County Executive Defends Actions To Slowly Reopen The Local Economy

She also says locking down nursing homes is not practical.



Frederick, Md (KM). Frederick County Executive Jan Gardner is receiving criticism for her decision to slowly reopen the county.

Earlier this month, Governor Larry Hogan lifted the stay-at-home order, but allowed local jurisdictions which feel they are not ready to reopen their economies to keep these restrictions in place until they believe it’s safe. . County Executive Gardner decided to keep the stay-at-home order in place. But the county is allowing  car washes and pet groomers to operate. Retail outlets of less than 10,000 square feet can open if they manage the number of people inside, require customers and employees to wear face coverings, put in places plans for physical distancing and minimize the handling of cash   She also said barbershops, hair salons and houses of worship could reopen on Friday, May 29th at 5:00 PM.

The County Executive  says she will loosen some of those restrictions this coming Friday if favorable trends in hospitalizations and testing for the COVID-19 virus continue. “I will continue to monitor health metrics, nursing home results, and PPE. We are really  not there yet. I hope we do not take a step backward or put up stop signs. I do have the authority within my executive order to come back and slow things down, even after things have opened,” she said.

Gardner said some of the reasons for delaying the reopening of the county was an inconsistent supply of personal  protective equipment used by first responders and medical personnel, and not enough testing facilities for the coronavirus in Frederick County.

Many people have compared the COVID-19 virus to the flu. But Gardner said there is no comparison. “First, there’s no vaccine for the coronavirus. While there are new flu shots developed each year that generally reduce the rate of infection and intensity of the flu, there is nobody who has immunity to the COVID. We certainly think maybe some of the people who have been exposed and tested positive may develop it. But we don’t even know that,” Gardner says.

Most of the COVID-19 cases have been detected in nursing homes among both residents and employees. Gardner takes issue with those who call for a lockdown of all nursing homes, and let the rest of the population live their lives. . “Not only do these comments  devalue our seniors who quite frankly are veterans, they’re former business and community members, and they’re loved by their families,” she said. “Our elderly are certainly no dispensable. They’re not living in isolation. They’re living in our community.”

Gardner also  calls it impractical, noting that up to 5,000 employees of the county’s 15 nursing homes live in the community and interact with other people. “So these employees come home everyday to their families. They go out to shop in our grocery stores. They’ll want to get a haircut and go to church like everyone else. And some of them actually hold second jobs and they may be your co-workers too,” she says. “So we cannot lock down and isolate our nursing home workers. They’re out and about in our community.”

The County Executive made these comments during a public information briefing last week.


By Kevin McManus