Three Republican governors deserve high praise for their conscientious handling of the coronavirus pandemic and its often lethal disease, COVID-19. They are governors Asa Hutchison of Arkansas, Larry Hogan of Maryland and West Virginia’s own Jim Justice.
In word and by example each has engineered shutdowns of their state’s restaurants and bars (since lifted), has touted the wearing of masks in public places and the keeping of social distances. They have also placed limits on numbers allowed in social gatherings and at sporting events.
Of the three, Hogan has been the most outspoken in criticizing President Donald Trump and his administration for insufficiently providing federal help to the states in the struggle to bring the virus under control. Otherwise, all three governors continue to support Trump for re-election despite offering a sharp contrast to Trump’s penchant for downplaying the pandemic.
Hogan gained so much national attention for his handling of the virus in Maryland that a national nonprofit has cast and is selling a bobblehead of him along with one of Dr. Anthony Fauci. Funds from the bobbleheads campaign raise money for masks and PPE (personal protective equipment for medical staff) in all 50 states.
Hutchison, in a recent interview with Jake Tapper on CNN, indicated he could not encourage political rallies that flouted his mask-wearing and distancing guidelines.
Notably, none of these states, since the pandemic broke into the open in March, has been the venue for a Trump campaign event, the kind that Tapper in his interview with Hutchison called “reckless rallies.” Trump rallies pack thousands of people together, with the majority maskless.
Justice has for several years cozied up to Trump and his family and even has Trump’s image on posters throughout the state alongside his own image, seeking re-election for both. Yet when Trump kept calling upon governors to “open up your schools,” Justice shot back, “No one is going to tell me when to reopen West Virginia schools — not even the president of the United States.”
Quite courageously Justice shut down West Virginia’s bars and restaurants before his state had recorded even a single death from the virus. And he has recently declared that if the virus got truly out of hand here, he would shut them down again. He has been criticized for his color-coded map for school districts and whether they may be allowed to hold in-person instruction (instead of virtual).
Of the three states, West Virginia has been doing the best in keeping down deaths from the virus. As of mid-day Sunday, the figures were: Maryland, 4,036 deaths in a population of 6 million; Arkansas, 1,684 deaths in a population of 3 million; and West Virginia, 399 deaths in a population of just under 2 million.
Ironically, it was for strictures on public behavior just like those mandated by Hutchison, Hogan and Justice that a white militant militia group in Michigan mounted a plot to kidnap that state’s governor, Gretchen Whitmer, try her for “treason” and potentially even execute her.
Hutchison, as vice chairman of the national governors’ association, along with the group’s chairman, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, issued a stinging condemnation of the plot and the group. Thirteen Michigan militiamen are charged with felonies for taking part in the plot.