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COVID-19 Joint Information Center Update: March 27, 2020

COVID-19 Joint Information Center Update: March 27, 2020

The Washington County, Maryland Joint Information Center (JIC) provides the following update regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.
All media inquiries related to the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) incident should be directed to Danielle Weaver or Carly Hose.
WASHINGTON COUNTY HEALTH DEPARTMENT
Below is a message from Washington County Health Officer Earl Stoner, as he provides an update regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.
Washington County Health Officer COVID-19 Update #2
MERITUS HEALTH
Below is a message from Dr. Budi regarding COVID-19 testing and child healthcare.
Pediatric Testing Insight From Dr. Budi
COVID-19 TESTING SITES
Click on the map to right to access the closest testing site. Once you have spoken with someone on the COVID-19 care line 301-730-9170 or to your physician about your symptoms you may be directed to Meritus’s drive-thru screening clinic to be tested for the flu (this is the first step) and then COVID-19.
  • Drive-thru Center: COVID-19 screening is now available behind Meritus Medical Plaza, at 13620 Crayton Boulevard. The drive-thru screening center is open Monday – Sunday from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
  • CLOSING PERMANENTLY AT 4:00 FRIDAY Downtown Walk-Thru Screening Center– Surrey School is open and located at 535 Summit Ave. Hours of operation: 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Monday- Friday.
  • Walk-thru Center: COVID-19 screening is available at 24 N. Walnut Street, Hagerstown, MD. The walk-thru screening center is open Monday – Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Three of our Meritus Medical Laboratory patient service centers will be closing effective next Monday, March 30, 2020:
  • Boonsboro
  • Smithsburg
  • Hager Park Professional Center, 324 East Antietam St., Suite 203A
The Meritus Medical Laboratory patient service center located at Meritus Medical Plaza will be changing its hours to 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. to match the hours of Meritus Urgent Care which is located in the same building at 13620 Crayton Boulevard.
Meritus Health continues to offer electronic 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.
The most up-to-date visitor restrictions at the hospital and closings and cancellations of events is available at MeritusHealth.com.
BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS
The Washington County Board of County Commissioners delivers a message to the community regarding COVID-19.
A Special Message from Washington County's Board of Commissioners
The Board of County Commissioners meeting scheduled for Tuesday, March 31, 2020 has been canceled. All evening meetings with municipalities are canceled until further notice.
EMERGENCY OPERATIONS CENTER
The Washington County Division of Emergency Services Medical Director authorized the initiation of the Viral Syndrome Pandemic Triage Protocol from the Maryland Institute of Emergency Medical Services System (MIEMSS) on Friday March 20, 2020. The Viral Syndrome Pandemic Triage Protocol will assist EMS clinicians in identifying patients that may be appropriate to safely care for themselves at home, without transport to the emergency department. If the patient elects to stay at home after a complete EMS evaluation, they will be provided information on self care, contact information for resources available in the community for follow-up care, and instructed to contact the 911 center if worsening or more severe symptoms occur. Additionally, a Washington County EMS representative will contact the patient by phone within 24 hours of the initial EMS visit to assess for any progression of symptoms.
Ambulances are being fully decontaminated after transporting patients under investigation with COVID-10 to mitigate the potential of cross-contamination. Washington County Special Operations Hazmat Technicians are spraying down the ambulances. Ambulances have been outfitted to isolate the front cab from the rear transport area to ensure a clean cab. This process can be viewed in the photos below.
Below is a message from Brian Albert, Operations Manager at the 911 Communications Center. Listen below about operations and staff transitions due to COVID-19.
Washginton County Division of Emergency Services COVID-19 Updates
WASHINGTON COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE
Even during times of crisis, scammers are still at work.
The Washington County Sheriff’s Office is warning the community to be on the lookout for scammers trying to take advantage of fears surrounding the coronavirus.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have jointly issued warning letters to sellers of unapproved and misbranded products, claiming they can treat or prevent the Coronavirus. The companies’ products include teas, essential oils, and colloidal silver. The FTC says the companies have no evidence to back up their claims, as required by law. The FDA says there are no approved vaccines, drugs or investigational products currently available to treat or prevent the virus.
Other types of scams to keep a look out for are:
Undelivered goods: Online sellers claim they have in-demand products, like cleaning, household, and health and medical supplies. You place an order, but you never get your shipment. Anyone can set up shop online under almost any name, including scammers.
Fake charities: When a major health event, like the Coronavirus happens, you might be looking for ways to help. Scammers use the same events to take advantage of your generosity. Some scammers use names that sound a lot like the names of real charities. This is one reason it pays to do some research before giving. Money lost to bogus charities means less donations to help those in need.
Fake emails, texts and phishing: Scammers use fake emails or texts to get you to share valuable personal information such as account numbers, Social Security numbers, or login IDs and passwords. They use your information to steal your money, your identity, or both. Scammers also use phishing emails to get access to your computer or network. If you click on a link, ransomwareor other programs can be downloaded on to your computer and lock you out of your data. Scammers often use familiar company names or pretend to be someone you know.
