June 16, 2024

Face Coverings a Must in Stores, on Public Transportation


The Maryland Department of Health website, as of 10:15 am Tuesday, April 14, reports the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Maryland is at 9,472, up from 8,936 on Monday.

All data provided by the state health department is preliminary and is subject to change based on additional reporting. Information for cases by ZIP code and cases and deaths by race represent data that is available to MDH. Data for ZIP codes with 7 or fewer cases is suppressed. MDH is continuously evaluating its data and reporting systems and will make updates as more data becomes available. Click here.

Reported cases in Southern Maryland: 108 in St. Mary’s County, 99 in Calvert County, and 292 in Charles County.

The St. Mary’s County Health Department offered this information as of 9:30 am April 14:

Confirmed Cases in St. Mary’s County Residents: 108
Deaths: 2
Negative Test Results: 400
Hospitalizations: 21*
Recovered & Released from Isolation: 30
Male: 53
Female: 51

*Number of St. Mary’s County residents who have been hospitalized at any hospital in Maryland due to COVID-19. Data is not reflective of current patient status.

Local data will be updated at least daily by noon at the county website linked to above.

The Maryland Department of Health offered this statewide information as of 10:10 am April 14:

Confirmed Cases in Maryland: 9,472
Negative Test Results: 44,261
Number of Deaths: 302
Hospitalizations: 2,122 ever hospitalized
Released from Isolation: 607
Male: 4,340
Female: 5,132

Maryland residents can now see the number of cases by ZIP code. Click on the state’s website linked to above.


Health Officer: Face Coverings a Must in Stores, on Public Transportation

St. Mary’s County Health Officer Dr. Meenakshi Brewster has ordered that customers wear face coverings in grocery stores, farmers markets, pharmacies, retail establishments, and public transportation. Cloth face coverings or other masks will be acceptable. The directive will be effective April 15.

Retail stores will be required to establish capacity limits on the number of patrons in the facility at a given time, and queues outside that promote social distancing spaces for the customers that are waiting to enter the store.

For a list of measures to be implemented to ensure consumer and employee safety, click here.


Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about the Maryland stay-at-home order. (Updated April 10)



St. Mary’s Health Department Answers FAQs About Food Safety and COVID-19

Is the St. Mary’s County Health Department still doing health inspections of local food service facilities?

The answer is yes.

“Our Environmental Health services (e.g., food safety inspections, community complaints, septic, rabies, etc.) will continue to operate, though no client walk-in service is available at the office. Our Food Safety Program will continue to monitor food service facilities to ensure food safety standards are being met. Inspectors evaluate critical food safety measures that are most likely to contribute to food-borne illness. During the COVID19 pandemic, our Food Safety team has also communicated recommendations on disinfection practices, social distancing and employee sick leave policy with local food service facilities,” reads the department’s website.

Click here to view more questions and answers.


Hogan Institutes Budget, Hiring Freeze Across State Government

Gov. Larry Hogan has said that the state is instituting a budget and hiring freeze amid estimates that Maryland is facing a projected $2.8 billion shortfall due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The governor also announced that he has directed the Maryland Department of Labor to take steps to bolster the state’s unemployment insurance process to handle an unprecedented surge in claims.

“The spread of this deadly virus is wreaking havoc on our national and state economies, on small businesses, and the people of our state,” Gov. Hogan said. “In addition to defeating this invisible enemy and saving thousands of lives, there is nothing more important to me than getting our economy and our people back on their feet.”

Go to mdunemployment.com for more information.



Maryland Secretary of State, Attorney General Warn of Possible Charity Scams

The Federal Trade Commission has reported that scammers are taking advantage of fears surrounding the coronavirus, including through the sale of counterfeit products and the solicitation of money and personal information. When charities request donations in response to the coronavirus, Marylanders may feel duty-bound to donate in an effort to help their neighbors.

Maryland’s Secretary of State John C. Wobensmith and Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh are cautioning Marylanders to be vigilant and to donate wisely.

