July 28, 2022

Message from the County Executive

Dear Friends, 

The vote counting continues and the heatwave seems to have relented a bit for now. I want to thank all our workers, including our government employees, who continued working outside in the heat and serving our community. I also want to express my appreciation to the staff and volunteers of the Board of Elections for their efforts to go through tens of thousands of ballots. They are working long hours doing meticulous work to finalize the election results.

“It Can’t Be Done Alone” - Tree of Hope Opens in Rockville

This week, we celebrated the grand opening of the Tree of Hope in Rockville at Montgomery County’s first substance use disorder recovery community drop-in center. Tree of Hope has worked closely with community organizations that focus on improving the lives of people, and their families, who are in the early stages of recovery. Tree of Hope fills a growing need to support people impacted by substance abuse. According to the CDC and the National Institute of Drug Abuse, deaths attributed to opioids, fentanyl, meth and alcohol all increased since the start of the pandemic. Opioids alone accounted for close to 75 percent of more than 100,000 fatal drug overdoses nationwide in 2021. Maryland had an opioid crisis before the pandemic began that got worse during those months of isolation—with close to 2,000 opioid deaths last year and nearly as many blamed on its synthetic cousin fentanyl.

Helping people overcome addiction is hard work and requires commitment, dedication, and discipline. Even when people receive significant support to get clean and sober, remaining drug-free is a difficult challenge to overcome. The Tree of Hope center brings together core services that help their clients remove obstacles to employment, health care and housing resulting from addiction.

Take Precautions, This Heatwave is Dangerous

This past week, we felt the heat of summer in full force. It was so hot that the National Weather Service issued a Heat Advisory for three days in a row. If these extreme temperatures return, please know that we offer our library branches and recreation centers as air-conditioned places to go for respite from the heat.

The record heat we are witnessing is another sign of the rapid pace of climate change and the urgent need to find solutions to these extreme weather events. We have recently partnered with NOAA as part of the national campaign to track “urban heat islands.” Check out this WJLA story on this program and how you can volunteer to help.

In the meantime, please take extra precautions if you work outside or spend long amounts of time outdoors. When possible, reschedule strenuous activities to the early morning or late evening. Know the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke which include:
  • Shortness of breath
  • Feeling light-headed
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Headache
  • Flushed skin
Young children and pets should never be left unattended in a vehicle for any length of time. Make sure children, pets, and the elderly have access to air conditioning and plenty of cool water. And please remember to sign up for “Alert Montgomery” communications to get notified of any extreme weather or dangerous conditions.

Montgomery County COVID-19 Community Level Returns to “HIGH”

Earlier this week, Montgomery County rose from a community level status of medium to a high level.

Our case counts continue to hover around 250 cases per 100,000 residents. The percent of staffed inpatient beds devoted to Covid patients in the County is now at 10 percent and the hospital admission rate is 12.7 per 100,000 people. In March we were down to less than 50 cases per 100,000 residents. Both hospitalization figures were less than half of what they are today.

If you feel sick get tested. If you need a test, stop at any of our library branches to pick up free COVID tests. If you’re exposed to someone who tests positive, isolate until you can test yourself. If you test positive prepare for a minimum of at least 5 days of isolation and I’d recommend staying in isolation until you’ve tested negative again.

Another important recommendation, because the community level status is high, is to wear a mask indoors in public spaces and on public transportation. The CDC says it’s a good preventative measure to slow the spread of the virus. It’s why you can still pick up free N95 masks at any library and some community centers across Montgomery County.

Please protect yourself and stay up to date on your vaccines and boosters. Let’s do everything we can to slow the spread and not put lives in danger.

Rent Relief Portal Reopens

Montgomery County has reopened its portal for more COVID-related rental relief. The latest round of rental relief grant money is available to those who are two months or more behind on their rent because of a COVID-19 related reason. Please click here to apply.

As expected, there was a rush to get applications in before the end of June for the previous deadline with 1,157 applications arriving just prior to the deadline. In just 45 days, more than 4,000 applicants sought assistance.

We’re still processing those applications, but you should know they’re not being done on a first come, first served basis. We are still assessing how best to spend the $25 million dollars available in aid. Sadly, we are seeing some people who didn’t apply come to us with eviction notices. We’re trying to help them when we can as well.

Please call 311 for more information about whether you qualify, how to check on the status of an application, or how to start and continue an application that was not completed and submitted.

Rent Stabilization is Needed ASAP

This week I joined CASA on the steps of the County Council to support my temporary rent stabilization bill before the Council heard testimony from more than a dozen speakers who talked about the challenges they would face if their rents go up substantially as some landlords and property managers have indicated will happen. Other renters are finding out after years in the same place that their leases won’t be renewed, which is why we’ve been pushing to pass a just-cause eviction law at the state level. Enormous rent increases and arbitrary lease terminations threaten family stability.

My proposal would set limits for rent increases at 4.4% for six months. We must make sure the people living in buildings most vulnerable for redevelopment are protected. People making the least amount of money can’t be priced out of their homes. Middle income renters can’t be expected to suddenly devote so much of their monthly budget to housing. My proposal would provide for reasonable increases.

The earliest the Council could act on this proposal is in September when they return from their recess. I hope they will act as soon as they return, and I appreciate Councilmember Jawando’s support for this effort. With every month that passes without legislative action, more residents are at risk of losing their homes. Skyrocketing rents can displace people and cause homelessness, which we need to avoid as much as possible.

New Electrification Standards Needed to Combat Climate Change

Also this week, the County Council heard discussion for the first time on my plan for new building electrification standards. If passed the bill would enact those new laws by 2024.

This legislation complements the Green Building code and the Building Energy Performance Standards, known as BEPS, which passed earlier this year. Together these initiatives will revamp the building sector, which is a major contributor to greenhouse gases.

