October 16 - October 22, 2014
State Health Officials: Maryland is Prepared to Respond to
By Ashley S. Westerman
Capital News Service
BALTIMORE -- Maryland is prepared to deal with the
possibility of an Ebola infection, said Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
Secretary Dr. Joshua Sharfstein at a Thursday press conference, following the
news earlier this week that a man in Texas is the first confirmed case of the
deadly disease in the United States.
“The people in Maryland should know there is a lot of
preparation going on,” Sharfstein said. “We have a health care system that is
fully able to identify and respond to a whole range of potential issues,
including Ebola virus.”
While Maryland has not yet had a diagnosed case of Ebola,
health officials say it’s “certainly possible.”
Dr. Anthony Harris, a University of Maryland professor of
epidemiology and public health, said there is a “reasonable possibility” that
in the next year a hospital in Maryland will have a patient who has traveled
from West Africa and has Ebola.
“Unfortunately, yes,” Harris said. “But I think the big
difference though is that we are fully prepared to deal with that patient from
the minute that they set foot in the door.”
Earlier this week, a man in Dallas, who traveled from
Liberia and entered the country through Dulles International Airport, was
confirmed as the first Ebola case ever in the U.S. The man is being treated in
a Dallas area hospital.
Since Ebola is only spread through direct contact with the
bodily fluids of someone who is infected, Sharfstein said, “the general
population is not at risk for Ebola at this point.” If you’re not someone who
has traveled recently from West Africa, there is really nothing to worry about,
Additionally, health officials said people who were on flights at Dulles at the same time as the now-confirmed Ebola patient are really not
at any risk based on current evidence.
Sharfstein, along with a host of other health officials at
the press conference, said preparing for Ebola is similar to preparing for
other infectious diseases, and assured the public that disease surveillance and
rapid testing standards and protocols are in place.
Officials are working to get out guidance to health care
providers across the state on what to look for when it comes to Ebola and what
to do if they think someone might have the disease, said Dr. Lisa Maragakis,
director of the Department of Epidemiology and Infection Control at Johns
Additionally, labs are required to report all suspected
cases of Ebola, and the state lab in Baltimore actually has the ability to test
for the Ebola virus, making Maryland only one of 13 states with this
capability, officials said.
Officials also assured there are procedures in place among
hospitals, health care providers and emergency response agencies for safe
removal and isolation of a patient if a case is ever confirmed. For instance,
D.H.M.H. and local health departments have a 24-7 system that can investigate a
possible Ebola case and deploy, among other things, protocols and treatment
recommendations, said Dr. Richard Alcorta, acting co-executive director of the
Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services Systems.
Officials said they have even taken the additional step of
having inter-disciplinary meetings over the last several months with hospitals
and healthcare providers to get their input on the Ebola situation, and to keep
them abreast on the screening protocols and procedures.
Finally, officials said, they are working in collaboration
with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other states on how to
respond if there is an outbreak.
The Ebola outbreak in West Africa has killed
more than 3,000 people since it began six months ago, according to the World
Health Organization. The epidemic began in Guinea, but has since spread to
Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria. The W.H.O has also reported that Senegal has
had a travel-associated case of the Ebola virus.
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PG Food Equity Forum Focuses on Affordable Healthy Food
By Press Officer
PGC Food Equity Council
HYATTSVILLE, MD (September 18, 2014) - High levels of
chronic disease and obesity, especially in low-income communities, hamper the
quality of life in Prince George's County.
Dozens of food and public health experts participated in a first-ever
"Food Equity Forum," hosted by Prince George's Food Equity Council
(FEC), to discuss strategies to improve the health of county residents and
increase access to healthy food for all socio-economic groups.
"Many of our residents have limited access to healthy
food options and Prince George's County residents have the second highest rate
of overweight and obesity in Maryland.
We need to address these threats to our communities' health together.
The Food Equity Council is working collaboratively to propose innovative
solutions to increase access to healthy, affordable, locally and sustainably
produced, and culturally appropriate foods. The Forum was an important step
forward in creating meaningful dialogue about ways to improve our food
system," said Dannielle Glaros, M. P.P, chief of staff, County Council
Member Eric Olson.
"What's exciting is that stakeholders from all sectors
of the food system were present. That's
what we need to make the systems-level change necessary to improve public
health and communities' access to healthy foods," said Margaret
Morgan-Hubbard, CEO and Founder of ECO City Farm and Co-Chair of FEC.
The 22-member Prince George's County Food Equity Council was
formed in response to the Institute for Public Health Innovation's (IPHI) work
to reduce chronic disease rates via complementary policy, environmental,
programmatic, and infrastructure activities in Prince George's County. As part
of a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, IPHI identified
and implemented seven different strategies to improve safety and increase
access to recreational opportunities, increase access to and affordability of
healthy foods for low-income families and improve delivery of clinical
preventive services through the use of community health workers. Among these
was starting FEC, which seeks to increase the number of people with access to
affordable and healthy food options, while bridging the vast, but fragmented,
cross-sector food system in many communities.
