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Wrap-up of news stories taken from the day's local headlines.

Maryland reports fifth coronavirus death, confirmed cases continue to rise

The Maryland Department of Health Friday evening reported the Covid-19 patient was an Anne Arundel County resident in his 80's. According to the state's website, Mayland.gov, there are now 774 coronavirus cases; 125 people are hospitalized and 25 have been released from the isolation. Montgomery County leads the state with 208 cases, followed by Prince George's reports 148, 103 in Baltimore County, 88 in Baltimore City, 63 in Anne Arundel County, and 62 in Howard County.

County Executive Steuart Pittman said that he was saddened to learn Anne Arundel suffered [their] first death from COVID-19. “We don’t know yet who he is, but we know that he is one of us,” said Pittman. “We want his family to know that we are there for them.”

Prince George's screening site at FedEx Field is expected to open on Monday.  That's the word from the county's Family Health Division. The site will serve as a statewide model for community testing and screening for the coronavirus. The facility will operate on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. and by appointment only.

The state of Maryland is taking steps to help the uninsured during the pandemic.  Maryland Health Connection has launched a new special enrollment period for uninsured Marylanders. The enrollment deadline is April 15th.  More information is available online at marylandhealthconnection.gov.

A Baltimore County Police officer and an employee for the Fire Department have tested positive for COVID-19.  Police Chief Melissa Hyatt says the officer is currently in self-quarantine at home.  The Fire Department employee works in Support Services and is also in self-quarantine.  Health officials are working to find anyone who came in close contact with both patients.

Baltimore City Schools are making changes for the next month for remote learning as the coronavirus pandemic keeps students at home.  BCS officials say students will continue work in the take-home packets that were distributed all through next week.  Starting April 6th, students will continue learning through personalized lesson plans set up by teachers and the Baltimore City Schools channel.  BCS is also working on a plan to distribute the school system's 15-thousand Chromebooks.

Meanwhile, a Howard County Trader Joe's grocery store is closed for business after an employee there tested positive for COVID-19. A sign on the door informed shoppers that the store was closed for business after an employee tested positive for the coronavirus. The sign said the worker was last in the store on Monday. The notice also instructed anyone who may have visited the store within the last two weeks to contact the Maryland County Health Department with any concerns. The store remains closed until it is thoroughly sanitized. The Maryland location is one of three Trader Joe's closed because of the virus. The other two stores are in New York.

On his Facebook page, Governor Larry Hogan announced the state of Maryland and Bloomberg Philanthropies are jointly funding research led by Johns Hopkins University into the potential therapeutic uses of COVID-19 convalescent plasma.

“We are very fortunate that Maryland has some of the top health research facilities in the world, and I am confident in our state's ability to be a leader in developing treatments and perhaps even a vaccine for COVID-19,” said Hogan. “I want to sincerely thank Bloomberg Philanthropies and Johns Hopkins University for working with our state to form this exciting public-private partnership, which will protect the health and well-being of our citizens and has the potential to save thousands of lives.”

A spokesman for Governor Hogan, Mike Ricci, tweeted Friday night that there was a total of 1,684 CASES in the National Capital Region—nearly five times more than this time last week.

In Baltimore, City Council President Brandon Scott held tele-town hall meeting Thursday evening. The town hall featured Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, a physician and current Vice Dean for Public Health Practice and Community Engagement at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and centered on the global COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on Baltimore.

According to Scott’s Communications Director, Stefanie Mavronis, there was an overwhelming response:

  • 3,829 people participated in the Telephone Town Hall.
  • The average time spent listening to the event was almost 13 minutes--much higher than average of 3-5 minutes for these sorts of events.
  • 16,078 total connected via live answer or answering machine.
  • 175 people pressed 0 to ask a question and 20 of them got to speak live.

“Our office is in the process of responding to nearly 60 voicemails that were left with questions and concerns from Baltimore residents,” said Mavronis.
University of Maryland engineering faculty and students are repurposing their campus labs to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.  The Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering is producing hand sanitizer.  The "Terpsanitizer" is made of isopropyl alcohol and aloe vera gel and though it's not officially FDA-approved, it follows the agency's guidelines. The Department is also working on surgical masks using polymers which can be spun into fibers. Several prototypes have been made ahead of distribution to hospitals.