Natural gas would only be allowed in special circumstances when new construction or major renovation is being considered. Older technologies would be replaced with things like electric heat pumps, electric water heating equipment, or electric cooking elements.

Making this move can make financial sense for families. Experts say energy prices will continue to rise because costs are up by an average of 50 percent. Coal, natural gas, and crude oil are all costing consumers more compared to 2021. The passage of Bill 13-22 will help lay a smart framework for the future. We await the Council’s decision in September.

IgnITehub update – Cooling Off with Some Coding

A successful partnership with MCPS and Montgomery College is ignITehub. IgniTehub has become our area’s new home for coding and information technology education.

IgnITehub is an extension of the Montgomery Can Code program. Every year business leaders from our community give their time to help middle school students on summer break. Students learn how to build apps and these future leaders see how today’s companies incorporate programs and technology into their business plans.

This year employees from Advancing Synergy, Lion Solutions, MOC 1 Solutions, United Solutions, Washington Software and Brothers Academy shared their expertise and experience. We thank them for helping our MCPS students understand the importance of computer skills.

I'm also proud of this summer's “Montgomery Can Code” participants. There are more than 1,000 students in the program. We can't wait to see these lessons put into practice in the years ahead. We know that we couldn't have gotten companies like Apple on board for a project like ignITehub without the success of programs like Montgomery Can Code.

I also want to thank the Montgomery County Council for the Special Appropriation they made just this week to spend $260,000 from the general fund to support ignITehub.

Supporting our Local Food and Beverage Businesses

This week I stopped by the Montgomery Food Council’s “MoCo Made Food and Beverage Expo” in Silver Spring. This event allowed local food enthusiasts to network with, learn about, and get a sneak peek at the latest local food and beverages offerings and businesses based in Montgomery County.

I really enjoyed this event and meeting with incredible county business owners, employees, and entrepreneurs. Of course, I also enjoyed sampling some of their products.

Spending your money with local food and beverage businesses is very important to our county’s economy. For every $100 spent at a local business, $68 dollars stays in our community – more than twice the amount than non-county owned businesses. Buying local also helps create more jobs in our County and provides more opportunities for women and minority business owners.

I want to thank the Montgomery Food Council for this great event and encourage you to shop, eat, and buy local. For more information and suggestions on where to shop and dine at Montgomery County food and beverage businesses, check out our “MoCo Eats” page on the Visit Montgomery website.

Next Tuesday is National Night Out!

Finally, I want to acknowledge an important date coming up next week for our communities and law enforcement agencies. National Night Out is happening on Tuesday evening, August 2nd. These events bring together neighbors, community safety advocates, and the patrol officers who work their neighborhoods.

National Night Out events are happening all over Montgomery County from Silver Spring to Olney, Germantown to Rockville and many places in between. Click here for the schedule of National Night Out events around the County.

As always, my appreciation for all of you do,

Marc Elrich
County Executive

July 26, 2022

County Returns to ‘High’ Community Level for COVID-19 According to CDC

Montgomery County has returned to the elevated to "high" community level of COVID-19, according to County data and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines.

COVID-19 cases also are increasing throughout the nation as Omicron’s BA.5 variant has become the predominant strain circulating. The BA.5 variant spreads easily, and while symptoms are generally not severe, it is still important to practice important COVID-19 prevention steps.

Based on high community level, the CDC recommends the following steps:

  • Stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccines.
  • Wear a well-fitting face covering indoors in public, regardless of your vaccination status.
  • Get tested if you have symptoms or are exposed.
  • If you are high risk for severe illness from COVID-19, talk to your healthcare provider about additional precautions and whether you are a candidate for treatments.

2022 Primary Election Update: Mail-in Ballots That Were Postmarked by July 19 and Arrive by Friday, July 29, Will Be Counted

The Montgomery County Board of Elections is continuing to count mail-in and provisional ballots for the 2022 Gubernatorial Primary. Election Day was July 19. Mail-in ballots that were postmarked by July 19 will be counted if they arrive by the deadline of Friday, July 29.

Ballot-counting sessions, referred to as the “canvasses,” have been conducted daily by the Board of Elections since July 21. Those votes are added to the totals of early voting (July 7-14) and Election Day.  

Still to be counted are the provisional ballots. It is likely that ballot counting will continue into next week. 

All canvasses, which are open to the public, begin at 10 a.m. and are held at Montgomery College’s Germantown campus at 20200 Observation Dr., BE 151/152, in Germantown.   

Additional canvass dates will be added to the schedule, based on the available volume of mail-in ballots. A detailed schedule will be available on the Montgomery County Board of Elections website at 777vote.org. Canvasses will be open to the public and it will be livestreamed on the Board of Elections web page.   

Statewide certification will follow upon completion of all tabulation. Those results may be found on the Maryland State Board of Elections’ website.    

For other election information, call 240-777-8500, visit 777vote.org, the Maryland State Board of Elections’ website at http://elections.maryland.gov or follow the Montgomery County Board of Elections on Facebook or Twitter.    

‘FareShare’ Program Can Help Commuters with Monthly Travel Expenses If They Use Public Transit or Vanpools

Commuters working in Montgomery County can get reimbursed for up to $280 a month for using public transit or vanpooling, by asking their employers to set up a transportation benefits program. The “FareShare” program of the Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) offers reimbursements to local businesses for their employees’ costs for commuting to work by public transit—and the money is tax-free.

In addition to vanpools, the program could cover expenses incurred by commuters using Ride On bus, Metrobus, Metrorail or MARC train to commute to and from a workplace within Montgomery County.

Businesses looking to implement or expand a transportation benefit program must commit to covering the first $25 per month of travel costs for employees who use buses or vanpools. The County will cover expenses over the initial $25, up to $280 a month. The full subsidy could be as high as $3,360 per year, per employee. It is tax-free to both the employee and the employer.

