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COVID-19 Joint Information Center Update: December 18, 2020

COVID-19 Joint Information Center Update: December 18, 2020

COVID-19 JOINT INFORMATION CENTER BRIEFING
December 18, 2020
 
The Washington County, Maryland Joint Information Center (JIC) provides the following update regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.
 
Please visit www.washco-md.net/coronavirus-info for the latest numbers on Washington County’s COVID-19 dashboard.’
 
COVID-19 Joint Information Daily Briefings will be released ONLY on Tuesdays and Fridays.
 
**The dashboard is updated Monday-Friday**
 
EMERGENCY OPERATIONS CENTER
After nine months of sickness, shutdowns, and unrelenting viral surges, some relief came to Washington County today, Friday, December 18, 2020, as the first round of COVID-19 vaccinations were administered at Meritus Health.
 
Frontline healthcare workers at Meritus Health received the Pfizer vaccine this morning after 975 doses arrived at the hospital on Thursday.
 
The rollout comes less than a week after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized the vaccine for emergency use for Americans over the age of 16. Pfizer, which produced the vaccine alongside German company BioNTech, began shipping the doses from its Michigan warehouse directly to sites pre-selected by governors and local health officials. Meritus Health was a pre-selected site for vaccine distribution.
 
To learn more about vaccination plans click here.
 
Even with the vaccine here in Washington County, MD we must remain vigilant. As you consider your holiday plans, please consider virtual gatherings, online shopping, curbside pick-up, and only gathering with those in your own household. Please continue to follow guidelines that the CDC and Maryland Department of Health have been recommending:
 
  • WEAR A MASK that covers your nose and mouth
  • WASH YOUR HANDS
  • WATCH YOUR DISTANCE
 
Please continue to work together as we slow the spread of COVID-19. The fight is not over and we need all of you to join us as we fight together to keep each other safe and healthy throughout the winter months.
 
Governor Hogan held a press conference yesterday, announcing new ‘Home for the Holidays’ orders and advisories. Below are the following additional mitigation actions being taken at the State level and will be implemented at the local level.
‘HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS’
ORDERS AND ADVISORIES
 
  • NEW PUBLIC HEALTH ADVISORY TO LIMIT GATHERINGS TO 10 OR LESS. The Maryland Department of Health issued a public health advisory warning Marylanders against all non-essential activities and holiday gatherings with people outside one’s immediate household. Under this advisory, all Marylanders should refrain from attending public and private gatherings of more than 10 people in one location and should practice physical distancing to the maximum extent possible. Read the advisory.
  • EXPANDED TESTING AND QUARANTINE REQUIREMENTS FOR TRAVEL. The governor issued an emergency order requiring Marylanders to limit all travel to essential purposes only. All Marylanders who do travel outside of Maryland or any individuals who do travel to Maryland must either obtain a negative COVID-19 test result or self-quarantine for 10 days. This applies to all states, with the exception of Delaware, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, and Washington, DC. Read the governor’s order and the companion health directives.
  • TEMPORARY SUSPENSION OF IN-PERSON CUSTOMER SERVICE OPERATIONS, CONTINUATION OF MANDATORY TELEWORK FOR STATE EMPLOYEES. Governor Hogan has directed state agencies to suspend in-person customer service operations for two weeks, beginning Monday, December 21. Telework continues to be mandatory for state employees who are able to telework, and all businesses are strongly encouraged to institute telework over the holidays.
  • SANTA CLAUS EXEMPT FROM ALL TRAVEL, TESTING, AND QUARANTINE REQUIREMENTS. Today, Governor Hogan issued a special emergency order exempting Santa Claus, the elves from Santa’s workshop, and the reindeer necessary for the operation of Santa’s sleigh from any and all travel, testing, and quarantine requirements. Read the order.
 
Governor Hogan also announced additional economic relief is coming to the State of Maryland. An additional $180 million in emergency economic relief will be distributed to help families and small businesses that have been hit hardest during the COVID-19 pandemic. Below are the amounts for all of Maryland:
 
