10 Must-Read Stories from Baltimore-Based Writers and Publications
April 30, 2020
Words: Rebecca Juliette
This week’s news includes: Remembering Freddie Gray and the 2015 uprising, infection numbers at area nursing homes released, the relentlessness of medical debt collection during COVID-19, and more reporting from the Baltimore Fishbowl, Maryland Matters, Baltimore Business Journal, WYPR, and others.
Excerpt: On this special edition of Midday, six reflections on the April 27, 2015 Uprising, and how the community at the epicenter of that unrest—Sandtown-Winchester—has fared since a 25-year old black man named Freddie Gray died from injuries he sustained while in police custody. At the heart of the protests and the rioting that erupted after Gray’s funeral: anger and frustration with a system steeped in racism, inequity and apathy; and a police force that operated with seeming impunity.
Keith has severe respiratory issues and he is in a cell with a steel door where if he is in any distress, just on a regular day not being able to breathe, the guard is very far and they would have to find the keys to open his door.
Excerpt: Kelly Davis feels helpless. She worries about her husband, Keith Davis Jr., who is incarcerated at the Maryland Reception, Diagnostic and Classification Center. As of Sunday, there have been a total of 29 cases of COVID-19 (two incarcerated people and 27 employees) at the MRDCC, according to the Maryland Department of Corrections.
Although her fears about Keith are new, Kelly has been a fearless advocate for Keith and his highly unusual case for nearly five years. In 2015, Keith was shot by Baltimore police officers, then later charged in an unrelated murder and tried four times. Last year, Keith was convicted of second-degree murder. At Keith’s sentencing in March, he was hit with a 50-year prison term. Now he says he is especially vulnerable to COVID-19 at MRDCC because he has respiratory issues stemming from when the police shot him.
Excerpt: Mfume appeared well on the way to a resounding victory Tuesday in the special election to replace the late Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D) in Maryland’s 7th congressional district. As of 8:08 p.m., when the first and only results of the night were released, Mfume had 78,887 votes, for 72.5%, while conservative commentator Kimberly Klacik (R) had 28,853 votes, for 26.5%.
Ten minutes later, the Associated Press declared Mfume the winner. A final vote tally won’t be available for several days, because the overwhelming majority of ballots were cast by mail — a first for Maryland and a possible harbinger of things to come in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.
I’m out working, busting my butt, and they’re going to take my money.
Excerpt: U.S. hospitals are in the spotlight for being on the frontline of fighting the pandemic. But in the shadows, debt collection operations continue, often by the same institutions treating coronavirus patients, all while unemployment and uncertainty soar.
Excerpt: At Monday’s Baltimore City Council meeting, City Council President Brandon M. Scott introduced a bill that would prohibit landlords from raising rent until 90 days after the COVID-19 state of emergency is lifted.
“Residents across Baltimore pay rent. During a global health and economic emergency unlike anything we’ve experienced before, and when so many don’t know where they will get their next paycheck, no one should be facing the added stress of a rent increase,” Scott said in a statement.
Excerpt: This dataset reflects congregate living facilities in Maryland (nursing homes, assisted living facilities and group homes with 10 or more occupants) that have confirmed Covid-19 cases and deaths. It shows while the number of Covid-19 cases reported at nursing home (4,370) constitute 22% of the state’s current total cases (20,113).
Excerpt: Baltimore County has partnered with the Community College of Baltimore County to train people to train contact tracers, Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. announced Tuesday.
Contact tracers track coronavirus transmission by investigating with whom COVID-19 patients came into contact. Once identified, those contacts may then be tested for COVID-19.
Building up Maryland’s contact tracing operation is one of the necessary steps for tracking and limiting the spread of coronavirus. While unveiling his “Maryland Strong: Roadmap to Recovery” plan last Friday, Gov. Larry Hogan said so far the state has quadrupled its ability, employing 1,000 contact tracers.
Excerpt: There are new questions about the coronavirus tests Maryland procured from South Korea and their status with the Food and Drug Administration. Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan touted what he called a secret deal with a company in South Korea to acquire badly needed coronavirus test kits. The question now has become, will the state allow the tests to be used without review by the FDA?
Excerpt: Guinness has found a way to continue its partnership with the food bank in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. Though the brewery closed its doors just after cancelling its annual St. Patrick’s Day festivities in mid-March, it just recently launched curbside beer sales, of which all proceeds will be donated to the Maryland Food Bank’s coronavirus response efforts.