Archives January 2022

Hogan: Coming weeks may be “worst part” of pandemic for MD

Maryland’s governor predicts that the next four to six weeks may be the “worst part” of the pandemic for his state.

The Washington Post reported Sunday that Gov. Larry Hogan is putting much of the blame on people who are unvaccinated against the latest surge of COVID-19.

There are more than 2,000 people who are hospitalized with the coronavirus in Maryland. The number surpasses a previous record set this time last year.

The Republican governor said on CNN’s “State of the Union” that 92% of adults in Maryland have gotten at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine.

“We have overflowing hospitals,” Hogan said. “And so that 8% of the population that has not been vaccinated is responsible for 75% of all the people who are filling up our COVID beds.”

17 Baltimore County schools transition to virtual learning due to COVID-19

More than a dozen Baltimore County schools will transition to virtual learning this week due to COVID-19.

Baltimore County Public Schools announced the schools have 5% or more of unrelated students, teachers and staff (a minimum of 10 individuals) testing positive for COVID-19 in a 14-day period.

From Jan. 3 to Jan. 7, all grades in the following schools will hold virtual learning:

– Carroll Manor Elementary School

– Chapel Hill Elementary School

– Deer Park Middle Magnet School

– Dundalk High School

– Fullerton Elementary School

– Lansdowne High School

– Parkville High School

– Randallstown High School

– Ridge Ruxton School

– Sandalwood Elementary School

– Scotts Branch Elementary School

– Woodholme Elementary School

– Woodlawn High School

From Jan. 3 to Jan. 7, the following schools will hold virtual learning as designated:

– Edgemere Elementary School — pre-school program only

– Logan Elementary School — prekindergarten only

– Lyons Mill Elementary School — Fifth grade only

– Stemmers Runn Elementary School — Sixth grade only

Source: WBAL

FDA authorizes COVID-19 boosters for 12 to 15-year-olds

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Monday authorized Pfizer booster shots for people aged 12 to 15 years, another expansion in the population eligible for the third shots.

Booster shots are seen as a key tool to fight the omicron variant, which has shown a heightened ability to infect people who have two shots, though vaccinated people still have important protection against severe disease.

The FDA also shortened the time for all adults to get their booster shots, down to five months from six months after the initial shots.

Finally, for children 5-11 years old, the FDA authorized a third shot for certain immunocompromised children, who it said might not respond fully to two shots.

“Based on the FDA’s assessment of currently available data, a booster dose of the currently authorized vaccines may help provide better protection against both the delta and omicron variants. In particular, the omicron variant appears to be slightly more resistant to the antibody levels produced in response to the primary series doses from the current vaccines,” said Peter Marks, a top FDA vaccine official.

“With this in mind, the FDA has extended the range of individuals eligible to receive a booster, shortened the length of time between the completion of the Pfizer primary series for individuals to receive a booster and is authorizing a third protective vaccine dose for some of our youngest and most vulnerable individuals,” he added.

The FDA said the decision on boosters for 12-15 year-olds was based off data from 6,300 people in Israel.

Source: The Hill

Lifetime Releases Extended Trailer for ‘JANET’ | Coming January 28th

5 years in the making, Lifetime and A&E have released the extended trailer for the two-night, four-hour documentary event, “JANET.” Celebrating the 40th Anniversary of Janet Jackson’s debut album to simulcast on both Lifetime and A&E, Friday January 28th and continuing on Saturday January 29th at 8/7c. Kathrine Jackson, Whoopi Goldberg, Samuel L. Jackson, Q-Tip, René Elizondo Jr., Jermaine Dupri, Tyler Perry, Mariah Carey, Ciara, Tito and Rebbie Jackson, Missy Elliott, Paula Abdul and more make appearances.

As we celebrate the 40th anniversary of Janet Jackson’s debut album, this will be the definitive story on Janet Jackson, one of the best-selling and highest-earning artists in music history.

Janet has enjoyed immense success but also seen incredible tragedy. She has endured a tumultuous private life in the face of extraordinary public scrutiny. With no stone left unturned, JANET lifts the lid on her private life for the very first time and reveals the most intimate moments of the star ever caught on camera.

The two-night, four-hour documentary event joins Janet as her family is going through another extremely difficult time, mourning the loss of her father Joseph, the pivotal figure in the Jackson dynasty.

