State Roundup: COVID-19 hitting black Marylanders the hardest

State Roundup: COVID-19 hitting black Marylanders the hardest

The State House in Annapolis ( file photo)

NUMBERS REVEAL CORONAVIRUS RACIAL DISPARITY: “Black Marylanders are suffering disproportionately from the new coronavirus shows information released Thursday by the state for the first time, drawing frustration, but not surprise from area political leaders and observers,” Meredith Cohn, Nathan Ruiz and Pamela Wood report for the Sun.

  • The racial data report was based on Wednesday’s totals, which had 125 deaths and 5,529 cases of infection, Tim Curtis reports for The Daily Record. The report showed that 44% of people who died were black, 31% were white, 5% were Asian, and 2% were classified as other. For 17% of the deaths, a race was unknown.
  • The numbers show “troubling disparities,” Gov. Larry Hogan said. He vowed to address the persistent public health problem, Adam Zielonka and Sophie Kaplan report for the Washington Times.
  • The information is similar to that found in other cities and states that had already collected data on patients’ races, Ian Round reports for Baltimore Brew.
  • Mike Hellgren for WJZ offers detailed breakdowns of the numbers and a response from the Prince George’s County executive.
  • “America’s enduring history of racial disparities in health care has compounded the COVID-19 crisis for African Americans,” Tom Hall and Cianna Greaves examine on Midday for WYPR.
  • AFRO offers a first-person account of the coronavirus from Cohen Cosby III, who has now fully recovered.
  • OPINION: Collecting the racial data is a critical first step, but it must be compiled in timely reports that provide actionable information for policymakers and others, and it also should be posted on a regular basis on a publicly available website, Leni Preston opines for Maryland Matters.

STATE’S PRISON CASES TRIPLE, CONTROVERSY ABOUT HOW TO RESPOND: COVID-19 cases have more than tripled in Maryland’s prison system, Mike Lewis for the Hagerstown Herald-Mail reports. “In the event that a large number of inmates need to be treated, the department is working with the Army Corps of Engineers to put up medical tent facilities at Maryland Correctional Institution-Hagerstown and Jessup Correctional Institution, with possible other locations,” Lewis writes.

Former Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh (Bruce Emmerling)

  • A judge granted former Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh’s request to postpone her prison date with a 60-day extension due to the coronavirus outbreak, reports WBAL-TV.
  • Pugh is now not required to report until June 26, and still has pending perjury charges in Anne Arundel County, Justin Fenton reports in the Sun.
  • Since the COVID-19 outbreak began to infiltrate the state nearly a month ago, a coalition of prisoners’ rights organizations — including the Justice Policy Institute — have asked the governor to take meaningful steps to decrease the risk of mass viral outbreaks in the state’s detention institutions, including prison depopulation, Hannah Gaskill for Maryland Matters reports.
  • State agencies argued the Maryland public defender’s office seeks too much in its call for judges to release all detained and incarcerated juveniles who do not pose an immediate threat of seriously harming someone, Steve Lash for The Daily Record reports. The agencies responsible for the juveniles’ safety made the argument to Maryland’s top court Wednesday.

RESTRICTIONS, SHUTDOWNS CONTINUE: “Starting Monday, shoppers at Montgomery County stores must wear a face covering, under an order the county’s health officer announced Thursday evening,” Andrew Schotz reports for Bethesda Beat.

  • Car wash owners in Cecil County are confused by the decision to shut them down as nonessential during the coronavirus pandemic, reports Jane Bellmyer reports for the Cecil Whig.
  • Meanwhile, real estate agents are seeking guidance from the governor’s office on whether agents should continue to show real estate — especially for landlords seeking to show properties currently occupied by tenants, reports Mallory Sofastaii reports for WMAR.
  • Joy Lepola for WBFF investigates how Baltimore police are being protected from the virus as they continue doing their jobs during the pandemic.
  • After pleading with residents to limit nonessential landfill trips in order to reduce the risk of spreading the coronavirus, Carroll County’s commissioners voted Thursday to close a Westminster landfill to residential self-haulers for 15 days, Mary Grace Keller reports for the Carroll County Times.
  • Carroll County’s health officer was satisfied with businesses working to prevent the spread of the coronavirus and did not move to close any essential businesses after conducting inspections Wednesday, Akira Kyles reports for the Carroll County Times.

UNEMPLOYMENT CLAIMS CONTINUE MASSIVE INFLUX: Another 108,508 Marylanders filed for new unemployment claims in the past week, the latest in a massive influx of claims that has snarled state phone lines due to the coronavirus pandemic, Bryan Sears writes for The Daily Record.

