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The Covid-19 Pandemic

Accountabilityby Mark Reutter6:55 pmJun 23, 20200

City to pay $38 million to suppliers of pandemic-related services

In its new role as a shelter and triage center, the Lord Baltimore Hotel has reaped more than $10 million

Above: The Lord Baltimore has stood sentry over Baltimore and Charles streets for nearly a century. (Fern Shen)

The owners of the Lord Baltimore Hotel have come up with a novel way to thrive in the era of the novel coronavirus – turn their landmark building into a patient triage center.

While most hotels in Baltimore are suffering from 3½ months of empty rooms and heavily restricted bookings, the city is paying the Lord Baltimore $10.8 million to shelter Covid-19 patients with low-level symptoms.

The allotment is among the $37.9 million going for emergency materials, sanitary supplies, free meals and, yes, hotel rooms to combat the pandemic and resulting high levels of unemployment.

More than 50 private vendors are in line to share the proceeds at tomorrow’s Board of Estimates meeting, where the expenditures are expected to be approved without controversy.

6/24/20 UPDATE: The BOE unanimously approved, without comment, the Lord Baltimore and other emergency expenditures at this morning’s meeting.

The items to be compensated – laptop computers, testing materials, free meals, ambulance services and tons of PPE – offer a snapshot of some of the costs borne by city government after Maryland Governor Larry Hogan declared a state of emergency on March 5.

Baltimore Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young responded to the order by authorizing the Bureau of Procurement to enter into no-bid emergency contracts for “goods and services requested by various city agencies to respond to or prepare for events relating to Covid-19.”

Art Collector Owners

By far the largest expenditure to be awarded tomorrow will go to the Lord Baltimore Hotel.

The 92-year-old edifice, known for red-brick walls and soaring copper-clad cupola, is owned by Rubell Hotels, whose principals, Donald and Mera Rubell, are known for their 7,200-plus collection of contemporary art, one of the world’s largest.

The 440-room Lord Baltimore is decorated with original artwork from the Rubell Family Collection, but their most prized installations are on display at the Rubell Museum in Florida.

(Not a notable player in Baltimore politics, the Miami-based couple did give $2,500 to Catherine Pugh in 2016 through LB 1928 Associates LLC, their local holding company. The couple apparently sat out the 2020 mayoral primary.)

Last month, the Baltimore Health Department and University of Maryland Medical System opened the TRI Support Initiative at the hotel, which promotes “triage, respite and isolation” aimed at slowing the spread of the virus.

Shelter from the Storm

Another $5 million in city funds will be paid to five hotels for sheltering mostly homeless individuals who were isolated after showing symptoms of the virus. Here is the breakdown:

• $1,922,012 to Net Hospitality Management, a Lutherville-based operator, who gave $1,500 in contributions to Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young when he was City Council president.

• $1,186,050 to Holiday Inn Express, next to the Horseshoe Casino on Russell Street, under what is described as a “hotel facility disaster shelter agreement.” The facility is owned by Wankawala Organization, a New Jersey-based hotel chain.

• $600,000 to Belmont Hospitality, which owns the Quality Inn motel off of Liberty Road and the Beltway.

• $359,817 to Whitehead Enterprises LLC, which housed quarantined patients at its Days Inn facility near Security Boulevard.

• $152,012 to Baltimore Hotel Investments, which runs the Sleep Inn and Suites on Fallsway, which sheltered an unknown number of homeless persons for two weeks in March.

$2 Million in PPE

According to BOE records, city agencies purchased $2 million in gowns, masks and other PPE, sometimes from multiple vendors. Among the companies to due to be paid tomorrow:

• $598,000 to Affirmative Solutions, a Georgia outsourcing company, for PPE surgical masks.

• $493,480 to Classic Custom Products, a Montgomery County uniform company, for gowns.

• $337,000 to TrayPML Inc., a Glen Burnie promotional products company, for disposable gowns.

• $282,000 to Cintas Corp., an Ohio-based uniform company, for hand sanitizers and disinfectant wipes.

• $135,468 to 3D Dental Designs and Development, a small company in Windsor Mills, for disinfectant wipes and another $42,250 for gowns.

• $122,500 to Gnomedica LLC, established by two recent Princeton University graduates, to import face masks from China.

• $71,250 to Q&A Solutions LLC for more face masks.

Ammunition and Computers

One of the oddest payments listed for approval tomorrow is $91,465 for what is described in BOE records as “Covid-19 ammunition.”

The vendor is Safety League Inc., doing business as Atlantic Tactical, which often supplies the Baltimore Police Department with ammunition. This order appears to be mixed in with the emergency procurements; there is no such thing as “Covid ammunition.”

Other emergency funds to be awarded:

• $6.1 million to Hart to Heart Ambulance Service.

• $3.2 million to Salvation Army for meals.

• $3.2 million to Maryland Food Bank.

• $304,000 to KidzTable, a Baltimore box lunch supplier.

• $1.8 million to Revel Solutions for software and consultants.

• $1 million to Athena Consulting, of Gaithersburg, for homeless quarantine case management – plus another $300,000 for staffing the Pinderhughes homeless shelter.

• $713,000 to Dell Marketing for laptop computers and another $105,000 for “geolocation tracking for laptops.”

• $30,132 to ShareBaby Inc. for baby formula.

• $244,000 to C&W Construction and Pristine Solutions for sanitizing municipal buildings.

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