WYPR Coronavirus Coverage | WYPR

WYPR Coronavirus Coverage



  Gov. Larry Hogan issued an executive order Wednesday afternoon requiring all Marylanders to wear masks or other face coverings when inside retail establishments or when riding public transportation in order to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

His order will go into effect at 7 a.m. Saturday. It also directs essential businesses to put social distancing measures, such as markers directing customers where to stand at a check-out line, into place. 

Photo by J.M. Giordano

Baltimore journalist Baynard Woods joins Tom now.

A month ago, on March 15th, Baynard suddenly developed a fever, and he was coughing. Over the next three weeks, on social media, he chronicled his experience as his illness got worse, and as it ebbed and flowed until he was finally without COVID- 19 symptoms. 

He wrote about what the experience taught him for The Washington Post.

Baynard is a writer whose book about the Baltimore Police Department’s notorious Gun Trace Task Force will be published in July.  It’s called  "I Got a Monster: The Rise and Fall of America's Most Corrupt Police Squad.” 

Joel McCord

  Maryland’s commercial crab season opened April 1, but those in the business, from watermen to processors, say they’re in uncharted waters because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Normally, there would be as many as 500 seasonal workers, most of them guest workers from Central America, picking crabs in the packing houses of the Eastern Shore this time of year and sending the meat on to restaurants and grocery stores.

The Daily Dose 4-14-20

Apr 14, 2020

COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc on Baltimore County's budget. Baltimore City Council tries to address the digital divide. Maryland teachers grapple with I-E-P plans. And Baltimore’s former Health Commissioner shares her personal experience with health workers on the front lines.

Sean Naron, Baltimore County

Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Tuesday laid out a proposed $3.9 billion budget for the county for the next fiscal year far different from what he expected it would be just one month ago.

Olszewski said the COVID-19 pandemic in the blink of an eye has created a new reality.

Amid the extraordinary levels of physical havoc that caused by Covid-19, there is likely an even greater level of psychological consequence for those among us fortunate enough to have been spared, so far, by the illness itself.  

Today, a look at Psychological First Aid in times of crisis. Dr. George Everly is Tom's guest. He’s a pioneer in the field, and the co-author of The Johns Hopkins Guide to Psychological First Aid. For more than three decades, he has helped survivors of catastrophe -- including war, natural disaster, terrorist attacks and now, a pandemic. 

Dr. Everly is a psychologist and an associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and an adjunct professor of international health at the Bloomberg School of Public Health.  He writes a blog for Psychology Today called When Disaster Strikes: Inside Disaster Psychology.    

Also today, an update on the April 28th election to choose a successor to the late Rep. Elijah Cummings in Maryland’s 7th Congressional District: The State Board of Elections has now decided there will be three in-person polling centers -- one in Baltimore City, one in Baltimore Co. and one in Howard Co. -- for people who are not able to vote by mail. The Election Board will announce the locations of the polling centers no later than April 20th. Ballots were mailed to 7th District voters at the beginning of April. If you don’t receive a ballot in the next few days, contact the Board of Elections to be sure you receive one in time to vote. Check your voter registration status on the State Board of Elections website, or, if you do not have internet access, call 1-800-222-8683 and ask a State Board of Elections representative to check your registration.

Creative Commons/Henti Smith (altered)

Maryland hospitals caring for a surge of patients with Covid-19 are not just scrounging for enough equipment, like ventilators--they’re also hunting for the essential drugs they need to attach patients to those breathing machines. Sedatives, painkillers, asthma drugs and many other medicines--all scarce. Dr. Yoram Unguru, a doctor who treats kids with cancer at Sinai Hospital, often struggles to find the medicines his young patients need. As chair of Sinai’s ethics committee, now he’s helping find workarounds for a range of sparse drugs for Covid-19 patients. For more reporting on this issue, visit this link.

Lee Krempel

Teachers across Maryland are learning a new way of teaching students.  Distance learning is a huge challenge for teachers, students and their families.

Maryland’s special educators have an even steeper hill to climb and it boils down to one word: individual.

screenshot via Emily Sullivan/WYPR

    The Baltimore City Council heard a series of coronavirus measures during its second-ever virtual meeting Monday night. 

