I could hear the frustration in Gov. Larry Hogan’s voice during press conference Monday.
“Let me repeat this once again as strongly as I possibly can: If you are engaged in this type of activity you are breaking the law and you are literally endangering the lives of your family, your friends and your fellow citizens,” he said.
People still were not taking this seriously.
The new coronavirus, or COVID-19, has spread rapidly throughout the world. And while it has quite literally hit home for Marylanders, with over 420 positive cases in the state and at least four associated deaths, it has not stopped people from breaking the rules the governor has put in place. And because of that, Hogan (R) has closed all nonessential businesses.
So now, my favorite book store is closed. But more importantly, workers of those nonessential businesses are out of a job. Thankfully, Hogan is putting programs in place to help workers through this crisis.
During Monday’s press conference, he announced a $175 million economic relief pack for Maryland’s small business and workers. He also launched a COVID-19 Layoff Aversion Fund that will provide $7 million to support business and workers undergoing economic stress due to the virus.
I hope this initiative will help the families in need. But I have to wonder, would it have come to this if we had listened the first time?
Hogan first declared a state of emergency March 5 when only three Marylanders had tested positive for the virus. On March 12, he announced that all Maryland public schools were to close for two weeks, March 16 to March 27. (On Wednesday, that was extended to April 24.) Social gathering limits went from 250 to 50 to no more than 10 by Monday.
When the maximum gathering limit was at 50, my dad was trying to regulate the funeral of Margaret Joyce High, a member of my church, Zion Baptist Church in Welcome, and a teacher at Chopticon High School for 30 years.
Chairs were spread out so visitors could be 6 feet apart and my dad tried to maintain that only 50 people be in the room at a time. He would politely tell people not to linger after participating in the viewing so the church was not in violation of state law. Some would listen and leave. Others would say they understood, but took a seat in the back anyway. The best my dad could do was maintain about 60 people at a time in the building.
I, too, have been guilty of taking the pandemic lightly. A week after the state of emergency, I ate at a restaurant to celebrate my boyfriend’s birthday. Two days later, in what seemed like a direct consequence to my inability to turn down the hibachi experience, Hogan closed all restaurant’s dining areas.
I learned my lesson and knew following the rules was essential. I assumed everyone else thought the same. But videos on social media proved me wrong. Beaches were crowded, house parties were flooded and some tweeters were using comparisons to the flu as justifications for not staying at home. Even Steve Walker, director of emergency services, said St. Mary’s sheriff deputies had to intervene at a cookout in the St. Mary’s County.
I know being confined to your house 24/7 is not easy for some. My mom has had a couple of struggles with her extroverted side as she tries to telework from her bedroom. But I think we can all agree it’s well worth it when lives are at stake.