The documentary details Janet’s return to the world stage following a sudden break from music. Speaking like never before, Janet also discusses everything including her Superbowl appearance with Justin Timberlake in 2004, the death of her brother Michael and becoming a mother later in life. And with her own romantic relationship having broken down, she starts to look back at her own life and reflect on her fight to the top.

JANET is produced for Lifetime and A&E by Workerbee (a Banijay UK company) and AEC (Associated Entertainment Corporation) will be co-producers. Janet Jackson and Randy Jackson are executive producers on the project. Executive producer for Workerbee is Rick Murray. Ben Hirsch serves as director. Brie Miranda Bryant serves as executive producer for A+E networks.

This is the first of several docs, the next one is on TLC, which celebrated their 30th Anniversary last year.


Source: Urban Bridgez

Nearly 1K homes destroyed in Colorado wildfire

A Colorado official says nearly 1,000 homes were destroyed, hundreds more were damaged, and that three people are missing after a wildfire charred numerous neighborhoods in a suburban area at the base of the Rocky Mountains northwest of Denver. Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle also said Saturday that investigators are still trying to find the cause of the blaze that erupted Thursday.

Officials had previously estimated that at least 500 homes — and possibly 1,000 — were destroyed. They also announced earlier Saturday that two people were missing. The wind-whipped wildfire blackened entire neighborhoods in the area between Denver and Boulder.

Authorities had said earlier no one was missing. But Boulder County spokeswoman Jennifer Churchill said Saturday that was due to confusion inherent when agencies are scrambling to manage an emergency.

Pelle said officials were organizing cadaver teams to search for the missing in the Superior area and in unincorporated Boulder County. The task is complicated by debris from destroyed structures, covered by 8 inches (20 centimeters) of snow dumped by a storm overnight, he said.

At least 991 homes were destroyed, Pelle said: 553 in Louisville, 332 in Superior and 106 in unincorporated parts of the county. Hundreds more were damaged. Pelle cautioned that the tally is not final.

Source: AP News

2021 ends as Chicago’s deadliest year in a quarter century

The year of 2021 ended as one of the most violent on record in Chicago, as a rise in the number of shootings left more people dead than in any single year in a quarter century, according to statistics released by the police department on Saturday.

According to the department, 2021 ended with 797 homicides. That is 25 more than were recorded 2020, 299 more than in 2019 and the most since 1996. And there were 3,561 shooting incidents in 2021, which is just over 300 more than were recorded in 2020 and a staggering 1,415 more shooting incidents than were recorded in the city in 2019.

Other cities have also seen an increase in the number of homicides. But Chicago, as it has in previous years, ended 2021 with more homicides than any other city in the United States, including New York and Los Angeles, both of which had recorded at least 300 fewer homicides than Chicago for the year as of late December, according to police data from those cities.

“We all know this has been a challenging year here in the city of Chicago,” Police Superintendent David Brown told reporters at a news conference earlier this week. “Too many families are reeling from the loss of (loved) ones due to senseless gun violence.”

Brown said the bulk of the homicides are the result of conflicts between rival gangs.

He has tried to highlight some positive statistics when discussing the monthly crime figures and he continued to do so with the release of the end-of-the-year statistics.

He said, for example, that the department cleared 400 homicides — a total that was higher than in any year in nearly two decades. Saturday’s news release did not specify how many of those cleared homicides were committed in previous years but reported that the clearance rate for the killings was just under 50%.

The department, which says it takes more illegal weapons off the street than any other local police force in the United States, said that it took a record 12,088 guns off the street in 2021. That total coincided with the creation of a Gun Investigations Team that has focused on interrupting the flow of illegal guns into the city.

Brown, who came under scrutiny by some members of the City Council and others as the death toll mounted, said that he hopes to increase the number of detectives investigating violent crimes from 1,100 to 1,300 during the first few months of this year. And he said his goal is to reduce the caseload for detectives from about five to three cases per detective.

He also said the department hopes to recruit more new officers this year, and said, “There will be more officers on the street, not just in patrol cars or behind desks, to interact with all Chicagoans.”

