HOSPITALIZATIONS UP SHARPLY: Maryland hospitalizations for COVID-19 have sharply increased over the past week, underscoring hospitals’ needs for equipment and supplies and to protect their health care workers. Since the state first began reporting the number of people who have ever been hospitalized for the disease, those numbers have nearly quadrupled —  from 132 last Thursday to 522 Wednesday morning, Tim Curtis reports in the Daily Record.

STATE FREES UP HOSPITAL FUNDS: State regulators are loosening regulations and freeing up funds to help hospitals that are increasing capacity and gearing up for a potential spike in health care demand amid the continued spread of the novel coronavirus, Morgan Eichensehr of the Baltimore Business Journal reports.

PAY BUMP FOR FRONTLINE STATE WORKERS: Maryland’s state government is offering a pay bump to certain state employees who must work through the coronavirus pandemic. The offer of $3.13 per hour in extra pay is significantly less than the double-time rates the state paid some workers before discontinuing that policy more than a week ago, Pamela Wood of the Sun reports.

  • The change will affect about 15,000 Maryland state employees and mean an increase of about $250 for each two-week pay period, writes Danielle Gaines for Maryland Matters.

BPW AIRS CONCERNS OVER ELECTIONS: Members of the state Board of Public Works Wednesday raised questions about how Maryland will successfully conduct two upcoming elections, Bryan Sears of the Daily Record reports. The State Board of Elections is expected to meet today and finalize a plan for the primary election that was delayed from April 28 to June 2.

  • But first they got snippy, according to Bruce DePuyt of Maryland Matters, who reported that it looked like Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford and Comptroller Peter Franchot were setting themselves up to battle each other in the race for governor.

BAY BRIDGE WORK FINISHED, SPAN OPENS: Repairs to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge were completed this week — more than a month ahead of schedule, Gov. Larry Hogan said Wednesday, adding that the unusually light traffic due to motorists staying home amid the coronavirus pandemic helped the work be completed quickly, Katherine Shaver of the Post is reporting.

GBMC RELEASES 1st COVID-19 PATIENT: The Greater Baltimore Medical Center discharged its first coronavirus patient Wednesday who required being hooked up to a ventilator, McKenna Oxenden of the Sun writes.

U.S. Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.)

HARRIS OPPOSES $2.2 TRILLION FED PACKAGE: A doctor and tenured politician, U.S. Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.) was a vocal critic of the $2.2 trillion federal measure that includes $100 billion in hospital bailouts, increased federal unemployment insurance and aid for nationwide commercial and nonprofit businesses. Harris said it will only pull the country through for about two months, Hannah Gaskill of Maryland Matters reports.

TESTS DENIED FOR NURSING HOME: Before the coronavirus had reached the Pleasant View Nursing Home in Mount Airy, the home’s administrator asked the state health department what she should be doing about the threat. Federal guidance spurned in part by a shortage of testing kits meant that the possible carrier of the virus – a staff member – would never be tested. Five of the 95 residents are now dead and 70 others are infected, reports Kevin Rector, Mary Grace Keller and Scott Dance in the Sun.

ILLNESSES, DEATHS AROUND THE STATE: Several new clusters of coronavirus infections erupted in senior citizen facilities across the Baltimore region Wednesday as the surge in cases accelerated in Maryland, nearing 2,000. They involved both residents and staff, Scott Dance reports in the Sun.

  • If there was an important show at the Bowie Center for the Performing Arts, then you could bet Eastern Stewart Jr. would be scheduled. As house manager, he helped organize the ushers. Rachel Chason of the Post reports that Stewart, a 71-year-old Bowie resident, died Saturday of complications related to the novel coronavirus.
  • Four more Montgomery County residents have died from coronavirus, for a total of five since the first cases were reported in Maryland in early March, Dan Schere of Bethesda Beat reports.
  • Six residents at the Frederick Health and Rehabilitation Center have tested positive for the disease, including a man in his 80s who has since died, Heather Mongilio of the Frederick News-Post reports. This is Frederick County’s second death and one of 31 in the state.
  • Washington County’s number of COVID-19 cases nearly doubled Wednesday, which officials attributed to an increasing number of test results being returned to the county. The county’s number of cases went from 15 to 27, Dave McMillion of the Hagerstown Herald-Mail reports.
  • The Carroll County Health Department announced nine new confirmed cases of the coronavirus Wednesday evening, bringing the total number of cases in the county to 103, Jon Kelvey writes in the Carroll County Times.

ANSWERS ABOUT STAY-AT-HOME ORDER: Days after Gov. Larry Hogan issued the stay-at-home directive, Marylanders still have questions about how to carry it out. and many are asking the governor’s spokesman, Mike Ricci, directly. McKenna Oxenden of the Sun compiled the 10 most commonly asked questions and his answers from his Twitter feed, such as “Can I still go outside?”

Dr. Shobhi Negi

COMMENTARY: TOLL ON MENTAL HEALTH: Psychiatrist Shobhit Negi, in a commentary for MarylandReporter, writes that “the ongoing public health crisis also is exerting a mental health toll on our health care workers, who comprise the best defense to contain and mitigate this pandemic.” He says everyone needs to pay attention to their mental health during this crisis.

CARROLL RESIDENTS AID HOSPITAL WORKERS: Jon Kelvey of the Carroll County Times reports that doctors and nurses have been forced to reuse the masks, meant to be disposable, for many days at a time, and using other coverings or sanitization techniques to try to extend their lifespan. And now some in the Carroll County community — from cosplay crafters to a local company equipped for 3-D printing — are stepping up to help.

PG SEEKS FUND FOR LAID-OFF WORKERS: Employ Prince George’s has partnered with the Greater Washington Community Foundation to launch the Prince George’s County COVID-19 Hourly Employee Relief Fund with a goal of raising $500,000 to provide $200 Visa Cash Cards to more than 2,000 low-wage hourly workers laid off in Prince George’s County because of the pandemic, the Daily Record announces.

Sgt. Len Lazarick Sr. in 2012

REMEMBERING OKINAWA: In commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the final land battle in the Pacific theater in the Second World War, MarylandReporter runs a revised version of a 70th-anniversary series written by Len Lazarick, whose father fought in that battle. “There have been a few documentaries,” Lazarick writes, “two that include my father, Len Lazarick Sr., who had told me nothing about the battle as I was growing up.”

HOWARD PROPOSES REAL ESTATE TAX HIKE: Howard County is proposing a hike in real estate taxes to help pay for a new high school in Jessup as part of the proposed 2021 capital budget, Melody Simmons of the Baltimore Business Journal reports.