There is a maximum payout of $40,000 to each business per year. The reimbursements can be a direct benefit, a pre-tax payroll deduction or a combination of both. MCDOT Commuter Services staff offers free assistance in setting up a commuter benefits program that is tailored to a business’ needs.

"I'm pleased to help businesses in Montgomery County work with their employees to increase public transit ridership and vanpooling in our area," said County Executive Marc Elrich. "This program helps take cars off the road and lower the cost of commuting to work while reducing pollution levels."

Participating employers also are eligible for a State tax credit of 50 percent of their $25 contribution per employee each month. This credit is available to both for-profit and nonprofit organizations. For more information on tax credits, visit Commuter Choice Maryland here.

“A lot of workers are returning to offices at least on a hybrid schedule,” said MCDOT Director Chris Conklin. “With gas prices so high, people are looking for alternatives that will make their commute less expensive and more convenient. Employers have an opportunity to provide an impactful benefit to their employees and to reduce their taxes.”

Transportation benefits help raise employee satisfaction, help businesses recruit and retain employees, and help promote the organization as an employer that cares about its workforce and the environment.

A Montgomery County Commuter Services partner, Ellumen, Inc., recently received the 2022 Employer Recognition Award for the marketing of its commuter benefits program. The small privately held healthcare IT company based in Silver Spring has reduced employee vehicle miles traveled by 512,080 miles and saved an estimated 23,276 gallons of gas annually through marketing efforts geared towards employees.

For more information and to request free support to implement or increase a transportation reimbursement program visit the MCDOT website here.

County Commitment to Inspiring Use of Electric Vehicles Continues with Dedication of Six EV Charging Stations at Clarksburg Condominium II

Montgomery County’s commitment to combatting climate change includes trying to inspire residents and businesses to purchase electric vehicles. To make that plan viable, accessibility to EV charging stations is a necessity. The commitment to that aspect of the County’s Climate Action Plan continued on July 23 as six new EV charging stations were dedicated at the Clarksburg Condominium II.

Clarksburg Condominium II is located at 12824 Clarksburg Square Road in Clarksburg. The condominium association website states that residents who register in advance will receive reduced rates for charging their vehicles at the new charging stations.

At the ceremonies dedicating the charging stations, Robert Borkowski, president of Clarksburg Condominium II, welcomed Adriana Hochberg, the climate change officer for Montgomery County and the acting director of the County Department of Environmental Protection; Maryland State Delegate David Fraser-Hidalgo; and representatives of Poolesville Green, Potomac Edison, the Montgomery County GreenBank, KOLB Electric and Daitechcorp.

The event included electric vehicle owners showcasing their vehicles and explaining to potential EV owners the benefits of the vehicles. More than 20 vehicles were at the event, including those from manufacturers Chevrolet, Ford, Hyundai, Kia, Rivian, Tesla and Volkswagen.

Highlights of the event can be viewed here.

The Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the Department of Permitting Services supported the project in Clarksburg. More information on the benefits of electric vehicles is available at the DEP website at https://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/green/zev/index.html.

Seven County Outdoor Pools Can Provide Refreshing Times During the Summer Heat

Montgomery County has seven outdoor pools that are open to help residents of all ages stay cool during the summer heat. A variety of passes are available, including Montgomery County Recreation’s “Punch 12 Pass” that is good for 12 daily admissions for the price of 10.

The Bethesda, Germantown, MLK Jr., Sarah Auer Western County, Hector Ayala Wheaton/Glenmont, Long Branch and Upper County pools are currently open from 1-4 p.m. and 5-8 p.m. weekdays and from noon- 3 p.m. and 4-7 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. Hours will modify from Aug. 15-28.

Information on season passes can be found at Aquatic Passes - Department of Recreation - Montgomery County, Maryland (montgomerycountymd.gov).

Walk-up daily admission rates for County residents are:
  • $7 for adults.
  • $6 for seniors 55 and older.
  • $5 for children 17 and younger.
The walk-up daily admission rate for non-residents is $15 for all ages.

All adults 18 and older must provide a valid ID card with an address and proof of County residency at the time of entry. Patrons paying daily admission must sign in at the front desk.

More information about all outdoor pools is available at Pool Information - Montgomery County Recreation (montgomerycountymd.gov). Information also is available by calling 240-777-6840.

‘Oh, the Places You'll Go!’ Virtual Community Art Exhibition Hosted by Artist Marcie Wolf-Hubbard Will Be On Display on Thursday, Aug. 4

Residents who have illustrated their travels through various forms of art can showcase their pieces through the Oh, the Places You'll Go: A Virtual Community Art Exhibition hosted by artist Marcie Wolf-Hubbard from 7-9 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 4.

The exhibit, sponsored by Silver Spring Town Center, Inc., will feature artwork that depicts travel and inspiring places through artwork including painting, sculpture, textiles, photography or other creative formats.

To view the online exhibit on Aug. 4, go to https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZYtc-qqpjIrEteZ7-gkJHwaXKcRbnofPs2U.

To have work included in the exhibit, residents should send in photos (with titles) of one to four pieces of art. The exhibition will be hosted by Ms. Wolf-Hubbard. Email images to Marcie at marcieplusart@gmail.com by midnight Tuesday, Aug. 1.

Ms. Wolf-Hubbard is a graduate of the University of Maryland in Studio Art and studied Fine Art and Illustration at the Maryland Institute College of Art. Her paintings have been widely exhibited on the East Coast. She has provided illustrations for magazines and books and worked as a courtroom artist.

Ms. Wolf-Hubbard is an instructor at Glen Echo Park, Yellow Barn Studios and The Smithsonian.

Minority Health Initiatives Seek to Raise Awareness of the Importance of Mental Health Through Storytelling and Community Activities

Montgomery County’s Asian American Health Initiative (AAHI), African American Health Program (AAHP) and Latino Health Initiative (LHI) are collaborating as part of the County’s recognition of July as “Minority Mental Health Month” to bring awareness to the unique mental health struggles faced by racial and ethnic minority communities. The project will include collecting stories from minority community members about their mental health journeys, along with activities throughout the month.

