Online appointment system for flu shot clinics
Montgomery County health officials urge all residents to get a flu vaccination and announced dates for free clinics. While getting a flu vaccination does not protect against COVID-19, flu shots have been shown to reduce the risk of flu illness, hospitalization, and death. Getting a flu vaccination can also save health care resources for the care of patients with COVID-19.
Seasonal flu vaccinations are available through private health providers, as well as at retail locations throughout the community. County-sponsored seasonal flu vaccination clinics will include free clinics for residents over the age of 14 and two free clinics specifically for children ages six months to 18 years of age. This year there will be one drive-thru flu clinic. The County will offer flu shots only. High-dose flu vaccine and FluMist will not be available.
Saturday, Nov. 7
8:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Dennis Avenue Health Center
2000 Dennis Avenue, Silver Spring
Saturday, Nov. 21
8:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Dennis Avenue Health Center
2000 Dennis Avenue, Silver Spring
Appointments for the children’s only clinics can be made on the Maryland Vax website. There will be no walk-ups for these clinics. Children must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
Anyone not wanting to get the flu should receive the seasonal flu vaccination, particularly the elderly, household members living with children younger than six months of age, health care workers and individuals with chronic illnesses such as heart disease and diabetes.
Check the County’s flu website for more information. For the latest Reopening Montgomery updates, visit the County’s website.
Maryland's COVID-19 mass vaccination plan
Governor Larry Hogan announced the release of the State of Maryland’s draft two-phase COVID-19 mass vaccination plan, which was submitted to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) last week. See the draft plan.
Phase 1 will focus on vaccinating priority groups who are at highest risk of developing complications from COVID-19 and those in critical industries:
Consumers and restaurants charged large fees by online food-delivery services
Montgomery County’s Office of Consumer Protection (OCP) is alerting consumers and restaurant owners about the confusing and costly fees charged by third-party online food ordering-and-delivery services.
Although these companies often advertise free or low delivery fees, the commissions they charge restaurants are far higher, typically totaling 20 to 40 percent or more of each order. Many patrons are unaware of these high costs.
A recent report in Washington Consumers’ Checkbook provided details on the impact the fees have on restaurants and patrons. The report can be found linked from the OCP website at https://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/ocp/ or directly from the Consumers’ Checkbook site at https://tinyurl.com/y6geenfg.
Many restaurants, which have turned to delivery companies to compensate for the loss of dine-in revenue, must rely upon companies such as Grubhub, Uber Eats, and DoorDash, which have bought up many of their competitors. The fees imposed by the major ordering services may result in restaurants losing substantial portions of any revenue these companies might provide.
The Consumers’ Checkbook report describes how the big food-ordering services are causing major financial problems for restaurants. Checkbook reports that even consumers who never use these apps stand to be affected as restaurants raise their menu prices to account for large commissions paid to these websites and apps.
The report provides guidance for consumers and restaurant owners. For example:
The holidays bring festive times . . . and scammers
As the holidays approach, the Montgomery County Office of Consumer Protection (OCP) wants consumers to be aware that online shopping, gift cards and charitable solicitations may not be as honest as they appear.
Online shopping: Paying by credit card is the safest way, because it provides extra protections for most online purchases, dispute procedures and benefits for returns or exchanges. Debit cards, even those with Visa or Mastercard logos, don’t.
If shopping on Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, Letgo or other third-party marketplaces, be aware that scammers are using stock photos or photos from other real transactions to sell non-existent goods, even rentals.
Beware of fake retail websites selling non-existent goods, many using Shopify as their platform and advertising on social media. These merchants either sell counterfeit goods or have no goods to sell. They may send you empty envelopes for proof of delivery to combat charge-backs or disputes through your bank.
Gift cards. If someone contacts you about unpaid bills and demands payment via a gift or prepaid card, or a wire transfer, that’s a red flag that a scam is afoot. When buying gift cards, make sure the packaging has not been compromised, and don’t buy gift cards that have packaging showing the bar code on the back.
Donations. Before donating to a charity, make sure it’s registered with the Maryland Secretary of State. Then research the organization to make sure it uses the money received for the work and not to hire call centers to get more money.
More in the press release.
Click here to see the full array. And check out the Montgomery Parks COVID-19 page for information on park facilities that are open and closed under the county's re-opening plan.
Sources: Montgomery County Executive; Montgomery County Dept. of Health and Human Services; Bethesda Chevy-Chase Regional Services; Montgomery County Office of Consumer Protection.
We all know that more people need to get out of their cars and into public transportation, which not only is environmentally friendly, but also is the best way to deal with traffic and encourage economic development.
I am pleased to announce that this week we launched the first bus service of its kind in Maryland. We are calling it Flash and it will run north and south along Maryland Route 29—one our most congested traffic routes. This is the start of the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) network I first proposed a dozen years ago, a network that will eventually connect the major commuting routes in the County.
For the eastern portion of our County, which is starting to see its economic possibilities with the FDA headquarters, the new Adventist Medical Center, the growth of White Oak and so much more, Flash will be a major contributor to what is ahead in its future.
When I proposed BRT, few people wanted to listen. But then our County put together a task force to study real transit—transit that would be reliable, easy to use and would take people where they needed to go—and people liked what they heard. It took a long time, but we finally got it started. It was exciting to see the unique 16 Flash buses roll out on their new routes. But this is just the start. We are also reviewing Flash routes for corridors such as Veirs Mill Road and Rockville Pike. BRT will not solve all of our traffic problems, but it can make a difference.
In my video this week, I talk about this service. You can also read the story about Flash in this newsletter to learn more about why this is different from our existing bus service.
Regarding the ongoing COVID-19 health crisis, we have begun seeing a slight uptick in the numbers and we are watching it very carefully. I know everyone is eager to continue reopening, but we will continue to watch the data and proceed with caution. You may have seen that this new uptick is happening across the country and the world. We are encouraging people to get tested, especially if you think you may have been exposed—and please continue to follow the safety guidelines to prevent the spread of this virus. Getting tested is easy and fast, and on the upcoming schedule, we have 49 test clinics scheduled—the most we have ever scheduled in an eight-day period. They are at various times and at locations across the County. Here is more information on where to get tested.
This week, some special individuals, a dedicated organization and an important national business that calls Montgomery County home were all honored at the annual Montgomery Serves Awards. In a normal year, they would have been honored at a major ceremony, and I would have loved to have been with them to celebrate, but we all know this is not a normal year, so they were honored in virtual ceremonies. Their contributions, however, have been just as monumental as ever.
The Montgomery Serves Awards represent the County’s highest honor for service and volunteerism. You can watch the ceremonies at bit.ly/Watch2020MSA.
Each of the honorees are models of what can be done to help and inspire others. They have been involved in projects that reach a cross-section of our County, ranging from making our neighborhoods stronger, preserving the history of our Black communities, inspiring our youth to become more involved, lifting up the arts and helping our homeless residents.
We are very proud of this year’s award winners, and we thank them for their work and their commitment to Montgomery County.
Guidelines for staying safe and sane for members and volunteers, for all of us
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COVID-19 Testing Now Available at More than 45 Sites in County; 14 Upcoming Opportunities at Free County-Operated Clinics
There are more than 45 sites in Montgomery County where residents can get tested for COVID-19, including County-operated and privately operated clinics. There will be County-operated testing at 14 clinics on the upcoming schedule.
Testing at County clinics is free, does not require a doctor’s referral and is available by making advance appointments or on a walk-up basis. Reservations can be made online at www.MoCoCOVIDtesting.org.