Pittman: “Our moment to be better”
Anne Arundel County held its fourth COVID-19 livestream virtual town hall on Saturday, April 4. Thousands showed up to view and listen at 11 a.m.. The weekly program is now not only shown on Facebook, but shown on other platforms too. County Executive Pittman was somewhat subdued but he said this was resident’s “moment to be better than we’ve ever been” and donned a face mask his mother-in-law had made for him. The weekly hourly program included Pittman, Roz Hamlett as moderator, Public Safety Officer Nilesh Kalyanaraman M.D., Anne Arundel County Public Schools Superintendent George Arlotto and Anne Arundel County Public Library Communications Manager Christine Feldmann. By the end of the program at noon, Facebook had recorded 4,200 views. The recording of the livestreams are also available to Facebook users minutes after they end on the county executive's Facebook page. Pittman started the program by taking time to recognize the loss of Maeve Mckean,40, and her eight-year-old son Gideon. They were lost in a boating accident in the Chesapeake Bay Thursday, April 2. The Coast Guard has transferred the search for the pair into a recovery effort. Pittman, who was at times visibly emotional, said Mckean “dedicated her life to society’s most vulnerable,” while directing the Georgetown University Global Health Initiative in D.C.. Mckean is the granddaughter of 1968 presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy and is the daughter of former Maryland lieutenant governor Kathleen Kennedy Townsend. Rather than provide numbers or data on the COVID-19 emergency for this week, the county executive encouraged residents to go to the county’s COVID-19 website for the latest information. He spoke briefly at the beginning and end of the livestream. At one point he donned a mask he said his mother-in-law knitted him, to encourage residents to do the same. “We need you to be healthy and resilient,” he said. The CDC has now recommended the wearing of homemade masks to help inhibit the transfer of COVID-19. “This is truly our moment to be better than we’ve ever been,” he said. “(To) make peace with our adversaries, to give thanks for the grace that connects us, and to build community everywhere.” He noted that most county residents are now enduring new challenges, but that, for some residents, these types of challenges are not new. “What has changed with the coronavirus is that many more people are in trouble,” he said. “What’s changed is that nobody can ignore the suffering. What we’re looking at now is more like poverty amidst everyone.” The bulk of the program was taken up by the other presenters. It included Dr. Kalyanaraman showing how to construct a simple but effective mask with just an old T-shirt or bandanna, coffee filter, and rubber bands or hair ties. The demonstration comes up at about the 40 minute mark in the video. Pittman mentioned that maybe there would now be a run on coffee filters, so people should buy just what they needed for a mask.