January 27, 2022

Message from the County Executive

Dear Friends,

This has been a difficult week for this County. It has been a week with terrible tragedies. For the first time ever, a student was shot inside an MCPS high school. This is shocking and saddening for all of us. A Wheaton Volunteer Fire Department and Baltimore City firefighter, Kenny Lacayo, was one of three firefighters who died in the horrific fire and collapse of a vacant house in Baltimore. It reminds us of the danger our firefighters face every day on the job and of the sacrifices they make for our safety. A 17-year-old Northwest High School student who went missing earlier this month was found deceased in a wooded area in Germantown. And we are ending this month with more than 120 deaths of County residents from COVID-19, more than our last four months combined. Our thoughts and sympathies are with all those who are suffering due to these events. We hope for healing and recovery as soon as possible.

In the midst of these tragedies, I have to note the heroic acts by our first responders, by security staff at Magruder High School to find the victim and by Magruder’s school nurse, who effectively used the bleed kit to slow the bleeding. The staff and students at Magruder also cooperated and responded as needed. For all of that, we are grateful. Oprah Winfrey is quoted as saying, “Turn your wounds into wisdom,” and that is what we will do from the tragedies and trials over the past week.

Ensuring the Safety and Welfare of All of Our Students

I have been working with both MCPS Superintendent Dr. Monifa McKnight and Police Chief Marcus Jones since the shooting at Magruder occurred to evaluate and implement strategies that they believe will ensure that our students, staff and parents feel safe and secure. I immediately agreed with Dr. McKnight’s request to bring our Community Engagement Officers into high school buildings throughout the County for this week. They will work on long-term adjustments that they feel are necessary.

The weapon in the attack at Magruder was a “ghost gun.” It was a gun that the suspect had mailed to his house in three separate packages and was simple enough for him to put together. This is the fifth ghost gun recovered from County schools during this school year. This is a problem. I am glad that  Attorney General Brian Frosh, Senator Susan Lee and Delegate Lesley Lopez have a bill before the General Assembly to ban these guns in Maryland. I support this bill and I hope you will lend your voice to this effort in Annapolis as well.

Events of this week and other incidents that have occurred throughout the school year are reminders of the mental health issues among our students. Over the past two years, I have increased the budget for MCPS to hire more social workers, psychologists and counselors. We need more specialists to intervene and de-escalate problems before they become serious, and we know how difficult this pandemic has been on everyone in our schools. The school system has been trying to hire these mental health workers, and here, like elsewhere around the country, there is a shortage of qualified professionals. However, they are continuing to hire and work with area universities to bring more people to the schools.

Last May, I created the “Reimagining School Safety and Student Well-Being Committee” (RSSSW). The committee includes students, representatives from the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Police and Montgomery County Public Schools, and staff members from the offices of the County Executive and the County Council. The committee put out a report last August with recommendations that we continue to review. Here is the report: https://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/rps/Resources/Files/reports/RSSSW-Interim-Report-08302021.pdf

County COVID-19 Cases Fall More Than 50 Percent, But a New Variant is on the Horizon

We have seen a 51 percent decrease in the number of cases since last week. This is good news and is helping ease the strain on our hospitals. Although these are dramatic decreases from our recent peak, it is important to note that our case rate numbers are still at the highest they have been during the entire health crisis. Omicron popped up out of nowhere, and there was news this week that health officials are evaluating a new variant and are working to assess how much of a new threat it might be. The World Health Organization reported this week that the new COVID variant may be more contagious than Omicron and warned against assuming that this virus will continue to mutate into milder strains.

Since the beginning of this pandemic, we’ve watched several variants rise rapidly in the population and dissipate only to be replaced by the next variant. While it’s great that Omicron seems to be on the decline, we have to be careful not to be complacent; we will continue to be vigilant and monitor and track variants as they emerge. Please expect and understand that policies will reflect what we need to do to keep everyone as safe as possible.

Boosters Make a Difference

Sadly, more people in the State of Maryland have died from COVID this month than any other month of the pandemic. In Montgomery County, we have had more than 120 deaths from COVID this month—more than the previous four months combined. However, we are only accounting for 8.4 of the State’s COVID deaths, despite being 17 percent of the State’s population. This is a credit to our high vaccination rate. But I remain concerned that only about 50 percent of our eligible population has received boosters. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last week released data showing that boosters are “90 percent effective at preventing hospitalization” with Omicron. We are working to remind people of the importance of getting booster shots. This week, we sent text alert reminders for people to get their booster shots. The booster is easy to get and is so important. If you or anyone you know needs a booster or even their first shot of vaccination, get more information at govaxmoco.com.

Rapid Take Home COVID Tests Becoming Easier to Find

Our rapid take home COVID test distributions continue to be in demand. Last Friday, I went to the White Oak Library and handed out test kits. It was a very cold day, and some folks were waiting out in the cold for well over an hour before the distribution began. Despite the wait and cold, these residents were patient and grateful. The distribution system operated by our library employees and volunteers was seamless and moved the line very quickly.

So far, we have given out nearly 800,000 test kits. This includes more than 500,000 given out over the last two weeks at our libraries and nearly 300,000 provided to our schools. We also are working to make sure these rapid tests are getting to others in need, including the homebound, childcare providers, and private schools. We continue to encourage everyone to use our portal to upload test results at https://onestop.md.gov/forms/maryland-covid-at-home-test-self-report-61dc801b819e860001f1037a.

