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Patients who’ve survived COVID-19 may be at greater risk of developing long term heart problems. 

A recently published paper in the medical journal JAMA Cardiology featured a study where 78 of 100 subjects who had recovered from COVID-19 developed cardiac abnormalities. Many of them had no heart conditions before contracting the virus.

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After a new outbreak of COVID-19, the University of Maryland, College Park is quarantining 200 students in one of its dorms for 14 days. The union representing thousands of employees at the university says it’s concerned about the safety of workers and students. 

Stuart Katzenberg, a representative of the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Maryland Council 3, which oversees the union local. Katzenberg said that members of the union working at Denton Hall, where the students are quarantined, are now at risk of contracting the virus.

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More than six months since the pandemic caused widespread job losses, Maryland Labor Secretary Tiffany Robinson says her office has processed 96 percent of unemployment claims — which still leaves about 30,000 people waiting for benefits.

Maryland’s public universities have for months strategized about ways to keep students and faculty safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. But staff members who provide essential services, from housekeeping to IT, at many of those universities say their schools’ leaders have treated their safety and wellbeing as afterthoughts.

Members of the labor union that represents the staff shared their concerns with a group of state lawmakers on Wednesday.


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Thousands of state employees got a pay cut this week, when the state eliminated an emergency pay bump for some of the workers performing jobs classified as "essential" during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

 

Social workers, police and corrections officers, and hospital staff were among those getting an extra $3.13 per hour or an extra $5.15 an hour when they worked in a quarantine unit of people who had tested positive for COVID-19. 

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Maryland is acquiring 250,000 rapid COVID-19 tests, which will be put to immediate use, Gov. Larry Hogan said during a press conference Thursday. The tests are the first batch expected to result from an agreement by Maryland and nine other states with the Rockefeller Foundation.

 

The new rapid antigen tests yield results in 15 minutes, Hogan said during an event at the Sparks headquarters of Becton, Dickinson and Company, the maker of the tests.

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Just a day after Maryland courts began new eviction hearings for failure to pay rent, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a moratorium on evictions through the end of this year. The order came on Sept. 1 and aims to slow the spread of COVID-19. 

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Theaters and concert venues can open beginning Friday at 5 p.m., just in time for Labor Day Weekend. Gov. Larry Hogan announced that change Tuesday with the news that Maryland is entering the third and final phase of his COVID-19 recovery plan.

 

Theaters for both movies and live performances, concert arenas, and other entertainment venues will be allowed to open at half capacity, up to a maximum of 100 people at an indoor venue, or 250 people at an outdoor venue. 

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Gov. Larry Hogan announced yesterday that all of Maryland’s public schools should plan for in-person learning this fall. The announcement comes just days before the start of the school year. 

“It is absolutely critical that we begin the process of getting our children safely and gradually back into the classrooms,” Hogan said at a late afternoon press conference. 

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When Amy Stephens learned that St. Augustine School in Elkridge, Maryland, would offer a combination of in-person and virtual learning this fall, she asked if she could teach her music, theater and strings classes via livestream. She was told no, she would need to be physically in the classroom, interacting with the entire student body each week. 

So a couple of weeks ago, she quit her job.

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Colleges are welcoming students back this month, but many of them won’t be enjoying the same learning experiences they used to. 

Remote learning can mean a loss of community and independence for students, while going to reopened campuses means dealing with a lot of uncertainty. Some, like the University of North Carolina, reopened and shut down within weeks after clusters of COVID-19 outbreaks. 

Erin VanLuven, a clinical social worker with Kaiser Permanente in Maryland, said these experiences can be detrimental to students’ mental health. 

Maryland’s Board of Elections voted Friday to replace the state’s system of small, precinct-based polling places for the November 3 election with a network of large vote centers that combines high schools throughout the state with existing early voting centers.

The plan reflects one offered by local elections officials concerned about a massive shortage of elections judges and locations that can house polling places.

The Maryland State Board of Elections is weighing a proposal to replace the small polling places that serve one or two voter precincts with a much smaller number of large vote centers. Local election officials are pushing the idea in response to a massive shortage of election judges and locations that can house polling sites.

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The State Board of Elections plans to begin mailing all voters applications for absentee ballots on Aug. 24, State Elections Administrator Linda Lamone said Tuesday in a letter to Gov. Larry Hogan.

Although the state is encouraging all voters to submit their ballots by mail, Hogan has said state law requires every polling place to be open on Election Day this November. But legal experts say the state of emergency Hogan declared in response to the COVID-19 pandemic could give the governor broad power to change how and when people vote.

Rachel Baye / WYPR

In response to rising numbers of COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations in Maryland, Gov. Larry Hogan is expanding the list of places Marylanders are required to wear masks. Beginning Friday, masks will be required statewide in all indoor public places and outdoors when it’s impossible to keep physically distant from other people.

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Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh sent a letter to Gov. Larry Hogan today, asking him to extend and expand on eviction protections.  

The letter requests that Hogan implement a moratorium on evictions until Jan. 31 and provide more rental assistance. 

“This is money that is, I believe, absolutely essential not just to the folks who are about to lose their homes, but to their landlords and everybody else,” Frosh said in an interview with WYPR.

The letter also asks Hogan to renew executive orders that protect Marylanders from debt collection and termination of utilities . 

