BY: Bryan Renbaum, MarylandReporter.com
More than eight out of ten Marylanders agree with the actions Gov. Larry Hogan has taken to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus in the state, according to a MarylandReporter.com poll released on Tuesday. There were 1,660 confirmed cases of the virus in Maryland as of Tuesday morning, according to the state’s Department of Health, and 18 Marylanders have died from the virus.
The poll found that 84% of the respondents said they agree with Hogan’s actions and 9% said they do not. Meanwhile, 7% said they are not sure whether they agree with Hogan’s actions.
The sampling included 870 respondents and was carried out March 16-31 by voting on the website.
Over the past three weeks, Hogan has issued a series of orders aimed at curbing the spread of the virus in Maryland. His latest order, which went into effect on Monday at 8 p.m. EDT, requires all Marylanders to stay at home unless they are going out for essential services such as buying food or medicine, seeing a doctor, or delivering groceries to family members or someone in need. That order was preceded by orders that closed all non-essential businesses in state, restricted events to no more than 10 people and restaurant service to delivery and carry-out. State School Superintendent Karen Salmon announced last week that Maryland public schools will remain closed for an additional four weeks. On March 12 Salmon had announced a two-week closure.
Former Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler said he is not surprised that Hogan’s response to the virus has garnered an approval rating in the mid-80s.
“That’s actually consistent with his favorable ratings in the state of Maryland, anyway. In most polling that was done before the coronavirus pandemic, he was polling in the mid-80s in terms of favorable ratings. So that would be consistent with that number.”
Gansler, a Democrat who served from 2007-2015, said he believes most Marylanders see the fight against the virus as a “nonpartisan issue.” Gansler said Hogan has responded to the challenge in that spirit.
“Governor Hogan is showing strong leadership here that’s consistent with what’s going on in other states both around Maryland and throughout the country — and really based seemingly not on political considerations, but more so on the actual information being provided to him by medical experts and doctors.”
Gansler elaborated on that point.
“What Governor Hogan is doing in his press conferences, in his press releases…he does not come across as a politician as much as he’s coming across as somebody who is being candid, open, transparent and basing his decisions on the medical data available and the medical opinions available — and not seemingly on some political calculation.”
Gansler, a 2014 gubernatorial candidate, was asked if he would handle the situation differently than Hogan if he were Maryland’s chief executive. Gansler said he would not.
“Those of us who are common citizens — we’re not privy to the same inside data and medical advice that’s being given by the doctors…One of the wonderful things that I would imagine has played a part in Governor Hogan’s decisions is that we have the best hospital in the world located right here in Maryland at Johns Hopkins. So the advice being given by the University of Maryland Medical System and the Johns Hopkins medical system and MedStar … should prove invaluable here and one would hope is greatly informing Governor Hogan’s decisions. And I imagine it is.”
Del. Haven N. Shoemaker Jr. (R-Carroll) also said he is not surprised that Hogan’s response to the virus has garnered an approval rating in the mid-80s.
“No, it really doesn’t [surprise me]. At least not from the feedback I’ve gotten back here at home since I’ve been back. Of course most of that feedback I’ve gotten has been from people who have been keeping their social distancing. I’m not surprised at all.”
The Maryland General Assembly adjourned Sine Die on March 18. The body was supposed to adjourn on April 6. It is believed to be the first time since the Civil War that the legislature adjourned prior to its scheduled date. Lawmakers are expected to return to Annapolis during the last week of May for a special session to finish outstanding legislative business.
Shoemaker was asked to assess Hogan’s stay-at-home directive.
“I think it’s unfortunate that we’ve been dealt a situation where folks have not been as compliant as they should have been. And I guess the governor has been loathe to do this but I guess he felt compelled to, in view of recent events and the ongoing escalation in the number of cases and what we’ve seen at the nursing home in Carroll County and folks potentially exposing themselves and others to the virus through having parties. I guess all of those things taken together kind of forced his hand down a path that he did not want to have to go down.”
Violation of the order is punishable by a fine of up to $5,000 and/or a maximum of one year in jail.
Hogan, who is chair of the National Governors Association, has received bipartisan praise for his leadership during the crisis.