Thankfully, for now, tests are more available. Just this week we heard good news for both our nation’s COVID response and our local economy. Rockville’s own Maxim Biomedical received Emergency Use Authorization from the Food and Drug Administration for its new ClearDetect™ COVID-19 Antigen Home Test.

Get the Tax Credits You Deserve

It is tax season, and tomorrow, Friday, Jan. 28, is “Earned Income Tax Credit Awareness Day.” The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is one of our nation’s most robust anti-poverty programs. Families earning up to $57,000 may be eligible for this credit (the income level is tied to family size). The State also has an EITC, and I am very proud that Montgomery County is one of a very few local jurisdictions in the country that offers a local credit, called the “Working Families Income Supplement.” We also are the only county in Maryland that offers a local credit that is a 100 percent match to the State’s program. This tax credit helps low to moderate-income workers and families get a tax break. The maximum Federal tax credit is $6,728 (plus 45 percent matches from both the State and the County). That is a significant savings for our working families most in need of financial support.

I want to make sure that all our residents who qualify take advantage of this program. For more information on this tax credit and other tax credits, visit montgomerycountymd.gov/cashback. If you do not qualify for this tax credit, please help us out and pass along this information to anyone who can benefit from it.

Voting Women Change Everything

This weekend, I will be joining the Montgomery County Commission for Women for its 42nd Annual Women’s Legislative Briefing that will be held virtually from 12:30-5 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 30. This year’s theme is “Voting Women Change Everything” and I could not agree more.

There will be two additional seats this year on the County Council, as well as changes in district lines for the Council and the General Assembly. It is important for people to learn about the issues and their choices for elected leaders. The Commission for Women’s Briefing will help educate and energize voters as we head into elections. This event brings together advocates, allies, policymakers and emerging leaders to empower, engage and mobilize Marylanders around issues affecting women and girls throughout the State. To register for this event, visit https://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/cfw.

Music to Our Ears

The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra is partnering with Montgomery College on Thursday, Feb. 3, to provide a free concert with Jonathan Rush as conductor. Tickets are required. You can reserve seats at https://my.bsomusic.org/17555/17557?utm_source=wordfly&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=BSOatMontgomeryCollege&utm_content=version_A

Learning Our History

I will be giving brief remarks on Saturday as part of the Montgomery County History Conference, a nine-day event that is already underway. You can get more information about its schedule of events at https://montgomeryhistory.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/HC_Program_2022-1.pdf.

County Attorney Bids Adieu After 37 Years of Service

I wanted to note that this week is Marc Hansen’s last week as our County Attorney. Marc has served our County for more than 37 years. He has been our County Attorney for the last 12. Being County Attorney is a difficult job, and I appreciate his hard work, experience and constant availability. I want to wish him well in his retirement.

Losing a Legend

Montgomery County lost a beloved resident and historic figure last week as Brigadier General Charles McGee passed away at 102. General McGee was one of the last surviving Tuskegee Airmen and served for 30 years in our military, completing 409 air combat missions across three wars. Our thoughts and sympathies are with General McGee’s family, friends and the community. As we begin Black History Month next week, heroic individuals like General McGee—along with his fellow Tuskegee Airmen and all our Black military veterans who faced segregation, racism and incredible obstacles after they came home from serving to protect our nation—need to be remembered. We all need to learn about who they are, what they did and why it matters.

As always, my appreciation for all of you

Marc Elrich
County Executive

January 26, 2022

County Council Extends Indoor Masking Guidance in Public Spaces Through Feb. 21

The regulation requiring masks to be worn indoors in public spaces to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 was extended this week through Feb. 21 by the Montgomery County Council, which acted in its role as the County Board of Health. The Council also decided not to vote on a proposal to require a vaccine passport to enter specific indoor venues.

The Council also decided that it will meet weekly with the County's public health officer to see if the indoor masking guidance should be terminated earlier. The public health officer must provide the Board of Health with the levels of the following indicators in the County and the trend of these indicators for seven consecutive days:
  • The number of cases per 100,000 residents.
  • The test positivity rate.
  • The COVID-related hospital bed utilization case rate.
The regulation approved this week will terminate on Feb. 21 without any further action by the Board of Health.

The COVID-19 omicron variant has pushed Montgomery County and other areas of the country into an extended period of high COVID-19 transmission. As of Jan. 27, Montgomery County’s transmission rate is 9.0 percent in seven-day average. The County has recorded 393.3 cases per 100,000 residents during the past seven days.

Students are still required to wear face coverings in schools based on requirements from the Maryland State Department of Education. Face coverings are required on public transportation as required by the Transportation Security Administration.

The updated Board of Health regulation can be viewed here. The Council staff report on the Council deliberations can be viewed here.

How to Order Free COVID-19 Rapid At-Home Test Kits from the Federal Government


The Federal Government is making COVID-19 rapid at-home test kits available at no cost. The limit is four kits per household and will be sent via the US Postal Service. To order kits, go to https://www.covidtests.gov.

Commission for Women’s Virtual Legislative Briefing to be Featured on the Newest Episode of the ‘What’s Happening MoCo’ Podcast

The Montgomery County Commission for Women (CFW) is entering its 50th year of helping to ensure that women and girls are treated fairly in all aspects of their lives. On the latest episode of the What’s Happening MoCo podcast, CFW Chair Donna Rojas talks about the organization’s accomplishments and its upcoming Women’s Legislative Briefing that will take place virtually on Sunday, Jan. 30.

