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Coronavirus hinders bay cleanup efforts while seafood industry suffers loss of business

Watermen have few restaurants that can buy their catches. Help for farmers who want to install runoff controls has been sharply curtailed. Streams throughout the region are missing their annual spring cleaning. And many students are losing their chance to experience the Chesapeake Bay firsthand.

The impact of the novel coronavirus, barely on the radar a few months ago, is rippling through the Chesapeake Bay region, with impacts felt from Pennsylvania farm fields to Eastern Shore oyster grounds. While some are minor, such as the postponement of meetings and cleanup events, others could become significant if the COVID-19 crisis lingers, potentially creating another setback for bay pollution control initiatives.

While some point to slivers of positive news—air pollution is down—the near-shutdown of business activity is likely to slam state budgets in coming months, at a time when they had hoped to significantly increase spending on bay cleanup.

“There’s obviously going to be a d...

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