State Roundup: Restaurants suffer under Covid restrictions, seek proof that dining out is risky

State Roundup: Restaurants suffer under Covid restrictions, seek proof that dining out is risky

Monday's sunset of the winter solstice at Stonehenge, Wiltshire, England. Screen shot

SUFFERING EATERIES WANT PROOF OF COVID TRANSMISSION: Bryan Renbaum of Maryland Reporter writes that head of Restaurant Association of Maryland says that the coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc on Maryland’s restaurant industry and many establishments may soon close their doors for good if they do not receive substantial financial assistance from the government.

  • Among restaurateurs frustrated by the latest round of dining room shutdowns, one question keeps bubbling to the surface: Where’s the proof that dining out puts people at higher risk of contracting Covid-19?, reports Amanda Yeager for the Baltimore Business Journal.
  • A judge is scheduled on Wednesday to hear a lawsuit in which dozens of restaurants are fighting Montgomery County’s order shutting down indoor dining to combat the spread of COVID-19, Dan Schere of Bethesda Beat reports.

ALMOST 800 BILL PRE-FILED IN ANNAPOLIS: An extraordinary number of bills — almost 800 — have been pre-filed for the 442nd session of the Maryland General Assembly, Danielle Gaines of Maryland Matters reports. By contrast, there were a little less than 200 bills pre-filed last session. One bill that will be re-introduced after it was vetoed last year by Gov. Hogan would provide an additional $577 million to Maryland’s HBCUs over 10 years to end the state’s lengthy lawsuit over inequitable funding of the schools.

BUDGET CHALLENGES IN NEW SESSION: Lawmakers returning to Annapolis will face a difficult budget challenge as the result of the pandemic but it could have been much worse, Bryan Sears of the Daily Record reports.

STATE STEPS BACK FROM CLIMATE INITIATIVE: A year ago, Maryland’s Environment Secretary Ben Grumbles pledged that the Hogan administration was committed to “bold and achievable solutions” that help the environment and fight climate change, including joining a nascent coalition of states “looking to apply the proven ‘carbon cap-and-invest’ model to transportation emissions. But that was before the COVID-19 delivered a body blow to the economy. On Monday, Maryland joined seven other Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states that declined to join Transportation Climate Initiative Program, Bruce DePuyt reports in Maryland Matters.

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AUTOPSY STUDY SUGGESTS HIGHER COVID RATE: A new study suggests that far more Marylanders have been infected with COVID-19 than previously thought, a proportion higher than what was reported in any area except for New York City, Meredith Cohn of the Sun writes. Johns Hopkins University researchers reported Monday that their look at 500 autopsy reports from several weeks in May and June in the state found 10% had antibodies for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

MODERNA VACCINE DISTRIBUTION STARTS: After getting swift federal authorization for emergency use, the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is being distributed throughout Maryland — only about a week after Pfizer’s vaccine went out to hospitals across the state, including the six in Montgomery County, Briana Adhikusuma of Bethesda Beat reports.

  • Frontline medical staff at UPMC Western Maryland began receiving the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine Monday morning as about 500 doses arrived at the Cumberland hospital, officials said. Another 1,400 doses of the vaccine are expected to arrive at UPMC Western Maryland mid-week — enough to vaccinate every frontline employee who opts in, according to the Cumberland Times-News.

HARFORD SCHOOLS GET $2.1M FROM COUNTY CARES FUND: Harford County Public Schools was the recipient of another $2.1 million in federal CARES Act funding, allocated by Harford County Executive Barry Glassman, S . Wayne Carter Jr. reports in the Aegis. It was the final allotment of the $44.6 million in CARES Act funding the county had received in May; the deadline to spend the federal funding is Dec. 30.

BEWARE FAKE COVID TESTING SITES: Officials are warning of fake COVID-19 testing sites boasting free results in Baltimore City that could have their eyes on identity theft, the Maryland attorney general’s office said in a news release Monday, writes Christine Condon of the Sun.

WASHINGTON GAS FINED $750,000 IN DEADLY EXPLOSION: Washington Gas has been ordered to pay a $750,000 fine for failing to notify officials it had not replaced mercury gas regulators such as the one blamed in a deadly 2016 explosion in Silver Spring. Steve Thompson of the Post reports that in proceedings before the Maryland Public Service Commission, the utility said it decided to focus on addressing a surge of natural gas leaks instead.

STIMULUS DEAL SHOULD AID METRO: The stimulus bill brokered by Congress should eliminate or significantly reduce Metro’s need to cut weekend rail service, lay off one-third of its workforce, close stations and cut Metrobus service in half, Justin George of the Post reports.

MARTIN PLANT REUSE GETS STATE OK: The Baltimore County Council Monday voted to accept approval from state transportation officials for a designation that will support plans for a mixed-use project at the former Martin Aircraft plant that one county council member said could be a “game changer” for Middle River and the eastern part of the county, Taylor DeVille reports in the Sun.

MILLIONS DOWN THE DRAIN FOR B’MORE, BA CO: Baltimore City and Baltimore County have lost millions of dollars in water and sewer revenue due to a dysfunctional system despite spending more than $133 million in the last decade to fix ongoing problems, according to a report Monday by the city and county inspectors general, Emily Opilo and Alex Mann of the Sun report.

  • The lion’s share of the spending since 2011 – $129 million – was footed by Baltimore City residents, whose home water rates have nearly tripled over this period, according to a joint report issued by the city and county office of inspector generals, Mark Reutter of Baltimore Brew reports.

LOYOLA PROF CREATES SAFE PLACE TO TALK RACE: A series of deadly events culminated with Professor Karsonya Wise Whitehead helping create a place at Loyola University Maryland where she wants positive conversations about race to exist and flourish, writes John-John Williams IV of the Sun. For Whitehead, it started with the 2012 death of Trayvon Martin, a Black Florida teen. It hit closer to home in 2015 with the death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore.

CHARLES POWER PLANT TO STOP COAL BURNING: A 50-year-old power plant in Charles County is the latest in Maryland to announce its plans to stop burning coal in the years to come, Christine Condon of the Sun reports. The coal-fired units at the Morgantown plant, which is run by GenOn Holdings, will be deactivated in 2027, the company said. The plant still will generate energy using natural gas and oil.

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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