Reopening Montgomery — Providing Help in Many Ways

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July 30, 2020 |  Bookmark and Share

A Message from County Executive Marc Elrich


Dear Friends:

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan last week praised Montgomery County’s efforts to contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus. This week, he announced that he was expanding the statewide face covering requirement so that it essentially mirrors the requirement we have had in our County. Starting Friday, face coverings will be required inside all public spaces and outside whenever physical distancing is not possible.

I appreciate the Governor’s recognition of the importance of wearing face coverings and I am pleased that it will now be a statewide requirement. The Governor expressed concern about the spread of COVID-19 in other states, explained the need to pause before any additional statewide reopenings are allowed and highlighted the progress that we have made in Montgomery County since the beginning of this health crisis. Still, all safety requirements are not the same in the State and the County. In Montgomery, gatherings are limited to a maximum of 50 people (with face coverings and physical distancing required)—but  I encourage you to keep the number of people together as small as possible. The Governor pointed out that contact tracing has shown that gatherings have been a significant source of transmission.

While we are in a better place than we were in April, we must continue what so many of you have been doing. Wearing face coverings, keeping social distancing and washing hands are all strong measures—and they are only effective when followed.

Montgomery County Public Schools last week announced that in the upcoming school year, classes would be online for the entire first semester. While I was not directly involved in that decision, I do support it. I offered my advice to the schools that I thought it was necessary to keep the schools online for the fall because the risks otherwise were too great. I realize that it is difficult for many parents and children, and all of us are searching for creative ways to help our families continue to learn and thrive as we work to contain this virus.

I also wanted you to know that earlier this month, the County’s AAA bond rating was reaffirmed by the three major Wall Street financial rating agencies. With all of the economic challenges we have faced this year as a result of COVID-19, I am pleased that we have once again received the highest rating possible from all three agencies. Long before the health crisis, we remained focused on setting clear priorities and finding innovative ways to improve government operations. This news shows that the rating agencies understand we are making our government more efficient and stronger for the long term. During these difficult times, we will continue to be good stewards of County finances as we navigate our way through recovery. 

We are also working to help our County residents who have been hit so hard by the impact of COVID-19.  I appreciate the County Council’s approval this week of my proposal to provide $20 million from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to expand the County’s rental assistance program to help prevent eviction and homelessness. As scary as looming COVID-19 can be, having no place to live is also terrifying. We do not have a vaccine for the virus yet, but we are taking measures to help mitigate the effects of it. 

 We are also helping our businesses that have suffered through months of lost businesses and now are hit again with the costs in trying to reopen under our Phase 2 guidelines. Small businesses are able to apply for grants from the “Reopen Montgomery” Small Business Grant Program. More information about the program is available at

Other information, including details on COVID-19 testing sites, also is below. I hope you are able to find time to enjoy the summer while also strictly adhering to the safety guidelines.


Marc Elrich

Marc Elrich, County Executive

COVID-19 Test Sites in County Will Include Four New Popup Sites Over the Next Week

Free covid-19 testing

There are 40 sites in Montgomery County where residents can get tested for COVID-19, including three County-operated sites. In addition, over the next week the County will make testing available at four popup sites—two in Silver Spring, one in Germantown and the other in Rockville.

The popup test sites scheduled:

  • Friday, July 31. 8 a.m.-noon. Mid-County Recreation Center. 2400 Queensguard Rd. in Silver Spring.
  • Saturday, Aug. 2-6 p.m. Rockville United Church. 355 Linthicum St. in Rockville. 
  • Monday, Aug. 3. 8 a.m.-noon. PlumGar Recreation Center. 19561 Scenery Dr. in Germantown.
  • Tuesday, Aug. 4. 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Mount Jezreel Baptist Church. 420 University Blvd. East in Silver Spring.  

Appointments are recommended for the County-operated sites to reduce wait times, but walkups are available. At the County-operated sites, a doctor’s order is not required and no symptoms need to be evident to get a test. Those tests are free.

There may be fees at some of the 37 sites not operated by the County and some require special arrangements in advance.

The County-operated test sites are in Germantown, Wheaton and White Oak. Times and locations sometimes change on days with excessive heat so residents should check the testing website for potential changes on those days. Popup testing clinics are located in different parts of the County.

