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Jack Young

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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. 

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In the wake of disgraced ex-mayor Catherine Pugh’s resignation, the Baltimore City Council introduced so many charter amendments intended to restructure power in City Hall that City Council President Brandon Scott created a new committee to manage them. 

Many of those proposed amendments made it to the November general election ballots. City voters can find a complete ballot preview here.

 

Voters tend to overwhelmingly approve ballot questions; in 2016, city voters passed all 10 of Baltimore's charter amendments and bond issues.  

 

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Baltimore will outsource water meter reading operations to the same third-party vendor that installed water meters throughout the city earlier this decade, Mayor Jack Young announced Wednesday. 

Young said the city has a five year contract with Itron, a Washington state based company, to conduct meter reading, small meter installation and general maintenance. It’s not the first time the company has worked with Baltimore: in 2013, the city awarded Itron an $83 million contract to overhaul and upgrade its water metering infrastructure, which included adding additional meters.   

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Baltimore Mayor Jack Young announced a $2 million grant fund for small businesses today. The fund aims to help businesses reopen safely and recover from the pandemic.

“Baltimore small businesses have been agile in their response to COVID-19. And we must not relent our efforts to assist our small businesses during this time,” Young said. 

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  Gov. Larry Hogan will allow restaurants to expand indoor dining capacities to 75%  at 5:00 p.m. Monday. The Republican is encouraging residents to partake in Maryland’s first statewide Restaurant Week, despite concerns over COVID-19 spread throughout the state.

“To celebrate the first-ever Maryland Restaurant Week, I encourage Marylanders to support their favorite local businesses, whether you do so through delivery, curbside pickup, or by dining indoors or outside,” Hogan said Friday in a news release. 

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Baltimore City’s spending board greenlit a rare $25 million emergency withdrawal from the Rainy Day Fund Wednesday to balance a budget that had to be rewritten because of the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Mayor Jack Young’s administration issued the third ever request to dip into the fund after the finance department said it needed the emergency funds to balance the city budget.

 

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  Loosened pandemic restrictions in Baltimore’s phase 2 reopening will go into effect at 5:00 p.m., Tuesday, including increased capacity at indoor restaurants.

Mayor Jack Young issued an executive order that allows restaurants, religious facilities, retail establishments and malls, indoor recreation establishments and casinos to increase operations from 25% to 50% of their capacity.

Capacity at indoor restaurants, religious facilities, retail establishments and malls, indoor recreation establishments and casinos may increase from 25% to 50%, per an executive order from Mayor Jack Young. 

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The coronavirus is not taking time off for Labor Day, Baltimore City Mayor Jack Young said, and residents should remain cautious as they enter the long holiday weekend known for cookouts, parties and one last summer hurrah.

“Now is still not the time to be planning large parties, cookouts, celebrations or religious events,” the Democrat said during a Friday morning news conference. “We're still in a pandemic, one that's built to spread rapidly in large groups. I know people are not looking to catch COVID, but COVID is looking for you.”

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As garbage piles up throughout Baltimore due to delayed trash pick-ups, Mayor Jack Young’s neighbors have been knocking on his door, wanting to know when their overflowing trash and recycling bins will be emptied.

 

“I'm frustrated, too, because my trash doesn’t always get picked up on time either,” the Democrat said at a news conference Wednesday. “But I understand why we are where we are.” 

Emily Sullivan

 

Low income Baltimoreans did not receive a promised water bill discount due to go into effect last month after Mayor Jack Young delayed the implementation of the Water Accountability and Affordability Act, citing the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic and the Department of Public Works’ inability to meet the law’s deadline.

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U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams warned Baltimoreans Friday of the consequences of not following public health measures in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

In a press conference with city Health Commissioner Dr. Letitia Dzarasa, Adams said Baltimore’s partial re-openings will be “taken away from us if we can’t heed basic public health measures, like standing six feet from one another and wearing a mask,” Vice Admiral Adams said.

