One says the restrictions on our lives are keeping us safe.
Frederick, Md (KM) The leadership of Governor Larry Hogan (R) in battling the coronavirus in Maryland has received national attention. He has imposed a number of restrictions on state residents to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
Frederick County Delegate Karen Lewis Young (D) gives him good marks for the way he’s handled this emergency. “He’s taking advice from the right people. Initially, he consulted some of the best health experts with the country. And now he’s balancing that with listening to health experts as well as business representatives,” she says.
There have been complaints from some Marylanders about the restrictions he’s imposed on their lives. As a way to slow the spread of the coronavirus, Governor Hogan has issued executive orders closing non-essential businesses and enclosed shopping malls. He also ordered that people stay at home for the most part, only venturing out to buy food and medicine, or get some exercise. Residents cannot gather in groups of more than ten. But Young says these are necessary to help save lives. “But if you get the virus, it’s a crap shoot,” she says. “You don’t know, one, if you show symptoms; two,how badly you’ll get it; and if you’ll survive.”
Some governors around the United States are reopening their economies, either fully or partially. Delegate Young says that could help spread the virus which could lead to even more cases and deaths. “If you look at the death toll so far, we’re losing more people on a daily basis than we lost in 9/11 in one day,” she says “And as states start opening up, it’s projected we could double our death toll by early August.”
Governor Hogan says the number of hospitalizations and admittances to ICU’s have been dropping recently. And if that trend continues, he says he may lift the stay-at-home order next week. But any reopening of the economy would be done gradually, not all at once, says Hogan.
But Delegate Young says the big problem has been how Maryland is handling unemployment claims, as many people have lost their jobs due to the business shutdowns from the coronavirus. She says she’s heard it from her constituents. “People calling and waiting for hours. Not being able to get through; getting disconnected; being declined. They don’t where else to go so they turn to us,” she says.
The problem has been with the Maryland Department of Labor’s website which was set up handle the applications for unemployment benefits. It was fixed last month after it crashed. But residents still have trouble with the web page. “Legislators don’t have access to the data or the system,” says Delegate Young. “But what I’ve tried to do is to elevate many of the cases to show the extremes of people making efforts to try to get through and becoming frustrated, angry desperate.”
She says the Department of Labor has been accommodating to legislators, but Young hopes the agency is just as accommodating to citizens who have lost their jobs and are applying for benefits.
When the pandemic come to an end, there are predictions the world will be a much different place. Delegate Young says we will probably do more of our work and shopping from home, and possibly make new friends from our home. “I would hope that we’re more long term in our planning and less short term. And we have contingency plans for these pandemics,” she says.
By Kevin McManus