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WYPR Coronavirus Coverage

The Daily Dose 5-22-20

May 22, 2020

The top news of the day from Baltimore City, Baltimore County, and around the state. Plus, a deep dive into the Digital Divide. Who has access to computers and wired broadband internet? Who doesn’t? And what are the repercussions? Is internet access a human right in the era of Coronavirus?

The Daily Dose 5-21-20

May 21, 2020
Baltimore County

Varying states of emergency and uneven restrictions across the state have local leaders on the defensive with their constituents. And we talk with a palliative care specialist about her role as a bridge between isolated COVID-19 patients and their families.


Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic two months ago, more than 43,500 Marylanders have been sickened by the coronovirus.  It has killed more than 2000 Marylanders, 270 of them residents of Baltimore County.  And while the rate of hospitalizations in the state has finally begun to decline, as of today there are still 1,375 people receiving intensive care for COVID-19, many of them at medical facilities here in Baltimore. 

Now, a story from the front lines of the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic, from Marian Grant.  She is a palliative care nurse practitioner at the University of Maryland Medical Center, and a policy consultant on health care issues with a DNP doctorate in nursing. And for the last several weeks, she has been working with COVID 19 patients, their families, and the medical teams in the UMMC's Intensive Care Unit.

She joins Tom via Skype phone from her home in Reisterstown, Maryland

Read Marian Grant's opinion piece in today's Baltimore Sun Op Ed section, here.

Baltimore County

Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski relaxed Thursday COVID-19 related restrictions on churches and businesses in the county.

Meanwhile, the Baltimore County Council debated what it means to be under a state of emergency and whether it should be extended.

At a morning news conference, Olszewski said retail stores can reopen starting at 9 am Friday. But no more than 10 people, including staff, can be inside the store at a time.

verkeorg / Flickr Creative Commons

Thousands of low-income families are making it through the pandemic without a computer or reliable Internet access. For students, that means distance learning without a screen big enough to see or a keyboard big enough to type. For adults who have lost their jobs, it means it’s hard to apply for work or unemployment.

Emily Sullivan/WYPR

Stores in Baltimore City are closed. In Baltimore and Anne Arundel counties, retail is open for curbside pickup and delivery. In Harford and Carroll counties, customers can actually go inside stores.

When Gov. Larry Hogan replaced his stay-at-home order with a “Safer at Home” advisory and lifted some other statewide restrictions last week, he said what’s considered safe will necessarily vary county by county. He pointed to Montgomery and Prince George’s counties, which together account for more than half of the state’s COVID-19 cases. He left it up to local officials to decide how to move forward into the first phase of his recovery plan. 


The result is a patchwork of rules that change as you cross county lines. Some county health officers told state lawmakers on Wednesday that the variation forces them into a defensive position as they explain their choices to confused residents. 

The Daily Dose 5-20-20

May 20, 2020

A new WYPR poll shows how Baltimore feels about voting by mail. Baltimore County Public Schools prepare for an influx of private school students. And two Maryland companies are helping to train a new workforce.


Today, a look at the road ahead for the millions of Americans who’ve lost their jobs during the coronavirus pandemic.  

Over the past three months, as COVID-19 has taken the lives of more than 90,000 Americans and sickened over a million and a half others, it has also ravaged the US economy. Nationwide business shutdowns have produced levels of unemployment and business failure that haven’t been seen in the US since the Great Depression of the 1930s -- a crisis that prompted Congress to pass a series of multi-trillion-dollar financial relief measures.  Now, as the nation’s economy gradually begins to re-open, what are the job prospects for the legions of unemployed, both here in Baltimore and across America? 

Tom's guests today run two of the region’s most innovative workforce development and technology training companies.

AP photo/John Minchillo

Governor Hogan’s decision to relax some restrictions and partly open commerce in the state has been met with elation … and confusion. Ashley Duckman from the Maryland Chamber of Commerce tells us about its ‘ReNEW Maryland’’ proposal, a policy road map to assist business owners and customers through the ‘great reopening.’ And Caryn York, CEO of the Job Opportunities Task Force, says the opening may present a tough choice for many of her clients, who are essential workers. Plus, Tammira Lucas from Moms As Entrepreneurs who talks about what’s available and not available for moms who own businesses.

Go here to see the ReNEW Maryland plan from the Maryland Chamber of Commerce. Visit this link to learn more about and support Job Opportunities Task Force and go here to learn more about and support Moms As Entrepreneurs.

Friends School

Many public schools in Baltimore County are already overcrowded and county officials believe that could get worse because of a coming stream of students from private schools.

They are worried that some parents might get priced out of private schools in the COVID-19 economy.

The Daily Dose 5-19-20

May 19, 2020

When it comes to COVID-19 statistics, the Native American community is funneled into the category of ‘other.’ What does that mean for accessing proportionate resources? Plus: A medical systems CEO reckons with the bitter irony of empty emergency rooms and staff furloughs, all in the midst of a pandemic.

In the world of public health data is king. A syndrome, a disorder, a disease … must be widely tracked in order to garner the resources and support to eradicate it. The U.S. Native American population is flying under the radar in the Covid 19 toll … being categorized as ‘other.’ Kerry Hawk Lessard, executive director of Native American Lifelines in Baltimore tells us why that could devastate her community. Plus, Louis Campbell, educator and sought-after lead male dancer, talks about how native communities around the country are practicing social distance pow wows.

To see a video of Louis Campbell dancing to modern blended music from A Tribe Called Red, visit this link. To see photos of Campbell in traditional dress, visit this link.

For information on Native American Lifelines, visit this link. For general pow wow information, visit this link.