County residents who identify as Asian American or Pacific Islander, African American/Black or Hispanic are encouraged to share their stories at Minority Voices- Personal Stories. Multiple languages are available by clicking on the drop-down menu at the top of the page. The stories will be collected through Aug.19.

The stories will be combined into a report to highlight both similar and unique challenges in mental health across minority groups.

“Health is wealth, and that includes mental health, “ said Betty Lam, chief of the Office of Community Affairs for the County’s Department of Health and Human Services. “I applaud our minority health programs for uplifting the voices of underrepresented communities by collecting stories from minority community members about their mental health journey and highlighting messages of hope and resilience.”

In addition to capturing Minority Voices—Personal Stories, each initiative/program is recognizing Minority Mental Health Month with various educational and outreach activities targeted to the community they serve.

Some of the ways that Minority Mental Health Month is being recognized will include:

Asian American Health Initiative (AAHI)

In response to the rising suicide rate and suicide attempts among Asian American youth in Montgomery County, AAHI launched a community toolkit focused on Adolescent Mental Health in English, Chinese, Korean, Hindi, and Vietnamese.

County community organizations are adopting these toolkits and are holding virtual workshops on the needs of Asian American adolescent mental health for the community on:
African American Health Program (AAHP)

To address the disparities of African Americans being 20 percent more likely to experience serious mental health problems than the general population, the African American Health Program (AAHP) and the Black Physicians Health Network provide resources, including the ability to see a mental health provider at no cost. Visit the Black Physicians Health Network website for more information and take a free online mental health screening.

In addition, AAHP is hosting community mental health screenings and webinars:

Thursday, July 28. 10 a.m.– 2 p.m. "Mental Health: The Elephant in the Room" Led by Dr. William Lawson. Register for the free virtual event.

Latino Health Initiative (LHI)

LHI, through Identity Inc., offers several programs to support the mental health of Latino and underserved residents and families.

Encuentros (Encounters) provides non-clinical trauma-informed emotional support groups through a series of nine sessions offered in Spanish. Participants share tools to cope with difficult situations, such as grieving, traumas and those specific to immigration and separation/reunification, managing anxiety, improving their self-care and learning to manage their emotions. For more information, contact Mónica Wainbarg at 240-750-3101 or mwainbarg@identity-youth.org or Anali Torres at 240-477-3227 or atorres@identity-youth.org.

The Family Reunification Services Program supports Latino families impacted by deeply rooted and mostly unaddressed intergenerational trauma. This evidence-based, trauma-informed program consists of five sessions of group-level programming for parents/caregivers and five sessions of group-level programming for youth. A final sixth session brings parents/caregivers and youth together. For more information, contact Tomas Rodriguez at 240-306-7188 or trodriguez@identity-youth.org.

For more information about the minority health programs, visit:

Ride On Bus Service to Resume Collecting Fares on Monday, Aug. 1, with New Rate Set at $1  

After 28 months of temporarily suspending fare collection due to the COVID-19 health crisis, the Montgomery County Department of Transportation's (MCDOTs) Ride On bus system will resume fare collection on Monday, Aug. 1, on all services, including Ride On, Ride On extRa, Flex, and Flash. Fares will continue to be free throughout July. The new fare will be set at $1.  

The one-way pre-pandemic fare was $2 per ride. Monthly passes, which were $45 per rider prior to the health crisis, will be $22.50 starting Aug. 1. The new fares were supported by County Executive Marc Elrich and approved by the County Council in May.   

County bus fares will be free for seniors (age 65 and older), persons with disabilities and youth under 19 (older if still in high school). Specialized SmartTrip cards are needed and can be obtained through the MCDOT Mobile Commuter Store, Silver Spring TRiPS Commuter Store, any County library or the Montgomery County Division of Treasury in Rockville. Students can also obtain their specialized ‘Youth Cruiser’ card through their school.  

For riders transferring from a Metro train or bus, the Ride On Fare will be free. Ride On passengers transferring to a Metro bus will have to pay the $1 difference in fare.  

The new rates were recommended in a “Fare Equity Study” conducted by MCDOT and released in October. The study recommended the balance of benefits and costs, with benefits primarily accruing to the populations the County is hoping to support.   

To decrease boarding time and reduce long lines, riders are encouraged to use SmarTrip cards or the SmarTrip mobile app (available for Apple and Android). Riders without pre-paid fares are asked to have exact fare readily accessible.  

Riders using Montgomery County's Ride On buses are encouraged to wear a mask but are no longer required to wear them. Masks are available on all buses for riders who need them.   

Bus interiors will continue to be cleaned by the County's Department of General Services with hospital-grade disinfectant. Bus filter and ventilation systems are also treated with a disinfectant.  

Riders can plan Ride On bus trips online with Ride On Real Time.  

County Department of Health and Human Services Offering Monkeypox Vaccine to Limited Number of At-Risk Residents

The Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services is offering monkeypox vaccines, but it has a limited number of vaccine doses. Under the guidance of the Maryland Department of Health, Montgomery County is offering vaccinations to eligible residents who are at highest risk of contracting the virus.

Residents who are identified by public health officials as close contacts of current monkeypox cases will be offered vaccination. Public health staff from the County’s sexual health programs will be working with community-based non-profit organizations to identify residents who could be at risk and are contacting them directly to offer an opportunity to be vaccinated. As vaccine supply increases, additional residents who are at-risk will be identified and offered vaccination.

Currently, monkeypox vaccinations are being limited to:
  • Known contacts who are identified by public health via case investigation, contact tracing and risk exposure assessments.
  • Presumed contacts who may meet the following criteria:
    • Know that a sexual partner in the past 14 days was diagnosed with monkeypox.
    • Had multiple sexual partners in the past 14 days in a jurisdiction with known monkeypox.
The risk of monkeypox in the United States is believed to be low. Monkeypox does not spread easily between people, and the time between exposure and when symptoms start give public health officials time to track down contacts and break the chain of infection.

