WYPR Coronavirus Coverage | WYPR

WYPR Coronavirus Coverage

Photo Courtesy/ Baltimore Body Shop

Sen. Chris Van Hollen joins Tom with an update from Washington DC.

Small business owners Tim Hicks and Mariah Acap, who operate the Baltimore Body Shop, share their experience applying for, and getting a loan through the Paycheck Protection Program.

Plus, Mary Ann Scully, president of Howard Bank discusses how small business are working to meet the high demand for PPP loans.  

Bread for the World/Laura Elizabeth Pohl / Flickr

On the frontlines of the pandemic--the essential workers who pick and process food on farms or in meat-packing plans. Within that workforce are thousands of foreign workers, who come to the US on temporary visas.

How are these workers shouldering the burden of the pandemic? Are employers doing enough to prevent the spread of infection?

Rachel Micah-Jones, founder of Centro de los Derechos del Migrante, a workers’ rights group, raises concerns about the Trump administration push to reduce their wages.

Read more about the issues migrant workers are facing:
Farmworkers: Too essential to be banned, but not essential enough to be truly valued
To Help Farmers, White House Wants To Lower Migrant Wages
Farmworkers, Deemed Essential, Don't Feel Protected From Pandemic

Baltimore County

States and localities across the country are hoping for help from Washington as they grapple with huge deficits.

They are spending millions responding to COVID-19 while at the same time their tax revenues are drying up.

Baltimore County has received $144 million in help from the federal government, but it can't be used to plug a revenue shortfall estimated at close to $200 million.

The Daily Dose 4-30-20

Apr 30, 2020
Credit Jacques Ravel

Governor Hogan orders universal testing at nursing homes across Maryland. The University of Maryland School of Medicine will run tests for COVID-19, using robots. And Congressman Anthony Brown addresses racial disparities in infection and death rates from the virus.

Torbakhopper via Flickr

The COVID-19 crisis is affecting all aspects of life here in Baltimore, and it’s hitting transgender people especially hard. This during a time when the local community is mourning Johanna Metzger, a trans woman murdered earlier this month in Baltimore.

On the latest episode of On The Record, we discuss how the coronavirus is affecting local trans people, including youth, elders, sex workers, and people experiencing housing and food insecurity, and learn how activists, city officials and community members are responding to trans people's economic, healthcare, food, and safety needs.

Jacques Ravel

Before the coronavirus pandemic struck, Jacques Ravel and his fellow scientists and lab technicians at The University of Maryland School of Medicine, used robots to study the bacteria that lives in the human body in skins swabs, stool samples and throat swabs.

But now they’ve re-programmed their robots to analyze test samples from patients suspected of having COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.


Gov. Larry Hogan has ordered universal testing of staff and residents at nursing homes across the state. The move follows the revelation this week that nearly half of all COVID-19 deaths in Maryland were patients at nursing homes.


Some nursing homes have seen upwards of 100 confirmed cases. One in Northwest Baltimore has had 220 cases and 10 deaths, according to data from the Maryland Department of Health.

The Daily Dose 4-29-20

Apr 29, 2020

A radically reduced Baltimore County budget can no longer guarantee job security for teachers, police officers, firefighters, or other county employees. In Baltimore City, a major election happened, modified for COVID-19. And we continue an ongoing conversation about the health and safety of those who live and work in the state’s nursing homes.

John Lee/WYPR

Tom's guest for the hour is Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski, Jr.

Baltimore County, which is home to dozens of nursing homes and long-term care facilities, has nearly 3,000 confirmed cases of COVID 19. More than 100 people in the County have died.  We’ll hear how the county is responding to the pandemic and what the shutdown might mean for the county’s proposed budget.    At a time when revenue to the county is expected to decline significantly, what will that mean for funding schools, police and other essential services?  Johnny Olszewski, Jr. joins us via Skype from his office in Towson. 


