Del. Brian Chisholm (R-Anne Arundel) said Gov. Larry Hogan’s recent decision to have the Maryland State Police expand a 24/7 hotline in which COVID-related restriction violations can be reported will encourage both neighbors and business owners to turn on each other.
At a news conference on Monday afternoon, Hogan announced that the MSP will step-up enforcement of COVID-related compliance checks ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday season. Hogan said that effective Thanksgiving Eve (Wednesday evening) “high-visibility compliance units” will be set up across the state and that every county will see an increase in the number of troopers on patrol. The troopers will assist local police in enforcement operations and restriction violations can be called-in to the MSP response center, Hogan said.
“We have weaponized citizen against citizen,”Chisholm told MarylandReporter.com on Tuesday.
Chisholm, who sits on the House Health & Government Operations Committee, added: “What we’ve allowed people to do is stomp out the competition and take revenge on people they don’t like. This is not what the government was set up to do. I don’t know how many Maryland State policemen are going to willfully try to enforce some of these draconian measures. But we are in a sad place in the country and in the state when we are asking brother to turn-in brother and friend to turn-in friend and neighbor to turn-in neighbor. And then, once again-allowing businesses to weaponize against other businesses.”
Chisholm reemphasized that jealous business owners may turn-on each other.
“So, if my competitor is beating me in the free market, what would stop me from calling this hotline and saying: ‘Well this business is not asking people to wear masks or this business has too many people in there and they are not following one of these guidelines or one of those guidelines?’ It’s just a very dangerous and tenuous place to be.”
Sen. Will Smith (D-Montgomery), disagreed, saying the hotline is merely designed to help keep Marylanders safe.
“This is a real public health and safety emergency and a crisis that we are still in the midst of…So I applaud the governor for taking this step. And I hope Marylanders take this seriously and take the pandemic seriously so that we can continue to save lives in the weeks and months ahead.”
Hogan’s communications director, Mike Ricci, noted that the hotline has been in use for more than three months and that it has been fine-tuned to weed out potential abuses.
“The hotline has actually been in operation since August 13, so we have had several months to refine it and make sure it’s properly focused on large gatherings, unsafe facilities, and violations of the public health orders.”There are 185,464 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Maryland as of Tuesday morning, according to the state’s Department of Health, and 4,325 people in Maryland have died from the virus. The state’s positivity rate is at 6.6%, which is well above CDC recommended guidelines for containment. Maryland has conducted more than 4.2 million COVID-19 tests.
The U.S. reported nearly 179,000 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday. In many states, hospitals are at or near-patient capacity limits.