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Local leaders say Gov. Hogan hasn’t held pandemic call for five months, ask to work together amid coronavirus surge

Baltimore’s mayor and six county executives are calling on Gov. Hogan to work with them as Maryland sees a surge in coronavirus cases, saying “policies are much more effective when we act together.”

In a new letter to the Republican governor, the local officials said it had been more than five months since Hogan took part in a statewide call with county leaders. They also wrote that Hogan hasn’t given them advance notice when making announcements of re-openings.

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“We stand ready to work with you,” they wrote. “It’s time to reengage in our efforts to save lives and protect public.”

In addition to Young, the letter was signed by Anne Arundel County County Executive Steuart Pittman; Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr.; Frederick County Executive Jan Gardner; Howard County Executive Calvin Ball; Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich; and Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks. All are Democrats.

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They asked for a meeting with Hogan “to begin the collaboration.”

When Hogan began reopening the state earlier this year, he allowed local governments in areas harder hit by the virus to keep in place restrictions when they were lifted statewide.

Last week, Baltimore became the first local government in the region to announce it would reinstate more strict coronavirus restrictions. The city is set to tighten capacity restrictions in businesses, shut down bars that don’t serve food, and require masks in all public spaces.

As cases have risen in recent weeks, Hogan has not brought back previous restrictions.

Tensions between Hogan and local leaders have played out over the course of the pandemic, with some previously calling upon Hogan to provide local governments with more resources and to better coordinate contact tracing and planning efforts.

In the new letter, dated Friday, they said they appreciated Hogan’s recent message to Marylanders to “wear the damn masks” — a line he said at a news conference last week — but “we believe a successful effort must go beyond words.”

Hogan spokesman Mike Ricci said the governor’s senior response team is available for regular calls and to handle requests “24/7” from county and municipal leaders. The team includes representatives of a variety of cabinet-level state agencies, he said.

“We stand ready to assist in any way we can,” Ricci said in an email to The Baltimore Sun.

At a news conference Monday where he announced new funding for public schools and restaurants, Olszewski echoed the sentiments contained in the letter. He said that “local efforts and a patchwork approach are not as effective as statewide solutions.”

“Significant public health efforts should be enacted on a statewide basis,” Olszewski said. “Our residents do not live their lives in the confines of our county borders, and neither does this virus."

Baltimore Sun reporter Colin Campbell contributed to this article.

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