The Forum featured an expert panel and breakout sessions
that engaged stakeholders from a variety of sectors of the county's food
system-including farmers, University of Maryland extension representatives,
food access focused non-profits, grocery stores, elected officials, government
agencies, renewable energy companies, and healthcare executives.
Central to the forum discussions were innovations in local
food system work and opportunities for systems-level change through
policy-based approaches. Healthy mobile
food vending, untraditional agricultural ventures, strategies to increase
community level access to affordable foods, and promising practices to expand
nutrition education programming were popular topics among participants. Stakeholders acknowledged the need for
collaboration to address the county's "food deserts and swamps" and
their implications on residents' health.
According to John Hopkins' Center for a Livable Future, 43 percent of county
residents live in "food deserts," or low-income census tracts where
residents are more than .5 miles (urban) or 10 miles (rural) from the nearest
supermarket. The average for the state of Maryland is only 27 percent,
according to the Prince George's County Food Systems Profile. Readily available
are "food swamps" through a densely populated network of fast food
chain restaurants, which make up 71 percent of the county's restaurants.
Speakers presenting findings and leading
discussions included: Sydney Daigle, Food Equity Council coordinator; Margaret
Morgan Hubbard, CEO, ECO City Farms and Food Equity Council co-chair; Pamela
Hess, Executive Director, Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food and Agriculture;
Nicete Moodie, Nutrition Outreach Coordinator, Share Our Strength; Denise Ann
Benoit-Moctezuma, Program Supervisor, Prince George's Expanded Food &
Nutrition Program, University of Maryland Extension; Pete Charlerie, Farmer and
Wwner, SunSplash Farm; Shelby Watson Hampton, Farmer, Robin Hill Farm &
Vineyards; Christie Balch, Executive Director, Crossroads Community Food
Network; Susan Thweatt, Program Chief, Prince George's County Health
Department; Michael J. Wilson, Executive Director, Maryland Hunger Solutions;
Allison Lilly, Sustainability and Wellness Coordinator, University of Maryland
Dining Services; and Evelyn Kelly, Senior Program Manager, Institute for Public
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Join WSSC on National Drug Take-Back Day
By Press Officer
Laurel – September 25, 2014: This Saturday, turn in your
prescription and over-the-counter drugs at WSSC’s headquarters, 14501 Sweitzer
Lane, Laurel, MD, as part of the Drug Enforcement Agency’s (DEA) 9th Annual
National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day. From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., individuals
can drop off their medications at our secure collection site and contribute to
preserving our local water sources.
WSSC supports the safe disposal of drugs. Too many people
pour expired or unused prescription drugs down the drain or flush them down the
toilet, unaware of the potential risks they could pose to drinking water and
The presence of such drugs in WSSC’s drinking water sources
is not currently a concern, but the safe disposal of drugs has nationwide
benefit, and is crucial to protecting the quality of drinking water sources.
State and federal environmental and health regulatory agencies continuously
study the potential environmental and health consequences of drugs in drinking
In cities and towns, which have sewer systems connected to a
wastewater treatment plant, prescription and over-the-counter drugs poured down
the sink or flushed can eventually pass into rivers and lakes. For septic
tanks, drugs flushed down the toilet can leach into the ground and seep into
If you are unable to turn in your expired or unused drugs
this Saturday, follow these steps for easy, responsible disposal (also
applicable for liquid medications).
o Take unused, un-needed or expired prescription drugs out
of their original prescription bottles;
o Crush medication and put it in a container such as an
empty can or sealable bag;
o Mix with coffee grounds, dirt or kitty litter;
o Discard with regular trash.
The Take-Back Initiative is an opportunity to protect
families from potential misuse and abuse of prescription and over-the-counter
drugs, as well as protect the nation’s drinking water. In the eight previous
Take-Back events, the DEA and its state, local and tribal law-enforcement and
community partners have removed more than 4.1 million pounds (2,123 tons) of
medication from circulation.
For additional collection sites in Prince George’s County
and to locate sites in Montgomery County, visit http://ow.ly/BSTGj or contact
the call center at 1-800-882-9539.
State Health Officials: Maryland is Prepared to
Respond to Ebola.
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Prince George’s County Council to Host Town Hall Meeting
Addressing the Future of Economic Development in PG County
By Melanie Balakit
Capital News Service
The Prince George’s County Council will host “Economic
Development – Preparing for the Economic Opportunities over the Next 10 Years,”
a town hall meeting focusing on opportunities for economic development in
Prince George’s County, Tuesday, October 21, 2014, 7:00 – 9:00 p.m. The Town
Hall Meeting, the third in a series of offsite, evening, community meetings
sponsored by the County Council, will be held at Oxon Hill High School, 6701
Leyte Drive in Oxon Hill, Maryland.
