residents and myself to remove the adjacent communities from the Silver Spring Downtown and Adjacent Communities Plan, retaining only a few properties where the owners participated in rezoning. The Council modified the boundary and moved most of the properties to the future Silver Spring Communities Plan. You can see the memo I sent the Council HERE.
Have a great week and a Happy Memorial Day.
As always, my appreciation for all you do.