By Sean Yoes
AFRO Senior Reporter
As COVID-19 began to rage in America back in April, State Delegate Nick Mosby and his Legislative Black Caucus colleagues pressed the Hogan administration for data regarding the scourge of the pandemic broken down specifically along racial lines, as it became clear it was disproportionately infecting and killing Black and Brown people.
Six months later, Baltimore City and its majority Black population seems to have fared better in the battle against COVID-19 than many other major urban areas in America.
“When you look at the infection rates, talking about specifically COVID-19 related cases and deaths in the city, I think that the mayor and the health commissioner and the health department have done a really good job of keeping our numbers proportionately low in comparison to several cities with similar issues throughout the country,” Mosby told the AFRO during a phone conversation this week and the latest coronavirus numbers in Maryland seem to back his assessment.
As of September 7, Maryland has about 118,000 cases of COVID-19 and 3,849 deaths. Despite the vast health and wealth disparities Baltimore is burdened with, the city still ranks fourth in the state behind Montgomery County, Prince George’s County and Baltimore County in COVID-19 deaths (474) and cases (15,254).
Mosby, who represents the 40th District of Baltimore City, which has a large impoverished population with myriad health challenges, remembered back in April how many experts predicted Baltimore may be poised to suffer the catastrophic fate of New York City regarding the impact of COVID-19. “Everybody was kind of ready, waiting for the Convention Center to be full of sick, dying patients, as well as the University of Maryland and Hopkins and the other hospitals…and it never took place,” Mosby said. “You have to give credit where credit is due and I think Mayor Jack Young, as well as Dr. Letitia (Dzirasa) in the Health Department again, did a fabulous job of protecting Baltimore’s citizens as much as humanly possible in the midst of this global pandemic.”
Even as the city’s health infrastructure grapples to keep COVID-19 comparably manageable, Mosby credits other institutions for working to help mitigate the economic devastation of the pandemic in Baltimore.
“Looking at it from the health perspective is really important, but we also have to look at the other side of the coin and that’s the economics of it,” Mosby said.
“The federal government released the PPE (Personal Protective Equipment, essential for health workers combatting COVID-19) funds through the CARES Act, and a lot of those funds went to the large corporations and some people didn’t really have access to the networks to get to that money, it was really hard…for minority businesses. But, just like I want to give kudos to the mayor as well as Dr. Letitia in the health department, we also have to be thankful to have an institution like Harbor Bank here in Baltimore City,” Mosby added.
“I think when you look at Harbor Bank’s statistics as it relates to giving out, or giving small businesses access to money they rank as one of the nation’s leaders associated with the whole PPE process. And I think that under the leadership of Mr. Haskins (Joseph Haskins co-founded Black owned Harbor Bank in 1982, an is the longest serving CEO of any Maryland bank), and the folks at Harbor Bank they understood and knew what COVID could mean to small and minority businesses and they intentionally and literally worked through the night to give folks access to that money.”
With many predicting a surge in COVID-19 cases with the coming Fall and Winter months Mosby said, “We have a lot of challenges.”
“The one thing I get very, very concerned about is…our school system. My children are going to be okay…But, there is a certain segment of our population of young folks that the school day is almost a refuge, maybe from their home, maybe from their community, maybe from their guardians. I get really, really concerned about the educational growth and achievement that we’re seeing of children in certain environments,” he added. “I get concerned about the potential increase in child abuse and additional trauma…so those things really concern me. We need to make sure they are okay, not just from an educational perspective, but also from a trauma related perspective.”