FEDERAL AID FOR THE STATE: Maryland is set to receive nearly $5 billion in federal assistance from the $2 trillion federal stimulus, Luke Broadwater for the Sun reports. Broadwater outlines where the money will go to state, local governments and colleges and universities.

  • Maryland health centers also will be getting $15 million from a coronavirus emergency response bill, including $749,885 for the West Cecil Health Center received on Wednesday, Jacqueline Covey reports for the Cecil Whig.
  • Maryland Secretary of Commerce Kelly Schulz said she hopes more federal financial assistance is coming to the state for businesses after two state grant and loan programs were closed to applications on Monday, Briana Adhikusuma reports for Bethesda Brew.

Del. Brian Chisholm (R-Anne Arundel)

ONLINE LEARNING DISCUSSION “PREMATURE:” Del. Brian Chisholm (R-Anne Arundel) said State School Superintendent Karen Salmon’s warning that plans for distance and online learning for students could continue into the 2020-21 school year due to the spread of COVID-19 is “a little bit premature,” Bryan Renbaum reports in MarylandReporter.

NUMBERS AROUND THE STATE: Anne Arundel County reported 39 new cases Thursday, a day after the county saw its largest single-day spike of coronavirus cases — bringing the total confirmed cases to 505, Brooks DuBose writes for the Capital Gazette. The county is now the fifth jurisdiction to pass the 500-case mark.

  • In Frederick County, three new deaths were reported and there are now cases in residents and staff of four long-term care facilities, Heather Mongillo reports for the Frederick News-Post.
  • The latest report includes four deaths in Montgomery County, Dan Schere reports for Bethesda Beat. Before Thursday, Montgomery County’s Department of Health and Human Services tracked coronavirus-related deaths by age group in its website. As of Thursday evening, it was no longer displaying this information.
  • Carroll County officials announced the 18thdeath at Pleasant View Nursing Home in Mount Airy on Thursday and hosted its first virtual town hall to answer community questions about the pandemic, Jon Kelvey for the Carroll County Times reports.

GARRETT MAKES EMERGENCY COMMUNICATIONS PURCHASE: The Garrett County Commissioners approved the purchase of a new site for emergency communications, with about $800,000 of the $1 million purchase funded through state bonds, Renée Shreve reports for the Garrett County Republican. Commissioners said the coronavirus pandemic shows the need for a dedicated building for emergency communications.

AG FROSH WARNS INSURERS NOT TO BILL FOR CORONA: Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh “warned health care providers Thursday against collecting payment or billing for patient co-pays, coinsurance or deductibles for costs related to COVID-19,” according to the staff of The Daily Record.

OPINION: STATE SHOULD PROTECT VOTERS: The catastrophe that was the Wisconsin primary election this week shows Gov. Larry Hogan was wise to delay the Maryland primary from April until June, and now the state needs to get planning right to ensure the safety of voters, opines the editorial board of the Frederick News-Post.

Md. Comptroller Peter Franchot

MAIL PAPER TAX RETURNS TODAY:  Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot is urging Marylanders who plan to file a state tax return by mail and are expecting a refund to get their return postmarked today. On Wednesday the comptroller’s office will temporarily stop processing paper returns due to staffing issues because of COVID-19, MarylanderReporter writes.

MD NONPROFIT GIVES VENTILATORS TO NY: “A Frederick charitable organization donated 27 ventilators this week to New York, one of the hardest-hit states in the country during the novel coronavirus outbreak,” Jeremy Arias reports for the Frederick News-Post.

OPINION: The Baltimore Sun “comprises not a single reporter or media or political writer on its staff whose likely political slant is to the right of progressive, which is left of liberal,” Towson University Professor Richard E. Vatz opines in MarylandReporter — and that’s a problem.

Diana Waterman (Ballotpedia)

CHALLENGE IN MD GOP: “Former Maryland Republican Party Chairman Diana Waterman has announced she will be challenging incumbent Maryland Republican National Committeewoman Nicolee Ambrose at this year’s Maryland Republican Party Convention,” Brian Griffiths reports for Red Maryland.

About The Author

Meg Tully

Contributing Editor Meg Tully has been covering Maryland politics for more than five years. She has worked for The Frederick News-Post, where she reported during the General Assembly session in Annapolis. She has also worked for The (Hanover) Evening Sun and interned at Baltimore Magazine. Meg has won awards from the Maryland-Delaware-D.C. Press Association for her state and county writing, and a Keystone Press Award for feature writing from the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association. She is a graduate of Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. If you have additional questions or comments contact Meg at:

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