Baltimore News Updates from Independent & Regional Media 11/26

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Thanksgiving Reads

Happy Socially Distant Federal Holiday! This week’s news includes: Baltimore’s homeless can remain in hotels, hospitals brace for second surge, Hogan’s “Turkey Police,” and more reporting from Baltimore Beat, The Real News Network, Baltimore, and others.



Credit: REUTERS/Kevin Mohatt

Thanksgiving is going to kill a lot of people, again
by Jaisal Noor
Published November 25 in The Real News Network

Excerpt: Millions of Americans are defying public health warnings and traveling for Thanksgiving, likely exacerbating a record surge in coronavirus infections and evoking contagious disease’s central role in the colonization and genocide of the continent’s Native peoples.

Celebrations of Thanksgiving elide the key fact that the Pilgrims’ arrival to North America resulted in the eradication of local Native populations due to infectious diseases introduced by European settlers.

“The Pilgrims certainly regarded biological warfare as being God’s will, to clear the land for them,” said Jacqueline Keeler, a Portland-based journalist and citizen of the Navajo Nation, in an interview with The Real News. “I would say it’s a war that’s ongoing.”



Curator offers a diagnosis for what’s ailing art museums – and how they can recover
by Sebastian Smee
Published November 24 in Washington Post

Excerpt: Helen Molesworth is one of America’s foremost curators. Beloved by the artists she has worked with, she is at once passionately political and solicitous of the field as a whole. She has worked at the Baltimore Museum of Art; the Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus, OH; Harvard Art Museums; Boston’s Institute of Contemporary Art; and the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, where she forged a relationship with the Underground Museum.

“The problem with the Baltimore situation is firstly, the museum is not in a situation of financial crisis, and secondly, the objects chosen did not fall within the previously understood set of terms that justify deaccessioning. For instance, if you have four Clyfford Stills, you could think about deaccessioning one. But if you have only one Clyfford Still, and it painted it specifically for your museum, you are breaking a trust with the artist and your public.”

“I don’t believe in this either/or scenario: that you can either have this collection of masterworks or you can have a well-paid staff and a diverse collection. If you want staff diversity, equity, and better wages, then the trustees sitting around the table have to get on board with that. I appreciate that there might not be $55 million sitting around the BMA trustee table right now. But that money exists and things can always be re-budgeted.”



Photo by Christiaan Colen

Baltimore County Public Schools are closed Wednesday due to a ransomware attack
by Donte Kirby
Published November 25 in Baltimore

Excerpt: Baltimore County Public Schools closed on Wednesday, November 25, due to a ransomware attack that caused “systemic interruptions to network information systems,” according to the district.

The district said its technology team is working to address the attack. Along with closing schools, the district website was also offline on Wednesday morning. “We do not have any reason to believe that Baltimore County Government systems have been compromised, but the County’s Information Technology team is closely inspecting our network and all devices out of an abundance of caution, and has put in place additional security measures,” BCPS said in a statement.

Baltimore City Public Schools, which is a separate district, is also taking precautions as a result of the attack. City schools remain open, and officials recommend students only use district-issued laptops or devices. However, students without city-issued devices were granted an excused absence.



Photo by Danielle E. Gaines

Turkey Police? State Deploys Cops to Quash Super-Spreader Events Over the Holiday
by Hannah Gaskill
Published November 25 in Maryland Matters

Excerpt: As the state’s COVID-19 positivity rate climbs higher and the holiday season approaches, public health officials are pleading with Marylanders to skip large gatherings ― and are throwing extra muscle behind the effort.

“The Wednesday before Thanksgiving is often a night where kids come home from college. They go out to bars to drink and socialize before then celebrating the holiday — sometimes with older family members,” Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) said at a news conference Monday. “I cannot stress enough how reckless that behavior would be this year.”

Because of this Thanksgiving’s unusual circumstances, Hogan is deploying state and local police departments to ensure that reckless behavior remains in check. In addition to the traditional ramped-up policing efforts that come with the holiday season, Hogan has launched a “wide-scale, all-hands-on-deck compliance, education and enforcement operation,” deploying extra state police officers to each of the 24 jurisdictions to respond to local complaints and quash any super-spreader events.

See also:

Citing COVID Surge, Hogan Announces ‘Wide-Scale’ Police Enforcement Efforts Over Holiday
by Bennett Leckrone
Published November 23 in Maryland Matters



Demonstrators march up Fallsway last Saturday protesting city’s plan to reopen homeless shelters in December. (Louis Krauss)

Good news for Thanksgiving: Baltimore’s homeless will not be forced into shelters
by Mark Reutter
Published November 25 in Baltimore Brew

Excerpt: The Young administration has abandoned plans to return about 400 homeless residents, currently living in hotel rooms because of the Covid-19 pandemic, to city shelters in December.

“We will not be moving people back to the shelters,” said James Bentley II, spokesman for Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young, confirming Brew reporting on Monday that the administration hoped not to reopen emergency shelters over the winter. The action comes amid a resurgence of virus infections, with the number of Covid cases increasing 332% in Baltimore from a month ago.

Bentley said the city will tap into FEMA funds to allow homeless people to stay in local hotels through March 31, 2021. Based on prior costs, the hotel rooms cost about $2.5 million a month. With closely spaced beds and no social distancing, city shelters were closed last spring as a precaution against Covid spreading among a vulnerable population.