  • $50 MILLION FOR HOTELS AND HOSPITALITY BUSINESSES. The governor announced that the State of Maryland is providing $50 million from its dedicated emergency rapid response fund to help hotels and hospitality businesses across the state. This funding will be distributed by local jurisdictions to go toward payroll expenses, rent, and utilities in order to keep operations going while travel is restricted.
  • $30 MILLION IN ADDITIONAL RELIEF FOR BARS AND RESTAURANTS. The governor announced another $30 million to replenish the state’s successful relief program for bars and restaurants, which will now total $80 million. Local jurisdictions are encouraged to distribute this money quickly and to match this investment where possible.
  • $15 MILLION IN ADDITIONAL RELIEF FOR ENTERTAINMENT VENUES. The governor announced another $15 million in assistance to entertainment venues through the state’s successful Main Street program at the Maryland Department of Housing, which will now total $35 million.
  • $5 MILLION FOR RURAL BUSINESSES. As part of a new relief initiative, the governor announced $5 million to help socially or economically disadvantaged tech-based businesses in the state’s rural counties.
  • $40 MILLION TO BOOST THE TEMPORARY CASH ASSISTANCE BENEFIT. The governor announced $40 million to provide a $100 boost to the Temporary Cash Assistance (TCA) benefit for each of the next six months. This will help more than 66,000 Maryland families that are struggling to make ends meet.
  • $40 MILLION FOR HEALTH CARE PROVIDERS. The governor announced $40 million for health care providers by beginning their 4% increase on January 1, six months ahead of schedule.
 
Amounts being distributed to Washington County will be announced in the coming weeks. Washington County will provide updates to the business community regarding eligibility, the application process, and funding distribution as we know more information.
 
If you or a loved one is struggling with anxiety, depression, thoughts of suicide, or substance use, please dial 2-1-1. For a more in-depth look at resources available in Washington County, please visit www.washcohope.com.
 
 
To partner with the community for this outreach campaign, golden thread bracelets will be given to businesses and community organizations across Washington County who would like to be a Threads of Hope partner. All partners are asked to hand out bracelets to anyone who may need encouragement during this season. If you are a business or organization in Washington County that would like to get involved, please sign-up at www.washcohope.com. Scroll to the bottom of the page to complete the form.
 
The County recognizes that nothing about this year has been normal. As we enter into the winter months, staying connected may become more difficult. It is okay to reach out for help. Citizens are encouraged to check on your friends and family members. Find creative ways to connect virtually or send cards of encouragement in the mail. We will get through this is together.
 
COVID-19 TESTING SITES IN WASHINGTON COUNTY, MD
 
  • Meritus Screening Drive Thru Center is located at 13620 Crayton Blvd. The drive-thru screening center is open Monday – Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m and Saturday from 8:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m.
  • Health Department Winter Testing Site: located at 13 West Lee Street, Hagerstown, MD. The site is open Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
  • CVS Drive Thru Testing Site located at 1503 Potomac Ave, Hagerstown MD 21742. Please visit https://www.cvs.com/minuteclinic/covid-19-testing to see if you qualify for testing at this site and to schedule an appointment.
  • CVS Drive Thru Testing Site located at 10 E Wilson Blvd, Hagerstown MD 21740. Please visit https://www.cvs.com/minuteclinic/covid-19-testing to see if you qualify for testing at this site and to schedule an appointment.
  • U.N.I. Urgent Care Center located at 11236 Robinwood Drive, Suite 101 Hagerstown, MD 21742. Appointment required and patients are charged with copay. Monday – Friday 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday 8:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.; 240-313-4242
  • U.N.I. Urgent Care Center located at 18721 N Pointe Drive Hagerstown, MD 21742. Appointment required and patients are charged with copay. Monday – Friday 8:30 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.; Saturday 8:30 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.; 301-733-8313
 
WASHINGTON COUNTY HEALTH DEPARTMENT
 
COVID-19 TESTING
 
Mobile Testing Sites: Closed for the winter months.
 
Winter Testing Site: Our drive-thru and walk-up COVID-19 test site is located at one place during the winter months. Please go to the entrance at 13 West Lee Street and follow all traffic directions to be tested.
 
Hagerstown Housing Authority
13 West Lee Street, Hagerstown
Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays
9:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m.
 
Maryland Department of Health launches MD COVID Alert
Marylanders can now use MD COVID Alert to receive COVID-19 exposure notifications on smartphones The Maryland Department of Health (MDH) today announced the launch of MD COVID Alert, the official COVID-19 Exposure Notifications Express system of Maryland. MD COVID Alert uses Bluetooth Low Energy technology to quickly notify users who might have been exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19 with the goal of reducing infections in Maryland.
 
Exposure Notifications System: Helping Health Authorities fight COVID-19
 
The Maryland Department of the Environment is offering Free Radon Test Kits to Maryland residents. To learn more about Radon and how to request your free kit go to https://washcohealth.org/free-radon-test-kits-available/
 
MERITUS HEALTH
 
Changes to Visitor Policy to Keep Patients and Staff Safe
With an increase in the county’s positivity rate for COVID-19 cases and in order to remain vigilant to keep patients and staff safe, beginning Thursday, Nov. 12, no visitors will be permitted in Meritus Health facilities with only a few specific exceptions.
 
