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WYPR Coronavirus Coverage

photo by Rob Sivak/WYPR

Baltimore Ceasefire 365 is a community-based movement that soon will be marking the third anniversary of its campaign to reduce violence in Baltimore.  Throughout the year, and annually on four designated weekends -- including this past Mother’s Day weekend -- the group holds activities across the city designed, it says, to “promote peacefulness and celebrate life,” as it asks people in Baltimore, in essence, to stop killing for 72 hours. 

Tom is joined now by Erricka Bridgeford, one of the co-founders and leaders of Baltimore Ceasefire 365. She describes how the movement has carried on through the difficult days of the COVID-19 pandemic.

If you're interested in learning more about the Baltimore Ceasefire movement, visit its Website.

Courtesy of T.J. Smith for Mayor Campaign

As Baltimore residents brace for further consequences from the coronavirus pandemic, they are also looking for the city’s next mayor to lead recovery efforts and interrupt the cycle of gun violence.

TJ Smith, former spokesman for the Baltimore Police Department, is a Democratic candidate running for Baltimore mayor. We ask about his long career in law enforcement, his plan for economic recovery from Covid-19, and creating jobs.

The deadline to register to vote is May 27th. You can register online at the Maryland State Board of Elections.

Baltimore County Public Schools

Students and teachers throughout Maryland have a month of online learning under their belts, and they learned for sure last week that’s how it will be for the rest of the school year.

Now school systems like Baltimore County Public Schools are taking what they have learned so far about virtual learning and trying to figure out what’s next.

The Daily Dose 5-8-20

May 8, 2020
WIDE ANGLE YOUTH MEDIA

All the day’s top news, plus a story about one annual high school tradition that will not be cancelled this year: Prom 2020 goes live on-line across Baltimore and beyond, thanks to the ingenuity and determination of the young minds at Wide Angle Youth Media.  

Courtesy of Sheila Dixon

Tom's guest is former Baltimore City Mayor Sheila Dixon, who is in a crowded field of Democrats running for the office she held from 2007 to 2010.

Ms. Dixon represented the 4th District on the City Council for 12 years in the late '80s and '90s. She served as president of the City Council from 1999 until January 2007, when she became mayor after Martin O’Malley became governor.  Ms. Dixon was elected to her own term later that year.  In 2010, she resigned following a conviction for embezzlement and an Alford plea in a separate case in which she was charged with perjury.  She ran for mayor again in 2016.  She narrowly lost the Democratic primary to Catherine Pugh, and she garnered more than 51,000 votes in the general election as a write-in candidate.

This year's primary election will be conducted almost entirely by mail. Voters should receive a ballot soon. The ballot is marked April 28th, but you’ll find instructions that remind you that the April primary has been moved to June. You must mail your ballot back to the Board of Elections, postmarked no later than June 2.

Francisco Àvia_Hospital Clínic / Flickr Creative Commons

As citizens across the US anxiously await ‘the great reopening’ from Covid-19 lockdowns, many healthcare workers remain steadfastly in place, caring for and comforting those stricken with the disease. Dr. Zackary Berger, a staff physician at Johns Hopkins Hospital and the Esperanza Center Health Clinic, talks about his experience in a Covid-19 ward. He says that alongside the urgency ... it’s a lot about communication. 

The Covid hotline number for the Esperanza Center (Spanish) is 667-600-2314.

Johns Hopkins Covid hotline (Spanish and English) is 443-997-9537. Spanish speakers can also go to this CentroSOL website.

Rachel Baye / WYPR

Gov. Larry Hogan has vetoed more than three dozen bills the General Assembly passed during this year’s abbreviated session. The rejected bills include a massive school system overhaul; funding for Maryland’s historically black colleges and universities; and a bill closing a background check loophole for long guns.

Nathan Sterner and Rachel Baye talk about some of the vetoes.

The Daily Dose 5-7-20

May 7, 2020
Credit Rachel Baye / WYPR

Maryland’s governor eases restrictions on some outdoor activities. A heated debate over easing fees on Baltimore County developers is settled. Maryland’s treasurer says employees at state-run facilities need better protection. And researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine test an experimental COVID-19 vaccine.

Baltimore County

A proposal to delay when developers will have to pay impact fees in Baltimore County is dead.

County Councilman Julian Jones said he is withdrawing the legislation because it is clear it would not pass.

Office of the Mayor

It's another edition of our series of Conversations with the Candidates, and Tom's guest today is the Mayor of Baltimore, Bernard C. "Jack" Young, a veteran city lawmaker and former City Council President who stepped into the mayor’s job about a year ago when Catherine Pugh resigned.

