Carroll County Times Opinion

Blubaugh: Gov. Hogan makes mistake in granting one exemption to travel, quarantine requirements | COMMENTARY

Given that criticizing Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan seems to be all the rage — emphasis on rage — I figured I would join the chorus this week, after his Thursday news conference.

I won’t stoop to making up nicknames and I’ll let others deal with most of what he had to say Thursday, such as the restriction on travel across state lines.


I’m far more worried about the free pass he gave to allow someone to travel across international borders and into Maryland in what has the potential to be the single-worst super-spreader event of this entire COVID-19 nightmare.

Of course, I’m referring to the executive order exempting Santa Claus, his affiliated elves and reindeer from traveler testing and quarantine requirements.


I get it. Santa is a beloved figure with universal appeal. Everybody — MAGA hat wearers and Bernie Bros. alike ― loves Santa.

But this jolly old elf might just spread the coronavirus from Asia to Europe to Carroll County. In spite of himself, as he travels from house to house to house the world over.

Sure, for the most part, everyone is asleep by the time he makes his way down the chimney. But, inevitably, each year he’s bound to run into numerous naughty kids staying up late, trying to get a look at him and his loot. Not to mention parents enjoying some eggnog in front of the tree after the kiddies have gone to bed.

Santa is certainly well-intentioned, but no way he’s going to be doing all the right things to mitigate the spread.

You think he’s going to keep a safe 6-foot distance? No way. He sees a child, that child will be in his lap in no time.

And wearing a mask? Over that fluffy, white beard? I don’t think so.

I also understand he lays his finger aside his nose a lot. Most years, no problem. This year? Hygiene violation.

Plus, he whistles at his reindeer and frequently bellows big belly laughs. Both of these activities, it has been proven, expel a lot of droplets into the air.


He’ll no doubt be handling milk and cookies at many, if not most, of his stops. How many will leave hand sanitizer for him? Not enough.

Plus, think about Santa himself. He’s a wonderful guy — literally, a saint — so the last thing we want to do is put him in danger. Let’s face it, he’s among our most vulnerable. He’s not just old, he’s ancient. And, to put it charitably, he’s been called chubby and plump.

Look, I get it. No one wants to have a Christmas without him. We sing, “Here Comes Santa Claus” and “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” not, “Stay away, Santa, until you get the vaccine.”

He makes hundreds of millions of kids happy each year with the joy and gifts he brings. But COVID-19 — the gift we just keep giving and giving, to others — is not on anyone’s wish list. A lump of coal in our stockings would be far preferable.

Dr. Anthony Fauci reportedly has said Santa Claus “has a lot of good innate immunity.” You buying that? I mean, when did we start listening to science?

Certainly, Santa would never intentionally do anything to hurt anyone — he’s all about spreading good cheer, not infectious diseases. So if he’s showing symptoms, I have no doubt he will isolate at the North Pole with Mrs. Claus. But what if he’s asymptomatic?


Now the governor has given him carte blanche to go from rooftop to rooftop in our fair state, carrying toy trains and dolls and iPhones — along with who knows what else.

Seems like a bad idea to me. So much so that I’m going to break my vow and give the guv a nickname after all.

Thanks a lot, Ho Ho Hogan.

Bob Blubaugh is the editor of the Carroll County Times. His column appears Sundays. Email him at