Today, Howard County Executive Calvin Ball launched the “StayCOVIDSafe” campaign to amplify public health messaging during the holidays and winter months. The campaign launch corresponds with a revamped website, staycovidsafe.howardcountymd.gov and updated COVID-19 data dashboard to make it easier for residents and businesses to find information surrounding the County response, support and resources. Additionally, Ball recognized Kathleen Koch and Leila Mahlin for their work with Community Organizations Active in Disaster (COAD) supporting Howard County residents throughout the year. Koch was presented the inaugural Emergency Management Volunteer of the Year award. Photos of the event can be found here. Video can be found here.
“We recognize that there is COVID-19 fatigue as the reminders to wear a mask, stay six feet apart, and wash our hands are becoming background noise to many,” said Ball. “Today, I’m launching our new StayCOVIDSafe campaign to communicate clearly and ensure that our residents understand the increased risks during this spike in cases and have access to the tools to keep themselves and their loved ones safe.”
Howard County has organized a robust “StayCOVIDSafe” campaign that consists of:
- $200,000 in CARES Act Funding towards communication throughout the winter months
- $100,000 towards print and TV advertising to target youth and minority communities, including Spanish and Korean languages.
- $100,000 towards resources and marketing materials including face masks, tote bags, magnets, hand sanitizer, window clings, and yard signs branded with “StayCOVIDSafe” logo and message of “wear a mask, wash hands, keep your distance, and get tested”
- The creation of the StayCOVIDSafe Alliance with County stakeholders and entities like our libraries, hospital, community associations, faith communities, businesses, non-profits, and more to support our distribution of information and materials
- A launchpad for the successful communication, rollout, and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines; and
- An updated website that connects residents and businesses to the information they need on COVID-19 testing and vaccines, food and other assistance, current restrictions, business grants, and more.
“The Health Department was pleased to be a contributor to this campaign,” said Dr. Maura Rossman, Howard County Health Officer. “We understand that providing clear, concise and accurate messaging about the actions we can take to slow the spread of the virus is key as we patiently await the arrival and distribution of vaccine.”
“The COAD has been instrumental in providing community assistance throughout the COVID-19 response in Howard County,” said Director of the Office of Emergency Management Mike Hinson. “As we kick off the Stay COVID Safe campaign, they will continue to be an integral community partner in making a more resilient and healthier Howard County.”
Community Organizations Active in Disaster Volunteer Recognition
County Executive Ball presented Kathleen Koch with the 2020 Howard County Emergency Management Volunteer of the Year Award due to her unwavering support of COVID-19 response and recovery in Howard County. Koch has served nearly 850 volunteer hours since March of 2020, led the Howard County COAD and put forth various projects and efforts which have proven incredible successes in the County. Kathleen has served as Chair of the Howard County COAD since nomination in November 2019.
In addition to her proven leadership, Koch has devoted time in the community serving at over 50 of the County’s Pop-Up Pantries, hosted in coordination with the Howard County Food Bank and residential communities in the County. She has dedicated personal time to picking up and dropping off food for various community organizations in the County.
“Kathleen has courageously led this initiative,” said Ball. “Under her leadership, the COAD has grown to 66 organization members and helped feed more than 23,000 individuals in Howard County since this public health crisis began – she is more than deserving of this inaugural award.”
The Office of Emergency Management began researching and developing the COAD in March 2019 and it was officially created by the Ball Administration in December 2019. Throughout 2020, the COAD grew from 15 member organizations to 66, creating five COAD work groups to refine and better target its efforts.
To date the COAD has:
- Collected 1,500 pounds of donated food at local Safeway stores for the Howard County Food Bank;
- Handed out 198,680 pounds of food at dozens of remote Pop-Up Pantries to help feed 23,266 individuals;
- Distributed approximately 21,600 face masks, including 12,600 homemade cloth masks sewn by a network of seven organizations and more than 100 volunteer mask makers; and
- Generated more than 3,018 volunteer hours
“Thank you so much, this was such a pleasant surprise,” said Kathleen Koch, Chair of the COAD. “Over the past year, I’ve seen such kindness, generosity, and sheer determination not to let the pandemic cripple our county. I share these accolades with the entire team, I am honored to lead this amazing network.”
Additionally, Ball presented a Certificate of Recognition to Leila Mahlin, who volunteered in collecting and distributing face shields and over 12,600 homemade masks to vulnerable Howard County residents throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Mahlin worked over 1,300 volunteer hours towards this effort.
“As the single most important tool we have to protect ourselves and others against COVID-19, it’s not an understatement to say that you have saved lives through your efforts to create and distribute masks to so many of our residents,” said Ball. “Thank you for your commendable and compassionate efforts to look out for your fellow residents.”
“Thank you for the recognition you’re giving to the efforts of so many volunteers in Howard County during these COVID times,” said Leila Mahlin. “I represent and aim to support the many mask makers in Howard County, plus all the organizations and businesses we’ve worked with to get these masks out.”