WYPR Coronavirus Coverage | WYPR

WYPR Coronavirus Coverage

Baltimore mayoral candidates square off in a debate. Voting rights advocates say former felons might be denied their right to vote in this election. And four Baltimore County schools prepare to reopen their doors.

Photo by Matthew Murphy

Midday theater critic J. Wynn  Rousuck joins Tom again today with updates on the nation's pandemic-era theater community, leading off with the 74th Annual Tony Award nominations announced Oct. 15th. Judy talks about some of the major contenders for theater's most prestigious honor, including the musical Jagged Little Pill, which garnered the most Tony nominations this season -- 15 - including Best Musical; and  Slave Play, which was nominated for 12 Tony Awards, including Best Play -- a record-breaking number for a non-musical.  The awards will be presented in a virtual ceremony later this year.

And as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to keep the nation's theaters dark, Judy spotlights some of the continuing efforts by local and national companies to present inspiring performances in filmed and live online streaming productions...

John Lee

The first students are returning to Baltimore County school buildings next month. They are some of the school system’s most severely disabled children and go to one of four special schools.

This comes as there is a debate over whether all Baltimore County Schools should reopen.

School superintendents say it’ll take millions in state aid to resume in-person learning. Governor Hogan promises 250 million in state aid to Maryland business owners. Voting rights advocates worry some former felons may be denied their right to vote. And the Maryland Board of elections says the volume of mail in ballots received already far exceeds 2016 numbers.

Misskprimary / Flickr


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. 

Baltimore County ballot drop boxes in traditional Republican corridors are seeing less traffic than their counterparts in Democratic zones. An immunologist critiques the governor’s vaccination plan. And Baltimore City Schools shares details on a plan to reopen 25 schools next month for in-person learning.

With a slashed budget and low ridership, the MTA struggles to keep public transportation a viable and safe service for those who need it. And the City Council passes a major tax sales bill and eyes more taxes on e-cigarettes.

City Schools TV / YouTube

1,000 Baltimore City students will be able to return to the classroom next month. The district will offer this option to pupils it says are struggling with virtual learning - like students with disabilities. Alison Perkins-Cohen, chief of staff to the city schools’ CEO, lays out the preparation needed.

Baltimore County elections officials tally thousands of mail-in ballots and sort through voter errors. Goats are unleashed on a city park. And demonstrators in Baltimore march in solidarity with others nationwide for voting and women’s rights.

In a virtual town hall, parents and teachers grill Baltimore City Schools officials on their plan to return some students to classrooms in November. And a Maryland House of Delegates workgroup votes to revamp state policing laws.

Baltimore City Public Schools' Facebook page


 Baltimore City schools administrators released Wednesday a plan to bring back a group of students that includes the district’s most vulnerable to 25 schools starting in November. In a town hall Thursday night, parents and teachers raised many questions and concerns to those  administrators.

“Why do families have a choice [to return to the classroom] but teachers and staff don't?” asked one commenter on a Facebook livestream. “If my child decides to continue to do virtual learning, will they have the same teacher?” asked another.

If you haven’t applied yet for a mail-in ballot, the clock is ticking. And if you haven’t responded yet to the 2020 Census, well, you’re about to miss the deadline. Plus, a teacher’s-eye view of the upcoming return to classrooms in Baltimore.

The city’s health commissioner says daily COVID cases are on the rise as flu season is upon us. Some parents of special needs students crash a meeting of Baltimore County teachers to make their voices heard. And today, an announcement from the C-E-O of Baltimore Schools about a return to the classrooms this fall.

Lowell Larson via Flickr

The Baltimore City school board stared down a $21 million shortfall Tuesday night brought on by pandemic spending, as its CEO decides how to handle the rest of the fall term.

Like school systems throughout the nation, the city schools racked up costs to keep online instruction afloat and support students and families as classes went online in the spring and stayed there this fall. All in all, the district spent $131 million on initial pandemic-related expenses.

An exclusive poll shows Brandon Scott with a runaway lead in Baltimore’s mayoral race. A Goucher Poll shows Marylanders have little faith in taking a Covid-19 vaccine. Baltimore’s Indigenous community members rally for the renaming of Columbus Day. And residents of a historically Black neighborhood in East Towson push back against the county’s affordable housing plan.

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.

Erik Drost via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

In the midst of the pandemic, Americans have been forced to find forms of entertainment that don’t involve getting in a car and leaving home. 

In the process, many have discovered, or rediscovered, the old fashioned family game and one of the more popular ones is Jenga. You know, the one where kids and their parents test their skill and nerve by trying to slide out wooden blocks without knocking over the whole stack. 

That game has become something of a metaphor for what the NFL is trying to do with its schedule as COVID-19 imposes its will on teams. 