American Visionary Art Museum celebrates its 25th anniversary this weekend
by Marcus Dieterle
Published November 25 in Baltimore Fishbowl

Excerpt: The American Visionary Art Museum, Baltimore’s home to works by self-taught artists, will celebrate its 25th anniversary this weekend.

The Federal Hill-area museum first opened its doors over Thanksgiving weekend in 1995 “in a spirit of gratitude and celebration of creative invention of all sort,” AVAM officials said.

This holiday weekend, the museum will mark 25 years of sharing art with the support of people from Baltimore and beyond.

“We give gobs of sincere gratitude to all our ardent fans and faithful supporters for helping us shine a bright light for 25 years upon visionary heroism with wit, wisdom, and intuitive wonders for all!” AVAM founder and director Rebecca Hoffberger said in a statement.

See also:

BMA, Walters Art Museum to close until January due to coronavirus surge
by Marcus Dieterle
Published November 24 in Baltimore Fishbowl



Kerry Hawk-Lessard (second from left) and the Native American LifeLines team. —Native American LifeLines of Baltimore

Advocates Work to Uplift Indigenous Communities—Especially on Thanksgiving
by Oyin Adedoyin
Published November 25 in Baltimore Magazine

Excerpt: Ellicott City resident Kerry Hawk-Lessard, 52, is the descendant of the Shawnee tribe. She also has family in the Assiniboine and Sioux tribes. Although she was raised Native, she says that there are members of her family who she doesn’t know, as well as pieces of her ancestry that she’s only recently discovered.

Among them is the story of one of her ancestors who attended the Carlisle Indian Industrial School—a boarding school in Pennsylvania known for pushing the assimilation of Native Americans. There, students were forced to speak English, wear Anglo-American clothing, and act according to American culture.

“It wasn’t until I had my master’s degree that I focused specifically on historical trauma and the experience of boarding school survivors, not having any idea that it was something one of my ancestors went through,” she says.



Soon-to-be City Council President Nick Mosby outside of City Hall. (Fern Shen)

Nick Mosby says he paid his federal tax lien
by Fern Shen
Published November 24 in Baltimore Brew

Excerpt: At a news conference called to urge residents to “take every precaution” amid the Covid-19 pandemic, City Council President-elect Nick Mosby said he has paid off the $45,000 federal tax lien that was made public just weeks before the election.

“It’s settled, so we’re good,” Mosby said in response to a question from a reporter he faced outside City Hall yesterday.

How was it settled?

“I paid. I was already planning to pay it, I had already been working on paying it, but it’s paid,” Mosby said, in his first in-person comments about the federal taxes that he and his wife, State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby, owed.

The full $45,000?

“Yes,” he said. “Next question.”



At Jessup Correctional Institution, 29 staff and 42 inmates have confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to data released by the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services on Monday. CREDIT WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

Hundreds Of Inmates, Staff Have COVID-19 At Maryland Prisons
by Rachel Baye
Published November 25 in WYPR

Excerpt: 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.

By the end of the third week of October, nine inmates and 45 staff members at Eastern Correctional Institution, or ECI, had tested positive for COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic. Now, the state Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services says 163 inmates of the prison’s roughly 2,900 total population, as well as 30 of its roughly 700 staff members are currently infected, while another 62 staff members and 9 inmates have recovered.



A sign outside of the University of Maryland Charles Regional Medical Center in La Plata honors health care workers. Photo by Angela Breck.

Amid Warnings, Hospitals Prepare for Wave of COVID Patients
by Bruce DePuyt
Published November 25 in Maryland Matters

Excerpt: A little more than two weeks ago, on Nov. 9, there were 707 people receiving COVID-19 treatment in Maryland hospitals. On Wednesday, the state Department of Health reported that the bed-count had nearly doubled, to 1,406.

With the state adding more than 2,000 new cases each day — far more than the highest single-day total ever recorded during the first wave of the pandemic — hospital officials know they are about to get slammed. Privately, there is some discussion of a “catastrophic scenario” where the number of coronavirus cases eclipses the state’s bed and staffing capabilities.

Even if that doesn’t happen, intense strain appears to be inevitable — and leaders of the state’s health systems and its smaller, independent facilities are preparing for the second surge. “If we don’t keep things under control and get them better under control, we’re going to overwhelm the health system,” warned Bob Atlas, president of the Maryland Hospital Association.



Cover of "Images of America: Old West Baltimore" by Philip Jackson Merrill


These 10 books with Baltimore ties will get you through the holidays and just possibly self-quarantine
by Mary Carole McCauley
Published November 24 in Baltimore Sun

Excerpt: There may not be a whit of scientific evidence that reading a good book boosts your immune system, but we are choosing to believe that it does anyway.

During a year dominated by COVID-19 and a roller-coaster presidential election, reading provided one of the few reliable, pandemic-proof pleasures. The coronavirus shut down theaters, restaurants, sports stadiums, gyms and even libraries — but it couldn’t shut down reading. Anyone with a library card and a mobile device could obtain books for free and without leaving home.

The 10 titles below represent a fraction of the books with Maryland ties or themes that were of special interest to local book lovers in 2020. There are dozens of other titles that are equally worthy but aren’t mentioned here for reasons of space; we urge you to seek them out.

Wrap them up with ribbon and over the holidays, give them to someone you love — including yourself. You won’t even have to wear a mask to enjoy them.



Header image: BuzzFeed news

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