“During uncertain times, con artists prey on your generosity and create scams, frauds or deceptive acts to line their own pockets,” warns Secretary Wobensmith. “Be sure you know who you are giving to, and remember it is always best to give directly to well-established, reputable charitable organizations.”

The Office of the Secretary of State registers and regulates charitable organizations that solicit charitable contributions in Maryland. Together with the Attorney General’s Office, the Secretary of State’s Office works to ensure that charitable contributions go to qualified charitable organizations and are used for their intended purpose.

For more tips on how to give wisely, Marylanders can visit the Maryland Attorney General’s Office, Consumer Protection Division publication Consumer’s Edge Charitable Giving Tips.

The Office of the Secretary of State maintains a public registry of charitable organizations authorized to solicit in Maryland. For more information and to search the registry, please visit the Secretary of State’s charities database.

If you think that you have been a victim of a deceptive or illegal charitable solicitation, call 410-974-5521 or 1-800-825-4510.



St. Mary’s County COVID-19 Call Center Operational Changes

Due to diminished need, as evidenced by reduced call volume, the St. Mary’s County Coronavirus Call Center will eliminate Saturday hours beginning Saturday, April 11. The call center will resume normal weekday hours Monday through Friday from 8 am to 5 pm beginning Monday, April 13.

The call center was opened March 12 in response to community demand for further information and questions regarding the rapidly evolving virus. Community members should still consult with their primary care physician with personal health questions; however, for general questions about COVID-19, residents may call the hotline at 301-475-4911.

Language line interpretation services are available during all hotline operational hours for Spanish and other languages, including Punjabi, French, Arabic, Mandarin, Neali, and more.


Transit System Implements Service Reductions

To mitigate the spread of COVID-19, please use public transit for essential travel only. Essential travel means taking trips to work, hospitals, health care providers, pharmacies, grocery stores, banks, food distribution centers, schools, to provide care for family members, and other similar destinations. By reducing unnecessary travel, transit becomes safer for those who depend on it, especially essential health care workers, and for those who operate it.

St. Mary’s County Transit System has enacted enhanced daily wipe-down of buses and paratransit vehicles; and disinfecting areas with high passenger touchpoints.

Effective, April 6, to more efficiently deploy resources to core bus service, STS will temporarily discontinue the following bus routes: Rt. 3, Rt. 6, Rt. 14, Rt. 7 on Saturdays. Riders needing assistance with trip planning can contact the STS Transit Information Contact Center from 6 am to 6 pm Monday through Friday at 301-475-4200, ext. 1120 or 1121.

Service Status

St. Mary’s County STS Bus System will implement **New** service reductions on all parts of the STS System modes effective Monday, April 6, 2020.
Local Fixed Route Bus – to minimize operator contact, passenger must place fare or ticket in the fare box or show their monthly pass or daily pass while boarding the bus.

No more than 9 passengers are allowed on the bus at a time. Additional riders must wait until the following hour to ride the bus. First responders and medical service workers will be given priority boarding.

Monday through Friday STS will follow these supplemental schedules:
Rt. 7 Southern Route – Every hour, 6 am to 6:45 pm
Rt. 11 Great Mills/California Route – Every hour, 6 am to 7 pm
Rt. 12 Leonardtown Route NB/SB – Every hour, 6 am to 7 pm

Saturday STS will follow these supplemental schedules:

Rt. 11 Great Mills/California Route – Every hour, 6 am to 7 pm
Rt. 12 Leonardtown Route NB/SB – Every hour, 6 am to 7 pm

Sunday Service
No Service on Sunday, April 12, 2020, in observance of the Easter Holiday.

Sunday schedule starting April 19, 2020:

Rt. 11 Great Mills/California Route – 6 am to 7 pm
Rt. 12 Leonardtown – 6 am to 7 pm

Call the STS dispatcher at 301-475-4200, ext. 71120, with questions.



St. Mary’s County Health Officer Dr. Meenakshi Brewster offers a reminder to local retail establishments on the importance of social distancing requirements. Read her open letter to the community here.


