August 20, 2021
It is clear that the battle to defeat COVID-19 is far from over. This week, Maryland’s seven-day positivity rate surpassed five percent, the highest since April. Hospital beds are filling up with younger and sicker patients as the Delta variant continues its inexorable march across our State. 
Today, I visited the Worcester County Health Department’s vaccine clinic in Snow Hill. The County recognizes the challenges at this stage in the vaccination campaign and is stepping up its efforts to get shots in arms. Efforts like this are critical as the school year approaches to enable students to return to the classroom safely. 
As States across the country have returned to in-person learning, it has been disheartening to see a lack of mitigation efforts to keep children safe. Equally concerning is the ongoing politicization of public health measures meant to protect kids, like universal masking in congregant settings--schools. I was dismayed to see that same incivility come to Maryland as local school boards meet to make difficult choices that must ultimately be in the best interest of students and staff. 
Keeping our classrooms open must be our top priority. Outbreaks that force school buildings to close don’t just affect our kids, but will have downstream economic impacts as parents are forced to remain at home to support their childrens’ education. We must all do our part to protect our communities and our most vulnerable. For more information on where to find a free, safe, and effective vaccine near you, please go to
Mandate for Hospital and Nursing Home Staff
The Senate Vaccine Oversight Workgroup met this week to discuss the State’s plans to combat the most recent surge in COVID-19 cases. I sincerely hope that Maryland will continue taking appropriate steps based on local and statewide data, including re-issuing mask mandates and broadening vaccine requirements that have long been a component of American life. 
I applaud Governor Hogan’s announcement on Wednesday mandating nursing home and hospital employees to be vaccinated or submit to regular testing. Many hospitals and nursing homes have already had this requirement in place and I am glad to see that there will be universal coverage. We must learn from the past and protect those at the greatest risk. That also means booster shots in arms as soon as possible for the elderly and those immunocompromised. I look forward to getting my third shot in the coming months.
Broadband Gets a Boost
I joined Governor Hogan and Speaker Jones in Snow Hill today to announce exciting progress in our effort to bring quality broadband to every household in the State. Connect Maryland is a new initiative created by the Office of Statewide Broadband to achieve the goal of 98 percent connectivity statewide by 2025.

The new program adds an additional $100 million to the $300 million already allocated by the General Assembly in the 2021 Legislative Session to ensure every Maryland household has access to high speed internet. A bipartisan workgroup is also being established to provide oversight and accountability for this massive new investment. Finally, Connect Maryland creates a new subsidy program to provide financial assistance for low and moderate-income households to help pay for internet service and further reduce barriers.
2020 Census Reveals a Changing Baltimore City
New data from the 2020 Census reveals that Maryland is the most diverse state on the East Coast and fourth most diverse state in the country. White residents no longer make up the State’s majority population, falling to 47 percent of residents, while Black Marylanders comprise 29 percent. The number of those who identify as Hispanic has increased 77 percent since 2010. 

Unfortunately, the City’s population has fallen by almost 6 percent in the last 10 years to its lowest amount in almost a century. These numbers have real, lived consequences for our City. State and federal funds are allocated based on population, as well as changes to elected representation. I was encouraged to see Mayor Scott’s immediate focus on rebuilding Baltimore City’s population over the next decade for our City’s long term prosperity. 

For more information, check out the Baltimore Sun’s five key takeaways from the new Census data.
Evicting Moratorium in Maryland
On Sunday, Governor Hogan allowed Maryland’s COVID-19 State of Emergency to expire, ending protections for renters and tenants who could prove their inability to pay rent was the direct result of the pandemic. Although a federal eviction moratorium remains in place until October 3rd, an eviction/foreclosure crisis could be on the horizon in Maryland. 

According to the Public Justice Center, when people are evicted, roughly 25 percent become homeless, most landing in congregate homeless shelters where the risk of passing COVID-19 is much higher. This pandemic emergency is not over, especially with the Delta variant driving up positivity rates and hospitalizations. We must be proactive and compassionate as we work to protect Marylanders from losing their homes during this unprecedented crisis.
Federal Infrastructure Package in Maryland
Maryland may receive as much as $6 billion from the roughly $1.2 trillion infrastructure package passed by the Senate last week to improve roads, bridges, transit systems, broadband, and to fund Chesapeake Bay restoration efforts. The legislation contains many provisions that will benefit the State, including: 

  • $238 million in new funding for the EPA’s Chesapeake Bay restoration efforts over five years;
  • Over $4 billion in federal highway aid;
  • Funding to breathe new life into improving Baltimore’s East-West transportation corridor;
  • A program to reconnect communities split by transportation projects, like the “highway to nowhere” in West Baltimore; 
  • $409.5 million for bridge replacement and repairs to fix our estimated 273 bridges in poor condition;
  • Over $62 million to expand electric vehicle charging over the next five years; and
  • A minimum of $100 million to improve broadband coverage across the State through the Affordability Connectivity Benefit.

The legislation will be considered next month by the House of Representatives when they reconvene after Congress’s August break.
More News
Marylanders continue to suffer from delays when trying to resolve issues with their unemployment insurance benefits, a reality expressed by legislators this week to Department of Labor Secretary Tiffany Robinson. Lawmakers continue to be concerned about residents who’ve waited months to have their UI issues resolved and others who have a large backlog of unpaid claims due to adjudication issues.

COVID-19 has had a disproportionate impact on Baltimore’s Latino community. In response, the City approved a one-year contract for CASA to “enhance bilingual and bicultural public messaging and in-person outreach”. The program will work to debunk myths, increase testing, and encourage vaccination in limited English-proficient Latino neighborhoods. 

Governor Hogan announced this week that Maryland is “ready and willing” to take in Afghan refugees who have supported America over the past 20 years. Social services agencies are preparing for an influx of refugees, many of whom are expected to resettle in the D.C. area. 

Baltimore’s Congressional delegation has asked U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland for more federal crime-fighting resources for Baltimore. While the City suffers from an unacceptably high crime rate, federal law enforcement staffing levels are “significantly smaller than those located in neighboring jurisdictions.”
If there is anything we can do to help, please do not hesitate to contact my office via email,, or by phone, 410-841-3600.