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COVID-19

University of Maryland Medical System

Maryland Senate President Bill Ferguson is criticizing the state health department for a slow vaccine rollout and blaming the governor’s pick to run the department, Acting Health Secretary Dennis Schrader. 

Ferguson told reporters Tuesday that the Senate is unlikely to confirm Schrader as health secretary unless vaccine distribution improves.

Rachel Baye / WYPR

The Maryland General Assembly convened for its annual 90-day session Wednesday, and it is already unlike any session the state has seen before. Rachel Baye and Nathan Sterner discuss how lawmakers have adjusted their long-held traditions for a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic. 

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Gov. Larry Hogan announced Monday a $1 billion package of tax relief and direct payments to some Marylanders in an effort to shore up the state’s flagging economy.

Rachel Baye / WYPR

The Maryland General Assembly returns to Annapolis Wednesday for its annual 90-day legislative session, and it will be unlike any session the state has seen before. The COVID-19 pandemic will shape not just how the laws are made, but is expected to be a focal point of the policies written. 

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Gov. Larry Hogan announced new steps Tuesday designed to speed up the state’s rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine.

 

The latest state data show that just under 77,000 Marylanders have received the vaccine, correlating with about 28% of the doses Hogan said have been distributed to health care providers. 

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. 

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Gov. Larry Hogan on Thursday told Maryland residents to avoid all non-essential out-of-state travel. He and the state’s top health officials are also urging residents to avoid holiday gatherings with people outside of their immediate households.

 

Under an executive order, anyone who travels out of the state — or anyone who comes to Maryland from out of state — will be required to get a negative COVID-19 test or quarantine for 10 days.

University of Maryland Medical System

All hospitals and nursing homes in Maryland will have initial doses of the new COVID-19 vaccine in the next two weeks, Gov. Larry Hogan announced Tuesday.

University of Maryland Medical System

The first batch of COVID-19 vaccines have arrived at hospitals in Maryland and more are expected later this week. Now those hospitals are reckoning with how to dole out the limited numbers of vaccines to tens of thousands of frontline healthcare workers.

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COVID-19-related hospitalizations in Maryland hit a new record Wednesday, and public health officials warn that the trend is likely to continue.

In response, Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman said he plans to announce new restrictions on businesses in his county on Thursday.

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The new COVID-19 vaccine could begin arriving in Maryland as soon as next week. Gov. Larry Hogan and the state’s top public health official said Tuesday, they expect an initial 155,000 doses, up to a total of 300,000 doses by the end of the month.

Reporter Rachel Baye speaks with Nathan Sterner about what Marylanders should expect in the coming weeks and months.

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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.

Screen shot from Dec. 1, 2020 news conference

  

Gov. Larry Hogan put out a call Tuesday for more medical help as COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Maryland and around the country.

He said in a news conference that while Maryland is doing better than at least 41 other states in the nation, hospitalization numbers continue to rise and are expected to reach a record high in the coming days.

And that’s creating problems for health care workers.

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Somerset County, on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, has a nearly 16% COVID-19 positivity rate, the second highest in the state. According to the governor’s office, the majority of the county’s COVID-19 cases are linked to the prison in Westover, the state’s largest prison.

Cianna Greaves / WYPR

To those families and friends who plan to gather for Thanksgiving, Maryland’s public officials have a plea: Don’t. At a press conference Monday, they pointed to rapidly rising COVID-19 numbers as they warned that Thanksgiving gatherings could be deadly this year.

AP Photo/Susan Walsh

With the numbers of COVID-19 cases rising rapidly in Maryland and across the country, Gov. Larry Hogan and local leaders have issued new limits on social gatherings, bars and restaurants, churches and other places where people congregate.

The new state restrictions go into effect at 5 p.m. Friday, Nov. 20. Most of the local restrictions have been in place for at least a week.

Here’s a round-up of those restrictions and advisories.

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With COVID-19 cases spiking in Maryland, Governor Larry Hogan announced Tuesday new restrictions on hospitals, nursing homes, restaurants and bars.

