UPPER MARLBORO, Md. — Maryland is not providing enough resources and testing as the county struggles to reopen due to rising coronavirus cases, Prince George's County Executive Angela Alsobrooks alleged during a news conference Thursday.
Prince George's County has the highest number of positive COVID-19 cases in Maryland with over 10,000 residents diagnosed and over 350 deaths.
Alsobrooks said the county has sent a letter to the state requesting more personal protection equipment, adequate testing kits, and additional contact tracers to meet the metrics to move towards Phase 1 of reopening.
The county has been waiting patiently to receive state resources and even tried to acquire their own resources in an effort to get what they need, Alsobrooks said.
"We can't reopen because we don't have the resources to do so safely," said Alsobrooks. "We need the state to do its part."
A big problem the county is facing is that they have a large number of asymptomatic people who are walking the streets every day, Alsobrooks said.
This is an issue because the county has not expanded its testing capacity to asymptomatic residents due to the lack of testing resources. Now, one of the county's focus is to test more asymptomatic people before leaders feel comfortable enough to reopen.
The county wants to reach a testing capacity of 3,500 tests a week and open additional testing sites in the northern and southern parts of the region to get adequate testing for residents.
Alsobrooks said Prince George's County averages nine deaths per day. She said although the county has seen a slight reduction of COVID-19 cases, data shows the county has the highest coronavirus testing positivity rate with one-third of the people testing positive compared to the states overall average of one-fifth.
The county has also worked to increase hospital capacity as they now reach 40 percent over what they are used to in ICU units due to COVID-19 patients, Alsobrooks added.
In April, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan negotiated with suppliers in South Korea to obtain a half-million coronavirus tests after President Donald Trump put the burden on states and their governors to independently get more medical supplies during the coronavirus pandemic instead of relying on federal help.
Hogan has since told the Maryland National Guard and state police officers to guard the tests to prevent the federal government from taking them, according to the Washington Post.
Now, county leaders are asking the administration to ship the testing kits to impacted areas in Maryland.
"If Prince Georgians are sick, so is the state of Maryland," Alsobrooks said.
With the new shared data, Alsobrooks signed an executive order extending the county's stay-at-home order to June 1 while the rest of the state moves to partially reopen on Friday. She said the county is not ready to go into Phase 1 and will continue to seek advice from health officials and leaders of hospital systems in Prince George's County.
"We don’t want one jurisdiction open and another closed and having residents visit several areas," said Alsobrooks. "We are working to make sure things are consistent."