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Baltimore COVID-19 News Updates from Independent & Regional Media 5/14

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This week’s news includes: Governor Hogan lifts the stay-at-home order as of Friday, the mayoral race heats up, ballot snafus ahead of the election, and more reporting from Baltimore Fishbowl, HuffPost, WYPR, and others.

 

Gov. Larry Hogan on Wednesday announced that Maryland would begin its first stage of recovery on Friday, including the reopening of many businesses. Screengrab via Facebook Live.

Hogan lifts stay-at-home order, allows limited reopening of retail stores, places of worship, other locations
by Marcus Dieterle
Published May 13 in Baltimore Fishbowl

Excerpt: Maryland will lift its stay-at-home order and allow retail stores, barber shops, hair salons, manufacturers, places of worship and other select locations to reopen at limited capacity, effective 5 p.m. Friday, Gov. Larry Hogan announced today.

But the decision about whether any or all of those places can in fact reopen will ultimately fall to the executives of the state’s 24 local jurisdictions, Hogan said. […]

Shortly after Hogan’s press conference, Baltimore Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young and Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. released a joint statement saying they would use the next 24 hours to review Hogan’s proposals and decide on next steps. They said the Baltimore region still needs more personal protective equipment, increased testing capacity and more contact tracing–three of the governor’s building blocks. “We’ve seen some progress in each of these areas, but we have to do even more,” they said.

While acknowledging the sacrifices businesses and individuals have made during the pandemic, they said rushing to reopen would jeopardize “the lives of our neighbors and loved ones.”

 

Photo: Devin Allen

Only A Mile And A Big World Separated Us: An All-American Story Of Two Boys From The East Side Of Baltimore.
by D. Watkins | Photographs by Devin Allen
Published May 13 in Huffpost

Excerpt: This is an All-American story about two kids from the east side of Baltimore.

There’s me, D., a Black man straight outta the guts of systemic poverty, smothered by racism, educated in a stereotypical collection of dilapidated schools and nourished in a literal food desert where salads for dinner meant a four mile trip from home. I was raised in the crack era, where I learned to cook up, package and slang crack in and around a city that was occupied by a militarized police force that harassed everybody, even the non-crack slangers.

The other is Danny Hersl. He was one of six kids, and he lost his father when he was only 7. He took it rough, but he had four brothers and a sister and, with the support of their tight-knit community, the Hersls made it through.

 

Image via Baltimore Brew

Bill proposes to close some Baltimore roads during pandemic
by Ian Round
Published May 12 in Baltimore Brew

Excerpt: With businesses closed and most of us at home all day, many are structuring their days around solitary outdoor exercise, which is among the activities recommended during the coronavirus pandemic for physical and mental health.

But now that more walkers, runners and bikers are out, it’s hard to maintain the appropriate distance on many sidewalks and trails.

This is happening as far fewer cars are on the road, prompting local transit and environment advocates, led by Councilman Ryan Dorsey, to push for roads to be closed to cars so pedestrians and cyclists can have more space and not spread the virus.

“We’re asking people to social distance, at a distance of six feet, on five-foot sidewalks,” Dorsey said at last night’s City Council meeting, in favor of a bill that would open at least 25 miles of Baltimore roads to pedestrians and bikers during the state of emergency.

 

Denita Wallace tells legislators about her repeated attempts to apply for unemployment insurance benefits during a nine-hour public hearing Tuesday.

To Get Unemployment Benefits, Residents Face Long Waits, Technical Glitches
by Rachel Baye
Published May 12 in WYPR

Excerpt: Maryland’s unemployment insurance system has been plagued by problems for weeks. For more than nine hours on Tuesday, dozens of residents took turns sharing their experiences navigating the system with members of two state Senate committees.

Residents described spending entire days on hold with state call centers and sending repeated emails, trying to reach a Department of Labor staff member who might be able to help. They said claims are rejected without reason, and benefits that were approved suddenly stop coming.

 

Money in the Baltimore mayor’s race: Reminding the candidates where theirs came from
by Mark Reutter + Fern Shen
Published May 12 in Baltimore Brew

Excerpt: This question was posed to six major candidates in the Democratic mayoral primary at a virtual debate earlier this week: “Can each candidate share their top five donors and why they think they’re getting so much support from them?”

