‘Goes Against All The Science’: Elrich Criticizes Hogan’s Response to Rising COVID-19 Metrics 

Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich criticized Gov. Larry Hogan Thursday after Hogan said the state’s recent rise in COVID-19 metrics is not related to statewide reopenings.

“We don’t think it had anything to do with reopenings,” Hogan told reporters during a press conference Thursday. Rather, it’s due to rapidly-spreading variant strains, he said.

“Our indications are that these variants are much more contagious, that’s why it’s spreading across the country. We are better than most of the country, we’re better than the region. We’re concerned about the variants, but it doesn’t have anything to do with the openings.” Hogan said the state meets with its team of experts and epidemiologists almost every day.

Following the presser, Elrich said Hogan’s perspective “goes against all the science” officials are following.

“For [Gov. Larry Hogan] to say that Maryland’s increase in cases has nothing to do with the lifting restrictions goes against all the science we have been following. We can’t play games with people’s lives. Restrictions work. Look at the map, [Montgomery County] proves it so,” Elrich wrote on Twitter.

During a media briefing Wednesday, Elrich said he wants Hogan to reconsider some recent reopenings following worsening metrics.

“The question I have for the governor is at what point do you look at the data and make a different decision?” Elrich said. County Health Officer Dr. Travis Gayles compared March 8 metrics, before statewide reopenings went into effect March 12, to increased numbers as of Wednesday, including increased test positivity and case rate per 100k residents. Gayles said variants are suspected to be causing rising cases.

“We suspect that this is what is driving the significant increase in the number of cases in the Baltimore-Metropolitan area and thereby ultimately across the state,” he said. Gayles agreed with Elrich that the state should consider walking back some reopenings.

“I think that there does need to be consideration from the state level to consider walking back some of those provisions,” he said. Gayles noted that although the county can implement restrictions on its own, people move across borders and a regional approach is necessary for the strategy to work.

The state has identified 677 cases of coronavirus variants in Maryland, Hogan shared Thursday; 86% were the UK variant. At least six other strains were detected, he said.

“We are quite literally in a race between these variants and the vaccines. Across America, these variants are driving an increase in new infections and hospitalizations, particularly among younger people,” Hogan said.

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