News Coverage of GBC COVID-19 Events

Dr. Mohan Suntha, Harriet Cooperman

The Greater Baltimore Committee continues to host timely and relevant Newsmaker Speaker Series, Zoom webinars and virtual meetings throughout the pandemic.

See media coverage of some of those events here:

GBC Newsmaker Speaker Series: The COVID-19 Delta Variant — Medical and Legal Considerations in the Workplace

On August 27, 2021, The Greater Baltimore Committee (GBC) hosted GBC Newsmaker Speaker Series: The COVID-19 Delta Variant — Medical and Legal Considerations in the Workplace with Dr. Mohan Suntha, President and Chief Executive Officer of the University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS), and Harriet E. Cooperman, Partner at Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr LLP. Donald C. Fry, President & CEO, Greater Baltimore Committee, moderated the discussion.

Baltimore Business Journal: UMMS CEO: Now is the time for employers to make decisions about vaccine mandates — With Covid-19 cases on the rise and flu season around the corner, now is the time for businesses to make decisions about vaccine mandates before things get worse, one of Maryland’s top health officials said Aug. 27. Dr. Mohan Suntha, CEO of the University of Maryland Medical System, painted a bleak picture for the fall during a virtual discussion about the coronavirus delta variant, hosted by the Greater Baltimore Committee. At the peak of the last surge in January and February, UMMS had about 450 Covid-19 patients on a daily basis at hospitals across the system. That number dropped to 12 in the spring, but has now ballooned back up to about 170 patients on a daily basis.

Daily Record: Employment lawyer lays out considerations for workplace vaccination policies — With the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine receiving full Food and Drug Administration approval on Aug. 23, more and more employers are considering mandating vaccinations in the workplace. Previously, concerns about the vaccine’s Emergency Use Authorization status made some employers wary of requiring the vaccination, although doing so was still legal, many lawyers argued. Additionally, the emergence of the delta variant of the coronavirus — a new strain of the virus that is more transmissible and makes up around 93% of COVID-19 cases worldwide — makes it more important than ever for people to get vaccinated, experts say.

GBC’s 2021 Maryland General Assembly Legislative Forum

Legislative Forum 2021Elected state legislators and a state fiscal expert discussed a wide range of issues during the Greater Baltimore Committee’s annual Maryland General Assembly Legislative Forum on January 25, 2021, including steps needed to address the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, the outlook for the state budget and policies to address racial and economic inequities and police reform.

Panelists included Senate President William C. “Bill” Ferguson; Senator Michael J. Hough, Senate Minority Whip; Delegate Eric G. Luedtke, Majority Leader, House of Delegates; Delegate Stephanie Smith, Chair, Baltimore City House Delegation; and David C. Romans, Fiscal and Policy Coordinator, Department of Legislative Service Office of Policy Analysis. The event was moderated by Jeff Salkin, Host of Maryland Public Television’s “State Circle.”

Maryland Reporter: Ferguson blasts pace of Maryland’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout plan — Senate President Bill Ferguson January 25 reiterated his criticism at the pace of the Hogan administration’s coronavirus vaccine rollout plan. “We are 40 out of 50 states in our distribution of the vaccine. If look at the number of doses that we have received versus those that have been administered, we are 49 out of 50 states,” Ferguson said at a virtual panel discussion hosted by the Greater Baltimore Committee (GBC). “So in the state that has some of the greatest health care on the globe, that has the best public health institute on the globe…we are 40 out of 50 states in the administration of this vaccine and 49 out of 50 if you look at how much we have received and how much we have actually gotten out.”

Vaccines Newsmaker IntroGBC Newsmaker Speaker Series — Vaccines On the Way: Development & Distribution

On January 19, 2021, the GBC Newsmaker Speaker Series — Vaccines On the Way: Development & Distribution explored advancements and developments with the COVID-19 vaccines. Speakers included: Dr. Anna P. Durbin, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health; Dr. Bruce Jarrell, President, University of Maryland, Baltimore; Dr. Lisa Maragakis, Senior Director, Healthcare Epidemiology and Infection Prevention, Johns Hopkins; and Dr. Kathleen Neuzil, Director, Center for Vaccine Development, University of Maryland School of Medicine.