Here are each candidate’s replies to that question, followed by financial information compiled by The Brew from the campaign reports that the candidates have filed with the Maryland Board of Elections.

See also: Promises, rebuttals and a regret: Baltimore mayoral candidates debate, published May 12 in the Baltimore Brew

 

Photo by Hannah Gaskill

Data Suggests Marylanders Are Moving Around More
by Bruce DePuyt
Published May 12 in Maryland Matters

Excerpt: After weeks of trying to keep their residents cooped up at home, several states are beginning a move toward commerce and social interaction.

That’s not the case in Maryland, where a six-week-old stay-at-home order remains in effect. Despite that restriction, data released Monday by researchers at the Maryland Transportation Institute at the University of Maryland shows many residents have come to regard the order as mere suggestion.

 

Photo by Flickr user Marco Verch, used under a Creative Commons license.

You can help a Johns Hopkins team track COVID-19 hotspots. Just take your temperature
by Stephen Babcock
Published May 13 in Technical.ly Baltimore

Excerpt: Even as talk of lifting some stay-at-home orders begins, we’re still in an environment where there’s no vaccine available for a disease that spreads between people even if they don’t show symptoms.

So public health and government officials will remain watchful for signs that new COVID-19 hotspots could flare up.

A team of Johns Hopkins University engineers, epidemiologists and physicians came together to build an app that’s part of a research study to help that awareness, and it has a way for everyone over the age of 13 to contribute.

 

CREDIT MARYLAND STATE ARCHIVES

Election Date Is Wrong On June Mail-In Ballots, But Send Yours In Anyway
by Emily Sullivan
Published May 13 in WYPR

Excerpt: Ballots arriving in voters’ mailboxes list the upcoming statewide primary election date as April 28, but the election is actually on June 2.

Nikki Charlson, the Deputy Administrator of the Maryland Board of Elections, told state legislators Wednesday that the error occurred because the ballots were printed before Gov. Hogan’s decision to postpone the election due to the coronavirus pandemic back in mid-March.

“Building and testing ballots is a deliberate process,” Charlson told the Senate’s Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee. “Rushing introduces risk, and there was not enough time to safely make this change.”

The ballots’ instructions have an explanation of why the election date is listed April 28 and explains that the ballots are still valid, she said.

 

This new normal is a shock, especially when I initially downplayed the gravity of the virus in my own head, as I am sure others may have.
James Trudeau
Photography by James Trudeau

Photo Essay: Baltimore in Black and White
by James Trudeau | Intro by Lauren Cohen
Published May 12 in Baltimore Magazine

Excerpt: James Trudeau has gotten used to a nightly routine of changing his clothes immediately when he arrives home to his family from work. As a phlebotomist and research technician working as a data collector on a COVID-19 study at the Johns Hopkins University, his daily uniform requires a respirator, tear-off gown, multiple pairs of gloves, and many applications of hand sanitizer in between the layers.

“All of these precautions are necessary just to step into a patient’s room,” Trudeau said in an email. “A patient who may be a mother, father, grandparent, or someone’s child. These patients are just like you and me, except they tested positive for COVID-19.”

In between being a researcher, husband, and father, Trudeau, also a local photographer, has found time to document the pandemic through the lens of his Nikon D800.

 

Maryland Governor Hogan Vetoes Bill Automatically Expunging Cannabis Convictions
by Brandon Soderberg
Published May 12 in The Outlaw Report

Excerpt: Among a smattering of vetoes from Maryland governor Larry Hogan last week was the vetoing of House Bill 83, which would have prevented cannabis possession convictions from going into Maryland Case Search, the state’s court database, if it was “the only charge in the case and the charge was disposed of before October 1, 2014.”

An estimated 200,000 minor cannabis convictions would have been shielded as a result of the legislation, greatly benefiting Marylanders who are often prevented from gaining employment or discriminated against in the hiring process because of charges related to cannabis. Since 2014 cannabis possession up to 10 grams has been decriminalized in the state. Currently, expungement of cannabis convictions can only occur if the person charged actively petitions the court.

HB 83 would have made expungements for many essentially “automatic.” The bill was one of a number of bills The Outlaw Report deemed “crucial” that were passed in the final days of the legislative session, which was cut short due to COVID-19.

 

header image: Baltimore City Health Department Facebook page

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