Mayor Young has spent years in city government, and the year he has spent as Baltimore's mayor has been eventful, to say the least.  It began with a crippling ransomware attack on the city’s computer system and now, of course, the city is dealing with an unprecedented global pandemic.  More than 2,800 city residents have been infected with the coronavirus.  Nearly 150 Baltimoreans have died from COVID-19.  And, the longstanding problem of violence on city streets remains.  More than 92 people have been victims of homicide so far this year.

Cara Ober

And now, a first-person account from a woman who was diagnosed with COVID-19 last month after experiencing symptoms in the middle of March. 

Cara Ober is the founder and publisher of Bmore Art, an online and print magazine that covers art and culture in the Baltimore-Washington corridor.  The magazine has published two extended essays Ms. Ober wrote, over the course of a month, describing her harrowing experience with the disease. You can read them here, and here.

Cara Ober is now recovering from her illness, and she joins us via Skype Phone from her home in Baltimore.

Marco Verch / Flickr Creative Commons

Until there’s a vaccine against Covid-19, we’ll need to keep our distance, wash our hands a lot, and sustain the other restraints that are sapping the economy--and our social lives. So Gov. Hogan sounded excited to report that the Free State is moving fast, along with several other research institutions, to test a vaccine.

Maryland Department of Health

Employees in state hospitals and correctional faclilites have been worrying about the difficult and dangerous conditions they've been working under since this pandemic began.

Wednesday, they found an advocate in State Treasurer Nancy Kopp. She pressed Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford at the Board of Public Works meeting on the need at many facilities for medical supplies and for better communication from the administration of Gov. Larry Hogan.

Rachel Baye / WYPR

Maryland public schools will be closed for the rest of the school year, State Superintendent of Schools Karen Salmon announced Wednesday. At the same time, Gov. Larry Hogan said he is loosening some of the restrictions put in place more than a month ago to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

The Daily Dose 5-6-20

May 6, 2020
Credit AP/PATRICK SEMANSKY

Baltimore City’s budget gets even leaner in its latest revision. In Baltimore County, easing Impact Fees for developers draws political ire. And there’s help for those having the hardest time dealing with this pandemic, emotionally and psychologically.

AP/PATRICK SEMANSKY

  


  When Baltimore’s budget director Bob Cenname presented the city’s fiscal year 2021 budget in late March, he called it “largely irrelevant.” 

That’s because the coronavirus pandemic had dealt an enormous blow to the city’s revenue stream, a loss of $103 million. With fewer people driving, working and traveling, the city is collecting less in taxes.

The budget, which is traditionally written over the course of a year, was completely rewritten in  April. On Wednesday, Cenname and his staff presented the revised budget, which accounts for the revenue loss and proposes trimmed spending across agencies.

On today’s Midday Healthwatch with Dr. Leana Wen:  When can the state and the country reopen safely?   What have we learned about the virus so far, and are researchers getting closer to a treatment?   

Dr. Leana Wen is a visiting professor of health policy and management at the Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University, and a distinguished fellow at the Mullan Institute for Health Workforce Equity.

Heard on today’s show: The primary next month will be conducted largely by mail due to the coronavirus pandemic. All mail in ballots must be postmarked on or before June 2nd. 

For those who aren’t able to vote by mail, there will be a few in-person voting centers. When you get your ballot, ignore the fact that it says April 28th. The date of the primary has been moved to June 2. 

You can find more information on the Maryland Board Of Elections website. 

Lauren Watley, Baltimore County Government

Impact fees on developers are supposed to take effect in Baltimore County July 1. But County Councilman Julian Jones, citing COVID-19 issues, is proposing legislation that would delay the implementation of the fees for three months.

The Daily Dose 5-5-20

May 5, 2020
photo credit EMILY SULLIVAN

Maryland lawmakers challenge the governor’s stay-at-home orders. The old Bethlehem Steel site might be an economic bright spot for the county. The first COVID-19 death is reported at a state psychiatric hospital. And the “Y” steps in to help children of essential workers.

Sheppard Pratt Health System

Now, a conversation about how the COVID-19 pandemic is threatening not only our physical and financial well-being, but also our mental health. 

Across the nation, tens of millions of people in all walks of life -  from front-line hospital staff and shuttered small business owners to unemployed restaurant workers and parents staying home with their kids — are reporting increased levels of psychological stress about the COVID-19 illness and the threat it poses to them, their loved ones, and their livelihoods.

The impact of this heightened stress is indisputable.  What kinds of services are available during the pandemic to help people cope with psychological trauma? 

