County Executive Pittman Announces Operation COVID Health Corps to Contain COVID Surge
Hiring More Contact Tracers, Redeploying Personnel, and Coordinating Resources in Response to COVID Crisis
Annapolis, Md. (July 29, 2020) Today Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman announced a new plan to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in the county by sharing the ever-increasing workload of the health department with every county agency, amid a surging number of coronavirus cases in the county and across the state. The county’s workforce development corporation will be hiring unemployed workers in the county to fill a variety of critically needed positions.
Operation COVID Health Corps (OCHC) is a multi-pronged approach to address the heavy lift that will be required to increase contact tracing, conduct more testing, report results sooner, handle high call demand, solve interagency issues related to covid cases, and most importantly, keep Anne Arundel open.
“Our Health Department team is strong, but they need our help,” said County Executive Pittman. “To continue our universal contact tracing and case management, our health equity outreach, our enhanced enforcement, and our ambitious work to test two percent of our population weekly, we must engage every county department and deploy residents who are currently out of work.“
The significant increase in COVID-19 cases among those under 35 years of age is stretching county health resources, along with complaint-driven compliance checks to reduce the spread in bars, restaurants, businesses, and other super spreader sites where health officers are expected to coordinate with law enforcement on investigations, violations and criminal enforcement actions.
The Health Department is also working to ensure that those at greater risk receive additional resources; continuing integrated contact tracing and case management, targeted communication, outreach, testing and support for at risk populations; including African-American and Hispanic communities, targeted testing, PPE and support for populations in congregate settings.
“Operation COVID Health Corps is essential to help us address the array of public health challenges we face,”said County Health Officer, Dr. Nilesh Kalyanaraman. “The real strength behind this multi-faceted approach is that it removes unnecessary silos in county government.
“The health department team has been working seven days a week since the pandemic began in March. Countywide reinforcements are what it will take to stay open, to build community resilience, and to be ready for tomorrow’s challenges,” said Dr. Kalyanaraman.
The first leg of OCHC is occurring through the Office of Personnel, where staff is aggressively recruiting for vacancies and grant funded positions in the Department of Health. Second, the county Purchasing Office is developing a contract with an emergency medical staffing company.
Anne Arundel Workforce Development Corporation has stepped up its recruitment efforts to include not only contact tracers, but all critically needed positions. “Operation COVID Health Corps creates multiple employment opportunities while supporting a critical need in Anne Arundel County,” said Kirkland Murray, President & CEO of Anne Arundel Workforce Development Corporation. “Developing a workforce for this mission is a perfect opportunity for AAWDC to reconnect residents who have lost their jobs to immediate and meaningful employment opportunities.”
And finally, under the county’s ongoing state of emergency declared in March, the County Executive has asked each agency head to designate three staff members to support the health department for at least 16 hours a week into the foreseeable future.
“The members of the county government workforce have risen to every challenge during this pandemic and I am proud of their resiliency. Coming together to reinforce the critical work at the Department of Health is just the kind of thing that they do, and I’m grateful for that,” said County Executive Pittman.