‘Silence’ from Md. Department of Health on cyberattack, missing COVID data, worries lawmaker

A Maryland state senator said the recent cyberattack on Maryland’s Department of Health is concerning, because current and crucial information on the COVID pandemic is still missing.

“The silence is deafening,” said Maryland state Sen. Katy Fry Hester, who represents Howard County.

With some of the important COVID data still not available after this month’s attack, Hester said she has reached out to the state’s health department, but has yet to get answers.

“There’s a public health concern where we do not know if there could be an outbreak somewhere and how that would be reported,” she said.

Data on COVID cases, deaths and testing are still missing.

“It’s frustrating to not be able to give my constituents better information,” said Hester, who is concerned that missing data on the website could mean outbreaks are happening without anyone knowing.

“Would we know if there is a major outbreak of the new variants in my county? Would we be able to know that and to trace that and to impose a quarantine?” she asked. “I’m not sure if we would, and I couldn’t get that question answered either by the state health department.”

The attack was first reported on Dec. 5. Health workers sent a bulletin to workers telling them to immediately stop using state-issued laptops and desk computers.

Health department spokesman Andy Owen told WTOP that vaccine, hospitalization and school outbreak reports are back up, but they’re still working to restore the remaining reports to the state website.

Valerie Bonk

Valerie Bonk started working at WTOP in 2016 and has lived in Howard County, Maryland, her entire life. She's thrilled to be a reporter for WTOP telling stories on air. She works as both a television and radio reporter in the Maryland and D.C. areas. 

This article was written by WTOP’s news partners at Maryland Matters and republished with permission. Sign up for Maryland Matters’ free email subscription today.

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