Worcester County officials held a Covid-19 press conference at the West Ocean City Park and Ride on Wednesday morning. Worcester County Health Officer Rebecca Jones, Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan, County Commissioners President Joe Mitrecic, Atlantic General Hospital CEO Michael Franklin, and State Senator Mary Beth Carozza were in attendance.
The Latest Data
Worcester County is now reporting a total of 737 Covid-19 cases and a 7-day average positivity rate of 3.11%. There are 21 confirmed deaths in the county.
Since the opening of the Pocomoke and West Ocean City Park and Ride testing locations, 3,300 tests have been processed. These tests make up more than a quarter of all tests conducted in Worcester County. Testing is also offered at the Ocean City Convention Center. The county has monitored more than 1,500 individuals who were potentially exposed to Covid-19.
Throughout the press conference, officials stressed the importance of wearing masks. A large sign situated beside the podium read, “Why Masks Matter.”
Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan
Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan discussed the difficulties of slowing the spread of Covid-19. He also thanked local and state officials for their support. “We haven’t had a lot to celebrate in 2020, but it’s certainly a celebration to see so many members of our elected government and our elected officials here,” Meehan said. His catchphrase, “expect the unexpected,” is typically a reference to the threat of hurricanes. This year, it’s entirely about Covid-19.
Meehan made headlines across Maryland on July 31, when he enacted an emergency declaration to mandate the wearing of masks on the Boardwalk from 8 a.m. to 2 a.m. Just two days prior, Governor Larry Hogan announced that masks are required in any situation where social distancing is not possible, even outdoors. Meehan continues to stand by his directive.
When addressing the importance of masks, the mayor alluded to the national controversy over their use. “If you look at the science of why masks matter, we should all be thinking about why to wear masks, not to look for reasons not to wear masks. Let’s look for reasons to wear masks. Let’s all continue to do that. It’s a very difficult time, and it’s tough sometimes to get everybody to comply. The more people that think about not just themselves, but others, the more successful we’ll be in moving Maryland forward,” Meehan said.
County Commissioners President Joe Mitrecic
After Meehan concluded his remarks, Worcester County Commissioners President and former Ocean City Councilman Joe Mitrecic took to the podium. “Since the beginning of the fight against Covid-19, the health of Worcester County residents and visitors has been and remains the top priority of all Worcester County officials,” Mitrecic said. He added that the commissioners enacted special preparedness measures early in the crisis and continue to take action.
Mitrecic went on to thank Health Officer Rebecca Jones. “I’d like to thank Becky Jones and her staff for their tireless efforts to keep Worcester County safe. I was joking the other day that someone in the public refers to Becky as our Dr. Fauci, but we don’t want that at all. She’s a pillar to this community and is keeping us safe,” Mitrecic said.
Atlantic General Hospital CEO Michael Franklin
Atlantic General Hospital CEO Michael Franklin spoke about coordinating with the health department and opening testing locations. “One of the nice things about being in a smaller, more rural area is that we seem to be more flexible and adaptable than some of the larger metropolitan areas. We’ve been able to mobilize different testing sites,” Franklin said. The hospital has aided with testing in Pocomoke, and to date, over 1,700 tests have been conducted there. Franklin also touted the availability of PPE for local hospital workers throughout the crisis. He said that no employee has transmitted the virus while on the job. This has allowed them to effectively test such a large number of residents and visitors.
State Senator Mary Beth Carozza
Following Franklin’s remarks, State Senator Mary Beth Carozza discussed the strong bonds between state and local officials. “This Covid-19 recovery event is about partnerships and people. Look at these partnerships today, starting with Governor Hogan at the state level. We’ve got MEMA here, the department of health, the incident command center. We have our county leadership, the Town of Ocean City, and we have our healthcare partners here,” Carozza said.
The senator also paid tribute to the healthcare workers. “I’ve been out here when it’s 90-some degrees, and people are lining up early. It’s hot, and people have questions and their appointments to get tested. There is a welcoming, knowledgeable staff that’s greeting them, getting them through this process quickly,” Carozza said.
She added that she has received calls from business owners dealing with their own Covid-19 situations. The health department has been ready to assist those businesses.
Health Officer Rebecca Jones
Health Officer Rebecca Jones concluded the press conference by acknowledging the people of Worcester County. “We want to end with recognizing the Worcester residents who have complied with isolation and quarantine procedures due to either testing positive for COVID-19 or being a close contact. We know how difficult it is to stay isolated when we all want to get back to normal as soon as possible. Your sacrifice and diligence are helping so much as we continue towards recovery as a State. You are all public health heroes,” Jones said.
To find a Covid-19 testing site, click here.
To watch the full press conference, click here.
Call (410) 632-1100, option 8 to make an appointment for a test with the Worcester County Health Department.