Robocalls: Scammers are using illegal robocalls to pitch everything from scam Coronavirus treatments to work-at-home schemes. If you receive one of these calls hang up and don’t press any numbers. The recording might say that pressing a number will let you speak to a live operator or remove you from their call list, but it might lead to more robocalls, instead.
Misinformation and rumors: Scammers, and sometimes well-meaning people, share information that hasn’t been verified. Before you pass on any messages, and certainly before you pay someone or share your personal information, do some fact checking by contacting trusted sources.
IRS Scam: The scammer pretends to be from the IRS and alleges that you owe taxes. The scammers usually say that if you do not pay there will be a warrant out for your arrest. The IRS may attempt to reach you by telephone, but will never insist on payment using an iTunes card, gift card, prepaid debit card, money order, or wire transfer. The IRS will never request personal or financial information by e-mail, text, or any social media.Forward suspected scam e-mails to phishing@irs.gov. Do not open any attachments or click on any links in those e-mails. If you come across any scams or suspicious claims, report them to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint.
COVID 19 Grants Scam: If you receive calls, emails, or other communications claiming to be from the Treasury Department and offering COVID-19 related grants or stimulus payments in exchange for personal financial information, or an advance fee, or charge of any kind, including the purchase of gift cards, please do not respond. These are scams. Please contact the FBI at www.ic3.gov so that the scammers can be tracked and stopped.
Fraud involving payment of Federal taxes should be reported to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.
WASHINGTON COUNTY CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
The Chamber’s homepage is constantly being updated with additional resources, with the more important information still remaining: Assistance with Maryland’s Small Business disaster relief programs, SBA information, Layoff Aversion Funding, information on how to file for unemployment insurance claims in bulk (and why it’s encouraged), and so much more. We’ve also got a nice feature that easily breaks down The CARES Act!
Our latest addition is our “Members Here to Help” page, which will be continuously updated with information that other members are sharing, including ways they can offer assistance to fellow members experiencing some confusion and hardship.
The U.S. Small Business Administration launched the Express Bridge Loan (EBL) Pilot Program on March 25 to help existing small businesses obtain financing if they already have a relationship with an SBA approved lender.
The EBL Pilot Program is designed to supplement the SBA’s direct disaster loan capabilities and authorizes SBA Express Lenders to provide expedited SBA-guaranteed bridge loan financing on an emergency basis in amounts up to $25,000 for disaster-related purposes to small businesses located in communities affected by the coronavirus emergency. The loans will help small businesses that are waiting for long-term financing, including through the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program. For more details go to the Express Bridge Loan Pilot Program PROGRAM GUIDE .
SBA has also created a short video regarding the SBA EIDL program. Check out:https://www.marylandsbdc.org/covid-19-videos.
NFIB is hosting their next webinar on the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act stimulus bill on Monday, March 30, at 12PM.
  • The webinar will include:
  • An overview of the federal government’s unfolding response to this crisis and an explanation of the tax relief offered in the federal bills;
  • Information on how small businesses owners can get financial support, including a discussion of the grant and forgivable loan application processes; and
  • Discussion of the USDOL’s guidance of the new paid sick leave and family medical leave law including information on the small business exemption and how employer reimbursement will work
Join the U.S. Chamber Foundation on Monday, March 30, 2020 from 12:30 – 1:00 PM for an online briefing on how 501(c)3 nonprofit organizations can benefit from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.  Foundation President Carolyn Cawley and U.S. Chamber Chief Policy Officer Neil Bradley will discuss how the CARES Act impacts nonprofit 501(c)(3) organizations, what to expect regarding the implementation phase, and how it can be used to help nonprofits during this unprecedented crisis.
CHILDCARE PROVIDERS
Beginning at the end of the day on Friday, March 27, 2020, all childcare programs are to be closed. During this State of Emergency, childcare programs have been established by the State to serve only designated essential personnel.
These programs are at no cost to designated essential personnel. Eligible programs may be found on the MSDE website at earlychildhood.marylandpublicschools.org or by using the LOCATE: Child Care resource, a telephone service that is available by phone Monday – Friday at 877-261-0060 between 7:00 AM and 7:00 PM.
Please see the list of designated essential personnel identified in the Governor’s March 25, 2020 Executive Order.
The children of essential personnel attending the State-funded child care programs will be kept at an appropriate distance from each other with ratios of one teacher to nine children and smaller class sizes for younger children.
Parents/guardians are strongly urged to keep children at home as the first and best option to protect them from the virus; it should be noted in the Governor’s March 13, 2020 Executive Order, licensing regulations were relaxed to allow for Family, Friend and Neighbor care for five or fewer students.
If closed licensed child care programs are willing to provide child care to children of essential personnel, they may reopen beginning March 30, 2020, with the following requirements:
  • Programs must apply with their Regional Licensing Specialists to be approved before they begin serving eligible families.
