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News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Tips, COVID-19

Consumer advice: Ask for help with your bills before an emergency

This coming Monday, June 1, will mark the third full month that bills are due since COVID-19 was declared a national state of emergency in March. To help Americans manage their finances, U.S. PIRG Education Fund has published an updated guide with tips on what to do about paying bills during the crisis.

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Blog Post | COVID-19, Public Health

By The Numbers: Is Maryland on Track to Reopen Safely? | Emily Scarr

Some people and businesses are feeling intense pressure to resume economic activity, but Maryland’s recent increase in positive COVID-19 cases and limited testing and tracing capacity indicates that we are not ready to begin the process of reopening safely as outlined in Governor Hogan’s Roadmap to Recovery. Here, we’ll look at the numbers that explain why. 

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News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | COVID-19

Statement: Consumer complaints about COVID-19 fraud near 50,000

Consumer complaints to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) related to the coronavirus approached 50,000 on Tuesday. U.S. PIRG Education Fund has documented the actions taken by the FTC and 14 other federal agencies in response to coronavirus scams.

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Blog Post | Democracy

Vote By Mail in Maryland: What you need to know | Emily Scarr

Voting by mail is a safe and secure way to participate during the COVID-19 crisis, so everyone who can vote by mail should vote by mail.

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Blog Post | COVID-19

U.S. PIRG Supports Automated Contact Tracing Because More Than Anything Else, America Needs Good Information Before It Can Safely Lift Stay-At-Home Rules | Ed Mierzwinski

Public health experts have made it abundantly clear that to safely lift stay-at-home rules we must have four key things we don’t yet have. We need fast, accurate and widely available testing. We need a better plan for isolating and supporting people who have COVID-19. We need sufficient hospital capacity, including medical and protective equipment, to treat all patients safely. And we need more contact tracing. This blog explains U.S. PIRG's support for automated warning and contact tracing, subject to appropriate privacy and civil liberties protections, which can provide critical information quickly about who has potentially been exposed.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | COVID-19

Statement: SBA data breach puts business owners at risk of ID theft and other fraud

The Small Business Administration (SBA) announced Tuesday that the personal information of nearly 8,000 business owners applying for federal disaster loans had been exposed. The breach affects applicants to the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program (EIDL), and may have included names, Social Security numbers, addresses, birth dates, email addresses, phone numbers, citizenship statuses and insurance information.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Tips, COVID-19

Consumer complaints of COVID-19 fraud surpass 15,000

Scammers and other bad actors are trying to take advantage of Americans’ heightened fears around the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, and fraud complaints are soaring. Consumer complaints to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) related to the virus surpassed 15,000 Thursday.

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News Release | Maryland PIRG Foundation | Consumer Tips, COVID-19

COVID-19 consumer tips: Scams, utility bills and your stimulus check

Baltimore -- In the midst of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Maryland consumers are experiencing numerous public health and financial challenges, including virus-related scams, fake products promising cures and price gouging. To help address these concerns and more, Maryland PIRG Foundation is publishing new guides and tips each week to help consumers navigate this crisis.

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News Release | Maryland PIRG Foundation | Consumer Tips, COVID-19

Maryland legislators demand Amazon, other online marketplaces end coronavirus price gouging

Together, 347 legislators representing 45 states joined Maryland PIRG Foundation in sending a letter Tuesday urging Amazon, Craigslist, eBay, Facebook and Walmart to quickly implement preventative measures on their platforms to ensure that consumers don’t get taken advantage of during this public health crisis. Less than two weeks ago, 33 attorneys general, including Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh, sent a similar letter to the same companies.

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Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Public Health

Chain Reaction V

The Chain Reaction V report grades the top fast food and fast casual chanins on antibiotic use policies for their beef supply chains. 

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Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund and Consumers for Auto Reliability And Safety (CARS) Foundation | Consumer Protection

Unsafe used cars for sale

AutoNation, which bills itself as “America’s Largest Auto Retailer,” is selling recalled used vehicles that contain dangerous safety defects. In a survey of over 2,400 used vehicles for sale at 28 AutoNation locations, 1 in 9 were found to have unrepaired safety recalls.

