COVID-19 Update: New Resources Available for Businesses, Nonprofits and Residents
Dear Prince Georgians:
In the midst of these unprecedented times, I have been heartened by the actions of so many of you. You have been responsive to calls for social distancing, you have checked in on your neighbors and relatives, and you have stayed home and kept yourselves and others safe. For your collective spirit of caring and compassion, I thank you.
Yesterday I was proud to announce a number of resources to support our businesses, nonprofits, and residents. Through a coalition of County, and private resources, we have been able to pull together funds totaling $15 million for the COVID-19 Business Relief Fund. Small businesses will have access to loans up to $100,000 and grant funding of up to $10,000. Our Economic Development Corporation will begin taking applications on April 13th. The application period will be open until May 15th. Read more about this important resource here.
In addition to the $15 million relief fund for small businesses, my office is coordinating efforts with philanthropy, nonprofits, government, and small business leaders to collect and organize resources and funds for those providing COVID-19 relief efforts for Prince George’s County.
This innovative public-private partnership will provide an additional $900,000 in grants to support local nonprofits and small businesses to help them deliver the resources and assistance needed by the community during these challenging times. Two of the organizations distributing the funds include the Greater Washington Community Foundation and the United Way of the National Capital Area.
The generous financial donation of $900,000 was provided to the Emergency Response Fund by Sam Brin, a former resident of Prince George’s County. Years ago, Mr. Brin’s refugee family faced challenging times of their own, and he has never forgotten how his family was welcomed into our County. Some of the groups selected to receive grants from the Emergency Response Fund include:
- 19 Local Nonprofit Organizations: Will receive $550,000 in funds to provide direct services and support addressing the immediate health and economic needs of individuals, youths, families, and disproportionately impacted communities in Prince George’s County.
- Prince George’s County Public Schools: Will receive $100,000 for the purchase of new devices for students to access distance learning and other online resources.
- United Way of the National Capital Area: Will receive $250,000 to support small businesses in the County assisting with the coordination of food relief efforts.
To learn more about the Community Foundation’s COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund, visit their website here.
For residents who may be facing unemployment due to being laid off, Employ Prince George’s is launching the Prince George’s County COVID-19 Hourly Employee Assistance Fund. The fund is available for laid-off hourly workers who earned less than $19 an hour, giving Prince George’s County residents access to an Employ Prince George’s cash card of up to $200. A number of retailers, grocers, and restaurants in Prince George’s County will offer discounts to those making purchases with these Employ Prince George’s cash cards. Employ Prince George’s will begin taking applications the week of April 6th online here.
In addition to these County resources, the federal government passed a stimulus package, known as the CARES Act, that will provide further resources for our residents. Some of the items included in this relief package include:
- Stimulus Checks: $1,200 payments to individual taxpayers making up to $75,000 a year, and $2,400 payments to married couples filing jointly making under $150,000 a year. Reduced checks will be available for higher incomes.
- Expanded Unemployment Insurance: Eligibility has been expanded to 39 weeks and benefits extended to those who are self-employed, gig workers and freelancers. Benefits will also increase by an additional $600 per week for up to four months.
- Mortgage Relief: Homeowners with federal-backed mortgages can apply for forbearance for six months through their lender.
- Paid Sick Leave: Both full-time and part-time employees are eligible for 80 hours of paid sick leave, and those caring for a sick loved one are eligible for two-thirds pay.
- Paid Family Leave: Up to 12 weeks of family leave is available for those who need to stay home because of school closures due to COVID-19.
- Student Loans: Federal student loan payments are automatically suspended for six months and no interest will accrue.
We also want to remind our residents about Governor Hogan’s stay-at-home order that took effect at 8 PM on March 30, 2020. This requires that all Marylanders stay in their homes except for essential reasons, such as getting food, going to a financial institution and seeking necessary medical care and prescriptions. Remember that taking a walk or a bike ride is encouraged, but socializing with people outside your household or playing pick-up games such as basketball or soccer is prohibited. These are extraordinary times, and these limits are what we all must follow in order to save lives. For more information about the Governor’s stay-at-home directive, click here.
Per Governor Hogan, local law enforcement is tasked with enforcing the stay-at-home order. I want you to know that the Prince George’s County Police Department is focused on community policing and will work to engage, inform and encourage residents. Our Police Department is focused on slowing the spread of this virus and saving lives, and the last thing they want to do is arrest and fine residents for violating the stay-at-home order. Instead, we will focus on informing residents of the order and encouraging them to stay home, with penalties outlined in the Governor’s order being our very last resort.