The Daily Dose 5-18-20

May 18, 2020

Maryland doctors speak out against crowded immigration detention centers. City voters have to wait a bit longer to get their ballots. A new study highlights the risk of eviction for some black Baltimore residents. And Maryland’s transit system tries to accommodate essential workers safely.

Eli Pousson / Flickr

Black Baltimore residents are evicted nearly three times more often than white residents,  according to a new report by researchers at the University of California Berkeley and the University of Washington.


  Ballots addressed to Baltimore City voters were not mailed until at least last Thursday, a full week later than planned and long after ballots were sent to other registered voters across Maryland.

A statement from the Maryland Board of Elections on Sunday said that the June 2 primary mail-in ballots for Baltimore City voters are now expected to arrive by May 23. The board had originally said that Baltimoreans could expect ballots from early to mid-May.  


Brandon for Baltimore Facebook page

Baltimore’s next mayor will face the challenge of managing pandemic recovery while addressing gun violence and record unemployment. 

Mary Rose Madden / WYPR

Doctors from throughout Maryland gathered outside  Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Baltimore field office Sunday as part of a weeklong national vigil to demand ICE detainees be released because of fears of the coronavirus.

They argue that the cramped conditions in the jails are especially dangerous during this pandemic.

A COVID Audio Diary

May 18, 2020
Towson University

Back in March, college students around Maryland headed off for Spring Break. Most never returned to campus. 

The Daily Dose 5-15-20

May 15, 2020

Governor Hogan’s re-opening of the state began today, but some county leaders are being more cautious. Strike teams are trying to curb the rate of deaths and infections at nursing homes. And a Baltimore non-profit is helping unemployed residents find their footing, emotionally and financially.

Last Thursday Gov. Hogan vetoed more than 36 bills including funding for Maryland’s HBCUs and the Kirwan Commission’s education reforms.

State Senate President Bill Ferguson joins Tom to discuss how the legislature will move forward in light of the Governor’s vetoes of virtually all of the legislation passed in the abbreviated 2020 session that requires any additional state funding.

Peter Bulthuis Flickr/Creative Commons

What does it mean that reported cases of child abuse in Maryland plummeted after the stay at home order in March, and are now edging up again? Adam Rosenberg of the Baltimore Child Abuse Center, says the reality doesn’t match the numbers. Teachers, child-care workers, therapists and others who might normally spot something going on with a child--and have a duty to report it--aren’t close enough these days. We ask Rosenberg how reporting could be streamlined, how technology might help caseworkers check in with families, and where he thinks the situation is headed.

To view the BCAC PSA, visit this link.  DJ Kopec dance party fund raiser info is here and the NSPCC link is here. To read the Baltimore Sun child abuse op ed, visit this link. For information on CASA, Court Appointed Child Advocates, visit this link.

Baltimore County

The Baltimore County Council voted Thursday to delay making deep cuts into the county budget. 

Council members are crossing their fingers that financial aid is coming soon from Congress.

The Daily Dose 5-14-20

May 14, 2020

Maryland is on the eve of its first stage of reopening. The mayor of Baltimore says its COVID-19 curve has not been sufficiently flattened. And the Baltimore County Council is trying to hold off on making massive budget cuts.


 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.

Courtesy of Miller for Mayor

Today, we continue our series of Conversations with the Candidates.  Tom's guest is Mary Miller, one six Democrats considered leaders in the race for mayor. 

This is Ms. Miller’s first run for political office. After a long career at T Rowe Price, she was appointed by President Obama to top jobs at the Treasury Department. She was the first woman to serve as Under Secretary for Domestic Finance.   For the last few years, she has been a Senior Fellow at the Johns Hopkins University 21st Century Cities Initiative. 

A reminder that the primary is being conducted primarily by mail. If you are a registered voter, you should be receiving your ballot soon. Remember that the ballot has to be signed and postmarked by June 2. If you are not yet registered to vote, there’s still time. The deadline to register is May 27. For more information about how to register to vote, click here.

Rachel Baye / WYPR

Maryland’s job market may not recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic until the end of 2024 or even later, according to the latest analysis presented to the Maryland Board of Revenue Estimates on Thursday.

Amber Case/Flickr Creative Commons

Maryland is starting to build a workforce of contact tracers--people who can talk to someone who has tested positive for Covid-19, persuade them to self-isolate, and ask who they've been in touch with who now may also have the disease. Tracing is as much about giving information and help in finding what someone needs to stay in quarantine … as about sleuthing out friends and connections.  Dr. Emily Gurley of Johns Hopkins describes the skills of a contact tracer. And we ask Anne Arundel County’s health officer Dr. Nilesh Kalyanaraman, and nurse Karen Karnes how it works. For information on contact tracing data collection, visit this link.

Rachel Baye

Gov. Larry Hogan’s stay-at-home order will lift Friday at 5 p.m., allowing some businesses to open. But many restrictions will remain in place, and the rules will vary county by county. 

Lauren Watley, Baltimore County Government

The Baltimore County Council is expected to make what one councilman said will be historic budget cuts on Thursday.

The county is dealing with a budget shortfall projected to be at least $172 million, caused by the wrecking of the economy by the COVID-19 pandemic. Cuts to the school budget as well as delaying pay increases for county employees are on the table.

The Holy Month of Ramadan is a time when Muslims around the world mark the Prophet Mohammad’s receiving of the first chapters of the Quran from Allah.  It is a time of reflection, prayer, and celebration. This year,  however, the coronavirus pandemic has made observance of Ramadan exceptionally difficult.

Joining Tom to discuss those challenges is Dr. Faheem Younus. He is an infectious diseases expert at the University of Maryland and a member of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community.

Dr. Younus speaks to us by phone from his office.