Government, health, private groups respond to COVID-19 threat in Dorchester

CAMBRIDGE — Local groups representing government agencies, health services and private organizations have announced responses to the spread of COVID-19, with many cancellations and postponements of events. The Dorchester Banner has compiled a list of these announcements, though it remains a good idea to check on the availability of services in this quickly developing situation.

In case of possible exposure to the virus, health officials recommend:
Stay home and call your healthcare provider, who might be able to determine whether you’re really exhibiting symptoms and/or are at risk. If there is concern that you may have COVID-19, your provider will call a hospital’s Emergency Department before you come in, so they will be ready to meet you and screen you without potentially exposing others.

Currently, people are at risk who:
• Recently traveled to international geographic areas of concern
• Have close, personal contact with a person diagnosed with COVID-19
• Care for people with COVID-19
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
• Fever, coughing, shortness of breath, and in more severe cases, pneumonia (infection in the lungs)
Not everyone with these symptoms has COVID-19. Flu is widespread and may have similar symptoms.
For the most up-to-date information, visit trusted sources of information about the coronavirus:
• Maryland Dept. of Health, Delaware Dept. of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Cambridge City Manager Patrick Comiskey on Friday said:
The City of Cambridge will operate on limited services during the Maryland State of Emergency. City offices will be closed to the public.
City staff will still report to work and be on duty. Citizens conducting business must make an appointment by contacting the appropriate office.
The city will not accept cash payments until the state of emergency has been lifted. Water bills, tax payments or other fees must be paid by check or money order either through the mail or by depositing the payment in the city night drop box outside the MUC office door.
Anyone with a question or concern may contact city hall at 410-228-4020 or MUC 410-228-5440.

Dorchester Tourism Department on Friday said:
In this time of the COVID-19 virus, our local Dorchester County businesses are ramping up or changing their practices to follow recommendations from the CDC, with more frequent cleaning and disinfecting and other practices designed with safety in mind. We all also need to ramp up our hand-washing, and if you don’t feel well, please stay home! Here are a few things to know about local places to eat, shop, explore, and have fun. Subject to change. For more details, refer to the social media of each business.
• Most Dorchester restaurants, as well as our winery and brewery, are open. Many are offering take-out and/or delivery options.
• Most shops are open. Some are offering shipping of items.
• You can help local businesses by buying a gift certificate now to help them get through this time.
• Consider a delivery service like Beat The Rush Delivery for shopping or restaurant meals or other errands.
• Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center is open. Thee refuge’s Wildlife Drive and the walking trails are open. You can also walk the grounds at Handsell and Spocott Windmill and Village.
• Cambridge Premier Cinemas, Choptank Bowling Center, and Cabin Fever Play Center are all open.
• Other attractions and sites are closed, including the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center, Dorchester Visitor Center, Heritage Museums and Gardens of Dorchester, Harriet Tubman Museum & Educational Center, and the Dorchester County Public Library.
The Dorchester Visitor Center at Sailwinds Park will be closed until further notice. “This difficult decision was made in consideration of concerns for public health and safety,” a statement from the county’s Tourism Department said Friday.

From Delmarva Community Services on Friday:
Delmarva Community Services’ two senior centers will be closed for the next week to prevent spread of potential corona virus. We will be delivering meals to the homes of attendees and regular recipients of home delivered meals. Our senior information and assistance office will be closed, but is available for folks to call in for info, questions etc., at 410-221-1930 and 410-221-1900 ext. 138.

From Chesapeake College on Thursday:
Spring Break will be extended for students only through March 27. Effective immediately, Chesapeake College is closed to the general public. Events are canceled through April 30. Please visit www.chesapeake.edu/coronavirus for additional information.
From the Maryland Comptroller’s Office on Thursday:
Our offices are closed to the public until further notice. Taxpayers needing assistant should email taxhelp@marylandtaxes.gov. Starting March 16, taxpayers should try as much as possible use email or if needed, phone 1-800-MD-TAXES for assistance.
We will have employees returning calls and emails beginning March 16. We will continue to update the public as things change with the state of emergency regarding COVID-19/Coronavirus.
We encourage taxpayers filing individual tax returns to file electronically to minimize delays due to the state of emergency. We highly recommend using direct deposit if due a refund on your return.

From Shore Regional Health on Thursday:
Support group meetings, classes, seminars and professional gatherings scheduled in UM Shore Regional Health hospitals, outpatient and other facilities are canceled until further notice.
Phase 3 Cardiac Rehabilitation has been suspended in Cambridge, Chestertown, and Easton. Phase 3 patients are those who are not required to wear a monitor while in cardiopulmonary rehab.
Phase 2 patients should continue to keep scheduled appointments.

