WYPR Coronavirus Coverage | WYPR

WYPR Coronavirus Coverage

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. 

Who needs camp when you can design a mosaic, carve a statue from soap or compose a song … all from home! The ‘Baltimore Summer Arts Passport’ offers alternatives to ‘a cancelled camp summer’ for thousands of city youth. We talk with Julia di Busolo, executive director of Arts Every Day, who spearheaded the project, and with Dana Carr, executive director of Leaders of Tomorrow Youth Center. She believes the project could set the stage for future instruction.

For more information about the Baltimore Summer Arts Passport, visit this link. To make a Baltimore Summer Arts Passport donation, visit this link.

The Daily Dose 7-30-20

Jul 30, 2020
Baltimore County

The head of Baltimore County’s Health Department tests positive for COVID-19. The Census Bureau urges residents to be counted in Baltimore City, where response rates are low. Coronavirus cases are spiking in Baltimore. And Governor Hogan puts the brakes on Maryland’s Road Map to Recovery.

Baltimore City Health Department handout

Baltimore city officials are urging residents to stay home and obey face masks requirements after an “alarming” increase in the rate of COVID-19 infections in Baltimore.

“The vast majority of you are heeding our pleas to continue to practice social distancing and wear your face coverings,” City Health Commissioner Dr. Letitia Dzirasa said at a news conference alongside Mayor Jack Young on Thursday. “But the case data indicates that not enough of us are.”


Baltimore County

Baltimore County Health Officer Dr. Gregory Branch has tested positive for COVID-19.

According to a statement from the county health department, Dr. Branch was having a mild cough and a raspy voice and so he decided to get tested at a county clinic.

Rachel Baye / WYPR

In response to rising numbers of COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations in Maryland, Gov. Larry Hogan is expanding the list of places Marylanders are required to wear masks. Beginning Friday, masks will be required statewide in all indoor public places and outdoors when it’s impossible to keep physically distant from other people.

Mary Rose Madden / WYPR

According to Charles Gischlar, a spokesman for the Maryland Department of Health, typical turnaround time for COVID-19 test results in Maryland averages between two to seven days. 

There are publicly and privately run sites - and the Maryland Department of Health says the state has been averaging approximately 20,000 tests per day at all test sites for the last five days.


Rebecca Wilson has been an election judge since 2004 -– but this November, you won’t find her assisting voters at the polls.  

“I consider serving in the polling place to be my patriotic duty, and I love doing it, but I will not volunteer for an unnecessary suicide mission,” Prince George's County’s chief election judge said.

The Daily Dose 7-29-20

Jul 29, 2020
Baltimore County Police Department

Governor Hogan hits pause on Maryland’s reopening plans. The call gets louder for an all mail-in ballot this November. Things got heated in debate over police reforms at a Baltimore County Council public. And environmental activists say a Baltimore City incinerator is a public health threat.

The Daily Dose 7-28-20

Jul 28, 2020
Patrick Semansky/AP

Police-reform legislation goes before the Baltimore County Council. Housing relief applications are due this week, and there are growing calls for Governor Hogan to stave off mass evictions. And Baltimore Mayor Jack Young rules on two pressing charter amendments.


Applications for Governor Larry Hogan’s $10 million assisted housing relief program are due this week. The program will use federal CARES Act funds to provide rental assistance to tenants affected by COVID-19. Property management companies will receive direct payment from the program for April through July rent. 

While the tentative deadline is currently noon on July 31, the program may close before that date. Gregory Hare, who is overseeing the program, says that the housing department will be accepting applications on a first come first serve basis. 

The Daily Dose 7-27-20

Jul 27, 2020

Why is the White House ordering hospitals to send COVID-19 data to a private contractor instead of the CDC? And how useful is increased testing if the results take two weeks to process? Health policy expert Dr. Leana Wen shares her concerns. Plus, the story of a doctor who’s merged his love for baseball with his passion for patient care.

Maryland GovPics via Flickr (CREATIVE COMMONS BY 2.0)

If you’re the type that makes a wager on such things, and you bet that one of the major team sports wouldn’t be able to make it through its first week back from the pandemic without a problem, well, consider yourself a winner.

It only took four days from Major League Baseball’s launch on Thursday for the sport to hurdle into a potential crisis, as 13 Miami Marlins players and coaches tested positive for COVID-19, according to reports.

Rachel Baye/WYPR

The Orioles’ Monday night game against the Marlins was postponed Monday morning after a slew of Miami players tested positive for the coronavirus.

