Amid a national COVID-19 surge, Baltimore County Executive John Olszewski Jr. on Monday provided an update on the County’s ongoing response to the pandemic, announced new support for public schools as they prepare for an eventual safe return to in-person instruction, and provided details on the County’s latest efforts to expand direct relief for restaurants.

“As the weather turns colder and people are spending more time indoors, it is critical for residents to recommit to social distancing and wearing masks – two simple actions that can significantly reduce the spread of the virus,” Olszewski said. “If we fail to take responsibility for our own actions, we are risking our own health and the health of our family, our neighbors, and everyone in our community.”

COVID-19 Update

As cases have spiked nationwide and across Maryland, Baltimore County has seen a significant increase in the rate of cases and the positivity rate.

  • The rate of cases in Baltimore County increased by 90.7 percent from October 23 to November 7, with 20.4 cases per 100,000 residents.
  • Over the same time period, the positivity rate increased by 71.4 percent, to 4.8 percent.
  • While hospitalizations have not yet matched previous highs, the number of County hospitalized COVID-19 patients has increased by 153 percent from October 7 to November 7.

 The County will continue robust enforcement of state and local mask and social distancing requirements at bars, restaurants and retail establishments. To date, the County’s Social Distancing Task Force has conducted approximately 5,200 inspections of establishments – both pro-active and complaint driven.

However, Olszewski reminded residents that family and social gatherings also pose significant virus transmission risk. Ahead of upcoming holidays individuals are encouraged to avoid large gatherings, particularly gatherings that take place indoors.

“I continue to believe that public efforts are most effective when enacted on a statewide basis, but if we continue to see increasing community spread of the virus, we must consider enacting new gathering restrictions in Baltimore County to combat this spike,” Olszewski said.

 Olszewski Announces $11.5 Million for BCPS Principals to Support Safe Reopening

While the fight to contain the spread of COVID-19 continues, Olszewski today committed $11.5 million in CARES Act funding to provide supplies directly to Baltimore County Public School principals to help them prepare for eventual reopening.

The County will leverage existing supplier relationships to secure and distribute personal protective equipment, cleaning and sanitizing products, air purifiers, and other equipment or supplies that will help ensure that school buildings are safe for students, educators and staff.

Principals will be able to acquire supplies directly from the county, up to $100 per student.

“We all want our kids and educators back in the classroom, and while currently we’re seeing a concerning increase in cases nationwide, we are doing everything we can to make sure our school buildings are prepared for the eventual safe return to in-person instruction,” Olszewski said. “These funds will support our school-level administrators as they work to identify and address their unique needs.”

Baltimore County will be coordinating directly with BCPS principals later this week to develop orders and requests for these additional safety supplies.

Expanded Support for Restaurants

In the latest effort to support Baltimore County’s restaurant industry, Olszewski also announced new plans to complement Baltimore County’s existing restaurant grants using additional funds provided by the state.

The County will distribute these Restaurant and Food Service Grants in two phases.

In the first phase, establishments who have already received grants through the County – which were available up to $15,000 – will receive an additional $15,000 state-match to enhance their efforts to keep patrons and staff safe.

Eligible establishments will be contacted directly by the County’s Department of Economic and Workforce Development in the coming days.

The second phase will make grants of up to $30,000 available for restaurants that have not yet received previous grant funding from the County. Applications for these Restaurant and Food Service Grants will begin on Monday, November 16 at 9 a.m.

An application portal for these Restaurant and Food Service Grants will be available in the coming days and funds will be available on the Department of Economic and Workforce Development webpage.

This is the latest effort from Baltimore County to support small businesses impacted by the severe financial pressures caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The County has already made millions in grant funds available to: