WYPR Coronavirus Coverage | WYPR

WYPR Coronavirus Coverage

The Daily Dose 8-14-20

Aug 14, 2020

One of the world’s preeminent vaccine experts is right here in Baltimore, and she joins us to answer the question: How close are we to developing a COVID-19 vaccine? Plus, a noteworthy coronavirus recovery story: The Baltimore County Health Officer says he’s back on his feet after a bout with the virus.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The Baltimore County Department of Health hit its goal of distributing 100,000 COVID-19 safety kits to residents. The kits include masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, soap and educational information about the coronavirus. 

Baltimore County

Baltimore County Health Officer Dr. Gregory Branch said he has recovered following contracting COVID-19 several weeks ago.

Branch said he considers himself blessed because his symptoms were mild. He continued working while he was self-isolating and said he now is “back to my old self.”

The Daily Dose 8-13-20

Aug 13, 2020
Credit Seth Sawyers/flickr

The state is cutting off its funding of universal testing for COVID-19 at nursing homes. Baltimore renters, already taking an economic hit during this pandemic, will have to wait longer before seeing any relief from the city’s high water bills. And some Maryland school superintendents lay out a plan for an eventual return to the classroom.

Seth Sawyers/flickr

Public school students in central Maryland are starting the school year with a virtual learning model.

Thursday, three school superintendents laid out what needs to happen before those students can return to the classroom in a virtual discussion that got off to a rocky start with some technical difficulties.

Photo by Pawel Loj/Flickr Creative Commons

Today, Midday on Music: conversations with musicians across musical genres, to see how they are faring in a world where to gather in a large group is to put your life at risk. Instead, artists and arts organizations are adapting to an online-only world. 

Later in the show, Tom speaks with three pianists with local roots whose work has taken them to venues around the world:  Classical pianist Lura Johnson,  composer, producer and pianist Wendel Patrick and virtuoso jazz pianist Cyrus Chestnut.

We begin with a look at Maryland’s largest arts organization, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. The BSO’s performances, of course, have been put on hold -- except its online offerings. Brian Prechtl is a percussionist with the BSO, and the head of the Players Committee. Peter Kjome is the orchestra’s president and CEO. They join Tom on Zoom, like all our guests today.

During the show, we mentioned the following happenings by local performers and arts organizations, all of which are reaching audiences from a distance:

Cyrus Chestnut is appearing at Keystone Korner tonight through Sunday -- and helping NEA Jazz Master Todd Barkan celebrate his 74th birthday. The onsite concert is sold out. Virtual tickets are still available.

Sidewalk Serenades from Creative Alliance: Have a short performance delivered to your sidewalk, or send one to a friend.

Craig Alston and Friends Birthday Celebration: Streaming live from An Die Musik tonight at 7 pm!

Ken and Brad Kolodner and Friends: Streaming live this Saturday at 8 pm, part of the Creative Alliance’s Virtual Front Row series of concerts. 

The Social Isolation Song Series by Baltimore-based Dan and Claudia Zanes. For more than 150 days, they have posted a daily song.  Here’s their adaptation of “Which Side are You On?"

Neil Moralee https://www.flickr.com/photos/neilmoralee/

Stay-at-home measures help ward off COVID-19, but they take a toll. Some people are experiencing side effects --like depression--after weeks of self-isolation. The Mental Health Association of Maryland launched ‘The Connections Project’ to pair vulnerable seniors with volunteers who provide conversation and care, virtually. Kim Burton, director of the Association’s Older Adult programs, explains how it works. And we hear from volunteer Sharyn Doyle, and Barbara Feldman, who receives calls from her three times a week.

The Connections Project information can be found here. For Baltimore Neighbors Network, visit this link. For the Pro Bono Counseling Project/United Way of Maryland Warmline, call 211 or 443-608-9182.

The Daily Dose 8-12-20

Aug 12, 2020
Drew Morris/Flickr

Baltimore’s Mayor says it’s crucial for every resident to be counted before an early end to the 2020 census. And Baltimore County hammers out the details of a fully virtual first semester of school.

Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center

Efforts to slow transmission of the coronavirus have affected nearly every walk of life. Two chaplains tell us how they’ve creatively adapted their approaches to offer comfort and care to patients and staff during this time of social distancing. Rabbi Jeffrey Orkin is director of pastoral care at Levindale long-term care facility. And Rev. Denise White is staff chaplain at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center. Because visitors are are allowed in only a few circumstances during the pandemic, she says the solace she can offer patients is even more urgent.

Baltimore County Public Schools

Baltimore County students will be doing distance learning through at least the first semester. Tuesday night the Baltimore County School Board got into the nitty gritty of what that’s going to look like. Everything from attendance, to class schedules, to conduct, to sports got an airing out.

WYPR’s John Lee listened in on the meeting and joined Morning Edition host Nathan Sterner to talk about it.

The Daily Dose 8-11-20

Aug 11, 2020
Sarah Y Kim / WYPR

Baltimore County gets ready to sign off on a virtual school reopening. Maryland lawyers volunteer to help low-income families with legals problems caused by the pandemic. Plus, the latest on the deadly gas explosion in residential Northwest Baltimore.

The Daily Dose 8-10-20

Aug 10, 2020

Emergency crews are sifting through the rubble of a deadly gas explosion in residential Northwest Baltimore. Maryland’s public defenders unionize in a bid for better and safer working conditions. And medical specialists are using tele-health techniques to diagnose and treat skin cancer.

The Daily Dose 8-7-20

Aug 7, 2020
The National Library of Medicine/Public Domain

Baltimore gets labeled a COVID-19 hot spot by the White House coronavirus task force. The University System of Maryland decides on a hybrid of in-person and virtual learning this fall. And what lessons can we learn from the Spanish Influenza pandemic of 1918-1919?