Meritus Health will continue to follow the Access to Support for Patient with Disabilities in Health Care Settings notice issued by the Maryland Department of Health and the Maryland Department of Disabilities.
Exceptions to the no visitors’ regulation include:
One support person is designated and is permitted at all times:
  • For any patient with a disability who requires bedside care from a caregiver due to the specifics of the disability.*
  • For labor, delivery and the duration of the obstetric patient’s hospital stay.*
  • For pediatric patients. Two designated support people may be chosen to rotate during patient’s hospital stay, but only one visitor at a time at the bedside.*
*In each of these situations, additional safety precautions will apply to the support person if the patient he/she is caring for is diagnosed or has symptoms related to COVID-19.
 
One visitor is permitted if a support person is not designated:
  • To accompany the patient in the emergency department waiting room unless social distancing maximum capacity is met.
  • To accompany the patient in the patient’s emergency department room for the duration of the patient’s stay in the ED.
  • For a patient undergoing emergency surgery related to a traumatic event.
  • For a patient whose care team requests the visitor to be a part of scheduled training for the patient’s rehabilitation or to help with cognitive needs.
  • For a patient who is required to receive in-person, bedside, discharge education.
  • To escort an adult patient to registration. The visitor must leave the building after providing his/her phone number to staff.
  • To accompany a pediatric patient during his/her visit;
 
Two visitors at a time are permitted for end-of-life care for a patient.
 
All support people and visitors to Meritus Health facilities may be screened for flu-like symptoms and will not be able to stay if symptomatic. Face masks are required to enter all Meritus Health facilities and must be worn at all times. Support persons must arrive prior to 9 p.m. if staying overnight. Additionally, the pet therapy program remains suspended at Meritus Medical Center, but service animals continue to be allowed entrance.
Essential Workers
 
Seasonal Illness Care Clinics – SIC Clinics
Preparing for the upcoming flu season and the potential increase in COVID-19 cases, Meritus Health has established Seasonal Illness Care Clinics or SIC Clinics to safely accommodate patients with symptoms of COVID-19 or flu. Once a patient has been cared for by his/her provider via video or phone, the provider may refer said patient to one of the SIC Clinics. This would be for those individuals who need to be seen in person, but have COVID or flu-like symptoms preventing them from having an in-practice appointment. Symptoms that would be present to visit a SIC Clinic could include:
  • Upper respiratory illness
  • Body aches
  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Loss of sense of smell or taste
  • Ear pain
  • Shortness of breath/wheezing
  • Generalized body aches/joint pain/muscle pain/fatigue
  • Chills
  • Nasal congestion/runny nose/sinus pain and pressure, post nasal drip
  • You’ve tested positive for COVID and have worsening symptoms
  • You have known COVID exposure and feel ill
 
SIC Clinic – North (located at Meritus Medical Plaza, 13620 Crayton Blvd.)
Hours of operation: Monday–Friday from 8:00 a.m.–4:30 p.m., Saturday and Sunday from 8–Noon
 
SIC Clinic – Smithsburg (located beside Meritus Pediatric & Adult Medicine – Smithsburg practice)
Hours of operations: Monday–Thursday 10:00 a.m.-7:30 p.m., Friday 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Saturday 8:30-11:30 a.m.
 
MERITUS HEALTH DRIVE-THRU SCREENING CENTER
The drive-thru screening center for COVID-19 testing is open weekdays from 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., and Saturday from 8:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
 
The screening center is located behind Meritus Medical Plaza at 13620 Crayton Blvd. Testing is available for anyone, including those who do not currently have symptoms of the coronavirus, but suspect or are concerned that they have been exposed. No appointments or referrals are needed to be tested. Due to the current volume of cars coming through the line daily, results can take more than five days to be available through a patient’s My Chart account or primary care provider.
 
FREE TELEHEALTH VISITS AVAILABLE
Meritus Health continues to offer FREE telehealth visits. These visits will allow patients to speak directly with a primary care provider to discuss health concerns.
 
Telehealth visits are available from 8:00am to 4:00pm, Monday through Friday. To request a telehealth visit please complete the form below.
 
WASHINGTON COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS
 
Due to the current COVID-19 health metrics, Washington County Public Schools (WCPS) is extending the date when students may return to schools.
 
In-person classes may resume no sooner than Monday, January 11, 2021, depending on community health metrics. 
 
It is the goal of WCPS to return students to in-person instruction when there are improved COVID-19 metrics in Washington County. During the eight weeks students were back in schools, WCPS saw very low transmission of the virus in our buildings, which may be attributed to the health and safety protocols implemented among students and staff. WCPS will continue to promote a safe and healthy learning environment for all.
 
Read the latest Return to Learn Update at: https://www.smore.com/3894f.
 
