FREDERICK COUNTY, Md. — Frederick County Executive Jan Gardner announced several new projects her administration has committed to funding through the American Rescue Plan Act.
Gardner said at a news briefing Tuesday afternoon that the federal government allocated Frederick County $50.4 million to help the community recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. Frederick received the first half of its funding, $25,206,981, on May 1.
Over the last several months, thousands of Frederick residents have provided feedback to leaders through surveys, round table discussions, emails and more sharing how they believe the funding should be spent.
Gardner said the federal government also has requirements for using the funds, such as equity, so Frederick has organized a review committee to ensure the funds are spent appropriately and fiscally responsibly.
From the feedback leaders have received, Gardner said Frederick has come up with seven pillars it is prioritizing as it uses the funds for the community's recovery: health, health disparities, children and families, economic recovery, mental health, seniors and—the foundation of these pillars—transportation. So far, 16 projects have been approved for the funds
Here's a look at how some of the American Rescue Plan Act funds will be allocated in Frederick.
- $810,000 will go to Visit Frederick, to help restore tourism in the county.
- $2 million will be spent to expand broadband and to enhance security for Frederick County Government's IT support system.
- $360,000 will go to senior apartments in Woodsboro and their major repairs and renovations.
- $2.5 million is committed to helping lost revenue at Citizens Care and Rehabilitation Center and Montevue Assisted Living, which are county-owned and had to change how they operated because of the pandemic.
- $300,000 is committed to helping the nonprofit called Advocates for Aging.
- $300,000 is committed for the nonprofit Rebuilding Together, which helps senior citizens and veterans be able to live in their homes.
- $125,000 is committed to a program called Program of All-Inclusive Care (PACE) for the Elderly, which would be a collaboration between the nonprofit Advocates for Aging and Frederick Health.
- $300,000 is committed to creating a maternal health disparity study that aims to improve outcomes for Black mothers and their infants by reducing infant mortality.
- $8 million will go to a program called Family Connects over a 4-year period. The program, created out of Duke University, aims to help families prepare children for a healthy future.
- $44,000 will go to the nonprofit Feeding Frederick to create a public awareness campaign about food insecurity.
- $265,000 will go to the Religious Coalition for Emergency Human Needs and will create the first emergency shelter in Frederick to house women and children.
- $250,000 will be used to create a COVID-19 memorial in Frederick to acknowledge the grief people have felt because of the pandemic.
- $600,000 will go upstate transit services software and hardware.
- $100,000 will be used to redesign Frederick's bus network and integrate it Transit-Plus service.
- $500,000 is committed to improving bus stops enhance pedestrian safety.
Gardner said there are many more projects in the works with these funds and she will announce more plans in the new year.
COVID-19 Update in Frederick
At Tuesday's media briefing, Frederick County Health Officer Dr. Barbara Brookmyer warned that there has been a "dramatic increase in [the county's] case rate" since the Maryland Department of Health started reporting new COVID-19 cases. For more than two weeks, MDH did not report any new cases due to a "network security incident" that took its reporting system offline.
Hospitalizations for COVID-19 are nearing the same level they were at a year ago, at the peak of the pandemic in the area, Brookmyer said.
Frederick Health data shows that of the 262 people currently hospitalized, 70 of the hospitalizations are COVID-19 related. The vast majority of inpatients, 59, are unvaccinated, compared to only 11 vaccinated inpatients. There are also 10 COVID-19 patients in the ICU.
Brookmyer urged residents to stay safe against COVID-19 and the omicron variant by getting vaccinated, boosted, and adhering to public health guidelines.
“We still have a ways to go as far as vaccination,” Brookmyer said.
Currently, only 67.2% of Frederick residents are fully vaccinated. Anyone who gets infected should talk to their doctor about monoclonal antibody treatment, Brookmyer said, which helps reduce COVID-19 symptoms early.
Both Brookmyer and Gardner urged residents to wear masks indoors. Frederick County does not have an indoor mask mandate, but on Dec. 16 Gardner issued a "mask advisory" in public spaces.
“I encourage churches and businesses to strongly consider requiring their visitors to wear masks during this busy time of year," Gardner said in a statement. "Please wear a mask in indoor public spaces, and if you haven’t already, get your vaccine or booster shot. The winter surge is preventable if everyone would get vaccinated, tested, and follow health advisories.”