WYPR Coronavirus Coverage | WYPR

WYPR Coronavirus Coverage

Credit: slonecker / stock.xchng
Credit: slonecker / stock.xchng

Congress appears poised to pass a second round of the Paycheck Protection Program, or PPP, later this week.

Maryland small business owners are being advised to get their ducks in a row now to improve their odds of not getting shut out of the PPP this time around.

The Daily Dose 4-21-20

Apr 21, 2020

Baltimore’s Mayor announces a new COVID-19 testing site. In Baltimore County, more than half of businesses surveyed say they’re hurting. A second round of relief funding is on the way, but what can small businesses do to stay afloat now? And a local arts organization is finding ways to keep the community engaged and pay its artists and performers.

Maureen Harvie/WYPR

Baltimore Mayor Jack Young announced Tuesday the city is opening a new COVID-19 testing site at Druid Hill Park’s Rawlings Conservatory. 

The site, which opened Tuesday, Baltimore’s second. Pimlico Race Course became the city’s first community testing site earlier this month. Like Pimlico, residents must have an appointment and doctor’s referral to receive a test at the Rawlings Conservatory. 

“Bringing this second testing site online represents a key step for Baltimore City’s response to COVID-19, allowing even more residents to have access to a community-based testing site,” Young said during a news conference. 

Courtesy of Maryland Food Bank

Today, a discussion with the people working to put food on the tables of Maryland families who are experiencing food insecurity because of COVID-19. 

Tom’s first guest is Carmen Del Guerciothe president and CEO of the Maryland Food Bank, a non-profit organization that distributes food to pantries, soup kitchens and other organizations. Donations to the Food Bank are currently down 90%. To make a donation, click here. 

A little later in the program Tom is joined by Michael J. Wilson, the director of Maryland Hunger Solutions and an advocate for the expansion of nutrition and food assistance programs. Wilson sets the record straight on new guidelines for federal food assistance programs. 

Collage: Christy Zuccarini/Made In Isolation

Artists and arts organizations have taken a hard financial hit since public gatherings were banned more than a month ago. Josh Kohn, Creative Alliance performance director, talks about inventive ways the non-profit is continuing to pay artists and connecting them with audiences at a safe distance during a time when he views the arts as crucial. Plus, community artist and writer Christy Zuccarini tells us why makers of all kinds find solace with the online group she founded called ‘Made In Isolation.’

Check out Creative Alliance programming here. Find Made In Isolation on Facebook and Instagram or at madeinisolation.org.

AVAM, Baltimore Museum of Art, Walters Art Museum, Baltimore Heritage, all have online activities or experiences to offer. Follow these local photographers on Instagram to see their take on Baltimore during the COVID-19 lockdown, and the Peale Center is offering this webinair for storytellers to access funding. To access the Maryland State Arts Council relief fund, visit their site.

Baltimore County

Nearly two-thirds of Baltimore County businesses surveyed by the county report they need financial help to survive the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Daily Dose 4-20-20

Apr 20, 2020

Maryland’s governor has secured a windfall of COVID-19 test kits. Some of the state’s low-risk inmates are being released to slow the spread of the Coronavirus. A local community college tries to help its students and the community. And, realistically, how close are we to developing a vaccine?

The Governor's Office

Over the weekend, Maryland received 500,000 COVID-19 test kits from South Korea. The shipment, which cost the state $9 million, was the culmination of weeks of negotiations between Maryland and Korean officials.

Johns Hopkins Medicine

Today on Midday, updates on efforts to mitigate COVID-19, the outlook for testing, and redoubled efforts of outreach to the African American community here in Baltimore.  Later this hour, Tom is joined by Dr. Letitia Dzirasa, the Commissioner of the Baltimore City Health Department.  Their conversation is posted separately, here.

Tom's first guest is Dr. Lisa Maragakis, an epidemiologist and infectious disease specialist with Johns Hopkins Medicine, who serves on Governor Hogan’s Maryland Coronavirus Response Team.  She’s also the Executive Director of the Hopkins Biocontainment Unit and the Incidents Commander for COVID-19 response at John Hopkins.  

This morning, Maryland officials announced 854 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus over the past 24 hours, bringing the total to at least 13,684 patients afflicted with COVID-19.  At least 582 Marylanders have perished so far in the pandemic. 

