Today, County Executive Calvin Ball filed legislation to request an extension of the local State of Emergency until further notice. The County Council will review and act on the legislation on Friday, March 20.  

“We’re facing an unprecedented challenge, and it requires collective action and cooperation from all facets of our community,” said Ball. “The State of Emergency will allow us to maintain best practices for social distancing and ensure the public safety of our residents.” 

Additionally, the Ball Administration held four conference calls with key communities this week to address concerns and develop coordination strategies for outreach. This morning County Executive Ball skyped into Fox 45’s morning show to discuss how Howard County is preparing and addressing the rapidly evolving situation surrounding coronavirus. 

Monday evening, the Office of Emergency Management hosted a Community Operations Active in Disaster with 55 groups including churches and community outreach groups. Today, calls were hosted for a business and economic update, large community providers, and senior and disability providers. 

Economic Development Authority has created an information portal for the business community impacted by the coronavirus outbreak that is available online. It includes information from partners such as Howard Chamber, Tourism, and Maryland Department of Commerce.  

Recreation and Parks  

All County Park gates are now closed. At this time, park-goers are unable to access our parks by vehicle. Our parks may still be accessed by foot, however the restrooms within all our parks are currently closed and park patrons are urged to stay off playground equipment, as their cleanliness cannot be guaranteed.  

Animal Control 

With the closing of non-emergency county facilities to the public, Howard County Animal Control is modifying operations to appointment only. 

Beginning March 18, Animal Control will be conducting animal adoptions, returning lost animals to owners, and taking in animals only with pre-scheduled appointments. Those without an appointment will not have access to the facility.  

To schedule an adoption appointment, reclaim a lost pet or schedule an animal intake, please call 410-313-2780. 

To view adoptable animals, please visit our website at https://www.howardcountymd.gov/Departments/Police/Animal-Control 

Department of Corrections 

On site visits have been suspended until further notice, inmates will receive two free weekly phone calls and one free video visit so that they can maintain family contact. The Department is developing a video visiting schedule for inmates on units that don’t currently have video visiting equipment. 

The Courts are reviewing motions from the Public Defender’s Office assessing suitable inmates that may be more vulnerable to the virus for possible release. This includes all inmates over 60 and those with chronic health conditions.  

The Department is also asking the Courts to allow work release participants that are within 90 days of release that are suitable for home detention to be placed on home detention supervision.  

Beginning March 18, and continuing daily, inmates will be issued special cell cleaning kits with needed cleaning supplies so that they can properly clean their cells and bunks. Further direction will be coming on how this is done and documented.  

Current and Updated Measures: 

  • Non-emergency County offices and facilities will be closed to the public until further notice, though operations will continue through teleworking by eligible employees. 
  • Howard County Police Department is enforcing Governor Hogan’s Executive Order banning all gatherings of 50 people or more. Police officers will ask those in violation to voluntarily disperse and if individuals do not comply they will be subject to criminal summons, arrest and/or fines. 
  • Governor Larry Hogan announced the Maryland Primary scheduled for April 28th will now be postponed to June 2nd. This does not include the special general election to fill the remainder of Congressman Elijah Cummings’ term in the 7th Congressional District, which will be held only through a vote-by-mail system. Read more on the State’s actions today. 
  • The Department of Corrections is no longer allowing in-person visits to inmates, moving to virtual visits.  
  • County Executive Ball signed an Executive Order to extend the deadline for all licenses, permits, registrations, and other authorizations issued by Howard County for 30 days after the Maryland State of Emergency ends.  
  • The Governor issued an Executive Order to close all bars, restaurants, movie theaters, and gyms at 5 p.m. on 3/16/20. Carryout and delivery service is allowed. Additionally, there is a strict ban on gatherings of more than 50 people at all venues and locations per CDC recommendations. He has prohibited all utilities from shutting off any residential customers and is prohibiting any evictions.   
  • The Maryland Health Connection opened a new Special Enrollment Period to uninsured Marylanders who need health coverage during the State of Emergency for Coronavirus (COVID-19)  
  • The Department of Social Services tools are accessible online or by phone: Apply for SNAP (Food Stamps or Cash Assistance),apply for medical assistance and health insurance, and long-term care. Or call 1-800-332-6347 and request a paper application and mail, email or fax to local office. Email: Howco.dss@maryland.gov. Fax 410-872-4231.Residents can submit any required documentation via the MYDHR portal or via email: Child support: hoco.child_support@maryland.gov;  FIA: fia.hoco@maryland.gov. Check MYDHR account for case updates.  Contact the call center at 1-800-332-6347 Monday-Friday 8:30- 5:00, call 410-872-8700, or Email Howco.dss@maryland.gov 
  • Howard County is under a State of Emergency. 
  • County Executive Ball directed the Mall in Columbia to close at midnight 3/15/20 for at least seven days.  
  • The Shops at Savage Mill, and two movie theaters, Regal Snowden Square and AMC Columbia, were also instructed to close at midnight 3/15/20 for at least seven days.   
  • All County employees that are able were instructed to telework as of Monday, March 16th until further notice. All out-of-state official travel for County employees has been canceled through April 24.   
  • All Howard County Government gatherings, events, and meetings that attract one of the high-risk populations were canceled or rescheduled for March 12 – April 26, to be reassessed as new developments arise.   
  • Howard County Government issued public guidance regarding canceling or postponing meetings, events, and gatherings.  
  • Howard County Sheriff has stayed all evictions for March 13 – March 28, to be reevaluated with new developments.   
  • All Howard County Public Schools are closed from March 14 – March 27.  
  • All Howard County Libraries are closed from March 16 – March 27.  
  • Howard Community College is closed for spring break March 15-22. All noncredit and credit classes are canceled March 23-29.  
  • All 50+ Centersare closed from March 13th until further notice.  
  • All 50+ centers programs, activities and events are canceled until further notice.  
  • All indoor recreation facilities are closed from March 13 – March 27.  
  • All Department of Recreation and Parks programs, classes, league play, and events are canceled from March 13 – 29, to be reevaluated on March 30th.  
  • The Department of Recreation and Parks has cancelled all large events, gatherings, and weddings and any programs that include 50 or more people through May 11, 2020.  
  • Wine in the Woods, which was scheduled for May 16-17 has been cancelled. 

The above information is rapidly evolving, to stay informed on coronavirus updates, please follow social media for the Center for Disease Control, the Maryland Department of Health, the Howard County Health Department, the Howard County Government, and Howard County Executive Calvin Ball. Email updates are also available by subscribing to the Ball Bulletin.  

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Scott E