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The Baltimore City Juvenile Justice Center is experiencing a coronavirus outbreak among both staff and the youth incarcerated there. As of Thursday, at least four of the facility’s 31 youth residents and at least three staff had confirmed cases of COVID-19.

 

As a result, the youth at the detention center have limited opportunities for education, and many have no interaction with their teachers.

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Today,  it’s Midday on Ethics. We'll explore the ethical issues surrounding digital contact tracing and the clinical trials for a vaccine to combat the Coronavirus. 

Public health experts have long said that testing and contact tracing are key to contain the spread of the virus. Congress has allocated nearly $12 billion in grants to states to support contact tracing efforts. By some estimates, the US will need an army of more than 100,000 investigators tracking down people who have come into contact with others who are infected with COVID-19. Apple and Google have introduced digital tools for contact tracing. 

Tom's guest today has considered the ethical challenges of using digital technology in this sensitive area. Dr. Jeffrey Kahn is the director of the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics. He also oversaw a project that led to a new book with recommendations to ensure that contact tracing is not only effective, but ethical. Dr. Kahn joins us via Skype.

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Gov. Larry Hogan used a wide-ranging press conference Wednesday to respond to a barrage of criticism from local leaders about rising COVID-19 case numbers and the state’s plan for the upcoming election. WYPR’s Rachel Baye walks through what he said with Matt Tacka.

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At least three staff members and four youth residents are confirmed to have COVID-19 at the Baltimore City Juvenile Justice Center, a state detention center whose current residents range from 13 to 18 years old. As a result, many of the youth are either quarantined in their housing units or, if they are confirmed to have the virus, isolated in their rooms.

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Maryland officials have uncovered a scheme to defraud the state unemployment insurance program of $501 million dollars, Gov. Larry Hogan announced Wednesday.

 

Speaking at a press conference, Hogan said the “sophisticated criminal enterprise” used stolen identities to file more than 47,500 fraudulent claims. He said the state was alerted to the scheme because of an unusually high number of out-of-state claims. 

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Maryland public schools will likely operate this fall with a hybrid of in-person and virtual classes. Gov. Larry Hogan told NBC’s Chuck Todd Sunday that he expects a report this week from state schools Superintendent Karen Salmon. 

 

Maryland won’t “be rushed into” reopening schools full-time this fall, Hogan said. “I think everybody would like to get our kids back to school as quickly as we can, but we also want to do it and make sure that our kids are going to be as safe as possible.”

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The pool of money that pays for Maryland unemployment benefits, the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund, is running out of money. As a result, Maryland businesses could be forced to pay more into the fund. 

 

State Labor Secretary Tiffany Robinson told a group of lawmakers and community leaders on Thursday that, after paying a “record number of applicants,” the fund has about $615 million left — a little more than the benefits paid out since March 9.

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On Election Day this November, Marylanders will be able to cast ballots at their regular polling places, Gov. Larry Hogan announced Wednesday in a letter to the State Board of Elections. However, voters who want to vote by mail will have to submit ballot applications.

 

The plan is a departure from the June primary, ahead of which all registered voters were mailed ballots. Instead, the state will send all registered voters applications for mail-in ballots.

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"There’s an extraordinary need out there, by any measure. Within the first 24 hours of launching the program on Wednesday we had 1700 applications either in progress or already submitted.” Baltimore Housing Commissioner Michael Braverman describes a need that reflects the desperation of renters.

Rachel Baye / WYPR

  

The Maryland Board of Public Works cut $413 million from the state budget during its meeting Wednesday. Gov. Larry Hogan — one of the board’s three members — said the cuts are necessary because the COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on state revenues. It's part of his plan to cut $1.45 billion from the budget overall. 

WYPR’s Rachel Baye joins Nathan Sterner to discuss what the budget cuts mean.

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Maryland’s Board of Public Works plans to vote Wednesday on more than $672 million in budget cuts. The proposed cuts would affect nearly every part of state government, from schools to healthcare to public safety.

 

Gov. Larry Hogan called for the cuts to deal with a massive drop in revenues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Public health experts have said to expect a “second wave” of COVID-19 cases as soon as the late summer or early fall. When the new surge arrives, Maryland officials may not force businesses to close again.

 

Speaking with a subcommittee of the state Senate Budget and Taxation Committee via Zoom on Thursday, Health Secretary Robert Neall said his department is preparing for a new surge in COVID-19 cases. He said this time, there will be a new challenge.

Rachel Baye / WYPR


More than half a million Maryland residents have filed for unemployment insurance since March as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the state is still working through a backlog of about 34,000 of those applicants whose claims have not been processed.

 

During a Zoom meeting Wednesday, Maryland Labor Secretary Tiffany Robinson told state lawmakers that the state has so far sent $2.7 billion in unemployment benefits to more than 400,000 residents. But she said Labor Department staff members are still reviewing applications received in May and the first half of June.

Rachel Baye / WYPR

Gov. Larry Hogan announced on May 20 that the state would do “universal testing” for COVID-19 at juvenile detention facilities. But the vast majority of both the youth residents and the staff at these facilities have yet to be tested, and the state Department of Juvenile Services doesn’t expect to finish the first round of tests until the end of July.

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