Tom's guest is Dr. Harsh Trivedi.  He’s is the President and CEO of the Sheppard Pratt Health System in Baltimore, one of the nation’s largest private, non-profit providers of mental health, substance use and other special-needs services.  He is also a professor of psychiatry at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

Maryland Department of Health

The first patient from a state run hospital in Maryland died of COVID -19 over the weekend, a state health official confirmed.

The patient was staying in the geriatric ward of the Spring Grove Hospital Center in Catonsville, where, in the last two weeks, several patients and employees have tested positive for COVID-19.

Spring Grove is one of about ten state run hospitals that have a total of 1400 patients.  The Clifton T. Perkins Medical Center in Howard County is also experiencing an outbreak.  

Tradepoint Atlantic

When the steel mill at Sparrows Point closed in 2012, it was an economic disaster for Eastern Baltimore County. But now during this COVID-19 driven recession, the old Bethlehem Steel site, which is being redeveloped as Tradepoint Atlantic, is a job-hiring bright spot.

Emily Sullivan/WYPR


 A group of state lawmakers, businesses and religious leaders has filed a lawsuit challenging several of Gov. Larry Hogan’s emergency executive orders, including the one requiring residents only leave their homes for “essential” reasons.

 

The lawsuit argues that the governor overstepped his authority by quarantining healthy people inside their homes alongside the sick and closing non-essential businesses. 

The Daily Dose 5-4-20

May 4, 2020

State officials call for more federal relief funds for Baltimore City. Advocates aim to prevent a spike in evictions that could coincide with the lifting of Maryland’s state of emergency. And foreign migrant workers find themselves excluded from federal aid.

John Hoey

Today on our program:  the role of non-profits and philanthropies in confronting the community challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, as seen through the experience of two local leaders. 

With the profound social and economic disruptions caused by the coronovirus, the need for food, child care, and medical services has never been greater. 

How are charities and grant makers responding? And how are non-profits themselves staying afloat to continue their important work in their communities, at a time when the challenges of providing assistance to those in need are stretching resources thin?

In the first half of the program, Tom talks with John Hoey, the President and CEO of The Y In Central Maryland.  Among its expanded array of community-support activities during the pandemic, the Y is now providing day care at more than a dozen emergency child care sites.     

In the second half of the show,  Tom is joined by Shanaysha Sauls. She is the President and CEO of the Baltimore Community Foundation, a 45 year-old coalition of more than 800 charitable organizations that collectively support food assistance and other services for residents in all corners of Baltimore City. 

In mid-March, the foundation made emergency grants to nearly 20 front-line non-profits that were distributing essential supplies like diapers, formula, food and hygiene products to area residents.  The COVID-19 Response Funding collaborative has brought together several area foundations to assess needs and make grants.

 

For more information on what these groups are doing, and how you can help, click on their links above.  And remember: tomorrow is Giving TuesdayNow!  See what you can do to help the people and organizations in your local community cope with the COVID-19 pandemic.  

If you'd like to support WYPR's public radio programming and community engagement activities, click here

Rachel Baye / WYPR


Angel Lopez lost his job as a mechanic in Baltimore when business slowed due to the coronavirus  pandemic. Then his partner lost her part-time job cleaning houses. 

 

Lopez is undocumented, and his partner’s application for asylum is on hold while the courts are closed. As a result, they don’t qualify for unemployment, federal stimulus money, or Baltimore’s small existing rental assistance program.

During an interview in mid-April, Lopez said he wasn’t sure how he would pay for May’s rent. He said he was considering selling his car.

Baltimore’s next mayor will face inherited challenges--like persistent gun violence and public transit failures--and new obstacles born of the pandemic.

Mary Miller, a former T. Rowe Price executive and top U.S. Treasury official under President Obama, is running for the Democratic nomination to be mayor of Baltimore. She warns the city may lose as many as a quarter of its small businesses because of the pandemic, and proposes a plan of action.

Baltimore County

Baltimore County is opening its fourth COVID-19 testing site  Monday, the first one on the eastern side of the county.

Cianna Greaves / WYPR


  Protestors plan to rally on Saturday in an effort to convince Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan to lift the state of emergency and allow businesses to reopen. It mirrors other such protests in states across the country where governors are keeping businesses closed to reduce the spread of COVID-19. 

 

But new polling out this week shows that the majority of Marylanders don’t share the group’s view.

Baltimore county pleads for more federal funds to plug a massive budget hole. Organizers of Open Up Maryland prepare to rally this weekend, but a new poll suggests its supporters are in the minority. Plus: How are local farmers handling the toll that COVID-19 has taken on commodities markets?

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