The What’s Happening MoCo podcast is now available.

The virtual Women’s Legislative Briefing will be from 12:30 p.m. - 4 p.m. on Jan. 30, marking the 42nd iteration of the event. Residents can register to participate at https://montgomerycountymd.gov/cfw/wlb.html.

Ms Rojas said the briefing brings together community leaders, elected officials, advocates and emerging leaders from across Maryland. 

“We, Montgomery County, have had the opportunity to host it and every year it gets bigger and bigger,”  said Ms. Rojas. 

Residents can learn more about the Commission for Women and the upcoming Women’s Legislative Briefing by listening to the podcast via their favorite podcasting platforms including Apple Podcasts at https://bit.ly/whats-happening-moco. Spotify, Amazon Music (ask Alexa to play the What’s Happening MoCo podcast), iHeartRadio, Google Podcasts and others.

The video version of the podcast can be viewed on the What’s Happening MoCo Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/WhatsHappeningMoCoPodcast or by visiting https://montgomerycountymd.gov/CCM/whats-happening-moco-podcast.html.

In past episodes, podcast host Derrick Kenny has addressed a wide variety of subjects. The show’s guests have included elected officials, Montgomery employees who specialize in specific aspects of government, business leaders and entertainers who live in the County. New podcasts are released twice a month.

Residents and others interested in asking a question or suggesting a topic to be addressed in a future episode are encouraged to engage via the Facebook page or via e-mail at derrick.kenny@montgomerycountymd.gov.

What’s Happening MoCo podcast episode archives can be accessed by visiting the podcast’s webpage at https://montgomerycountymd.gov/CCM/whats-happening-moco-podcast.html.

County Awards Grants Totaling $700,000 to Nonprofit Organizations to Deter Hate Crimes and Support Security Needs

Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich, County Council President Gabe Albornoz and members of the Council joined nonprofit and faith leaders this week to announce 61 recipients received grants totaling $700,000 to improve security and deter hate crimes through the County’s Nonprofit Security Grants program.

The County Council approved $700,000 in May 2021 to be available in the Fiscal Year 2022 budget for nonprofit organizations and facilities that have experienced, or are at high risk of experiencing, hate crimes. The grants were made available to augment funds for security personnel or other security planning and training measures. Faith-based facilities at risk of hate crimes were also eligible to apply. The funds are administered by the County’s Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security (OEMHS).

“Coming on the heels of the terrifying hostage-taking at a synagogue in Texas, recent vandalism at a mosque here in our community, and acts of violence against Asian-Americans across the country, these nonprofit security grants are further affirmation of Montgomery County’s unwavering support for our neighbors of every religion, race and ethnicity, and for those organizations who serve them,” said County Executive Elrich. “These grants demonstrate our steadfast commitment to protect basic human rights. Sadly, hatred, stirred further by dangerous rhetoric and conspiracy theories, continues to engender threats and acts of violence. These grants will provide nonprofit and faith organizations with additional resources to enhance the security of their facilities and the safety of our residents and neighbors.”

Council President Albornoz said: “In the wake of recent attacks of hate and domestic terrorism in communities across our country, we in Montgomery County are stepping up to help our partners who are at risk of violence. By providing additional funding to these organizations, we aim to help and protect them against targeted acts of hate and violence. Our diversity is our strength, and no one should be under attack based on race, religion, gender, ethnicity, or sexual orientation. This is the Montgomery Way.”

Councilmember Andrew Friedson said: “Locally and nationally, we continue to see an alarming rise of abhorrent acts of hate, bigotry and violence, including recent events like the Congregation Beth Israel hostage situation in Colleyville, Texas, and the distribution of antisemitic fliers in the Forest Estates community of Silver Spring. In Montgomery County, we have a community of diverse residents who wish to practice our faiths and cultures freely. Schools and places of worship should be sanctuaries of peace and acceptance, not fear and violence. While we regret that this program is so needed at this time, I am proud to have worked with the Executive Branch and community partners to establish this grant program so we can provide added security for our residents.”

In addition to the grant funding, OEMHS and County Police continue to provide support to all organizations who indicate the need for assistance with security. The County provides classes, assessments and training specifically designed for nonprofit and faith-based facilities. OEMHS regularly offers a Securing Houses of Worship training for local religious facilities.

“These trainings help facilities evaluate and better secure their physical structures, develop plans for responding to threats and emergencies and better prepare to protect themselves and their communities,” said Marianne Sounders, acting director of OEMHS. “Everyone has a right to work, live and worship in safety and security and we are happy to do our part to help.”

Montgomery Police offer Civilian Response to Active Shooter (CRASE) trainings, as well as assistance with security assessments and drills.

For more information on upcoming Securing Houses of Worship trainings, contact OEMHS at emergency.management@montgomerycountymd.gov.

For information on CRASE trainings or facility assessment assistance, contact the Police Dppartment’s Community Engagement Division at MCPD_Engaged@Montgomerycountymd.gov.

To qualify for grant funding, applying facilities were required to be in Montgomery County and be nonprofit organizations or religious facilities experiencing threats or hate crimes or at significant risk of being targets of a hate crime as representatives of frequently targeted groups.

All grant awardees are IRS registered 501(c)3, tax-exempt nonprofit organizations in good standing with the Maryland State Department of Assessments and Taxation or religious organizations in good standing. Funds can only be used to provide security support for facilities located within the County. Organizations with more than one facility in the County were permitted to apply for grants separately for each physical location.