Baltimore Sun: Md. counties scramble to coordinate COVID-19 vaccinations as demand soars: ‘We’re trying to figure it out as we go’ — “How we get ourselves back to ‘normal’ is to get as many people vaccinated as we can,” said Dr. Anna Durbin, a professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, during a virtual event Jan. 19 hosted by the Greater Baltimore Committee.

BBJ: Health experts urge local businesses to help combat misinformation as vaccine rollout continues — Public health experts from the University of Maryland, Baltimore and Johns Hopkins University say local business owners can help the Covid-19 vaccine rollout by urging patience and education within their own companies and communities. Dr. Lisa Maragakis, senior director of infection prevention at Johns Hopkins, said the ongoing rollout of the first two viable Covid-19 vaccines in the U.S. has been an “encouraging ray of hope” that we may be nearing the end of the coronavirus “ordeal.” However, the process has also revealed some new challenges for the nation’s health care institutions. So far, vaccine distribution in Maryland and several other states has moved slowly, and has been plagued by high levels of mistrust and misinformation.

Health Care panelistsGBC Newsmaker Speaker Series — COVID-19: Health Care Challenge. Catalyst. Disruptor. 

On December 8, 2020, the Greater Baltimore Committee (GBC) hosted the GBC Newsmaker Speaker Series — COVID-19: Health Care Challenge. Catalyst. Disruptor. with panelists Kenneth A. Samet, President and Chief Executive Officer, MedStar Health; Kevin W. Sowers, President, Johns Hopkins Health; and Dr. Mohan Suntha, President and CEO, University of Maryland Medical System. Renee DeSilva, CEO, The Health Management Academy, moderated the discussion.

What GBC members & business leaders can do in the fight against COVID-19 — Some key takeaways from the region’s leading health system CEOs: Business leaders should model and encourage responsible personal behavior among employees to help contain the spread of the virus. Individual choices made by citizens and businesses will affect the health care industry, and the economy, and determine the speed of recovery once the pandemic has subsided. Business leaders should communicate the need for everyone to take personal responsibility to stem the virus. Encourage and support vaccine distribution to communities that have been the most vulnerable and disproportionately affected by the pandemic, such as poorer communities and communities of color.

Baltimore Sun: Maryland could receive coronavirus vaccine by next week; hospital workers, nursing home residents to get shots first — Doses of the highly anticipated coronavirus vaccine could start arriving in Maryland as soon as next week, with the first shots reserved for hospital workers and nursing home residents and employees, state officials said Dec. 8. The state’s vaccination planning efforts have accelerated as multiple vaccine candidates near approval and as the infection rate and death toll from the pandemic climb.

BBJ: Local health system execs face major challenges with vaccine distribution, employee burnout — The Johns Hopkins Health System is set to receive 975 vials of Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine in an initial shipment. The challenge now is figuring out how to distribute those limited doses across the system’s six hospitals and 35,000 employees. Kevin W. Sowers, president of Johns Hopkins Health System, said his system’s top officials have spent hours debating the best ways to distribute the coronavirus vaccines that have been so anxiously awaited by front line workers in the health care industry. In the meantime, Hopkins is readying its facilities to properly store and distribute vaccines, and employing the use of a new digital categorization tool which will organize the system’s workers based on their level of need in receiving the vaccination, he said. Sowers was joined by MedStar Health CEO Kenneth A. Samet and University of Maryland Medical System CEO Dr. Mohan Suntha in a health care-focused discussion hosted by the Greater Baltimore Committee Dec. 8.

