Updated: Feb 11
NEW THIS WEEK A Call to Remove Civil War Plaque in the Maryland State House. The past two weeks have reignited our national conversation about the systemic racial injustice that continues throughout the United States of America.This week, I wrote a letter to the members of the State House Trust urging them, once again, to remove the “Maryland Remembers” plaque that honors Confederate soldiers. History clearly tells us that there was a right and a wrong side of the Civil War, and Confederate relics have no place in our State House. As I mentioned in my letter, "this plaque is not a symbol that belongs in our seat of government: the very place where Washington resigned his Commission to create our country; where we have passed monumental civil rights laws; and where we have stood together to work toward equality for every Marylander." I will continue to press the State House Trust on this issue until the plaque is completely removed. State Leaders Discuss Race Disparities in Health. Since the earliest onset of the COVID-19 outbreak, legislators have called for the State to provide accurate, transparent data on how the virus is affecting African American and other minority communities. This week, Public Health experts updated the Joint COVID-19 Legislative Workgroup on the health disparities that exist during the COVID crisis. Research has shown that the virus has disproportionately impacted poor and minority communities in Maryland and around the country. The death rate, for example, has been higher in African American communities than any other racial demographic. Minority communities are adversely impacted due to both systemic, discriminatory policies and a higher rate of exposure to the virus. Over crowding in housing and jails, working essential jobs without access to protective equipment and taking public transportation have all contributed to the high transmission and mortality rates in minority communities. Experts suggest that collaborating with local our health systems on data collection and public health campaigns can help improve the health disparities in minority communities. However, the COVID-19 crisis is not just a public health issue but a civil rights issue. Comprehensive, national policy is key to addressing these health equity issues. We need to collect data by race at a national level and ensure that our health infrastructure meets the needs of every person equally. Maryland Enters Stage II of COVID Recovery with Another Round of Reopenings. The Governor announced that starting this week, restaurants can resume indoor dining with limited capacity. Outdoor amusement parks, mini golf and go-karts can also re-open following social distancing guidelines. Beginning next week, school buildings and child care centers will reopen with some restrictions. Additionally, high school sports, graduation ceremonies and summer instruction will be allowed to continue following the State's reopening guidelines. For more guidance on safe reopening measures, please visit open.maryland.gov/backtobusiness. Free Summer Meals Program. More than 400,000 Maryland children are eligible for free or reduced-price school meals, but they may not have access to nutritious meals during the summer when schools are closed. The Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) is a federally-funded, state-administered program that provides healthy meals to youth when schools are not in session. Join the Summer Meals Twitter Chat on June 18 at 2:00 PM along with@NoKidHungryMD to find out more about FREE Summer Meals for youth in your area. Families can find summer meals sites by visiting http://mdsummermeals.org, texting FOOD or COMIDA to 877-877 or calling 211.
Baltimore County "Seats on the Streets" In an effort to help local bars and restaurants recover from the coronavirus closures, Baltimore County has announced its new "Seats on the Streets" Initiative. Starting Saturday, June 13, 2020, Baltimore County will close down Pennsylvania Avenue, between York Road and Washington Avenue, to all vehicular traffic during certain hours in order to allow local restaurants to provide expanded outdoor seating. Seats on the Streets dining will operate on Saturdays and Sundays from 11:00 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Pennsylvania Avenue will be closed from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. throughout the month of June. The program may be extended as appropriate. The following restaurants will be offering expanded outdoor dining space along Pennsylvania Avenue: • Charles Village Pub • C&R Pub • Nacho Mama's Towson • The Point Towson (open for street-side carryout) • Slice NY Pizza Pasta & Grill Establishments will be required to follow all requirements of applicable Executive Orders, and requirements and guidance issued by local, state and federal authorities to ensure the safety of patrons and employees. Residents attending must respect all guidelines, observe social distancing, and wear a mask when not seated and eating. Baltimore County is also currently offering conditional approval of applications for establishments to provide expanded outdoor table service on their premises until further notice. Establishments can apply at baltimorecountymd.gov/outdoortables.