William J. Ford

Maryland Gets Federal Disaster Designation Amid Pandemic

President Donald Trump declared that a major disaster exists in the state of Maryland amid the coronavirus pandemic, the White House announced Thursday.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan pushed for the federal declaration, which allows the state, local governments and some nonprofit agencies to receive federal assistance to combat the novel coronavirus, also known as COVID-19.

“This declaration will help provide much-needed funding for state and local governments and nonprofits, and it will be another important step in Maryland’s aggressive and coordinated response to COVID-19,” Hogan said in a statement.

Hogan, who chairs the National Governors Association, also reiterated his requests made March 19 to the president and vice president that include providing at least 50 percent of supplemental funding to the states, increasing access to masks, test and extraction kits and extending the deadlines for both the census and Real ID.

The state health department announced Thursday its highest one-day jump of confirmed coronavirus cases with 157, bringing the statewide total to 580. As of that day, the state recorded four deaths, including two in Prince George’s County, one in Baltimore County and one in Montgomery County.

The state Department of Education posted a statement on its website Thursday that all child care providers must close by the end of the day.

During the state of emergency, only those approved by the state can serve children of parents and guardians who are essential personnel who work in fields such as health care and public sector, information technology and food and agriculture. A list of the approved businesses that can remain open and those who work for them is available <a href=”https://governor.maryland.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/OLC-Interpretive-Guidance-COVID19-04.pdf “>on the governor’s website</a>.

For licensed child care centers who want to remain open Monday to only serve children of essential personnel, they must apply to its regional licensing specialists before serving eligible families and conduct “a thorough cleaning.” The statement doesn’t explain what constitutes a full cleaning.

The centers will provide care to the children at no cost.

Eligible programs are slated to be posted at earlychild.marylandpublicschools.org, but those labeled “essential personnel” can only have access to locate which centers are available. People can also call 877-261-0060 between 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Meanwhile, the state Board of Elections held a teleconference meeting Wednesday with a recommendation for voters to mail in their ballots for the June 2 primary due to the coronavirus.

A special general election for the 7th Congressional District will be conducted by mail only April 28 for the vacated seat of the late Rep. Elijah Cummings.

Because of the coronavirus outbreak, Hogan issued an executive order on March 17 to postpone the primary election previously scheduled for April 28.

Four organizations — Common Cause Maryland, League of Women Voters of Maryland, Maryland PIRG and ACLU of Maryland — requested some recommendations in a March 18 letter such as allowing same-day registration and receiving absentee ballots for the April 28 primary and allowing some voting centers to remain open June 2.

“We are also concerned at the possibility of disenfranchising thousands of eligible voters during the 7th Congressional District special general election,” according to the letter. “With both elections only being a few weeks away, we need to continue taking action to ensure all eligible voters are able to exercise their right to vote without putting their health at risk during this critical time.”

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William J. Ford – Washington Informer Staff Writer

I decided I wanted to become a better writer while attending Bowie State University and figured that writing for the school newspaper would help. I’m not sure how much it helped, but I enjoyed it so much I decided to keep on doing it, which I still thoroughly enjoy 20 years later. If I weren’t a journalist, I would coach youth basketball. Actually, I still play basketball, or at least try to play, once a week. My kryptonite is peanut butter. What makes me happy – seeing my son and two godchildren grow up. On the other hand, a bad call made by an official during a football or basketball game makes me throw up my hands and scream. Favorite foods include pancakes and scrambled eggs which I could eat 24-7. The strangest thing that’s ever happened to me, or more accurately the most painful, was when I was hit by a car on Lancaster Avenue in Philadelphia. If I had the power or money to change the world, I’d make sure everyone had three meals a day. And while I don’t have a motto or favorite quote, I continue to laugh which keeps me from driving myself crazy. You can reach me several ways: Twitter @jabariwill, Instagram will_iam.ford2281 or e-mail, wford@washingtoninformer.com

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