Gary Kelly, CEO, Southwest AirlinesGBC Newsmaker Speaker Series: Gary Kelly, CEO, Southwest Airlines

Gary Kelly, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer at Southwest Airlines, joined the Greater Baltimore Committee (GBC) on November 20, for a Newsmaker Speaker Series on the state of the airline and travel industries amidst the coronavirus pandemic and the effects on the regional economy. Kelly discussed the return of the Boeing 737 Max, route updates, holiday travel, operating in the pandemic and the company’s approaching 50th Anniversary.

Baltimore Sun: Southwest CEO discusses furloughs, braces for dismal winter — With the coronavirus pandemic continuing to rage across the country, more than 100 Southwest Airlines employees in Maryland could be placed on temporary furloughs starting this January as the company braces for the impact of a dismal winter. The layoffs could take effect Jan. 25 if the virus maintains its current course, Southwest CEO Gary C. Kelly said during a virtual symposium with the Greater Baltimore Committee. He said the company will benefit from some holiday travel over the next few weeks, but expects air travel to slow dramatically in the first half of 2021.

BBJ: CEO Gary Kelly explains why Southwest is still adding routes amid Covid-19 — Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport’s dominant carrier is planning new routes for 2021. In recent months, Southwest Airlines has announced it will launch service next year from Baltimore to new destinations including Sarasota, Fla., and Savannah, Ga. The airline began nonstop flights between Baltimore and Miami International Airport on Nov. 15. The strategy may seem counterintuitive, but Southwest CEO Gary Kelly says it will actually help the airline to pull in hundreds of millions more dollars next year.”We’ve run this play before,” he told local business leaders during a Nov.2o virtual discussion hosted by the Greater Baltimore Committee.

Economic Outlook Conference 2020Economic Outlook Conference – From Pandemic Economy to Presidential Election: Effects, Forecast & Future

On October 27, the Greater Baltimore Committee (GBC) held its 2020 Economic Outlook Conference – From Pandemic Economy to Presidential Election: Effects, Forecast & Future with panelists Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot; Amanda E. Agati, Senior Vice President / Managing Director and Chief Investment Strategist of PNC Financial Services Group; and Bernard Yaros, Assistant Director and Economist of Moody’s Analytics. GBC President and CEO Donald C. Fry served as the moderator.

Baltimore Sun: Uncertainty from coronavirus, presidential election could dampen Maryland economy for months — Uncertainty about the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and the upcoming presidential election could dampen the economy in Maryland and elsewhere for months to come, experts said Oct. 27 during an economic outlook conference in Baltimore. “The pandemic and its economic consequences, in my view, are not going to be under control until the end of next calendar year,” state Comptroller Peter Franchot said during the Greater Baltimore Committee’s event, held virtually this year. “It’s going to be a tough winter, make no mistake, and a stormy 18 months.” Economists are tracking these indicators to understand the recession and the election — In an economic downturn, all eyes of investors and economists are on the indicators that might help spur a recovery. It’s elevating the importance of some measures, while downgrading others. To PNC Financial Services Group Senior VP, Managing Director and Chief Investment Strategist Amanda Agati, “the health and psyche of consumers” is the key thing to watch going forward. She laid out three that specific indicators that she’s watching in this area: retail sales, restaurant bookings and airline bookings. “None are anywhere near pre-COVID or even February levels, and that is really important in engaging the health or lack thereof of the consumer,” Agati said at the Greater Baltimore Committee’s Economic Outlook Conference on October 27. “Wall Street may be flirting with new highs, but Main Street is clearly not out of the woods yet.”

Accenture COVID panelistsOutmaneuvering Uncertainty: Adapting for Success in the COVID-19 Business Climate

On October 19, 2020, The Greater Baltimore Committee (GBC) hosted Outmaneuvering Uncertainty: Adapting for Success in the COVID-19 Business Climate. The webinar featured Paul Nunes, Global Managing Director of Thought Leadership, Accenture Research; Dr. Dawn Lindsay, President, Anne Arundel Community College; Michael Haynie, Founder, Maryland Center for Hospitality Training; Jayson Williams; Chief Executive Officer, Mayson-Dixon Companies and was moderated by Tawfik Jarjour, Senior Manager, Strategy, Accenture.

