DENTON — Caroline County officials met for the bi-weekly County Commissioners meeting via zoom to discuss the latest COVID-19 updates and numbers from the Small Business Loan Program on Tuesday, Aug. 4.

Economic Development Director Debbie Bowden gave her final numbers after round two of the loan program to help businesses in Caroline County affected by measures to control the coronavirus pandemic. A total of 134 applications were reviewed since the beginning of the program in June, and 77 total were approved. The average total of each grant was $12,500, she said.

“Most of the respondents say they are still operating below normal, but were able to bring back most of their workers,” Bowden said. “Most say they are going to be all right now, but if the economy continues to get worse, that could change.”

Bowden said she could open up a third round of applications in September if needed.

“I still hear from people that they are still struggling because the occupancy rate is still too small and the fact that people are still too uncomfortable to come to community businesses,” Bowden said. “I think if the business community can survive in August, they are going to be all right.”

“I have heard a lot of good things coming out of this program,” Commission President Larry Porter said. “I see the names on the lists of these grants, and I know they are struggling. I think the people appreciate it, and the money is being well spent.”

Interim Health Officer Roger Harrell provided a COVID-19 statistical update. A total of 145 people were tested at the regional testing site on July 28 and 30. The seven day rolling average is at 2.5% in the county compared to 4.4% in the state overall.

“Overall as a county we have tested 16.5% of the population, with our original goal to be at 10%,” Harrell said. “I’m very happy that we have been able to stay above the 10% requirement and am hopeful we can continue to do so.”

Harrell also mentioned getting a letter from the Governor’s Office to make sure businesses are in compliance with the COVID-19 safety measures to ensure social distancing is being practiced to reduce the spread of the virus.

“We got offers from local law enforcement to help us do these checks but are only operating on a complaint-only basis,” Harrell said. “We think we should stick with complaints only unless there are bad actors, which we would easily take care of. Our goal is to once again protect our business and help them stay in business.”

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