Maryland Governor Larry Hogan taking a victory tour for managing the pandemic before victory? His counterparts in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Connecticut have issued orders advising against travel to specific states where the pandemic is spiraling out of control. Most importantly, citizens who travel to these states have been ordered to quarantine upon their return. Hogan’s failure to take similar action threatens to reverse Maryland’s progress against the spread of the virus. He should act immediately and urge residents not to travel to states with a high incidence of Covid-19 and to quarantine themselves upon return if they do. These states should include Delaware and North and South Carolina – all popular summer destinations for residents of Maryland. Self-Promotion of Security Hogan’s slow response to protect the Marylanders from the resurgence of Covid-19 in other parts of the country comes at a time when he is promoting a brief on his term as governor (in anticipation of what many believe to be presidential in 2024). The book is titled “Still Standing: Surviving Cancer, Riots, a Global Pandemic and the Toxic Policies that Divide America”. Ironically, the release was delayed as chapters were added to tout his response to the pandemic, where, at least in its early stages, Hogan caught the attention of national media for highlighting the severity of the crisis and calling the White House Trump for help. Hogan’s political ambitions may not come to a happy end if he is lacking in his determination to competently manage the virus at this crucial time. He is now planning a virtual tour of the book, after the book’s scheduled release on July 28, with events to include former Republican governors, like Arnold Schwarzenegger of California and Jeb Bush of Florida. His political ambitions may fail if his resolve to manage the virus competently fails him at this crucial moment and his early success in dealing with the pandemic turns into failure. New York and New Jersey were hit hard at the start of the pandemic. Anxious to protect their citizens from a resurgence, they imposed a voluntary quarantine on people from 18 southern and western states experiencing serious epidemics. Last week, they added the neighboring state of northern Maryland, Delaware, to the list. Quarantines apply to travelers from Covered States as well as their own residents returning from trips to those States. The new rules apply to everyone who travels by car, plane, bus, or train, but exclude those who cross the states for a limited time, such as layovers for air travel or highway stops for cars and buses. New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy announces travel restrictions on residents of states affected by Covid-19 outbreaks. (twitter) Individuals are advised to self-quarantine for 14 days. Compliance is “expected” but not yet mandatory. Science-based The rationale for travel restrictions is not based on whim or distinguishing certain populations. For example, the states subject to the quarantine rule in New York and New Jersey have a positive rate of 10% or more for the virus. New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said he acted after the state experienced several local epidemics “directly linked to the movement of Covid-19 hotspots across the country.” As of this writing, Pennsylvania has not placed Delaware on its shortlist, but that has not stopped Philadelphia from acting. On Wednesday, he implored residents not to visit resorts or other places in Delaware where Covid-19 is increasing and asked them to self-quarantine if they did. A travel advisory and quarantine will save lives even if they slow or partially mitigate a resurgence. Hogan and Marylanders can be proud of what they did earlier this year to bring the pandemic under control. The governor generally acted with wisdom and determination, and with confidence in his leadership, most citizens did what they were asked to do. This progress can evaporate in a heartbeat if Maryland lowers its guard. Time and again, this pandemic has punished citizens for the failure of their leaders to act in a timely manner. There is no guarantee that a travel advisory and quarantine will prevent a re-emergence of Covid-19 in Maryland, but there is no excuse for not trying. A travel advisory and quarantine will save lives even if they slow or partially mitigate a resurgence. The Maryland Department of Health recommends that citizens be tested for the virus after returning from an out-of-state trip. But in itself, this measure is insufficient because of the delays between the return to Maryland, the test and waiting for the results. In addition, there is a high percentage of false negative test results, particularly if the tests are performed soon after exposure to the virus. Tests are not the answer to the problem of importing the virus from other states, unless they are combined with a quarantine. Hogan announced the publication of his memoirs on Twitter earlier this week. A test of courage Hogan has already failed in his management of the pandemic. He drew criticism from some county officials and the mayor of Baltimore for what they saw as his repeal of state responsibility for decisions to reopen the economy of Maryland. It is probably no coincidence that Hogan transferred decision-making power for home stay orders and business closings to counties at a time when opposition from his Republican supporters was mounting. These same GOP supporters will no doubt be unhappy with further “attacks” on their freedom to travel. Hogan knows this, and that seems to be the source of his reluctance to reinstate a travel ban and quarantine order. The governor should do without such short-sighted political calculations and do his best to prevent unnecessary travel to and from states where the pandemic is out of control. And he should do it long before his book tour – and before it’s too late to tell the difference. • David A. Plymyer retired as Anne Arundel County Prosecutor in 2014. He writes on issues of law and public policy, most recently on timid legislative efforts to reform the police and the destructive role of the Brotherhood Police Order.
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