Baltimore County on Tuesday launched an emergency response fund to assist its response to the coronavirus pandemic, County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. said.
The announcement came after Baltimore County recorded at least 227 confirmed COVID-19 cases, as of 10 a.m. Tuesday. It has been less than three weeks since the county confirmed its first case of the coronavirus.
“That timeline puts into context how quickly the situation has unfolded and reinforces how much more we have yet to do in the days ahead,” Olszewski said during a press conference.
Gregory Branch, director of the Baltimore County Department of Health and Human Services, said the county has not identified any particular hotspots where the virus has been concentrated.
“It’s around the entire county,” he said.
The Baltimore Community Foundation will manage the fund, and Baltimore County leadership will determine how to allocate money from the fund, Olszewki said.
The fund may be used for various efforts, such as purchasing groceries for food-insecure families and seniors, providing personal protective equipment to first responders and public health workers, and supporting other county efforts in response to the coronavirus, county officials said in a statement.
“These are times that challenge us as a people, but they are also times that bring out the best in all of us,” Olszewski said at the press conference.
People can contribute to the fund at bcf.org/EmergencyResponseFund.
Olszewski said the county has received 162 complaints related to violations of social distancing since Gov. Larry Hogan issued an executive order prohibiting gatherings of more than 10 people nearly two weeks ago.
However, Olszewski said the county has only had to issue two cease-and-desist orders. Most people have complied voluntarily with warnings from county officials, he said.
A task force of Baltimore County police, fire and health officials have been handling the complaints, Olszewski said.
On Monday, the Baltimore County Police Department announced that a second police officer had tested positive for COVID-19. The news came three days after county officials announced one police officer and one fire department member tested positive for the virus.
Olszewski said the health of first responders is personal for him because his brother is a Baltimore County police officer. He said they are adjusting to this public health crisis as they would adapt in other emergency situations.
He added that the emergency response fund will help ensure that first responders and other workers on the front lines of the coronavirus response efforts have what they need.
Baltimore County will host a virtual town hall meeting about the county’s response to COVID-19 on Thursday, April 2, at 6 p.m.
The county will also finish out its 2020 budget town hall meetings with a virtual budget town hall on Tuesday, April 7, also at 6 p.m.
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