WYPR News | WYPR

WYPR News

News coverage, series and commentary from WYPR's award winning news staff.
WYPR Election 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.

Wikimedia Commons

Tropical Storm Isaias struck the Mid Atlantic this morning, bringing inland freshwater flooding and strong gusts of winds to Baltimore City. 

While heavy rainfall subsided early this afternoon, James Wallace, Acting Director of the City’s Emergency Management Office, says residents should be vigilant for storm-related hazards. 

“While the ground remains saturated, high winds are always a concern because they'll start to bring down trees and bring down power lines,” he said. 

Baltimore County Councilman Julian Jones

A controversial package of police reforms will be back before the Baltimore County Council next month, despite the council’s 4-3 vote Monday night to table it.

Baltimore County Police Department

The Baltimore County Council Monday night put the brakes on passing any sort of police reform legislation.

By a 4-3 vote, the council voted to table the controversial bill, proposed by Democratic Councilman Julian Jones. This issue touched off a debate between members over how the legislation was being written and whether the council was ducking its duty to vote it up or down.

Loading...

This story is part of an NPR nationwide analysis of states' revenue and budgets during the pandemic.

John Lee

Towson is one step closer to getting free circulator buses, but at the same time COVID-19 is delaying when you will see them rumbling down York Road.

The Baltimore County Council is expected to approve Monday night accepting $1.6 million in federal grant money to pay for 12 buses.

The Associated Press

Baltimore County election officials fear they will find themselves having to play face mask police at the county’s polling places this November.

That’s only one of the headaches that likely lie ahead for the people who run our elections, the officials say.

Patrick Semansky/AP PHOTO

More than halfway through the year of the 2020 Census, barely half of Baltimore residents have responded to the decennial survey, well below the rates for Maryland and the nation.

Fernando Armstrong, a regional Census Bureau director, says only 52.5% of Baltimoreans have responded, compared to Maryland’s rate of 66.6% and the national response rate of nearly 63%.

Armstrong says it’s not unusual for census response rates in larger cities to trail behind national rates. 

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.

AP PHOTO/BRIAN WITTE

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.

Barbara Haddock Taylor/The Baltimore Sun

Former state Delegate Cheryl Glenn was sentenced to two years in federal prison Wednesday for accepting nearly $34,000 in bribes in exchange for political favors.

U.S. District Judge Catherine Blake said during a virtual sentencing hearing she had to balance Glenn’s offense with her personal history of accomplishment and the need for deterrence.

Baltimore County Police Department

During a 4 hour public hearing Tuesday night, the Baltimore County Council heard debate over a controversial package to reform the county police department.

The sponsor of the legislation and the county police chief squared off over the proposed changes.

WYPR’s John Lee was listening in to last night’s public hearing and joined Morning Edition host Nathan Sterner to talk about it.

Wikimedia Commons

Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh sent a letter to Gov. Larry Hogan today, asking him to extend and expand on eviction protections.  

The letter requests that Hogan implement a moratorium on evictions until Jan. 31 and provide more rental assistance. 

“This is money that is, I believe, absolutely essential not just to the folks who are about to lose their homes, but to their landlords and everybody else,” Frosh said in an interview with WYPR.

The letter also asks Hogan to renew executive orders that protect Marylanders from debt collection and termination of utilities . 

Patrick Semansky/AP


  The Baltimore City Council may soon have more power in the city’s budgeting process, after Mayor Jack Young signed a charter amendment to grant the legislative body the ability to move funds on Monday night.

The Democrat’s approval means the amendment will appear on Baltimore voters’ ballots in November. Voters tend to approve such referendums; in 2016, every proposed city charter amendment passed. 

PRESERVATION MARYLAND/FLICKR

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. 

Julian Jones

The national debate over reforming how police officers do their jobs comes to Baltimore County Tuesday afternoon when the county council holds a public hearing on police reform legislation. 

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.

NCI Center for Cancer Research/Flickr

Getting in-person cancer care may come with added risk during the COVID-19 pandemic. But doctors have been thinking of new forms of treatment and taking precautions to ensure that their patients are safe from the virus. 

 

Dr. Robert Donegan, Chief of the Division of Medical Oncology at the Greater Baltimore Medical Center (GBMC) said that treatment centers are thoroughly sanitized and have limited visitor capacity. 

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.

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.

Wikimedia Commons

Sen. Chris Van Hollen joined Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren Wednesday to call for more federal eviction protections. A federal moratorium on evictions ends on Friday, after which courts can resume hearing eviction cases. 

“The Aspen Institute projects that over 330,000 Marylanders are at risk of eviction by the end for this year. That’s a staggering number. And that’s just Maryland,” Van Hollen said at an afternoon press conference. 

A Conversation: Race and Policing

Jul 22, 2020

A Conversation: Race and Policing

About the program (from MPT:) In the aftermath of the death of George Floyd and the ensuing protests nationwide and in our area, this informative and provocative dialogue will pull the curtain back on the issue of racism and its impact on policing. 

AP Photo/Susan Walsh

 

Baltimore Mayor Jack Young issued executive orders Wednesday that suspend indoor dining services and require residents to wear masks whenever they leave their homes and cannot engage in social distancing. They take effect at 5 p.m. Friday.

Since Baltimore entered its phase 2 of reopening just over a month ago, the city has seen a near-double increase in new coronavirus cases, a dramatic rise of cases in people under the age of 40 and a disproportionately high positivity rate in southeast neighborhoods like Canton and Patterson Park. 

Mary Rose Madden

Baltimore County Public School students will be receiving their instruction online for the first semester of the school year that begins in September.

That’s what the county school board decided Tuesday after some members sought flexibility in the draft reopening plan School Superintendent Darryl Williams presented to the board.

Courtesy the Olszewski Campaign

Alarmed by a surge in new COVID-19 cases, the executives of Anne Arundel and Baltimore counties took different approaches Tuesday to the problem.

Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski issued an order requiring residents two and older to wear face coverings in indoor public spaces. He said that order, which goes into effect at 9 a.m. Thursday goes beyond an earlier public health order from Gov. Larry Hogan requiring masks in food service and retail establishment.

Drew Morris/Flickr


Baltimore City Public School leaders said Monday that they will delay the return to in-person classes until later this fall, saying the system must balance pandemic health measures with the need to get students back into classrooms.

 

“We were determined that our plan be data-based, both in terms of COVID-19 and the disproportionate impact of distance learning on our most vulnerable students — while avoiding any influence from attempts to politicize this situation,” Sonja Santelises, CEO of the school system, said in a statement.

Pages