Anyone, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation, can catch monkeypox. However, a number of cases in the current outbreak are among gay, bisexual or other men who have sex with men.

People who do not have monkeypox symptoms cannot spread the virus to others. Even though it is not considered a sexually transmitted infection, monkeypox can spread during intimate physical contact between people. Anyone can get monkeypox if they have close contact with someone who has the virus.

Monkeypox is a rare disease caused by infection with the monkeypox virus. Person to person transmission occurs through:
  • Direct contact with the infectious rash, scabs, or bodily fluids.
  • Respiratory secretions during prolonged, face-to-face contact or during intimate physical contact, such as kissing, cuddling, or sex.
  • Touching items such as clothing or linens that previously touched the rash or body fluids of an infected person.
  • Pregnant people can spread the virus to their fetus through the placenta.
Monkeypox can be spread from the time symptoms start until the rash has fully healed and a fresh layer of skin has formed. The illness typically lasts two-to-four weeks. People who do not have monkeypox symptoms cannot spread the virus to others.

Symptoms can often include flu-like symptoms such as fever, headache, muscle aches and swollen lymph nodes, followed by a rash and lesions on the skin. Most cases of monkeypox do not require hospitalization, but monkeypox is highly contagious in individuals with symptoms.

Residents who believe that they have been exposed to monkeypox should contact their health care provider or a community provider such as an urgent care center. Those without a health care provider can also call the Disease Control Program at 240-777-1755. People who believe they are in a high-risk group and meet the criteria for vaccination can contact their health care provider or the Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) clinic at 240-777-1751.

People who believe they have been exposed to monkeypox should avoid close contact with others until a health care provider examines them and provides testing for the monkeypox virus. They should avoid close contact with pets or other animals until they are examined and tested. If a person tests positive, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that they stay isolated until the rash has healed, all scabs have fallen off and a fresh layer of intact skin has formed.

Visit the County’s Department of Health and Human Services website for additional information about monkeypox.

‘Silver Spring Thursday Night Concerts in Downtown Silver Spring Continue with R&B Sound of Pianist Elliot Levine on Aug. 4

Thursday nights are alive with music this summer in Downtown Silver Spring as the free “Silver Spring Thursday Night Concerts” series continues on Veterans Plaza. Concert series are scheduled for 7-9 p.m. each Thursday evening through Aug. 11. The next performance, on Aug. 4, will feature the R&B and funk music of pianist Elliot Levine.

Veterans Plaza is located at 1 Veterans Place, adjacent to the Silver Spring Civic Building. The outdoor series has eight concerts scheduled.    

Baltimore-based Elliot Levine has toured with Wilson Pickett and Heatwave and has opened for Brian McKnight, Freddie Jackson, McCoy Tyner and Gerald Albright. He has had the No. 1 song on mp3.com, which received more than 1 million downloads. That accomplishment was mentioned in the Wall Street Journal. Elliot has three internationally released CDs that have received extensive airplay and distribution.

He has headlined at Blues Alley and the Kennedy Center. In 2003, he scored the music to an Emmy-nominated documentary, "Teens in Between.” His music also was used on "Inside the NBA" on TBS, as well as an independent college movie, "Friends With Benefits.”

Attendees can bring chairs, but they do not have to do that. Food and drinks are available from the many nearby downtown eateries. No alcohol is permitted on the plaza.     

The lineup for the Thursday night concert series:     
  • Aug. 4: Elliot Levine. R&B and Funk. The R&B and funk pianist has toured with Wilson Pickett, Heatwave and Brian McKnight.     
  • Aug. 11: Gary and the Groove. Rock and Roll. Their rock and roll music covers all decades from the 1950s to the ‘90s—and even some hits from today.      
Performances are canceled due to weather only if it is raining at 7 p.m. For more information about the series, visit silverspringdowntown.com.     

‘Glen Echo’s Two Great Carousels: Coney Island versus Philadelphia Style’ Will Be Featured in Online Presentation Available Starting Monday, Aug. 1

Before Glen Echo’s W.H. Dentzel carousel was delivered from Philadelphia in 1921, the park featured a large carousel created in Coney Island by W. F. Mangels, with horses and chariots by M. C. Illions. “Glen Echo’s Two Great Carousels: Coney Island versus Philadelphia Style,” a free online presentation of Montgomery History that will be available Aug. 1-8, will look at each of these carousels.

Barbara Fahs Charles, a consultant on interpretive planning and design for museums, will lead the presentation that addresses why each carousel was purchased, compare the regional styles of the two manufacturers and introduce the men who carved and built them.

The presentation also will show how W. H. Dentzel recycled elements from the Glen Echo Mangels carousel into a “new” carousel in 1922.

To access the presentation starting Monday, Aug. 1, go to https://www.montgomeryhistory.org/mhconnected/watch/

County Commission on Women Celebrates Its 50th Anniversary by Creating Time Capsule to Be Opened in 50 Years

The Montgomery County Commission on Women (CFW) recently celebrated its 50th anniversary by creating a time capsule that is to be opened in 50 years. The contents of the time capsule were revealed at an event celebrating the commission’s 50th anniversary at the Sandy Spring Museum.

At the celebration, County Executive Marc Elrich and County Council President Gabe Albornoz issued a joint proclamation recognizing the commission’s accomplishments in advancing and protecting women’s rights since its establishment in 1972.

In addition to County Executive Elrich and Council President Albornoz, among those at the celebration were CFW Chair Donna Rojas, County Councilmember Nancy Navarro, founding commissioner and former Congresswoman Connie Morella, CFW Executive Director Jodi Finkelstein and Sandy Spring Museum Board of Directors President Naomi Yadin-Mendick.

