Maryland Needs To Open
(The following letter was addressed to Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan.)
You have a very difficult job. We understand and appreciate your effort. But now is the time to agree that the curve has been flattened. We cannot keep the State closed in a quest to eliminate the curve. If you and other politicians insist on an extended shutdown, you can add millions of ruined lives to your resume. The economic destruction is and will be enormous to both private industry and government. Why is coronavirus the only illness exempt from a reasonable risk analysis? Where is the perspective? Next will politicians eliminate sugar from the food supply to combat diabetes? Ban all environmental factors that are known to cause cancer? Force all citizens to get a flu vaccine every year? Quarantine all people susceptible to HIV until a cure is found? Permanently evacuate all areas where mosquitos carry malaria? Ban suicide? Ban motor vehicles? Ban humans? The absurdity is beyond comprehension.
You, unlike other governors, understand how economies function and the destruction occurring each day Maryland remains closed. So why are you not taking concrete steps to open immediately? Is this about federal funds? What can be more important than the lives of all of the constituents? The fastest way to increase the state’s coffers is to open back up.
Politicians are destroying this country. Please be bold, stop the insanity and open. Everyone can wear masks and maintain social distance. Restaurants can reduce seating. Vulnerable people can remain at home. No doubt there are many solutions that creative minds will find if you just let them. The people have a choice. It is time for us to make it.
Yes, sadly, some people will catch the virus. Presumably the hospitals have used the past month to prepare. We mourn for those who have succumbed to this virus and worry greatly for the health care workers on the front line. We must strike a balance, however, between those at risk from the virus and those at risk from shuttering the economy. This is not a case of “money vs lives”. It is “lives vs lives”.
I do have a question that requires an answer. Does the state have the constitutional authority to order a business to close for an extended period of time? And to determine what is an essential business and what is not? And require these businesses to pay taxes while they are closed?
Again, I appreciate the pressure you are under. Imagine what it will be when the federal government is unable to bail everyone out.
Take Back Our Lives
With the daily news cycle currently filled with stories regarding COVID-19, I truly believe that it is essential to our region and our country to put politics aside and insist that our elected officials at the local, state and federal level deal with the coronavirus threat in a responsible manner. Initial concerns were warranted and sincere, but it quickly became obvious that political grandstanding was irresistible. Creating fear translated into higher cable TV ratings and meant even more opportunity for politicians at all levels to gain a platform and to then ramble on as if they were suddenly knowledgeable about the actual threat and what needed to be done.
Instantly, it became fashionable for governors and mayors to make declarations and create panic in our community. Network and cable news channels would provide cover by creating even more fear with sensationalism and by extrapolating the problems seen in New York City over the entire USA. While no facts supported the narrative, the “threat” of our hospitals being overrun and future supply shortages became the story, which again created panic.
According to every published report I’ve seen, the actual threat of illness and/or death is extremely low to citizens in our area, especially for healthy people without underlying health issues. But we never see or hear a report that puts the numbers in the prospective of a country with 330,000,000 citizens. It would be nice to hear 329,950,000 Americans will survive the virus.
As of Monday, April 14, Ocean City had zero reported COVID-19 cases. Worcester County had approximately 20 cases, but zero deaths. So, to again stoke fear and panic, some continue to warn that any out-of-state visitors will surely bring the virus and expose us to an outbreak, as if we have no control of our own actions while we’re out and about.
We should obviously evaluate the actual risks of the virus based on the facts, not the worse-case scenario or motivations of ambitious politicians. Other factors should also be considered when determining what actions will be taken. We need to consider what governmental actions are appropriate and most effective, and what actions are counterproductive to the overall public health.
I feel strongly that we need to be concerned about the assault on civil liberties when citizens are threatened by police or public officials to not congregate. We should be realistic about the actual damage to families and marriage that will occur when jobs are lost and understand that high unemployment will fuel more substance abuse and suicide. We should weigh the effects of social isolation, which will most likely lead to an increase in mental illness and more depression at a time we have a shortage of mental health professionals. We need to accept the fact that businesses are failing and will continue to fail. We now need to determine how we can reduce the number that will fail.
While there are definite risks associated with lifting restrictions and allowing people to move around freely to conduct business, and live to their lives, I believe there are greater long-term risks associated with not doing so. Economic risks as well as other risks.
We need to take back our lives. And We need to get back to work. I feel we all also need to work to educate, protect and help those identified as high risk and those most vulnerable to the coronavirus. And those at high risk will also need to use common sense, ask for help when needed, and work to protect themselves. We all know the routine since it has been the mantra for three months and it makes sense. Practice good personal hygiene, keep your distance, avoid touching your face and if you’re not well stay home and limit your exposure. Let’s all do our best to be responsible and use common sense.
Common Sense Policies Needed
I submit this view as one shared by many condo owners and local businesses whom operate seasonal rental business in Ocean City. It is time to cease canceling events and reopen Ocean City with “common sense” policies in place now that the Pandemic is starting to wane and the statistics suggest much lower mortality rates than hyped in the news with “reliable” news reports also starting to suggest that it may not be the virus itself, but individuals predisposed to secondary infections that are at most risk of serious illness caused by COVID-19.
The implication of all this is the vast majority of folks have a fairly benign reaction to the virus. Thus, let’s protect the at-risk and release the rest of us from “lock-down purgatory”.
Although, condo owners are “non-residents” by definition, many of us spend a significant amount of time in OC. Nonetheless, we are often viewed as “second class citizens” by many locals, including apparently, government officials. It is important that OC residents and government remember it is OC businesses and condo owners that are the lifeblood of this community, paying the majority of the fees and taxes that allow Ocean City to operate and be the successful vacation destination site it has been for so long and for so many.
Thus, canceling major events well in advance of planned dates may in retrospect appear to have been a knee jerk overreaction to early news reports that is likely to have caused more harm than good.
It is worth noting that, although certain business subsidy programs rolled out by the federal and state governments may prove helpful to businesses during the closing of the country, they generally do not help the condo business owner class in OC as we do not hire employees, but generally do all the hard work ourselves or through use of OC independent contractors. Thus, despite the loss of revenue to the condo owner due to overly aggressive government closures, ongoing costs such as taxes, mortgages, fees, etc. continue unabated. One might think the city would be looking for ways to help mitigate impacts to this important constituency through some sort of property tax abatement or tax deferral program, but I am going to suggest that idea has, as they would say a snowballs chance in h-e-double toothpicks. This is because the city will continue to need its revenue to survive, just like the condo owners, make sense? Now is the time to reopen the city.
Some will read this and think that it is insensitive to the tragic loss of life that is occurring as a result of COVID-19, and I can assure you that is not my intent, but we must also realize that loss of economic status, occurring at unprecedented levels across this country will result in mental illness, and other ailments, including spikes in suicide related to loss of employment that may well far exceed the damage caused by the virus.
The time is now. Let’s reopen OC using targeted policies that make sense and are based on fact, not hyperbole. Let’s save what remains of the summer season before it is too late for many. It is time for OC government to now do its job and fulfill its obligations to the many businesses and owners who are the heartbeat of this great city.