One Councilman Questions Purpose of the Announcement
As jurisdictions across Maryland and nationwide continue to experience rapidly increasing COVID-19 cases amid the contagious Delta variant, Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski declared a local state of emergency to expand Baltimore County’s ability to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Olszewski previously declared a local state of emergency on March 13, 2020, which remained in effect until July 9, 2021.
“Government has an obligation to do all we can to protect the health, safety and wellbeing of our residents. While we’ve made undeniable progress in our fight against this deadly virus, the rapid emergence of the Delta variant has made it clear that we need access to every tool in our toolbox to be able to respond to it,” Olszewski said.
“We remain committed to doing whatever is necessary to keep our residents as safe as possible and to ensure that when our children go back to school next week they can remain where they belong: inside the classroom.”
Baltimore County has been a leader in efficiently and effectively delivering vaccines to residents, with 74 percent of County residents aged 12 and older having received at least one dose.
However, since July 30, 2021, the 7-day case rate in Baltimore County has increased 376 percent, pushing Baltimore County within the CDC’s “substantial” transmission zone (50-99 cases per 100,000 residents) as vaccination rates vary from community to community.
The new local State of Emergency issued today will give Baltimore County the ability to quickly adopt emergency public health measures to protect the safety and wellbeing of residents, assist the County in requesting additional resources from the state and federal governments to support response and recovery efforts, and quickly procure materials and supply necessary for protecting public health.
The Baltimore County Council will hold a vote to consider continuation of the County’s state of emergency beyond August 31 in the coming days.
“Despite our best efforts to combat COVID-19 and vaccinate our residents, the continued spread of the Delta variant is deeply concerning and I applaud the County Executive’s leadership in declaring this local state of emergency,” Council Chairman Julian Jones said.
“I am certain my colleagues will agree that we must take every step to protect our residents by ensuring our government has all the tools to protect the public’s health, and I will convene an emergency council meeting to extend the local state of emergency within the next week.”
Seventh Councilman Todd Crandell said not all members of the Baltimore County Council were consulted on the decision to renew Baltimore County’s State of Emergency and he questions the significations of the decision.
“It appears that only certain Council members were made aware of the County Executive’s announcement of a new Local State of Emergency. I was not one of them, so currently I am not able to explain the reasoning behind the announcement. I now will have to ask the same questions I asked in the past, as the Local State of Emergency gives the County Executive powers to control aspects of commerce, public gatherings, and transportation. That’s it,” Crandell wrote on social media.
“There is no language in anything we researched, nor has the Administration proven to us, that a Local State of Emergency is necessary to procure state and federal aid to respond to the pandemic. In fact, the County has been operating without a State of Emergency with no slowing of its response for the last six weeks.”