Baltimore Ramps Up Preparations for Spread of Coronavirus: March 14, 2020
March 14, 2020
Baltimore Coronavirus Update
I am honored to serve as your Mayor, and I remain heartened by the resilience of the people of our great City and State.
On Friday at 7:00 a.m., I ordered the activation of the Baltimore City Emergency Operations Center (EOC) to support our City's coordinated response to the evolving novel coronavirus or COVID-19 outbreak. The EOC will remain in operation 24-7 until further notice.
COVID-19 is a serious virus and the health and safety of all Baltimoreans is my top priority. In the last 24-hours, I've taken steps to: pause the practice of turning off people's water for failure to pay; called for a halt to evictions; turned rec centers into hubs where students displaced by COVID-19 can access meals; and sought financial assistance for Baltimore's small businesses struggling as a result of the spread of COVID-19.
Below, I've listed a collection of announcements that you might find useful.
Protecting People's Access to Clean Water During Health Emergency
On Friday, Mayor Young and Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski announced that they will issue joint Executive Orders stating that, effective immediately, neither jurisdiction will turn off water service for failure to pay.
“It is critical that we ensure residents have all the essential resources and services they need to safeguard themselves and their families,” Mayor Young said. “All residents in the Baltimore region can be assured that their services will continue regardless of their ability to pay, while we continue to work through this public health crisis.” The order from Mayor Young and County Executive Olszewski will remain in place while Maryland is under a State of Emergency.
For more information on this announcement, please click here.
Citing Public Health Crises, Mayor Young Requests Halt to Evictions
Evictions in Baltimore City are halted, while schools are closed, due to the growing COVID-19 virus.
On Thursday, Mayor Young reached out to Baltimore City Sheriff John W. Anderson to request his office, which has jurisdiction over evictions, stop the practice during the period when public schools are closed in Baltimore.
"I am thankful to Sheriff Anderson and District Administrative Judge Barbara B. Waxman for working quickly with my office to put in place a policy to allow people to remain in their homes while schools and many other government buildings are closed due to COVID-19," Mayor Young said.
For more information on this announcement, please click here.
Rec Centers Will Serve as Hubs Where Students Displaced by Coronavirus Can Get Access to Meals
Mayor Young and the Director of Recreation and Parks Reginald Moore announced Friday that all of the City's recreation centers would serve as food distribution hubs, where school-age children can pick up a midday snack, and prepared dinners in the evening.
With Governor Hogan ordering a state-wide closure of all public schools for a two-week period beginning on Monday, Mayor Young said using the rec centers as food distribution sites helps ensure students don't go hungry.
"I take seriously my duty to protect the health of the general public," Mayor Young said. "We are putting in place a very commonsense protocol that many other jurisdictions throughout the state and country are turning to in an attempt to reduce the spread of COVID-19."
Beginning Monday, students will be able to pick up a snack beginning at 2 p.m. and receive dinner starting at 5 p.m. at any one of 40 recreation center sites. A list of sites can be found here. The dinner program will end at 7:00 p.m.
Mayor Young's announcement is in addition to the Baltimore City Public School System operating 10 food distribution sites next week where students can receive breakfast and lunch between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. A list of the 10 sites can be found here.
The City plans to increase the number of sites serving as food distribution hubs while schools are closed.
Seeking Help for Baltimore's Small Businesses Impacted by COVID-19
On Friday, Mayor Young sent a letter to Governor Hogan requesting the State's support in unlocking potentially millions of dollars in funding for Baltimore's small businesses through the federal Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program (EIDL).
The EIDL, operated by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), provides working capital to small businesses suffering substantial economic loss from COVID-19.
The SBA, after receiving a request from a state’s Governor, can issue funding under the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act that was recently signed by President Trump.
"In advance of what I believe will be a severe impact to our small business community in Baltimore as a result of the COVID-19 emergency, my administration is preparing contingencies and lining up resources," Mayor Young wrote in his letter to Governor Hogan. "Many small businesses, in particular the hospitality industry, are already experiencing reductions in their sales and as a consequence are laying off employees."
Baltimore is home to more than 12,000 small businesses, according to the Baltimore Development Corporation. Collectively, the shops represent the economic backbone of Baltimore's local economy.
For more information on this announcement, please click here.
Keeping the Public Informed by Partnering with Local Elected Officials
Mayor Young's administration has remained in close contact with Baltimore City Senators and Delegates, who are currently in Annapolis working to wrap up the 2020 Maryland General Assembly's legislative session.
The Mayor's administration has also keep in close contact with members of the Baltimore City Council. On Friday, Mayor Young activated the City's Joint Information Command Center (JICC) to ensure residents are receiving the most up-to-date and accurate information available regarding Baltimore's response to COVID-19.
Mayor Young assigned Health Committee Chairman Councilman Kristerfer Burnett and the office of the City Council President full-time to the JICC. They are assisting the administration with disseminating information to the public and to other elected officials.
The Health Department is also providing regular briefings every 24 to 48 hours on the latest news involving COVID-19 to the Council President, Councilman Burnett and Public Safety Chairman Councilman Isaac "Yitzy" Schleifer.
