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County Health Officials Monitoring Novel Coronavirus Situation; Taking Preparedness Measures

For Immediate Release: Friday, February 28, 2020

As federal officials continue to monitor the outbreak of respiratory illnesses caused by a new form of coronavirus first detected in Wuhan, China, County Executive Marc Elrich and County health and emergency management officials are coordinating efforts across agencies as well as with state officials and healthcare providers to ensure we are prepared for the situation as it evolves.

Currently, there are no cases of COVID-19 in Maryland, Virginia, or the District of Columbia.

“While the risk to the general public still remains low in the United States, we are working closely with County agencies, schools and health-care providers to ensure that we are ready to respond to this evolving situation,” said County Health Officer Dr. Travis Gayles.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has advised state and local health departments to be prepared for community spread of COVID-19.  The County’s Department of Health and Human Services is working with partners, including the Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security, public safety agencies, Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS), and hospitals to plan for a response should there be cases in Montgomery County.

“We want to make sure that residents have access to information, and I encourage everyone to visit our website, which has a great deal of information about the virus and precautionary measures that people can take,” said Elrich.  “Our primary focus is to ensure that people are educated and informed as this situation unfolds.”

County officials have taken the following steps to prepare:

  • Launched an internal emergency management group for coordination, enhanced monitoring and planning with partners and other local agencies.
  • Developed an action plan for incident management and surveillance for individuals at risk of infection.
  • Communicated with hospitals and health-care providers to provide the latest information and guidance from the CDC.
  • Communicated and coordinated with MCPS to provide guidance to parents, teachers and staff.
  • Launched a COVID-19 website to update Montgomery County residents on the current situation.

While the immediate health risk from COVID-19 is low, residents should take simple steps to prepare:

  • Stay informed by using trusted sources for up-to-date information. The County’s website includes information on prevention techniques as well as links to the CDC and other resources.
  • Wash hands frequently throughout the day. Use warm water and soap.  If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Cough or sneeze into your elbow. Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way.
  • Keep surfaces (especially bathroom surfaces and children’s toys) clean by wiping them down with a household disinfectant.
  • Stay home from work or school if you are sick.

Residents are encouraged to visit the website and sign up for Public Health and Environmental Alerts for critical updates.  Sign up for alerts (listed under Montgomery County Government Alerts) through the County’s Alert Montgomery notification system.

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Release ID: 20-064
Media Contact: Mary Anderson 301-529-7669