Baltimore County has partnered with the Community College of Baltimore County to train people to train contact tracers, Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. announced Tuesday.
Contact tracers track coronavirus transmission by investigating with whom COVID-19 patients came into contact. Once identified, those contacts may then be tested for COVID-19.
Building up Maryland’s contact tracing operation is one of the necessary steps for tracking and limiting the spread of coronavirus. While unveiling his “Maryland Strong: Roadmap to Recovery” plan last Friday, Gov. Larry Hogan said so far the state has quadrupled its ability, employing 1,000 contact tracers.
The Baltimore County Health Department told Olszewski the county needs to hire at least 60 contact tracers and have ready to work by July. CCBC’s contact tracing training program will be free to participants and can be completed online in as little as three hours, Olszewski said.
Participants may be required to complete additional requirements set by a prospective employer, he added.
Olszewski said the training will not only allow participants to take on an “active role in fighting the virus,” but will also provide many jobless people with “much-needed employment during this crisis.”
CCBC President Sandra Kurtinitis said people will be able to access the training program immediately.
Kurtinitis said participants will not only be able to track and contain COVID-19, but they will also be equipped to quickly respond to any virus that follows.
She added that CCBC continues to be a resource for workforce development amid the pandemic.
“As we return and the economy begins to stabilize, there are going to be a lot of people who are able to go back to work. But there will be a lot of people who will have no job to go back to… Anybody who is faced with no job to go back to, look us up and come see us because we can help,” she said.
Starting May 11, Baltimore County small business owners and artists will be able to apply for grants to lessen the financial blow of the coronavirus pandemic.
The county has created a $10 million small business emergency relief fund, which will allow businesses to apply for $15,000 grants.
Olszewski said the grants are designed to support the county’s “mom and pop” businesses that have not received federal relief through the Paycheck Protection Program or Economic Injury Disaster Loan programs.
“We want to be clear: these are not loans. These are grant funds to support and provide a critical bridge to our small business community that needs help right now,” he said.
To qualify for the small business grant, businesses must have between two and 25 employees, retain at least half of the workforce that they had on hand before Jan. 31 and maintain any health coverage that they provided to workers before the pandemic.
Olszewski said the county is expecting to assist more than 650 small businesses and is aiming to award at least 25 percent of the grants to women- and minority-owned businesses.
Businesses will be able to begin applying for the grants on May 11 at baltimorecountybusiness.com. County staff will be available to help business owners with the application, Olszewski added.
Olszewski said he also directed the county’s tourism office to provide $100,000 in grants to artists who have been economically impacted by the COVID-19 crists, awarding a $1,000 grant to up to 100 individuals.
“These artist grants will help individual artists recoup some of their losses due to cancelled performances or lost teaching opportunities or other lost income,” he said.
Artists will be able to apply for these grants starting May 11 as well.
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