The Howard County Health Department (HCHD) shared the following post on November 18th:

We’ve established several ways to report violations of the Governor’s or County Executive’s Orders regarding gatherings, distancing, and masks. Start by emailing askhealth@howardcountymd.gov or calling our Coronavirus Information Line: 410-313-6284.

• To report a violation of the Governor’s Executive Orders on face coverings or distancing, or the County Executive’s Orders on gatherings, PRESS 1

• To report an issue with a food service facility, such as a restaurant, bar, or grocery store, PRESS 2

• If you have been contacted by us, or if you need guidance on isolation or quarantine procedures, PRESS 5

• To request food or other resource assistance, PRESS 6

Together, we can #StayCOVIDSafe and crush the curve again here in HoCo.

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If you read the comments on that post…wow…just wow. Some people were not happy about this information being shared by a local government agency.

I guess I am of the opinion if you are following the rules set out by the Governor and County Executive you (personally or as a business) will be fine.

On the other hand I can see this being misused. Angry at a business that kicks you out for not following the rules, you now have a phone number and email address to retaliate. I hope the county is smart with what is reported because I bet this reporting system will be used in this way at times. I hope the county actually investigates these reports beyond just getting the call and running out to investigate…because I will bet they will find a number of false reports.

I am super interested in how these reports will be handled and will be reaching out to the HCHD in the near future to learn more about it. Maybe I can setup a Zoom interview to learn more from a representative of this county department.

What do you think? Let me know in the comments.

Scott E

4 COMMENTS

  1. You write in your post: “I guess I am of the opinion if you are following the rules set out by the Governor and County Executive you (personally or as a business) will be fine.”

    Your logic shakes me to my core. Unfortunately, it is a belief that we have seen all too often throughout history. Let me ask you this: under your logic, what is the point the Fourth Amendment’s protections against unreasonable searches by the government? If we have done nothing wrong, why would we be worried if we are searched without cause? What about the Sixth Amendment, which guarantees an accused in criminal prosecutions to be confronted with the witnesses against him or her? Is the justification for a tip line that it would not lead to criminal prosecution? What about the distrust of our fellow citizens, friends and neighbors this kind of encouragement weaves into society? Do you not see how this kind of government action further erodes our already intensely divided nation?

    Do not shy away from exploring history and the ways other governments and ruling elites have employed similar methods of motivating citizens to rat out fellow citizens for breaking arbitrary rules. Before you argue that in this present case the rules are in the interest of protecting the public health, let us not forget the justifications those governments and ruling elites have peddled in support of their encouragements.

    This kind of tip line may seem like a good idea now because you agree with the justification and you believe you have nothing to hide. But where will you stand when the government has a tip line for your activities, opinions or associations?

  2. Similar measures have been already imposed in province of Quebec, Canada and stiff penalties follow. I’ve seen similar measures, albeit directed on spying on your neighbors in the communist Romania. Not a good way to induce suspicions and personal revenge attempts into the population.

  3. Chilling – classic, historically based authoritarian move – but the populace is not taught history anymore. “If you control the past, you control the present.”

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