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Conservative Cox continues sniping at Hogan’s virus policies, orders

Maryland Del. Daniel Cox, R-Frederick and Carroll counties, applauds during the first day of the state's 2021 legislative session, Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021, in Annapolis, Md. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Maryland Del. Daniel Cox, R-Frederick and Carroll counties, applauds during the first day of the state’s 2021 legislative session, Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021, in Annapolis. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

A Republican state delegate is once again leveling criticism at Gov. Larry Hogan after the governor, in a move that was expected, renewed portions of the state’s pandemic-related state of emergency.

The renewal by Hogan comes as the state is winding down large portions of an effort to battle the COVID-19 pandemic over the last 16 months. Del. Dan Cox, a conservative Republican and candidate for governor who has been critical of Hogan’s handling of the pandemic, slammed the governor on social media for renewing the order; a spokesman for the governor fired back, linking Cox to a conspiracy group.

“Sadly, on Monday, July 12th this administration once again renewed the State of Emergency,” Cox said in a response to a reporter’s request for an interview.

Cox, a first-term delegate from Frederick and Carroll counties who is running for governor in 2022, vowed to “end the State of Emergency” if elected and “immediately order all state agencies to cease all health coercion or mandates including pressure to display or disclose vaccine status information, which is private, protected health information.  In Maryland, we are a middle temperament state which respects the health privacy of all and I intend to restore that freedom if honored to serve as your governor.”

In a text exchange with a reporter, Cox gave recently approved vaccination requirements for students of the University System of Maryland as an example of compulsory vaccination efforts.

“The contact tracing of citizens including vaccine status tracking, deployment and administration of COVID-19 vaccines — authorized in this renewal — is invasive of health privacy with the state and local authorities door to door operation and inquiries regarding vaccine status,” said Cox, who has in the past declined to answer questions about whether or not he was vaccinated along with other lawmakers during the 2021 session. “This is protected health information, and the emergency proclamation facilitates this continued invasion of privacy.”

Three vaccines — the two-dose Moderna and Pfizer and single shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine — are all approved for use in the United States under an emergency use authorization. All three have applied for full FDA approval. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said Tuesday that he expects all three will receive full FDA approval.

More than 184 million Americans — about 55% of the population — have received at least one dose of a vaccine and 48% of the population nationally are fully vaccinated against coronavirus. Among those 18 and older, 67.8% have received at least one shot and 59.1% are fully vaccinated, according to federal data.

Unvaccinated people now make up the bulk of cases, hospitalizations and deaths.

In Maryland, all COVID-19 related deaths recorded in June involved people who had not been vaccinated, according to state officials.

Over the last year Cox represented some businesses and religious groups in an unsuccessful federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Hogan’s state of emergency authority and some of his orders limiting the sizes of gatherings. He also sponsored legislation that sought to limit the authority of the governor to impose executive orders.

The freshman delegate also came under scrutiny for his part in organizing a bus trip to Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6 as well as posts on a now-deleted Twitter account that used messages associated with the conspiracy group QAnon.

On Facebook Tuesday, Cox wrote, “God, deliver us from evil” along with a link to Hogan’s executive order.

Online, news of the renewal of the state of emergency drew sharp criticisms from conservatives who have been critical of Hogan’s orders since the first one was issued on March 5.

Some of the comments appear to stem from statements the governor made on June 15, in which he announced the end of the state of emergency.

During that news conference, Hogan issued an executive order ending mask mandates and all other restrictions on individual and businesses effective July 1 as part of a two-phase effort in which the state is “transitioning from a state of emergency to an ongoing operation.”

That transition, he said would involve “winding this down over the next several months” in which a number of orders related to some regulatory changes and a grace period for renewing licenses and permits would remain in effect until Aug. 15 — 45 days after the initial end of the mandates.

By law, Hogan’s state of emergency orders cannot last longer than 30 days but may be renewed at his discretion without a vote of the General Assembly to end it. Since the first cases were reported in Maryland, Hogan has renewed his order nearly 20 times.

Michael Ricci, a Hogan spokesman, said the orders issued Monday are part of that wind down and support the grace periods outlined in Hogan’s June 15 press conference and a document posted on the governor’s website that outlines how orders over the last 16 months will be phased out.

“It is a shell to support the administrative grace period orders, yes. I believe the proclamation refers back to that roadmap order,” Ricci said,

At least one more extension of the executive order will be needed in order to get the state to the governor’s Aug. 15 deadline, at which point — assuming no catastrophic events – the state of emergency is expected to end.

Ricci, when asked about Cox’s other statements, declined to respond.

“As a rule, I do not respond to QAnon sympathizers, especially ones who spread misinformation,” said Ricci.

Similarly, lawmakers including some in Cox’s own party were dismissive when asked about the delegate’s statements.

“He’s running for governor on a ticket of his own ideas,” said Del. Jason Buckel, R-Allegany and leader of the Republicans in the House.

Buckel said he unconcerned with Hogan’s renewal, calling it expected.

“I think the thing that matters to regular folks and to businesses is what are our operating restrictions?” he said. “If we’re operating at full capacity. If we’re operating without governmental mask mandates — businesses can pick and choose to impose what they think is right for them or the market will bear. I think for individuals and businesses, now that they have that clarity, they’re not too worried about all the legal particulars.”

 


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