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(Screenshot taken from | "Rat - 560688043" by Chris Barber from Dartford, Kent., UK - Rat Pack. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

Good news for health exchange; bad news for Baltimore rats

Never thought I’d say this, but the Maryland health exchange had the best week ever.

It’s simple: The system worked. Hell, it even launched two days earlier than expected. It must feel like Christmas came early for state officials.

No one is saying the exchange is perfect — not consumers, not advocates, not state officials. Heavy volume resulted in minor delays Wednesday (the day most users began the enrollment process), but the launch this year was night-and-day compared to last year’s launch. We don’t have to remind you what happened that time.

Maryland Health Connection signed up several thousand people within the first few days, and several thousand more had begun (but not completed) applications for enrollment.

So, yes, it’s a good time to be a public health official in Maryland. It’s a bad time to be a rat in Baltimore.

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake announced this week she is stepping up rat abatement efforts in the city. The beady-eyed little vermin can expect to be blasted with extra poison in alleyways all over town, but particularly in neighborhoods with the worst infestations, such as Edmonson and Broadway East.

Baltimore isn’t spending more money on rat control; it’s just increasing the number of workers in the “Rat Rubout” program from eight to 15.

Those workers will patrol each of the city’s 12,250 alleyways once every 20 days to zap the rodents before they’re old enough to reproduce. The sneaky (and simple) strategy is great news for city dwellers — at least the ones who live above ground.

About Alissa Gulin

Alissa Gulin covers health care, education and general business at The Daily Record.