GBC webinar highlights how businesses can adjust to pandemic — With no end in sight for the Covid-19 pandemic, businesses of all sizes are facing an extended period of uncertainty. But a panel of experts agreed there are some steps businesses can take to adjust and weather the future, as well as trends taking shape that businesses should watch. That was the takeaway from Outmaneuvering uncertainty: Adapting for Success in the COVID-19 Business Climate, a webinar hosted by the GBC and Accenture October 19.

Newsmaker Speaker Series: Meet Dr. Darryll Pines, President of the University of Maryland College Park, and Dr. Anthony Jenkins, President of Coppin State UniversityDarryll J. Pines and Anthony Jenkins

On October 7, 2020, the Greater Baltimore Committee (GBC) hosted a conversation with Dr. Darryll Pines, President of the University of Maryland College Park, and Dr. Anthony Jenkins, President of Coppin State University. The speakers discussed their plans for the future and what’s next for these two Maryland higher education institutions.

BBJ: UMd., Coppin State presidents retool goals amid industry upheaval — The new presidents of University of Maryland, College Park and Coppin State University are tailoring their goals to meet the new and increasing demands of the higher education industry, which has experienced a rapid evolution in 2020.

National Aquarium

Newsmaker Speaker Series: The State of Hospitality and Tourism

On July 15, 2020, the Greater Baltimore Committee hosted the Newsmaker Speaker Series: The State of Hospitality and Tourism. Top industry experts discussed the challenges experienced due to the coronavirus pandemic, re-opening of venues, and what steps need to be taken to return Baltimore to its position as a top tourist destination and to provide recovery assistance to attractions, restaurants and hotels.

The Baltimore Sun: Baltimore business leaders detail ongoing fallout from coronavirus pandemic — Al Hutchinson, President and CEO of the nonprofit promotional group Visit Baltimore, said the organization has had to cut 41% from its budget for fiscal year 2021, down to $7.8 million. Much of the forum echoed what is happening across the country with the coronavirus pandemic. Businesses are struggling to keep their doors open and their workers employed as restrictions on crowd sizes limit their ability to generate revenue.

BBJ: Racanelli, other industry leaders share insights during GBC panel — The National Aquarium, along with attractions and businesses across Baltimore, shut down in March as cases of the novel coronavirus rose in Maryland. It reopened July 1 after Gov. Larry Hogan moved the state into the second phase of a three-part reopening plan.

Newsmaker Higher Education panelists

Newsmaker Speaker Series: Higher Education in the COVID-19 Era

On June 8, the Greater Baltimore Committee hosted a Higher Education in the COVID-19 Era discussion. Jay Perman, Chancellor University System of Maryland; Kim Schatzel, President of Towson University; Javier Miyares, President of University of Maryland Global Campus; Rev. Brian F. Linnane, President of Loyola University Maryland; and David Wilson, President of Morgan State University, discussed the impact of COVID-19 on higher education — financially, academically and on campus life.

The Daily Record: Md. university leaders say twin crises are taking a toll on campuses — At a panel discussion sponsored by the Greater Baltimore Committee on June 8, college leaders said they are promoting more mental health options and providing forums for participating in the national conversations about racism.

Maryland Matters: More Md. universities tentatively planning to reopen their campuses in the fall — During an online forum June 8 sponsored by the Greater Baltimore Committee, leaders of many higher education institutions in the Baltimore area said they are pursuing a hybrid system, which combines in-person instruction with remote learning.

BBJ: UM Global Campus president: Online education could be key to making college affordable — “As I look into the future of higher , I don’t think this will be an online versus onsite dichotomy, I think this will be an affordability issue,” Javier Miyares said during a webinar hosted by the Greater Baltimore Committee.