Source: AP News

Atlanta Public Schools is switching to online-only classes next week

Atlanta Public Schools announced on Saturday it will do a virtual learning week next week, saying the decision was made “after further review of district and community COVID-19 data.” The school system said APS staff will be required to report to work in person on Monday, Jan. 3 for COVID-19 surveillance testing unless they are already sick.

The district had originally been planning to return students to classrooms in person on Tuesday, Jan. 4 following Winter Break.

The plan is instead to now have students return to classrooms on Monday, Jan. 10.

It’s not clear if the district could extend virtual learning – APS said the testing results of staff on Monday, Jan. 3 “will be used for future planning.”

The move brings APS in line with many other districts around metro Atlanta that have recently announced temporary virtual learning plans for the return from holiday breaks.

In a release explaining the decision, the district said:

Given the substantial increase in the community transmission rate of COVID-19 for Fulton and Dekalb Counties, and the need to further assess the positivity rate of employees; APS will begin second semester virtually. This will allow students and staff to test, complete needed isolation and quarantine periods in alignment with updated Department of Public Health and CDC guidance and participate in vaccination opportunities. We will continue to monitor data and consult with public health officials as we prepare to resume in-person learning after this time.

APS said students who need to pick up their virtual learning devices can do so at their schools on Monday and Tuesday next week. Students who receive meals can pick up 5-day meal kits on Wednesday, Jan. 5, from 11 a.m.- 1p.m. at the following schools:

  • Carver High School | 55 McDonough Boulevard, SE
  • Douglass High School | 225 Hamilton E. Holmes Drive, NW
  • Garden Hills Elementary School | 285 Sheridan Drive, NE
  • Hope Hill Elementary School | 112 Boulevard, NE
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School | 545 Hill Street, SE
  • Sutton Middle School (Main Campus) | 2875 Northside Drive, NW
  • Sylvan Hills Middle School | 1461 Sylvan Road, SW
  • Young Middle School | 3116 Benjamin E. Mays Drive, SW

Source: 11 Alive

COVID-19 mass testing sites open in Annapolis, Bel Air amid increased demand

Their opening comes amid a recent surge of COVID-19 cases and a spike in demand for COVID-19 testing, while tests of any kind are nearly impossible to find.

The new testing clinic at Luminis Health Anne Arundel Medical Center was scheduled to open at 9 a.m., but officials said there were so many people waiting in line that it opened a half hour early.

The other testing site at University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Health in Bel Air also opened to very long lines.

Brig. Gen. Janeen Birckhead said 40 Maryland National Guard soldiers are providing staffing, logistics and security across both locations, which are offering walk-up only COVID-19 PCR testing seven days a week.

“So, clearly, there was a demand, and this was up and running in 48 hours — this and the one in Bel Air. So, (I) absolutely understood the need and absolutely adjusted to that, and here we are,” Birckhead said.

Some said they didn’t mind waiting when the alternative is waiting a week or more for an appointment.

“I got an appointment for Jan. 10, not here, but I got an appointment, and then I got off the internet. I’m tired of doing this,” said Ruth Long, 64, of Upper Marlboro.

Others called on the state to do more, like open Six Flags for testing.

“There is no reason that elderly and sick people should be standing in line for hours and hours. We are two years into this pandemic,” said Chanda Anderson, of Upper Marlboro. “We need a bigger response immediately.”

“There is no reason that elderly and sick people should be standing in line for hours and hours. We are two years into this pandemic,” said Chanda Anderson, of Upper Marlboro. “We need a bigger response immediately.”

According to the Maryland Department of Health and the Maryland National Guard, both of the new locations will be open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. seven days a week until further notice.

The sites will offer PCR lab tests only. Results for PCR tests generally take 24 to 48 hours, Testing at the sites is free of charge.

Source: WBAL

Baltimore surpasses 2020 homicide count, Mayor Scott to hold ‘Vigil of Remembrance’

Baltimore surpassed its 2020 homicide count on Wednesday with 337, police said. 

Baltimore recorded 335 homicides in all of 2020. The city passed that total by two with less than two days before the new year. Mayor Brandon Scott will hold a virtual vigil on Saturday to remember the lives lost in Baltimore due to violence, COVID-19, fatal overdoses and suicide. The “Vigil of Remembrance” can be watched live on Scott’s Facebook page at 6:30 p.m.