The event included a ceremonial groundbreaking for the burial of the CFW time capsule containing artifacts from the past 50 years. Among the items the time capsule contains are:
  • Map of Montgomery County
  • Suffrage recording
  • Picture of the current County Executive and County Council
  • Photo of all current CFW commissioners
  • Amanda Gorman poem
  • Picture of U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris
  • COVID-19 mask
  • Winning entries from 2022 CFW Girl Power Contest
  • Legislative Priorities 2022
  • Letter from the current CFW chair to future chair
  • Women's History Month pen
  • Quilt photos
  • 50th anniversary proclamation
  • List of CFW accomplishments
  • Women’s archives list
  • The latest Status of Women report
More information on the Commission for Women can be found on its website at https://montgomerycountymd.gov/cfw/.

Popular Whodunit Game at ‘Clue the Musical’ Will Be at Gaithersburg Arts Barn Aug. 5-21 

Clue the Musical, based on a book by Peter DiPietro and with music by Galen Blum, Wayne Barker and Vinnie Martucci, will be performed on weekends during Aug. 5-21 at the Gaithersburg Arts Barn. The presentation is a partnership of The Montgomery Playhouse and the City of Gaithersburg. 

The Gaithersburg Arts Barn is located at 311 Kent Square Road in Gaithersburg. The show is recommended for ages 12 and older. Tickets are now on sale. 

The internationally popular game is now a fun-filled interactive musical that brings the world’s best-known suspects to life and invites the audience to help solve the mystery of who killed Mr. Boddy, in what room and with what weapon. The audience receives forms to help deduce the solution from clues given throughout the fun-filled evening. Three audience members choose from cards representing the potential murderers, weapons and rooms. There are 216 possible solutions. Only one hard-nosed female detective is qualified to unravel the merry mayhem. Comic antics, witty lyrics and a beguiling score carry the investigation from room to room. Even after the culprit confesses, a surprise twist delights the audience. 

During the Aug. 5-21 run, performances will be at 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and at 2 p.m. on Sundays. Tickets are $24 for adults, $20 for students ages 15-21, and $15 for youth 14 and under. Purchase tickets online here. Tickets also can be purchased in person at the Arts Barn box office or by calling 301-258-6394. 

July 21, 2022

Message from the County Executive

Dear Friends,

We are in a middle of heat wave this week and expect high temperatures into the weekend. It is a time for everyone to take precautions, limit exposure, and drink plenty of water. Heat related fatalities have been the most common weather-related deaths over the last thirty years.

Even though we may hear that it’s “just that time of the year,” the extremes in weather we are witnessing locally and globally are increasing due to climate change. As the planet warms, it increases serious risks to our health. You may be interested in this Time magazine article written by cardiologist Dr. Sameed Khatana. Dr. Khatana and his colleagues “found that between 2008 and 2017 between 13,000 to 20,000 adult deaths were linked to extreme heat, with approximately half of them due to heart disease.” And they call for “urgent interventions to make neighborhoods more resilient to extreme heat.”

We are doing what we can in Montgomery County through the goals and actions of our Climate Action Plan. One important component of our plan that helps reduce impacts from the heat is our Tree Montgomery program. Please check out this site and learn how you can get a free shade tree for your home and community.

Please take care of yourself, your family, and your neighbors (especially the elderly) during this heat wave. And, please sign-up for Alert Montgomery text alerts to be notified when weather and air quality is bad.

Primary election results in limbo

Election Day for the 2022 primary is behind us, but we still have at least 10 days (if not more) to wait for the final results. I want to thank everyone who voted as well as our Board of Elections and their judges, poll workers, and volunteers. Before a winner is declared in many of the contested races there are tens of thousands of mail-in and provisional ballots to verify and count. As votes are counted, we are all going to have to be patient.

This year 115,677 mail in ballots were requested and as of Election Day only 29,388 had been received. By law, the counting of those ballots does not begin until two days later and will likely take between 10 days and 2 weeks for final results. So, we wait. By its nature, this is not a quick process.

To stay up to date with Board of Elections progress and voting results, please visit 777vote.org for more information. To see the schedule of the ballot canvass and watch online, please click here.

Covid cases increase again:

This week’s Covid case rates have gone up again. We continue to see our positive tests hover around the 250 cases per 100,000 people mark. The CDC uses cases per 100,000 people along with hospital admissions and bed space to determine the community level status. Montgomery County is considered ‘medium’ as it has been for several weeks.

One reason our case count hasn’t gone down is because of the B-A 5 variant, which is also behind the nationwide rise in Covid cases. It accounts for more than 70 percent of all new cases across Montgomery County and America. Health experts say the B-A 5 variant is highly contagious and we’re seeing it infect people who are fully vaccinated and boosted. 

Our public health experts have expressed concern that our COVID hospitalizations continue to rise. The percent of staffed inpatient beds occupied by those who have tested positive for COVID is at 9.4 percent and the hospital new admission rate is just above 8 per 100,000 people. If those figures rise above ‘10’ the County would likely meet the CDC's High Community Level for COVID. At this level, the CDC recommendations would include community use of facemasks in all indoor public settings.

The CDC and Montgomery County DHHS recommends the following to help protect you and slow the spread of COVID-19 in our community: 
  • Stay up to date on COVID-19 vaccinations, including booster-shots.  
  • Booster shots are the best way to minimize the risk of serious illness from COVID-19.  
  • CDC data shows that 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.  
Wear a well-fitting mask around others:
  • if you have symptoms or been exposed to someone with Covid.
  • When on public transportation
  • As an additional precaution to protect yourself and others, during visits to congregate indoor spaces with limited social distancing and ventilation
Get tested if you have symptoms or are exposed.  
  • Consider rapid or PCR testing after returning from travel or large gatherings. 
  • If you have a positive test result let your recent close contacts know.   
If you are at high risk for severe illness from Covid, wear a mask indoors in public settings and talk to your healthcare provider about additional precautions and whether you are a candidate for treatments like oral antivirals, PrEP, and monoclonal antibodies.

