HOGAN ALIGNS STATE MASK POLICY WITH CDC GUIDES: A day after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its mask guidance to say that people who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, for the most part, do not need to wear masks either indoors or outdoors Gov. Larry Hogan followed suit and made that guidance official state policy, Bryan Renbaum of Maryland Reporter reports.
- Masks still will be required on public transportation and in schools, airports, day care centers and health care facilities, such as hospitals and doctors’ offices. Local governments and individual businesses can opt to keep mask requirements in place, Bryn Stole, Pamela Wood and Meredith Cohn report in the Sun.
- The lifting of the statewide mandate however still leaves in place orders imposed by county governments around the state. Businesses around the state can also set their own policies regarding mask usage, Bryan Sears of the Daily Record reports.
- Businesses will still be able to enforce their own mask mandates, the governor said. He urged everyone who hasn’t done so to get vaccinated, as it’s the easiest way to be protected against the coronavirus, Steve Bohnel of the Frederick News=Post reports.
- As Maryland lifts more coronavirus restrictions, Gov. Larry Hogan (R) also has announced plans to resume requirements to renew driver’s licenses, vehicle registrations and inspections, Luz Lazo of the Post reports.
- As of Friday, 2,501,973 Marylanders have been fully vaccinated, and roughly two-thirds of the state’s adults — 65.6% — have had at least one shot, Bruce DePuyt reports in Maryland Matters. Howard (48.1%) and Talbot (47.6%) are the state’s most fully-vaccinated counties. Somerset (25.9%) and Cecil (27.9%) are the least.
- Nearly half of Frederick County’s population has received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. About 122,990 residents, or 47.4% of the population, had received at least one shot, the county’s website showed Sunday, Mary Grace Keller reports for the Frederick News-Post.
PG, MO CO READY TO LIFT RESTRICTIONS: Falling cases and hospitalizations in Prince George’s County and throughout the state attributed to rising vaccination rates, county leaders are lifting the majority of restrictions imposed at the onset of the pandemic last spring, John Domen of WTOP-FM reports.
- The end of most COVID-19 restrictions is near for Montgomery County residents, Dan Schere reports in Bethesda Beat. At 6 a.m. on May 28, nearly all restrictions will be lifted, after the county met its threshold on Friday of 50% of residents having received all required dosages of the COVID-19 vaccine.
- Montgomery County’s announcement that it would be lifting most COVID-19 restrictions was welcomed by many residents and members of the business community on Saturday, Dan Schere writes in Bethesda Beat.
DEL. REZNIK SEEKS PROBE INTO KOREAN TEST KIT PURCHASE: Del. Kirill Reznik, a Montgomery County Democrat, wrote Friday to state Attorney General Brian Frosh and State Prosecutor Charlton Howard, asking them asking for an investigation of a flawed, multimillion-dollar state purchase of coronavirus test kits from a South Korean company, saying there is a “strong indication our state’s procurement laws and regulations were violated,” Pamela Wood of the Sun reports.
- An audit released in April revealed that the state spent nearly $12 million on the procurement and transportation of 500,000 COVID-19 test kits. And while Gov. Hogan announced the acquisition of the test kits to great fanfare, it was later revealed that the first order of tests was incomplete, Hannah Gaskill of Maryland Matters reports.
JOBS UNFILLED IN MARYLAND: Along Frederick Road in Catonsville, there are help wanted signs dotting the windows of restaurants and bars. Even though the coronavirus pandemic is easing, thousands of Baltimore County residents are not going back to work. Business owners and government officials are trying to figure out how to get those unemployed people back in the work force, John Lee of WYPR-FM reports.
DAILY COVID CASES REMAIN WELL-BELOW 1,000: Maryland health officials reported 369 new cases of the coronavirus, raising the total number of cases counted in the state since March 2020 to 456,004, Phil Davis reports in the Sun. The state health department has not reported more than 1,000 daily cases since April 28, and Maryland has averaged 479 cases per day this month.
BREAKING: HOUGH FOR EXECUTIVE: State Sen. Mike Hough, the Republican minority whip, sent out a press release at 8 a.m. Monday announcing he will run for Frederick County executive. He promised to “keep Frederick from becoming Montgomery County north” and reduce property taxes. Here’s his campaign website and his Facebook video
MARYLAND’s MANAGEMENT OF MENTAL CRISES QUESTIONED: Despite decades of encounters with local authorities, Everton Brown’s actions continued until they had tragic consequences. Last Saturday morning, police say, Brown, 56, set fire to his home, then shot and killed three neighbors. Now the killings are prompting questions about how Maryland handles cases of people who may be in a mental health crisis, Alison Knezevich and Jean Marbella of the Sun report.
TU, UMBC EXPAND STUDENT MENTAL HEALTH RESOURCES: The COVID-19 pandemic has brought into focus the mental health of college students across the nation. In response to the growing concern among students, college health professionals at Towson University and University of Maryland Baltimore County have expanded its resources online, Cameron Goodnight of Sun Media reports. Towson and UMBC recently partnered with Togetherall to provide students with free access to 24/7 online peer-to-peer mental health support.
HEATING, COOLING MD SCHOOLS COULD HIT $818M: As climate change leads to hotter days across the country, the cost of cooling public school buildings grows higher. New research estimates that more than 280 Maryland public schools that did not need air conditioning in 1970 could have to spend $818 million to install new heating and cooling systems by 2025 to keep classrooms at a safe temperature, Elizabeth Shwe of the Maryland Matters reports.
LCV POLL: MARYLANDERS SUPPORT JOBS ACT, CLEAN ENERGY: Marylanders across all congressional districts strongly support the Biden Administration’s American Jobs Act and the investments it would make in climate, clean energy, good-paying union jobs, and justice, according to poll released last week by the League of Conservation Voters and the survey firm Data for Progress, Josh Kurtz reports for Maryland Matters.
APPEALS COURT UPHOLDS $15M AWARD FOR EXONEREE: A federal appeals court Friday upheld a $15 million verdict to a man who spent nearly 20 years in prison for a murder he did not commit because a Baltimore police detective fabricated and withheld evidence, Steve Lash reports for the Daily Record.
MUTED PREAKNESS STILL DRAWS SWELLS, POLS: The pared-back Preakness saw a slightly muted party on Saturday, with attendance limited to 10,000, but plenty of local swells, politicians, athletes and a handful of celebrities showed up to soak in the scene after last year’s nearly fan-less race, Bryn Stole of the Sun reports.
GOP MEMBERS SEEK TO PULL PARTY BACK: More than 150 current and former Republican leaders — ex-governors, members of Congress, Cabinet secretaries and others — have launched a crusade to retake control of a party that they say is intent on steering the GOP and the nation to a dark place, Bruce DePuyt of Maryland Matters reports. Several prominent former Republican officeholders from Maryland, including ex-Lt. Gov. Michael Steele, have embraced the “Call for American Renewal.”
RHINO ROLL IN B’MORE RENTERS BILL: Fern Shen of Baltimore Brew reports on a lobbyist behind a renters bill that currently sits on Mayor Brandon Scott’s desk for his action – or inaction – that many local renters groups are opposing. The lobbyist, an employee of Rhino, a venture capital-backed New York City company, is apparently behind getting this type of bill passed in cities throughout the country.