State Roundup: State to enter Stage 3 of reopening; counties can set their own pace

State Roundup: State to enter Stage 3 of reopening; counties can set their own pace

Gov. Larry Hogan at Sept. 1 press conference. Governor's Office photo by Patrick Siebert

HOGAN ANNOUNCES STAGE 3 OF REOPENING: Bryan Renbaum of MarylandReporters writes that Gov. Larry Hogan said Tuesday that Maryland’s fight against the coronavirus pandemic has progressed to a point at which the state will be able to enter the final stage of its recovery plan on 5 p.m. on Friday.

  • Marylanders soon may be able to go to the movies and to see live shows, after Hogan announced Tuesday that all businesses — including entertainment venues — can reopen starting Friday, Pamela Wood and Emily Opilo of the Sun report.
  • “I’m pleased to report that our early and aggressive mitigation efforts to fight COVID-19 have been extremely successful and that we have continued to see declining numbers in all of our key health metrics,” said Hogan. But, writes Hannah Gaskill for Maryland Matters, local jurisdictions may still set and enforce greater restrictions, as needed.
  • Starting Friday at 5 p.m., all entertainment venues, including movie theaters and live entertainment venues, can reopen at up to 50% capacity or up to 100 people for indoor facilities. Outdoor facilities are limited to 50% capacity or up to 250 people. Mandatory social distancing and mask orders will remain in place, reports Bryan Sears for the Daily Record.

HOW COUNTIES RESPOND TO NEXT PHASE: As with prior reopening steps, local government officials have the authority to keep more restrictive rules in place. McKenna Oxenden of the Sun surveys counties to see what their plans are.

  • “We’re currently evaluating the latest surprise announcements made by the Governor and will identify our next steps after consulting with our public health and economic development teams,” wrote a spokesperson for the Baltimore County executive, Elijah Westbrook reports for WBFF-TV.
  • In a statement sent to Briana Adhikusuma of Bethesda Beat Tuesday evening, Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich wrote that Hogan’s announcement “has again taken us by surprise … Although I want to see our community open as quickly as possible, we also must proceed with care. …”
  • The move still needs the blessing of County Executive Jan Gardner, who can override the plan if she feels Frederick County is not ready to reopen further, Greg Swatek reports for the Frederick News-Post.

STATE MANDATES 3.5 HOURS OF LIVE INSTRUCTION DAILY: Maryland’s state school board adopted a new requirement Tuesday for online instruction that requires a minimum of 3.5 hours a day of live instruction by a teacher, and gives school systems until the end of 2020 to put the standard in place, Liz Bowie reports in the Sun.

  • State Superintendent of Schools Karen B. Salmon emphasized that this standard is to ensure equity and consistency for all students across the state, especially those in school districts that were “planning last minute to go virtual for a whole half of the school year, which is 90 days,” reports Elizabeth Shwe for Maryland Matters.
  • The board backed off a proposal to put those requirements in place later this month, after critics said that was too soon, and would have caused confusion and chaos. Instead, they have to achieve that requirement by the end of the calendar year, John Lee reports for WYPR-FM.

MTA PROPOSES TO SLASH BUS, RAIL SERVICE IN B’MORE: Faced with a multi-billion dollar hole created by a historic decline in ridership and revenues, the Maryland Transit Administration on Tuesday unveiled a proposal to dramatically cut bus and rail service in the Baltimore region next year, reports Bruce DePuyt for Maryland Matters. Dozens of bus lines would be eliminated if the proposals are adopted, and numerous surviving lines would run less frequently.

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STATE NARROWS NEW BAY BRIDGE SITES TO 3: Katherine Shaver of the Post reports that Maryland transportation officials have rejected 11 of 14 potential sites for an additional Chesapeake Bay crossing, saying a new span must be built close to the existing bridges to provide the most traffic relief and cause less environmental damage.

MD SENATE GOP LEADERS MAY FACE INTERNAL CHALLENGES: The top two Republicans in the Maryland Senate could find themselves in a battle for the leadership of the caucus as some are calling for early elections, reports Bryan Sears for the Daily Record. Members of the caucus are scheduled to meet via conference call Wednesday, and some are expected to push for a new election by the end of September rather than the end of the year, as has been traditional.

64 NURSING HOMES SHORT ON INFECTION CONTROL: Sixty-four nursing homes in Maryland failed to take sufficient infection control measures to protect residents from the coronavirus, according to state inspection records provided to the Sun, reports Meredith Cohn.

MORE DETAILS EMERGE OF McGRATH PAYOUT SITUATION: Gov. Larry Hogan’s former chief of staff Roy McGrath endured the glare of public scrutiny last week over the quarter-million dollar severance package he took from a quasi-public agency before joining Hogan’s inner circle, he turned to the governor for help, reports Erin Cox and Ovetta Wiggins for the Post.

  • Even after he resigned from his job as Hogan’s right-hand man, even after a General Assembly committee questioned board members at his former agency who’d given him a six-figure severance, McGrath pushed the governor to support him, reports Pamela Wood for the Sun.

CDC ORDERS END TO RESIDENTIAL EVICTIONS: The nation’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an order Tuesday putting a stop to residential evictions through December in an effort to halt the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19. It does not prevent collection of late fees, penalties or interest due to failure to pay rent. According to estimates from a Chicago-based consulting firm, roughly 274,000 households in Maryland have lost income due to the COVID-19 pandemic and are at risk of eviction, Bennett Leckrone and Allison Stevens write in Maryland Matters.

BA CO OFFERS CASH INCENTIVE TO POLL WORKERS: Baltimore County has recruited 1,500 election judges to staff polling places, but the county is still looking for substitute judges to provide backup. To encourage participation, the county is offering judges a new incentive:  $100 more per day, Rachel Baye of WYPR-FM reports.

TRUMP ENDORSES KLACIK FOR CONGRESS: President Donald Trump has endorsed Republican Kim Klacik in her bid for Maryland’s 7th District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, writes Phil Davis for the Sun. Trump wrote on Twitter that Klacik, who is running against Democratic incumbent Kweisi Mfume in November’s general election, “has my Complete & Total Endorsement!”

MO CO EXEC, POLICE CHIEF SPLIT ON COPS IN SCHOOLS: Montgomery County’s executive and police chief had diverging views on Tuesday on a program that places police officers in schools, Dan Schere reports in Bethesda Beat. County Executive Marc Elrich and Police Chief Marcus Jones were part of a forum to discuss police reform and a national social justice movement that stemmed from cases in which police officers shot civilians.

GROUP TAKES TOPPLED COLUMBUS STATUE: After protesters toppled a towering statue of Christopher Columbus and dumped it into Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, a group of Italian Americans organized to fish the marble chunks out of the water. Now, reports Talia Richman for the Sun, they moved what was left of the statue to a private warehouse for “safekeeping,” far from the piazza where it stood for more than three decades. The group is working now to restore it to its original form.

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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