Calvin ball’s record on:
#1 in the State in Vaccinations
Thanks to the Ball Administration’s quick action and coordination across county government, Howard County has consistently led the state in vaccination rates. The County was the first in the region to reach the milestone of 50 percent of residents receiving their first vaccination dose. As of April 2021, Howard County was also the first in the state for residents 16 and up to receive at least one vaccination dose. By September 2021, Howard County led Maryland, with 97 percent of senior citizens receiving at least one vaccination dose. And by April 2022, 91 percent of all county residents were fully vaccinated.
Leading an Equitable Vaccine Distribution
To ensure the County’s most vulnerable residents had vaccination opportunities, County Executive Ball directed the Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services to use their Mobile Integrated Community Health units to reach people at their homes, congregate living facilities, religious congregations, and community centers. With this effort, Howard County closed disparities in vaccine access and uptake. Additionally, County Executive Ball entered into a partnership with Safeway, Alpha Pharmacies, and the Howard County Public School System to promote and provide vaccines to Howard County students.
Supporting Our Frontline Workers
During the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, County Executive Ball consistently acknowledged and rewarded dedicated frontline workers who mobilized to help those in need. In Fall 2020, County Executive Ball awarded Length of Service points to volunteer firefighters and EMS personnel who worked on the frontlines of the COVID-19 emergency response. To recognize the dedication and commitment of other frontline workers, County Executive Ball authorized a one-time discretionary bonus. Workers who received the bonus included firefighters, paramedics, emergency medical technicians, law enforcement officers, and more.
Creating a Vision for the Future
The COVID-19 pandemic not only changed life as we know it today but also but introduced a new way for the world to operate. In understanding this, County Executive Ball tackled these policy issues headfirst by creating the HoCo RISE Collaborative. This group of 50 members was charged with providing key recommendations in five policy areas concerning the COVID-19 pandemic. The HoCo RISE Collaborative Report was released on the one-year anniversary of Howard County’s first COVID-19 case, outlining recommendations and a path forward for continued response and recovery, and one year later, more than 90 percent of the group’s recommendations were fully implemented.
Supporting Mental Health During the Pandemic
In September 2021, to support mental health, County Executive Ball and the Howard County Health Department introduced a new campaign, “Let’s Talk About Mental Health.” This campaign promoted mental and behavioral health resources and referral services available in the County. The campaign also encouraged honest and open conversation among youth and adults about mental health and any ongoing struggles.
Educating the Public to Keep People Safe
With the uptick of COVID-19 cases in Fall 2020, the Ball Administration launched the “Stay COVID Safe” campaign to provide residents with the necessary steps to stop the spread of the virus. The campaign included print and TV advertising to target youth and minority communities, resources and marketing materials, the creation of the StayCOVIDSafe Alliance with County stakeholders, and an updated website to connect residents and businesses to the information they need on COVID-19 testing, vaccinations, assistance, and more.
Utilizing a Data-Driven Approach
With the relaxation of some COVID-19 restrictions in Spring 2021, local jurisdictions were encouraged to reopen at a pace best suited to each County’s case numbers. To guide Howard County’s reopening, County Executive Ball released HoCo RISE, his framework for reopening the County innovatively, safely, and effectively. This framework outlined metrics specific to Howard County that was used to inform decisions around reopening. Many of the metrics were tracked on a public-facing dashboard located on the County’s COVID-19 website, including the availability of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Additionally, Howard County consistently maintained a 90-day supply of PPE throughout the pandemic.
Providing Digital Equity and Closing the Digital Divide
Throughout the pandemic, it became apparent that not all Howard County residents and businesses had the means to navigate a new, digital world. This awareness prompted County Executive Ball to launch “Transform Howard,” an equity initiative designed to expand digital inclusion and increase community access to broadband. By creatively leveraging grant funding, County Executive Ball was able to address the broadband deficit in more than 85 percent of homes.
Assisting County Businesses in Times of Crisis
One of the groups heavily impacted by the statewide stay-at-home order was the business community—workers who faced plummeting revenues as their consumer base essentially disappeared. To support Howard County’s local businesses, HoCo RISE Relief Grants were presented to 203 local businesses during the first round of distribution. As of September 20, 2021, HoCo RISE had disbursed more than $20.77 million through 2,251 grants. As of 2022, County Executive Ball and Baltimore Gas & Electric (BGE) CEO Carim Khouzami unveiled a new public-private partnership that would provide $500,000 in grant funding for small businesses and entrepreneurs affected by the pandemic.
Businesses that received grants included restaurants, small retailers, farms, hotels, live venues, and childcare providers. As of January 31st, more than 76 percent of businesses that received grants were women, minority, or veteran-owned. In a continued effort to connect consumers to local businesses, the Ball Administration created HoCo Food Go and HoCo Farm Go—web-based tools that allowed users to see nearby restaurants and farms with take-out and delivery options or food for sale.
Providing Critical Support to Howard County Residents
To financially support residents struggling with a loss of income during the pandemic, County Executive Ball provided nearly $2.5 million in rental assistance funding and $500,000 in CARES Act funding for energy assistance to vulnerable residents through the Community Action Council of Howard County (CAC). The Ball Administration also provided $1.5 million to 40 local nonprofits through the “RISE to the Challenge” grant program.
Expanding Access to COVID-19 Testing
With more buildings and schools opening their doors, it is critically important that testing remains accessible and widely available. As of Spring 2021, County Executive Ball launched new community-based mobile testing at five rotating sites throughout Howard County. This innovative testing strategy ensures the County has the tools to stop outbreaks and slow the spread of the virus. Rapid and PCR testing is available at no cost at each location.