State Roundup: Public health officers tell lawmakers of threats — professional and personal — during Covid crisis

State Roundup: Public health officers tell lawmakers of threats — professional and personal — during Covid crisis

Senior House of Delegates member Jay Walker says he has decided to step away from politics when his term ends. File photo Maryland Reporter.

PUBLIC HEALTH OFFICERS CITE THREATS DURING COVID WORK: Public health workers from different corners of Maryland told state lawmakers Tuesday that they felt threatened by residents and undermined, and even retaliated against, by leadership at the state health department during the past two years of the coronavirus pandemic. Meredith Cohn/The Baltimore Sun.

  • Former Harford County Health Officer David Bishai told a legislative panel that he was fired by the Harford County Council in October without cause after he provided sound health guidance. Dr. Travis Gayles, who stepped down as Montgomery County’s health chief in August, told lawmakers that he and his staff received personal threats following a charged social media post from Gov. Larry Hogan that same month. Bruce DePuyt/Maryland Matters.

HEALTH DEPT PAYMENT BACKLOG CREATING PROBLEMS WITH AID: A backlog of invoice payments that the Maryland Department of Health owes to public health contractors has hampered their ability to assist those most in need. The agency’s inability to pay some of its vendors in a timely fashion has prompted a new round of criticism aimed at Health Department leaders, a frequent occurrence throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Hannah Gaskill/Maryland Matters.

SENATE OKs BAN ON PFAS: Maryland’s Senate voted unanimously Tuesday to ban Per-and Polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, a group of human-made chemicals that the Environmental Protection Agency says can cause harmful health effects in humans. Joel McCord/WYPR-FM.

105-ACRE NASA GREENBELT FOREST SAFE FOR NOW: The mostly forested NASA property in the headwaters of the Anacostia River in Maryland  that conservationists feared could be bulldozed has won yet another reprieve. The federal Public Buildings Reform Board, which late last year called for the sale of the 105-acre site near NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt has decided to hold off on recommending disposing of any government properties for at least three years. Tim Wheeler of the Bay Journal/Maryland Reporter.

DEL. WALKER TO LEAVE POLITICS IN JANUARY: Del. Jay Walker (D-Prince George’s), a senior House member who had been seriously contemplating a run for state Senate this year, said Tuesday that he plans to step away from politics when his term ends in early January. “It’s been a good run,” Walker said. Josh Kurtz/Maryland Matters.

GOP BID TO LOWER GAS TAX IN BABY BILL FAILS: A Tuesday vote in the House of Delegates on a bill to eliminate taxes on some purchases for babies turned into a skirmish over the state’s gas tax. Legislation that would result in a lower gas tax sponsored by House and Senate Republicans remains stuck in committee. So House Republicans Tuesday attempted to force the issue by proposing to amend a bill that would exempt baby bottles, baby bottle nipples and infant car seats from the state sales tax. Bryan Sears/The Daily Record.

By 401(k) 2013 with Flickr Creative Commons License

OPINION: DEMOCRATS WANT TAX CUTS, BUT NOT BIG ENOUGH ONES: Notwithstanding the fact that our Democratic colleagues’ newfound appetite for tax cuts just happens to coincide with election year, this development is welcome news, and we anticipate bipartisan support for many of these measures. … In a high-tax state like Maryland, any tax relief is a good thing. However, the Democratic tax relief package is pretty weak tea when compared to the $4.6 BILLION budget surplus the state forecasts for the coming fiscal year. Dels. Jason Buckel and Haven Shoemaker/Maryland Reporter.

Get your commentary published: In recent weeks, Maryland Reporter has published a wide range of opinion on issues that are before the General Assembly — or should be, writers say. Subjects like soft drinks for kiddie meals, security of mail-in ballots, car pricing on the internet, the hazards of corporate taxation and the fears of people with disabilities about assisted dying, If you have a commentary about Maryland government and politics you’d like to see published, send it along to It needs to be exclusive to Maryland Reporter and 700 words or less.

INTERVIEWS WITH BROWN, SHALLECK FOR ATTORNEY GENERAL: In interviews as they run for state attorney general, Anthony Brown and Jim Shalleck said they wanted to expand the role of the attorney general, albeit in very different ways. They both agreed, too, that more resources are needed to provide access to counsel to people who can’t afford lawyers in civil matters, such as evictions — a cause that Frosh has championed during recent legislative sessions. Interviews with the candidates Katie O’Malley and Michael Petrouka will be noted here soon. Madeleine O’Neill/The Daily Record.

DESPITE END OF COVID SURGE, HOSPITAL STILL STRUGGLE: Even though the surge of the omicron variant of Covid 19 is now essentially over, with coronavirus hospitalizations dipping to only 391 statewide, a fraction of what they were in January, hospital officials say they are still struggling. Johanna Alonso/The Daily Record.

HARFORD ELECTIONS BOARD TO DISCUSS COUNTY REDISTRICTING BILL: The Harford County Board of Elections will hold a special meeting Wednesday evening after it found inconsistencies in the redistricting bill recently passed by the County Council. The Board of Elections found discrepancies in the language of the bill and in the graphical map, according to board President Allison McCord. Jason Fontelieu/The Aegis.

U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) tested positive for Covid. He says his symptoms are ‘pretty mild.’ (Screenshot)

RASKIN TESTS POSITIVE FOR COVID: Rep. Jamie Raskin announced Tuesday that he has tested positive for COVID-19. Raskin said he tested positive on Monday, after taking a test for members of Congress who planned to attend the State of the Union address Tuesday night. In a statement, Raskin said he has been fully vaccinated and has received a booster shot. He wrote that flu-like symptoms “have been pretty mild so far.” Staff/The Associated Press.

MARYLANDERS FOR AFFORDABLE RX: Marylanders for Affordable Rx is educating policymakers and the public on the real reasons behind high prescription drug costs and exposing special interests that are out to pad their bottom line at the expense of Maryland’s hardworking people. Across the country and in our state, we see special interests, like Big Pharma and the independent pharmacy lobby, push agendas that would make it harder for patient advocates like pharmacy benefit managers to negotiate for lower prescription drug costs. Learn more and help us stop special interests from increasing our Rx costs. (Paid Advertising)

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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