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Report | Maryland PIRG Foundation | Democracy

Fair Elections in Montgomery County

This report analyzes the fundraising data from the 2018 county elections, the first election in Maryland to use a small donor matching system. Overall, the small donor matching system was largely successful in achieving its stated goals

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Report | Maryland PIRG Foundation and Frontier Group | Solid Waste

COMPOSTING IN AMERICA

America throws out immense amounts or trash, most of which is dumped into landfills or burned in trash incinerators. This is a costly system that damages the environment and harms our health. Luckily, communities across the country are turning toward a common-sense and beneficial solution: composting. Composting programs divert organic material – such as food scraps, leaves, branches, grass clippings and other biodegradable material – away from landfills and incinerators and turn it into a valuable product. 

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Report | Maryland PIRG Foundation

Get the lead out

Our children need safe drinking water – especially at school where they go to learn and play each day.  Unfortunately, lead is contaminating drinking water at schools and pre-schools across the country.  As our report shows, states are failing to make the grade when it comes to keeping lead out of drinking water at school.  Instead of waiting for more testing, we need to proactively remove the lead pipes and plumbing at the root of this toxic hazard for our children.

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Blog Post | COVID-19

Factory farms: A pandemic in the making. | Matt Wellington

The emergence and spread of the novel coronavirus pandemic is a symptom of how we raise food animals across the world. 

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Blog Post | Consumer Tips, COVID-19, Public Health, Consumer Protection

Cleaning and disinfecting safely during the coronavirus outbreak | Emily Scarr

If you’re like me, you’re spending a lot more time cleaning while sheltering in place. My increased time at home cooking, working, and playing with my children makes a lot of mess! I am also cleaning more as a way to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19. I enjoy my cleaning routine; in a day full of zoom calls and wrangling small children, it’s nice to take a break to listen to the radio or music while I wipe down the counters or sweep the floor. 

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Blog Post | Consumer Tips, COVID-19

Watch Out for Coronavirus Scams! | Rishi Shah

Over the last few weeks, there’s been drastic changes to most of our lives. One thing that’s still (unfortunately) around? Phishing emails and scams. Scammers are taking advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic, launching a new wave of coronavirus-related tricks to cheat people out of their money and personal information.
 

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Blog Post | Consumer Tips, COVID-19

Masks4All - I followed the CDC's advice to make my own mask | Rishi Shah

A few days ago, the CDC released instructions for how to make your own facemasks to protect yourself and others during the COVID-19 crisis. With the extremely high prices of surgical masks due to price gouging in online marketplaces, purchasing a mask may not be an affordable option for all households. (Side note: if you’re worried about price gouging, check out some of our tips on how to avoid it and report it.)

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Blog Post | Safe Energy

#EEDay2018 - States Can Lead | Abe Scarr

The cheapest, cleanest energy is the energy we don’t use in the first place. Whether you care about improving air quality, fending off the worst impacts of global warming, or simply saving money, energy efficiency and conservation are critical.

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News Release | Maryland PIRG Foundation, Mind the Store, Toxic-Free Future

Packaged in Pollution: Are food chains using PFAS in packaging?, analyzes packaging from six national food chains, including Burger King, McDonald’s, and Wendy’s as well as health-minded food chains Cava, Freshii, and Sweetgreen, and includes packaging collected in Maryland. 

Blog Post

U.S. PIRG is calling on municipal, state and federal policymakers to mandate face masks in all indoor public spaces, as well as in outdoor locations where it’s hard for people to socially distance six feet apart.

Report | Maryland PIRG Foundation and U.S. PIRG Education Fund

COVID-19 is putting incredible stress on the U.S. medical system, including the work of hospital biomedical repair technicians, known as biomeds or BMETs. These technicians are essential; hospitals need working equipment to diagnose and treat patients. But in some cases, manufacturers restrict access to what biomeds need.

News Release | Maryland PIRG

Baltimore -- With the number of COVID-19 cases continuing to rise nationally,  Maryland PIRG released a new fact sheet today, showing Maryland is “making progress” when it comes to meeting COVID-19 containment criteria. This is the second week Maryland PIRG has reporter n in-state coronavirus efforts. Last week, Maryland received a “trending better” grade. 

Blog Post

Public health experts are starting to draw actionable lessons about the nature of how COVID-19 spreads. In addition to maintaining best practices –physical distancing, mask wearing and hand washing – it’s best to avoid extended, crowded indoor gatherings.

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