Prince George’s County Council Chairman Mel Franklin (D) –
District 9, recognizes the importance of community engagement as the County
prepares for economic development opportunities over the next decade.
“We are bringing the world to Prince George’s County and
this must include an approach to economic development that delivers world-class
development opportunities and economic viability to our communities. The Council remains committed to working with
residents to examine the issues that impact us as a County, and economic
development is an issue that impacts every resident. I encourage our citizens
to join us for an informative discussion on how we can move Prince George’s
County forward in this area.”
The Economic Development Town Hall will feature
presentations from Deputy Chief Administrative Officer for Economic Development
and Public Infrastructure, Victor Hoskins; Prince George’s County Office of
Central Services Director, Roland Jones; Prince George’s County Economic
Development Corporation President and CEO, Gwen McCall; and FSC First President
and CEO, Shelly Gross-Wade. Additional
presenters include Greater Prince George’s Business Roundtable President and
CEO, M.H. Jim Estepp; Prince George’s County Chamber of Commerce President and
CEO, David Harrington; and Prince George’s Community College Vice President for
Workforce Development and Continuing Education, Joseph Martinelli. A host of other County officials and agency
representatives will also be available to provide information and resources.
Residents will have an opportunity to provide testimony
before the County Council.
This event is free and open to the public. Live streaming
will be available at http://townhall.mypgc.us
Prince George’s County Council Town Hall Meeting
“Economic Development – “Preparing for the Economic
Opportunities over the Next 10 Years”
Prince George’s County Council Members
Deputy Chief Administrative Officer for Economic Development
and Public Infrastructure, Victor Hoskins
Assistant Deputy Chief Administrative Officer for Economic
Development and Public Infrastructure, David Iannucci
Assistant Deputy Chief Administrative Officer for Economic
Development and Public Infrastructure, Brad Frome
Prince George’s County Office of Central Services Director,
Prince George’s County Economic Development Corporation
President and CEO,
FSC First President and CEO, Shelly Gross-Wade
Greater Prince George’s Business Roundtable President and
CEO, M.H. Jim Estepp
Prince George’s County Chamber of Commerce President and
CEO, David Harrington
Prince George’s Community College Vice President for
Tuesday, October 21, 2014, 7:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Oxon Hill High School
6701 Leyte Drive
Oxon Hill, Maryland 20745
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Legislation Increasing Minimum Wage in PG County Takes
By PRESS OFFICER
PG County Government
Prince George’s County Council Bill 94-2013, legislation
increasing the minimum wage in Prince George’s County, went into effect on
October 1, 2014. Under the legislation, the County’s minimum wage will
incrementally increase from $7.25 per hour to $8.40 per hour on October 1,
2014, to $9.55 per hour on October 1, 2015, $10.75 per hour on October 1, 2016,
and $11.50 per hour on October 1, 2017.
Part of an unprecedented collaboration with Montgomery
County and the District of Columbia to establish a “regional minimum wage,”
Council Bill 94-2013 was successfully adopted by the Council on Tuesday,
November 26, 2013.
Council Chairman Mel Franklin (D) – District 9, says today
marks the beginning of a minimum wage increase that brings disadvantaged
workers one step closer to improving the quality of their lives.
“The Prince George’s County Council is committed to
improving the quality of life of every resident and today marks a significant
step in that direction. The previous minimum wage of $7.25 had not been raised
since 2009 and something needed to be done to secure a living wage for our
residents. I want to thank my Council
colleague and former Chair Andrea Harrison for leading the charge on this
important issue, and working diligently with our counterparts in Montgomery
County and the District of Columbia to establish a ‘regional minimum wage’ that
places Prince George’s County on a level playing field with our neighboring
jurisdictions. We are bringing the world to Prince George’s County and through
this effort we are improving the quality of life for our residents and building
a better local economy.”
Council Member Andrea C. Harrison (D) – District 5, sponsor of
the legislation, says Prince George’s County is now on its way to a fair and
equitable minimum wage.
“This is a great day in Prince George’s County because our
residents deserve fair compensation for their labor. Working families should
have the opportunity to make ends meet and improve their quality of life."
The County minimum wage requirements do not apply to an
employee who is exempt from the minimum wage requirements of the Maryland Wage
and Hour Law or the Fair Labor Standards Act, or individuals under the age of
19 years employed no more than twenty hours in a week. The computation of
tipped wages for the minimum wage required under this Section shall be the same
as the manner of computation of tipped wages in Section 3-419, Labor and
Employment Article, Annotated Code of Maryland (the Maryland Wage and Hour
The Maryland General Assembly also raised the State minimum
wage to $10.10 by 2018. However,
employers in the County must follow the new County law, and minimum wage rate
The Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation
(DLLR) will enforce the County’s minimum wage law. For more information,
or to file a complaint alleging a violation of the County
minimum wage, contact DLLR at 410.767.2357 or at
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