Joel McCord

When Maryland’s General Assembly leaders cut short their 2020 session in March because of the coronavirus threat, they said they’d come back in May for a special session.

Monday, they announced there would be no special session to take care of unfinished business.

Baltimore County

Baltimore County is creating outdoor Wi-Fi hotspots at 10 county libraries.

It’s the county’s latest response to the COVID-19 pandemic.


Governor Larry Hogan issued an executive order Sunday that has the potential to free hundreds of inmates, as the number of cases of COVID-19 continues to grow in Maryland’s prisons.

The order directs Maryland’s Commissioner of Corrections to expedite the release of prisoners who are within three months of being paroled, who are over 60 and have a plan for home release and have not been convicted of a violent crime.

It would not apply, however, to those who have been convicted of sex offenses or those displaying symptoms of COVID-19.

Photo Courtesy City Health Dept.

Today on Midday, two leading public health experts provide updates on efforts to mitigate COVID-19, the outlook for testing, and redoubled efforts to reach out to the African American community here in Baltimore.

Earlier in today's program, Tom spoke with Dr. Lisa Maragakis, a senior specialist in epidemiology and infectious diseases with Johns Hopkins Medicine, and a member of the Governor's MD Coronavirus Response Team.  Their conversation is posted separately on this site.  Now, Tom talks with Dr. Letitia Dzirasa, the Commissioner of the Baltimore City Health Department, who joins us on the line to discuss the local dimensions of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Photo courtesy Thiru4Baltimore

This morning we kick off a series of conversations with candidates running to fill Baltimore’s top elective office. Up first, former federal and city prosecutor Thiru Vignarajah.

John Lee

Students going to community colleges graduate at lower rates than their counterparts at four-year schools. They often are holding down a job or raising a family. Now, add COVID-19 to that day-to-day stress.

The Community College of Baltimore County is taking steps to try to help those students stay in school.

The Daily Dose 4-17-20

Apr 17, 2020

Maryland’s back-to-school date gets pushed back, again. Baltimore’s mayor asks food delivery apps to lower their fees. The city’s schools superintendent hears from parents about distance learning challenges. Plus, a report about ‘contact tracing,' the next crucial phase of pandemic management.

AP/Mark Lennihan

Restaurants throughout Maryland are still open, but operating only as carry-out establishments under emergency orders because of the coronavirus pandemic, meaning many residents are turning to delivery apps to bring meals to their door. 

The problem, some restaurant workers say, is that the fees the delivery services charge greatly reduce the already razor-thin margins that most restaurants skate by on. 


Maryland public schools will be closed through May 15, three weeks longer than previously announced, due to the coronavirus pandemic, State Superintendent of Schools Karen Salmon announced at a press conference Friday.

Salmon said local schools will continue online instruction, and they are developing plans to make up lost instructional time during the summer.

Baltimore Center Stage

Last month, after Governor Hogan issued a stay-at-home order for Marylanders, theater companies had to cancel the live performances that are at the heart of their artform. 

But many of the 40+ theater groups in our area are pivoting to digital technology to stream performances directly onto computers and tablets and TV screens, and they’re devising other imaginative ways to keep their audiences engaged. 

Joining Tom on the line today is the award-winning Brooklyn-based actor and playwright Donnetta Lavinia Grays. She stars in the one-person play she wrote and video-produced with Baltimore Center Stage, called Where We Stand.  The play is being streamed online to pay-what-you-can ticket buyers until April 26. Center Stage Artistic Director Stephanie Ybarra also joins Tom to discuss the theater company's innovative response to the pandemic shutdown, and its quick pivot to virtual audience engagements, including its multi-theater collaboration on Play At Home, in which playwrights (including Ms. Grays) were commissioned to write short, ten-minute plays that house-bound audiences can download, for free, to read or perform in their homes. 

Then, Tom talks with Genevieve de Mahy, founder and Artistic Director of Single Carrot Theatre, a company that intentionally left its theater home last year to seek novel venues and to engage in more educational and community-centered theater. Ms. DeMahy talks about the next installment in Single Carrot’s popular Flipside Series (which include its Cabarets and Drunk Classics), one-night-only events that de Mahy says "are fun...and embrace the unexpected." Tonight's event, called "Pajama Party! A Virtual Variety Show," takes place via Zoom at 8pm.