New Hours for St. Mary’s County Drive-Thru COVID-19 Testing

Beginning April 9, the hours for drive-thru testing for COVID-19 at MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital will change to noon to 2 pm. Testing will continue to be available Monday through Friday and is offered in front of the Outpatient Pavilion.

Individuals who are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms (including cough, fever, and shortness of breath) should call their primary health care provider or call ahead to a local urgent care or the hospital’s Emergency Department. Anyone who is experiencing a medical emergency, should call 9-1-1.

Community members may call the COVID-19 Community Hotline at 301-475-4911 for COVID-19 information. Health department nurses are available through the hotline to discuss concerns and assist in coordinating testing for those who do not have a primary care provider.

In order to be tested in the drive-thru, individuals must:

  • Be a St. Mary’s County resident
  • Have a prescription for testing from a primary care provider or the St. Mary’s County Health Department
  • Present a valid photo ID
  • Remain in their vehicle and an associate will come out to them

Please only consider testing if you have symptoms and think you may have been exposed to COVID-19.

Community members, health care providers, and local business owners are encouraged to visit the St. Mary’s County Health Department’s website for local COVID-19 updates and information at www.smchd.org/coronavirus.


Governor Activates Statewide Strike Teams for Nursing Homes, Enacts Order to Shut Down Unsafe Facilities

On Tuesday, Gov. Larry Hogan toured the state’s field hospital site at the Baltimore Convention Center, where he announced additional actions to slow the spread of COVID-19. Actions the governor announced April 7 include:

  • New strike teams to help nursing home facilities in need of additional support
  • A new executive order empowering local health departments to shut down any business, establishment, or construction site it deems unsafe
  • The release of additional demographic breakdowns of Maryland case data, including hospitalization rates and mortality
  • The governor also announced that the White House and federal officials have now designated the Baltimore-Washington corridor as an emerging hotspot. This includes Baltimore City and Baltimore County, as well as Anne Arundel, Calvert, Carroll, Charles, Frederick, Harford, Howard, Montgomery, Prince George’s, and Queen Anne’s counties.

Hearing to Consider Proposed Ordinance for Supplemental Appropriations Related to COVID-19 Response

The St. Mary’s County commissioners will hold a public hearing Tuesday, April 21, 2020, at 9:15 am in the Chesapeake Building at 41770 Baldridge St. in Leonardtown, to consider a proposed ordinance for supplemental appropriations to the county’s FY2020 General Fund Operating Budget.

The commissioners will consider a supplemental appropriation of $3 million to fund costs related to emergency expenses associated with COVID-19. The source would be the FY2019 fund balance that was not applied in the FY2021 recommended budget. This action allows the County to continue to respond to the needs of its citizens during this emergency.

Due to social distancing guidelines at this time the public hearing will not be open to the public. The press may attend. The Public Hearing may be viewed on Channel 95 and YouTube. Citizens may also listen to the Public Hearing by calling 301-579-7236; Access code: 963443.

In lieu of appearance, comments may be submitted via:

  • Written comments via email: [email protected]
  • Mail: P.O. Box 653 Leonardtown, Md, 20650
  • Call 301-475-4200, ext. 1234 to speak via telephone during the public hearing.
  • Submit a three-minute video clip to [email protected] from Friday, April 10, at 8 am through Thursday, April 16, at 5 pm.



Local Resource Guide Developed on Telehealth Options for Behavioral Health Support

The COVID-19 pandemic may cause strong feelings of fear, anxiety, sadness, and uncertainty in our community. Older people, people with chronic illnesses, youth, health care workers, and first responders, and people with mental health conditions may be particularly impacted by the stress of the pandemic.

The St. Mary’s County Health Department has created a Telehealth Resource Guide to provide information on local behavioral health resources (mental health, substance use, and crisis services) that are providing support through phone or video during this pandemic. Reaching out for help may provide relief and tools to cope during this stressful time. Individuals with pre-existing mental health conditions should continue with their treatment plans and monitor for any new or worsening symptoms.

For local COVID-19 updates and resources, visit www.smchd.org/coronavirus – click on Mental Health, Substance Use & Crisis Support for more information.

