Sarah Y. Kim | WYPR

Sarah Y. Kim

Report for America/Anthony Brandon Fellow

Sarah Y. Kim is WYPR’s health and housing reporter. Kim joined WYPR as a 2020-2021 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The GroundTruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. She is based in Baltimore City.

In May 2020, Kim graduated from The Johns Hopkins University with a bachelor’s degree in creative writing and international studies. As a senior, Kim was editor-in-chief of The Johns Hopkins News-Letter, where she was also a news editor from 2017-2018 and the opinions editor from 2018-2019.

Kim was one of three Hopkins undergraduates who received the 2018 Louis Azrael Fellowship in Communications, presented to three students interested in pursuing careers in journalism. In 2018 she was a summer editorial intern for Baltimore magazine and was a paid freelance researcher there for the past two years.

Though born in California, Kim grew up in South Korea for over 12 years, where she developed a passion for storytelling and writing fiction and poetry. She is excited to continue her career in journalism in Baltimore, the city she calls home.


Maryland is expanding access to telehealth services for mental and behavioral health disorders. 


Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford said in a news conference Thursday that insurance carriers and Medicaid would be required to reimburse patients  for audio-only telehealth services under a measure they are sending to the General Assembly. 

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As Maryland’s annual General Assembly session opens Wednesday, a coalition of lawmakers and advocates are pushing a package of bills that would provide relief to tenants and homeowners hurt by the pandemic. 

The session begins weeks before eviction and foreclosure moratoriums expire on Jan. 31. 



Baltimore City Council members and housing advocates announced a legislative package Monday afternoon to address housing insecurity. The bills will be introduced at January’s city council meetings. 

The package includes a bill that would prevent landlords from evicting tenants when their leases expire. Landlords have been able to legally evict tenants using this method amid eviction moratoriums. 

Nursing home residents and staff are among the first in line for the COVID-19 vaccine. But in Maryland, many nursing homes have not used a majority of their allocated doses. 

Joseph DeMattos Jr., the CEO of the Health Facilities Association of Maryland, said that distributing the vaccine is a huge logistical undertaking. 

Gov. Larry Hogan announced today another special enrollment period for health insurance, opening just weeks after an earlier enrollment period closed in December. 

Starting immediately, uninsured Marylanders can enroll in a health insurance plan through the state’s health benefit exchange through March 15.

Michele Eberle, the Executive Director of the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange, said she hopes the special enrollment period will give residents some peace of mind as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. 


Positive COVID-19 cases in Baltimore City are 23% lower than they were four weeks ago, according to the city’s COVID-19 dashboard

Meanwhile, Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott urged city residents to stay safe by wearing masks, socially distancing and limiting indoor gatherings to people in the same household. 

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A recent report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation shows COVID-19’s sweeping effects on children’s health in all 50 states. The pandemic has exacerbated a multitude of crises, including housing instability. 

In Maryland, the report says 18% of adults with children are worried that they cannot pay their rent or mortgages.


Maryland leaders are calling on Gov. Larry Hogan to provide COVID relief funds for struggling families and businesses. 

State Comptroller Peter Franchot said at a news conference that Congress’ latest stimulus bill would not be enough. He said the state has billions of dollars in reserves it can use for relief in addition to federal aid, and that the governor needs to act now. 

Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott names two new members of his cabinet. Baltimore County caps charges from third-party food delivery services to help struggling restaurants. Oyster restoration efforts in the Chesapeake Bay are disrupted by COVID-19 restrictions. And a new report sheds light on how this pandemic will affect children in Maryland for years to come. 



Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott announced a new contact tracing campaign called “Baltimore vs. COVID” today. The campaign comes as a surge of COVID-19 continues in the city.

Scott says the campaign aims to get more residents to answer contact tracing calls from the city and state health departments. 

Governor Hogan issues an emergency order and advises all Marylanders to stay home for the holidays. Baltimore’s restaurant industry gets some help from the City Council when it comes to third party app delivery fees. And Governor Hogan’s former chief of staff is grilled by a legislative committee about expenses when he headed a state agency.


Baltimore may be getting its first major snowfall of the season Wednesday and Mayor Brandon Scott is urging residents to be prepared.

“I want to assure the city of Baltimore and our residents that snow crews are ready to respond to any winter weather that may come our way,” Scott said at a press conference Tuesday.

Scott said the city has a snow budget of $6.7 million and a snow removal program that includes 300 essential personnel, and more than 15,000 tons of salt to treat the city’s streets.

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When the COVID-19 vaccine becomes more widely available in the U.S. next year, employers may face a tough question: whether they should - or even can - require their staff to get vaccinated.

Diane Hoffmann, a professor of law at the University of Maryland Carey School of Law and the founder of the Maryland Healthcare Ethics Committee, said the law does allow some employers, like hospitals, to require vaccinations.


Gov. Larry Hogan announced a financial assistance package Thursday afternoon that will protect small businesses struggling because of the pandemic.

The package includes an executive order that will protect businesses from sudden or substantial increases in their unemployment taxes.

“This emergency relief will help businesses keep their operations going and to help keep more people on their payrolls,” Hogan said.


Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott announced sweeping new COVID-19 restrictions Wednesday during his first press conference since being inaugurated.

The restrictions are the city’s toughest since March.

