WYPR Coronavirus Coverage | WYPR

WYPR Coronavirus Coverage

The Daily Dose 6-11-20

Jun 11, 2020
Associated Press/Jeff Chiu, File

A look into the details of Stage II of Maryland’s recovery plan: Is there a difference between what’s legal and what’s safe? Plus: How’s the job hunt going for Maryland’s 700,000 unemployed? And The Pro Bono Counseling Project offers free mental health services in a time of tumult.

Courtesy of MD Dept of Health

At the heart of Gov. Hogan’s plan to reopen the state economy are increased testing for COVID-19 and contact tracing.  The state has tested more than 460,000 people, and it has deployed 1,400 contact tracers so far.

Vickie Fretwell is Tom's guest. She is special assistant and senior advisor in the office of Maryland Health Secretary Robert R. Neall. And she is leading the Maryland Health Department’s new statewide effort to educate the public about contact tracing.

An important note: If a contact tracer for the state calls, your phone's caller ID will read MD COVID, and the call will come from this number: 240-466-4488. The Health Department's simple message:  Please answer the call. 

Courtesy Brian Frosh

Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh and the Maryland Access to Justice Commission, an advocacy group, have formed a task force aimed at creating legislation they say would address a “crisis of justice.”

Courtesy of the Save Our Sun campaign

Next, a conversation about the future of The Baltimore Sun. Since 1986, when the A.S. Abell Co. sold the paper to the Times Mirror Corp., people throughout the community have lamented that our city’s paper of record was not locally owned. Over the years, there have been efforts to buy the paper and make a go of it as a for-profit business. 

Now a coalition of local business leaders, foundations and the union that represents journalists at the Sun have banded together to try once again to purchase the paper from its current owners, a company that is controlled by Alden Capital, a hedge fund with a history of buying newspapers and decimating them. The group has launched a campaign called Save Our Sun. Two of its leaders join Tom.

Liz Bowie is a Sun reporter and a leader of the Baltimore Sun GuildMatt Gallagher is the president and CEO of the Goldseker Foundation, one of the philanthropic organizations that would help fund the purchase, if the current owners agree to a sale. To add your name to the petition of those who agree with the Save Our Sun campaign, click here. 

Morgan State University

Online classes only? A blend of online and on campus? No roommates in the dorms? Maryland colleges are balancing many options, as they decide whether they can afford to re-open this fall--or afford NOT to. The dean of Morgan State University's School of Public Health and Policy, Dr. Kim Dobson Sydnor, explains why the university thinks it is safe to reopen and how it plans to do so. Then we ask Scott Carlson, senior writer at The Chronicle of Higher Education, about the financial thickets universities are wading through as they chart their course for the fall semester and beyond.

You can read Morgan State’s reopening plan here.

Until July 9, 2020, this link will open the open access version Scott Carson’s analysis, “The Plan for College Budgets Next Year? Improvise.”

Associated Press/Jeff Chiu, File

Here is how the COVID economic cookie has crumbled for McCormick & Company, the spice people, headquartered in Hunt Valley in Baltimore County.

Rachel Baye / WYPR

More businesses can open and more activities will be allowed to resume, as Gov. Larry Hogan moves the state further into his recovery plan.


Beginning this Friday at 5 p.m., indoor dining will be allowed at restaurants. The following Friday, June 19, gyms, dance studios, malls, arcades, bowling alleys, casinos and social clubs are among the types of business that will be allowed to open.

The Daily Dose 6-10-20

Jun 10, 2020

Baltimore City Health Department

One of the key elements in reopening plans, across counties or states, is to increase contact tracing to determine if people infected with COVID-19 may have exposed others to the virus. Maryland employs about 1,400 contact tracers so far, and it is looking to hire more. Last week, Mayor Jack Young announced the new Baltimore Health Corps, which will employ nearly 300 people as contact tracers.  

To tell us more about that program and other aspects of COVID-19 in the city, including testing, Dr. Letitia Dzirasa joins Tom for another installment of Midday with Tish the Commish. Dr. Dzirasa is the health commissioner of Baltimore City.

If you are interested in applying for one of the 300 new jobs with the Baltimore Health Corps, click here for more information. The jobs include training and do not require previous public health experience.

Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center

Efforts to slow transmission of the coronavirus have affected nearly every walk of life. Two chaplains tell us how they’ve creatively adapted their approaches to offer comfort and care to patients and staff during this time of social distancing. Rabbi Jeffrey Orkin is director of pastoral care at Levindale long-term care facility. And Rev. Denise White is staff chaplain at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center. Because visitors are are allowed in only a few circumstances during the pandemic, she says the solace she can offer patients is even more urgent.

Mary Rose Madden / WYPR

One car at a time, seniors at City College High School drive up, have their names announced, and then pick up their graduation packet complete with caps and gowns, awards, and their diplomas. 

Their principal Cindy Harcum, and their teachers cheer them on, waving signs and calling their names. 

It's not quite how anyone pictured this moment in time, but this party of sorts is one of many efforts to make the best out of the circumstances for high school seniors graduating in the shadow of COVID-19. There have been car parades, balloon drop-offs, and semi-formal photo shoots on the steps of the seniors' alma maters. 

Rachel Baye / WYPR


The state government employees who process unemployment insurance claims and work in state prisons, juvenile services facilities, hospitals and universities say they lack the resources necessary to do their jobs during the coronavirus pandemic. 


The workers spoke Tuesday at a virtual meeting of the state House Appropriations and Senate Finance committees.

Rachel Baye/WYPR

A look at a persistent COVID-19 hot-spot in Maryland: The prison system. A recap of the weekend's demonstrations in Baltimore, calling for an end to police brutality. And the city’s primary election - when are we going to have results?

photo courtesy Tom Meagher

Today, we follow up on the continuing crisis in America’s prisons caused by the Coronavirus pandemic.  The Marshall Project, an award-winning non-profit reporting effort that examines problems in the criminal justice system, has found in its coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic that more than 40,000 prisoners have tested positive for the coronavirus.  More than 8,400 correctional staff have been infected.  More than 500 people have died in prison facilities across the country. Our first guest in today's follow-up is Tom Meagher (pronounced "mare").  He is the managing editor of Digital and Data Journalism with the Marshall Project, and he joins Tom via Skype from his home in New Jersey...

The Daily Dose 6-5-20

Jun 5, 2020
Mark Gunnery/WYPR

The pandemic has forced libraries to adapt, but how have those changes have impacted patrons? Baltimore’s Mayor says the city is ready for Phase One of reopening. Dr. Leana Wen looks at the intersection of a health crisis and a political crisis. And Erricka Bridgeford reflects on protests, both peaceful and violent.

It’s the Midday Healthwatch with Dr. Leana Wen.  Dr. Wen is an Emergency Room physician and the former Health Commissioner of Baltimore City.  

She’s a visiting professor of health policy and management at the Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University, a distinguished fellow at the Mullan Institute for Health Workforce Equity and a contributing columnist for The Washington Post.

Yesterday, Dr. Wen testified before the Congressional Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis about the continuing problem of racial and ethnic disparities when it comes to illness and fatalities due to Covid-19.  Today, she’s kind enough to join us on Midday.

Mary Rose Madden / WYPR

The doors of the Enoch Pratt Free Library System have been closed since the beginnings of the COVID-19 pandemic. But library leaders got creative  with a vibrant online presence.

And now, a day many have been looking forward to is on the calendar. The library branches will offer sidewalk service at eight locations starting June 15. But for the library and those who love visiting, there’s a real cost to changing public access.

The Daily Dose 6-4-20

Jun 4, 2020
Rachel Baye/WYPR

A closer look at which businesses can open safely, under Stage II of Maryland’s Road Map to Recovery. One county leader wants to do away with the statewide patchwork of reopening schedules. And in Baltimore, city elections workers gather in a warehouse to properly count ballots.

Rachel Baye / WYPR


  When Gov. Larry Hogan’s amended order allowing certain businesses to reopen takes effect Friday at 5 p.m., Baltimore County businesses will be among those allowed to open. 


Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski plans to repeal all local executive orders keeping businesses closed and restricting activities to prevent the spread of COVID-19, he announced Thursday. Going forward, the county will follow the governor’s lead when it comes to the state’s COVID-19 recovery plan.

