@BryanRenbaum

Former Maryland Gov. Parris Glendening praised Gov. Larry Hogan for the state’s “very aggressive” response to the global outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19.) There are 149 confirmed cases of the virus in Maryland as of Friday morning. Earlier this week a 60-year-old Prince George’s County man became the first Marylander to die from the virus.

“My perspective on this is that the state is in fact being very aggressive and appropriately so. I think Governor Hogan is doing a good job under difficult circumstances,” Glendening told MarylandReporter.com in a phone interview on Friday.

“There are three or four governors across the country that seem to be right on step now in terms of moving their state aggressively toward protecting the citizens, and I think that Hogan is clearly one of those.”

Glendening said that although taking aggressive action is necessary, it is not without controversy.

“Aggressive also means some people will be hurting. You can’t close that many businesses…without causing a great deal of economic negative impact and anxiety. But I also think it’s something that must be done.”

Parris Glendening

Former Gov. MarylandReporter.com reporter Bryan Renbaum interviews former Gov. Parris Glendening at the State House on Feb. 5, after Gov. Larry Hogan’s State of the State address. (MarylandReporter.com photo)

Glendening said he wishes the federal government would respond to virus in a manner akin to Hogan. Hogan is the chair of the National Governors Association and has been in frequent contact with the White House. Last week Hogan met with Vice President Mike Pence in the White House Situation Room. It was Hogan’s second meeting with Pence, who leads the White House’s Coronavirus Response Team.

“I think people are looking for leadership that transcends any partisan challenges or discussion at this time. He [Hogan] seems to be doing that. Unfortunately, I cannot just say the same thing about the current occupant of the White House.”

Glendening, a Democrat, was asked to respond to a WalletHub study that ranked Maryland the third most aggressive state in terms of measures taken to limit exposure of the virus. The study was featured in an article that was published on Tuesday. While the study gave a high rating to Maryland’s overall response to the spread of the virus, the study ranked the state 48th in the quality of its public hospital system. South Dakota ranked first in public hospital system quality.

Rhode Island ranked first in its overall response to the spread of the virus, while. Wyoming ranked last. The study based its findings on three criteria: “Prevention & Containment, Risk Factors & Infrastructure and Economic Impact.” The three criteria are evaluated across 35 metrics. Each metric is weighed on a scale of 0-100. WalletHub used data from government agencies including as the U.S. Census Bureau, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Sen. Jill Carter (D-Baltimore City), like Glendening, praised Hogan’s leadership, but said credit is due to all of the top political leaders in Maryland.

“I applaud the governor and legislative leadership, as well as in the city — [Baltimore Mayor] Jack Young. Everyone in leadership has, I think, done a very good job at making decisions that are in the best interests of our constituencies.”

However, Carter said that while the state’s response to the virus has been very good — it is not perfect.

“There are still too many inconsistencies regarding what is closed and what is not closed. There’s still too many question marks about things like…the lacking of testing across the board,  the fact that tests are difficult to obtain and that everyone is not being tested.”

Sen. Jill Carter                (D-Baltimore City)

Carter expressed concern that inmates and correctional staff could have been exposed to the virus. She expressed the concern in light of recent decisions by Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby to dismiss pending charges against people charged with minor offenses and by Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Aisha Braveboy to release some low-level suspects during the outbreak of the virus. “We now have 62 who have been ordered for release and another 4 that are being evaluated by pretrial services for special release conditions,” a spokesperson for Braveboy’s office said on Saturday.

“With no one being tested, we don’t if anyone inside has it or if those coming out could actually have been exposed before their release,” Carter said. “We don’t know about the guards and the other staff that are going inside and coming back out into the community.”

Richard Vatz, a professor of political persuasion at Towson University, said the WalletHub study contains some flaws.

“I would take these findings not as completely invalid but with more than a grain of salt. So many of these variables are a function of the efficiency and accuracy of the measure, such as tested cases of COVID-19.

“Moreover, to combine criteria that have no operationalization, such as “States Who [sic] Are Recommending Statewide Curfew to Minimize Coronavirus Spread: Triple Weight (~6.92 Points)” with operationalized categories, such as “States Who [sic] Banned Large Gatherings to Slow Coronavirus Spread: Double Weight (~4.62 Points)” is almost worthless.”

Vatz added: “This is the kind of empirical study that gains attention but is far less valuable than people think.”

Over the past two weeks, Hogan has announced a series of executive orders aimed at preventing the spread of the virus. They include: limiting public and private events to no more than 10 people; closing down bars, restaurants, movie theaters, gyms, casinos, enclosed shopping malls; limiting access to BWI Marshall International Airport, and postponing the state’s primary elections from April to June. Restaurants still are allowed to offer delivery and carry-out service. The campuses of public universities remain open; however, students are required to finish their courses for the semester online. Hogan has discouraged non-essential personnel from using public transportation.