Recipients of the Nonprofit Security Grants were: 


Grant Award

Alef Bet Montessori School


Alim Academy


Bender JCC of Greater Washington


Beth Sholom Congregation and Talmud Torah


Bethesda Jewish Congregation


B'nai Shalom of Olney


Bradley Hills Presbyterian Church


Bridge City Church


Chabad Lubavitch of Upper Montgomery County


Chabad of Bethesda


Chabad of Potomac Village


Chabad of Silver Spring


Chabad Shul of Potomac


Chinese Culture and Community Service Center


Chinese Culture and Community Service Center Academy


Colesville United Methodist Church


Congregation and Talmud Torah B’nai Israel of the Washington DC Metro Area


Congregation Beth El of Montgomery County


Congregation B'nai Tzedek


Congregation Har Tzeon-Agudath Achim


Ezras Israel Congregation of Rockville


Garden of Remembrance Memorial Park


Hebrew Home of Greater Washington




Islamic Center of Maryland


Islamic Education Center


Islamic Society of Germantown


Jewish Residents of Leisure World


Kehila Chadasha


Kehilat Pardes -- The Rock Creek Synagogue


Kol Shalom


Kunzang Odsal Palyul Changchub Choling_The World Prayer Center


Magen David Sephardic Congregation


Melvin J Berman Hebrew Academy


Menare Foundation


Montgomery County Coalition for the Homeless


Montgomery County Muslim Foundation


Muslim Community Center


Ohr Kodesh Congregation


Orthodox Congregation of Silver Spring


Shaare Torah


Southwest Hebrew Congregation


Temple Beth Ami


Temple Emanuel


Temple Shalom


The Charles E Smith Jewish Day School of Greater Washington - Lower School


The Charles E Smith Jewish Day School of Greater Washington - Upper School


The Ivymount School


The Kemp Mill Synagogue


Tikvat Israel Congregation


Torah School of Greater Washington


US International Development Center


US Zen Institute


Woodside Synagogue Ahavat Torah


Yeshiva of Greater Washington - Boys High School


Yeshiva of Greater Washington - Boys Middle School


Yeshiva of Greater Washington - Girls School


Young Israel of Potomac


Young Israel Shomrai Emunah


Young Israel Shomrai Emunah Nursery School


Zion Baptist Church North Site


County Libraries Provide Free Access for Cardholders for Publications Such as ‘The Washington Post’ and ‘Consumer Reports’

Montgomery County Public Libraries (MCPL) provide many services for their users. Among them are free online access for library card holders to publications such as The Washington Post and Consumer Reports.

Unlimited access to The Washington Post’s digital service WashingtonPost.com is available on seven-day licenses. After seven days, library cardholders can register for another seven-day viewing period.

Online access to full-text stories in Consumer Reports also is available to County library cardholders. Consumer Reports articles can save time and money for residents shopping for a wide variety of items. Unlimited access provides information on ratings and reviews for more than 8,500 products and services including appliances, cars and electronics.

For online access to The Washington Post, MCPL library card holders should go to mcpl.link/washingtonpost.

For online access to Consumer Reports, MCPL library card holders should go to mcpl.link/consumer-reports.

MCPL also provides online access to other popular publications for cardholders through services such as Pressreader, Flipster and Libby.

To access PressReader, go to mcpl.link/press-reader. To access Flipster, go to mcpl.link/flipster. To access Libby, go to mcpl.link/ebooks.

For information on how to obtain a MCPL library card, go to mcpl.link/library-card.

DEP Video Series Addresses the Often-Asked Question of ‘Is This Recyclable?’

Most people want to recycle items when possible rather than put them in the trash, but understanding what is and what is not recyclable can be confusing. The County’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has produced the “Is This Recyclable?” video series to help people understand what is and what is not recyclable.

In the video series, DEP addresses recycling questions about what County residents should do when they are ready to dispose of items such as plastic containers, plastic bags, glass bottles, foam packaging, batteries and aluminum.

Directions on how to dispose of those items can be found in the series of videos accessible at https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLMpbRgxtGnWLPdDlL-84Qu7j2fxm2c_Zd.

Additional information about recycling in the County can be found at DEP’s “Reduce, Reuse Recycle Right” website at https://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/sws/recycle-right/index.html.

Many items can be dropped off for recycling at the Shady Grove Processing Facility and Transfer Station located at 16101 Frederick Rd. in Derwood. More information about the facility and its hours can be found at https://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/sws/dropoff/

Questions about recycling can be asked by dialing 311 (or 240-777-0311).

County to Participate in Building Performance Standards Coalition that Will Drive Jobs, Equitable Climate, Health and Energy Benefits

Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich this week announced that the County has committed to inclusively design and implement building performance standards and complementary policies and programs. The commitment will drive investment into building retrofits and good-paying jobs that create healthier buildings and lower housing and energy costs.

Montgomery County joined forces with state and local governments across the country—including in Prince George’s County, Annapolis and Washington, D.C.—in the National Building Performance Standard (BPS) Coalition. It is a collaboration launched by the White House Council on Environmental Quality. Building performance standards paired with complementary programs and policies will enable the meeting of health, equity and climate goals.