The Baltimore City Council unanimously overrode Mayor Jack Young’s veto of a charter amendment that would create a city administrator position to oversee day-to-day operations during a special session Thursday night.

That means the amendment and six others will be on city voters’ ballots in November.

 

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Mayor Jack Young announced on Thursday that Baltimore City restaurants may open, this time at 25% capacity, beginning at 5:00 p.m. Friday. The Democrat also announced tightened pandemic restrictions, some of which are stricter than Maryland guidelines.

The announcement comes about two weeks after Young suspended indoor dining services amid a large spike in COVID-19 cases; new case numbers continue to surpass those of April and May. 

Baltimore City Health Department handout

Baltimore city officials are urging residents to stay home and obey face masks requirements after an “alarming” increase in the rate of COVID-19 infections in Baltimore.

“The vast majority of you are heeding our pleas to continue to practice social distancing and wear your face coverings,” City Health Commissioner Dr. Letitia Dzirasa said at a news conference alongside Mayor Jack Young on Thursday. “But the case data indicates that not enough of us are.”

 

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  The Baltimore City Council may soon have more power in the city’s budgeting process, after Mayor Jack Young signed a charter amendment to grant the legislative body the ability to move funds on Monday night.

The Democrat’s approval means the amendment will appear on Baltimore voters’ ballots in November. Voters tend to approve such referendums; in 2016, every proposed city charter amendment passed. 

AP Photo/Susan Walsh

 

Baltimore Mayor Jack Young issued executive orders Wednesday that suspend indoor dining services and require residents to wear masks whenever they leave their homes and cannot engage in social distancing. They take effect at 5 p.m. Friday.

Since Baltimore entered its phase 2 of reopening just over a month ago, the city has seen a near-double increase in new coronavirus cases, a dramatic rise of cases in people under the age of 40 and a disproportionately high positivity rate in southeast neighborhoods like Canton and Patterson Park. 

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Parking meter enforcement will resume in Baltimore on Monday, months after the city suspended nonessential activities as the coronavirus pandemic first arrived in Maryland.

“As people continue to move around and be outside, it is important as we continue through Phase Two that we return many of our services to help our economy recover,” Mayor Jack Young said in a statement.

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Mayor Jack Young said Thursday that protestors who tossed a downtown Baltimore statue of Christopher Columbus into the Inner Harbor engaged in destruction of property and will be brought to justice. 

“We support peaceful protests. That is not a peaceful protest,” the Democrat said at a Thursday news conference. “When we find out who destroyed the statue they will be held accountable.”

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Renters in Baltimore City who lost income due to the coronavirus pandemic can receive financial assistance under a $13 million renter relief program launched Wednesday.

Baltimore has a moratorium on evictions scheduled to expire on July 25. The program aims to prevent a wave of evictions by getting residents up to date on rent from April, May and June by sending rental payments directly to landlords. 

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The Baltimore City Council adopted a budget for the next fiscal year that cuts $22.4 million from the police department’s $550 million budget, including nearly $7 million from overtime spending.

 

The cuts come days after protestors gathered outside City Hall demanding that the Baltimore Police Department be defunded altogether. The cuts are less than 5% of the total police department’s 2021 budget, which is 1.2% lower than the department’s budget from the previous year. 

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Baltimore restaurants with outdoor dining permits can begin serving customers at 5 p.m. this Friday, but outside only, Mayor Jack Young announced Thursday. 

 

Hours later, Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski announced that outdoor dining will be allowed beginning at 5 p.m. Friday in the county as well. And he said restrictions on retail stores, houses of worship, day camps and pools in the county will be eased as well.

The announcements come one day after Gov. Larry Hogan lifted several pandemic-related restrictions throughout Maryland, including on outdoor dining.

In addition, officials in Anne Arundel and Howard counties announced they, too, would allow outdoor dining and ease restrictions on retail establishments as well.

Baltimore Mayor Young said in a statement he wanted to "thank all of our business owners and restaurant employees for their patience and continued adherence to the use of social distancing and face coverings as we allow for this next step in our reopening.” 

