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Shoemaker: Gov. Hogan deserves an ‘F’ for his handling of pandemic, reopening

A couple of days ago, the governor threw us a couple bones as far as restoring our liberties go. Restaurants will be open at 50%, and gyms and casinos will be reopening in short order.

It’s about time. And in looking at the statistics and what other state are doing, this should have happened some time ago. We were one of the first states to shut down, and we’ll be one of the last to reopen. This raises a major question. Just how well has Gov. Larry Hogan managed the response to the pandemic?

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Well, the Republican Governor’s Association recently released a report card from an economist which gave a grade of “A” to nine states (eight of them run by Republican Governors) on reopening the economies of states in the wake of COVID-19. Colorado is the only state run by a Democratic governor which received an “A.”

I was not surprised that several states received a failing grade of “F”; namely, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin. I was surprised Maryland received a “D.” The Washington Times in reporting on the report card said, “Governor Larry Hogan of Maryland fared the worst among all GOP Governors, receiving a “D.”

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Well, two things strike me about that. Calling Liberal Larry a Republican is a stretch, and saying Lockdown Larry doesn’t deserve an “F” for his handling of this public health emergency is extremely generous.

Now, I realize that Hogan’s handling of Maryland’s response has garnered accolades from some folks. And I know that he polls the people of Maryland on the topic. He takes a lot of polls. He even polls to determine what color tie to put on in the morning. The problem with polling on the shutdown is that the numbers are skewed by all of the government workers we have in Maryland who are drawing paychecks while sitting at home. But what the polls won’t pick up is the intensity of the feeling that the rest of the folks have regarding the issue.

But why do I think he’s botched this thing? Well, back in early March, when Lockdown Larry started his hand wringing, in implementing his first executive orders, he said things like we had to “flatten the curve” so that our hospitals and health care providers don’t become overwhelmed. And this was, initially at least, a reasonable response considering the fact that we knew next to nothing about this virus, or its volatility. But, as the weeks wore on, Hogan’s executive orders became more and more restrictive as he issued dire warnings, like saying that Maryland would be New York by Easter.

Clearly, Hogan was quick to lock everything down. Except nursing homes. Anybody with two brain cells who was paying attention back in February should have realized that nursing homes were particularly vulnerable to the coronavirus. In fact, the first outbreaks in the United States were at nursing homes in Washington and California. Inexplicably, Larry didn’t think to pay particularized attention to Maryland’s nursing homes until early April. By that time, Carroll County was already being besieged by an outbreak at Pleasant View Nursing Home in Mount Airy resulting in significant loss of lives.

And let’s talk about the handling of unemployment claims. So, the State of Maryland put thousands of people out of work, but as a result of sheer incompetence, people went weeks and weeks without a check. My office was inundated with calls from these folks, and it is tragic. Instead of going on a tour of the national media circuit (including high brow programs like “The View”) and instead of seizing any opportunity to take pot shots at the president, Hogan should’ve been fixing Maryland’s unemployment system.

And then there’s the testing kits that he purchased from South Korea for $9 million of the taxpayers’ money. The testing kits weren’t even complete and apparently haven’t been widely used.

But even if somehow you can excuse those failings, how about the fact that entirely too many restrictions are still in place courtesy of Lockdown Larry? The coronavirus has a [.475% fatality rate in Maryland] we now know. Protesters, rioters and looters are able to engage in their activities often without masks and completely without social distancing, and nobody says a word. Yet restaurants and bars are just now reopening a tad, and churches are just opening a little bit. And Lockdown Larry has granted health officers virtually unchecked authority to bust the chops of our business community.

Yes friends, it pains me to say it, but as a result of Larry Hogan’s bumbling, thousands of people have suffered. Surrounding states like Florida and Georgia have been open for weeks. Maryland’s opening has been entirely too slow. In this case, giving Hogan a “D” is about as liberal as he is.

Haven Shoemaker is a member of the Maryland House of Delegates representing District 5. Reach him at haven.shoemaker@house.state.md.us.

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