COVID-19 Journo update 3-19-20

As updates occur in the COVID-19 response, MDDC Press will provide information tailored to the news media industry through our Five Dubs podcast.

About this episode


Good afternoon.  As updates occur in the COVID-19 response, MDDC Press will provide information tailored to the news media industry through our Five Dubs podcast. Please check the episode notes for links and more detail.  I’m Rebecca Snyder, executive director of MDDC Press Association.

Today is Thursday, March 19th.

In Maryland today,

Governor Hogan announced new restrictions in response to the COVID-19 crisis.  Those restrictions include:  no gatherings of 10 or more people, closures of indoor malls, and limits on who can use public transportation, including Amtrak, buses, and Metro service.  See the press release here.  See the full list of executive orders here.  We are petitioning the Governor to declare news media as essential businesses.  See our letter here. 

Chief Judge Mary Ellen Barbera, of the Court of Appeals, has issued an indefinite suspension of all pending and new foreclosure proceedings in Maryland.  See the order here.

Various jurisdictions have pushed the deadlines back for their annual tax sales.  Baltimore City announced an indefinite postponement on Wednesday during Mayor Jack Young’s declaration of a State of Emergency for the city.  See the press conference here.  Anne Arundel county announced a postponement of all legal deadlines today, until 30 days after the State of Emergency is lifted.  See the executive order here

In Delaware,

Governor Carney declared a state of Emergency in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.  See the declaration here.  As part of that declaration, he authorized all public bodies to be able to meet electronically or via conference call.   We have also sent a letter to the Governor asking that Delaware news media operations be classified as essential businesses.

Senator Chris Coons is set to meet with MDDC executive committee members by phone on Friday to discuss the needs of the newspaper industry during this time. Our focus is preserving our business operations, including securing supplies of newsprint from Canada, ensuring the post office continues to deliver mail and classifying news media operations as essential businesses.  Our members have already reported that advertising is decreasing precipitously, while the number of page views and digital audience numbers have swelled.  Our members will need business and economic support to weather this storm.  Local news has never been more critical, and our communities trust us as credible sources of information during this crisis – and every day.  


Congress passed HR 6201, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which will require employers with fewer than 500 employees to provide two weeks of paid sick leave and a paid family leave (67% of wages) for up to twelve weeks to help workers through the epidemic.  The bill allows a tax credit for businesses of 100% of the paid leave costs.  It also makes coronavirus testing free.  Read more

The Department of Homeland Security has classified communications staff members as critical infrastructure workers.  The memo, which is advisory, and not a directive, states “Workers who support radio, television, and media service, including, but not limited to front line news reporters, studio, and technicians for newsgathering and reporting.”  Although this does not call out newspapers, it is important.  Locally, we are working to ensure that news staffers and production staff are treated as essential business personnel.  See the full memo here.

Let us know how you’re doing and what you need.  Drop me an email at  What you are doing is important and critical to your community.  Thank you.


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Rebecca Snyder (host), Teb Brownlee & Charlie Ney (producers). Original music by Ruskin Nohe-Moren.