“Montgomery County is honored to join this impressive group of local and state leaders working toward smart, achievable goals to reduce greenhouse gases by implementing innovative and equitable building performance standards,” said County Executive Elrich. “We are already on this path, having submitted legislation to the Montgomery County Council in April 2021 that will expand the number of buildings covered by the County’s Benchmarking Law and require the use of less energy in public and private multifamily and commercial buildings. We have also improved our requirements for new buildings, and in 2021, we adopted the ambitious Montgomery County Climate Action Plan. That is our County’s strategic roadmap to reduce our community-wide greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2027 and 100 percent by 2035 using a racial equity and social justice lens."

Upgrading and retrofitting buildings to increase clean energy sources and reduce overall energy use can dramatically reduce harmful emissions. Energy retrofits and upgrades also can be leveraged to concurrently improve a building’s health and resilience for its occupants and surrounding community while generating jobs and increased local economic investment.

Through the coalition, Montgomery County is committing to increase community and local stakeholder engagement to co-design building performance standards and complementary policies and programs. This will be done with the goal of advancing legislation or regulation, with adoption by Earth Day 2024.

“We are eager for the opportunity to support city and state leaders representing the vanguard of innovative climate policy and joining this National Building Performance Standards Coalition. Members of this groundbreaking coalition will help drive new jobs to make existing buildings across the country more efficient, affordable, healthier and resilient, and will deliver equitable benefits across their jurisdictions,” said Mark Chambers, senior director for Building Emissions and Community Resilience at the White House Council on Environmental Quality.

Adriana Hochberg, Montgomery County’s climate change officer and acting director for the Department of Environmental Protection, said: “Joining the BPS Coalition is an important step toward achieving our climate goals and demonstrates the importance of peer jurisdiction collaboration both within Maryland and nationwide. Together, we will co-create innovative approaches to reducing the climate impact of the built environment through energy efficiency and electrification while also ensuring energy affordability, improved indoor air quality, and equitable community engagement.”

In pursuing our commitments as a member of the National BPS Coalition, Montgomery County will be able to leverage technical support via federal agencies including the Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency.

For more information about the coalition, visit www.nationalBPSCoalition.org. To learn more about Montgomery County’s progress toward establishing a Building Energy Performance Standard, visit www.montgomerycountymd.gov/green/energy/beps.html.

‘Library Lovers Month’ Free Kickoff Event to be Held Virtually on Saturday, Feb. 5

“Library Lovers Month 2022” will kick off with a free virtual event at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 5, featuring an ocean-themed STEM program for elementary school aged youth presented by the “Hip Hop M.D.” Maynard Okereke

The Celebrate Library Lovers Month event will be sponsored by Friends of the Libraries—Montgomery County (FOLMC) and the Montgomery County Library Board.

The event is free, but advance registration is required. Participants will receive the Zoom link via email upon registration. Registration is available at https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZ0pd-2tqjMoGdQ9MLCr4JXtY6nyXLKpplrC.

To get fully involved in the hands-on part of the program, participants will need the following common household supplies gathered and prepared in advance:
  • Plastic cylinder or large container
  • Two plastic cups
  • Vegetable oil
  • Salt
  • Water
  • Food coloring (red and blue)
  • Pipette or straw
Participants can pick up an activity kit containing most of the items before the program at the following libraries: Aspen Hill, Connie Morella, Gaithersburg, Kensington and Wheaton.

Activity kits are limited and will be made available starting Saturday, Jan. 29. Call ahead to a specific library to confirm availability of the kits.

County Commission on Veterans Affairs to Honor Those Who Served Country with Virtual Tributes During Black History Month

The Montgomery County Commission on Veterans Affairs will honor County uniformed service members and veterans with an expanded detailed virtual display of tributes as part of its celebration of February as Black History Month.

The tributes to service members and veterans who live or have ever lived in Montgomery County include photos, background information and details of accomplishments during their military careers and afterward.

In past years, the tributes were displayed at the Silver Spring Civic Building. Due to the COVID-19 health crisis, this year the Black History Month tributes will be displayed online only. They can be viewed at https://tinyurl.com/y2cn8h24.

The number of induvial tributes recognized for Black History Month continues to expand as more service members and their family and friends contribute information. The Commission on Veterans Affairs is seeking the stories of additional service members and veterans so they can be included with this year’s tributes.

“Every veteran who has served in the history of the U.S. military has their own unique story,” said Wayne Miller, chair of the County’s Commission on Veterans Affairs. “It is the intent of our commission to allow residents to learn more about these remarkable people. The veterans we are honoring during Black History Month all have stories that the people of this County should know.”

A service member or veteran can share their story, or someone can share the story of a friend or family member, by filling out the Commission’s Google form or filling out its PDF form.

Questions about the tribute program can be directed to Carly.Clem@montgomerycountymd.gov or Betsy.Luecking@montgomerycountymd.gov. 

The following information is needed on the forms: 
  • Service member’s or veteran's name.
  • Name of person submitting information and relationship to the individual.
  • Branch of service and rank.
  • Years of service.
  • Era served (WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Gulf War, Global War on Terror or peacetime/other).
  • Brief narrative of their service.
  • Connection to Montgomery County (where the individual currently lives, grew up, attended high school or college/university, etc.).
  • Photos (preferably one during their service and one present day).
By sending an e-mail to be included, the sender agrees to have the information shared on the County's website and in the Commission on Veterans Affairs social media.

To view Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich’s thoughts on helping veterans or to learn more about the Montgomery Commission on Veterans Affairs, go to https://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/veterans.

