Baltimore News Updates from Independent & Regional Media 7/30

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This week’s news includes: Hogan hits the pause button on Maryland’s recovery plan, COVID deaths expected to surge soon, Baltimore rent court resumes, and more reporting from Baltimore, WYPR, Baltimore Fishbowl, and others.



Hogan pauses Maryland’s recovery plan, expands masking order
by Marcus Dieterle and Brandon Weigel
Published July 29 in Baltimore Fishbowl

Excerpt: With coronavirus-related hospitalizations on the rise in Maryland, Gov. Larry Hogan on Wednesday paused the state’s recovery plan and expanded the requirements on when residents must wear a mask to slow the spread of the disease.

Effective Friday, Marylanders will be required to wear masks inside all businesses and public buildings, and anytime they are outdoors and social distancing is not possible, Hogan said.

The governor touted the state’s testing capabilities and declining rate of positive test results. But he said the state was at “a fork in the road” with the increase in hospitalizations.

The number of patients was at 386 on July 13 but has since increased to 571 as of Wednesday morning. Over the past two weeks, the number of hospitalizations has increased 27 percent, the governor said.

As an added precaution, the Maryland Department of Health issued an advisory against personal or business travel to states with a rate of positive tests above 10 percent, a list that includes Florida, Texas, Georgia, Louisiana, Arizona, Alabama, South Carolina, Nebraska and Idaho, Hogan said.



Coronavirus Hot Spots: Could The Mid-Atlantic And Northeast See A COVID-19 Rebound?
by Nureth Aizenman
Published July 24 in NPR

Excerpt: For weeks the U.S. coronavirus pandemic has largely been driven by spiraling outbreaks in the South and West. But some forecasters say Mid-Atlantic and Northeast states could soon be in deep trouble again, too.

The warning comes from researchers at the PolicyLab at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, which has built a model to provide four-week forecasts for every U.S. county. NPR spoke to David Rubin, PolicyLab’s director, an epidemiologist and professor at the University of Pennsylvania. […]

Rubin says in recent weeks there’s been a noticeable trend of rising cases moving northward from Florida “up travel corridors like I-95.”

“We have watched this epidemic marching right up the East Coast,” Rubin says. “It’s not just Florida. It’s not just South Carolina. It’s not just North Carolina. But the beach areas of Virginia and Rehoboth Beach in Delaware.”

Over the last two weeks, he notes, “the highest infection rate of case growths we’ve seen in a major city in this country have been in Baltimore.”



State Likely to See an Increase in COVID Deaths ‘Soon,’ Expert Says
by Bruce DePuyt
Published July 29 in Maryland Matters

Excerpt: With cases and hospitalizations on the rise, Maryland can expect to see a gradual increase in COVID-19 deaths in the next several days, according to an expert in infectious disease.

“I would say within the next week you should see a rise in deaths,” said Dr. Cyrus Shahpar, director of the Prevent Epidemics Team at the Resolve to Save Lives, a global health initiative. “Just because that’s the natural order of things.”

Maryland has beefed up its testing for the novel coronavirus sharply in recent weeks, which partially explains the recent increase in cases.

But hospitalizations are also up. As of Wednesday morning there were 571 beds occupied by COVID-19 patients in the state. That’s well off the peak – 1,707 on May 6 – but up sharply from the low, 385 beds on July 10.

“There will be more deaths,” he said. “There’s no situation where there’s more cases and less deaths.”



In-Person Voting Is An “Unnecessary Suicide Mission,” Says One Longtime Election Judge
by Emily Sullivan
Published July 29 in WYPR

Excerpt: 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.

Earlier this month, Gov. Larry Hogan ordered a regular, in-person November election with every precinct open, despite pandemic-related concerns from election and health officials and June guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that said local officials throughout the country should choose alternatives to casting ballots in person in order to curb the spread of COVID-19.

That guidance is common sense, Wilson said at a news conference to promote a pivot to mail-in voting organized by Common Cause Wednesday morning.



Advocates Apply Pressure on Jones and Ferguson to Reconvene
by Hannah Gaskill
Published July 28 in Maryland Matters

Excerpt: Advocates from across the state penned a letter to Maryland House and Senate leaders Monday, imploring them to convene a special session to address a slew of problems Marylanders are facing as 2020 wears on.

Among their concerns: safeguards for homeowners and tenants at risk of homelessness, protection for workers in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, ballot access and police reform.

“We remain deeply concerned for the most vulnerable, especially under the failed leadership of Governor [Lawrence J.] Hogan [Jr. (R)],” they wrote. “Black, brown, and other marginalized communities confront a tsunami of negative COVID-19 health outcomes, economic freefall including mass evictions, and the relentless denial of their humanity by the police and other pillars of the criminal justice system.”