In an afternoon news conference, Hogan said the state health department has limited visitors in hospitals and nursing homes to those involved in “compassionate care.”

John Lee

Last week, in response to the alarming rise of COVID-19 cases, Gov. Larry Hogan ordered all state employees who can telework to do so. 

“Effective immediately all state employees who are approved to telework must again begin a period of mandatory telework except for essential direct public facing services and other essential personnel,” Hogan said at a press conference on Nov. 10.

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As COVID-19 case numbers continue to climb in Maryland, Gov. Larry Hogan announced Thursday that the state will spend an additional $70 million dollars in federal CARES Act funding on supplies and programs related to the pandemic. 

 

Among that $70 million, Hogan said $20 million will be spent on personal protective equipment, or PPE, $15 million on bolstering the state’s unemployment insurance program, and $10 million on syringes and other vaccine-related supplies.

AP Photo/Julio Cortez

Beginning at 5 p.m. Wednesday, restaurants and bars across Maryland will be required to operate at reduced capacity under a new executive order from Gov. Larry Hogan. The move is a reaction to rapidly rising numbers of COVID-19 cases in the state and across the country.

Courtesy of Senate President's Office


Annapolis in January is usually buzzing with activity as the Maryland General Assembly meets for its annual 90-day session. Because of the pandemic, the 2021 legislative session is expected to look quite different, with all meetings live-streamed but access to the public restricted.

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Maryland child care providers are pleading with elected officials to loosen COVID-19 safety rules and provide additional financial support. Without those changes, providers warned state lawmakers on Thursday that many will have to permanently close their doors in a matter of months.

Rachel Baye / WYPR


  With COVID-19 cases rising, the Maryland State Board of Elections has released instructions on how to vote if you are in the hospital or under quarantine. 

Black-owned Bookstores Return As Social And Cultural Spaces

Oct 30, 2020
Christopher E. Cager

Like many small businesses, Black-owned bookstores were forced to close when the pandemic began earlier this year. But their closures represented more than the loss of a retail outlet. Shuttered bookstores took away a social and cultural space that is returning, in part, because of a social justice movement.

Everyone’s Place African Cultural Center is more than a bookstore. The shop on North Avenue near the Penn North Metro stop also sells everything from skincare products to incense.

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The number of COVID-19 cases among employees of the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration continues to grow, with more than a dozen workers out across multiple locations as of Thursday. However, the union that represents those workers says the agency is doing little to prevent the virus from continuing to spread. 

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State leaders are grappling with how they would obtain and distribute a future COVID-19 vaccine. During a meeting with state lawmakers Wednesday, health officials and medical and pharmaceutical experts described a lack of national coordination and logistical challenges to distributing vaccines, while legislators questioned who will be able to get the vaccine first. 

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Renee Nadreau started feeling sick two weeks ago. She had a cough and a headache. At first she thought it might be allergies. Then she woke up one day and couldn’t taste her coffee.

 

“Right then I knew I had COVID,” Nadreau said. 

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As Maryland school system leaders grapple with how to safely resume in-person learning, one thing is clear:  It will be very expensive. Four superintendents told a state Senate committee Wednesday that they need millions from the state to make it work. 

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Baltimore’s health commissioner Letitia Dzirasa is urging residents to stay vigilant against COVID-19 with masks and social distancing, but also to protect themselves from the flu. 

At the mayor’s weekly briefing Wednesday morning, Dzirasa said that while the city’s positivity rate continues to decline, the daily count of new cases is 35% higher than last month’s. 

“We are here to remind people to continue to seek COVID testing at one of our mobile testing sites or at a clinical site,” she said. 

Rachel Baye / WYPR

If an FDA-approved vaccine to prevent COVID-19 were available today at no cost, less than half of registered voters in Maryland say they would get it, according to the latest Goucher College poll.

A slim majority of Democrats say they would get the vaccine, while slim majorities of Republicans and unaffiliated voters say they would not.

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