With the Covid-19 pandemic, restaurants filling only take-out orders could cut back on buying food; retailers whose doors are closed could stop buying inventory. What about farmers? Crops must be planted in the spring and chickens don’t hatch overnight. How is agriculture planning for uncertain markets? We find out how they’re coping by asking Lindsay Thompson, executive director of the Maryland Grain Producers Association and Evan Miles, of Bluestem farms on the Eastern Shore, who is a member of the National Corn Growers Covid-19 task force. He admits this pandemic is unprecedented … but has faith in his fellow farmers. 

Lauren Watley, Baltimore County Government

The Baltimore County Council, like localities across the country, is wrestling with a budget that has been wrecked by COVID 19.

Council members are making no promises that they will be able to protect the jobs of all teachers, police officers, firefighters, and other county employees.

Joel McCord

Voters in Maryland’s Seventh Congressional District headed to the polls Tuesday to choose someone to fill the remainder of the term of the late Rep. Elijah Cummings.

But the turn-out was extremely light in an election conducted almost completely by mail-in ballot.

The Daily Dose 4-28-20

Apr 28, 2020

The financial fallout of the pandemic is subjecting more families to food insecurity, and in Baltimore County, a patchwork of volunteers is trying to help. Plus: The dean of The Johns Hopkins School of Nursing talks about contact tracing, flattening the curve, and how front-line health care workers are bearing up under the strain.

Baltimore County

Baltimore County should consider both spending less on schools than is being proposed by County Executive Johnny Olszewski, and cutting scheduled pay raises for its employees, because of the county’s cratering budget.

That’s according to a key member of the Baltimore County Council.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

As the number of new COVID-19 infections and the death toll from the pandemic continue to mount, universal testing for the coronavirus is still an aspiration for most Americans who might want to know if they've been exposed to the disease. In order to get a coronavirus test, in most cases, a patient must have an order from a doctor. 

Tom's guest today is a physician who has to decide who should be tested.  Dr. Rameen Molavi is a board-certified internist who’s been in private practice for more than 20 years.  He’s a partner at Park Medical Associates in Lutherville and he teaches part-time at The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. He joins us via Skype phone.

Nenad Stojkovic / Flickr Creative Commons

Maryland public schools are closed, and teachers and students are connecting from a distance. What does this mean for students with learning or developmental disabilities? What are the limits and the possibilities of virtual learning?

Rene Averitt-Sanzone, head of The Parents’ Place of Maryland, recommends that parents get familiar with their child’s individualized education plan and document any progress or loss of skills. Check out the COVID-19 resource page. Watch the "COVID-19: What's Next?" webinar. The progress chart mentioned is available here.

Plus, students and parents describe how they are adapting to distance learning and the stay-at-home order. We hear from Rico Winston and his son, Israel, of Baltimore City, and Denise Stringer of Baltimore County. Find local support from Kennedy Krieger's Center for Autism and Related Disorders, the ARC  Baltimore, Decoding Dyslexia Maryland, Disability Rights Maryland, and City Ranch.

Baltimore County

A patchwork quilt of Baltimore County employees, volunteers and the Maryland National Guard is trying to keep up with the growing demand for food, as the effects from the COVID-19 pandemic wash over the community.

Baltimore County alone has handed out approximately 925,000 meals since Mid-March, according to a county spokesman.  

AP Photo/Rick Bowmer

On Tuesday, the state of Maryland will do something it’s never done before: conduct an election almost completely by mail. Ballots for the 7th congressional district special election to fill the remainder of the late Elijah Cummings’ term in Congress must be postmarked on the 28th or placed in a drop box by 8 p.m. Tuesday. 

Gov. Larry Hogan decided to hold the election by mail last month in order to slow the spread of the coronavirus, which has closed businesses and forced schools to hold remote classes for an indefinite period of time.

The Daily Dose 4-27-20

Apr 27, 2020
Credit: AP Photo/Frank Franklin II.

Why are Maryland nursing care facilities are being hit so hard by COVID-19? And what information are those facilities required to share? Plus: Heard of Zoom Bombing? A cyber-security expert shares tips for keeping online meetings safe from interlopers.

The fallout of the coronavirus - thousands are out of work, many small businesses hang by a thread. How will Baltimore’s next mayor lead the city’s economic recovery?

Former mayor Sheila Dixon is seeking the Democratic nomination in the primary election in June. She points to her experience governing during Great Recession as an asset.