Explore the Night Sky Through Free Online ‘Indigenous Star Stories’ on Saturday, Jan. 29

Residents interested in what happens in the sky will want to explore “Indigenous Star Stories” that will have a free Skywatching talk at 7 p.m. on Sat., Jan. 29. The virtual program, sponsored by the Gaithersburg Community Museum, will stream live on the Community Museum Facebook page.

The program is suitable for residents 5 and older.

Caitlin Ahrens, a NASA postdoctoral program fellow at the Goddard Space Flight Center, will share stories that Native Americans use to describe the stars and planets.

The Gaithersburg Community Museum's programs are funded in part by a grant from the Maryland State Arts Council (MSAC). To discover more about MSAC grants and how they impact Maryland's arts sector, visit www.msac.org.

‘It Happened in Rockville: Remembering Two Lynchings’ Exhibit to be Displayed at Rockville Memorial Library

The Montgomery County Lynching Memorial Project (MoCoLMP) “It Happened in Rockville: Remembering Two Lynching” exhibit is coming to the Rockville Memorial Library in Downtown Rockville. The exhibit will run from Feb. 1-28 during library hours.

Rockville Memorial Library is located at 21 Maryland Ave. in Rockville.

The exhibit, launched in collaboration with Peerless Rockville and Montgomery History, seeks to memorialize and honor two men who were lynched in Rockville: John Diggs-Dorsey in 1880 and Sidney Randolph in 1896. The exhibit also recognizes the story of George Peck, who was lynched in Poolesville in 1880. The exhibit is part of a larger initiative to educate and engage the community in acknowledging the history and legacy of lynching and racial terrorism in Montgomery County.

“We are very honored to host this exhibit,” said Montgomery County Public Libraries Director Anita Vassallo. “This is the first time the exhibit will be openly available to the public. Its initial viewing was at the Red Brick Courthouse by appointment only.”

Working closely with the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Ala., and the Maryland Lynching Memorial Project, MoCoLMP is part of a larger effort to advance the cause of reconciliation in Maryland, advocating for public acknowledgement of the murders and working to honor and dignify the lives of the victims.

As highlighted in a proclamation by the Montgomery County Council on Sept. 26, 2021, the exhibit “reminds us of our responsibility to understand our history and to work to repair and heal the damage of the past by acting in the present."

For more information, contact Rachel Rappaport at rachel.rappaport@montgomerycountymd.gov or the Montgomery County Lynching Memorial Project at mocolynchingmemorial@gmail.com

‘Heads Up, Phones Down’ Video Contest to be Held Feb. 1-22 for County Teens to Promote Safer Driving and Walking 

Montgomery County teens have an opportunity to win some great prizes by producing videos to encourage peers not to allow cell phones to distract them while driving and walking. The County Department of Transportation’s “Heads Up, Phones Down” high school video contest will be accepting entries of 30-second Public Service Announcements (PSAs) between Feb. 1 and Feb. 22. 

 Montgomery County public and private high school students can submit videos for the contest. Video entries can be submitted individually or as a group of up to four in English or Spanish.  

 “As a parent, grandparent and former teacher, I know that teenagers often pay more attention to their friends than the adults around them,” said County Executive Marc Elrich. “Adolescence is a time when peer messaging resonates. This peer-to-peer safety advocacy will help raise awareness of the need for everyone, drivers and walkers, to stay alert and not be distracted while traveling. This contest supports our County Vision Zero goals to eliminate distracted driving and increase pedestrian safety.” 

Entries can be submitted for individuals or for groups of up to four. 

There is one grand prize and a first and second runner up for both the individual and group submission categories. Winning group submissions will split the grand prize with gift cards for each member. Individual submissions may qualify for prizes including a PlayStation Five, an Apple Watch or tripod. 

Students can submit their entries on the website’s entry form here. Students may also qualify for up to five Student Service Learning (SSL) hours for successfully completing an entry.  

 “Teens are using cell phones with increasing frequency,” said County Department of Transportation Director Chris Conklin. “In fact, 84 percent of teenagers in the U.S. have their own phone. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration tells us that young drivers, ages 15-19, are the age group with the largest proportion of distracted drivers at the time of a fatal crash. Likewise, an NIH study found that when distracted by cell phone use, children were less attentive to traffic; left less safe time between their crossing and the next arriving vehicle; experienced more collisions and close calls with oncoming traffic; and waited longer before beginning to cross the street. We hope this contest helps serve as a reminder to avoid being distracted by cell phones.” 

Winning entries will be announced live on Instagram at 5 p.m. on Friday, March 11, and will be posted on the MCDOT website here.  

Visit the contest website for more information at https://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/DOT-PedSafety/HUPD/.  

Send contest-related questions to pedestrian.safety@montgomerycountymd.gov.  

Free Online Workshops for Job Seekers and Entrepreneurs Available in February

Free online workshops and one-on-one sessions geared toward assisting job seekers and entrepreneurs will be available throughout February in a program sponsored by Montgomery County Public Libraries.

An internet connection and a device (such as a smartphone, tablet or computer) are required for participation.