Rachel Baye / WYPR


  Effective Friday at 5 p.m., some non-essential businesses will be allowed to open as the state enters the second phase of Gov. Larry Hogan’s recovery plan, the governor announced Wednesday. 


But state health officials also warned on Wednesday that there will likely be a second wave of COVID-19 cases this fall, and maybe even a third wave and a fourth.

The Daily Dose 6-3-20

Jun 3, 2020

Maryland’s Governor will be lifting more restrictions as he moves the state into Phase II of it’s reopening plan. State elections board officials are on the defensive because of Baltimore’s problems with its first-ever mail-in balloting. And as America’s racial inequalities play out in protests across the nation, a local community conflict resolution leader says you can’t just address the symptoms.

Xavier Donat / Flickr/Creative Commonas

The primary election was mostly by mail--Maryland’s first--but thousands showed up to vote in person, making for long lines at many voting places. Just a fraction of the votes have been counted. WYPR Morning Edition host Nathan Sterner walks us through what’s known about the primary election.

A Disconcerting Election Day

Jun 2, 2020
Mary Rose Madden

Voters faced an election day Tuesday tinged with fears of COVID-19, protests over police misconduct and with questions about mail-in ballots. Some of them never arrived and others went to the wrong addresses.

And even though this was supposed to be primarily a mail-in election, more than 11,000 voters had shown up at the polls shortly after midday, according to state election officials.

An election monitor at Northwood Elementary School in Baltimore said many were lined up at 6 am, an hour before the polls opened.

The Daily Dose 6-2-20

Jun 2, 2020
Wendel Patrick, Out of the Blocks

On Election Day, remote ballot issues force thousands to show up at the polls in Baltimore. Plus, civil unrest rages in other cities, but Baltimore is being held up as an example of powerful, peaceful protest. The head of West Baltimore’s No Boundaries Coalition talks about lessons learned in the wake of Freddie Gray and the hard work ahead.

Rachel Baye / WYPR

In what may be the first-ever primary election held during a pandemic, state elections officials urged as many people as possible to mail in their ballot or drop it at a dropbox, rather than go in-person to the polls. But some Baltimore City voters never got their ballots in the mail.

The Daily Dose 6-1-20

Jun 1, 2020

What happens when civil unrest and massive political demonstrations erupt in the midst of a pandemic? Baltimore’s health commissioner applauds lawful protests while stressing the importance of wearing masks, and health experts worry about nationwide ‘super-spreader’ events that could cause a spike in COVID-19 infection rates.

The Daily Dose 5-29-20

May 29, 2020
Katie Kirby/Revolution Event Design & Production via AP

Governor Hogan disapproves of crowds in Ocean City but lifts restrictions on outdoor dining. A contentious Baltimore County Council cuts almost 59 million dollars from the budget. Plus, why aren’t mental health providers hearing from more patients in need of care? The current silence might signal a surge in mental health complications down the road.

John Lee

The Baltimore County Council passed Friday its  budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1,  but not before an acrimonious debate over whether to cut property taxes.  

Council members said they had to make historic cuts totaling nearly $59 million to the budget to deal with the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr. Popular/Creative Commons

Tuesday is the deadline to mail-in your ballot in the statewide primary election for President and Congressional offices, and here in Baltimore, all three citywide offices, and members of the city council. 

In the handful of other states that had mail-in elections in place before the pandemic, switching from the ballot box to the mailbox involved years of planning.  But in late April, Maryland election officials quickly organized mail-in balloting in the special election for the Congressional seat in the 7th District, and now, just weeks later, they are conducting the primary by mail, statewide. Nikki Charlson joins us on the line from Annapolis with an update. She is Deputy Administrator of the Maryland State Board of Elections.

Katie Kirby/Revolution Event Design & Production via AP

Gov. Larry Hogan said he was concerned after seeing photos of crowds packing the Ocean City boardwalk over Memorial Day Weekend. But on Friday morning, he told NBC’s Today Show that lifting restrictions on outdoor dining, which is allowed beginning Friday at 5 p.m., will improve social distancing.