MACo Sends Notice to Conference Attendees After Hogan Aides Test Positive for COVID

Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) attends a reception hosted by Sen. J.B. Jennings (R-Baltimore and Harford counties) in Ocean City. Photo by Danielle E. Gaines.

Several people who attended the Maryland Association of Counties conference in Ocean City last week have since tested positive for COVID-19, the association said Tuesday night in a notice to the thousands of attendees.

Additionally, The Daily Record reported Tuesday night that at least four aides to Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) have tested positive for coronavirus, and that at least two of them attended the conference that drew more than 2,000 state and local elected officials, county employees, and state workers.

“Out of an abundance of caution, both the governor and lieutenant governor received COVID tests, which came back negative. All members of the governor’s staff are fully vaccinated,” spokeswoman Kata Hall told The Daily Record.

On Wednesday, Hall said only three administration officials to her knowledge had tested positive.

Masks were “strongly recommended” but not required at the convention itself, but policies were varied at after-hours fundraisers and receptions — some of which were held indoors and some of which took place outdoors. In May, Hogan allowed a statewide mask mandate to lapse, and he’s encouraged vaccination as the best way to stop the spread of COVID.

But public health officials have voiced grave concerns about the delta variant of COVID-19, which is leading to a spike in cases nationwide. On Tuesday, there were 847 newly reported COVID cases in Maryland.

Hogan, who often travels with a small group of aides and advisers, attended multiple events in Worcester County last week. On Thursday, he attended a Change Maryland fundraiser at the Clarion Resort Fontainebleau Hotel and an outdoor cocktail reception at Ropewalk Ocean City later that evening.

On Friday, he held a news conference announcing a broadband initiative at the Snow Hill Old Fire Hall and toured businesses and a vaccination clinic in the town, before walking the Ocean City boardwalk. He also toured the conference’s indoor exhibition hall and took photos at the outdoor tented crab feast on Friday evening.

It was unknown Tuesday how much interaction Hogan had with members of his staff who tested positive. Hogan’s staff did not immediately respond to emails from Maryland Matters late Tuesday night.

On Sunday, Hogan, a cancer survivor, announced that he had received a third COVID vaccine shot after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended boosters for some immunocompromised people.

Michael Sanderson, executive director of MACo, said late Tuesday evening that he did not have an exact figure of potential positive cases, but was aware of and was responding to media reports of the infections among the governor’s staff. MACo officials sent follow-up emails Wednesday to people who had not opened the original emails on Tuesday night.

Hall said that “all testing, notification, and quarantining protocols have been followed, in accordance with CDC guidance, and contact tracing is underway.”

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Editor’s note: This story was updated on Wednesday afternoon with the news that only three Hogan administration officials had tested positive for the coronavirus and the MACo sent follow-up emails to conference attendees on Wednesday. 

Danielle E. Gaines
Danielle Gaines covered government and politics for Maryland Matters for two years before moving into an editing position. Previously, she spent six years at The Frederick News-Post ― as the paper’s principal government and politics reporter for half that time, covering courts and legal affairs before that. She also reported for the now-defunct The Gazette of Politics and Business in Maryland and previously worked as a county government and education reporter at The Merced Sun-Star in California’s Central Valley.