The schedule of workshops and sessions will include:
  • Throughout February—Every Monday, 9:30-11:30 a.m. H.I.R.E. (Helping Individuals Reach Employment) Sessions. Meet virtually and confidentially one-on-one with a career counselor for advice and assistance with your job search. Register at
  • Monday, Feb. 7. 1-3 p.m. Job Search Strategies (in a Pandemic). Learn about best practices for conducting a job search in the current (pandemic) job market. Register at https://mcpl.libnet.info/event/6087767.
  • Tuesday/Thursday, Feb. 15, and 17. 5:45-7:45 p.m. LinkedIn Boot Camp for 45 and over Job Seekers. Two-session/two-day workshop focuses on the mechanics and strategy of using LinkedIn as a tool to conduct a successful job search. Register at https://mcpl.libnet.info/event/5958852.
  • Wednesday, Feb. 16. 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. How to Apply for Jobs with Montgomery County Government. Learn about applying for jobs with the Montgomery County Government. Register at https://mcpl.libnet.info/event/5842165.
  • Wednesday, Feb. 16; 1-3 p.m. How to Prepare for your Virtual Job Interview. Learn how to differentiate yourself from other candidates, be Zoom ready, package your experience, tell your story, be ready for challenging questions and feel more confident in your next interview. Register at https://mcpl.libnet.info/event/6087839.
For additional information on the programs, contact Adrienne Van Lare at adrienne.vanlare@montgomerycountymd.gov.

January 20, 2022

Message from the County Executive

Dear Friends,

As we continue to deal with this recent Omicron surge and about to enter our third year of dealing with the pandemic, we must not lose sight of our long-term goals and priorities to ensure that we are a stronger Montgomery County after the pandemic than we were before it began. Somewhat lost in the news this week, was the release of my recommended fiscal year (FY) 23 Capital Budget and Recommended FY23-28 Capital Improvements Program (CIP).

With increased investments in our schools, affordable housing, early care centers for our youngest children, facilities to address barriers to residents’ well-being, and maintenance of core infrastructure, this CIP strengthens the resiliency of County government, our local economy, and the residents we serve. This is the first full Montgomery County CIP Budget recommendations developed under an equity lens framework and includes major efforts to address climate change, reduce our carbon footprint and improve resiliency.

I encourage you to look at our investments in this recommended capital budget by clicking here. I look forward to working with the County Council as we provide further recommendations relating to current revenue and other CIP initiatives that will be provided once I have finalized my FY23 Operating Budget recommendations, which will be transmitted on March 15.

COVID-19 Cases Decreasing, But Community Transmission Remains High

As far as our COVID-19 numbers this week, we are seeing reductions in both our test positivity and case rates. Our positivity is currently about 10 percentage points lower and case rates are down about 40 percent from our recent peaks during this current surge. Although these numbers are going in a better direction – they are still among the highest we have seen throughout the pandemic, and our case rate is over eight times higher than a month ago. We still have a long way to go just to get back to where we were just a short time ago.

The number of hospital beds being used by patients with COVID-19 is also dropping. It is the lowest number in two weeks, and it is welcome news for our hospitals and frontline healthcare workers. However, our hospital-bed utilization is still six times higher than it was at the beginning of last month. Unfortunately, the number of COVID-19 deaths per day is still on the increase; but with our County’s high vaccination rate, we are seeing significantly fewer deaths than the State average: Montgomery County represents 17 percent of the state population but we account for only 8 percent of the deaths from COVID-19 this month. This clearly shows the importance of being vaccinated and boosted.

Libraries Distributing Free N-95 Masks

This week, we announced, that starting on Friday, Jan. 21, we will be giving away N-95 masks at our libraries during rapid test distribution hours. Having these higher quality face masks as compared to simple face coverings, drastically increases protection.

Montgomery County residents can pick up free N95 masks at 19 County library branches beginning Jan. 21. Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated the mask guidance to emphasize protection to prevent the spread of COVID-19. N-95, KN-95 and KF-94 respirators are masks that have been shown to provide higher levels of protection against COVID-19. Residents may pick up four ZYB-11 masks (a brand of N-95 mask) per person at any one of 19 County libraries. Supplies are limited and the masks will be available on a first come, first served basis.

We have these masks available in our stockpile because we planned, and I am very thankful for our Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security, and Procurement teams for their work. And I am grateful to our Montgomery County Public Libraries for ensuring this distribution system is effective, efficient, and equitable.

Nearly 800,000 Take Home Rapid Tests Given Away Thus Far

Our rapid take home test distribution system has been a great success. We have distributed more than 792,000 kits to the public, including to Montgomery County Public Schools, childcare providers, community partners, at-risk populations and more. And of that amount we have given out over 300,000 tests directly to our residents at our County libraries in just over a week and half. Those are incredible numbers!

In the first week since the launch of the portal to report tests, we have had over 900 residents report their test results. We want to continue encourage residents to use this portal and please let us know when you test positive. It helps us better understand and identify where this virus is spreading in our community.

I am also pleased that the federal government is mailing free at-home COVID-19 tests now and I encourage all Montgomery County residents to order these tests at https://www.covidtests.gov/. Although we have ordered many more tests and are still waiting for 60 percent of our shipments to arrive, we continue to discourage hoarding of rapid tests so everyone can access them, and utilizing all opportunities, such as this offer from the federal government, so that every Montgomery County home can have these tests on hand.

Protecting Our Health Staff

I am joining my fellow County Executives and the Maryland Association of Counties in supporting the passage of a State bill before the Maryland General Assembly that would make it a crime to threaten a public health official or hospital staff member. Our public health officials have been subjected to a lot of scary threats and that should not be tolerated. According to a recent study by the CDC, 23.4 percent of public health workers surveyed reported “feeling bullied, threatened or harassed” because of their work.

