‘STATE OF EMERGENCY:’ MARYLAND’S FIRST THREE CASES CONFIRMED: Maryland health officials have confirmed the state’s first three cases of the novel coronavirus, the respiratory disease that has sickened at least 100,000 across the globe and killed more than 3,000, Meredith Cohn and Pamela Wood report for the Sun.
- Gov. Larry Hogan declared a state of emergency Thursday night after the first three cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in Maryland, reports Bryan Sears reports for the Daily Record.
- The three patients are all from Montgomery County: a woman in her 50s and a married couple in their 70s, reports Joseph Hauger in the Garrett County Republican. The trio traveled abroad and returned home Feb. 20. They were reported in good condition Thursday night.
- In an interview Thursday night, Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich called the news “disturbing and unfortunate,” but said he wasn’t surprised, Andrew Schotz and Caitlynn Peetz report for Bethesda Beat. Elrich said the three patients “had related experiences,” so “we’re not looking at three different sources.” Elrich said it is his understanding that the patients contracted the virus after going on a cruise.
- Travis Gayles, Montgomery county’s health officer, said the individuals sought medical attention “fairly immediately” after returning home, Ovetta Wiggins, Jenna Portnoy and Rebecca Tan write in the Post. But their travel had not involved China, the only country at that time that had been flagged as a place that should trigger testing for the virus. So they were not tested upon their return and were tested only after CDC learned people on the trip may have been exposed.
- Even before the news of cases in Maryland, the Carroll County Health Department has been readying the people who would respond to a potential outbreak in the area, Mary Grace Keller reports for the Carroll County Times.
- According to a major carrier out of Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, coronavirus is starting to affect air travel in a negative way, with people canceling trips or just choosing not to fly at all, reports Lowell Melser with WBAL-TV.
- Montgomery County public schools will remain open for now but they are prepared in case they need to close, Kate Ryan and Sandra Salathe report for WTOP.
LAWMAKERS SCRAMBLE TO PAY FOR KIRWAN: After lawmakers defeated a proposal to greatly expand the state’s sales tax, top Maryland Democrats say they are moving forward with an alternative plan: Cobble together revenue from nine tax bills to bring in more than $700 million annually for schools, reports Luke Broadwater and Pamela Wood for the Sun.
- Maryland business groups celebrated a major victory Thursday after a House of Delegates subcommittee voted unanimously to kill a proposed new tax that would have raised prices for professional service providers including hairdressers, real estate agents, architects and lobbyists, reports Madison Hirneisen for the Washington Times.
- Lawmakers still may add sales tax on a cluster of services, reports Bryan Sears for The Daily Record. The Ways and Means Revenue Subcommittee Thursday added services to a bill that would have taxed targeted services like art storage, fur cleaning. It now includes interior design, tour operators, watch and clock repair, hair removal and replacement services, personal chefs, and social escort services.
- With just one month remaining in the 2020 Maryland General Assembly, state legislators are rushing to enact the 10-year Kirwan Education Plan although no long-term funding source has been approved, reports John Rydell with WBFF.
AUTOMATIC EXPUNGEMENT OF POT CONVICTIONS SOUGHT: Sen. Jeff Waldstreicher on Thursday urged a panel of Maryland lawmakers to approve legislation that would provide for the automatic expungement of criminal records related to marijuana possession in cases where no other convictions took place, Bryan Renbaum writes for MarylandReporter.com.
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BALTIMORE CRIME BILLS MOVING: After days of wrangling, Maryland senators are moving forward with a bipartisan package of bills aimed at addressing crime in the city of Baltimore, reports Danielle Gaines for Maryland Matters. The bills out of the Judicial Proceedings Committee include top priorities of Republican Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. and of Democratic leadership in the General Assembly.
- Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby laid out statistics about her office’s prosecution of violent crimes and homicides in a letter to lawmaker this week, Luke Broadwater writes for the Sun. The numbers show her performance, she said, is in line with previous top Baltimore prosecutors Gregg Bernstein and Patricia Jessamy, who held the office before Mosby’s tenure, which began in 2015. Mosby put her office’s 2019 conviction rate for violent crimes and homicides are 89% and 82%, respectively — rates similar to those of previous top prosecutors.
SUPPORT FOR O.C. WIND PROJECTS: As state and federal regulators weigh the fate of two proposed wind energy installations off the coast of Ocean City, a recent poll conducted for one of the wind developers found widespread support for the project, reports Josh Kurtz for Maryland Matters. The support was even in and around Ocean City, where politicians and business leaders have intensified their opposition in recent months.
SUN INVESTIGATES CHILD SUPPORT: Under Maryland’s dysfunctional child support system, parents in struggling city neighborhoods owe tens of millions of dollars in back child support — a whopping $33 million in one Northwest Baltimore ZIP code alone, reports Yvonne Wenger reports in a Sun investigation.
REDSKINS INCLUDED IN SPORTS BETTING PROPOSAL: Maryland state senators have granted Redskins owner Daniel Snyder’s request to be included in the state’s prospective sports betting industry, reports Erin Cox in the Post. Senators advanced legislation Thursday that would give the football team a gambling license if voters legalize sports betting at the ballot box — and if the Redskins build a new stadium in Prince George’s County.
- A bill moving through the statehouse would allow sport betting at nine locations in Maryland, including FedEx Field, reports Kyle Cooper for WTOP.
CORONA VIRUS FEARS IMPACT DIVISION III BBALL TOURNAMENT: A hotel in a Baltimore suburb on Thursday canceled the reservation of the Yeshiva University men’s basketball team over fears of the novel coronavirus, the coach of the Maccabees told the AP — and called it discrimination. The NCAA Division III basketball tournament is expected to be still played as scheduled, but late Thursday night Hopkins officials announced that they had decided to ban fans from attending the first and second rounds.
- Based on CDC guidance for large gatherings, Johns Hopkins University said it will not be hosting fans for the first two rounds of the NCAA Division III men’s basketball tournament scheduled for this weekend, reports WJZ. All three games of the tournament will be streamed on HopTv.
TAX BREAK TO REDEVELOP FORT RITCHIE: Del. William Wivell made one more attempt Wednesday to win a tax break for developers of potential projects at the former Fort Ritchie in Cascade, reports Tamela Baker for the Hagerstown Herald-Mail.
STUDY ABROAD ON HOLD: Salisbury University has suspended two study abroad programs amid concerns over an outbreak of the new coronavirus, Lucas Gonzalez reports for the Salisbury Daily Times. Study abroad programs in Italy and South Korea have been suspended for the spring semester.
- Students who have had to cut their University of Maryland study trips short say the semester ahead is filled with uncertainty, reports Eric Neugeboren with the Diamondback. While circumstances differ for each program, some students missed the opportunity to register for on-campus classes, leaving their college careers in flux.
- Morgan State University is suspending all Study Abroad and international student travel programs as a response to the growing concerns of the coronavirus, reports WMAR.
HEARING ON MENTAL HEALTH BILL FOR COLLEGE STUDENTS: Maryland lawmakers heard arguments Thursday for a bill that would establish a mental health task force, reports Eric Neugeboren for the Diamondback. The group would study ways for institutions of higher education to improve mental health support for students.