Crisis Resources

The Southern Maryland Center for Family Advocacy

Free legal advocacy, case management, crisis management, and emergency shelter services for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault in St. Mary’s County.

Maryland’s Helpline

Available 24 hours/7 days a week to callers in need of crisis intervention, risk assessment for suicide, homicide or overdose prevention, support, guidance, and information or linkage to community behavioral health providers.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

Available 24 hours/7 days a week and provides free and confidential support for people in distress and crisis. Online chat feature and language services available.



Nursing Home Facilities Required to Provide Personal Protective Equipment for Staff

Gov. Larry Hogan on Sunday enacted an emergency order to protect residents and staff at Maryland nursing home facilities, and bolster the state’s mitigation and suppression efforts amid outbreaks of COVID-19.

New directives require facilities to direct all staff who interact with residents to wear personal protective equipment, create separate observation and isolation areas for residents, and expedite all testing through the Maryland State Public Health Laboratory.

On March 10, the Maryland Department of Health issued guidance to long-term and continuing care facilities to restrict visitation and begin implementing infection control protocols. The directives requires nursing home facilities to adjust and strengthen their policies, protocols, and procedures in line with all state and federal guidance related to COVID-19, and immediately adopt a series of enhanced protective measures:

PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT FOR STAFF. All personnel who are in close contact with residents of nursing homes shall wear personal protective equipment (PPE), including a face mask, appropriate eye protection, gloves, and gown. The PPE should be worn at all times while providing care to residents in the facility and personnel should follow CDC guidance for using personal protective equipment. Facilities must use the process established by MDH to request PPE from the state.

EXPEDITED TESTING FOR SYMPTOMATIC RESIDENTS. All facilities must use the most expeditious means available for testing. This includes using either a COVID-19 test kit provided by the state laboratory or another lab to send specimens to the state laboratory for expedited COVID-19 testing of residents and staff. Symptomatic residents of nursing homes and long-term care facilities are among the patient groups prioritized by the state laboratory, alongside hospitalized patients and symptomatic health care providers and first responders.

SEPARATE OBSERVATION AREAS. All facilities must designate a unit of staff who are assigned to care for known or suspected COVID-19 residents; designate a room, unit, or floor of the nursing home as a separate observation area where newly admitted and readmitted residents are kept for 14 days on contact and droplet precautions while being observed every shift for signs and symptoms of COVID-19; and designate a room, unit, or floor of the nursing home to care for residents with known or suspected COVID-19.

PLACEMENT OF DISCHARGED PATIENTS. MDH’s Office of Health Care Quality will assist acute care hospitals, if necessary, in discharging patients who require nursing-home level care.  Facilities must cooperate with the Office of Health Care Quality and hospitals in the placement of discharged patients.

RIGHT OF RETURN FOR RESIDENTS. Nursing home residents admitted or seen at a hospital for COVID-19 must be allowed to return to the nursing home as long as the facility can follow the approved CDC recommendations for transmission-based precautions. If the residents must temporarily go to other facilities, every effort must be made by the receiving and original nursing homes to transfer the residents back to their original nursing homes as soon as possible.


Police Urge Voluntary Compliance of Faith Community

Maryland State Police Superintendent Col. Woodrow Jones III is urging the faith community to be informed and to comply with the order as it applies to holding services.

“Maryland’s law enforcement officers are dedicated to helping keep our citizens as safe as possible and are working diligently around the state to ensure the Governor’s Executive Order is complied with,” Col. Jones said. “My hope is that our faith community leaders recognize the importance of the safety measures that have been implemented and will not risk the health of their congregations by holding services in a way that violates the regulations put in place during this emergency. Technology provides us all with unique alternatives that I hope will be implemented as a necessary and important option until it is safe to once again gather to worship in the way you choose to.”

The executive order prohibits groups of more than 10 people from assembling and those groups of 10 or less must maintain social distancing of at least six feet between individuals. Churches, synagogues, and mosques have been included in the list of non-essential businesses that are required to close their normal operations.