"I am thankful to have the partnership and cooperation of our City Council as we all work to safeguard the health of our residents and visitors," Mayor Young said. "We have to ensure a free-flow of information to the public, as we remain vigilant against COVID-19."
Office of Immigrant Affairs Prepares Translations of Coronavirus Information
MIMA, the Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs has prepared translations of information on the coronavirus in an effort to increase awareness in Baltimore's immigrant communities and limit the spread of COVID-19. While there are currently no confirmed cases in Baltimore City, we are asking that all residents prioritize preparedness. Please pass along to your neighbors, and thank you for sharing and for keeping our communities healthy. Multilingual Coronavirus Resources
Closures and Cancellations
Pratt Library to Close to the Public
The Enoch Pratt Free Library will close 22 locations to the public from March 14 to March 30. This is on the advice of health officials to promote social distancing. The health and well-being of customers and staff remains the top priority.
“This is an incredibly difficult decision because we know how many customers rely on our libraries,” says Pratt Library President and CEO Heidi Daniel. “We are working with the city to determine how our building could be utilized by emergency responders.”
The Pratt will continue to provide online resources to the public throughout this time. Telephone reference service will continue to be available Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. All renewals are waived and cards will remain active. If customers already have library books, they do not need to return them until the Pratt returns to normal business hours.
The Pratt Library will continue to work closely with the Mayor's Office and Baltimore City Health Department to reassess the situation in the coming weeks.
Baltimore City Public Schools to Close from March 16 to March 27, 2020
At the direction of the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE), all public schools in the state including Baltimore City Public Schools (City Schools) will close all campuses effective March 16, 2020 to March 27, 2020. All school building activities including school day instruction, child care, health services, enrichment, professional development, athletics and club sports, preschool are canceled during this time.
City Schools will also operate an emergency food service program at least eight sites from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. beginning Monday, March 16, 2020, through Friday, March 20, 2020. Students will be able to receive grab-and-go free breakfast and lunch meals. The sites will be announced by Sunday, March 15, 2020 and will be listed on the Health Updates webpage. More information
City Orders Suspension of City-Operated Senior Center Buildings
Effective immediately, all discretionary activities are temporarily suspended for older adults, including all programming at the seven City-operated senior center buildings. These programs include all special events, class activities and vocational trips involving older adults. Older adults and people with underlying health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and lung disease are at the highest risk for serious illness of COVID-19.
The City-operated senior centers will remain staffed to assist older adults and continue to provide meals, supplies, and information and referral services to those who need it. Planned activities involving mass gatherings, trips and classes will be suspended.
Starting Monday, March 16, 2020, the Baltimore City Health Department will provide boxed lunches at congregate meal sites to allow participants the choice to take their meals home to eat. If there are factors that prevent participants from picking up a meal, meals can be delivered as an option by calling the Maryland Access Point at 410-396-CARE (2273), for eligibility into the home-delivered meal program. More information
Maryland Courts Suspend Jury Trials Through April 3rd
All civil and criminal jury trials in the Circuit Courts throughout the state of Maryland scheduled to begin on March 16, 2020, through April 3, 2020, shall be suspended on an emergency basis pending further Order of the Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals.
Maryland Rule 4-271 requires that the trial of a criminal defendant be held within 180 days after the earlier of the appearance of counsel or the first appearance of the defendant before the circuit court. In criminal matters with jury trials pending during the above time period, county administrative judges shall hold hearings as necessary to resolve Maryland Rule 4-271 issues in individual cases and to set a new trial date. More information
State of City Address, St. Patrick Parade and Shamrock 5K Postponed
As we continue to receive guidance from the CDC, Maryland Department of Health, and the Baltimore City Health Department around COVID-19, we have decided to postpone the State of the City Address, scheduled for Monday, March 23, and instead focus on the city’s preparedness for the spread of COVID-19.
St. Patrick Celebrations, Inc. has decided to postpone the Baltimore St. Patrick Parade scheduled for Sunday, March 15. In addition, Charm City Run Events has cancelled the Shamrock 5K Race. Shamrock 5K registrations will be deferred to the 2021 Parade. If you had registered for the Shamrock 5K, Charm City Run will contact you with further details.
Baltimore City Department of Human Resources Releases Emergency Coronavirus Plan
This week, the Baltimore City Department of Human Resources released an emergency coronavirus plan outlining staffing strategies, tools, advice, and directives that City agencies should follow in the event of a coronavirus outbreak or other emergency in the city. The 32-page plan details steps that city agencies are required or advised to take to prepare for a COVID-19 outbreak. More information
Mayor Convenes Agency-wide Coronavirus Preparedness Exercise
This week, I convened the City's emergency personnel, agency representatives, and cabinet officials for a tabletop exercise related to the evolving COVID-19. During this tabletop exercise, emergency personnel worked through three different emergency scenarios. The topics discussed included caring for the City's most vulnerable populations, like older adults, residents experiencing homelessness, and anyone with a compromised immune system; working closely with institutional partners; and overall coordination among agencies and first responders.
I was pleased with the level of cooperation from our emergency personnel and agency representatives. Preparing for COVID-19 is the top priority for my administration. We're focused on keeping the people of Baltimore healthy and safe. The Health Department will continue updating residents with new guidance as it becomes available: please visit health.baltimorecity.gov