From Judy Center on Thursday:
Playgroups at the Judy Center have been suspended until further notice.
From University of Maryland Extension 4-H Program on Friday:
The program will suspend all in-person 4-H events, practices, club meetings, and programs through March 27.

From Dorchester Public Library on Thursday:
For the safety of our community and staff, we have made the decision to close both the Cambridge and Hurlock branches effective March 14-28.
All library programs and services are canceled until further notice, including Lego League, Story Time, and the Friends’ Book Sale. Groups using the Meeting Room at the Cambridge Library have been contacted to cancel or reschedule their times. All AARP Tax Assistance appointments through March 28th have also been canceled.
Patrons are encouraged to keep any materials currently checked out and return them when the library reopens. No fees will be accrued on materials during this closure. Patron holds will also be held for an additional week once the libraries reopen. Patrons may continue to use digital library services such as Hoopla, Libby and Overdrive with their library cards.
Thank you for your patience and cooperation as we all learn more about this developing situation. For the most current information regarding our closure, please visit our Facebook page or email us at infodesk@dorchesterlibrary.org.

From Dorchester County Public Schools on Thursday:
Dorchester County Public Schools logistical and administrative professionals spent most of Friday building a bus-based, food-distribution and feeding system involving nine public, church-based or commercial-based community locations.
Food (take home, prepared, semi-prepared meals) will be provided to students Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at nine outdoor, secured sites (Choptank, Hurlock, Vienna and Sandy Hill elementary schools, North Dorchester High School, New Beginnings Outreach, the Empowerment Center, Gethsemane UMC in Reliance and at the Goodwill parking lot in Cambridge) across Dorchester.
DCPS thanked Meals Til Monday and Charlie Fairchild of Fairchild Properties, LLC.

From Peninsula Regional Health System on Thursday:
If you’re not feeling well or if you don’t have to visit, in particular during this time of COVID-19, don’t visit.
• Visiting hours restricted to noon until 8 p.m. at Nanticoke and Peninsula Regional.
• No visitors under the age of 18 unless they are parents of hospitalized children. This includes infants and siblings across all areas of the hospitals.
• Limit of one visitor per patient. Only one person may accompany a patient into the hospital or into any of PRHS’s physician offices or immediate care centers. Additional visitors will not be permitted in the building and may not stay in lobbies or waiting areas. They may visit, but only after the first person has completed their visit and left the building.
• Visitors are required to check in at the front desk of any location.
• Visitors may be screened for flu-like symptoms (fever, cough, sore throat). Those exhibiting symptoms will be asked to leave and referred to their primary care provider. They will not be allowed to visit.
• If screening questions determine a visitor has traveled internationally, they will not be allowed to visit patients until after 14 days back in the United States.
• Labor and Delivery will be restricted to two visitors including the professional support person/post-partum helper.
Exceptions will be considered on a case-by-case basis for situations including events such as end of life. PRHS encourages friends, family and loved ones to use electronic devices and applications (phones, FaceTime, Skype, etc.) to keep in contact.
Enhanced safety precautions remain in place at the Chesapeake Cove Assisted Living Center and the Tawes Nursing Home in Crisfield. Visitation is restricted to one person, per visit, per resident at either facility, and limited only to those above the age of 18.
All people visiting will be screened upon entry at the reception desk for cold, flu-like or respiratory symptoms, and asked a series of questions about international travel, recent contact with others who have been ill and if they are employed at a healthcare facility.

From Dorchester County Elections Office on Saturday:
Due to COVID-19, out of concern for the health and safety of Dorchester citizens and our staff, we ask that citizens call 410-228-2560 for assistance or to make an appointment.
From Gov. Hogan on Thursday:
Renewal of state licenses and permits is suspended until 30 days after lifting of Maryland’s emergency.
From Tubman Park on Friday:
Following Gov. Larry Hogan’s emergency actions to protect public health during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad State Park will be closed until further notice.
From Eastern Shore Dance Academy on Monday:
Due to recent announcements, unfortunately we will be closing at this time. We will be working on arrangements to be starting our live stream classes starting next week.

From Choptank Bowling Center on Monday:
All Leagues (Monday Ten Pin, Tuesday Women, Thursday Short Season and Sunday Just Us) are postponed until further notice. Each team captain will be contacted to discuss plans.

Other
Elliott Island UMC Muskrat and Chicken Dinner, March 21 – canceled.
The Rotary Club Oyster Roast, March 21 – postponed.
The Hometown Heroes event, March 25 – postponed.


Helpful Coronavirus links

Maryland Department of Health Coronavirus Page
CDC: About the Coronavirus Disease 2019
CDC: What to do if You Are Sick
Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center
AP News Coronavirus Coverage

Have a question about the coronavirus? Submit it to our newsroom and we’ll ask the appropriate public officials.