FEMA REPORT REVEALS EXTENT OF SUPPLY SHORTAGE: Maryland has received only a small fraction of requested medical supplies as it tries to prepare for continued increases in new coronavirus cases, Jeff Barker of the Sun reports. Partially granted requests include face shields, masks, gloves and ventilators. Testing swabs and body bags also were requested but not provided.
- The numbers are stark, Josh Kurtz and Robin Bravender report for Maryland Matters. “Maryland had received just one-third of the 181,595 face shields, one-third of the 421,532 respirator masks and one-third of the 778,129 surgical masks it requested from FEMA, along with about 40% of the 330,540 gloves,” they write.
- Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) called the committee’s findings “disturbing,” Mitchell Miller reports for WTOP. But Van Hollen said they only confirm a problem of severe shortages that officials in the D.C. region already knew about.
OPINION: WHAT THE STATES NEED: Gov. Larry Hogan joined Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in an op-ed in the Post to list what the United States’ governors urgently need from Washington in this public health emergency, including more coordination from FEMA, keeping “mission-critical” workers healthy and unemployment help. “The true spirit of America transcends partisanship,” they wrote.
ECONOMY REELS FROM CORONAVIRUS SHUTDOWNS: With most of their workforce laid off and stores closed for longer than they have ever been, business owners across Maryland are grappling with the monumental impact of COVID-19, Meg Tully reports for MarylandReporter.com with the stories of how five businesses are reacting.
- “More than 126,000 Marylanders were among a record 10 million Americans who filed for unemployment in the second half of March — so many that the claims are overloading the system,” Scott Dance of the Baltimore Sun writes.
- The state reports they have taken more claims in the month of March than in the entire year of 2019, reports Lisa Robinson for WBALTV.
- The state director of the National Federation of Independent Businesses calls the news on unemployment claims “devastating,” Bryan Renbaum of MarylandReporter.com writes.
- Businesses in Frederick are turning to online fundraising like GoFundMe to help pay expenses and staff, reports Erika Riley for the Frederick News-Post.
STAY AT HOME NOT CUT AND DRY ACROSS STATE: Enforcement of the governor’s stay-at-home order is falling to local officials. Allegany County Sheriff Craig Robertson said the direction from “downstate” is changing by the hour and it’s frustrating, Jeffrey Alderton reports for the Cumberland Times-News.
- Over the past week, the Cecil Whig has received several anonymous tips and calls regarding concerns over county and private sector workplaces allegedly putting employees and residents at risk by treating the spread of the novel coronavirus too leniently, Jacqueline Covey writes.
- In Baltimore’s City Hall, the city’s acting solicitor and comptroller are in an argument over a directive for documents and signatures to be filed electronically, reports Jeff Abell for WBFF.
“A resident supervisor at the Housing Authority of Baltimore City stopped grassroots organizers from giving free food to residents of Douglass Homes, many of whom are cooped up in their apartments and some unemployed as a result of the coronavius pandemic,” writes Ian Round for Baltimore Brew.
- In the D.C. region, Metro does not expect to totally shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic and wants to continue operating to help essential medical personnel get to work, reports Max Smith for WTOP.
CLUSTERS OF CASES AS STATEWIDE NUMBERS GROW: Medical experts are describing clusters of the virus including at nursing homes like Carroll Lutheran Village, reports Barry Simms for WBALTV.
- The confirmed cases statewide sit at 2,331 and residents traveling abroad are waiting for the ability to return, the Sun reports.
- Maryland’s health department has not published data on the racial breakdown of coronavirus cases, despite concern from black lawmakers, the Sun’s Talia Richman writes.
- “The effects of the pandemic prompted Baltimore County officials to hold a virtual town hall Thursday night, answering the public’s questions,” Annie Rose Ramos reports for WJZ.
- The town hall showed the effects of the virus, John Lee reports for WYPR.
- Cecil County reported its first COVID-19 related death late on Tuesday as the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Maryland rose, reports B. Rae Perryman for the Cecil Whig. Statewide, the Maryland Department of Health reported 2,331 as of the Whig’s press time Thursday evening.
