NO DISTANCE LEARNING FOR TENS OF THOUSANDS OF STUDENTS: The Baltimore Sun’s Liz Bowie reports that tens of thousands of Maryland’s public school students haven’t made the transition to distance learning despite efforts by their teachers and educators to connect with them. A recent survey of school superintendents showed that as many as 25% of students in some districts either had not signed on to the internet for lessons or hadn’t picked up a packet to complete since schools closed last month due to coronavirus.
- Teachers have been attempting to deliver their curriculum virtually since March 16, but are finding that many of their students don’t have adequate access to computers, the internet or a combination of the two, reports Hannah Gaskill for Maryland Matters.
HOGAN TO ANNOUNCE REOPENING PLANS: Gov. Larry Hogan announced Wednesday that he will unveil plans for the eventual reopening of the state on Friday. But even as he mentioned the recovery plan, the governor reminded residents that the state is not yet ready to reopen, Heather Mongilio of the Frederick News-Post reports.
- Dave McMillion of the Hagerstown Herald-Mail writes that some of the plans include expanding testing capacity; adding more hospital beds; increasing supplies of personal protective equipment and expanded, robust tracing to track cases of COVID-19.
- Teresa McMinn of the Cumberland Times-News also writes about the reopening plans.
LAUREL MED REOPENING PART OF PLANS: Laurel Medical Center has reopened as a hospital for COVID-19 patients pursuant to Gov. Hogan’s executive order that closed medical facilities be reopened to treat people who are infected with the virus, Bryan Renbaum reports for MarylandReporter.
- Gov. Hogan and Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks said the addition of 135 beds at the facility — which was operating as an outpatient center — will help put the state “on track” to exceed its goal of adding 6,000 hospital beds throughout Maryland, Luke Broadwater and Pamela Wood of the Sun report.
Hogan said the beds in Laurel are part of a broader network of additional hospital beds around the state, Rachel Baye of WYPR-FM reports. In Prince George’s County, which has been the hardest-hit part of the state, there are new beds at Adventist HealthCare Fort Washington Medical Center and University of Maryland Prince George’s Hospital Center. Hogan also described tents outside hospitals in Lanham, Clinton and White Oak.
- Hogan said 22 surge response tents are being built at hospitals throughout the state, including Holy Cross Hospital and Washington Adventist Hospital, both in Montgomery County, Dan Schere writes for Bethesda Beat.
VOTING DETAILS BEING DEVISED: On Wednesday, the State Board of Elections met for the third time this month to continue hammering out voting details, including where you’ll be able to vote in June, where and when you can drop off your ballot for the special election, and when you can expect to find your primary ballot in your mailbox, Emily Opilo of the Sun reports.
- Precinct-level election results will not be possible for Maryland’s presidential primary in June, the State Board of Elections said Wednesday. Danielle Gaines of Maryland Matters writes that a database that could sort results by neighborhood was designed back in February. when the state was planning a typical, in-person election and before the spread of COVID-19 forced an emergency shift to a vote-by-mail election system.
CRAB WORKERS RETURN AMID WORRIES: Desperate for jobs, Mexican crab pickers have slowly begun arriving on the Eastern Shore, where employers are eager for their services but wary of the grave challenges posed by the coronavirus in a business in which workers typically live and labor in close quarters, Jeff Barker and Thalia Juarez of the Sun are reporting.
COLLEGE ATHLETES TOUGH IT OUT: Student-athletes across the college sports landscape are faced with tough realizations and a new challenge amid the current COVID-19 pandemic as seasons have been stripped away and preparations begin for next season, which remains up in the air, Capital News Service’s Alex Murphy reports in MarylandReporter.
AID SOUGHT FOR RESTAURANT WORKERS: As Maryland restaurants continue to feel the pain of dining room closures, an industry group is calling on Congress to create a dedicated fund to support eateries across the country, Amanda Yeager of the Baltimore Business Journal reports. Some 40% of restaurants in Maryland are currently closed, and almost 150,000 restaurant workers are unemployed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the Restaurant Association of Maryland said Tuesday in a news release.
TENSIONS RISE BETWEEN LOCALS, VISITORS: “The handwritten message was attached to a stop sign near Deep Creek Lake. ‘NON-RESIDENTS PLEASE LEAVE,’ it said in black letters. Below was the word ‘NOW’ in red.” Garrett County, like many other lake, beach or mountain destinations in Maryland and across the country, is now managing tensions between locals and visitors or second-home owners who have fled densely populated areas such as Baltimore and Washington to ride out the coronavirus pandemic, Jeff Barker reports in the Sun.
“STRIKE TEAM” IS SENT TO LAPLATA NURSING HOME: State officials sent another COVID-19 “strike team” of health-care professionals to Sagepoint Senior Living Services in LaPlata. The team arrived Monday — three days after the facility suffered its first employee death Friday and 91 cases of coronavirus cases were alleged by nursing staff, Glynis Kazanjian reports in the Baltimore Post-Examiner.
B’MORE WATER BILLS DELAYED: Baltimore residents’ water bills are delayed by several weeks because of complications tied to the coronavirus pandemic. Mayor Jack Young said water billing will resume May 8, and that residents should expect higher than normal bills that include charges for part of March and all of April, Talia Richman of the Sun reports.
FREDERICK UNLIKELY TO STALL WATER RATE HIKE: The city of Frederick will promote existing programs to help people who fall behind on their water bills, but delaying a planned increase in the city’s water and sewer rates is not likely, Ryan Marshall of the Frederick News-Post is reporting.
JHU PLANS AUSTERITY MEASURES: Johns Hopkins University announced a series of austerity measures Wednesday after estimating the university and its medical system will have to cut costs by $475 million through June 2021. Separately, the University System of Maryland chancellor has warned of a $230 million to $240 million shortfall for the current semester, Liz Bowie and Phil Davis of the Sun report.
- While Johns Hopkins University was in a strong financial position before the pandemic, now it is projecting a revenue loss of $100 million in the current fiscal year, writes Morgan Eichensehr for the Baltimore Business Journal.
NON-UNION SUN WORKERS MUST TAKE FURLOUGHS: Tribune Publishing is requiring most non-union employees earning between $40,000 and $67,000 a year to take three weeks of furloughs in the next three months. The action comes less than two weeks after CEO Terry Jimenez announced permanent pay cuts of 2% to 10% for higher-salaried employees. In addition to the flagship Chicago Tribune, the company publishes The Baltimore Sun and its community newspapers, Rick Edmonds of Poynter writes.