Some minimal operations at a religious facility can continue:

Drive-In Religious Services: Churches, synagogues, mosques, temples, and other similar religious facilities of any faith (“religious facilities”) may conduct drive-in services, where participants gather in their vehicles near the religious facility and participate in the service together by remote means, subject to the following requirements, which are intended to protect public health, safety, and welfare:

Participants may leave their homes to travel by vehicle to and from the religious facility, and must remain in their vehicle at all times.

No vehicle may contain more than 10 persons.

Participants may not interact physically with clergy, staff, or participants in other vehicles. This includes, but is not limited to, collecting donations by basket or plate.

Limited In-Person Services: Clergy may conduct limited in-person services at their respective religious facilities, and participants may leave their homes to travel to and from the religious facility for such services, subject to the following requirements, which are intended to protect public health, safety, and welfare:

No more than 10 persons, including clergy, staff and participants, may be present inside the religious facility during the service.

Participants may not interact physically with clergy, staff, or participants. This includes, but is not limited to, collecting donations by basket or plate.

Participants, clergy, and staff must be at least six feet apart from one another at all times, except for participants that are part of the same household; and comply with all applicable guidance from the CDC and MDH regarding social distancing.

There must be at least a four hour gap between the end of one in-person service and the beginning of the next in-person service. The religious facility should be cleaned between services, in accordance with CDC cleaning and disinfection guidance.

Minimal Operations at Religious Facilities: Clergy and other staff of religious facilities are permitted to continue conducting minimal operations, provided that they comply with all applicable guidance from the CDC and MDH regarding social distancing. In the case of religious facilities, the term “minimal operations” includes, but is not necessarily limited to, facilitating remote services.


Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about the Maryland stay-at-home order. (Updated April 10)



Food Programs Continue in St. Mary’s

St. Mary’s County Public Schools will provide a drive-up lunch service from April 6 through 17, 2020, Monday through Friday, at four locations from 11:30 am to 12:30 pm.

Please note there will be no school site meal distribution on the designated holidays of Friday, April 10, and Monday, April 13. Meals will be offered to all children 18 and younger free of charge. Parents and children can drive up to these locations and receive meals that they can take home during current school closures.

  • Leonardtown Elementary School at 22885 Duke St., Leonardtown
  • Greenview Knolls Elementary School at 45711 Military Lane, Great Mills
  • Margaret Brent Middle School at 29675 Point Lookout Road, Mechanicsville
  • Lexington Park Elementary School at 46763 Shangri-La Drive, Lexington Park

For questions regarding the lunch service program, email [email protected].

St. Mary’s Caring Soup Kitchen at 20850 Langley Road in Lexington Park is distributing take-and-go meals between 10:30 am and 1 pm Monday through Saturday. One meal per person.

The soup kitchen also has bagged lunch distribution sites on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, with a Pop-Up Pantry on Wednesdays between 11 am and 12:30 pm in the parking lot at the following locations:

  • Ridge – Dollar General at 13270 Point Lookout Road
  • Piney Point- Chief’s Restaurant at 44584 Tall Timbers Road
  • Charlotte Hall – April’s Pools on the corner of routes 5 and 6
  • Bushwood – Sacred Heart Catholic Church at 23080 Maddox Road

For more information on the St. Mary’s Caring program, call 301-863-5700.

Sheetz is proud to announce a new Kidz Meal Bagz program providing free food to help children and families in need as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Meal Bagz will be available all-day starting Thursday, April 2, and will include a turkey sandwich, chips and a drink.

Families interested in taking advantage of the free Kidz Meal Bagz program should go to participating Sheetz locations and ask an employee at the register for a meal. Families will be offered one bag per child and meals will be available daily while supplies last.

The Kidz Meal Bagz program will be available at 293 stores across Pennsylvania, Maryland, Ohio, North Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia. The program began April 2 and is scheduled for a period of two weeks at which time it will be reevaluated based on community need.

A list of participating Sheetz locations can be found here.