City Council President Brandon Scott introduced an ordinance that would make the acts of impersonating an official and issuing “false statements” during a declared state of emergency a misdemeanor. 

KT King via Flickr

There’s hardly a person on the face of the Earth who hasn’t been affected in some way by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Virtually every demographic group has seen their lives fundamentally altered by the novel coronavirus, forcing us, theoretically, to alter our thinking and lifestyles.

You’ll notice that I said virtually. There is one group of humans who have marched on seemingly oblivious to the events of the last few weeks. That would be football officials.

The Daily Dose 4-13-20

Apr 13, 2020

Baltimore County’s Executive wants a GM plant reopened to make ventilators. Engineers have figured out how to convert breast pumps into makeshift ventilators. The Maryland Food Bank faces increased demand and logistical complications. And Baltimore City playgrounds are blocked from use.

Rachel Baye / WYPR

An inmate at the state-run Jessup Correctional Institution has died as a result of COVID-19, the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services confirmed Monday. 


The inmate, a man in his 60s with “serious underlying medical conditions” died Saturday after spending several weeks hospitalized. He was one of 93 people — including 18 inmates and 47 correctional officers — confirmed to have COVID-19 across the state prison system as of Sunday night. Jessup Correctional Institution alone has had 33 confirmed cases.

Heidi Sheppard/WYPR

Baltimore Mayor Jack Young closed city playgrounds in order to curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic last month, but residents continued to visit them and use park exercise equipment.

On Monday, he ordered new measures to secure park equipment so residents are more inclined to stay away.

Dr. Leana Wen

With coronavirus testing, hospitalization, mortality and recovery data now being released that includes breakdowns by zip code and race, we are getting a clearer picture of who is becoming ill, and where concentrations of infection and fatalities are located.  Northwest Baltimore has more cases than anywhere in MD.  Federal, state and local officials have all warned that Baltimore City is likely to soon be one of the next hot spots for the disease in the country.

Today, it’s the Midday Healthwatch with Dr. Leana Wen, the former Health Commissioner of Baltimore, and a leading expert on the pandemic.  She’s currently a visiting professor at the George Washington University School of Public Health.  Dr. Wen is a licensed emergency physician and the former president of Planned Parenthood.

Elizabeth Miner

Hospitals across the country are in short supply of essential medical equipment critical in the fight against COVID-19. Top on that list is ventilators. 

A typical ventilator costs anywhere from $5,000 to $50,000. 

Now a team of engineers in Southern Maryland have figured out a way to convert an item often found in the back of a mother’s closet into a ventilator: a good old reliable breast pump.  

AP Photo/Steve Ruark

Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski is asking President Trump to force General Motors to reopen its plant in White Marsh so it can make ventilators.

The Daily Dose 4-10-20

Apr 10, 2020

Maryland’s budget buckles under the weight of COVID-19, as Governor Hogan lays out a financial forecast that includes losses in the billions of dollars. Plus, why are black and brown people in Maryland and across the nation facing a higher risk of contracting Coronavirus?

Rachel Baye

Maryland officials announced on Friday that they are expecting a $2.8-billion drop in revenues for the three months that end June 30. In response, Gov. Larry Hogan announced a state budget and hiring freeze.

AP Photo/Kathy Willens

We begin today with an update on the situation in New York City. The metropolis leads the nation in the number of COVID-19 cases and daily fatalities, even as the United States leads the world, by far, in COVID-19 cases, according to the World Health Organization.

Hospitals in New York City have had a bit of good news this week.  There is, as of today, no shortage of ventilators, for example, and there are signs that the number of deaths in the Big Apple is finally leveling off. 

Each day, legions of health workers have been providing COVID patients with life-saving care — under conditions more difficult than most of them could have imagined.  And there is a growing awareness that these critically important workers -- from physicians and nurses to technicians and operational staff – all face unique mental health stresses. 

alxmjo / Flickr/Creative Commons

Yeast and baking powder are flying off shelves, as many Americans try their hand at baking bread. Kneading dough can be a stress reliever... and the smell of fresh loaves, a comfort. Maya Muñoz and Russell Trimmer of Motzi Bread in Baltimore offer their view. 