Appointments can be made online at or by calling the Testing Helpline at 240-777-1755. The line is open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Those considering tests should reconfirm the details.

The County-operated sites use saliva tests that are easier and faster.

County Executive Elrich’s Request for $20 Million for Additional Renters Relief Approved by Council


Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich’s request for appropriately $20 million from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to expand rental assistance for eviction and homelessness prevention was approved on July 28 by the County Council. The funds will expand the County’s eviction and homelessness prevention programs, including the COVID Rent Relief program administered by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), an effort originally spearheaded by Councilmember Evan Glass.

“This will provide much-needed, additional support for the people of Montgomery County,” said County Executive Elrich. “Now that the courts have lifted the stay on evictions, we want to be prepared for the hearings of rental nonpayment cases that will likely take place after Aug. 31. It is imperative that we use our resources to support tenants during these difficult times and this funding will enable us to assist renters in working with landlords to avoid eviction. I recognize that $20 million is not the full amount we will need, but it represents a significant investment that will be needed to address this challenge.”

The County received funding from the Coronavirus Relief Fund to address emergency needs from the impact of COVID-19. DHHS’s “Services to End and Prevent Homelessness” programs will use the funds to provide financial assistance to prevent eviction and end homelessness. The programs evaluate communities experiencing disproportionate impacts of COVID-19, prioritizing households determined to be at the greatest risk of eviction and loss of housing. Research has shown that low-income women of color are most at risk of eviction.


Press Release

‘Reopen Montgomery’ Small Business Grant Program Launched; Businesses Can Submit Online Applications for Reopening Assistance Grants

small business grant program

The “Reopen Montgomery” Small Business Grant Program, a $14 million program which was created by the Montgomery County Council with the support of County Executive Marc Elrich, is now accepting applications from businesses for grants that could be as much as $5,000.

Businesses and nonprofit organizations may be eligible for grants for reopening expenditures they have incurred, or will incur, related to health and safety requirements from the State and County for reopening between March 16, 2020, and 30 days following the date when the County starts Phase 3 reopening. The County is still operating under Phase 2 reopening guidelines.

Details on the program and application information—in English and Spanish—can be found at Questions about the Reopen Montgomery program can be emailed to


Apply Now

County Officials Close One Business, Issue Warnings to Others for Not Complying with COVID-19 Restrictions

report a violation

Montgomery County Health and Human Services and Alcohol Beverage Services inspectors have continued to respond to, and investigate, reports that some local businesses are not following Phase 2 reopening requirements. During inspections performed over the past week, one business was closed for not complying with COVID-19 requirements for reopening. In addition, two businesses received $500 citations for noncompliance.

Since early July, inspectors have made more than 2,000 visits to establishments in the major entertainment areas of Bethesda, North Bethesda, Gaithersburg, Rockville and Silver Spring to provide information about the safety requirements. Inspections also have been performed to follow up on complaints from residents and patrons.

The Republic Garden, located at 8402 Georgia Ave. in Silver Spring, was issued a 30-day closure order on July 26 for patrons not maintaining the minimum six-foot physical distancing requirements. The establishment’s license was previously suspended on July 12 for not maintaining adequate physical distancing.

The Block, located at 967 Rose Ave. in the Pike & Rose section of North Bethesda, was issued a $500 civil citation for not maintaining the minimum physical distancing requirements and its license was suspended. Two weeks ago, it was issued a $500 civil citation for the same violation.

Lancaster County Meats, located within the Lancaster County Dutch Market at 12613 Wisteria Dr. in Germantown, on July 24 was issued a $500 civil citation and its license was suspended for failure to require employees to wear a face covering.

Lone Oak Farm Brewing, located at 5000 Olney-Laytonsville Road in Olney, on July 24 was reminded that Executive Order MDH 2020-06-12-01 issued by the Maryland Department of Health prohibits live music performances. It also was reminded of the provisions of Montgomery County Executive Order 082-20 (indoor and outdoor gatherings) and Section 5 (large gatherings). The facility was ordered to stop serving food without the proper food service facility license.


Press Release

‘Rapid Response Teams’ Provide Testing and HHS Assessments to Households in Neighborhoods Impacted by COVID-19

rapid response

The “Rapid Response Teams” of the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) are providing home-based COVID-19 testing and health/human services assessments to households located in zip codes highly impacted by the virus. The special teams program, made possible through a contract with Ready Responders, quickly gets to those who face significant barriers to accessing community test sites. The program also seeks to serve those who have household situations where testing at home would be more effective than going to a community test site. 

