Virtual Town Hall Held To Address The Coronavirus

Citizens sent in their questions to county officials  by e-mail.


Frederick, Md (KM) A number of questions were addressed to Frederick County officials Tuesday during a virtual town hall. on the coronavirus.

One person asked what to do if someone is laid office. Helen Propheter, the Director of the Office of Economic Development, said the first thing to do is to file for unemployment insurance. “This system is working quite well. People are now navigating through it pretty well. It’s going to take a little bit of time to receive your first check,” she said.

But if you don’t qualify for unemployment insurance, or are an independent contractor, Propheter said the $2.2-trillion CARES Act approved by Congress last week and signed by the President has additional funds for unemployment which does include money for independent contractors who can’t find work.

County Executive Jan Gardner hosted the town hall from Winchester Hall, with Propheter, Health Officer Dr. Barbara Brookmyer, Fire and Rescue Services Chief Tom Coe and Emergency Management Jack Markey responding from remote locations Questions were sent in by e-mail and presented to the participants. It was broadcast over  County Cable Channels 19 and 1085, and streamed on line.

Health Office Dr. Brookmyer was asked about what to do when you can’t find a primary care physician. “If they’re unable to get established with a new primary care provider at this time, an option for them are the urgent cares,” she said.

One question dealt with contingency plans if Frederick Health Hospital receives more coronavirus patients than it can handle.   Emergency Management Director Jack Markey says his office has been working with FHH on this problem. “There’s been certificates of need, a technical document processed through the state, to allow Frederick Health Hospital to expand their number of licensed beds, and to prepare for the patient load that we anticipate may arrive at us,” he said.

Chief Tom Coe was asked about making sure there are enough first responders to answer emergency calls if a number of fire fighters and medics are ill with COVID-19 and can’t report to work,. He said his office has been working with the volunteer companies  to ensure each fire hall is fully staffed. “In addition to that for our career staff, we’re monitoring daily sick leave usage, and have a tiered continuity of operations plan to ensure that fire and EMS response will continue in the community, and we can adjust our staffing levels based on the situation we’re presented with the number of employees who cannot report to work,” he said.

County Executive Jan Gardner addressed a question on what’s being done to protect the homeless population from the coronavirus. “We have been working closely with the Religious Coalition to house some of the homeless into hotel rooms, and we are helping to provide funding for that so we can reduce the number of people that are in close proximity to each other,” she said

Gardner also said this coronavirus crisis will be with us for a while. “We are at the beginning not the end of the curve of this virus. We do need everybody to stay home, and social distance and stay away from other people to the extent possible,” she says. “Because we do want to flatten that curve so that we don’t have a peak that exceed, our hospital capacity.”



By Kevin McManus