Testing isn’t the only pandemic-related area where transparency is lacking | READER COMMENTARY
For The Baltimore Sun|
Jun 02, 2020 at 1:54 PM
It’s about time journalists pointed out the hypocrisy of politicians bragging about “transparency” while demonstrating a complete disregard for it. Given the perfect opportunity to be open and forthright with the facts, Maryland’s executive branch and those who manage the state’s subdivisions have all but refused to divulge any of the factual basis for their sweeping and momentous near-daily pronouncements. The botched distribution of 500,000 virus test kits from South Korea is just the tip of the iceberg (“What’s lacking from Maryland’s COVID-19 test kits? A dose of transparency,” May 28).
Gov. Larry Hogan, after initially winning praise for his no-nonsense and clearly articulated leadership, appears to have suddenly stopped giving the public access to the raw facts on which his decisions were based. And the various county executives have followed his lead, making hugely significant decisions about reopening (or not reopening) while providing next to no factual basis for their confusing, overlapping and contradictory edicts. The daily publication of raw numbers of cases by county, age group, ethnicity, etc., sheds almost no light on any of these vitally important decisions.
The governor initially set out a set of four building blocks on which he stated he would decide about the pacing of reopening: testing capacity, hospital surge capacity, contract tracing capacity and personal protective equipment availability. All of these measurements could reasonably and logically be regarded as foundational to responsible decision-making about reopening. But neither he, nor any state governmental agency has issued any specific report on these easily-understood metrics. All we get is an unsubstantiated proclamation that “we are now ready” for whatever new executive declaration is about to be made.
If the numerical goal had been articulated, and if there had been frequent and transparent reporting on progress against this goal, there would be no need to convince the public of readiness. We can handle the facts, but we are not getting them and it’s the rightful function of journalism to pursue them with dogged determination.