BBJ: USM Chancellor Perman: ‘We will not have Covid-free campuses.’ — Additional safety measures come with major costs, Dr. Jay Perman explained to a group of Baltimore business leaders during a webinar panel hosted by the Greater Baltimore Committee June 8.

Dr. Leana WenNewsmaker Speaker Series: Dr. Leana Wen on the Current State of the Coronavirus (COVID-19)

During a May 19, 2020, Greater Baltimore Committee (GBC) Newsmaker Speaker Series Zoom webinar, national public health expert Dr. Leana Wen provided an update on the coronavirus pandemic to the regional business community. She discussed considerations related to the relaxing of restrictions and returning to work and what businesses should be doing to prepare. GBC President and CEO Donald C. Fry moderated the discussion.

GBC: ‘Use an abundance of caution,’ Dr. Leana Wen urges business leaders during GBC webinar on COVID-19 — In her opening remarks, Dr. Wen, who is an emergency physician and Visiting Professor of Health Policy and Management at George Washington University Milken School of Public Health and former Baltimore City Health Commissioner, mentioned her appearance at a previous GBC Newsmaker on March 12 and said, “We’ve seen the terrible toll COVID-19 has had on our lives and our livelihoods” since then and noted that it’s “only been two months” since the pandemic arrived in this country.

The Daily Record: Wen warns Baltimore business leaders COVID lockdown lifting too soon — Former Baltimore Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen said she believes orders to reopen businesses throughout the nation are coming too soon and could negate gains made in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S.

BBJ: Dr. Leana Wen: Businesses must do their part to reduce risks when offices reopen — Offices should sanitize public spaces, door knobs and workstations on the hour and require workers to wear masks and remain hyper vigilant. So says Dr. Leana Wen, Baltimore’s former health commissioner and a national consultant on public health who has been a high-profile figure during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Cardin Van Hollen introductionA discussion with Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen

On April 21, 2020, the Greater Baltimore Committee hosted a discussion with Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen on the federal legislative response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and the impacts on business. More than 150 GBC members attended the webinar, moderated by GBC President and CEO Donald C. Fry.

GBC: Federal response to COVID-19 with Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen — Both senators spoke about the various stimulus packages available, including the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), and the news of a new stimulus relief package that would add $310 billion into the PPP, with $60 billion set aside for lenders that have roots in under-served communities.

TDR: Cardin, Van Hollen: New PPP funding unlikely to be the last — Maryland’s two U.S. senators said April 21, that a second round of funding for the Paycheck Protection Program will help businesses unable to secure loans before the previous funding dried up and that more stimulus measures are expected as the nation battles the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hopkins COVID-19 briefingJohns Hopkins Briefing on COVID-19

On April 8, 2020, the Greater Baltimore Committee and GBC’s Health Care Committee hosted a special webinar on COVID-19 for GBC members. Close to 300 registrants were in attendance for the informative discussion moderated by Tom Lewis, Vice President of Government and Community Affairs, Johns Hopkins University and Medicine.

GBC and GBC Health Care Committee host Hopkins COVID-19 Briefing — During his opening remarks, Johns Hopkins University President Ronald Daniels provided an overview of Johns Hopkins’ role in the national COVID-19 response.

Baltimore Sun: Maryland sees spike of 1,100 new coronavirus cases, but most hospitals aren’t yet at capacity — During a Zoom presentation to members of the Greater Baltimore Committee on April 8, the president of the Johns Hopkins Health System said Hopkins has confirmed 1,048 cases of COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic, with 186 patients in the hospital system as of that morning.

BBJ: Johns Hopkins Medicine chief shares how his system is preparing for COVID-19 surge — Johns Hopkins Health System is relying on partnerships with public officials, local manufacturers and industry competitors to prepare for a COVID-19 surge in Maryland, said system President Kevin Sowers.

To find an upcoming event, go to

COVID-19: GBC Coverage and Response

COVID-19 Resources and Helpful Websites

Special Update on State and Federal Legislation Related to COVID-19

Coverage of GBC Member companies’ philanthropic responses to COVID-19