By Mark F. Gray
AFRO Staff Writer

After Prince George’s County officials announced the first community transmission case of the COVID-19 virus from a non-traveler in Prince George’s County, County Executive Angela Alsobrooks acknowledged that the impact of the international pandemic has reached the next level in her jurisdiction. 

“We are in a different phase,”  Alsobrooks said during a news conference. “We’re concerned. We cannot trace at this moment like we could with the first three and so, this means that we are in a different stage.” 

“We have to take extreme precautions at this point.”

Alsobrooks said the first three cases in Prince George’s County were linked to those patients’ recent international and domestic travel.  The first cases were supposedly contracted by a couple while traveling internationally on a cruise ship and the third case is believed to have developed as a result of the victim’s travel to Boston.

Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks said that coronavirus has reached the next level in her jurisdiction and is taking major precautions. (Courtesy Photo/Bing Images)

Those three patients reportedly were allowed to self-quarantine. 

A fourth case in Prince George’s County was attributed to a rescued victim from a fire.  The 12 firefighters in the County who responded to that patient may have been exposed to the virus. Those firefighters are self-isolating at home and monitoring themselves for symptoms of COVID-19, which include fever, cough and shortness of breath.

The employees at the Gaylord Resort at the National Harbor were advised by the County that an attendee from New Jersey at the Conservative Political Action Conference held in February tested positive for the virus.   The workers were advised to see a physician and stay home if they start noticing themselves affected by symptoms.

With the need for critical information of paramount importance, the County Executive also raised the level at the Emergency Operations and Joint Information Center from “enhanced” to “partial activation.”   Alsobrooks said by raising those levels it will allow for more resources to be allocated to locally battle the virus and keep the public informed.

“In our efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19, we are making some prudent decisions regarding government operations and offices to protect Prince Georgians,” Alsobrooks said in a news release on March 14.

Alsobrooks closed all Prince George’s County government buildings starting on March 16 and made adjustments to several programs that will allow for senior residents to continue receiving their meals. The elderly citizens are now eligible to receive those meals delivered to their homes thanks to a partnership between the Department of Public Works and Transportation. The meal deliveries are for seniors who receive them at the County’s Senior Nutrition Program site and will be made between 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.  

All residents who participate in the program need to be home because their meals will not be delivered unless someone is there to receive them. Staffers are not allowed to enter homes and will contact the residents once they arrive in the vicinity.  

Seniors who need more information can contact the Senior Nutrition Program at 301-265-8475.

Meanwhile, students who are out of school, but rely on free meals during the school year, can take advantage of programs that remain in place at 10 sites around the County. Although Prince George’s County Public Schools remain closed until at least March 27, PGCPS provides bag lunches from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. daily at locations around the County.

The locations include: Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School in Beltsville, William Wirt Middle School in Riverdale Park, Nicholas Orem Middle School, in Hyattsville, Kenmoor Middle School in Landover, Benjamin Tasker Middle School in Bowie, Walker Mill Middle School in Capitol Heights, Drew-Freeman Middle School in Hillcrest Heights, Thurgood Marshall Middle School in Temple Hills, and Stephen Decatur Middle School in Clinton.

“These upcoming changes to government operations will ensure our County Government continues to function and provide the critical programs and services that many of our most vulnerable residents rely on,” Alsobrooks said.