WYPR Coronavirus Coverage | WYPR

WYPR Coronavirus Coverage


 SeaChange, the mail-in ballot company that the state Board of Elections blamed for proofing errors in Baltimore’s June primary election, has walked away from its contract with Maryland less than two months before the November general election. 

The Minneapolis-based company informed the state board last week that it would not go through with the work needed to produce Maryland ballots; printing was scheduled to begin Sept. 3. Elections officials say the state has contracted with multiple vendors to print ballots and still on track to have all of its mail-in ballots printed by the end of this month.

The Daily Dose 9-11-20

Sep 11, 2020

Maryland cuts hazard pay for thousands of essential workers. And local concert venues struggle to outlast the pandemic.

Rachel Baye / WYPR

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. 

Acme Corporation

When was the last time you sat shoulder-to-shoulder with strangers in the dark, waiting for a theater curtain to rise? Or, perhaps the bigger question … When might be the next time? Acme Corporation co-artistic director Lola Pierson was paralyzed by that thought … so she created “The Institute for Counterfeit Memory,” a play contained in a box -- a way for patrons to experience live theater in their homes.

To get the play "The Institute for Counterfeit Memory Delivered to your home, visit this link. Boxes go on sale Tues. Sept. 15.

Emily Sullivan/WYPR

As the coronavirus pandemic rages on, non-essential businesses like bars and retail outlets are slowly re-opening. But concert venues like the Ottobar in Baltimore’s Remington neighborhood face a particular challenge: they were the first to close and they’ll be the last to fully reopen.  

In the before times, a typical Friday night at the alternative music venue involved dancing, drinking and “absolute madness,” said Tecla Tesnau, the Ottobar’s owner. 

The Daily Dose 9-10-20

Sep 10, 2020

The MTA says it will have to slash its budget, and bus routes, in 2021. Governor Hogan announces more 250,000 new rapid test kits for COVID-19. And Baltimore County prepares for an expected half of its voters to cast their ballots by mail.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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.

Simon & Schuster Publishers

Excerpts from Bob Woodwards new book, Rage, have raised harrowing questions about President Donald Trump’s prevarication to the public about the lethality of the COVID-19 virus, and his lack of action to control the pandemic. As the book reveals in great detail, Mr. Trump knew as early as late January just how serious and how transmissible the virus is, even as he downplayed the virus' threat in his public statements.

That shocking revelation -- coming as the US death toll from COVID-19 nears 200,000 -- also raises questions about Woodward’s decision to withhold the information he had about the virus, and important national security matters, until now.  Others have done the same thing.  Is it the right thing to do?

Erik Wemple, the media critic for the Washington Postjoins Tom on Zoom to discuss the issues surrounding Woodward's controversial new exposé of the Trump presidency.

Kathleen Lyon/Senator Theater

It's another edition of Midday at the Movies, our monthly look at films and filmmaking. Tom is joined today on Zoom by our movie maven regulars: Ann Hornaday, film critic for the Washington Post and author of Talking Pictures: How to Watch Moviesand Jed Dietz, founding director of the Maryland Film Festival and a leading player in the restoration of the historic Parkway theater on North Avenue.

Among the new films spotlighted today are Tenet and The Personal History of David Copperfield (both showing on the big screen this week at The Senator); and these virtual (theatrical streaming) films: Palm Springs; Bill and Ted Face the Music; I'm Thinking of Ending Things; Kajillionaire; and the documentaries, The Fight, A Thousand Cuts, Desert One, and Coup 53.

A little later in the hour, Tom talks with Kathleen Lyon, the co-owner of Baltimore's venerable Senator and Charles Theaters, about the Senator's reopening last weekend, after being shuttered by the pandemic for the past six months. Lyon says plans are in the works for the re-opening of the Charles, which continues to host a virtual schedule of films. 

AP/Julio Cortez

Transit officials, school officials and transit riders appeared virtually before the Baltimore City Council Wednesday night to discuss the Maryland Transit Administration’s proposed bus route cuts stemming from the fiscal impact of the coronavirus pandemic. 

“I don't, we don't, MDOT does not sit here as an opposing side trying to convince you that these cuts are OK,” Kevin Quinn, the MTA’s executive director, said before the council’s transportation committee. “They are impactful.” 


The Daily Dose 9-9-20

Sep 9, 2020

Data shows Maryland eviction cases have been on the rise since 2005. The University of Maryland College Park’s new president prepares to shift to in-person learning. And Capital Gazette staffers protest their owner’s decision to shut down their newsroom.

Wikimedia Commons


New data from the District Court of Maryland and Department of Legislative Services shows that landlord-tenant court cases in Maryland have been on a gradual upward trend since 2005. The vast majority of those are eviction cases for failure to pay rent.

There have been fewer landlord-tenant court cases in 2020 because of eviction moratoria during the pandemic. But before the pandemic began, cases were increasing across the state. 

Howard County Library System / Flickr Creative Commons

Internet access allows us to work and learn at home. For some, it’s a luxury out of their reach. To dent that digital divide, Adam Bouhmad founded Project Waves, a nonprofit that provides free Internet access to families across Baltimore.

UMBC assistant professor Foad Hamidi describes how lack of internet makes disparities even worse for low-income families. And Jay Bennet tells how getting connected to the web has made life easier.