WASHINGTON COUNTY CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
Visit www.washcorises.net for constantly updated resources and information to help you reopen your business.
 
SDAT Reminds Businesses to Verify Good Standing Status, Prepares for 2021 Filing Season
 
The Maryland State Department of Assessments and Taxation (SDAT) encourages business owners to look up their business’ status on Maryland Business Express to ensure they are in Good Standing with the state, and if not, to follow the steps in this Good Standing Checklist to avoid being forfeited. The Department also announced that its free 2021 Annual Report Extension System is live, which allows businesses to extend their filing deadline from April 15 to June 15, 2021.
This year, more than ever, small businesses will need the support of the community during the holiday season.
 
CLICK HERE for free resources for small businesses to utilize throughout the holiday season.
 
Now is the time to mask up, watch our distance, and Shop Small as we support the businesses that are the heartbeat of our communities across Washington County. If you can support a small business by shopping online or purchasing a gift card, it is strongly encouraged.
 
Registration is now open for the first-ever virtual SMARTProc GovCon on January 22, 2021.
 
Check out the website here: SMART PROC GOVCON 2021| Virtual Conference
 
For nearly two decades SMART PROC GOVCON has helped small businesses navigate the federal procurement system with focus areas on the contracting and programs at Fort Detrick, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Fort Meade, and the Civilian Agencies in the Mid-Atlantic Region. This year, the Mid-Atlantic’s best-kept secret will be held virtually. The Fort Detrick Alliance is proud to sponsor this event in its 18th year. It is the premier event to bring together government and industry to provide invaluable insight on federal procurement priorities for FY21 and beyond.
 
Registration and more information can be found here: https://registration.socio.events/e/smartprocgovcon
 
Important information below from SBDC’s Financial Specialist Team if you or your business as received a PPP loan: 
 
As a PPP borrower – and with 2020 tax preparation season now in swing – the Maryland SBDC Financial Specialists Team wants to remind you about tax implications related to PPP forgiveness. Although the SBDC does NOT provide tax advice, they wanted to make you aware of a potentially KEY issue. Per IRS Notice 2020-32, expenses paid using FORGIVEN PPP funds are NOT tax-deductible expenses. This means that if your application for forgiveness is APPROVED in 2020, the expenses you paid with those “forgiven” PPP funds WILL NOT be deductible on your 2020 tax return. This could have significant “2020 income tax due” implications when you file the return. If you delay the “Forgiveness” request/get approval until 2021, that would allow time for tax planning related to the 2021 tax filing when those “forgiven” related expenses still cannot be deducted. STEPS TO TAKE: SBDC encourages you to connect ASAP with your tax preparer to consider strategies and options. Certainly, if you have any questions or want additional insights, please feel free to contact your Maryland SBDC Business Consultant, go to the www.marylandsbdc.org website to get connected with a Consultant and/or refer to our COVID19 Small Business Survival Guide.
 
Western Maryland Retail Business Resiliency Training Series
 
Below is information for the upcoming webinar series in January that the Maryland Small Business Development Center (SBDC) is offering to businesses.
 
Help Us Continue on Our Path to Keep Washington County Open – Please ensure your business and customers continue to follow the recommended CDC guidelines as we reopen businesses and other activities across Washington County. Wearing masks inside, social distancing, regular hand washing, and expanded cleaning is still a critical part of keeping infection rates low. By taking on these minor inconveniences, we can prevent a spike in infections which could force officials to slow down or even reverse the reopening process. The coronavirus has not gone away and we must stay vigilant until a vaccine is created. We all have a responsibility to do our part to help our economy reopen so that our many local businesses can survive and provide jobs for our citizens.
The purpose of this page is to help the public distinguish between rumors and facts regarding the response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Rumors can easily circulate within communities during a crisis. Do your part to the stop the spread of disinformation by doing 3 easy things; don’t believe the rumors, don’t pass them along and go to trusted sources of information to get the facts about the state of Maryland’s (COVID-19) response. 
 
COMMUNITY RESOURCES, INFO & EVENTS
 
WASHINGTON COUNTY PARENTS SUPPORT DATABASE
The group WC Parents have created a simplified support database to gather and retain all services and needs in one place. This is an excellent example of the community working together to meet the tangible, everyday needs of parents in our community as this school year will begin with distance learning.
 
If you need childcare or can provide it, if you need tutoring or can provide it, etc., please join this forum and share your resources or needs.
 
It is up to the community to share your resources and fill this database. The group is asking for the public’s help in:
  • Adding to the forum if you can provide a service or have a need
  • Sharing the forum
 
Click on the graphic below to join the forum or visit Wcparents.freeforums.net.
 
For additional information, please contact the Public Relations and Marketing Department at 240-313-2380 or pr@washco-md.net.
 
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