SPIKE IN CASES; ED OFFICIALS PREP FOR MORE DIGITAL LEARNING: Maryland saw its largest daily spike in new coronavirus cases Wednesday with more than 1,000 new confirmed infections, as the state’s top education official said she was preparing for the possibility that public schools could remain closed into the fall, Luke Broadwater, Nathan Ruiz and Meredith Cohn report for the Sun.

  • State Education Superintendent Karen Salmon

    During a meeting of the state legislature’s Joint COVID-19 Response Legislative Workgroup, the main takeaway about the recovery was that it won’t be like flipping a switch. And Karen  Salmon, the state superintendent of education, warned that “distance learning” may have to continue into the beginning of the next school year.

  • School systems across the state are making new investments in personal-learning devices, and Salmon told the legislative work group that she supports using federal coronavirus relief funding to expand distance learning and online learning tools, Tim Tooten reports for WBAL-TV.
  • Salmon, who championed digital learning and ensuring each student had access to a computer or other digital device while she led the Talbot County School District, said the pandemic has convinced her that schools must move to online learning, Bryan Sears writes for the Daily Record.
  • Wednesday was the largest daily spike in new coronavirus cases with 1,158 new confirmed cases, as the state’s hospitals brace for a rush of patients, Meredith Cohn and Nathan Ruiz report for the Sun.

HARFORD WAIVES SCHOOL POLICIES: A handful of policies of the Harford County Board of Education related to qualifying students to complete the end of the school year, as well as graduate from high school, were waived by the school board Tuesday, reports the Aegis’ David Anderson.

Del. Nick Mosby (D-Baltimore City)

AFRICAN AMERICANS AFFECTED MOST BY VIRUS: The novel coronavirus is disproportionately affecting African Americans more than any other group, according to a report published Wednesday by the CDC, Ray Strickland reports for WMAR.

  • Del. Nick Mosby (D-Baltimore City) is among dozens of members of the Maryland Assembly who want to know how the cases of COVID-19 cases and deaths around the state manifest along racial lines, Sean Yoes of the AFRO is reporting.

JURISDICTIONS PATCH TOGETHER BUDGETS: Counties and cities throughout Maryland continue patching together budgets as the COVID-19 pandemic grinds the nation’s economy to a near halt, forcing local governments to overhaul spending plans, Adam Bednar of the Daily Record reports.

STATE’S COVID-19 DEATHS MIGHT PEAK NEXT WEEK: A statistical analysis suggests that COVID-19 deaths in Maryland and the virus’s impact on the state’s health system will peak late next week, then start to decline, writes Bruce DePuyt for Maryland Matters. But state officials and independent experts cautioned that there are many variables that go into such projections and the course of the epidemic is ultimately impossible to predict.

JOBLESS CLAIMS PROCESS FRUSTRATES: The governor’s offices is admitting that with so many people out of work, “there’s great frustration out there about the unemployment claims process right now, and understandably so,” Louis Krauss writes for Baltimore Brew.

PRAISE FOR HOGAN RESPONSE: In an exclusive conversation with Mark Gray for the AFRO, U.S. Rep. Anthony Brown (D-4) said President Donald Trump was late in formulating an adequate COVID-19 response and that Gov. Larry Hogan is doing a better job of leadership during the pandemic.

  • Vincent DeMarco, the president of Maryland Citizens’ Health Initiative. praised Hogan’s decision to send “strike teams” composed of Maryland National Guard members, state health officials, doctors and nurses to assist nursing homes overburdened by the spread of the coronavirus, Bryan Renbaum of MarylandReporter reports.

Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh

FROSH DEFENDS CONTRACEPTION COVERAGE: Attorney General Brian Frosh on Wednesday joined a coalition of 21 attorneys general in filing an amicus brief supporting Pennsylvania in its U.S. Supreme Court case defending mandated contraceptive coverage under Obamacare, Regina Holmes writes for MarylandReporter.

PUGH ASSIGNED TO ALABAMA PRISON, SEEKS DELAY: Convicted former Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh has been assigned to serve her sentence at an Alabama facility nearly 900 miles from home, and is asking for a delay in when she must report so she can resolve pending state charges and try to get a new prison assignment, Justin Fenton of the Sun is reporting.

  • An attorney for the disgraced politician argued that his client should not begin her three-year sentence April 27 because of court delays prompted by the coronavirus pandemic and the location of the federal prison. Pugh, who was originally ordered to surrender on April 13, requested an extension to June 1, Regina Garcia Cano of the AP is reporting.

LICENSE TO POLLUTE? Rachael Pacella of the Capital Gazette reports while EPA officials said that while they will not penalize entities who commit civil violations related to monitoring and reporting if the disturbance was caused by the virus, the policy isn’t a license to pollute.

JUDGE: OCEAN CITY CAN BAN TOPLESS WOMEN: Ocean City officials can continue to ban women from going topless at Maryland’s popular beach destination, a federal judge has ruled. U.S. District Judge James Bredar upheld the town’s ordinance as constitutional even though it applies to women but not to men, Ann Marimow of the Post reports.

FORMER HOGAN AIDE NOW LOBBYIST: Amanda Allen, a former Hogan administration official who left state government in January to join Transurban, is now a registered lobbyist for the firm in Maryland, Bruce DePuyt writes for Maryland Matters.

BODY OF KENNEDY TOWNSEND’S GRANDSON FOUND: Divers on Wednesday recovered the body of 8-year-old Gideon McKean, the grandson of former Maryland Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, not far from where his mother’s body was found after the two were swept into the Chesapeake Bay from a canoe, Tom Jackman of the Post reports.