  • These programs may only reopen after a thorough cleaning has been conducted.
  • They must only serve the children of essential personnel.
  • Parents and caregivers of essential personnel may call one of the following numbers for additional information:
  • 410-767-0335
  • 410-870-2544
  • 410-767-7798
  • 410-767-7805
Child care providers with questions can contact their Regional Licensing Specialist.
‘For Our City’ COVID-19 Response Campaign
For Our City COVID-19 Update
This is a coordinated effort led by multiple churches and nonprofits including the United Way and Convoy of Hope. It is also open to any other agencies that would like to partner with them. This campaign will launch Friday, March 27, 2020. Please visit ForOurCity.com or watch this video.
Their first priority is to begin receiving donations – dry foods and goods before they can open up the distribution side of the site. Any financial gifts will go directly toward purchasing needed goods. 100% of donations will go directly to meeting the needs of the most vulnerable within Washington Co. Churches are covering the overhead costs to make sure every dollar given goes directly to those in need.
Their second priority will be to mobilize volunteers to: sort & distribute donated goods, deliver goods to those who are unable to drive to a pick-up site, and provide volunteer support to other organizations in need. They will be listing other volunteer opportunities on the site, so when people register to help there will be options available to them. Volunteer leaders will be coordinating those volunteers to make sure we keep our efforts concentrated on what is most essential during this time AND so we can assure safe serving environments,
Finally, this is a site people in need can go to find assistance – either by having supplies delivered (for those in mandated quarantine or being treated for the Coronavirus, as well as those in the most vulnerable population, i.e. 65+ and those with compromised immune systems). All others will be directed to go to one of multiple pick-up sites where they will process their information, decide if they are eligible for supplies, then give them the products available.
HIGH ROCK AT PEN MAR PARK
Access to the public has been restricted at High Rock at Pen Mar Park. This restriction is to prevent large gatherings at this site.
HARPERS FERRY NATIONAL PARK – MARYLAND HEIGHTS TRAIL
Harpers Ferry National Park will be closing the Maryland Heights Trail effective immediately. County staff is working with NPS to install concrete blocks to close off the three parking areas along Harpers Ferry/Sandy Hook Road, which will take place on Monday, March 29, 2020.
WASHINGTON COUNTY PUBLIC SHOOLS (WCPS)
Beginning Monday, April 6, WCPS will officially transition to a distance learning platform, where students can engage with teachers and access online lessons that will be completed and submitted for feedback. We are identifying March 30 – April 3 as a transition week.
HAGERSTOWN COMMUNITY COLLEGE
Below is a message from HCC President Dr. Klauber to students and staff.
A Message from HCC's President about COVID-19
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION & RESOURCES
Hospice of Washington County needs your help!
Due to a nationwide shortage in supplies, HWC is asking individuals, local businesses, and regional businesses for Personal Protective Equipment such as surgical masks, gloves, gowns, shoe covers and UVC ovens that sanitize such as nail salons use. To make a donation call 301-791-6360 or email kmgiffin@hospiceofwc.org. HWC is a 501c3 nonprofit. Thank you for helping us continue quality end of life care for community.
Social Media Rumors
The Joint Information Center (JIC) is currently monitoring rumors on social media. Recently there was been a rumor about the Walgreens on Dual Highway closing due to an employee testing positive for COVID-19. As of March 27, 2020 none of the six positive cases in Washington County were employees of Walgreens. A representative from Walgreens stated they had to close the store due to unsustainable staffing levels. While closed they are taking the opportunity to do some extensive cleaning and maintenance of the store while no one is in it.
Unfortunately, many businesses at this time may find it difficult to sustain staffing levels due to many reasons. Those reasons can include employees having difficulty finding childcare as daycare providers has closed down, having to care for a loved one, deciding not to work during this time especially if they are at higher risk of getting severe symptoms from COVID-19 and employees becoming sick with colds, stomach viruses, and flu, which are still prevalent at this time. If an employee is out sick, you should not assume it is because they are positive for COVID-19. This also applies if a business temporarily closes, please do not make assumptions. If an employee is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms like fever, cough, and shortness of breath, they should contact their physician or the Meritus care line at 301-790-9170.
The Washington County Communicable nurses are contact tracing for all confirmed cases of COVID-19. They will contact anyone who has been in direct contact of the person with COVID-19 and advise them of actions like self-isolation or testing if needed. If an exposure risk has been discovered for a location the JIC will publish that information for the public and advise those of any necessary actions you may need to take.
It is important to not spread rumors as they only spread fear and worry in the community. Please do not share information that does not come from a reputable source. If you see any information that you are unsure if it is true or a rumor please contact pr@washco-md.net, so that we can investigate the information and address to the public whether it is true or a rumor. For the most up-to-date information regarding COVID-19, visit https://www.washco-md.net/coronavirus-info/
For additional information, please contact the Public Relations and Marketing Department at 240-313-2380 or pr@washco-md.net.
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