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Prince George's announces changes to government operations

In the past few days, Prince George’s County Government has received notice of several new cases of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. In response to these recent developments, and in an effort to keep both county government employees and residents safe, County Executive Angela Alsobrooks announced a number of changes to county government operations according to a news release. For all county employees, the following social distancing actions will be implemented:

• County agencies will implement responsible teleworking options for non-essential employees.

• All county boards and commissions are suspending in-person meetings and hearings and will hold teleconferences, when possible, beginning this week.

• Access to county buildings will be restricted to county employees only starting this week.

• All non-essential community meetings are suspended.

• All non-essential, work-related out-of-state travel is suspended until April 30.

In addition to these directives, county agencies and facilities will be changing their operating schedule or closing to help combat the infection. Below, we have details regarding some of these changes.

Prince George’s County Public Schools are closed through at least Friday, March 27. During that closure, PGCPS will provide grab-and-go sack lunches from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. daily at the following locations:

• Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School, Beltsville

• William Wirt Middle School, Riverdale Park

• Nicholas Orem Middle School, Hyattsville

• Kenmoor Middle School, Landover

• Benjamin Tasker Middle School, Bowie

• Walker Mill Middle School, Capitol Heights

• Drew Freeman Middle School, Hillcrest Heights

• Thurgood Marshall Middle School, Temple Hills

• Stephen Decatur Middle School, Clinton

The Prince George’s County Department of Family Services is collaborating with the Department of Public Works and Transportation to provide meal deliveries for seniors starting Monday morning. The Department of Family Services has arranged for the 7-frozen meal packs to be delivered to a location and those meals will be picked up and delivered to the doors of senior citizens by Department of Public Works and Transportation personnel. The packs will be delivered to senior’s residences no later than 5 p.m. Seniors must be present during the delivery window in order to receive meals.

The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, Department of Parks and Recreation is closing all facilities with limited park maintenance operations and is cancelling all programs and events effective Monday, March 16. All parks, trails and playgrounds will remain open. All cancellation fees are being waived and suspending existing programs and memberships.

The Department of Corrections has suspended all visitation, with the exception of attorney/legal visits. All volunteer services are suspended, and inmate programs within the jail are canceled until further notice. The regional processing center in Hyattsville is closed. The department is working with the courts to delay weekenders’ sentences until after the epidemic.

The Prince George’s County Memorial Library System will be closed until further notice. Library programs, outreach events, meeting room activities, and passport services will be suspended indefinitely. Book drops will be closed and fines will be waived.

The Department of Housing and Community Development front offices will be closed until further notice. Any activity which would normally occur in the front office can be done by mail. All recertification appointments for the week of March 23 have been cancelled. The landlord briefing scheduled for March 18 is cancelled and will be replaced with a webinar. The upcoming housing choice voucher briefing scheduled for March 19 is cancelled; applicants will be advised by telephone followed by a formal letter. Housing inspectors will continue inspections of vacant units, however occupied unit re-inspections are suspended. The housing authority will not accept walk-in payments — payments should be mailed. Last, the housing authority board of commissioners’ monthly meetings will be held via teleconference.

The Prince George’s County Department of Social Services will remain open, with limited community access. The family investment division, which is the part of the agency that processes benefits, is encouraging customers, especially seniors, to use agency services online.

The Prince George’s County Human Relations Commission will suspend all outreach events and public hearings before the adjudicating body of the Commission indefinitely. Intake appointments for complaints of discrimination will be conducted remotely; members of the public wishing to schedule appointments should call 240-695-7220. Effective immediately, the monthly commission meetings will be held via telephone and those wishing to participate can call 240-695-7220 to be given dial-in directions.

The Department of Permitting, Inspections, and Enforcement will function remotely, delivering services online. Customers who are unable to use online services will have access to a drop-box available at the building to drop off plans and payments. The department will continue to inspect construction and properties.

The Department of Public Works and Transportation will continue to operate under normal operations. In the event government operations are modified, DPW&T will move from full service to modified transportation services, coordinating with compact partners in providing a fixed route bus transportation. Call-A-Bus will continue to provide meal delivery service to seniors as well as special dialysis trips.

The circuit court will close operations to the public until April 6. Employees are to report to work as normal unless approved for telework. There will be a 24-hour drop-box for pleadings at the commissioner’s entrance of the courthouse to accept and date-stamp pleadings. If you are summoned for jury duty and experiencing any acute respiratory illness symptoms or the caretaker of a family member with such symptoms, such as cough, shortness of breath, headaches, flu-like symptoms, fever, cough or sneezing, do not report for jury service without contacting the Jury Office at 301-952-3485 to reschedule your service to a later date. Petit and grand jury service in the Circuit Court for Prince George’s County is also suspended until April 6, unless further extended by the chief and administrative judge of the circuit court, Sheila R. Tillerson-Adams.

The Economic Development Corporation will not accept visitors in their Largo office through the end of March, but will be accepting calls instead. In addition, Innovation Station Business Incubator clients and customers are encouraged to utilize conference calls to conduct their business. Businesses contacting the EDC during normal business hours should leave a voicemail message which will be monitored and emailed to the appropriate staff for prompt response.

“We can all do our part to prevent the spread of this virus” Alsobrooks said in the release. “One of the easiest things you can do is take several easy, everyday preventative actions. This includes washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, and covering your coughs and sneezes with a tissue or your arm.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is now recommending that people start practicing something called social distancing. This means limiting your contact with other people and avoiding large crowds. If you need to go in public, try to stay six feet away or more from others. Avoid shaking hands, instead using an elbow bump or simple wave as an alternate greeting.

These recommendations are absolutely critical for certain Prince Georgians, the release stated. According to the CDC, some residents are at a higher risk of potentially contracting COVID-19, such as seniors and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. These individuals are advised to take additional precautions to include avoiding large crowds and people who are sick if they are out in public, as well as having access to several weeks of medications and supplies.

For our seniors and those with several chronic medical conditions, you can also do some quick things to plan ahead in case you become sick, including:

• Stay in touch with others

• Develop a contact list of friends, family, neighbors, etc.

• If you have a caregiver, determine who can provide you care if your caregiver gets sick; and

• Listen to your body. If you are sick, call your health care provider and discuss your symptoms.

Prince George’s County has one of the largest concentrations of seniors in the entire state, according to the release. Alsobrooks asked Prince George’s County residents to take some of the following actions to support seniors:

• Frequently call and check on any seniors that you know to ensure they are okay

• Consider bringing them groceries, their medications, or any other supplies so they can reduce their time in public

• If you have a loved one in a care facility, monitor the situation and call in to check on them and the facility rather than visiting in-person

For more information, visit health.mypgc.us/coronavirus. If you have questions or concerns about COVID-19, you can also call the coronavirus hotline at 301-883-6627. This hotline The release stated that there are a number of fake websites that are attempting to scam county residents and people across the country. It is important to go to reliable websites, or to call the hotline, to ensure the information received is credible and accurate.

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