Governor Larry Hogan writes,
It’s time to acknowledge some basic truths about the crisis we are in.
Reopening does not mean a return to normal.
America must get back to work, but as we do, our work — and much of our lives — will not look or feel the same.
It is time to level with the country about these new realities. What does this mean?
First, work will necessarily change for the time being. Anybody who can telework should continue teleworking well into the future. For those of us who travel to our jobs, employers are going to have to innovate within the workplace to keep their workers and customers safe. Masks will still be a part of daily life. Work that can be shifted outside should be.
Second, we may be living like this for a while. According to our nation’s top public health experts, such as Anthony S. Fauci and Scott Gottlieb, the threat of the virus will be with us until there is a vaccine in widespread distribution. That could take months, if not longer. Even if the virus abates in the summer, it’s likely to come back in the fall and winter. Although current safety measures are buying time to build capacity in our health-care system, increase the supply of personal protective equipment, and begin to develop robust testing and contact tracing operations, these building blocks are just the start of recovery.
Third, we don’t need to choose between restarting the economy and protecting public health. These are part and parcel of the same goal. If we don’t get the virus under control, Americans will voluntarily disengage from the economy and we’ll destroy the recovery before it even gets off the ground.
At the same time, a permanent lockdown is not sustainable. Reopening must be safe, gradual and evidence-based, but it must happen as soon as possible. Millions of Americans are hurting and out of work. We’re separated from our friends and loved ones. Americans won’t and shouldn’t accept this as a new way of life.
We’re going to have to continue to take extraordinary precautions and apply enormous resources to protect vulnerable populations, including restricting visitations and conducting regular screening and testing in nursing homes. When large gatherings resume, they must be well thought out and responsible. Even when social distancing is no longer mandatory, that doesn’t mean it will no longer be wise.
This can’t be just a top-down effort. Government can’t dictate how every business operates or how every American lives. But leaders must work together to explain the facts.
It will also require putting aside the toxic politics that have infected our government for too long. We can’t ask the American people to adapt while politicians return to business as usual.
I applaud Congress and the Trump administration for working together to deliver swift relief for the American people. But the latest debate about next steps already appears to be devolving into another political football with both sides demanding concessions for their favored agendas.
There’s widespread bipartisan agreement that state and local aid is essential for the nation’s recovery. And there’s been widespread bipartisan agreement for years on the idea that we need to fix our nation’s crumbling infrastructure. A national infrastructure plan can help put America back to work, and smart investments in areas such as high-speed Internet access can help Americans adapt to this new reality. Let’s stop arguing and just get it done for the American people.
The reality is that — despite what we hear from the loudest voices — Americans are more united than we’ve been in decades. This crisis has revealed our nation’s true character. We trust facts and science. We show remarkable courage in the face of grave threats. We make extraordinary sacrifices for one another.
The American people can overcome any challenge. They just need the truth.