The no-cost visits are being provided seven days a week. A response team includes a health worker and a human services worker. Team members provide temperature checks, monitor vital signs and give COVID-19 saliva tests to all household members who give consent.

A DHHS service navigator follows up after a visit as needed. Emergency or urgent medical care and human services referrals are provided at the time of the visit. Those services could include calling 911 for a medical emergency, providing emergency food referrals or offering immediate referral to temporary hotel shelter for household members who are ill and cannot effectively isolate at home. Bilingual staff can visit or staff will have access to the County’s language line to help with interpreting.

Geographic areas most impacted by COVID-19 in Montgomery County include zip codes 20850, 20866, 20877, 20901, 20902, 20903, 20906 and 20910.  


More Information

County’s Animal Adoption Center Reopening for Adoptions on Thursday, Aug. 6

clear the shelters

Montgomery County Animal Services and Adoption Center (MCASAC), located at 7315 Muncaster Mill Road in Derwood, will reopen its facility to the public for animal adoptions on Thursday, Aug. 6. The event will kick off MCASAC’s participation in NBC/Telemundo’s nationwide “Clear the Shelters” adoption event.

Adoption fees will be discounted by 50 percent throughout August. Due to the COVID-19 health crisis, adoptions will take place by appointment only. Face coverings and human social distancing are required. Interested residents can visit MCASAC’s website for more information on appointment scheduling and to view available animals. Standard adoption requirements and policies apply.  

Although the facility has been closed for public access, Animal Services staff members have continued providing frontline animal services since the beginning of the COVID-19 emergency.  


MCASAC Website 

Alcohol Beverage Services Reopens Its Darnestown Liquor and Wine

darnstown abs store

Montgomery County’s Alcohol Beverage Services (ABS) reopened its Darnestown Liquor and Wine store on July 27. The store, located at 12155 Darnestown Road in Gaithersburg, was closed for three weeks after several employees tested positive for COVID-19.

The number of employees in quarantine caused staffing shortages, which forced ABS to close the store. During the closure, a specialized unit performed a deep cleaning and sanitization of the store, which included cleaning all surfaces and products and fogging with specialized machines.

Since the health crisis began, ABS has been deep cleaning all of its stores. Daily temperature checks are conducted of each employee and they are following enhanced cleaning protocols for high touch surfaces. In addition, plexiglass has been installed at the registers in each store to create a barrier between consumers and employees. ABS also has implemented policies requiring employees to wash their hands hourly and to use hand sanitizer between transactions. Face coverings and social distancing of at least six feet are required for customers and employees.


ABS Retail Stores

Results of County Survey on Masks Show Improper and Ineffective Use

face mask

More than 2,700 people responded to a recent Montgomery County flash survey on masks, and while an overwhelming majority of respondents (91 percent) think wearing a mask is “very important to slow down the spread of COVID-19,” 78 percent of respondents also reported seeing many people wearing masks improperly, such as exposing the nose.

The short survey, conducted via Survey Monkey earlier this month, included five questions and was shared through the County’s Facebook and Twitter accounts, WhatsApp and Nextdoor.

More than half the respondents (61 percent) said they saw people wear masks inside buildings and outside where social distancing is not possible and they would like to see more people comply.

When asked to describe how people were wearing masks improperly, 66 percent of respondents said they have observed others wearing masks covering only their mouth and chin. Respondents said most mask violations were observed at local businesses (39 percent) and parks, trails and playgrounds (34 percent).


Survey Results

Public Libraries to Implement New Service Hours Starting Sunday, Aug. 2

mcpl new hours

Montgomery County Public Libraries will implement new service hours, effective Sunday, Aug. 2. The library buildings remain closed under County's Phase 2 reopening guidelines, but the libraries are providing services such as pickups for materials placed on hold and for book drops. 

The new hours will affect all branches with the exception of Noyes Library for Young Children in Kensington, which is currently not offering services, and the Maggie Nightingale Library in Poolesville, where hours will remain unchanged.

The new service hours are:

  • Sunday: 1-5 p.m.
  • Monday: 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
  • Tuesday: 10 a.m.-8 p.m.
  • Wednesday: 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
  • Thursday: 10 a.m.-8 p.m.
  • Friday: 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
  • Saturday: 10 a.m.-6 p.m.

