Republican Governor Larry Hogan: ‘Trump Left Maryland Vulnerable to the Pandemic’

Maryland governor Larry Hogan, writing in The Washington Post:

Meanwhile, instead of listening to his own public health experts, the president was talking and tweeting like a man more concerned about boosting the stock market or his reelection plans.

America’s governors took a different approach. In early February, we descended on Washington for the annual winter meeting of the National Governors Association. As chairman, I had worked closely with the staff for months assembling the agenda, including a private, governors-only briefing at our hotel, the Marriott Marquis, to address the growing viral threat. We brought in Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, who was already widely admired but whose awesome knowledge and straight-talking style hadn’t yet made him a national rock star; CDC head Robert Redfield; Ken Cuccinelli, the acting deputy secretary of homeland security; Jay Butler, the CDC’s deputy director for infectious diseases; and Robert Kadlec, assistant secretary for preparedness and response at the Department of Health and Human Services.

They hit us with detailed presentations and the unfiltered truth, as well as it was known then. I remember hearing many dire claims: “This could be catastrophic.… The death toll could be significant.… Much more contagious than SARS.… Testing will be crucial.… You have to follow the science — that’s where the answers lie.”

It was jarring, the huge contrast between the experts’ warnings and the president’s public dismissals. Weren’t these the people the White House was consulting about the virus? What made the briefing even more chilling was its clear, factual tone. It was a harrowing warning of an imminent national threat, and we took it seriously — or at least most of us did. It was enough to convince almost all the governors that this epidemic was going to be worse than most people realized.

In theory it shouldn’t, but in practice it matters that Hogan is not just a Republican governor, but a popular one. Hogan’s scathing condemnation of the president’s response to the COVID-19 crisis puts the lie to the notion that the fundamental problem with Trump and his remaining supporters is about the left/right political divide. It’s about the science/anti-science divide, deferring to expertise vs. defiant know-nothing-ism as a political stance. There is nothing conservative or liberal about combating a pandemic.

Friday, 17 July 2020