Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Growing discontent over Montgomery County's data-free coronavirus reopening strategy

Montgomery County's "roadmap" for reopening
doesn't define any targets to be met
There has been growing concern over the last few days about Montgomery County's blueprint for reopening, after most of the state entered a phase one reopening last Friday, while the Montgomery County Council passed an indefinite extension of Stay-at-Home orders. Prominent business leaders like David Blair, business owners, and even some municipal elected officials have asked what Montgomery officials' precise plan and data measurements are. The issue is separate from the question of whether or not a continued lockdown is wise; the point of controversy for many is that there is currently no roadmap or metric for reopening the economy.

With a new wave of mass layoffs hitting the county, discontent with the rudderless direction is rising in many quarters. After receiving some blowback, Montgomery County Councilman Evan Glass posted a Powerpoint-style graphic (shown above) on Facebook and Twitter. "Here's the roadmap," Glass declared authoritatively. But the "roadmap" only gave a vague wishlist of trends, not the specific targets that would be met, nor the specific length of time those targets would have to be met to reopen. Five different "sustained decrease" trends are listed, but unlike federal and state plans, the time-span of "sustained" is only defined for one ("new cases in an environment of increased testing" - and what qualifies as "an enviroment of increased testing" is undefined).

Glass promised a dashboard of County-level coronavirus statistics heretofore withheld from the public would be online later this week. But that is a totally separate issue. Raw data doesn't tell us what the plan is, and what the data needs to show us in what timeframe, to reopen.

Again, that's not to say it is wise or unwise to reopen now. But it would be wise to have an actual plan with targets that can be met or not met. After all, we may be facing a devastating second wave of hospitalizations in about three weeks, if Gov. Larry Hogan was premature in loosening Stay-at-Home orders last Friday. Maryland did not meet all of the federal criteria for reopening, so there is a risk.

The future is uncertain. But we need leadership to tell us how we are going to tackle the problem, which is the only certainty we can have at this point.

No comments:

Post a Comment