City Begins Transport of Residents Experiencing Homelessness to More Stable Housing
Beginning this week, the Mayor’s Office of Homeless Services will begin to relocate vulnerable homeless residents over the age of 62 from the City’s three emergency shelters to motels. Mayor Young issued the following statement:
“This effort allows our neighbors who are experiencing homelessness to isolate safely, while allowing our team to help monitor their health,” Mayor Young said.
On March 20, the City began transporting and supporting homeless individuals who were tested for COVID-19 and awaiting test results to a motel for isolation. Since that time, 56 individuals who were homeless or living in congregate settings have been served in this isolation location.
This week, 150 vulnerable, but healthy, individuals from the City’s three emergency shelters will be moved to motels. In addition, remaining residents currently sheltering at the Monument Street Shelter, will be relocated to a larger and more suitable location to allow for social distancing.
“We are relocating homeless individuals that are over 62 and residing in City shelters to motel rooms in order to help protect them from COVID-19. We continue to work with our non-profit partners to provide safe lodging and support for all of our homeless clients.” Said Jerrianne Anthony, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Homeless Services.
This relocation effort builds on the City’s efforts to serve vulnerable populations during this pandemic. The City Health Department, Mayor’s Office of Homeless Services, Health Care for the Homeless and area hospitals have developed a screening and testing protocol for homeless individuals and the MOHS continues to reach out to those who stay in encampments and on the streets.
Mayor to Host Virtual Town Hall on City’s Plans to Protect Homeless Individuals from COVID-19
Mayor Young and the Mayor’s Office of Homeless Services will host a virtual town hall on Tuesday, April 7. The meeting will begin at 3:30 p.m. and provide additional information about the City’s plans to protect homeless individuals from COVID-19. To register for the virtual meeting, click here.
Mayor and Local Faith Leaders Encourage Residents to Safely Observe Upcoming Religious Holidays
Over the weekend, Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young reached out to faith leaders across Baltimore to provide updates on guidance and best practices in advance of Passover and Holy Week religious observances. Mayor Young issued the following statement:
“I thank all of our faith leaders for taking into account the health of their congregants and neighbors in observing the Governor’s Executive Order for religious observations,” Mayor Young said. “Celebrating holidays such as Passover and Easter is incredibly important to our faith communities, and I support all of our leaders who are ensuring their congregants can do so in a safe and healthy manner.”
Mayor Young praised faith leaders who are closing their churches and temples and offering telephonic and video services. He also encouraged people to stay home and celebrate their religious observances with those with whom the live.
“We need to obey the guidelines that have been set before us by our Governor and our Mayor,” said Bishop Angel Nunez, pastor of Bilingual Christian Church. “Then we need to be at peace exercising our faith in a way that’s respectful of what’s been requested of us, in terms of washing our hands and practicing social distancing.”
“The message is real clear that we believe that being a Christian means being a law abiding citizen,” said Bishop James L. Carter, pastor of the Ark Church, and President of the Ministers Conference of Baltimore and Vicinity. “We’ve been pushing out to our members the message from the Governor and the Mayor for people to stay at home and only go out for the essentials. We don’t believe in putting our members in harm’s way.”
Mayor Young made the calls to help prepare faith leaders in advance of a week filled with religious holidays and observances. The Passover holiday begins Wednesday at sundown, while Maundy Thursday and Good Friday services are typically held by Christian congregations in advance of Sunday’s Easter holiday.
“As we prepare for a busy week for many of our churches and synagogues, I am confident our faith leaders are taking all the necessary precautions,” Mayor Young said. “I am hopeful that all of our residents will be able to celebrate and observe these holidays in a manner that respects their faith while keeping them healthy.”
Mayor, Delegates, and Councilmembers release video in advance of Passover
Today, Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young, Delegates Sandy Rosenberg and Dalya Attar, Councilmembers Zeke Cohen and Isaac “Yitzy” Schleifer, and community leaders delivered a video message to the Jewish community, urging them to celebrate Passover at home. Mayor Young issued the following statement in a video message:
“I know many of you are making your final preparations for Passover, while the city of Baltimore continues to do everything we can to stop the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Mayor Young said. “We still need your help. We urge everyone to stay home and practice social distancing. Remember, we are all in this together.”
As part of continuing efforts to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in Baltimore City, Mayor Young urges all residents to abide by social distancing measures and to remain at home unless performing an essential task. For those observing Passover, residents are encouraged to stay home and celebrate the Passover meal with the people in your household, without inviting family or guests to travel to your home.