For more info on the Single Carrot theater event, click here.

Boris Thaser / Flickr/Creative Commons

Hang up the phone. That’s Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh’s advice on how to steer clear of scammers hawking at-home COVID-19 tests or cures for the virus. If it’s an email, don’t open any attachments. If it’s a phone call, end it.

Frosh also tells how to report suspected price gouging, where to get help if you’re threatened with foreclosure or eviction, and why he’s worried about the coronavirus spreading in prisons.

Check out this FAQ list compiled by the OAG. The consumer hotline number is 410-528-8662.

Mary Rose Madden / WYPR

Four hundred viewers logged on Thursday night to hear Baltimore City Schools Superintendent Dr. Sonja Santelises and her leadership team answer questions about the city’s distance learning during the COVID-19 crisis.

The Daily Dose 4-16-20

Apr 16, 2020

Governor Hogan lays out crucial steps that must happen before stay-at-home restrictions are eased. What happens when ‘sheltering in place’ actually harms some of our most vulnerable citizens? Baltimore county opens its first COVID-19 testing site, but test shortages limit capacity. And one of our own shares the experience of getting tested.

When we head to the mailbox to cast our votes in Maryland’s June 2 Primary Election, the winner of the Democratic Presidential Primary will be a foregone conclusion. Joe Biden is the last person standing among two dozen candidates. This week, Pres. Barack Obama, Sen. Bernie Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren have all endorsed the former vice president. 

My guest today is Washington Post columnist and Brooking Institution senior fellow E.J. Dionne, who has written a timely book that makes the case for how Biden can bring the Progressive and Moderate wings of the party together. The book is called Code Red: How Progressives and Moderates Can Unite to Save Our Country.

Dionne calls for a Politics of Remedy and a Politics of Dignity, premised in a shared vision of citizenship. He advocates for what the scholar Robert Wright first called, “Progressive Realism,” which embraces democratic and social justice concerns, but also takes into account America’s role in a dangerous world, rife with threats from countries like Russia, China and a handful of regional autocracies.   

In this terrific book, Dionne takes an insightful look back at the ebb and flow of Conservative and Progressive ideologies, and he makes a cogent case for moving forward from the current administration, which six out of ten Americans have repudiated for the last four years.

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.

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

John Lee


Baltimore County is to open its first drive-thru COVID-19 testing site Thursday. It will be at the Timonium Fairgrounds.

But the county can only offer it two days a week, Tuesdays and Thursdays, because of the shortage of testing kits.


Gov. Larry Hogan said Wednesday that it is too soon to start lifting restrictions closing schools and businesses and keeping people at home. But he laid out the steps needed to get to that point.

Rachel Baye / WYPR

Maryland’s top judge ordered state courts on Tuesday to consider releasing potentially thousands of inmates in prisons and jails to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The move comes after a coalition of advocates spent weeks submitting legal filings and letters to elected officials. They warned that detention facilities need to reduce their populations to prevent a widespread outbreak because unlike in the outside world, inmates at Maryland’s prisons and jails can’t socially distance themselves.

: Flickr

As COVID 19 continues its stampede across the US and the world, there is a concurrent pandemic of misinformation being disseminated on websites that millions of people are visiting. Who can you trust?  How can you tell if a source is credible?  How do some conspiracy theories gain so much traction?

Today on Midday,  author and entrepreneur Steven Brill discusses his latest project, NewsGuard, a source that exposes sites that are deliberately  misleading people at a time when fear and anxiety are daily companions.


The Daily Dose 4-15-20

Apr 15, 2020

A new face-covering order is in effect for all Maryland residents. The state’s top judge orders early release for some prisoners. Baltimore’s mayor extends the city’s property tax sales deadline. Hospitals face drug shortages for COVID-19 patients. A first-person story of survival. And a worker shortage signals trouble for Maryland’s crab season.

Patrick Semansky / AP

Baltimore Mayor Jack Young announced Wednesday the city’s new tax sale date. It will be July 20 instead of the originally scheduled date of May 18.  

Under the mayor’s order, thousands of homeowners whose properties are on the city’s tax sale list now have until June 30th to pay down their tax bills and get the properties off that list. The original date was April 30. Once that date passes, however, the city won’t accept any more payments, says Amy Hennen of Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service.