As with the previous hours, only telephone and contactless holds pickup services will be provided at this time. 


More Information

Montgomery County to Expand Ride On Bus Service to Include All Routes Beginning on Sunday, Aug. 2

ride on

Montgomery County’s Department of Transportation (MCDOT) will expand Ride On bus service starting Sunday, Aug. 2, to support businesses that continue to reopen and residents who are resuming activity previously reduced by the COVID-19 health crisis. All Ride On-branded bus routes and Ride On Extra routes will be in service, with an overall increase of nearly 40 percent on weekdays from current service levels. The on-demand Flex service remains suspended.

MCDOT continues to encourage essential trips only in order to maintain bus capacity for those who most need public transportation to access to work and essential services. While all Ride On routes will be in operation, ridership capacity remains limited to 15 to 20 passengers per bus (about 40 percent of normal capacity) to maintain a safe distance between riders.

Service was reduced during the health crisis as MCDOT implemented an “Essential Services” plan, which was expanded to an “Essential Plus” plan.

Ride On planners will closely monitor ridership data and feedback from riders to identify routes that have demand levels requiring additional capacity. Extra buses are stationed at all Metro stations in the County and are ready to deploy to any nearby service route that is experiencing levels of demand that cannot be met by buses under the standard schedule.

Service hours and bus frequency beginning Aug. 2 will be provided on all routes, but will continue to operate on a reduced basis and riders are encouraged to visit the new schedule webpage.


Ride On Schedules

Department of Permitting Services Also Will Enforce COVID-19 Safe Practices While Inspecting Construction Sites

dps inspection

Montgomery County’s Department of Permitting Services (DPS), while conducting its regular inspections at construction sites, also will now be enforcing COVID-19-related safe-distancing and wearing of face coverings guidelines. 

DPS Code Enforcement inspectors normally ensure compliance with the County’s development and construction standards. The additional duties are based on the County Council’s adoption on June 16 of County Executive Marc Elrich’s Executive Order 082-20 regarding COVID-19 safety guidelines. 

DPS has developed an enforcement process regarding COVID-19 safety precautions. The first step is to talk with the construction permit holder and any individuals in charge of the project on the safety requirements and how remediation efforts can be implemented at the work site. Continued violation of the regulations may result in the issuance of a Notice of Violation and/or a citation.

DPS inspectors will issue a stop work order for the location if the site continues to not to enforce the best practices as directed by Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, County Executive Elrich and the Montgomery County Council. 


Visit DPS Website

During Health Crisis, BlackRock Center for the Arts Becomes a Hub of Help

upcounty hub

Stepping up in a crisis can take many forms, and for the BlackRock Center for the Arts in Germantown and longtime community activist Grace Rivera-Oven, that meant thinking outside the box to create something special to meet the pressing needs caused by the COVID-19 health crisis.

When COVID-19 first hit the Washington region in March, Grace thought about the implications for her Upcounty neighbors. She knew that many in the minority community, Latinos in particular, were going to be at tremendous risk.

“They are essential workers and they are in the frontlines,” she said.

To meet that need, she and a plethora of community partners teamed up with BlackRock, which is located at 12901 Town Commons Drive in Germantown. The well-known art gallery at the Center for the Arts has temporarily evolved to become the Upcounty Consolidation Hub.

Each week, more than 100 volunteers gather there to assemble boxes of essentials ranging from food and fresh produce to diapers, hand sanitizers, wipes and formula. They also pack “COVID Kits” containing thermometers, tissues, tea and masks for those fighting the virus at home. High school and college students pitch in, some fanning out from the Hub to deliver necessities to those in need.

“Creating this collaboration and creating the partnership is allowing people to do something at a time when they feel helpless,” said BlackRock CEO Lynn Andreas Arndt.

For Grace, the very first client the operation served epitomizes why it has been worth the effort.

“Every Monday, she comes back and she gives us diapers and wipes,” she said.

She told Grace that were it not for the Hub, she would have been forced to go out to stores in search of formula for her family, even though she was sick at that time.

The Hub is now coordinating collection and distribution of goods for nearly 800 families a week. Current special needs include baby formula and baby wipes.

For more information on how to help, visit the Hub’s website at


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