- The Carroll County Health Department announced 27 additional cases of positive coronavirus tests on Thursday, with 21 of them linked to elder care facilities, Jon Kelvey of the Carroll County Times reports. That brings the number of confirmed cases in Carroll County to 130.
- Worcester County has gotten results back for 142 COVID-19 tests as of Wednesday, with five residents testing positive, reports Rose Velaquez in the Salisbury Daily Times.
- The number of Montgomery County residents who have confirmed cases continues to grow, with a more than 30 percent increase to almost 500 cases, writes Caitlynn Peetz for Bethesda Beat.
LAW WILL HELP TELEHEALTH ACCESS: Hogan will sign into law today two bills that make it easier for medical professionals to use telehealth to treat patients, Pamela Wood of the Sun reports.
CLOSING GUN SHOPS?: “Hogan is getting pressure to close down the state’s gun stores, which have been allowed to remain open during the coronavirus pandemic when most other retailers have had to shut their doors,” Pamela Wood of the Sun reports.
BACKWARDS ON BAG TAX: The Montgomery County Council might suspend the county’s 5-cent carryout bag tax to help slow the spread of the coronavirus during the pandemic, Briana Adhikusuma reports for Bethesda Beat.
BRIDAL GOWN BAGS BECOME MASKS: As news broke the CDC will recommend everyone should be wearing a face mask in public, the Cecil Whig is reporting that a local bridal boutique is giving their gown bags to be made into face masks for medical professionals. K&B Bridals in Bel Air has donated their gown bags to local seamstresses, who are currently in the process of sewing 1,000 masks from the non-woven polyproprylene fabric.
MAKING HISTORY: The Maryland Historical Society wants to document this moment in history in real time, and is soliciting letters from residents and business owners to share their experiences of the pandemic, Brandon Weigel of Baltimore Fishbowl reports.
ELECTIONS OFFICIALS PLAN FOR VOTING AMID CRISIS: In answer to voting rights activists, the Maryland Board of Elections reversed itself and is recommending the state offer at least one in-person voting center in each county for the June 2 primary despite concerns about the new coronavirus outbreak, Emily Opilo for the Sun reports.
- “Maryland’s State Board of Elections on Thursday voted to extend voting registration for the state’s 7th Congressional District race,” the staff of WMAR reports. The new registration deadline is now April 24, just four days prior to the special general election.
IMMIGRANT PETITION: Immigrants’ rights advocates on Thursday urged a federal judge to order the release of two people from Maryland immigration detention facilities, Michael Kunzelman reports for the AP. The attorneys argued their medical conditions carry a high risk of death or serious illness from a coronavirus infection.
SPOTLIGHT FOR BROWN: U.S. Rep. Anthony Brown (D-Md.) was thrust into the spotlight as he served as speaker pro tempore during the debate and final passage of the $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus and aid package, Mark Gray reports for AFRO.
OPINION: BUSINESSES, CONSUMERS NEED TO WORK TOGETHER: Comptroller Peter Franchot is “calling on financial institutions, small and large businesses and consumers to work together to find solutions that help our struggling families and businesses during these extremely stressful times,” he writes for an op-ed in the Salisbury Daily Times.
ONLINE LEARNING CHALLENGES: Del. Matt Morgan (R-St. Mary’s) is questioning the start of online instruction and the public’s availability to it, Kristin Griffiths writes for the St. Mary’s Enterprise.
- University of Maryland students and professors are finding it a struggle to replicate hands-on lab courses after the switch to online learning, Clara Longo de Freitas writes in The Diamondback.
SUPREME COURT MIGHT HEAR MARYLAND CASE: “The U.S. Supreme Court has shown interest in hearing the appeal of a woman sentenced to life in prison for the first-degree murder of her husband’s ex-wife in Germantown seven years ago,” Steve Lash reports for The Daily Record.
COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE: Commercial real estate consultant Marc Fisher answered questions from Business Monthly about how landlords can get through the COVID-19 crisis. Fisher, who has been a firefighter/paramedic in Howard County for more than 26 years, started advising his clients to prepare in January.
HOWARD COUNTY GETS AAA BOND RATING: Amid economic uncertainty from the coronavirus, Howard County has received a AAA bond rating from all three of the nation’s credit-rating agencies, Ana Faguy reports for Baltimore Sun media.