Our County’s own health officials have been regularly subject to threats and harassment. What doesn’t make sense is that Maryland law provides protections for local elected officials, like me, making it a crime for residents to threaten or intimidate them or otherwise impede their public responsibilities. However, Maryland does not extend these protections to other nonelected officials who perform administrative or oversight roles, but who may suffer the same sort of potentially dangerous feedback from irate residents. There is absolutely no excuse for anyone to intimidate them or to threaten them with violence. I hope this bill passes and for the sake of not only ensuring our civility and humanity, but also for the peace of mind our healthcare heroes and their families deserve. I encourage you to support this bill, too.

Protecting Our Houses of Worship

Last weekend, the world witnessed another terror event targeted at a faith community when a British national took a rabbi and three other people hostage inside a Texas synagogue. Montgomery County stands in solidarity with the Jewish community and against this horrific incident, which took place yesterday during the Sabbath: a day of prayer, rest, and peace. We are grateful to law enforcement for the safe return of those who were held hostage and our thoughts go out to the members of this synagogue and our entire Jewish community.

This incident has understandably shaken up our faith community and renewed concerns we have seen frequently over the past several years of terror attacks on houses of worship. This fear amongst our synagogues, mosques, temples, and churches is something that we take very seriously.

Montgomery County is the only jurisdiction in the State that provides grant opportunities from our own coffers to help houses of worship afford increased security. The freedom of assembly is a sacred Constitutional right and should be free from fear of violence. Whether it is through the Montgomery County Police Department, our Community Engagement Cluster, or our Regional Offices, we are here to support the safety of all our houses of worship.

It’s Electric!

This week, we announce the launch of the Montgomery County Electric Vehicle Purchasing Cooperative – or “EVPC.” This new initiative that will help us move faster toward wide-spread use of zero-emission vehicles by making it easier for our residents and businesses to adopt EV technology and reap the benefits, including lower operating costs and of course, lower emissions.

I have set a goal that 1,000 Montgomery County residents and 50 businesses will take the EV Pledge this year. Community members and businesses who take the pledge will help demonstrate demand for electric vehicles here in Montgomery County. They will be sending a signal to the market that we’re ready to “Lead the EV Charge.” This show of support will also serve as the foundation for a full-scale EV purchasing cooperative, where the County will work with auto manufacturers and dealers to negotiate favorable pricing for EV purchases and leases on behalf of community members who have taken the pledge.

If it were not for the pandemic, Climate Change would be the number-one crisis facing our County, our nation, and our planet. Montgomery County’s Climate Action Plan calls for an 80 percent reduction in greenhouse gases by 2027, and 100 percent by 2035. To achieve these goals, we need to transition our transportation system away from fossil fuels.

I am challenging the residents and businesses of Montgomery County to pledge that their next vehicle will be a new or pre-owned electric vehicle - an “EV.” All the information on the EVPC pilot program is on our Zero-Emissions Vehicle website: MontgomeryCountyMD.gov/ZEV - where you can take the EV Pledge, and invite friends, neighbors, and local businesses to take the pledge as well.

We Continue to Be “Snow” Grateful

We have already had several significant snowfalls this month, with more snow on the way. I want to thank everyone on our snow team and, specifically our snowplow drivers. Clearing our roads in hazardous weather is a very difficult job even in the best of circumstances. But with staffing shortages and challenges due to the pandemic, our Montgomery County Department of Transportation, Emergency Management, and all of our first responders are doing a great job dealing with this winter weather and keeping all of us safe.

Please continue to monitor the weather, sign up for County text alerts, and be prepared with all the essentials that you may need in case you lose power.

As always, my appreciation for all of you,

Marc Elrich
County Executive

January 19, 2022

County to Provide Free N95 Masks at Libraries Beginning Friday, Jan. 21

Montgomery County residents can pick up free, adult-sized N95 masks at 19 Montgomery County Public Libraries (MCPL) branches beginning Friday, Jan. 21. Along with getting COVID-19 vaccines and booster shots, wearing a well-fitting mask in indoor public settings or in crowds is important protection from the virus.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Jan. 14 updated its mask guidance to emphasize protection to prevent the spread of COVID-19. N-95, KN-95 and KF-94 respirators are masks that have been shown to provide higher levels of protection against COVID-19.

“A key element that helps reduce community transmission is the wearing of a high-quality face covering,” said County Executive Marc Elrich. “We know that masks work and having these higher quality face masks as compared to simple face coverings, increases protection. We have these masks available in our stockpile because we planned. I appreciate the work of our Department of Health and Human Services, emergency management, procurement and general services teams for getting them and thank our libraries for ensuring this distribution system is effective, efficient, and equitable.”

The distribution of rapid at-home test kits will continue while supplies last.

Residents may pick up four adult-sized ZYB-11 masks (a brand of n-95 mask) at 19 County libraries beginning Friday, Jan. 21. Child-size masks are not available. Supplies are limited and the masks will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.

MCPL branches distributing masks from noon to 2 p.m., Monday through Saturday, will be:
MCPL branches distributing masks from 5 to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 3 to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday will be:
The masks being distributed at libraries were purchased directly by the County and deliveries will be ongoing as supplies last and the Omicron surge continues. When masks are available from the State, those masks will be integrated into the distribution process.

More information about masks, testing and vaccination is available on the County’s COVID-19 website.