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Baltimore County

Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski made few promises Tuesday night, as he held a virtual town hall and heard from residents about what they would like to see in next year’s budget. 

Olszewski presents his proposed budget to the county council next week.  The high cost of the coronavirus pandemic is wrecking what Olszewski had hoped would be in that spending plan.

SCRE

Baltimore’s Taxpayer Night was held virtually for the first time ever on Tuesday due to the coronavirus pandemic — the economic impact dominated discussion from the city’s spending board, budget department and residents alike. 

The annual event, hosted by the Board of Estimates, allows Baltimore residents to lobby for the priorities they think should be reflected in the city budget. 

The city is collecting less money due to the pandemic’s grip on daily life, especially in four areas: transportation, tourism, income and investment earnings. 

 

Rachel Baye

Gov. Larry Hogan announced on Tuesday the creation of new statewide “strike teams” to help nursing homes that have been overwhelmed with cases of COVID-19.  To date, 90 Maryland nursing homes and other long-term care facilities have confirmed cases of the disease.

AP/Patrick Semansky


  The Baltimore City Council held its first ever virtual meeting Monday evening, convened over a video conferencing website as the novel coronavirus pandemic worsens and gatherings of 10 or more are banned.

The pandemic was the subject of discussion and legislation, including a bill that would require the Baltimore City health commissioner to report patients’ races and ZIP codes -- data that has not been publicly available in the state of Maryland.

Rachel Baye / WYPR

Analysts are warning that the COVID-19 epidemic will be disastrous for the state’s budget and for all the services state and local governments provide.

The budget Maryland lawmakers passed last month estimates that about 85% of state revenues will come from sales and income taxes, Warren Deschenaux, the former longtime chief fiscal analyst for the state, said Monday during a Zoom call hosted by the Maryland Center on Economic Policy.

Baltimore County

 

Dealing with the coronavirus pandemic is blowing a hole in the budgets of local governments nationwide, and Baltimore County is no exception.

In advance of a virtual town hall meeting Tuesday night on the budget, county officials said everything needs to be on the table as they look for ways to cut spending.

SCREENSHOT VIA EMILY SULLIVAN/WYPR


Jessica Hyman, a Baltimore artist who performs under the name DJ Trillnatured, started off her Saturday night set like she would any other: by playing a cascade of feel-good beats designed to get her audience moving.

But unlike most nights, that audience wasn’t flanked around her. Instead, they were dancing on Zoom, a free video conferencing website that’s hosted scores of virtual happy hours and celebrations, and now, makeshift Baltimore clubbing. 

Rachel Baye/WYPR

  


  Gov. Larry Hogan signed  two pieces of emergency legislation on Friday to expand telehealth across the state, which will allow Marylanders to receive care and evaluations from their providers by e-mail, telephone, or video.

The Republican also signed an executive order to designate carers for people with disabilities as essential personnel, a move that allows them to receive free childcare during the novel coronavirus pandemic.

In addition, he issued an emergency order to provide additional and immediate financial relief for those facing economic hardship because of the pandemic. 

Rachel Baye / WYPR

The Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, which oversees state prisons and jails and parole and probation services, has confirmed that 17 people have tested positive for COVID-19, including three inmates and four correctional officers.

Advocates have warned that prisons, jails and other detention facilities are especially vulnerable to outbreaks of contagious illnesses. They are pushing for some inmates to be released early to prevent a widespread outbreak, which could strain an already overburdened healthcare system.

Patrick Semansky / AP

When Linda Martin-Smith inherited her father’s house on Gwynns Falls Parkway in 2016, she considered it a blessing. It was paid off. All she had to worry about were the utilities and the property taxes. And she could cover that and take care of her two kids with the money she was making working in a warehouse filling online grocery orders.

But that was before the diagnosis she got last year: Stage 3 colon cancer.

John Lee

Almost every business in Baltimore County is being affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

Also, county students will get pass or fail grades  and people are throwing out more trash.

At Thursday night’s virtual town hall, officials laid out how COVID-19 is impacting Maryland’s third largest county.

Fighting The Shortage Of Protective Gear With 3D Printers

Apr 2, 2020
Dominique Maria Bonessi

Builders, designers, and engineers from across the region are joining in a worldwide movement to use 3D printers to meet the shortfall of N-95 masks and face shields for hospital staff on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic.

Health care providers at hospitals around the region and globe have been rationing personal protective equipment due to the lack of supply worldwide. Dr. Koushik Kasanagottu with Johns Hopkins Bayview says the PPE shortage comes with a risk.

John Lee

When it comes to dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Larry Hogan is issuing the restrictions, but it is often local officials who are fielding the questions.

Baltimore County Councilman David Marks said the questions he’s asked most is if people can leave their homes for a walk or a run.

AP/Patrick Semansky

  


  Members of Mayor Jack Young’s administration would have spent Wednesday morning explaining their official preliminary budget to Baltimore’s spending board -- but because of the novel coronavirus pandemic, that proposal has become “largely irrelevant” according to the city’s budget director.

 

Instead, Robert Cenname used the Board of Estimates meeting to explain Baltimore’s fiscal outlook to city officials, warning them that the budget must be almost totally revamped before it is finalized in May.

