County officials are working with the Religious Coalition for Emergency Human Needs to offer hotel rooms for the city of Frederick and county's homeless population, County Executive Jan Gardner (D) announced Tuesday.
Gardner spoke about those plans during a virtual town hall with the following county leaders about the coronavirus outbreak and the county's response:
- Tom Coe, fire chief of the Division of Fire and Rescue Services
- Dr. Barbara Brookmyer, county health officer
- Jack Markey, director of Emergency Management Division
- Helen Propheter, director of the Office of Economic Development
After the town hall, Gardner said county officials were offering up-front financial assistance for the religious coalition.
The coalition has signed a memorandum of understanding with the hotel, which Gardner declined to name.
She added she expects the county to be reimbursed by the federal or state government. The upfront cost to the county could be somewhere in the "tens of thousands of dollars," but could change depending on how long the rooms are needed, Gardner added.
Gardner said the money could come out of many of the county's different reserve and/or contigency funds.
"We've done a lot of things that have been a collective effort with people … I would say the religious coalition has taken the lead on this," Gardner said. "We’re trying to be supportive of our nonprofit agencies."
Also during the town hall, Helen Propheter, executive director of the Economic and Workforce Development, said the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office will not be pulling people over to monitor if people are violating the stay-at-home order.
However, essential businesses can give employees a letter that includes the employee’s name and address and the business name and address for if a person is pulled over during a traffic stop, Propheter said.
Essential employees, determined by federal guidelines, can cross state lines, Propheter added.
The Frederick County Health Department is currently monitoring some long-term care facilities, Brookmyer said. The department is waiting on test results to see if more than one person tested positive.
The health department will not release the names of the facilities while test results are pending, said Rissah Watkins, director of Planning, Assessment and Communication.
Brookmyer talked about Gov. Larry Hogan's stay-at-home order to continue to slow the spread of the disease and prevent the hospitals and health care system from being overwhelmed.
But while she talked about efforts to stem the amount of cases, she did say that there continues to be limitations in how many tests can be conducted.
"We're at a point now in the state with over 1,600 cases that — I think the governor has even said something along these lines — that you pretty much have to assume no matter where you go now that there are people who are carrying the infection," Brookmyer said. "I realize that's unsettling to folks to hear that, that's what happens with pandemics."