AP/Patrick Semansky

  


  Only about a fifth of likely Baltimore voters think the city is moving in the right direction, while 65 percent believe the opposite, according to a new poll from WYPR, the Baltimore Sun and the University of Baltimore.

That may explain why two of the top three mayor’s race candidates, Mary Miller and Brandon Scott, are polling so well, said Roger Hartley, the dean of the University of Baltimore’s College of Public Affairs.

The numbers add to “the mantra that voters are looking for a fresh new face,” Hartley said. “With someone like Miller surging or someone like Brandon Scott, who's still doing well and has increased his support, they are those fresh new faces.”

Courtesy of the candidates' campaigns

A new poll from WYPR, the Baltimore Sun and the University of Baltimore shows former mayor Sheila Dixon, Mary Miller and City Council President Brandon Scott in a statistical three-way tie in the Baltimore City mayoral Democratic primary race, with 22% of voters still undecided just two weeks shy of the election. 

“A couple of candidates could transcend, depending on how things go,” said Steve Raabe, the owner of OpinionWorks, which conducted the poll. “This is a race that really any one of three or four people could still win.”

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 Despite Gov. Larry Hogan’s move to ease pandemic-related restrictions beginning Friday, Baltimore Mayor Jack Young says the city cannot safely reopen due to a lack of testing and personal protective equipment.

 

Meanwhile, the county executives in Baltimore and Anne Arundel counties said Thursday they would ease a few restrictions.

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  When Baltimore’s budget director Bob Cenname presented the city’s fiscal year 2021 budget in late March, he called it “largely irrelevant.” 

That’s because the coronavirus pandemic had dealt an enormous blow to the city’s revenue stream, a loss of $103 million. With fewer people driving, working and traveling, the city is collecting less in taxes.

The budget, which is traditionally written over the course of a year, was completely rewritten in  April. On Wednesday, Cenname and his staff presented the revised budget, which accounts for the revenue loss and proposes trimmed spending across agencies.

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  A crowd of Maryland officials made their cases for funding for cities in an upcoming piece of pandemic stimulus legislation during a virtual press conference hosted by Baltimore Mayor Jack Young on Monday.

 

Representatives on the federal level included Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen, Representatives C.A. “Dutch” Ruppersberger and John Sarbanes and Representative-elect Kweisi Mfume. They joined local officials from across the state, including Mayor Young, Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski, Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman and Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich to advocate for relief money for Baltimore as well as counties and municipalities throughout Maryland.

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The Baltimore City Council held its third virtual meeting last night as coronavirus containment methods keep legislators at home. WYPR’s Emily Sullivan and Nathan Sterer discuss a bill that aims to establish a permanent home for the city's Children and Youth Fund and divert up to $13 million from that fund to fund internet access and technology for children as well as boxed meals.

 

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Baltimore Mayor Jack Young announced Tuesday the city is opening a new COVID-19 testing site at Druid Hill Park’s Rawlings Conservatory. 

The site, which opened Tuesday, Baltimore’s second. Pimlico Race Course became the city’s first community testing site earlier this month. Like Pimlico, residents must have an appointment and doctor’s referral to receive a test at the Rawlings Conservatory. 

“Bringing this second testing site online represents a key step for Baltimore City’s response to COVID-19, allowing even more residents to have access to a community-based testing site,” Young said during a news conference. 

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Restaurants throughout Maryland are still open, but operating only as carry-out establishments under emergency orders because of the coronavirus pandemic, meaning many residents are turning to delivery apps to bring meals to their door. 

The problem, some restaurant workers say, is that the fees the delivery services charge greatly reduce the already razor-thin margins that most restaurants skate by on. 

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  Gov. Larry Hogan issued an executive order Wednesday afternoon requiring all Marylanders to wear masks or other face coverings when inside retail establishments or when riding public transportation in order to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

His order will go into effect at 7 a.m. Saturday. It also directs essential businesses to put social distancing measures, such as markers directing customers where to stand at a check-out line, into place. 

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