State Roundup: As Delta variant rises, Sharfstein, Hogan push vaccines, but state mask-mandate not on table

State Roundup:  As Delta variant rises, Sharfstein, Hogan push vaccines, but state mask-mandate not on table

At Wednesday's Board of Public Works meeting, Comptroller Peter Franchot again protested late-arriving emergency state contracts. Governor's Office photo by Peter Siebert

AS DELTA VARIANT RISES, SHARFSTEIN PUSHES VAXX: With the Delta variant rapidly spreading both throughout the nation and in certain parts of Maryland, former Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Secretary Dr. Joshua Sharfstein Wednesday emphasized the importance of getting vaccinated against the novel coronavirus, Bryan Renbaum reports for MarylandReporter.

MORE THAN 400 COVID CASES ON WEDNESDAY: Maryland reported more than 400 new cases of COVID-19 Wednesday, a level not seen since May, Christine Condon of the Sun reports. During June, Maryland’s case rates sunk to new lows, but by mid-July, they began an uptick that experts blame on the surging delta variant of the coronavirus.

STATE MASK MANDATE NOT ON TABLE: In the face of rising numbers of COVID-19 cases, Gov. Larry Hogan took a moment at the beginning of Wednesday’s Board of Public Works meeting to push vaccines for anyone who has not gotten one, Rachel Baye reports for WYPR-FM. He made no mention of masks, however, despite the CDC announcing that certain vaccinated people should resume wearing masks. “No new statewide mask mandates are being contemplated,” Mike Ricci, a spokesman for Hogan, wrote in an email Wednesday.

NURSING HOMES IN ALLEGANY, GARRETT IN BOTTOM FOR WORKER VACCINES: Some nursing homes in Allegany and Garrett counties made the state’s list for the fewest employees to get a COVID-19 vaccination, Teresa McMinn reports for the Cumberland Times-News. The Maryland Department of Health recently announced the “top 10 and bottom 10” nursing home facilities in the state ranked by percentage of staff with at least one dose of a vaccine against COVID-19 and its highly contagious variants.

SOME RESTRICTIONS MAY RETURN TO MO CO: As Montgomery health officials work to limit the spread of the COVID-19 Delta variant, they’re keeping all options open on possible new restrictions, Steve Bohnel reports for Bethesda Beat. County Health Officer Dr. Travis Gayles says they didn’t want to enact any new restrictions, especially given the county’s high rate of vaccinations but they may reimplement masking, especially indoors, among other restrictions.

HOWARD EXTENDS OUTDOOR DINING UNTIL NOV. 15: Howard County Council members on Wednesday morning voted unanimously to approve a bill to extend temporary outdoor dining at bars and restaurants that had expanded service until Nov. 15, Katie Jones reports for the Howard County Times.

HARFORD TO KEEP CARRYOUT COCKTAILS: Carryout alcohol sales will remain permitted in Harford County after a Wednesday meeting of the county’s liquor control board, which agreed that restaurants should be given latitude to continue the pandemic-era practice, James Whitlow of the Aegis reports.

DESPITE HIGH MARKS FOR HISTORY EDUCATION, SCHOOLS PULLED INTO CRT DEBATE: Maryland’s standards for teaching U.S. history and civics are considered by experts to be balanced and of high quality, but some Baltimore-area school districts are being pulled into the polarized national debate over how the country’s racial history is taught, Liz Bowie, Lillian Reed and Kristen Griffith report for the Sun.

FRANCHOT AGAIN LAMBASTES EMERGENCY CONTRACTS: Speaking at the outset of the Board of Public Work’s bimonthly meeting, Comptroller Peter Franchot ordered board staff to prepare a resolution that would “automatically terminate” future contracts that fail to reach the BPW in time. “These late emergency contracts must stop,” Franchot said. “The Board of Public Works is not a rubber stamp, and I, for one, will not stand by quietly while laws are violated,” Bruce DePuyt of Maryland Matters reports.

THURMONT RECEIVES $3.4M IN ARPA FUNDS: The town of Thurmont received nearly $3.4 million in its first installment of funding from the American Rescue Plan Act last week, Thurmont Mayor John Kinnaird said at Tuesday’s town meeting. The mayor expects the town to receive its second installment — another $3.5 million — within a year, Angela Roberts reports for the Frederick News-Post.

OPINION: IS MARYLAND READY FOR REDISTRICTING? Edward Johnson, of the Maryland Legislative Coalition, opines in a column for Maryland Matters, that two different groups – a legislative one and a citizens one appointed by Gov. Larry Hogan – are looking into redistricting. They are duplicating efforts and not working together. “At this time,” Johnson writes, “I have no expectations the legislature will accept any part of the maps that” the citizens group creates.

B’MORE ‘HIGHWAY TO NOWHERE’ TARGETED UNDER INFRASTRUCTURE BILL: Maryland Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen announced Wednesday evening that the federal infrastructure bill includes a first-of-its-kind $1 billion allocation to reconnect communities divided by transportation infrastructure, including West Baltimore with its “Highway to Nowhere,” Laura Olsen writes for Maryland Matters.

ARUNDEL COUNCILWOMAN TO RUN FOR STATE SENATE: On Wednesday Anne Arundel Councilwoman Sarah Lacey filed to represent Legislative District 32 in the state Senate, challenging incumbent Pam Beidle, who said she plans to file in August for the 2022 election, Rachael Pacella reports for the Capital Gazette.

OPINION: GOV. MICHAEL STEELE? At first glance, the idea of Michael Steele winning the Republican nomination for governor seems pretty absurd, writes Josh Kurtz for Maryland Matters. The man, after all, has spent the past five years in the company of the GOP’s biggest enemies at MSNBC, bashing the most recent Republican president and needling the party’s top national leaders. How is that a recipe for becoming the Republican nominee?

FORMER ANNAPOLIS ALDERMAN DIES: George O. Kelley, a former Annapolis alderman and the last Black Republican to serve on the City Council, died July 17. He was 64, Brooks DuBose reports for the Capital Gazette. Kelley, who had been dealing with multiple illnesses, finally succumbed to them, his wife Wanda Kelley said.

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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