State Roundup: Maryland in ‘dangerous time’ for Covid as cases continue to climb

State Roundup: Maryland in ‘dangerous time’ for Covid as cases continue to climb

Ballot counting goes on in some Maryland counties.

SHARFSTEIN: A DANGEROUS TIME FOR MARYLAND: Former Maryland Health Secretary Dr. Joshua Sharfstein said Maryland is at a critical crossroads in its fight against the coronavirus. “It’s a dangerous time for the state,” Sharfstein told Bryan Renbaum of on Wednesday.

FEDERAL COURT FOR MD SUSPENDS IN-PERSON ACTIONS: Steve Lash reports for the Daily Record that Chief Judge James K. Bredar said Wednesday that all in-court proceedings and hearings in the U.S. District Court for Maryland will be suspended for at least two weeks beginning Monday due to a resurgence of COVID-19 cases in the state.

WESTERN MD COVID CASES GROW: While COVID-19 cases have recently spread across the country, the virus has grown more intensely in areas including Western Maryland, UPMC officials said Wednesday. Teresa McMinn of the Cumberland Times-News reports that Allegany County’s daily COVID-19 positivity rate of 9.11% remained the highest in Maryland. The statewide rate was 5.6% and Garrett County’s was 7.25%.

FREDERICK 1-DAY NUMBER HITS 2nd HIGHEST: Frederick County reported its second-highest daily number of COVID-19 infections during the pandemic Wednesday, one day after Gov. Larry Hogan (R) imposed further restrictions to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. The 61 cases reported Wednesday were surpassed by only the 74 infections on April 24 when the early phase of the pandemic was at its height, according to the county health department, Greg Swatek of the Frederick News-Post reports.

CARROLL SCHOOLS GO HYBRID: Carroll County’s public high school students will be able to begin hybrid learning as planned Thursday. But if the number of COVID-19 cases in the county and its positivity rate haven’t dropped back into a safer range, hybrid learning is likely to be suspended next week, Kristen Griffith of the Carroll County Times reports.

GARRETT PAUSES IN-PERSON INSTRUCTION: The Garrett County Board of Education voted Tuesday evening to pause in-person learning and resume virtual instruction until at least Dec. 10 after an increase of COVID-19 cases in the county. Students will move to virtual instruction beginning Thursday, the Cumberland Times News reports.

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MARYLANDERS ON BIDEN ‘AGENCY REVIEW TEAMS:’ Several people with ties to Maryland have been tapped by the Biden-Harris presidential transition team to serve on agency review teams, which “are responsible for understanding the operations of each agency.” They will serve on the Health and Human Services and the Housing and Urban Development team, Meredith Cohn of the Sun reports.

CHEVY CHASE RESIDENT TAPPED AS BIDEN CHIEF OF STAFF: Ron Klain, a Chevy Chase resident and former chief of staff for President-elect Joe Biden when he was vice president, has been chosen as Biden’s chief of staff for the White House, Briana Adhikusuma of Bethesda Beat reports. Klain will serve as a senior adviser and oversee the Executive Office of the President in his new role, according to a Wednesday press release from Biden’s transition office.

FORMER REPUBLICAN U.s. REPS CALL FOR TRUMP TO CONCEDE: A group of 30 former Republican lawmakers – among them Marylanders Bob Bauman, Wayne Gilchrist and Connie Morella — joined a letter calling on President Trump to concede and accept the results of the election, Nicholas Fandos and Emily Cochrane of the New York Times report. [The story mentions the letter but does not include the full list.]

BRAVEBOY: HARRIS RISE PROVES HBCU’s WORTH: Speaking of Kamala Harris’s rise to vice president-elect, Prince George’s State’s Attorney Aisha Braveboy said, “There is a sense of pride at Historically Black Colleges and Universities, oftentimes our colleges aren’t looked at as superior but we know so many (alumni) that go off to be federal judges, doctors and lawyers. For the first time nationally, Harris is making people know the strength and intellect and the dynamic people who come out of HBCUs.” Donovan Conaway of the Capital Gazette reports the story.

SEN. KAGAN WORRIED BY LACK OF STATE AUDITS: Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot put a stop to tax audits during the coronavirus pandemic, a move that has one senator worried about oversight. The move was meant to lessen the pandemic’s impact on small businesses and taxpayers, Franchot communications director Susan O’Brien said. But Sen. Cheryl Kagan (D-Montgomery) worries that no audits could lead to a lack of oversight in the state, Bennett Leckrone of Maryland Matters writes.

OUTGOING HEALTH SECRETARY NEALL ‘READY TO RETIRE:’ Department state Health Secretary Robert Neall, 72, has been a part of the Hogan administration since the governor took office, serving on his transition team and as director and senior adviser for the Governor’s Office of Transformation and Renewal before assuming his role at the Department of Health in 2018. He’s had a long career and now he is ready to retire, write Hannah Gaskill and Bruce DePuyt for Maryland Matters.

51 GROUPS WEIGH IN ON ROAD WIDENING PLAN: A group of 51 local and regional organizations and officials sent the state more than 200 pages of comments on the I-495 and I-270 widening project, Briana Adhikusuma of Bethesda Beat reports.

BILL PROPOSES TENANTS RIGHT TO COUNSEL: Steve Lash of the Daily Record reports that the Maryland General Assembly will consider legislation this coming session that would give financially strapped tenants facing potential eviction a right to counsel at their court hearings, leaders of the legislature’s two judiciary committees said Tuesday.

WA CO BOE WANTS EXPANDED BROADBAND: The Washington County Board of Education would like the county’s delegation to the Maryland General Assembly to support prioritized funding for the expansion of broadband accessibility throughout the state, Joyce Nowell of the Hagerstown Herald-Mail reports. “We all know how important that is at this time during in this pandemic,” said BOE president Melissa Williams.

MO CO TO SEEK REPAYMENT OF IMPROPER HAZARD PAY: Montgomery County is seeking repayment of about $100,000 in hazard pay after permitting employees improperly claimed COVID-19 hazard pay for ineligible work, Briana Adhikusuma of Bethesda Beat reports.

JOHN WATERS GETS BMA JOHN HONORS: John Waters, Baltimore’s self-proclaimed “Pope of Trash,” announced Wednesday that he’s bequeathing some of the most precious things he owns — approximately 375 prints, paintings and photographs — to the Baltimore Museum of Art. In a show of appreciation, museum officials will rename two bathrooms in the East Lobby “The John Waters Restrooms” in honor of the cult filmmaker and visual artist, Mary Carol McCauley reports for the Sun. The domed room in the European art galleries also will be christened “The John Waters Rotunda.”

JUDGE RACE IN PG CLOSE: Unofficial results from the Nov. 3 general election show the last two candidates who seek the fifth open seat for Prince George’s County Circuit Court judge are separated by 1,730 votes, William Ford of the Washington Informer reports.

CARROLL CONTINUES HIGH VOTER TURNOUT: Carroll County has voted in record numbers during the 2020 general election, and more than one week after Election Day those numbers are still being tabulated. Katherine Berry, election director for Carroll County Board of Elections, said via email her staff counted more than 11,000 ballots Monday, which brought the county’s voting turnout rate to 77.9%. That’s comparable to the last five elections, according to Berry’s data that shows Carroll above or around 80% every year since 2000, Pat Stoetzer of the Carroll County Times reports.

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 newspaper, The Chester Telegraph. If you have additional questions or comments contact Cynthia at:

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