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.

Melissa Gerr

Twelve weeks before an important national election, Maryland has only about half the normal number of elections judges and David Garreis thinks many of them may still decide the coronavirus makes working the polls Nov. 3 too risky. Garreis leads the ‘Maryland Association of Elections Officials,’ which wants to replace precinct voting with fewer, bigger voting centers--maybe at high schools--where people from anywhere in that county could vote. It would need the governor’s OK.

To register for a mail-in ballot, visit this link.

The Daily Dose 8-6-20

Aug 6, 2020
Xavier Donat / Flickr Creative Commons

A shortage of elections judges could mean fewer polling places, but larger vote centers for the November election. Baltimore restaurants have gotten the OK to once again allow in-door dining. And coronavirus fears have kept thousands of Maryland families from getting their kids routine vaccinations.


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. 

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

On today's edition of the News Wrap, Tamara Keith, NPR's White House correspondent and host of its Politics Podcast, joins Tom with her perspectives on a busy news week in Washington, with fewer than 100 days remaining before the November 3rd general election...

Xavier Donat / Flickr Creative Commons

As coronavirus spread, families stayed home, and children missed their scheduled immunizations. Pediatrician Dr. James Campbell warns that skipping these shots may result in an epidemic during a pandemic. Read more about threat of under-vaccination here.

Then, Stacie Stender, of Jhpiego, an international non-profit, describes how the pandemic disrupted global efforts to contain HIV, malaria, and tuberculosis. What does coronavirus mean for battling the spread of other infectious diseases? Read more about Jhpiego's work to contain COVID-19 here.

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.

Maryland State Fair

Forget the rides, the games and the food. There will be no Maryland State Fair this year.

Fair officials announced Wednesday they have to cancel the 12-day annual event to combat the spread of COVID-19.

The Daily Dose 8-5-20

Aug 5, 2020
Rachel Baye/WYPR

Applications for mail-in ballots go out to Marylanders on August 24th, but Governor Hogan still insists that all polling places be open on Election Day. And while health officials urge us to take more activities outside to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19, we may be putting ourselves at higher risk for another illness with similar symptoms – Lyme disease.

Rachel Baye / WYPR

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.

The Daily Dose 8-4-20

Aug 4, 2020
Baltimore County Councilman Julian Jones

Baltimore suffers some flooding, but Maryland emerges relatively unscathed by Tropical Storm Isaias. And the Baltimore County Council votes to table a police reform bill, for the moment.

The Daily Dose 8-3-20

Aug 3, 2020
Baltimore City Health Department

Baltimore’s Health Commissioner shares concerns about the city’s elevated COVID-19 infection rates. Hopkins researchers launch a nationwide clinical trial to test the effectiveness of coronavirus blood plasma treatments. And the pandemic slows down new public transportation plans in Towson.


This story is part of an NPR nationwide analysis of states' revenue and budgets during the pandemic.

Baltimore City Health Department

Today, on Midday with Tish the Commish, an update from Baltimore Health Commissioner Dr. Letitia Dzirasa on the troubling rise in the number of cases of COVID-19 in Baltimore, throughout Maryland, and the country.  

Yesterday, Dr. Deborah Birx, who is coordinating the federal response to COVID-19, painted a somewhat dire picture of the state of virus containment.  She told CNN that what we are seeing today is different from March and April.  She said that the virus is extraordinarily widespread, and that it is affecting both rural and metropolitan areas throughout the country.

The number of cases of COVID 19 in Maryland has climbed steadily in the past several weeks.  Since the middle of July, the State Health Department has reported more than 500 new cases every day.  Over the past week, there have been an average of 933 cases per day -- 175 in Baltimore City alone --  an increase of 31 percent from the average two weeks earlier.    Friday was one of four days last week in which Maryland saw more than 1,000 new cases.  At least 9 new coronavirus deaths and 910 new cases were reported in Maryland on Aug. 2.  As of Monday morning, there have been at least 90,835 cases and 3,515 deaths in our state since the beginning of the pandemic, according to a New York Times database.

Creative Commons/Cristina_Frost

During the coronavirus pandemic, millions of Americans are staying home in order to stay safe. But what if home is the opposite of safe … because you’re trapped inside with your abuser? Fushena Cruickshank from the The Maryland Health Care Coalition Against Domestic Violence, tells us how they’re training healthcare providers to help patients in these dangerous circumstances. And Lauren Shaivitz, director of the non-profit Chana, talks about the unique challenges their clients are facing during lockdown.

Check The National Domestic Abuse Hotline for resources or call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The Daily Dose 7-31-20

Jul 31, 2020
The Associated Press

Local election officials sound the alarm about enforcing masks and social distancing at the polls come November. And a Baltimore City Public Schools teacher shares a personal reflection on the challenges ahead for  the upcoming school year.

Photo by Ronnie Larry Tucker for Catholic Relief Services

Today, a conversation about how the coronavirus pandemic is creating not only hotspots for the virus, but new epicenters of hunger in countries all around the world.  Millions of people, already suffering because of armed conflict, climate change, poverty and broken food supply systems, are now at greater risk for starvation.

The United Nations reports that there are nearly 60 million more people who are under-nourished now than there were in 2014.  Arif Husain is the chief economist at the UN World Food Program.  He estimates that by the end of this year, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of people experiencing acute hunger in the world could increase by as much as 80 percent, to more than a quarter of a billion people.  The relief group Oxfam says that could mean as many as 12,000 people around the world dying every day from hunger -- a death rate higher than that from COVID-19 alone.