Standing in front of City Hall, Scott said hospitals will be overwhelmed with patients if the city does not act now.

“The health and safety of Baltimoreans is my top priority,” he said. “I will not waver or hesitate to make decisions that save lives in Baltimore.”


Just over a week after Thanksgiving, Maryland surpassed 3,000 new daily COVID-19 cases two days in a row.

Maryland broke its daily case record Friday when it reported 3,792 new cases. The previous record was 2,910. On Saturday the state reported 3,193 new cases.

Dr. Lisa Maragakis, the senior director for infection prevention for the Johns Hopkins Health System, said Thanksgiving indoor gatherings likely contributed to the surge.


Mayor Jack Young has signed a bill into law guaranteeing lawyers for renters facing eviction, making Baltimore the seventh jurisdiction in the country to enact such legislation.

The bill, which the City Council passed unanimously in November, will be phased in over four years.


The University of Maryland Medical Center has opened a new 16-bed modular care unit for COVID-19 patients, the first of its kind in Baltimore.

The unit is an addition to the center’s 168 adult ICU beds.

Planning for the unit began in July, after the center was overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients in the spring. Dr. Gregory Schrank, co-incident commander of the center’s pandemic response, said the unit opened just in time.


Nearly half of Marylanders planned to gather indoors for Thanksgiving, despite warnings from public health experts that those gatherings may exacerbate the latest surge in COVID-19 cases, according to a University of Maryland Medical System survey last week.

Now, Dr. Chris Thompson, an immunologist and Associate Professor of Biology at Loyola University Maryland, said we’re about to see whether there will be consequences to those decisions.


Public health experts are warning of the possibility of what they’re calling a twindemic this year, if a bad flu season and COVID-19 coincide.

Rebecca Dineen, the assistant commissioner of the Baltimore health department’s Bureau of Maternal and Child Health, told a City Council committee Tuesday the ongoing pandemic may be contributing to public distrust of flu vaccines among Baltimore residents.


Baltimore City Council President-Elect Nick Mosby has added his voice to pleas from health experts and the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention urging people to stay home for Thanksgiving this year.

He warned at a press conference today with other city council members that if people stop taking COVID-19 seriously, Thanksgiving gatherings could become superspreader events across the country.


Activists experiencing homelessness in Baltimore led a march from the Shot Tower to City Hall on Saturday.

They chanted “evictions have got to go” and “cancel rent” and carried signs reading ‘homeless can’t stay home,’ ‘homeless, not hopeless,’ and ‘empty shelters now.“

Their demands included permanent housing for all, rent cancellation and an end to the use of congregate city-funded shelters.


Systemic racism would be recognized as a public health crisis under a resolution a Baltimore City Council committee took up Friday.

The resolution was introduced last May by City Councilman Robert Stokes Sr. and made its way through city departments, before the council’s Equity and Structure Committee’s hearing Friday.

The resolution says housing segregation and redlining continues to play a role in health inequities. It also notes the disproportionate impact COVID-19 has had on Black and Brown people.

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is urging people to avoid traveling for Thanksgiving this year as COVID-19 cases surge across the country.

Dr. Mona Gahunia, an infectious diseases doctor at Kaiser Permanente, acknowledged that people may want to see loved ones they haven’t seen in a while. But she said the pandemic may be getting worse. Maryland reached its highest count for new COVID-19 cases Thursday.


The Baltimore City Council has passed a bill to create an office to end homelessness and create a permanently funded housing voucher program. 

Currently, the city manages homelessness through the Mayor’s Office of Homeless Services. That office is not a permanent agency of the city government. 

Councilman Ryan Dorsey, who introduced the bill, said this has hurt the city’s ability to provide for those experiencing homelessness.  



The Baltimore City Council is to vote on a bill Monday night that would provide lawyers to tenants facing eviction cases. The bill comes amid concerns about a mass eviction crisis as tenants struggle to pay rent because of the pandemic.  

For most of the pandemic, Maryland has been under state and federal eviction moratoriums. In September, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ordered a ban on evictions until 2021.



Maryland’s moratorium on utility shut-offs expires this weekend. But if you’re behind on utility bills, BGE says it’s not too late to get help, even if you have been getting turn-off notices since October. 

BGE senior vice president Tamla Olivier says 25% of customers in debt have not responded to turn-off notices. But she said there is still time to get assistance funds from the Office of Home Energy Programs (OHEP.)

“Those funds are first come first serve,” Olivier said. “So we would encourage them to reach out to us, to OHEP immediately.”


Mayor-Elect Brandon Scott announced 10 new committees Friday to advise his transition team on what he called areas of pressing need in the city. 

Scott said the 10 committees will make Baltimore safer and more equitable. 

“Everything that every agency does is going to be assessed and reassessed,” Scott said. “If it's actually impacting the citizens the way it should, if it's actually being done through the lens of equity.” 


Several jurisdictions, including Baltimore County, were not able to release results on election night. State Board of Elections officials say this was because of difficulties with transferring data from thumb drives. 

Local elections boards store data from ballot scanners on thumb drives, then transfer them to the state’s central voting database. 

AP Photo/Julio Cortez

More than 427,000 Marylanders voted as of 6:30 p.m. Tuesday and State Board of Elections officials say the counting will be far from over Tuesday night. 

Nikki Charlson, the board’s deputy administrator said ballots will be counted through at least Nov. 13.