I also want to remind residents about the COVID-19 screening site at FedExField. This location is open on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, from 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM, by appointment only. Our residents who do not have access to a primary care physician can begin the process of making an appointment at no-cost through the Prince George’s County’s Health Department’s COVID-19 Hotline by calling 301-883-6627. Those who have a prescription to be tested from their primary care doctor must also call our hotline to receive an appointment date and time to go to the site for testing.
At our press conference yesterday, Dr. Goldson also announced the plan for distance learning. Starting April 14th, Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) will be teaching students remotely under a distance learning platform. PGCPS has conducted a technology needs-assessment survey and is currently distributing Chromebooks to students in need to assist them with this phase of learning. To learn more about distance learning plans and Chromebook distribution, please click here. Know that under Maryland’s new stay-at-home order, picking up meals, digital devices, and instructional materials necessary for distance learning is permitted.
Finally, we want to provide you with a few updates from your County Government on services and programs still available to our residents.
The Office of the Sheriff is reminding citizens that neither the Sheriff nor other law enforcement agencies will call residents about outstanding legal matters, including requesting payment to resolve any legal matter. The Sheriff advises citizens to be on alert for scammers who may be taking advantage of the fact that families are at home more than usual due to COVID-19.
The Prince George’s County Memorial Library System (PGCMLS) has added many new virtual programs, including a weekly Community Conversation with CEO Roberta Phillips (Thursdays at 4 PM), Virtual Read-Alouds (weekdays at 10 or 11am), STEM at Home activities (Fridays at 12 PM), Storytelling with ASL (Saturdays at 10:30 AM), and Yoga for Kids (Saturdays at 11 AM). View the full virtual event lineup here.
New temporary resources are added daily (English & Spanish) and home access is now available for Ancestry and Foundation Directory Online Essential. Those who do not have library cards may register for a virtual library card that provides access to eBooks, audiobooks, streaming music and movies, and online resources (including Kanopy and Hoopla). Prince Georgians are reminded to complete the Online Library Survey by Friday, April 10, 2020.
Our Department of the Environment (DoE) continues to provide trash, recycling and yard trim collection services on schedule. Residents are reminded that all trash MUST be bagged and tied securely before placing in trash carts, roll-offs or dumpsters.
The Prince George’s County Organics Composting Facility is closed to the public for all services and is open to commercial/business customers only. Residents who do not have curbside collection may drop-off yard trim at the County’s Convenience Drop-off Centers during regular hours of operation.
The Office of Information Technology (OIT) has worked quickly to expand digital capabilities so that County agencies and services can be performed while practicing social distancing and complying with stay-at-home directives. OIT has implemented virtual meeting solutions in order to facilitate remote meetings, hearings, town halls, and events that support the community and County Government, ensuring your County Government continues to be able to serve the public.
The Redevelopment Authority of Prince George’s County (RDA) has $900,000 in available funding for its Commercial Property Improvement Program (CPIP) and is now accepting applications for funding. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the application deadline has been extended to Thursday, May 7, 2020 by 3:00 PM. The CPIP was established to assist owners of shopping centers and main street retail space with exterior facade, place making, lighting and major building systems improvements that enhance retail competitiveness and viability. Email all questions to Victor Sherrod at the RDA, and look for responses to questions which will be posted to the RDA’s website on Thursday, April 23, 2020. For more information, visit the RDA’s website and click on Commercial Property Funding Availability, or e-mail Mr. Sherrod at VSherrod@co.pg.md.us.
Our Department of Permitting, Inspections and Enforcement (DPIE) has modified its delivery of services as it abides by the social distancing directive, however the agency continues to assist customers through increased online services. Every effort is being made to be as responsive as possible to those who require services. For more information, visit the DPIE website.
Finally, the Prince George’s County Human Relations Commission has halted in-person appointments. Their efforts to fight discrimination and to ensure Prince George’s County is a welcoming place for all who live, work, and play here continue. If you have a complaint of discrimination and would like to schedule an intake appointment to discuss your complaint, please call 240-695-7220. All intake appointments will be conducted by phone or via video conference until further notice. For more information about the Human Relations Commission, please visit their website.
Prince Georgians, please remember that we are strong and we are resilient. We will get through this together. I want to end by sincerely thanking those on the frontlines of this pandemic – our first responders, our medical professionals, our utility workers, our custodial staff, our grocery store workers, and so many more. Thank you for working hard to keep us safe and keep us well. I am Prince George’s Proud of you, and of all Prince Georgians, for your great spirit of compassion and your strength during these difficult times.
Yours in service,
Prince George’s County Executive
Press Conference – April 1, 2020