@BryanRenbaum

Former Maryland Lt. Gov. and former Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele applauded the steps Gov. Larry Hogan has taken to respond to the outbreak of several coronavirus (COVID-19) infections in Maryland.

“Not being in the room I’m not going to second-guess the governor’s response, Steele told MarylandReporter.com in an email on Monday. “But from what I can see from the cheap seats, Gov. Hogan is doing absolutely what is necessary to get as much in front of the spread of this virus and protect Marylanders (declaring a state of emergency, allocating dollars immediately, coordinating with county governments and positioning use of the State’s “Rainy Day” Fund). I do believe that he like other governors are having to do some of this a bit blind due to the Administration’s slow response.”

Steele said Hogan’s strong response to the virus is especially noteworthy given the lack of federal help.

“Even with the great resources we have here in Maryland (Hopkins, NIH) those resources still rely on a coordinated effort between the state and the federal governments. With confirmed cases now in the state and the region, Gov. Hogan I think has put in place resources, personnel and a strategy (e.g. surge planning, coordinating ambulatory use) to address what will likely be a surge in those identified with the virus as more and more testing gets underway.”

Former Maryland Gov. Bob Ehrlich, a Republican whom Steele served under, said he is not acutely familiar with the state’s response to virus. However, Ehrlich credited the Trump administration for having been “sufficiently transparent through now daily press briefings” with President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence. The vice president is in charge of the White House’s coronavirus response team.

Former governors Bob Ehrlich and Parris Glendening spoke at a Maryland Chamber of Commerce conference on Sept. 20, 2018, in Columbia. (MarylandReporter.com photo)

Former Maryland Gov. Parris Glendening, a Democrat, said Hogan is handling the situation “fairly well.”

“I give the governor credit for handling not just an emergency — but an unknown situation fairly well. There’s nothing that stands out that’s just glaring in my mind that he’s doing wrong.”

Glendening credited Hogan for taking a hands-on approach to the state’s response to the virus.

“It’s the responsibility of a leader to be very visible, very transparent, and very reassuring — with a degree of empathy — as people try to sort out what they’re doing…I think Hogan’s being out and about” is reassuring to the state’s residents.

Hogan declared a state of emergency on Thursday night after three cases of the virus — the first in Maryland — were reported in Montgomery County. Two more cases were identified Sunday night — meaning there are now five reported cases of the virus statewide, Hogan said Monday morning.

A day before the declaration Hogan submitted emergency legislation to the General Assembly that provides up to $50 million from the state’s “rainy day” fund to respond to the virus. Lawmakers approved the measure on Friday and Hogan is slated to sign it at a news conference at the State House scheduled for 3:30 EDT this afternoon. Hogan will provide an update on the virus at that time. The governor has allocated $10 million in his FY 2021 supplemental budget to respond to the virus and has issued a directive that requires insurers to waive costs for those who are tested for the virus.

Tens of thousands of cases have been reported worldwide with hundreds of deaths. China, Italy, Iran and South Korea have been hit the hardest. Cases are reportedly declining in China, where the virus first appeared. For weeks the virus has devastated world financial markets. On Monday the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped nearly 2,000 points shortly after its opening at 9:30 a.m. EDT. The huge losses prompted Wall Street to stop trading for about 15 minutes. As of 11:30 a.m. EDT. the DJIA was down nearly 1,500 points from its opening.