The Daily Dose 4-9-20

Apr 9, 2020

Counselors use tele-therapy to connect with Baltimore City School kids. The underground drug economy feels the pinch of unstable supply-and-demand realities. Addiction recovery groups support each other at a distance. State unemployment numbers go up. And a hiring freeze is imposed in Baltimore County.

Sean Naron, Baltimore County

Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski  announced a hiring freeze Thursday of non-essential positions in county government.

Maryland State Department of Health

Black Marylanders are disproportionately represented among confirmed cases and deaths from COVID-19, according to state data released Thursday.

Black residents make up just under a third of Maryland’s population, but represent 42.7% of COVID-19 cases and 44% of the deaths from the illness among cases for which race data is known. 

Gov. Larry Hogan said the figures reveal “troubling disparities and points to a persistent public health challenge that we must address.”

Stephen Deininger/Pandemic Players

Last month, after Maryland Governor Larry Hogan declared a ban on all large public gatherings, the region’s theaters — like most of its businesses — were closed to the public.  But actors gotta act, and it wasn’t long before the theater community found new and creative ways to connect with their stay-at-home audiences.  We'll hear about some of them today.

Tom is joined first by our theater critic, J. Wynn Rousuck, who has been sampling some of what’s out there for home-bound theater lovers. 

Here are links to some of the virtual (online) thespian offerings that Judy recommends (including Pandemic Players, also linked below): 

Baltimore Center Stage, Where We Stand
Play at Home
Royal National Theatre
92nd Street Y,
 especially its Sondheim program
Theatre Project 

and Happenstance Theater, in particular.

Tony Hammond / Flickr / Creative Commons

Covid-19 has infiltrated Maryland’s prisons and some of its county jails. The wife of one inmate told reporters, “They are all scared. They feel like they are sitting ducks,” waiting for the virus to spread through crowded cells. A coalition of public-health experts, lawyers and families has petitioned the state’s highest court to release inmates who are not a danger to society. 

Mary Rose Madden / WYPR

On a typical day in the Baltimore City school where she’s a therapist, Maggie Schultz sees up to eight kids ranging in ages from five to 14, all of them with emotional and behavioral issues.

But ever since schools have been shut down because of the COVID-19 pandemic, that number has been sliced dramatically. The most she saw over a recent week was four in one day. 

And that was mostly because she could go online to connect with her kids after the administration of Gov. Larry Hogan loosened restrictions around telehealth.

The Daily Dose 4-8-20

Apr 9, 2020

Local budgets in Maryland have been crushed by the Coronavirus pandemic, as taxpayers heard at virtual town meetings last night. It’s a Holy Week for many across the state, so what happens with those big family gatherings? Plus, the uphill battle of debunking COVID-19 rumors.

Baltimore County

More than 100,000 Marylanders have lost their jobs because of the coronavirus pandemic.

But many of them can’t get through to the state’s unemployment office to file a claim.

The Edward A. Myerberg Center

Passover, the celebration of the Israelites’ deliverance from slavery in Egypt, normally begins with great family dinners, the seder. But this year, with the coronavirus pandemic raging and stay-at-home orders in place, many Jewish families are turning to virtual seders.

The Edward A. Myerberg Center in Northwest Baltimore put on its own virtual seder earlier this week.

By Zdenko Zivkovic/Creative Commons

For weeks now, we’ve heard about the importance of “flattening the curve” of Covid-19 to save lives, but also to ensure that medtical institutions do not become overwhelmed. So far, Maryland’s hospitals are not overwhelmed. There is no shortage of ICU beds or ventilators. But if that changes, hospitals may be faced with unthinkable decisions about rationing equipment and  life-saving treatments for patients in their care.

We talk about that today on this edition of Midday on EthicsDr. Jeffrey Kahn is the director of the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics. He was part of a committee of ethicists, physicians and others who have submitted a plan to Gov. Larry Hogan about how to allocate scarce resources in a time of crisis. Gov. Hogan is expected to issue a directive based on the plan soon. 

Dr. Anita Tarzian is the program coordinator for the Maryland Healthcare Ethics Committee Network at the University of Maryland School of Law. She’s also a professor at the UM School of Nursing. 

In 2017, Dr. Tarzian was one of the experts who created a framework that served as the starting point for the plan that Gov. Hogan is now considering.