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Montgomery County Businesses And Organizations Do Their Part To Combat Coronavirus

The Germantown Food Bank in Montgomery County, Md.

As cities and states across the country begin to relax coronavirus protocols, Montgomery County has remained cautious and focused on the health of the community. Though Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam launched reopenings of their states on May 15, Montgomery County, Maryland’s most populous, chose instead to remain under its stay-at-home order to help keep residents safe.

Across the county, restaurants are open for delivery and curbside pickup, and dental offices, financial services and auto repair shops can open as long as they meet social distancing guidelines. But many other businesses and county services remain closed. Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich has published a list of metrics that must be met before a wider reopening, including higher testing levels, contact tracing, data collection and a sustained decrease in new positive cases.

While the metrics haven't yet been met, things are looking up. The rate of new infections shows signs of slowing and the county is taking steps toward reopening. As things progress, residents can check this running list of what has opened. Just because the county remains mostly under lockdown doesn’t mean local businesses haven’t been working hard to do their part to help first responders and fight the pandemic.

MoCo Fighting The Coronavirus 

Montgomery County is one of the top five life sciences clusters in the country. Along with the private companies that are working on COVID-19 tests and vaccines, 18 federal agencies call the county home, including the National Institutes of Health, the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the Food and Drug Administration.

Local companies like Robotic Research, Xometry and Ratel 3D have been printing 3D face shields to support local hospitals and making 3D and CNC custom parts for face shields, ventilators and more. 

The county is also filled with companies that are pouring their resources into developing tests and vaccines to combat COVID-19. Here are just a few examples of local companies doing this work: 

  • PepVax in Bethesda is using its SMARTmid platform to create PVX-010, a DNA immunotherapy designed to fight the virus.
  • Altimmune in Gaithersburg is developing a COVID-19 vaccine using the same technology it has used to create its NasoVAX recombinant intranasal vaccine for the flu. 
  • GlaxoSmithKline in Rockville has offered to make its vaccine adjuvant technology available to the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations. This agent can be added to vaccines to help boost immune responses. 
  • Qiagen in Germantown has been creating test sample processing kits and is adding the coronavirus to its infectious disease test panel. 
  • Novavax and Emergent BioSolutions, both located in Gaithersburg, are partnering to develop a COVID-19 vaccine. 

Locals Doing Good 

As local companies wait for the chance to fully open their doors to the public once again, they have been providing for first responders and those in need. When masks were in short supply, dozens of Montgomery County companies pivoted to creating fabric masks for the public, while others whipped up hand sanitizer or protective equipment. 

Other local businesses have been bringing food, funds and goodwill to members of the MoCo community.

Bethesda-based Medium Rare Restaurant delivered brunch to mothers separated from their families on Mother’s Day, while Relish Catering is raising money to feed hospital staff. 

Rockville’s Dawson’s Market coordinated hundreds of meal deliveries for Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Medical Center, with contributions from local customers and other local food establishments. 

Bethesda’s Round House Theatre is bringing together local playwrights, actors and designers to create Homebound, an original web series that explores the new normal in D.C. 

Business Support Structure

Business owners in Montgomery County are able to tap into sources of funding to help them avoid disruptions and adapt to the new normal.

Businesses can sign up for Montgomery County’s Telework Assistance Program, a $1.5M County Council initiative aimed at helping local businesses pivot to telework, and apply for Montgomery County’s $25M Public Health Emergency Grant for small businesses. 

Local programs have also gone toward helping fight the coronavirus. The county’s Local Production Fund gives local manufacturers capital to manufacture personal protective equipment and other COVID-19-related materials. 

The Montgomery County Economic Development Corp. is working to keep residents informed of all the ways they can get assistance from the federal government, the state and the county. The MCEDC resource page features funding updates for the business and nonprofit communities, like the $10M to hospitals to increase capacity and PPE. 

The MCEDC has also teamed up with Rockville-based Westat to conduct a longitudinal COVID-19 Adaptation and Recovery Study. The goal of the study is to track and analyze the ongoing impact of the pandemic on Montgomery County businesses through 2023. 

“This is an important project, as data is critical for lawmakers and policymakers to make informed decisions,” MCEDC President and CEO Benjamin Wu said in a statement. “This multiyear survey will be used to guide Montgomery County’s post-pandemic initiatives and allow us to best understand the evolving issues that are priorities for the business community.”   

While no one knows for sure how long it will take for Montgomery County to reach its new normal, for now, local companies, organizations and residents are continuing to move forward and play a vital role in the fight against the coronavirus.