In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan issued a Stay at Home order on March 30. People were told to not leave their homes unless it is for a job with an essential business or for an essential reason. The goal was to protect the public health and safety. If people stay home and don’t interact with other human beings, the odds of COVID-19 infecting you is close to zero.
Sounds great, right? Unfortunately, no. The problem is with how Maryland defines what an essential business is. Except for a very small list of specific businesses, everything is considered an essential business. That means workers at these so-called essential businesses cannot stay at home and remain safe from COVID-19. No, they have to go to work and possibly expose themselves to the COVID-19 virus.
What is an essential business in Maryland?
- Fast food restaurants.
- Convenience stores.
- Liquor stores.
- Auto dealerships.
- Office supply stores.
- Home improvement stores.
- Discount stores.
- Auto parts stores.
- Pet stores.
- And a host of others.
A lot of Marylanders have a problem with the number of nonessential businesses that are allowed to remain open. A lot of us believe people working with the public will get infected with COVID-19 and possibly die.
Governor Larry Hogan announced yesterday he would answer questions on Twitter.
I posted a question. I asked why he allowed nonsensical businesses to remain open. It was a popular topic. It seemed to be the most asked question.
I kept an eye on Twitter to see how Governor Hogan would answer the question. This was his answer:
Way to pass the buck Governor Hogan
I found Governor Hogan’s answer highly disappointing. Instead of explaining why he decided to label so many businesses as essential, he deferred to a list published on the Department of Homeland Security website.
Governor Hogan is under no obligation to adhere to this list. It’s not a binding document. From the website:
This guidance is not binding and is primarily a decision support tool to assist state and local officials. It should not be confused as official executive action by the United States Government.
Governor Hogan was free to determine for himself what is and what is not an essential business. For whatever reason, he chose not to that. Instead of choosing to lead, he chose to follow. In this case, he chose to follow a document written by an unnamed, anonymous career bureaucrat working at Homeland Security.
One of the problems with allowing so many businesses to remain open during this pandemic is that it needlessly exposes employees to COVID-19. They should be at home. It also sends the wrong message. When you can go to Lowes and buy four bags of mulch, stop at a liquor store to buy a 12-pack of Bud Light, and then hit the drive-thru at Wendy’s, it can make you think this pandemic isn’t serious. It makes people think the COVID-19 pandemic is really not a big deal.
As a Democrat, I genuinely like Governor Larry Hogan, a Republican. I usually agree with the things he does. I just think he’s doing the wrong thing here. He needs to be a better leader. Governor Hogan is generally a good leader. He’s just not being a good leader when it comes to defining what’s an essential business and what’s not. He knows it and so do we.