Closures, schedule changes take effect amid efforts to reduce virus spread

Notices of closure are becoming a common sight around Hancock as local businesses, towns, and churches deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Notices of closure are becoming a common sight around Hancock as local businesses, towns, and churches deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.

by Geoff Fox & Kate Shunney

Schools, churches, restaurants, and other businesses have seen hours of operation change and even closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic in Maryland.

Over the last several days, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan has issued numerous acts to ensure the spread of the coronavirus is limited within the state of Maryland.

On Saturday, the governor enacted an emergency order to expand access to childcare during the COVID-19 state of emergency.

 

Last week, Hogan closed all Maryland schools until further notice.

Over the weekend, the governor ordered the close of all Maryland casinos, racetracks, and simulcast betting facilities. Rocky Gap Casino Resort was on that list.

On Monday, Hogan ordered the closure of bars and restaurants and expanded the prohibition on gatherings to those of more than 50 people.

“We have never faced anything like this ever before,” he said Monday. “This is going to be much harder, take much longer, and be much worse than almost anyone is currently understanding.”

The closures on Monday also affect fitness centers, spas, and theaters as well. They were all to close at 5 p.m.

Hogan’s order does allow for restaurants to continue carryout, drive-thru, and delivery services, and allows for eateries in health care facilities to remain open.

A prohibition on gatherings of 50 or more people was effective immediately.

This prohibition includes social, community, spiritual, religious, recreational, leisure, and sporting gatherings at all locations and venues.

State health guidance is available at https://coronavirus.maryland.gov/

Washington County Government declared a local State of Emergency on Monday, March 16 and announced county buildings would be closed to the general public except for scheduled appointments to conduct business. The closure includes all county buildings.

All government meetings are cancelled during the State of Emergency and all Parks & Recreation activities have been stopped until the end of March.

“The County is enacting enhanced measures to mitigate the risk of contact with the COVID-19 virus. This includes enhanced cleaning protocols at public facilities. We will continue to adjust operations as events warrant.

“Updates and changes to the building and park access may occur at any time. All visitors are recommended to contact the department they plan to visit or the main county office building for updates prior to arriving,” county officials said in a Monday statement.

In Hancock

In light of recent public health concerns and actions taken by other governing bodies, Hancock Mayor Ralph Salvagno has canceled the upcoming Hancock Arts Council concert scheduled for March 20 at Town Hall.

In addition to the Arts Council cancelation, the mayor also said all use of town pavilions and Town Hall rooms for March and April would be canceled until further notice.

The town’s sign along Pennsylvania Avenue displayed the date and time of the April town meeting along with a note saying all town events are canceled until further notice.

Town offices, however, would remain open for public business of the town.

“It’s appropriate that we are proactive rather than reactive,” Salvagno said. “I am asking that all citizens of the Hancock community exercise caution and wash their hands frequently.”

The goal is to ensure the health and well being of Hancock citizens without undue hardships.

“We anticipate some effect on businesses in Town and will monitor the impact carefully,” he said.

Washington County Commission on Aging has closed all congregate sites, including Hancock’s, located at Town Hall.

The center will still offer a “grab and go” option for food delivery. The Washington County Commission on Aging can be reached by phone at 301-790-0275.

Locally, the majority of church services have been canceled.

Martha’s House in Hancock is closed to children while schools are closed.

Local childcare facilities like Good Shepherd Preschool continue to remain open, and the school at Hancock United Methodist Church said they are prepared to stay open as long as they have required supplies and are permitted to operate.

With schools closed, there are breakfast and lunch pick-ups at Hancock Middle-Senior High School for students who might need them. There are also online classes and learning possibilities. Families have been instructed on how to stay in touch with teachers and keep students on track during school closures.

Interfaith Service Coalition in Hancock has a food pantry available and is recognized by the state of Maryland as a Community Based Organization that may input SNAP, or food stamp, applications.

All services offered by ISC are confidential and if you or someone you know is in need of assistance contact 301-331-6605.

At St. Peter, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul has a food pantry and community members are invited to call the church at 301-678-6339 if they find themselves in need of food.

Southern Fulton

Pennsylvania governor Tom Wolf on Monday said all non-essential businesses are to close in the state for two weeks. Medical offices, hospitals and grocery stores can remain open, Wolf said.

Pennsylvania has confirmed 76 cases of COVID-19, none of them in Fulton County.

Schools statewide were closed, beginning on March 16, and will stay closed for at least 10 days. The Southern Fulton School District has said no students, faculty, coaches or members of the public are permitted to be on school property during the closure. Families are encouraged to stay in contact with teachers via email and by checking school websites for resources.

Senior centers, including Warfordsburg’s facility, are also shut.

The Fulton County Office of the Huntingdon-Bedford-Fulton Area Agency on Aging can be reached by phone at 717-485-5151.

Area Little League organizations and many other youth sports have suspended all practices and games through the month of March.

Families are being encouraged to remain home, reduce travel and avoid public gatherings for the next two weeks at least as a measure to reduce the spread of disease.

Residents in Pennsylvania can find state health information on Department of Health website at:

www.health.pa.gov/topics/disease/Pages/Coronavirus.aspx.

 

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