Maryland’s coronavirus-induced state of emergency could be relaxed as soon as early May, Gov. Larry Hogan said Friday.

Hogan unveiled a three-step recovery plan that categorizes businesses and outside-the-home activities and events according to the amount of risk they pose to efforts to reduce the spread of COVID-19. The plan begins once hospitalizations and the number of patients admitted to intensive care units decline for two weeks.

The Daily Dose 4-24-20

Apr 24, 2020
Baltimore County

Maryland’s governor lays out his plan for getting to a new normal. Plus: Baltimore County opens new COVID-19 testing sites, and County Executive Johnny Olszewski joins us for an update on his bare-bones budget, the prospect of federal funding, and the health of Baltimore County residents.

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.

Wes Moore and Erica L. Green are two thoughtful observers of Baltimore, then and now. They’ve collaborated on a book that will be released this summer called “Five Days: The Fiery Reckoning of an American City.”   

Wes Moore is the CEO of the Robin Hood Foundation, one of the largest anti-poverty organizations in the country.  He’s also the New York Times-bestselling author of  “The Other Wes Moore” and the host of Future City here on WYPR.  

Erica Green is an award-winning reporter who covers education for The New York Times.  She is a former Baltimore Sun reporter who was part of a team that was a finalist for the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for its breaking news coverage of the death of Freddie Gray and the events that followed.

Baltimore County

Two new COVID-19 testing sites will open in Baltimore County next week.

They will join the drive-thru site the county opened last week at the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium. It will mean there will be daily COVID-19 testing available in the County.

The Daily Dose 4-23-20

Apr 23, 2020

Governor Hogan has plans for re-opening Maryland for business. Maryland’s deputy health secretary, Fran Phillips, talks about how to proceed with those plans safely. And some local musicians trade the stage for an alternate venue - the front porch.

Emily Sullivan/WYPR

  The coronavirus pandemic has not been easy on professional musicians: closed venues and restaurants mean that steady gigs have dried up for the foreseeable future. So Ed Hrybyk and Clarence Ward III have turned to a makeshift venue partial to Baltimore row home dwellers: a porch. 


On most Wednesday nights, Hrybyk plays at Nori, a sushi restaurant in Hampden that has since suspended dine-in services. For the last five Wednesdays, Hrybyk has instead picked up his upright bass and livestreamed a jazz show on his porch with Ward, who plays trumpet and flugelhorn. 



Before Gov. Larry Hogan lifts the stay-at-home order and lets non-essential businesses reopen, he says the state must meet four goals:  more hospital beds, the ability to test more people for COVID-19, more protective gear for healthcare workers, and an expansive “contact tracing” program to track down people who may be infected. 

On Wednesday, Hogan said the state is well on its way toward meeting these goals. He said he plans to release his full recovery plan on Friday.

The Daily Dose 4-22-20

Apr 22, 2020

Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby on mitigating the spread of COVID-19 in the prison system. And advice for small businesses on the next round of Paycheck Protection Program funding.

Facebook.com/PG Co. Corrections Dept.

The COVID-19 pandemic poses a particular threat to people in prison -- both inmates and correctional officers.   The basic tenets of virus mitigation -- social distancing and frequent hand washing -- aren’t possible, and the number of older inmates is substantial.  Roughly 12 percent of the nation’s 2.3 million inmates are over the age of 55.

Last Sunday, Governor Larry Hogan issued an executive order that will accelerate the release of inmates who meet certain criteria, such as those who are already scheduled to be released within the next four months.   It came after weeks of urgent appeals by health experts and human rights advocates.

Infection Prevention Systems

What will it take for businesses to regain the confidence of consumers, post-pandemic … that an establishment is free of contagion and safe to enter? After three decades in occupational safety and health, Robert Albrecht now owns a company, Infection Prevention Systems, that disinfects medical and business spaces. He thinks public demand will push regulatory change to set clear standards. Plus, University of Maryland scientist Dr. Don Milton explains how respiratory diseases are transmitted and how ultraviolet light can keep pathogens like the coronavirus from spreading.