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Prince George’s County Maryland sent this bulletin
Friday, September 4, 2020
Dear Prince Georgians:
Governor Hogan announced on Tuesday that the State of Maryland will move to the third and final phase of reopening today, September 4, ahead of the holiday weekend. While we have made astonishing progress as a community to flatten the curve, Dr. Carter and our public health officials believe our COVID-19 numbers may be on the border of spiking. That’s why I announced yesterday during a press conference that Prince George’s County will remain in phase 2 of reopening and will not be moving forward to phase 3 with other parts of our State.
Right now, our overall positivity rate is 4.1%, which is under the recommended 5% threshold. However, we still have 13 zip codes that are above the 5% threshold. In addition, we are seeing 11.4 new cases per 100,000 people daily, which is above the state’s new case rate of 8.7 cases per 100,000 people.
Furthermore, since the July 4th weekend, our public health officials have been worried about a resurgence of COVID-19. Leading into the July 4th weekend, our community was seeing a sustained decline of COVID-19, with low numbers and a low rate of infection. After that weekend, with all of the gatherings that took place, we saw a spike in cases that we are still working to recover from.
That’s why it is absolutely critical that we resist the urge to get complacent with COVID-19, as this virus is still very much in our community. This coming holiday weekend, I am urging all of you to resist gathering with your friends and families to reduce the spread of this virus. Please continue to wear a mask and practice physical distancing if you’re near anyone from outside of your household. If we see another spike following the Labor Day holiday weekend, it will prohibit us from moving forward and returning to a sense of normalcy. We will reevaluate our data two weeks after the Labor Day weekend to determine if it is safe to move into a modified phase 3 reopening.
I know this pandemic has been hard for all of us, especially our business community. When our businesses suffer, so does our community and our local economy. I want to thank our business community for continuing to do their part and enforcing the safety precautions that are in place, helping us drive down COVID-19 numbers and ensuring we can keep our County open. We have continued doing our part to support our small and local businesses by dispersing funds through our Business Recovery Initiative, holding webinars and offering other resources to help our businesses stay afloat and get back on track.
I am proud to report that we have finished awarding a total of $20,190,500 in grants to almost 600 local and small businesses through our Business Recovery Initiative. More than half of those recipients have already received their grant funding and the additional dollars are in the process of being disbursed. 78% of the recipients were minority-owned businesses, 43% were women-owned, 5% were veteran-owned and 6% Latino-owned.
We also realize that our childcare facilities have been hit particularly hard by this pandemic as well. Fortunately, some of our childcare facilities were able to receive grants through CARES Act funding and our Business Recovery Initiative. So far, they have received a total of $725,000 to maintain their businesses, using these funds to cover rent, make payroll and purchase PPE for workers.
Today, I am proud to announce that we will begin accepting applications for our Child Care Provider Recovery Program on September 9, 2020. Child care providers in Prince George’s County may apply for grants to cover reopening expenses through this program, such as PPE, payroll, rent, supplies and other operating costs. Eligible child care providers may receive a grant of up to $20,000 for licensed child care centers, and up to $3,000 for registered family child care homes.
In total, we allocated $2 million of CARES Act funding to this critical program. $1.4 million is available for child care centers, and $600,000 is available for child care homes. Applications will be accepted September 9, 2020 through October 2, 2020, and grants awards will be announced October 9, 2020. To learn more and to complete an application when it opens on September 9, click here.
Finally, I want to touch on voting, as COVID-19 has changed the voting process for the upcoming election. Many of our residents have recently received mail-in ballot applications from the State Board of Elections. I want to be very clear that what you have received in the mail is not junk mail, nor is it your actual ballot. This is an application to receive a mail-in ballot. In order to vote by mail in the upcoming election, you must first fill out this ballot application and return it as soon as possible.
This is different than the June primary, where the State mailed ballots to everyone and no additional step was required. The State has decided for the general election to mail ballot applications rather than the actual ballots to all registered voters. In order to vote by mail, mail-in ballot applications must be received by October 20. We are urging all residents to turn in their mail-in ballot applications as soon as possible. This will ensure you have the ability to vote by mail in the general election.
If you fill out your mail-in ballot application by hand with the application you have received in the mail, you can return it in the prepaid envelope provided or you can physically drop it off at our County Board of Elections in Largo. Also, you can complete and return an application in person at our County Board of Elections. If you prefer to complete an application online, you can do so by clicking here or texting VBM to 77788. I also want to remind residents that if you are not registered to vote, you must do that first by October 13. You can register to vote online here.
Once you have returned the mail-in ballot application, then you will receive your mail-in ballot. Those will be mailed out toward the end of September. Once you have filled out your ballot, you can return it by mail in the prepaid envelope. If you are going to send it back through the mail, please do so immediately. For those who would like to see their ballot returned to a secure location, we will have secure ballot drop boxes located throughout the County. We will provide additional details on the locations and when they will be available in the coming weeks.
For those planning to vote in person, your polling location has probably changed. We will have 11 Early Voting Centers open October 26 through November 2, from 7:00 AM to 8:00 PM. We will also have 40 Election Day Vote Centers open on November 3, from 7:00 AM to 8:00 PM. Those locations have been approved by the State and are available online here. Voters will be able to vote at any of these locations, but if you choose to vote in person, we encourage you to do so during Early Voting rather than on Election Day.
I also want to thank the Washington Football Team for partnering with us to establish an additional polling site at FedEx Field for Election Day. If approved by the State Board of Elections, it will be the 41st site for our County. We will be sure to provide an update on this proposed location once we know more.
Prince George’s County continues to make progress in our battle against COVID-19. As we approach this holiday weekend, please remember to be careful, refrain from attending parties and family gatherings, wear a mask, and look out for each other. Working together, we can limit the spread of COVID-19 in our community.
Yours in service,
Prince George’s County Executive