State Roundup: Hogan announces appointment-free COVID-19 testing; June 2 ballots delayed

State Roundup: Hogan announces appointment-free COVID-19 testing; June 2 ballots delayed

APPOINTMENT-FREE TESTING ANNOUNCED: Gov. Larry Hogan said today he is directing state health officials to make appointment-free COVID-19 testing available at community-based testing sites, a step that would represent a major escalation of testing in Maryland, Bryan Sears reports for the Daily Record.

  • People who have been exposed to the novel coronavirus but show no symptoms can get tested at state-run sites, an expansion that follows complaints from local leaders that a lack of testing has made it more difficult to ease shutdown restrictions, Gregory S. Schneider, Fenit Nirappil and Erin Cox report in the Washington Post.
  • Hogan has also issued an emergency order authorizing the state’s licensed pharmacists to directly order and administer COVID-19 tests. The order coincides with new federal guidelines expanding options to pay for pharmacists to offer COVID-19 tests for Medicare beneficiaries, Josh Kurtz writes in Maryland Matters.
  • About 3.5% of Maryland residents have now been tested for the disease caused by SARS-CoV-2, Gov. Larry Hogan said in a statement Tuesday morning.Heather Mongilio of the Frederick News Post writes that the state has conducted more than 200,000 tests.

VENDOR FAILS TO MAIL BALLOTS FOR PRIMARY: An out-of-state vendor failed to mail hundreds of thousands of ballots to Baltimore voters for nearly a week despite assuring Maryland they were on the way, officials revealed Tuesday amid growing concerns over administration of the June 2 primary, Emily Opilo of the Sun reports.

  • Maryland’s top lawmakers are asking the State Board of Elections to add additional voting centers in Baltimore City and Montgomery County for the June 2 presidential primary due to late delivery of mail-in ballots to voters in those two large jurisdictions, writes Danielle Gaines for Maryland Matters.

BACKLOG REVEALS BIGGEST JUMP IN COVID-19 CASES: Just days after the state began allowing counties to slowly begin reopening, Maryland reported the highest number of new coronavirus cases Tuesday since the outbreak began in mid-March. Citing an influx of backlogged lab results, Maryland officials announced 1,784 new cases and 60 more deaths from the coronavirus, as the state surpassed 40,000 total infections while reaching the cusp of 2,000 confirmed fatalities, Nathan Ruiz of the Sun reports.

REOPENING COMPLAINTS: The first phase of Gov. Larry Hogan’s plan to reopen businesses shuttered by restrictions aimed at preventing the spread of the coronavirus is not moving fast enough, according to the co-founder and chairman of the protest group Reopen Maryland.  “Let’s get people back to work because the cure is going to be worse than the virus. And the morbidity and mortality rate of this virus is dropping like a rock. We can solve this as Americans. That’s our position. Give us the data and let us make informed decisions,” Tim Walters told MarylandReporter.com’s Bryan Renbaum on Tuesday.

UNDERWATER MORTGAGES: Millions of homeowners – mainly in rural and minority communities continue to struggle with depressed home values and underwater mortgages. And now, worries of a new recession brought on by the coronavirus crisis could compound their troubles. Kira Barrett of Capital News Service reports in MarylandReporter.com

15-YEAR-OLD DIES FROM COVID-19: A Baltimore County teen has died after being infected with the coronavirus, marking what officials say is the county’s first pediatric death associated with the virus, reports Lillian Reed in the Sun. A family member confirmed this week that 15-year-old Dar’yana Dyson died Saturday at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

STATE WORKERS DEMAND COVID PROTECTIONS: As Mayland rolled into its 11th week of the pandemic-induced state of emergency, unionized state workers took to the streets Tuesday in an appeal for the government to provide necessary protections to keep them safe while they keep the state afloat, Hannah Gaskill of Maryland Matters reports.

HARMS ACROSS THE BOARD: Bruce DePuyt of Maryland Matters reports that state lawmakers were told on Tuesday that the COVID-19 pandemic is hitting Maryland consumers, homeowners, business owners and insurance carriers in unprecedented ways, including some that can’t be quantified yet because the crisis continues to unfold.

WA CO COMMISSIONERS SEEK CONTROL OVER REOPENING: The Washington County Board of Commissioners unanimously agreed Tuesday to send a letter to Gov. Hogan asking for the county to have “complete control,” with the guidance of local health and emergency service officials, in reopening the county, Julie Greene reports for the Hagerstown Herald-Mail.

OP-ED: EMPEROR HOGAN HAS NO CLOTHES: In an op-ed in the Sun, Herb McMillan opines that the “emperor has no clothes, but Gov. Larry Hogan wants us to pretend otherwise, rather than point out the embarrassingly obvious. Data indicates COVID-19 is a manageable disease. He needs to accelerate Maryland’s reopening, not pass the buck to county governments. One emperor is bad enough; 24 is worse.”

OP-ED: ALTERNATIVE TO SHUTDOWN: There is an alternative to shutdown and stay-at-home orders that might be more effective, writes Lyman Stone in a Washington Post op-ed. It is contact isolation, where those who have contracted the coronavirus or had contact with it are segregated, and the rest of the population can go about their business.

POLL: THREE-WAY TIE IN MAYOR’s RACE: Luke Broadwater, Talia Richman and Emily Opilo of the Sun report that the contest to be the next mayor of Baltimore has come down to a three-way Democratic primary race between an experienced but controversial former mayor, a millionaire business executive and a youthful City Council president, according to a new poll for The Baltimore Sun, the University of Baltimore and WYPR-FM.

  • Pollsters spoke to 400 likely primary voters over the phone from May 11 to May 18. The poll respondents reflect the city’s electorate, meaning they’re mostly black, female and over the age of 50. The margin of error is plus or minus 4.9 percentage points, reports Emily Sullivan for WYPR-FM.

MO CO SUED TO BLOCK COVID FUNDS FROM ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS: Montgomery County will have extra legal help in facing a federal lawsuit by a nonprofit group that wants to prevent the county from distributing pandemic relief funds to immigrants living in the country illegally, Briana Adhikusuma writes in Bethesda Beat.

BAY HEALTH DROPS TO C-MINUS: The health of the nation’s largest estuary dropped from a C to a C-minus last year in an annual report card released Tuesday on the Chesapeake Bay. That is the lowest score and first C-minus since 2011, Brian Witte of the AP reports.

OP-ED: SAVE OUR SUN: Ted Venetoulis, former Baltimore County executive and former owner of Times Publishing Group, urges, in an op-ed for the Sun, to save the Baltimore Sun and return it to local ownership. He’s part of the movement. He writes: If a city loses its professional sports teams, it loses its spirit. If a city loses its newspapers, it loses its soul,

About The Author

Cynthia Prairie

Contributing Editor Cynthia Prairie has been a newspaper editor since 1979, when she began working at The Raleigh Times. Since then, she has worked for The Baltimore News American, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Prince George’s Journal and Baltimore County newspapers in the Patuxent Publishing chain, including overseeing The Jeffersonian when it was a two-day a week business publication. Cynthia has won numerous state awards, including the Maryland State Bar Association’s Gavel Award. Besides compiling and editing the daily State Roundup, she runs her own online news outlet, The Chester Telegraph. If you have additional questions or comments contact Cynthia at: cynthiaprairie@gmail.com

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