 

Rachel Baye / WYPR


The leaders of the state Senate and House of Delegates are pushing back on calls to require that all voters in the June primary election submit their ballots by mail. Senate President Bill Ferguson and House Speaker Adrienne Jones lodged their concerns in a letter to Gov. Larry Hogan on Tuesday.

Baltimore County

There have been 227 positive cases of COVID-19 in Baltimore County thus far. Only Montgomery and Prince George’s counties have had more in Maryland.

One of those positive tests was at Oak Crest Retirement Community in Parkville, according to spokesman Jeffrey Getek.

Oak Crest is in Baltimore County Councilman David Marks' district. Marks posted on Facebook that "the campus has taken aggressive measures, including the temporary closure of all dining rooms, on-site salon, fitness center, pool and other activity areas. The community is closed to non-essential visitors."

Statewide, more than 1,600 people have tested positive for the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

Andrew Harnick / Associated Press

As Gov. Larry Hogan’s press conference was getting underway Monday, Miriam Doyle, a clinical social worker at Clifton T. Perkins Psychiatric Hospital in Howard County for three years, was trying to listen for the updates she says her patients are desperate for.

She, her co-workers, and her patients had just learned about the outbreak in their hospital, where eight patients and a staff member had tested positive for Covid-19, and Doyle wanted to hear what the governor had to tell them. But her attention was diverted.

Even before the coronavirus pandemic, Baltimore’s homeless was one of the city’s most vulnerable populations. It is difficult for them to get health care and they are more likely to have chronic health problems.

Now, officials and volunteers are mobilizing to try to protect the homeless from being ravaged by the virus.

Melissa Gerr / WYPR

Gov. Larry Hogan has ordered all Maryland residents to stay home beginning at 8 p.m. Monday. Disobeying the order is a misdemeanor and could mean up to a year in jail, a fine of up to $5,000, or both.

Rachel Baye

  

Baltimore County gave away more than 1,000 boxes of groceries this weekend, part of an effort to help residents who are out of work, including the thousands who have filed unemployment claims since mid-March.

John Lee

Starting Monday, teachers throughout Maryland will be getting an education on how to do their jobs in the new reality of online learning.

The head of the teachers union in Baltimore County said her members are anxious about what is a very uncertain time, as school administrators react to the coronavirus pandemic.

Emily Sullivan/WYPR

Campaign headquarters are usually filled with the nonstop motion of excited volunteers and harried election staff. But on a recent Sunday, Shannon Sneed, who’s running for city council president, sat alone at her headquarters’ conference table, making calls to voters as campaign volunteers and staffers followed suit in their own homes.

Under the novel coronavirus pandemic, the nature of local campaigning has changed: On any other sunny weekend afternoon, the freshman city council member and her team would have been knocking on doors throughout the city to connect with voters. Instead, Sneed and every other candidate in major city races have cancelled the usual barrage of rallies, fundraisers and door-knocking outings in order to limit the spread of the virus. 

Baltimore Heritage/Wikimedia Commons

Baltimore City Public Schools officials are grappling with how to educate the district’s nearly 80,000 students while the novel coronavirus outbreak keeps them out of the classroom at least through April 24. 

Maryland State Department of Labor

 


   About 3.3 million Americans, including 42,000 Marylanders, filed for unemployment benefits last week, surpassing the previous record from 1982 by more than four-and-half times. 

 

The Labor Department's data from last week is one of the first official signs of how many people are suddenly out of work: last week’s claims are nearly five times the amount of those at the peak of the Great Recession, according to NPR.

 

“Nearly every state providing comments cited the COVID-19 virus impacts,” a department spokesperson said in a statement. “States continued to cite services industries broadly, particularly accommodation and food services.”

Alan Randall

Federal Investigators recently discovered a group of scammers who set up a phony website that appeared to be affiliated with the Johns Hopkins University's very popular map that shows all the COVID-19 cases in the world.  

John Lee

Now that schools will remain closed through at least April 24, school systems across Maryland are scrambling to come up with ways to teach children from a distance.

Baltimore County School Superintendent Darryl Williams said instruction on line will begin for county students on Monday, April 6.

John Lee

There have been at least 30 cases in Baltimore County over the past 10 days of people violating social distancing rules as authorities try to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Statewide it is illegal for more than 10 people to gather together.

Baltimore Heritage/Wikimedia Commons

Public schools in Maryland will be closed for four more weeks, through April 24.

And school officials may, over the next four weeks, decide to extend the closure, Gov. Larry Hogan said at a press conference Wednesday. He called the idea that students will return to their classrooms in four weeks “somewhat aspirational.”

Emily Sullivan/WYPR

Food insecure Baltimoreans can pick up healthy meals at more than 50 designated grab-and-go meal sites throughout the city, and no one will ask for identification or other personal information, city officials say.

Rachel Baye

Gov. Larry Hogan and Baltimore Mayor Jack Young got a preview on Tuesday of plans for a field hospital at the Baltimore Convention Center. The site’s initial 250 beds are part of a larger plan to increase hospitals’ capacity in the face of rapidly rising coronavirus infection rates.

 

The goal is 6,000 beds more than Maryland hospitals already have. Hogan said he arrived at that number — a number he called “mind-boggling” — based on what doctors and other experts said could be the need in the worst-case scenario.

 

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