I’m glad to see we’ll also have a new vaccine option soon from Gaithersburg-based Novavax. It just cleared the final hurdle this week for Emergency Use Authorization and in the coming weeks will offer the first vaccine in the U.S. that uses a “traditional virus-blocking technology.”

This pandemic is far from over, we must continue to be vigilant and help keep our families, workplaces, and communities safe and healthy.

It was announced this week that President Biden tested positive for COVID. We wish him well and speedy recovery. But this is a reminder that anyone can still catch this virus and how important it is to take precautions, get your booster, and test regularly.

MCPD addressing protests in neighborhoods of Supreme Court justices:

People continue to protest outside the homes of conservative Supreme Court justices in the wake of Roe v Wade being overturned and federal protections being lost. While I support peaceful protests in general and understand voluntary arrests for a cause to make a point, there are limits to what you can do in the name of demonstration. Some demonstrators want to trip the line to get arrested.

Our police department tells us they've talked openly on social media about ways to push the envelope like screaming curse words repeatedly through a bullhorn or speaker. No one needs that in their neighborhoods even if these protests are legally allowed. Fortunately, at the most recent demonstration, the protestors were civil while making their displeasure known. I appreciate the police providing clear guidance on what as permissible and I appreciate that protestors are obeying the law. Police continue to be there should any issues that arise.

Fire and Police investigators identify suspect involved with church vandalism

Earlier this week, police identified someone suspected of setting two church fires and vandalizing another Bethesda church earlier this month. Police say the case will be handled in juvenile court. They didn’t name their suspect or any accomplices, but police don’t believe there’s any further threat of similar break-ins and arsons. All three churches along Old Georgetown Rd. were targeted overnight, just ahead of Sunday services on July 10. A spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Washington says a few pews were burned, books were shredded, and crosses were removed from the wall and thrown on the floor. At the third church, headstones were damaged.

We're grateful for the work done by the Montgomery County Fire & Rescue Service and the Montgomery County Police Department in closing this case quickly. Attacks on houses of worship in Montgomery County are completely unacceptable. The criminal activity that took place does not represent our values of inclusion and equality. A hateful incident against one community impacts us all.

Police accountability efforts move forward:

I'm pleased to announce that the final draft of the Effective Law Enforcement for All (ELE4A) audit is nearly complete. Yesterday at my weekly press briefing, ELE4A discussed some of their findings. You can watch it here: https://youtu.be/gJ33O5VlIOM?t=1363 The complete report will soon be shared with the public.

More than 70 recommendations are being made by ELEFA. They include new use of force recommendations for training officers, expanding County resources to offer aid mental health crisis calls, and changes to internal investigation processes. There are also guidelines for programs to reduce officer bias, improve cultural sensitivity and to get the most out of body worn cameras.

EL4A discussed the need to change from a ‘warrior’ mindset to a ‘guardian’ one.

These changes and others are critical in earning public trust from the community. It is important to do the research into what's happening within the department before we propose the changes we think might work to improve policing. These recommendations will go beyond the surface changes and will help us build a stronger department. I look forward to sharing details from this comprehensive report that’s been two years in the making and hearing your ideas for improvement as well in the days and weeks to come.

Montgomery County is committed to Fair Housing

Montgomery County set the tone for the nation when it passed its Open Housing Law on July 20, 1967 to commit to fair housing for everyone. That was almost 9 months before President Lyndon B. Johnson made the same promise with the Fair Housing Act.

For 55 years Montgomery County has kept its promise to develop outreach programs so families don't face discrimination. Our law protects everyone who buys or rents a home from discrimination because of their age, race, color, religion, or national origin. Sex, disability, sexual orientation, source of income, gender identity, marital status or familial status and most recently criminal history are also protected by fair housing laws. That’s especially important in an area as diverse as ours.

In our weekly media briefing County Council President Gabe Albornoz and I presented a proclamation honoring the County’s efforts and the work done by Jim Stowe and the Office of Human Rights to educate the public and ensure these laws are followed. We also heard from Jackie Simons, who was among the activists there for 5 nights of hearings which preceded the groundbreaking new law for Montgomery County. It takes a team effort which is why we are grateful to all who are involved in fair housing enforcement efforts and activities.

Celebrate our parks and recreation offerings this July:

In July, we celebrate Parks and Recreation month. Our Recreation leaders have been busy this summer opening and maintaining pools, organizing camps and arranging classes for kids, adults and seniors. It’s hard to imagine a summer without cooking classes, arts and crafts workshops and dancers filling up our activity and community centers. We encourage you to visit our recreation department website for fun ways to be active, be creative and be social over the summer and beyond.

This week we have twice as many reasons to celebrate because it is also Latino Conservation Week. Montgomery Parks celebrates the 9th annual Latino Conservation Week with a series of events that include workshops and fun activities. On Saturday, a Fiesta honoring Latino Conservation Week will take place at Wheaton Regional Park from 5 until 10 pm. Free shuttles will be available on Saturday from the Wheaton Metro and Glenmont Metro stations.

Montgomery County is a more welcoming, stronger, vibrant, and resilient community because of our outstanding parks and recreation programs and services. For more information about the activities, events and resources provided by our Recreation department, please visit mocorec.com.

Farm Tours return to Montgomery County

Speaking of having fun outdoors this weekend will be Montgomery County's Annual Farm Tour and Harvest Sale. It’s been 30 years since the very first event and the first in-person tour and harvest sale since 2019.

Despite its fast growth over the last few decades Montgomery County remains rooted in its agricultural background. One third of the county, 93,000 acres, are designated as the Agricultural Reserve. More than 450 farms still produce food or other products even in a county with 1.1 million people.

