May 19, 2022
Message from the County Executive
This week has been a very tragic one for our nation following the heinous hate crime against a Black community in Buffalo and a sad week here in Montgomery County following the passing of our 3rd County Executive, Sidney Kramer.
Hate has no home in Montgomery County:
In wake of the senseless mass shooting in Buffalo, many in our community remained very concerned about the rise of hate crimes. People are increasingly feeling insecure about being able to move freely about our communities. We cannot allow this to be tolerated or to become “normalized.” Here in Montgomery County, we have repeated and continue to repeat that we are proud of and welcome our diversity and that the diversity makes us stronger. It has been reported that the shooter justified the killing based on the garbage “Replacement Theory” - there is no replacement of anyone planned – the last replacement event in North America was when Native peoples were replaced by Europeans. Along with the demonization of Critical Race Theory, otherwise known as factual “history” to most of us, these are attacks on efforts to build an inclusive and unbiased community where all are valued and all are safe.
I agree with President Biden when he calls on the nation “to give hate no safe harbor.” Montgomery County will provide no safe haven for hate and we will aggressively pursue and prosecute perpetrators of hate crimes. During the pandemic and before it, Montgomery County has seen its share of hate crimes. There is never a good excuse to target any group, whether it be Asian Americans, Hispanics, LGBTQ, Muslims, African Americans or any other.
The Montgomery County State's Attorney Office has launched an initiative called “Stop the Hate” to make it easier for victims to come forward and report these incidents but sadly we know many will not. Please take a look at this initiative and learn to help identify what a hate crime is under state law and what to do if you believe you've witnessed one.
Let's keep what happed in Buffalo in mind as we move forward and remember that hate has no home in Montgomery County.
COVID rates continue to climb, County recommends more vigilance, wearing masks indoors, and getting boosted:
Our COVID case rates have exceeded over 350 per 100K residents. Our positivity rate and hospitalization rates also continue to increase. And these numbers do not account for the unreported cases that have been identified through rapid testing. We are currently leading the state in case rates, but we have the lowest test positivity rate in the state because we are testing at a much higher rate than our neighboring jurisdictions and, hence discovering more cases.
Additionally, outbreaks in schools statewide are up nearly 85 percent from last week while total cases tied to schools across Maryland are up more than 60 percent over the last seven days. We encourage everyone to pick up free at-home test kits available at all county libraries and other locations.
It is time for increased vigilance. We released a statement earlier this week reiterating the message that we’ve consistently made remain vigilant. Mask wearing is encouraged in congregate places and indoor spaces with limited social distancing.
Despite rising case counts, Montgomery County is in a much better place than we were during some of the previous waves. Montgomery County has one of the highest vaccination rates in the nation and viral treatments for COVID are now available which should have a positive impact on hospitalization and fatality numbers as this latest wave of cases continues.
Our message to parents is to keep your kids and yourselves up to date on vaccinations. If the time has come to get a booster shot, do it. The effectiveness of the shots fade over time. Up-to-date vaccines help prevent quarantines and they can help the combat that amount of community spread that we’ve already seen put us in the moderate risk category. Since January, people 50 years and older who were vaccinated but NOT boosted were 2 to 3 times more likely to be hospitalized from COVID-19 than those who were fully boosted.
Booster shots for children 5-11 approved by FDA
This week the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Pfizer’s request for a covid booster shot for children 5 and up, and we expect CDC and MDH approval in the next few days. The County will be ready to take on that challenge just as we have previously. We don’t want to reach the high category again. We don’t want to see more of our friends and neighbors worry about their loved ones because of this virus.
The best protection against COVID is being vaccinated and boosted, please visit govaxmoco.com to find out where you can get your booster.
Saying thanks to those we count on - it’s National Police, Public Works, and EMS Week
This week is National Police Week, EMS Week, and Public Works Week and I am grateful to the thousands of employees in these departments who serve our communities. We count on these employees every hour of every day, every day of the week, and every week of the year. They are the backbone of our government and I encourage all residents to take a moment to thank them for their service.
Last weekend, I attended MCPD’s “Community Day” where thousands of residents showed up at the Fairgrounds to interact, engage, and thank our officers for their service as well as helped kick off MCPD’s 100th Anniversary this year. MCFRS held a ceremony this week honoring our EMS and EMT heroic actions. And our MCDOT will conclude Public Works Week with a free, family-friendly “Truck Day” event on Saturday, May 21, that will allow the public to tour and sit in County-owned vehicles. Truck Day will take place from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. at the MCDOT Gaithersburg Depot
An exciting weekend of festivals in Silver Spring and Takoma Park for foodies:
This Sunday, May 22nd, Montgomery County will be hosting two incredible food festival events that will feature a diversity of cuisines and scrumptious treats.
In Silver Spring, this is the 12th year of Taste the World in Fenton Village (TTWFV) - the largest restaurant crawl in the Metro area that will take place on Sunday from Noon to 5pm. This marquee event draws food lovers from throughout the area with the promise of samples at more than 30 different restaurants representing international food from five continents. Taste The World provides a great opportunity for attendees to try delicious food from across the globe, while supporting locally-owned, small businesses and exploring the wonderful Fenton Village neighborhood in Silver Spring.
Additionally, in Takoma Park on Sunday, from 10am to 3pm, will be the 1st Annual Crossroads Community Food Fair. This festival will feature delicious hyper-local food and community fun as the talented “foodpreneurs” of the TPSS Community Kitchen pop up along Laurel Avenue in Takoma Park. An incredible variety of sweet and savory foods and drinks will be on hand from 15+ food businesses based in Takoma Park including tacos, pupusas, pizza, empanadas, superfood bowls and salads, waffles, cold-pressed juices, baked goods, artisanal chocolate and cotton candy, and healthy snacks.
‘Kidding around’ has never been so important:
Last weekend, we opened the exciting new IgnITe Hub. This weekend, we have another exciting grand opening of a facility that is going to provide even more educational resources and fun to our students. Beginning May 22, 2022, KID Museum Bethesda Metro Center will be open to the public on Sundays for general admission where kids and families can enter a magical forest of light, build a lifesize maze using cardboard and fasteners, work with visiting artists, and more. In addition, KID Museum will host 10 weeks of summer camp with activities designed and led by professional maker educators.
Through hands-on programs, KID Museum challenges young people to be active makers, building agency, confidence, and creative problem-solving skills. KID Museum designs and delivers programs across the full continuum of learning for K-8 students in partnership with educators and schools. KID Museum’s weekend onsite programs, community events, and live, virtual sessions encourage families to learn and explore together. For more information, please visit www.kid-museum.org
Downtown Silver Spring and Adjacent Communities Plan under Review
The County Council is poised to take final action on the Silver Spring Downtown and Adjacent Communities Plan. I have sent a memo to the County Council expressing my concerns with the current draft of the Plan; you can read my memo HERE.
Rest in Peace, County Executive Kramer:
As I mentioned at the beginning of this week’s letter, it has been a sad week following the passing of Montgomery County’s 3rd County Executive, Sidney Kramer. Sidney worked for the residents of Montgomery County as a Councilmember and a state Senator before becoming the third Montgomery County Executive – serving from 1986-1990. His energy, passion, and willingness to speak frankly on important issues like education, business policy and mental health were an important part of his contributions to this community. He’ll also be remembered as a strong advocate for seniors.
My thoughts are with Sidney’s children Miriam, Rona, and Ben Kramer who have continued their father’s legacy of public service as well as to his grandchildren. May he rest in peace after serving his community so well for so long.
As always, my appreciation for all you do.