Baltimore’s Violence Interrupters Confront Shootings, the Coronavirus, and Corrupt Cops
by Baynard Woods and Brandon Soderberg
Published July 29 in The Intercept

Excerpt: “Hey, Officer Friendly with the cherry cheeks,” a Black woman said to an unmasked, white Baltimore police sergeant as he approached her outside a public housing project in April. In response, the sergeant intentionally coughed on the woman and kept walking.

“Oh, I ain’t worried about that shit,” the woman told the sergeant. “Y’all get that shit. Black people don’t.”

The incident in East Baltimore’s Perkins Homes was captured in a widely circulated video and came to represent the contempt Baltimore police have often displayed toward residents and public health even during a global pandemic. The exchange also suggested that accurate information about Covid-19 was not making its way into the community.

“The problem is the tension as far as between the community and the politicians, especially when we’re dealing with the police,” Baltimorean Levar Mullen told The Intercept. “It’s a lack of understanding.”



Fear and protest as Baltimore rent court resumes
by Louis Krauss
Published July 28 in Baltimore Brew

Excerpt: With the federal moratorium on evictions expired and Maryland courts reopened, renters and their advocates protested outside of the District Court downtown to try and stop the wave of evictions they foresee as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We are calling on the mayor, the governor, to show humanity, and good common decency to extend the moratorium, to cancel the rent,” Baltimore renter Lillie Robinson said yesterday through a microphone to the crowd of 50 people.

“People are still out of work, and don’t have income to pay their rent,” she continued, while renters and landlords lawyers entered the Fayette Street building where rent court takes place.

Members of Fair Development Roundtable, Housing Our Neighbors, United Workers and others hoisted signs that said, “Empty shelters, not empty houses” and “More than 200,000 people face eviction in Maryland.”



Former state investigator asks for probe of Marilyn Mosby’s travel and consulting business
by Mark Reutter
Published July 29 in Baltimore Brew

Excerpt: A retired public corruption investigator has filed a complaint with the State Prosecutor against Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby, requesting a probe into her tardy disclosure of her travel and consulting businesses.

James Cabezas, who spent three decades as Maryland’s chief investigator of public corruption, said he asked State Prosecutor Charlton T. Howard III to “initiate a criminal probe of alleged perjurious filing of [Mosby’s] state ethics financial disclosure statement.”

Omitting information on mandatory disclosure forms can result in perjury charges, if prosecutors can prove that a government employee or elected official knew they were required to report business interests and did not.



Thank You For Trohv
by Janelle Diamond
Published July 28 in Baltimore Magazine

Excerpt: Trohv owner Carmen Brock and I both joke we gave birth the last week of October 2006. Carmen to an amazing shop on the Avenue, and me to my oldest son, Milo. Throughout every milestone—from the terrible twos to the angsty double digits to the Bar Mitzvah stage just this past year—we were both proud mamas.

So hearing that Trohv is closing next month feels like a death in the family. It makes my heart ache. I feel like I should be sitting shiva.

When Trohv—then called Red Tree—opened on the Avenue in 2006, it immediately became a favorite spot for holiday shopping, special gifts (the first thing my daughter, Willa, uttered when she heard about Trohv closing was, “But where will we get your Mother’s Day gifts now?”), items for the home, beautiful jewelry, and funny cards.

“When we first opened up people were trying to figure out what we were and what we were doing,” recalls Carmen. “People would come in asking for wigs, hair dryers, and sports bras—I loved that so much,” she laughs.



With $20M investment initiative, Exelon taps startup energy to address climate change in Baltimore
by Stephen Babcock
Published July 27 in Baltimore

Excerpt: Joseph J. James wants to bring a new kind of urban farming to Baltimore that can help clean up contaminated sites and improve air quality, all while creating jobs in the city.

The key? Crops that can reach up to 20 feet called biomass sorghum, and a process that James’ company ATP-MD created to grow and harvest them as a renewable source.

“We have a way of taking care of environmental matters using the crops, harvesting the crops and then converting them into a variety of bioproducts that are also good for the environment,” James said.

As it looks to grow in Mid-Atlantic cities, ATP-MD is one of 10 startups developing technology addressing climate change that is getting investment from the Climate Change Investment Initiative (2c2i).

The initiative is a partnership between the Exelon Foundation and Exelon Corp., the Fortune 100 energy company which is the parent of Baltimore utility BGE and has a large local employment base in a namesake tower in Harbor East. 2c2i is making its first round of equity investments totaling $1 million ($100,000 per company) and providing another $1 million through in-kind support by offering access to members of Exelon’s internal innovation team for guidance. Applications are open for the next round of startups it is looking to fund.



Header image: from Baltimore Magazine story on Trohv's closing

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