“Happy Passover to all. Passover is very different, as we are living through unprecedented times,” Delegate Attar said. “I urge you to please continue to follow CDC social distancing guidelines and remain indoors. May we all get through these difficult times while remaining healthy, and may we all have a very happy Passover.”
“Why should this Passover be different from all other Passovers? For safety’s sake, we shouldn’t have a big family gathering to celebrate our freedom from Pharaoh,” Delegate Rosenberg said. “If we do the right thing this year, next year in Baltimore and throughout the world, we will celebrate Pesach together as one family.”
“While many of us look forward to spending the holidays with our friends and family, it is critical that this year, we only celebrate with those living in our household,” Councilmember Schleifer said. “We need everyone to do their part to get through this pandemic. Please, don’t be the broken link in the chain.”
“Passover is the story of the Jewish people’s liberation. And we know right now that we’re facing an enormous challenge,” Councilmember Cohen said. “We’re asking folks to stay home, and to do your Seder by Zoom or by call. We know it’s hard but we appreciate everyone making the sacrifice.”
To view the video from Mayor Young, Delegates Rosenberg and Attar, and Councilmembers Cohen and Schleifer, please click here.
Mayor Young Announces Construction of New COVID-19 Screening Site
On Friday, Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young announced the start of construction of a new community-based COVID-19 drive-thru screening site located at the Pimlico Race Course parking lot. Mayor Young issued the following statement:
“The Pimlico Race Course is an accessible location that provides the space and infrastructure needed for a mobile screening site, once additional tests become available,” Mayor Young said.
The Maryland National Guard is assisting in the construction process for the site, which will provide for community-based screening when additional testing capacity is available. The site could also provide space for other health needs related to the COVID-19 response.
“I want to thank the owners of the property, the Stronach Group, for partnering with us in this effort,” Mayor Young said. “This facility will be a critical piece of the puzzle as we work with our partners to increase testing availability and access in the coming weeks.”
Mayor Partners with Health Care Providers on Innovative Public Private Partnership
On Friday, Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young joined University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS) President and CEO Mohan Suntha, MD, Johns Hopkins Health System (JHHS) President Kevin Sowers, and CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield (CareFirst) CEO and President Brian Pieninck in announcing a public-private partnership to confront COVID-19.
“This innovative partnership aligns assets deployed by the City alongside those of the private sector, allowing us to more effectively assess the challenges facing us,” said Mayor Young. “I am thankful for the leaders in the private sector joining the City today – by working together in this effort, we will improve our joint capacity to help our residents.”
The partnership leverages the support from the State of Maryland the medical and public health expertise in Baltimore’s public and private sectors, to build out tools, resources, and services that expand and improve the City’s response to COVID-19. Medstar Health, Mercy Medical System, St. Agnes, LifeBridge Health, and Greater Baltimore Medical Center (GBMC) are also part of the collaborative effort, and will be lending their resources and support to the partnership.
“By joining with leadership from our City and State as well as our colleagues at University of Maryland Medical System, we bring the best of all of us to the table to address this pandemic,” JHHS President Sowers said. “Together, we’re working to safeguard the health of our communities.”
This extraordinary and unique partnership represents Baltimore’s best plan of action to prepare for the anticipated surge in COVID-19 cases. An incredibly complex and well organized operation, a core focus will be providing accurate information on COVID prevention and connecting residents to health care professionals through a first point of contact using phone and internet that will lessen exposure risk in physical settings. These strategies and tactics will help identify infected individuals and groups, and contain and suppress the disease wherever possible to help fight the trajectory of cases overall and to help defend front line health professionals.
“In the face of this extraordinary challenge, each of us plays an important role in protecting the health of our communities. As individuals, we will stay home, slow the spread and save lives,” CareFirst CEO Pieninck said. “Our frontline healthcare workers will shoulder the incredible responsibility of caring for the sick and vulnerable. And as community based organizations, we will bring to bear the best resources from government and healthcare to ensure the needs of our shared community are met. Through these combined efforts, we can and will get through this, together.”
“During this unprecedented time in our nation, our shared strength lies with one another. Mobilizing with our governmental, health care and community partners allows us to leverage our expertise for the betterment of those we collectively serve,” UMMS CEO Dr. Suntha said. “There is nothing more important than the health and well-being of those who depend on us; we’re honored to be part of this unique collaboration.”
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 Remain Closed from Through April 24
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 until at least April 24, 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.
For more information on Governor Hogan’s announcement, visit here.
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
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