WYPR Coronavirus Coverage | WYPR

WYPR Coronavirus Coverage

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.

Maryland State Archives

Ballots arriving in voters’ mailboxes list the upcoming statewide primary election date as April 28, but the election is actually on June 2.

Nikki Charlson, the Deputy Administrator of the Maryland Board of Elections, told state legislators Wednesday that the error occurred because the ballots were printed before Gov. Hogan’s decision to postpone the election due to the coronavirus pandemic back in mid-March.

Johns Hopkins Medicine

More than half of Maryland’s COVID-19 fatalities have been nursing home residents - a population that's especially vulnerable to this virus. At least six nursing facilities in the state have each reported 100 or more cases of COVID-19. Clearly, we need to protect them and the nurses, doctors, aides, therapists and others coming to work each day in America’s nursing homes.

To that end, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan last month announced the establishment of statewide “strike teams” to support nursing home facilities now struggling to keep the coronavirus at bay.  The teams are made up of members of the National Guard, representatives of local and state health departments and emergency medical clinicians, as well as doctors and nurses from local hospital systems.  Dr. Matthew McNabney is a geriatrician at Johns Hopkins Medicine and the medical director of Hopkins ElderPlus, a voluntary preventive and long-term healthcare program for independent seniors. As a member of Hopkins' Go Teams, he has taken part in several of the state's strike team missions to assist local nursing facilities. 

Dr. McNabney joins Tom on the line from his office at the Hopkins Bayview Medical Center in Baltimore.

Elvert Barnes / Flickr Creative Commons

The toll of the coronavirus on the African American community is devastating: higher rates of hospitalization and higher rates of death.

Dr. Lisa Cooper, director of the Hopkins Center for Health Equity and the Hopkins Urban Health Institute, says it is no surprise. Cooper explains how comprehensive demographic data about testing, hospital use, and death can be used to tailor outreach. She shares her concerns about the stigma that falls on the very people at higher risk.

Then, Nneka N'namdi, founder of Fight Blight Baltimore, on what she’s observed in West Baltimore and why public-health outreach is called for. Read her commentary here.


Maryland’s unemployment insurance system has been plagued by problems for weeks. For more than nine hours on Tuesday, dozens of residents took turns sharing their experiences navigating the system with members of two state Senate committees.

Residents described spending entire days on hold with state call centers and sending repeated emails, trying to reach a Department of Labor staff member who might be able to help. They said claims are rejected without reason, and benefits that were approved suddenly stop coming.

The Daily Dose 5-12-20

May 12, 2020

Baltimore passes a bill to prohibit rent increases during a declared state of emergency. Police report that nearly empty highways are giving rise to reckless driving. And in Baltimore’s public transit system, reduced schedules and social distancing put a strain on riders and operators.

John Lee

Baltimore County’s police chief said Tuesday people are driving horrendously during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Use of public transit is down in Baltimore during the Covid-19 lockdown, but not as much as in other cities. Many residents rely on public transit as their main method of getting around and many are essential workers. Brian O’Malley, president of the Central Maryland Transportation Alliance, talks about how reduced schedules and physical distancing are affecting riders and operators. And Liz Cornish, executive director of Bikemore, hopes this ‘citywide time out’ will provide valuable lessons for how streets will be designed in the future.

For the latest public transit updates, visit this link.

To participate in Bike Month, Social Distance style, visit this link. To volunteer to deliver food by bike for Bikemore/Real Food Farms/Civic Works, visit this link.  For more information on the Central Maryland Transportation Alliance, visit this link.

AP/Patrick Semansky

A Baltimore City Council bill to prevent landlords from increasing rent during declared emergencies passed Monday night. More than half of Baltimoreans rent their homes. 

The bill, called the Baltimore City COVID-19 Renter Relief Act, was first introduced by City Council President Brandon Scott in late April. 

The bill prohibits landlords from raising rent during the ongoing state of emergency and retroactively cancels rent increases that have gone into effect after March 5. 

The Daily Dose 5-11-20

May 11, 2020
Francisco Àvia_Hospital Clínic / Flickr Creative Commons

School officials in Baltimore County believe all students now have the tools they need to finish the school year on-line. And one Maryland doctor reflects on how treating COVID-19 patients is an emotional drain and a blessing.

Heartly House, Inc.

Since Governor Larry Hogan issued a stay at home order for Marylanders on March 30, public health officials and protective services workers have noted a precipitous decline in police reports of domestic and child abuse.  And the state-run Child Protective Services agency in Maryland reports 70% fewer calls during the first week of April, compared to the same period last year.

But experts are concerned that vulnerable adults and children are actually more at risk during the Coronavirus pandemic than they were before it started. For vulnerable individuals living with an abuser, home isn’t a safe place. 

Today on Midday, a conversation about how COVID-19 has exacerbated the crisis of domestic violence, and what resources are available to victims. Tom's guests are two of Maryland's leading advocates for victims and survivors of domestic and sexual abuse.