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Press Releases - County Council

Council President Katz's statement on phased approach to reopening Montgomery County

For Immediate Release: Thursday, May 28, 2020

ROCKVILLE, Md., May 28, 2020—Today Montgomery County Council President Sidney Katz joined County Executive Marc Elrich, County Health Officer Dr. Travis Gayles and Director of the County's Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security Dr. Earl Stoddard to announce a phased approach to reopening Montgomery County starting on June 1. Council President Katz's statement is below.

Montgomery County has reached an essential and encouraging milestone in our battle against Covid-19, as we begin a phased approach to reopening our economy. Throughout this pandemic, County leaders have been committed first and foremost to the health, safety and welfare of our residents, and we have relied on science and data to make our decisions. Today is a hopeful one because many of the County's key health measures indicate that the time is right to begin moving ahead with the first phase of the County's recovery and reopening plan.

Our residents have masked up, practiced social distancing, repetitively washed their hands and followed the overall guidance of our public health experts. These efforts have truly made a difference and must continue for our reopening and recovery efforts to be successful.

For the last 14 days, both the County's ICU bed utilization rates and the percentage of ventilator use are well below our maximum goal rates. While Montgomery County's Covid-19 positive test rates are higher than other parts of Maryland, we have seen these rates decline significantly even though we are a heavily populated community unlike more rural areas of the state. The County's death rate also has declined with a current three-day average of five lives lost.

Getting to this point has been extremely difficult because the virus has taken a heavy toll. We mourn the loss of the more than 542 residents who have died from Covid-19 and who were grandparents, parents, siblings, coworkers and friends. In addition, since the start of the pandemic, nearly 10,800 community members have tested positive for the virus. Local leaders recognize that the measures needed to protect public health have resulted in unbelievable personal and financial sacrifices to get us to this point; however, our residents are resilient and remain ready to work with us to rebuild the County's economy.

On June 1, we will lay the cornerstone for this work to begin. Easing restrictions on dining and retail establishments and some service industries will allow more people to return to work and meet consumer demand. Expanding select outdoor activities, youth programs and religious services will enable residents to regain some semblance of normalcy.

Reopening will be slow, incremental and steady to allow our public health experts to continue working with our business and community leaders to monitor how these changes impact public health. At the same time, we will continue ramping up our testing and contact tracing to help contain further outbreaks. Increasing testing capacity will provide the data needed to guide our future decisions on how to safely expand more economic and social activities.

Montgomery County leaders know how difficult it has been for families and residents across our community to deal with this unprecedented health and financial challenge, and we have provided more than $50 million in assistance for local small businesses, health and human service needs and medical services. We will continue to do all that we can to help our residents get through this challenging time, while laying the foundation for our collective economic recovery.

Release ID: 20-234
Media Contact: Sonya Healy 240-777-7926 , Juan Jovel 240-777-7931