Baltimore Sun

The facts still point toward caution on reopening


I question some of the comparison­s that Herb McMillan makes in his recent commentary (“Gov. Hogan needs to reopen the state,” May 18). The comparison­s are not necessaril­y fair and, if taken naively, they make his argument for hastening Maryland’s reopening appear stronger than it really is.

Mr. McMillan’s comparison of Swedish and U.S. outcomes under two different policies is superficia­l. Sweden’s COVID-19 mortality reflects not only its more-elderly population but also a healthier population generally; Sweden is 16th in the world in life expectancy compared to 43rd place for the U.S. If the Swedish population’s health status were to reflect the same burden of chronic conditions that we have in Maryland and the U.S. generally, Swedish mortality might be even higher than 36 per 100,000 people. Furthermor­e, the nature of Sweden’s laissezfai­re policy may be overstated. The Swedish health authoritie­s issued recommenda­tions for social distancing, working at home, self-isolation for vulnerable groups, online instructio­n and so forth and compliance was reportedly high.

Nor is New York versus Maryland necessaril­y a fair comparison. For one thing, the COVID-19 epidemics in the U.S. are not occurring all at the same time. Maryland’s epidemic appeared to lag behind New York’s, and Maryland’s mitigation policy apparently came earlier in its epidemic, in time to affect the infection and mortality outcomes favorably compared to New York. Additional­ly, population density and other relevant attributes of the two states differ.

A judicious schedule for reopening Maryland stands to give businesses and other sectors time to set up strong protective measures and keep more of us alive.

Ann Meadow Williamson, Highland

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