Friday, March 6, 2020

Coronavirus cases in Montgomery County confirmed, MCPS preparing for potential school closures if needed

Hogan declares state of emergency
after 3 MoCo residents test
positive for COVID-19

Three people in Montgomery County have tested positive for coronavirus, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) announced Thursday evening. Officials will not reveal the specific parts of Montgomery County where the three individuals live, where they traveled overseas, or what public places they have visited since returning from their travels. Hogan described them only as a married couple in their seventies, and an individual in his or her fifties.

At a press conference, Hogan said he had informed Vice-President Mike Pence of the three Maryland COVID-19 cases. Pence is leading the Trump administration's federal coronavirus response effort. Hogan also alerted Montgomery County officials, including Montgomery County Public Schools Superintendent Jack Smith. The state's Emergency Operations Center has been activated, Hogan said.

Shortly afterward, MCPS released its own statement, which emphasized in boldface that schools will not be closed for coronavirus Friday. The statement said that there is no evidence the three patients, who Hogan said are under quarantine, were in contact with MCPS students since returning from their overseas travel. However, MCPS did say they are preparing for the real possibility that schools will have to close for an undetermined period if the pandemic continues to worsen.

"This is exactly what our state has been actively and aggressively been preparing for," Hogan said. He said this will allow the state's emergency offices to increase cooperation and coordination with federal and local officials. "We encourage all Marylanders not to panic," the Maryland Emergency Management Agency tweeted. MEMA conducted a coronavirus preparedness conference call with emergency managers from local jurisdictions around the state Thursday.

County Executive Marc Elrich is scheduled to give an update on the coronavirus cases at 10:00 AM this morning. Hogan will hold his own press conference at the same time. How much more detail either will give regarding the current cases is unclear. There are increasing calls from the public to know which public establishments, and parts of the county, the three infected people may have spread the virus in over the many days between their return from overseas and yesterday's positive test results. No one expects the names and addresses of the individuals to be released, of course, but simply to know whether they may have been exposed to the virus.

Meanwhile, the EPA released an official list of disinfectants that kill coronavirus, or prevent its spread. Panic buying of such products, along with bottled water, paper goods and other necessities, continues. Can't find hand wipes or hand sanitizer at your nearby stores? Here is a recipe for how to make hand sanitizer disinfectant at home, using vodka or rubbing alcohol (although the latter is also hard to find in many stores, as well).

Thursday, March 5, 2020

Custom Ink opening Rockville location

Custom Ink plans to open its third Maryland location in Rockville this summer. The custom apparel and accessories store will be in Congressional Plaza on Rockville Pike, between Honeyfish Poke and Cartoon Cuts.

"From the softball teams at Dogwood Park to the medical programs at the NIH and the students at Montgomery College, Rockville is built around community,” Director of Store Operations Amanda Hanlon said in a statement Wednesday. “Custom Ink believes that every group can unite its members through the power of custom gear, and we’re delighted to open a local showroom in Rockville to help build that community bond.”

Photo courtesy Custom Ink

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

7-Eleven Montgomery Mall opening soon - here's a sneak peek (Video+Photos)

The new 7-Eleven store inside Westfield Montgomery Mall will be opening very soon. But a lot of the digital screens and equipment like the soda dispenser are already lit up and running inside. The signage is up on the exterior, as well. This store could have a big advantage over other 7-Eleven locations if the coronavirus gets out of control, as mall tenants do not have germ-laden doors you must handle to enter and exit, a good way to keep COVID-19 off your coffee cup.

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Gordon Biersch closed at Rockville Town Square, Buffalo Wild Wings temporarily closed

Gordon Biersch has closed at Rockville Town Square, perhaps the deepest blow to the struggling property so far. And a temporary closure of the neighboring Buffalo Wild Wings was providing another unneeded jump scare for RTS patrons Monday night. It turns out the chicken wing chain has only closed this location through this Thursday, for "equipment upgrades and installation."
Buffalo Wild Wings is temporarily closed
at Rockville Town Square; it will reopen Friday
Both restaurants have remained highly popular even as some of the center's longest-standing anchors have departed in recent years. The Rockville Gordon Biersch was dark Monday night. Large Home Depot packing boxes could be seen inside. A sign in the window thanked longtime customers, and directed GB fans to their not-so-convenient Annapolis location.

The closure is another body blow to the County's cratered nightlife scene, which collapsed in the wake of the Montgomery County Council's disastrous Nighttime Economy Task Force debacle, which saw eighteen nightspots shutter in downtown Bethesda alone. Gordon Biersch's demise is a rare one that isn't the direct result of County Council incompetence, however. The chain has closed many other locations, as well. Finnegan's Wake on Gibbs Street now finds itself the beneficiary of one fewer nightlife choice at RTS, as they gear up for their biggest day of the year, St. Patrick's Day.
"How doers get more done"

Derwood home invasion invader posed as package deliveryman, police say

A frightening and brazen home invasion in Derwood Friday was attempted by a man posing as a package deliveryman, Montgomery County police said. The man rang the doorbell at a home in the 7200 block of Titonka Way carrying a package and wearing a UPS/Fed Ex-style deliveryperson uniform. Believing a package was being delivered, the homeowner answered the door, only to have the man draw a gun.

The homeowner called out to a second resident inside the home. At this point, the invader forced his way into the foyer of the house, and threatened that he would kill both residents, police say. He then pushed one resident, and pistol whipped the other. The second resident was treated for injuries resulting from being struck on the head by the gun.
Alleged Derwood home invader (at far left) runs
to getaway white van
(top photo)
After the assault, the invader turned and fled the residence, dropping his box in the driveway as he ran. He leaped into a white Ford van and sped off, his run and getaway being recorded all the while by a neighbor's doorbell camera. Unless the footage was edited, it also appears a second individual was driving the white van, as it moves after the suspect is already at the door of the invaded home.

Anyone with information about this suspect or this home invasion robbery is asked to call the Major Crimes Division at 240-773-5100.

Monday, March 2, 2020

Lego "coming soon" signage, luggage store opens, Mattress Warehouse moving at Montgomery Mall

Highly-anticipated new addition to Westfield Montgomery Mall Lego Store has posted some "coming soon" signage at its future Bethesda location, opening this summer. The floor-to-ceiling screens mark off a storefront of significant size.

Meanwhile, in a potential case of unfortunate timing, a luggage store has opened between Nordstrom and Hanna Andersson on Level 1 just as coronavirus threatens to bring travel to a halt worldwide. Having said that, the luggage is of high quality, and now might be the time to stock up at better prices for future vacations.

Finally, mattresses are always big news in a bedroom community like economically-moribund Montgomery County, compared to the booming job centers elsewhere in our region. Mattress Warehouse is gearing up to move to the other side of the same wing it's in now.

Top Bethesda Land Rover repair business moving to Rockville

One of downtown Bethesda's most unique auto repair shops is relocating to Rockville. Independent Land Rover Specialists will shortly move its Bradley Boulevard Liberty gas station and River Road facilities into a new 12500 SF space at 5334 Marinelli Road in the White Flint area. The new location is within walking distance of the White Flint Metro station.
Aside from its proximity to one of the largest clusters of Land Rover owners in the region, Independent established its business servicing just Land Rovers, and every Land Rover - whether you own a 1948 or a 2020 Range Rover Velar. Rover aficionados in Bethesda will miss seeing the varied collection of vehicles parked outside their Liberty shop, but Rockville will be seeing more Land Rovers than ever now.