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‘We came to a screeching halt’: Some Anne Arundel small businesses forced to adapt during coronavirus pandemic

Tent at John Hopkins Main Campus. Party Plus Tents + Events started supplying it products for medical use after parties were banned by Maryland and other nearby states.
Tent at John Hopkins Main Campus. Party Plus Tents + Events started supplying it products for medical use after parties were banned by Maryland and other nearby states. (partyplus)

Small businesses are finding ways to adapt to the coronavirus outbreak and help out the community any way they can as state officials enforce stricter lockdown.

A small event tenting business, Party Plus Tents + Events, has switched its whole business plan and started offering tents to hospitals and testing sites in the area. With Gov. Larry Hogan recently announcing a stay-at-home order, the event business has completely stopped. Hogan’s strict orders are meant to slow the spread of the coronavirus and prevent overloading local hospitals.

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“We got referred by a vendor and since there were no events going on, we were looking to help the community any way we can,” said Lauri Dixon, a vice president at the company. “We are a small business, and we came to a screeching halt when the outbreak began.”

Dixon has a drive-up testing tent at John Hopkins University, tents in Howard County and tents at Berkley Medicine in West Virginia.

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“We are reaching out to any restaurants who might be interested in drive-up or walk-up tents as well,” Dixon said. “Any time you help out anyone it feels good to me. We are happy to do whatever to help the community.”

When Dixon first heard about all the cancellations, she was 'devastated." On the first day, Dixon said her company lost $150,000 in two jobs.

“Hopefully we end up on the other side of this as a stronger nation and more compassionate,” Dixon said.

Another business dealing with the impact of the virus is TechOps Speciality Vehicles based out of Stevensville.

TechOps director is William Krampf, a retired Deputy Chief for Anne Arundel County Police Department.

TechOps is offering a mobile medical outreach vehicle, which has been sold to three different counties so far, Calvert, Charles and Queen Anne’s counties.

“It is literally a mobile doctor’s office in a van,” Krampf said. “It is cool, and we are reaching out to other counties as well.”

For the virus, TechOps has developed three different units: mobile testing trailer, mobile cot trailer and mobile laundry trailer. All three trailers take three to four weeks of build time, but Krampf has vans already waiting to be deployed.

TechOps also has emergency vehicles in their shop they are retrofitting for the pandemic.

“We talking with health departments to find out what equipment they need and see if we can supply that for them,” Krampf said.

Krampf believes it will be important to have these mobile vehicles as the virus keeps spreading. Many people won’t be able to get out to these testing facilities, so being able to bring it to them is essential, he said.

“These vehicles will play a role to get outreach to our citizens,” Krampf said. “Getting to these underserved communities will be vital as well. We here to assist the citizens of this state to help them get the needed medical supplies."

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