ESPN reports that at least 13 of the 33 Marlins players who have been traveling with the team, including two coaches, have tested positive. The outbreak is Major League Baseball’s first health crisis since games returned to empty stadiums last week after months of hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic.

It’s the Midday Healthwatch with Dr. Leana Wen, the former health commissioner of the City of Baltimore. She writes about public health issues as a columnist for The Washington Post, and she teaches public health policy at George Washington University. 

More than 4.2 million people have been infected with the Coronavirus in the United States. Worldwide, that number is more than 16 million. About 650,000 people around the globe have died of Coronavirus-related disease. Here in Maryland, more than 3,400 people have died due to virus-related illness. 

Last month, our state was one of 12 states in which the number of new cases was decreasing. That’s no longer the case. The number of people who test positive for COVID-19 in Maryland remains at just above 5%, which means that Maryland is one of the 34 states in the U.S. above the positivity rate recommended by the World Health Organization. Dr. Wen answers your questions about this and more on today’s Midday.

The Daily Dose 7-24-20

Jul 24, 2020
Allison Shelley/NPR

The top headlines of the day, plus the social and educational repercussions of a COVID-19 outbreak at The Baltimore City Juvenile Justice Center. And a look at the changing stance of the Trump administration in the face of unavoidable realities.

AP Photo/Noah Berger

It's another edition of the Midday Newswrap, and this week we spotlight the simmering civil rights street protests in Portland, Oregon, and the forceful and controversial actions taken against demonstrators by teams of camouflaged federal Border Patrol agents, tactical units the Trump Administration deployed to the city against the wishes of the Portland mayor and Oregon's governor and legislators. 

Tom talks first with Washington Post reporter Marissa Lang who's in Portland covering the unrest. She gives us an eyewitness update on this tense and developing situation.  Lang connects with Midday via Zoom.

Then we broaden the focus to other Trump Administration-related news developments, as Tom is joined by Ayesha Rascoe, a White House reporter for NPR.  

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The Baltimore City Juvenile Justice Center is experiencing a coronavirus outbreak among both staff and the youth incarcerated there. As of Thursday, at least four of the facility’s 31 youth residents and at least three staff had confirmed cases of COVID-19.


As a result, the youth at the detention center have limited opportunities for education, and many have no interaction with their teachers.

The Daily Dose 7-23-20

Jul 23, 2020
Maryland Juvenile Justice Monitoring Unit

A COVID-19 outbreak hits the Baltimore City Juvenile Justice Center. Senator Chris Van Hollen calls for more federal eviction protections. And an oncologist speaks about the high stakes of cancer treatment during a pandemic.

Johns Hopkins University

Today,  it’s Midday on Ethics. We'll explore the ethical issues surrounding digital contact tracing and the clinical trials for a vaccine to combat the Coronavirus. 

Public health experts have long said that testing and contact tracing are key to contain the spread of the virus. Congress has allocated nearly $12 billion in grants to states to support contact tracing efforts. By some estimates, the US will need an army of more than 100,000 investigators tracking down people who have come into contact with others who are infected with COVID-19. Apple and Google have introduced digital tools for contact tracing. 

Tom's guest today has considered the ethical challenges of using digital technology in this sensitive area. Dr. Jeffrey Kahn is the director of the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics. He also oversaw a project that led to a new book with recommendations to ensure that contact tracing is not only effective, but ethical. Dr. Kahn joins us via Skype.

Rachel Baye / WYPR

Gov. Larry Hogan used a wide-ranging press conference Wednesday to respond to a barrage of criticism from local leaders about rising COVID-19 case numbers and the state’s plan for the upcoming election. WYPR’s Rachel Baye walks through what he said with Matt Tacka.

Maryland Juvenile Justice Monitoring Unit

At least three staff members and four youth residents are confirmed to have COVID-19 at the Baltimore City Juvenile Justice Center, a state detention center whose current residents range from 13 to 18 years old. As a result, many of the youth are either quarantined in their housing units or, if they are confirmed to have the virus, isolated in their rooms.

The Daily Dose 7-22-20

Jul 22, 2020
AP Photo/Susan Walsh

Governor Hogan praises Maryland’s testing positivity rate, but says the under-35 crowd needs to do better. Baltimore's mayor requires residents to wear masks and halts indoor dining. And Baltimore County joins other districts in opting to start the school year with virtual instruction.