Town aims to keep viral cases low, plans for local recovery

by Geoff Fox

Hancock Mayor Ralph Salvagno said local people need to stay “vigilant” to keep the number of coronavirus cases low in the coming weeks.

On April 15, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan issued an executive order for Marylanders to wear a face covering when inside any retail establishment or when riding any form of public transportation in Maryland. Retail locations must require staff to wear face coverings when dealing with the public as well.

The order went into effect on April 18 at 7 a.m.

“I think that based on the projections we’ve seen through Mertius Medical Center, our peak is perhaps a couple weeks away,” Salvagno said.

He said some of the things Howard, Prince George’s and Montogomery counties were facing could soon experiencing here in the next week or two.

He said the community has done a “really good job” checking on neighbors, being friendly, helpful, and respecting social distancing.

Salvagno thinks if everyone does their part, “we can keep things under control here.”

As of Monday, according to the Maryland Department of Health, there were eight confirmed cases of COVID-19 with in the 21750 zip code.

There were no other information as to where in the zip code those cases were located.

With the cases out there, Salvagno said “we have to keep the number as low as possible.”

Overall, there have been 13,684 confirmed cases in Maryland and 516 confirmed deaths.

According to Washington County Department of Health, there have been 120 confirmed cases and two deaths. Neighboring Allegany County to the west has 32 confirmed cases and one death from the virus while Frederick County to the east has 616 confirmed cases and 25 deaths from the virus.

To the north, Fulton County has reported only two confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

Morgan County to the south has reported nine confirmed cases.

The Town of Hancock is meeting with local medical providers to provide contingency plans should there is a surge in cases.

Looking toward recovery

“We’re also preparing for recovery,” Salvagno said.

This recovery includes what can be done to build up the town to make it a place people would want to come visit in the summer and also a plan on how to help businesses recover from closures or lack of business during the pandemic.

In this current environment, unless it’s an essential business like grocery store, pharmacy, restaurant or gas station or essential services from the town, Salvagno said everything else is shut down.

The mayor also said they aren’t losing sight of long range plans and approvals for the wastewater treatment plant, infrastructure upgrades, and the continued engagement with the National Park Service on the bridge over the C&O Canal repaired.

“Things are quiet, but things are busy,” Salvagno said.

As the weather gets better, Salvagno said more people might be coming out of their homes to get out to walk and exercise.

“It’s encouraging to see as the weather’s getting warmer, to see kids out playing with their brothers and sisters,” he said. “It’s really important for all of us in this time to get out and exercise and get some fresh air.”

When the “stay at home” orders are lifted and life slowly starts getting back to a somewhat normal life, people are going to want to help make their community better.

Salvagno said there will be a “new normal” — businesses might have to adapt their original business plan to the new way of doing business as there could be waves where restrictions are laxed and reimplemented.

People would have to accept changes on how things are done like scheduling and access.

If people want communitites to thrive, Salvagno said people would have to go out and support them financially and make an effort to find out what is available in the town and what businesses offer.

“Only if services or goods aren’t available in Hancock, then certainly look elsewhere,” he said. “If preferable, try to shop in town and patronize people who are your friends and neighbors.”

Salvagno said people recognize the community as Hancock, but through experiences with friends and family, the Hancock community extends into Fulton County and Morgan County as well.

He said patronizing businesses in those areas would also help the Hancock community.