County Executive Pittman Lays Out Plan to Keep Anne Arundel Open As COVID Surges Across the Country
Announces expanded face coverings requirement, ambitious testing goal, and new workforce assistance programs
Annapolis, Md. (July 9, 2020) Today, Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman announced two new initiatives designed to protect county residents from the resurgent COVID-19 coronavirus and address the economic hardships the virus is creating.
The first initiative, Keep Anne Arundel Open, includes three actions that aim to prevent a new surge of COVID-19 cases and avert any reversal of the county’s Stage Two reopening actions.
- A detailed plan to test 2 percent of the county population (about 11,600 people) every week.
- A new public safety order requiring face coverings to be worn in outdoor public spaces where six-foot social distancing is not feasible.
- Increased complaint-driven enforcement activity to ensure proper safety protocols in bars and restaurants during evening hours.
“Right now, in Anne Arundel County, our positivity rate is low and our hospitalization numbers look good,” said County Executive Pittman. “It took a lot of work to get here. But we can do better. By acting now to isolate this virus further, we can finish the job we started, protect our businesses and our workforce, and Keep Anne Arundel Open.”
County Executive Pittman was joined by Anne Arundel Health Officer Dr. Nilesh Kalyanaraman, who outlined the details of the Keep Anne Arundel Open plan. Dr. Kalyanaraman will sign the public health order later today, and it will be effective Friday, July 10 at 5:00 p.m. The order will be posted shortly on the county health department website and the county's Road to Recovery webpage.
“Anne Arundel County has come a long way in slowing the spread of COVID-19,” said Dr. Kalyanaraman. “Thanks to the county residents who are wearing masks, practicing physical distancing, getting tested and cooperating with our contact tracers, we have seen a decline in cases and hospitalizations. Still, the disease remains in our communities, and we cannot become complacent about our health and our county’s recovery.”
The county’s 7-day rolling average for percent positive testing on July 9 was 3.47 percent, more than a point below the statewide average of 4.53 and the lowest of the six largest Maryland counties with a population over 300,000. Anne Arundel was also the first Maryland county to implement universal contact tracing for positive cases and the first to create a Coronavirus Health Equity Initiative.
County Executive Pittman credited the low positivity numbers to Health Officer Dr. Kalyanaraman and his team at the Anne Arundel County Health Department, the local businesses who have worked diligently to implement safe practices, and county residents who have worn face coverings and practiced social distancing in compliance with local and state recommendations.
The second initiative includes a series of workforce assistance programs designed to help laid-off workers and connect them with job training and placement support. While 70,000 county residents have managed to navigate the state Unemployment Insurance program, thousands more have either been left out due to bureaucratic failure or ineligibility.
The workforce assistance initiative has three components:
The Excluded Worker Humanitarian Fund will provide cash assistance in the form of a $500 debit card to up to 4,000 laid off workers who do not have access to state unemployment benefits.
The Rapid Re-employment program will bring on additional staff to provide traditional job readiness and placement services and pay for the cost of occupational training programs in high-growth industries.
The Youth Employment Program will offer opportunity to 100 young people (age 16-24). Some will participate in an online job readiness program and others will work with county agencies in the community. All will be paid a stipend of $11 per hour.
“The economic impacts of this pandemic have hit the hard-working families who are the foundation of our economy - the low wage workers,” said County Executive Pittman. “These workforce assistance programs, particularly our Excluded Worker Humanitarian Fund, offer direct support to the people who need it most.”
These programs will be managed by Anne Arundel Workforce Development Corporation and the application period opens at 9:00 a.m. on Monday, July 13. Individuals can sign up and find more information at www.aawdc.org.