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Screen shot from Dec. 1, 2020 news conference

  

Gov. Larry Hogan put out a call Tuesday for more medical help as COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Maryland and around the country.

He said in a news conference that while Maryland is doing better than at least 41 other states in the nation, hospitalization numbers continue to rise and are expected to reach a record high in the coming days.

And that’s creating problems for health care workers.

John Lee

Baltimore County school officials laid out Tuesday what instruction will look like Wednesday when students and teachers return to their virtual classrooms.

A cyberattack last week left the schools’ computer system dead in the water and classes canceled.


NEELAM279/PIXABAY

Public health experts are warning of the possibility of what they’re calling a twindemic this year, if a bad flu season and COVID-19 coincide.

Rebecca Dineen, the assistant commissioner of the Baltimore health department’s Bureau of Maternal and Child Health, told a City Council committee Tuesday the ongoing pandemic may be contributing to public distrust of flu vaccines among Baltimore residents.

Baltimore County Public Schools

Baltimore County students and teachers will be able to return to their virtual learning classrooms on Wednesday.

John Lee

Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olzewski said Monday he has as many questions as the public when it comes to the cyberattack last week on the Baltimore County Schools.

John Lee

While Baltimore County’s classrooms are empty now due to COVID-19, many of its 163 schools will be crowded once things return to normal. That’s because its school construction program hasn’t kept up with a growing population.

There is an effort to put the brakes on proposed developments that would send more students to schools that are already full.

BALTIMORE COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS

Baltimore County Public Schools administrators have closed schools through at least Tuesday, after a ransomware attack discovered last week locked 115,000 students and their teachers out of their online learning platforms.

“Our focus today and for Monday and Tuesday is identifying and addressing student and staff device needs so that instruction can continue,” the school system said in a Sunday Twitter update.

A Christmas Carol Opening

Nov 27, 2020

With Thanksgiving in the rearview mirror, Maryland theaters are turning their eyes to holiday productions. At the Annapolis Shakespeare Company, that’s an adaptation of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.

On a recent Saturday morning, the cast and crew of the Annapolis Shakespeare Company’s version of A Christmas Carol ran through scenes to get it right. They wore masks and street clothes as they rehearsed on the beautiful Victorian set.

Wikimedia Commons

Somerset County, on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, has a nearly 16% COVID-19 positivity rate, the second highest in the state. According to the governor’s office, the majority of the county’s COVID-19 cases are linked to the prison in Westover, the state’s largest prison.

Baltimore County Public Schools

Baltimore County Public Schools have been hit by a ransomware attack, county officials announced Wednesday morning. The attack, which shut down the system’s network information systems, forced school administrators to cancel classes for 115,000 students the day before Thanksgiving break.

Officials said it’s unclear when classes may resume. School officials are working with investigators from the county, the state and the FBI.

AP/Patrick Semansky

Baltimore healthcare providers urged city council members to support overdose prevention sites, places where people can use previously purchased drugs under the supervision of healthcare professionals, during a hearing Tuesday.

They said the sites confront the reality that people use drugs and allows them to do so safely.

Baltimore County Public Schools

Baltimore County School Board meetings often are hours long and run late into the night or even into the wee hours of the morning. Major issues come up late when fewer people are still watching.

At the beginning of a recent meeting, the board tried to address that.

Cianna Greaves / WYPR

To those families and friends who plan to gather for Thanksgiving, Maryland’s public officials have a plea: Don’t. At a press conference Monday, they pointed to rapidly rising COVID-19 numbers as they warned that Thanksgiving gatherings could be deadly this year.

NICKJMOSBY.COM

Baltimore City Council President-Elect Nick Mosby has added his voice to pleas from health experts and the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention urging people to stay home for Thanksgiving this year.

He warned at a press conference today with other city council members that if people stop taking COVID-19 seriously, Thanksgiving gatherings could become superspreader events across the country.

SARAH Y. KIM/WYPR

Activists experiencing homelessness in Baltimore led a march from the Shot Tower to City Hall on Saturday.

They chanted “evictions have got to go” and “cancel rent” and carried signs reading ‘homeless can’t stay home,’ ‘homeless, not hopeless,’ and ‘empty shelters now.“

Their demands included permanent housing for all, rent cancellation and an end to the use of congregate city-funded shelters.

John Lee

The head of the Baltimore City school system said she is pleased with how things are going so far with the reopening this week of more than two dozen schools.

Meanwhile, all schools in Baltimore County remain closed. The chief of the Baltimore County Schools said when it comes to COVID-19, much remains unknown.

AP Photo/Susan Walsh

With the numbers of COVID-19 cases rising rapidly in Maryland and across the country, Gov. Larry Hogan and local leaders have issued new limits on social gatherings, bars and restaurants, churches and other places where people congregate.

