Monday, March 16, 2020

Montgomery County coronavirus briefing deemed "a hot mess," MoCo admits true case count unknown

Some retail property owners
prepare for takeout-only dining as
nationwide COVID-19 lockdown looms

If Montgomery County Government's Facebook Live skills are indicative of its overall coronavirus response, we may be in real trouble, some citizens who tried to watch a Sunday online briefing concluded. "What a hot mess," one viewer commented during the glitch-ridden livestream. "This does not bode well for the count[y's] ability to respond to this pandemic," she added.

"No one can get important info," another viewer commented. "MoCo you need to fix this." One viewer noted there was no sign language interpreter visible in the livestream. "Video and sound keep going in and out...why can't we watch?" asked another.

Later the County acknowledged the technical issues. The press conference would be provided as a recording later, officials promised. Resident interest in more information from officials was piqued by several dramatic coronavirus-related announcements by Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, and ThinkFoodGroup's decision to be the first major restaurant company to shutter its businesses to encourage people to stay home as coronavirus cases continue to multiply.
New curbside pickup parking
spaces at Bethesda Row
In related news, an official County coronavirus update email sent to residents acknowledged that the "official" number of coronavirus cases - which is relatively low but multiplying each day - can't be considered accurate. We have the same lack of testing here as has been the case nationwide. Criteria limiting who may be tested remains in place, primarily because there still aren't enough test kits for the number of patients asking to be tested. County officials said Montgomery County police have had to be summoned several times when patients grew disorderly after being denied a coronavirus test.
At the federal level, new domestic travel recommendations or restrictions and potential lockdowns may be announced as early as today. There have been discussions regarding restricting or discouraging interstate travel and use of air travel within the United States. Many have called for a nationwide "social distancing" lockdown that would close all businesses except for grocery stores, pharmacies and banks, as was instituted by Italy. President Trump is said to be reviewing all options in the context of the current coronavirus case numbers.
Bethesda Row property owner Federal Realty was one of the first to take concrete steps if federal or state authorities were to mandate restaurants operate only as takeout businesses or drive-thrus. In the last few days, new "curbside pickup" parking spaces were added. They have a 10-minute time limit for restaurant employees to bring out whatever packaging is still legal this week in ban-happy Montgomery County.

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