Survey for Local Health Care Workers – Workforce Reserve for COVID-19

In an effort to prepare the health care workforce and optimize resources at the local level for COVID-19 response, the St. Mary’s County Health Department is issuing a survey to health care workers in order to establish reserve capacity. This effort will help identify those workers who may be able to assist with the frontlines of this pandemic.

SMCHD asks any licensed or previously licensed health care worker who may be willing to volunteer or work above and beyond their current employment (whether you are unemployed, retired, or you are currently working and could possibly work additional hours) to complete the following survey as soon as possible.

“The dedication of our local health care workforce to support and serve our community during this time of great need is exceptional,” said Dr. Meena Brewster, St. Mary’s County health officer. “We understand the stress and physical demands that are being placed on our health care system even as we prepare for a medical surge.”

Consider lending support for fellow frontline health care workers needing respite by helping to build local reserve capacity. The willingness of health care workers to serve the community in this crisis demonstrates their commitment to the health of residents and to one another.

If you have any questions about the survey, email [email protected] or call 301-475-4330.


Coffee with the Sheriff Canceled

Due to the statewide closures of senior activity centers, the Coffee with the Sheriff event at the Loffler Senior Activity Center, scheduled for April 17, has been canceled.

Additional Coffee with the Sheriff events are scheduled for Friday, Aug. 14, at 9:30 am at the Northern Senior Activity Center and Friday, Nov. 14, at 9:30 am at the Garvey Senior Activity Center.

For more information, visit www.stmarysmd.com/aging, or call 301-475-4200, ext. 71050.


Tri-County Youth Services Has 24-Hour Service Line

Tri-County Youth Services Bureau office is closed, but the school and office-based counselors continue to provide services to children, youth, and families, via telehealth portals, either through telephone or video conference. Counseling sessions are confidential, and the counselor is there to help maintain positive mental health during this time.

Those who would like more information, or if they would like to make a referral for services, contact TCYSB Monday through Friday from 9 am to 5 pm at 301-259-1076.

A 24-hour service line is 301-645-1837. That line is open seven days a week, 24 hours a day.



Hogan Enacts Emergency Orders to Expand Telehealth, Upgrade Designation of Disabilities Services Personnel

Gov. Larry Hogan issued two emergency orders April 1 to further support Marylanders during the COVID-19 pandemic, including the expansion of telehealth services and the designation of disabilities services personnel as health care providers.

Earlier April 1, Maryland reported 1,985 confirmed cases of COVID-19—an increase of 325 new cases, which is the largest one-day increase to date. The Maryland Department of Health announced 13 additional deaths as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, bringing the state’s total to 31 deaths. There are now more than 4,000 COVID-19 cases in the national capital region.

EXPANDING TELEHEALTH SERVICES IN MARYLAND. Gov. Hogan issued an executive order that amends the previous May 20 order regarding telehealth by expanding these services beyond audio-only methods. With this order, healthcare providers may engage in asynchronous telehealth services, such as email, provided that any and all telehealth practices are clinically appropriate, properly documented, and otherwise comply with proper standards of care. These telehealth services are also eligible for reimbursement by Medicaid. Read the amended executive order.

HEALTH CARE DESIGNATION FOR DISABILITIES SERVICE PERSONNEL. Gov. Hogan issued an executive order ensuring that workers who provide important support services to the disabled will be treated as health care providers under the recently-enacted Families First Coronavirus Response Act. This order officially recognizes the essential function of services for the disabled—including in-home care, interpreting services, social services, and support systems for substance abuse and mental illness—and designates those who provide these services as essential health care providers.



Health Department: Community Spread Confirmed

The St. Mary’s County Health Department has confirmed additional positive cases of the novel coronavirus in county residents, bringing the total case count to 23. Additionally, there is now strong evidence of community spread of COVID-19 in St. Mary’s County. Community spread is the passage of illness from person to person without known risks, such as travel or contact with a confirmed case.

For local COVID-19 case count, updates, and information, go to www.smchd.org/coronavirus or call the COVID-19 hotline at 301-475-4911 Monday through Saturday from 8 am to 5 pm.

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