The new state restrictions go into effect at 5 p.m. Friday, Nov. 20. Most of the local restrictions have been in place for at least a week.

Here’s a round-up of those restrictions and advisories.

Twitter

With COVID-19 cases spiking in Maryland, Governor Larry Hogan announced Tuesday new restrictions on hospitals, nursing homes, restaurants and bars.

In an afternoon news conference, Hogan said the state health department has limited visitors in hospitals and nursing homes to those involved in “compassionate care.”

BRUCEEMMERLING/NEEDPIX

The Baltimore City Council has passed a bill to create an office to end homelessness and create a permanently funded housing voucher program. 

Currently, the city manages homelessness through the Mayor’s Office of Homeless Services. That office is not a permanent agency of the city government. 

Councilman Ryan Dorsey, who introduced the bill, said this has hurt the city’s ability to provide for those experiencing homelessness.  

Council President Brandon M. Scott/Facebook

The Baltimore City Council held another virtual meeting last night ---- the penultimate meeting before the next iteration of the council is sworn in. WYPR’s Matt Tacka and Emily Sullivan walk us through what laws they passed and what laws Mayor Jack Young vetoed.

John Lee

Last week, in response to the alarming rise of COVID-19 cases, Gov. Larry Hogan ordered all state employees who can telework to do so. 

“Effective immediately all state employees who are approved to telework must again begin a period of mandatory telework except for essential direct public facing services and other essential personnel,” Hogan said at a press conference on Nov. 10.

AP/PATRICK SEMANSKY

 

The Baltimore City Council is to vote on a bill Monday night that would provide lawyers to tenants facing eviction cases. The bill comes amid concerns about a mass eviction crisis as tenants struggle to pay rent because of the pandemic.  

For most of the pandemic, Maryland has been under state and federal eviction moratoriums. In September, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ordered a ban on evictions until 2021.

LOWELL LARSON/FLICKR

About 1,200 Baltimore City students are set to re-enter the classrooms of 27 schools Monday morning for the first time last spring when the coronavirus pandemic hit.

The partial re-opening prioritizes the district’s most vulnerable students, including students experiencing homelessness, students with disabilities, English language learners and those who have been offline for at least 20% of remote classes. 

Emily Sullivan

It’s been a decade in the making, but a free circulator bus for Towson is en route and should arrive next fall. This will operate as a three year pilot to determine if it’s viable.

The idea survived years of powerful opposition.

SARAH Y. KIM/WYPR

 

Maryland’s moratorium on utility shut-offs expires this weekend. But if you’re behind on utility bills, BGE says it’s not too late to get help, even if you have been getting turn-off notices since October. 

BGE senior vice president Tamla Olivier says 25% of customers in debt have not responded to turn-off notices. But she said there is still time to get assistance funds from the Office of Home Energy Programs (OHEP.)

“Those funds are first come first serve,” Olivier said. “So we would encourage them to reach out to us, to OHEP immediately.”

YouTube

As COVID-19 case numbers continue to climb in Maryland, Gov. Larry Hogan announced Thursday that the state will spend an additional $70 million dollars in federal CARES Act funding on supplies and programs related to the pandemic. 

 

Among that $70 million, Hogan said $20 million will be spent on personal protective equipment, or PPE, $15 million on bolstering the state’s unemployment insurance program, and $10 million on syringes and other vaccine-related supplies.

Alan Light/Flickr

Baltimore’s top health official urged residents to wear masks and practice social distancing Thursday during a COVID-19 update, as the city sees upticks in asymptomatic and community transmission of the disease.

“We go to a family gathering or something at a friend’s house, and a lot of us are more likely to let our guard down," Health Commissioner Dr. Letitia Dzirasa said during a Facebook livestream. "You know, we’ve worn the mask all day at work,” but that’s exactly when transmission can happen, she said. 

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Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman joined local leaders throughout Maryland Thursday in announcing new restrictions aimed at tamping down the increase in COVID-19 cases.

He complemented Gov. Larry Hogan for taking steps earlier this week, but said he didn’t go far enough. For example, Pittman said, the governor’s limit of 25 people at a social gathering wasn’t strict enough.

AP Photo/John Minchillo

Baltimore will re-enter Phase 1 level restrictions at 5 p.m. Thursday, as COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, deaths and positivity rates continue to climb throughout the city and state.

Mayor Jack Young’s executive order reduces capacity to 25% at religious facilities, retail establishments, gyms, theaters and other businesses, and also caps indoor and outdoor private gatherings at 10 people.   

Baltimore County Public Schools

  

The Baltimore County Schools now have a plan on how students from preschool to second grade will be brought back to the classroom.

But with COVID-19 rates worsening, it’s anyone’s guess when that will happen.

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