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Local “Good News” Noted

Last Updated on Apr 27, 2020 at 1:46pm | Communications Office
By Garrett County Joint Information Center Team
Regular meetings and planning continue for the ongoing local COVID-19 response, but most of this work is behind the scenes. The Joint Information Center team wanted to share some “good news” today.
Confirmed COVID-19 Cases
First of all, the number of COVID-19 cases for Garrett County residents is holding at 4 cases. There has not been a positive case identified since April 6 and the cases that were identified were each related to travel.
COVID-19 Testing Available
There have been 224 tests administered to date, with the first testing beginning at Garrett Regional Medical Center on March 16. 
“We want our community to understand that we are being very transparent about the situation in the county. The rumors about additional cases just aren’t true,” said Garrett County Health Officer, Bob Stephens. “Even the few additional cases that were tested here but not attributed to our numbers, are no longer in the county.”  All positive tests from labs are required to go in the National Electronic Data Surveillance System, which is where Maryland Department of Health gets the data they publish on their website.
“The goal, is to increase testing in a responsible fashion and for community members to continue to protect themselves and our community by wearing a facial covering in public settings and to continue to be diligent in practice safe distancing,” said Stephens. “These are the best ways to continue to protect our community. Once we have a community outbreak, things can change very quickly and we realize that.”
“Thank You” Motorcade
Local resident Chuck Nolan organized a sort of impromptu “drive-through thank you” parade to celebrate the frontline workers at Garrett Regional Medical Center. The event consisted of about 30 vehicles, including fire apparatus, ambulances, tow trucks, and private vehicles.
“I was watching the news where other locations were showing support in this way and thought why can’t we do this here?” Nolan said. “Our hospital workers are risking their lives.” So, he got on Facebook, talked to a few people, picked a date, and approved it with the Garrett County Sheriff.
“We are Appalachia at its finest,” Nolan said. “And, that’s the people of Garrett County. I saw them Wednesday night, I’ve seen them each year at the House of Hope food drive, and I’ve seen them during Hurricane Sandy. They didn’t stand on their roof saying “please help” they walked down the road with chainsaws and delivered food.” 
A spokesperson for the hospital said their staff enjoyed the acknowledgement.
Volunteer and Donation Portal
The Volunteer Portal announced this week has met with a great response, with 126 people visiting the portal in the first 24 hours.
“Our community never ceases to amaze me,” said Courtni Helmick, Family Self-Sufficiency Manager at Community Action. “People have been very receptive and using the portal to communicate; so far 5 people have responded that they are interested in donating food, 3 have volunteered to help in any way needed, and 12 people have donated financially to COVID-19 efforts.”
Interested persons can reach the volunteer portal at and choose from a variety of ways to assist the community. Visit the portal frequently to check for updates.
The volunteer portal was designed by the Health Department to aid Community Action with collecting contact information from interested volunteers and distributing it to coordinators for each topic area.
Incident Response Team
Garrett County agencies continue to work together through the COVID-19 crisis. Their goal is to prepare for a time when there may be an increased number of positive COVID-19 cases in the county. This group is building the strategy to:
  • Ensure adequate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is available for first responders
  • Develop lines of communication between all agencies
  • Provide inter-agency updates
This crisis is new and seems have taken over all newsfeeds, but the “good” always rises up. Small communities are the best at working together and protecting each other.