The Daily Dose 9-8-20

Sep 8, 2020

The virtual schoolyear has officially started in Maryland. Baltimore County has suffered more unemployment than anywhere else in the state. And a federal moratorium on evictions gives renters a reprieve for the rest of 2020.

Maryland State Archives

Today on Midday, it's another Reporters' Notebook edition, as Tom surveys some of the top local and regional news developments with two of the best journalists on the scene: Rachel Baye and Josh Kurtz.  

WYPR State House reporter Rachel Baye joins Tom first to discuss Maryland Governor Larry Hogan's plans to move the state to a Phase 3 reopening; how the governor's thinking on COVID-19 has evolved since the pandemic's onset in the spring; the sharp differences in the approach to pandemic reopenings being taken by Baltimore City and Anne Arundel counties, for example; and why a large number of Catholic school teachers say they are quitting...

University of Maryland

Now, another installment of Midday on Higher Education, our occasional series of conversations with the leadership of the region's colleges and universities. 

Tom's guest today is Dr. Darryll J. Pines.  He was appointed earlier this year to be the 34th President of the University of Maryland, an office he assumed on July 1st.  President Pines holds three degree in engineering, including a doctorate from MIT, and he’s been on the faculty at College Park for more than two decades, serving most recently as the Dean of the Engineering School. 

President Darryll Pines joins Tom on Zoom to talk about how the University of Maryland is confronting the twin challenges of the viral pandemic and the national reckoning on racial justice. Dr. Pines explains how the pandemic has delayed the start of in-person instruction until September 14, and how he hopes to implement his ambitious 12-point plan for the university's future.

John Lee

There will be no school buses on the road Tuesday, even though it’s the first day of classes for a number of school systems in Maryland, including Baltimore City, and Baltimore and Howard Counties. Every school district in the state is starting the year with virtual learning.

Emily Sullivan/WYPR

  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. 

Associated Press/Jeff Chiu, File

This is a Labor Day like no other, with millions of people out of work due to the COVID-19 economy.

In Maryland, Baltimore County has had more people filing for unemployment during the pandemic than any other locality. According to the Maryland Department of Labor, from March through August, more than 93,000 people filed jobless claims in the county.

The Daily Dose 9-4-20

Sep 4, 2020
U.S. Navy (CC BY 2.0)

As we head into Labor Day weekend, Maryland is now in phase three of Governor Hogan’s COVID-19 reopening plan. But what businesses and venues are open and how many people are allowed to gather depends on where you live. And the CDC said this week that they expect a vaccine to be distributed to medical professionals by the first half of November, but will it be safe? And how will it coincide with the start of flu season?


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.”

Wes Moore, Erica Green

The original version of this program aired on April 24, 2020.

Some call it “The Uprising.”  Some call it “the riots.”  Whatever your point of view, the paroxysm of destruction that followed the death in police custody of Freddie Gray, in late April, 2015, exposed old wounds, and created a host of new ones for our city.


Today, we revisit a conversation Tom had earlier this year with Wes Moore and Erica L. Greentwo thoughtful observers of Baltimore who examined what happened at that critical moment in our city's history in their new book, called “Five Days: The Fiery Reckoning of an American City.”   

The Daily Dose 9-2-20

Sep 2, 2020

The details on Phase 3 of Maryland’s Roadmap to Recovery, the latest on eviction moratoriums, nationally and locally, and a conversation with the president of Baltimore’s Coppin State University, one of the few colleges in Maryland welcoming students back to campus.

Wikimedia Commons

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. 

Drew Morris/Flickr

Baltimore’s public schools and the city’s Department of Recreation and Parks are partnering to provide more than 1,000 students access to virtual learning lessons at 15 schools and recreation centers.


The program is to start September 28. It is designed to provide students in grades K-5 who might not have Wi-Fi access a way to complete their lessons.

John Lee

Baltimore County will follow the state’s lead and move into Stage 3 of reopening. That means all businesses in the county, including indoor theaters and other entertainment venues can reopen with restrictions.

Wikimedia Commons

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. 

The Daily Dose 9-1-20

Sep 1, 2020
Rachel Baye/WYPR

Governor Hogan says Maryland is ready for Phase 3 of reopening. The Maryland State Board of Education backs off its deadline for schools to increase live online instruction time. Baltimore County offers increased pay to lure more needed election judges. And a healthcare workers’ union rep talks about the need for safe and fair working conditions during the pandemic.

Krissy Venosdale // Flickr Creative Commons

The Maryland State Board of Education Tuesday approved a plan that sets the minimum number of hours students must receive live, online instruction from teachers.

The board backed off a proposal to put those requirements in place later this month, after critics said that was too soon, and would have caused confusion and chaos.

David J. Phillip/Associated Press

Why is it so hard to get a comprehensive count and description of the health care workers who have died from COVID-19? Are agencies … not keeping track, or hiding what they find? ProPublica recently told of an anesthesiologist who was disturbed by that question … and made tracing the ‘lives lost’ her mission. Journalist Nina Martin’s article is: Nobody Accurately Tracks Health Care Workers Lost to COVID-19. So She Stays Up At Night Cataloging the Dead. Plus Yvonne Slosarski from healthcare workers union 1199 SEIU talks about how they advocate for personal protective equipment and crisis pay. Visit the Lost on the Frontline site here.