This year 20 farms will open to the public on Saturday or Sunday. You can check out an interactive map right now on the Office of Agriculture website to learn more about participating farms. If you miss out this weekend, we invite you to explore self-guided adventures through the County, which include the Grape and Grain, Farms 2 Feast and Revive the Sunday Drive tours.

As always, my appreciation for all of you,

Marc Elrich

July 20, 2022

2022 Primary Election Update: Mail-In Ballots Now Being Counted and Provisional Ballots Will Not Be Counted Until July 27

The Montgomery County Board of Elections is reminding voters that the unofficial results released on the Board’s website on election night, July 19, for the 2022 Gubernatorial Primary contain only votes cast during Early Voting (July 7-14) and at polling places on Election Day. Mail-in are being counted in a public process by bipartisan teams that started on Thursday, July 21.

Results for each ballot-counting session, referred to as the “canvasses,” will be added to the Election Day totals before the official results of the election are certified.

Provisional ballots will be canvassed starting Wednesday, July 27, and remaining mail-in ballots returned by the statutory deadline will begin being canvassed on Friday, July 29.

All canvasses, which are open to the public, begin at 10 a.m. and are held at Montgomery College’s Germantown campus at 20200 Observation Dr., BE 151/152, in Germantown.

The Board of Canvassers will meet daily to continue canvassing remaining ballots. Additional canvass dates will be added to the schedule, based on the available volume of mail-in ballots. A detailed schedule will be available on the Montgomery County Board of Elections website at 777vote.org. Canvasses will be open to the public and it will be livestreamed on the Board of Elections web page.

Statewide certification will follow upon completion of all tabulation. Those results may be found on the Maryland State Board of Elections’ website.

For other election information, call 240-777-8500, visit 777vote.org, the Maryland State Board of Elections’ website at http://elections.maryland.gov or follow the Montgomery County Board of Elections on Facebook or Twitter.

Annual Farm Tour & Harvest Sale Returns on Saturday, July 23, and Sunday, July 24, to Highlight the Best of Montgomery’s Agricultural Reserve

The Montgomery County Annual Farm Tour and Harvest Sale will return after a two-year hiatus on Saturday, July 23, and Sunday, July 24, to highlight Montgomery County’s Agricultural Reserve. About one-third (93,000 acres) of all County land is protected for agricultural uses under the policy that created the Agricultural Reserve.

The 30th anniversary of the self-driving Farm Tour and Harvest Sale was celebrated in 2019, but the Montgomery Office of Agriculture’s informal tour was not held in the past two years due to the COVID-19 health crisis. The tour is back with 20 farms open to the public. The Farm Tour brochure can be viewed at brochure front (montgomerycountymd.gov). For more information, call 301-590-2823.

Several farms are open for “pick your own” opportunities. Some will be selling fruits, vegetables or meats. Refreshments will be available at other stops. Eight locations will have animals that can be viewed up close. Montgomery County’s emerging brewing and vineyard industries will be found at seven stops.

The number of farms available on this year’s tour is vast, but the Office of Agriculture has three suggested self-driving tours—each with an accent on different types of farm experiences.

Those tours are:


The Grape & Grain Tours are two separate self-driving tours. You can choose to visit three farm wineries, four breweries or easily combine both into a comprehensive tour of the Ag Reserve's craft beverage industry. Each venue has its own distinct qualities and all offer relaxing outdoor family friendly atmospheres. Food and/or music may also be available onsite.


Have you ever challenged yourself to create a meal made entirely from ingredients grown in Montgomery County? The abundance and diversity of farms make this a realistic goal and a perfect introduction to farm markets in the community. Choose a driving tour of farms within the County that are split between locations to the east or west of I-270. Both tours will provide a chance to purchase meats, eggs, fruits, vegetables, herbs, milk and desserts.


Whether during the designated Farm Tour weekend or on another day, the Agricultural Reserve provides an opportunity for a relaxing, scenic, self-driving tour. The entire route without stops is approximately two hours. You can drive the entire route, drive part of the route or make a day of it by exploring the stopping areas noted.

Farms participating in the 2022 Farm Tour:
  1. Butler's Orchard
  2. Button Farm Living History Center
  3. Camp Olympia
  4. Comus Farm
  5. Do No Harm Suburban Farm
  6. Doc Waters Cidery
  7. Homestead Farm
  8. King Barn Dairy MOOseum
  9. Kingsbury's Orchard
  10. Lewis Orchards
  11. Landmade Farm Brewery
  12. Loan Oak Farm Brewery
  13. R.B. Savage & Sons Farm, LLC
  14. Red Wiggler Community Farm
  15. Rock Hill Orchard
  16. Tusculum Farm
  17. Two Story Chimney Ciderworks
  18. Waredaca Farm Brewing Company
  19. Windridge Vineyards
  20. 61 Vineyard
Visit Montgomery has partnered with the County’s Office of Agriculture to create an interactive experience through the Visit MoCo Adventure Planner App. Download the app by visiting https://visitmontgomery.com/adventure-planner or search “VisitMoCo” in your preferred app store. Click on the passport section to create a personalized itinerary in just a few clicks. When you visit a participating farm, check-in on the app for a chance to win an exclusive Farm Tour and Heritage Sale giveaway.

Fence Building Guidance Offered by Department of Permitting Services

Summer is a prime season for homeowners to add or rebuild fences on their properties. The best way to make sure fences are safe—and built according to Montgomery County regulations—is to follow guidance offered by the County’s Department of Permitting Services (DPS).

DPS issues hundreds of permits for fences each year. Generally, a permit is required to install any type of fence in Montgomery County.

To replace an existing fence with the same kind of fence in the same location and at the same height, a fence permit is not required if the original fence was permitted. If the existing fence was not permitted, a fence permit is required for the replacement fence.

Permit applications must be applied for electronically using Apply Online link in the process box. Electronic applications can be made at any time. A non-refundable filing fee must be paid at the time of application.

For more information, visit the DPS website and check out the frequently asked questions and answers section.