We were all shocked by the planned attack on Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh at his home in Montgomery County this week, and I want to thank the Montgomery County Police Department, the U.S. Marshals, and the FBI for their work to keep the Justice, his family, and the community safe. Violent behavior, or even the threat of it, is never acceptable regardless of any ideological differences. Violence in any form will not be tolerated in this County.
Our police arrested the man who was armed and traveled from California before arriving in the neighborhood and calling for help. We’re all grateful that this didn’t end with bloodshed or the loss of life, and it’s an opportunity to highlight the great need we have for mental health help in our nation. While the man will likely face federal charges of attempted murder and carrying a weapon, the judge will likely order a mental health evaluation as well.
We have a mental health crisis in this nation and the County. We are working to address these issues here in Montgomery County in our schools and elsewhere.
In schools throughout the County, we have student support teams that consist of school counselors, school psychologists, pupil personnel workers, and school nurses to help all children work through issues they come forward with. Following an individual or school-wide crisis, these teams provide the necessary support, care and interventions needed to help students, families and staff feel safe and secure. Our recently approved Fiscal Year 2023 budget expands these programs to give even more Montgomery County families access to this help.
People can reach out for help by calling or texting the hotline 301-738-2255.
Additionally, there is Access to Behavioral Health Services, which is a mental health screening and referral program that provides assessment and helps low-income adults living in Montgomery County who have no insurance. The program also helps people who abuse drugs as an attempt to cope. Infomontgomery.org is a wonderful resource to explore online that covers topics like mental health.
We believe in the hope and promise of science and research
Since taking office, I have been focused on building on our strengths in biosciences. The sector is booming I’m proud of the fact that we have 3 million square feet in lab space under development in Montgomery County right now and we are the heart of the fourth largest cluster for biotech companies in our region.
Covid cases decline in County, BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants on the rise
This week’s COVID-19 numbers show a decline in new case rates. For the first time in nearly a month we are once again below 300 cases per 100,000 residents, a more than 20 percent drop from last week. The hospitalization rate has also decreased slightly, and CDC community level status remains at medium.
The B-A 2 strains continue to make up nearly 90 percent of new cases reported in our region; however, the B-A 4 and 5 strains now account for about 10 percent of new cases—a significant jump over the last two weeks. The threat of new variants only emphasizes the need for people to continue to take safety measures seriously like cleaning your hands frequently, wearing a mask in crowded indoor spaces and on public transportation.
Vaccination status matters
Our unvaccinated COVID-19 case rates are four times higher than those that are vaccinated. And if you are vaccinated, you need to be boosted. The efficacy of these vaccines wanes and even if you caught COVID-19 before, you could still catch it again.
And through all of this, long covid remains a real “thing”. Covid can have both long-term and short-term health impacts that can be serious. According to an April report from the Journal of Infectious Diseases, 49 percent of COVID-19 survivors reported persistent symptoms four months after diagnosis. We want to remain vigilant and serious about COVID-19 in this County, and we continue to remind you to follow the guidance and best practices we know that work to help keep you and your family safe this summer.
A summer to learn
We all look forward to the summer, but I want to remind parents that it is also an excellent opportunity to help struggling students catch up with their classmates. Recovering from learning loss due to the pandemic is a priority for all our students.
We are fortunate that we have been able to fund more MCPS summer school programs as well as career and mentorship opportunities to help students make up what they have missed. Most programs will not start until July, but they run the gamut from early college classes to elementary school lessons.
The curriculum is designed to support students who need additional or repeated instruction in the major work of the previous grade level and/or are currently below-grade level in reading or math, with an emphasis on foundational skills. Some students may receive specific outreach from their local school based on need. And most importantly all summer classes are free to families.
Furthermore, our Recreation Department, County municipalities, Montgomery College and community partners, such as recently opened IgniteHub and Kid Museum in Bethesda, are also providing our youth engaging educational offerings throughout the summer.
But the most important educational engagement a child can have over the summer is the encouragement and engagement of parents, grandparents’ guardians, and peers to continue to read, learn, and explore throughout their summer break.
As always my appreciation for all you do,
Marc ElrichCounty Executive