This morning's briefing offers clarity and updates on operational changes based on the State and City's declarations
At 10 AM this morning, Wednesday, August 25, 2021, Mayor O'Connor held a briefing to discuss the changes due to the rescindment of the State of Maryland's State of Emergency and also to announce that the City's State of Emergency remains in effect at this time. To understand the implications and operation changes of each of these actions, please view the recording of the briefing:
MAYOR O'CONNOR'S COMMENTS:
"As we near the end of August, it is hard to believe we are still talking about COVID-19 and the impacts of the pandemic. While I know we all wish and want this pandemic to simply go away, the reality is that we are in the midst of another spike. Our ICU and acute beds at Frederick Health have increased significantly in the last three weeks. Our case rate is higher than it was last year at this time, and has doubled in the last week. Despite 60% of our community being fully vaccinated, we are still in the thick of this fight against COVID-19. Let me be clear... there is still work we need to do as a community.
The Governor’s declaration of a state of emergency and catastrophic health crisis in Maryland expired at midnight on August 15th. When the Board of Aldermen voted last April to extend the City’s state of emergency without limit, my pledge at the time was that I would look at what and how the state was doing and was unlikely to deviate substantially. At the time my hope was that it would be obvious when the emergency declaration was lifted, that the pandemic was in the past. Though the worst likely is, Frederick County is at a high transmission level right now, as is much of the state.
I believe our community and our organization need to see lower transmission rates and hit certain transmission and vaccination targets before I can comfortably say there is no longer a state of emergency in Frederick. Thus, I will not be rescinding The City of Frederick’s State of Emergency at this time. In consultation with my staff and local officials, I plan to keep the City’s state of emergency in effect until at least 70% of the community is fully vaccinated or we return to a state of low transmission per the CDC.
While the City’s state of emergency remains in effect, and because many of the economic impacts of the pandemic may take longer to resolve than the health ones, due dates of water bills and other billings, the waiver of interest accruals, as well as the extension of various licensure and certification renewals will continue.
The end of the state’s emergency declaration, however, puts into motion a few operational changes based on City ordinances passed since last March.
- First is the change to our pop-up dining programs. Pop-up dining, including parklets, parking lot use, and expanded food truck opportunities will end September 14th. It is our hope that these allowances have enabled our local restaurants to survive the impact of closures and reduced capacity. Our Economic Development and Building departments are communicating with the businesses using these opportunities regarding the transition.
- Secondly, the rental increase moratorium will end in mid-February 2022. I encourage anyone who has questions regarding their rent and/or who may need housing assistance to reach out to our Department of Housing and Human Services.
- Lastly, the extension of various planning and permitting approvals will end in August 2022. I know our planning and permitting offices are communicating with our applicants who needed extensions.
Staff will keep the community updated as the deadlines for each of these actions nears.
While state mask mandates may have been removed over the summer, here at The City of Frederick, we will continue to adjust to ensure the employees of the City remain safe and healthy....and are able to provide the services the resident and businesses of our City deserve and expect. Masks and a health screening are required for all employees and guests entering City facilities. The City has arranged to ensure all employees have access to receive a vaccine easily during work. And we continue to follow CDC guidance for any cases that do occur, to reduce transmission and risk to other employees, their families, and the community.
So again, I remind everyone that there is still work to do as a community. I urge all residents who have not gotten vaccinated, and who are medically able, to do so. Now that the Pfizer vaccine is FDA approved, please consider taking that step for our community. We need more residents to wear masks and we need more residents and employees to get vaccinated. It really is that simple. That is the answer to the pandemic. Get protected, for you and for Frederick. Thank you. "