BALTIMORE COUNTY, Md. (WJZ) — As the state’s COVID-19 cases continue to rise, Baltimore County is, as of Thursday evening, the third-most affected jurisdiction in Maryland.

There are over 350 cases in the county. Two police officers are among those with the virus, and there has been a rise in positive cases in nursing homes.

There were also over 13,000 claims for unemployment last week alone.

The effects of the pandemic prompted Baltimore County officials to hold a virtual town hall Thursday night, answering the public’s questions.

“I know that this is a difficult time and that residents rightfully have questions about what will happen, and what will happen next,” Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski said.

Unemployment, high school grading and prom, and face masks were among some of the most asked questions.

Pet owners also asked about dog parks.

“Our new normal right now means we cannot have our dog parks open,” Roslyn Johnson, Director of Baltimore County Recreation and Parks, said.

Residents also asked if police are responding to their large crowd complaints

“We’ve been successful in disbursing crowds,” Baltimore County Police Chief Melissa Hyatt said. “In a lot of these situations, they’ve been mostly youth, and we’ve been able to inform them more than anything.”

There were many questions revolving around schools and grading.

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“As we’re looking at grades potentially being a pass/fail or pass/incomplete,” Baltimore County Schools Superintendent Darryl Williams said.

The school system later said it would combine the third and fourth marking periods together and would issue report cards at the end of the fourth period. Students will be graded on a pass/fail basis.

High school proms are likely canceled, but the superintendent said they’re looking at alternative graduation options in the event schools don’t re-open this year.

Many feared whether first responders are properly protected.

“Our officers are equipped with masks gloves goggles and gowns,” Hyatt said. “Now, we’re taking the temperatures of our officers as they come on to duty.”

The Baltimore County Fire Department said it is taking similar measures.

“We’re hand sanitizing, we’re washing, we’re cleaning our units,” Baltimore County Fire Chief Joanne Runde said. “Any of our providers have gone through a health check. They are healthy through the day and they are going to help you as much as they can.”

As the town hall wrapped up, officials ensured residents they don’t have to stop asking their questions, pointing many to their call center, open seven days a week.

For the latest information on coronavirus go to the Maryland Health Department’s website or call 211. You can find all of WJZ’s coverage on coronavirus in Maryland here.

Annie Rose Ramos

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