A new Goucher College poll shows a vast majority of Marylanders in favor of police reform. We remember a Baltimore advocate for racial justice. And a Green Party candidate gives an establishment Democrat some serious competition in a City Council race.

Rachel Baye / WYPR

A new poll from Goucher College shows widespread support for the kinds of police reform policies Maryland legislators are expected to introduce in January. 

 

More than 80% of those polled said they support making records of police misconduct public and having an independent prosecutor investigate police misconduct cases. Nearly 80% said they support creating statewide rules for when police officers are allowed to use lethal force. 

Public health expert Leana Wen puzzles through the COVID-19 diagnosis timeline, medical treatment, and recovery status of President Trump. And psychiatrist Asha Patton-Smith gives advice on preserving our mental health during the ongoing pandemic.

Dr. Leana Wen

The Maryland State Department of Health reports today that 10 people died of COVID-19-related illness yesterday, the highest death toll in the last couple of weeks.  More than 3,800 people have died in our state since the pandemic began in March. More than 130,000 Marylanders have been infected with the virus.

The coronavirus pandemic continues to dominate the national conversation as well. Since President Trump’s treatment for his COVID-19 infection at the Walter Reed Military Medical Center last weekend and his return to the White House Monday, dozens of the president’s staffers, as well as political and military leaders who had recent close contact with the president, have tested positive for the virus. And there has been growing concern among public health officials over Mr. Trump’s tweets and video messages in the past few days about his self-proclaimed “recovery” from COVID-19, aided by powerful therapeutic drugs which he has falsely described as a “cure”...

The top headlines of the day, plus a reporter’s guide through the long list of proposed charter amendments facing Baltimore voters on this fall’s ballot

An update on Maryland’s health insurance market, a report on changes in Baltimore’s water billing, and advice from an immunologist on how to safely celebrate Halloween and Thanksgiving during a pandemic

JHU Bloomberg School of Public Health

The COVID-19 pandemic may not be a hurricane, a terrorist attack or a war, but it is a disaster. As a disaster psychologist George Everly has spent four decades responding to the mental-health needs of victims of calamities around the world. One of his conclusions is that the psychological casualties of a disaster--people so badly hurt mentally or emotionally that they can’t do what they need to do in life--always outnumber the physical casualties. What should we be doing now to address the pandemic’s psychological cost?

George Everly's blog in Psychology Today is “When Disaster Strikes: Inside Disaster Psychology.” In this commentary for the the International Critical Incident Stress Foundation, he describes steps in moving past the pandemic. Original airdate: July 20, 2020.

After long debate, the Baltimore County Council finally approves police reform legislation. And the Baltimore City Council has a busy night, passing bills on labor rights and the observance of Christopher Columbus, and considering bills to protect renters and prevent water shut-offs.

Northeast Baltimore Walking Tour/Wikimedia Commons

The Baltimore City Council held a busy virtual meeting Monday night. They passed two prominent bills that re-examine the legacy of Christopher Columbus, plus two bills to boost protections for the city’s hospitality labor force. They also introduced two new bills to create an evictions assistance program for city renters and officially suspend water shutoffs. WYPR’s Emily Sullivan and Nathan Sterner talk through each piece of legislation. 

Public Domain

In the midst of the off-the-charts unpredictability of this year, we turn to Amy Webb, founder of the Future Today Institute.She doesn't predict the future. But she’s spent decades analyzing trends and intuiting signals that help governments and global companies plan for the long range. How is the pandemic opening a market for clothing that doesn’t physically exist? Which huge corporations will emerge stronger? How could Baltimore capitalize on the work-at-home trend? And Webb has advice for the average person looking to ease the panicky feelings 2020 has wrought: “The best that we can do is be more flexible and adaptable everyday. And to keep our eyes on the future, and the future we want to inhabit, and try to get there.”

Links: Books by Amy Webb; Future Today Institute Newsletter.

A new ballot question gives voters a say on how much control the governor gets over state budget dollars. And as Baltimore County renters remain vulnerable to evictions during the pandemic, County Council will take up a vote to protect them from rent hikes.

SCREENSHOT VIA BALTIMORE COUNTY COUNCIL PAGE

The Baltimore County Council is voting on a bill Monday evening that aims to protect tenants from eviction during the pandemic. The bill consists of regulations on sudden residential rent increases.

Second District Councilman Izzy Patoka, the bill’s sponsor, presented the bill at a county council work session last week.

“The issue I'm bringing forward today.relates to an economic and health crisis,” he said at the session. 

Baltimore County voters are already submitting ballots in certified drop boxes. State restrictions loosen on daycares and nursing homes. Maryland police reform proves divisive along party lines. And some city schools open as ‘student learning centers’ for vulnerable students.

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