Larry Hogan: We have a far smaller share hospitalized than Florida does because we have a greater share vaccinated than they do

Is this true?

It’s true that Maryland has far fewer cases and hospitalizations than Florida does now, even adjusting for population differences. But is it true that that’s because of Maryland’s higher vaccination rate?

Either way, it’s interesting to see him throw an elbow at DeSantis by going out of his way to compare his state’s current pandemic posture to Florida’s. For reasons that escape me, he’s spent the last few years flirting with running for president, knowing that he’ll be demolished in a Republican primary. Hard not to see this as a jab at the GOP’s non-Trump frontrunner.

Or maybe he’s thinking of running as an independent?

He pitched his state’s vaccination success last night on CNN too, misstating the percentage in the process:

I don’t know where he’s getting the stat that 78 percent of the entire population of Maryland has been vaccinated. According to the CDC, 65 percent of Marylanders have had at least one dose and 59 percent are fully vaxxed. What Hogan meant to say, I assume, was that 78 percent of the adult population has been immunized. Either way, they have in fact done a better job than Florida, as DeSantis’s state has 59 percent partially vaccinated and 49 percent fully immunized. But if DeSantis wanted to indulge in a little “real talk,” he could explain the gap pretty simply: Maryland is more Democratic than Florida is and Democrats are more likely to get vaccinated than Republicans are. DeSantis has encouraged vaccination, as has Donald Trump, but at the end of the day some righty populists just aren’t going to budge.

In fact, Republican vaccine holdouts are among the groups least likely to say that they’re still making up their minds. They’re settled. If Hogan thinks he can do better than DeSantis in persuading them, let him head down to the panhandle and try his luck.

Here’s how the two states compare right now on cases and hospitalizations:

Florida has a bit more than three times the population of Maryland, so if you want a per capita comparison imagine around 1,700 new cases and 1,300 hospitalizations in Hogan’s state. Florida has about 10 times as many cases and eight times as many hospitalizations. How come? Partly it’s Maryland’s higher vaccination rates but there may be a seasonality effect too, where the brutal August heat in Florida is sending more people indoors where the virus spreads. Florida also has a vastly more robust tourism industry than Maryland so there are more public spaces and more crowds to fill them. DeSantis’s critics would probably blame his decision not to order new precautions like mask mandates for his state’s wave, but Hogan has also held off on new mandates for the sensible reason that vaccination, not masking, is the only way to substantially limit transmission.

All of that said, Maryland has objectively done better with the pandemic than Florida has. Florida is 26th among U.S. states in deaths per capita while Maryland is 33rd; in cases per capita it’s no contest, with Florida ranking ninth and Maryland 44th. But most of those numbers were driven by pre-vaccination behavior, not vaccination rates lately. And again, Hogan had a built-in advantage over DeSantis. He governs a Democratic state and Democrats are more likely to take precautions, both voluntarily and by condoning state-ordered lockdowns. Florida is more Republican and more free-wheeling. As DeSantis said the other day to Joe Biden, he’s happy to stand in the way of new federally-suggested restrictions in the name of keeping Florida’s schools and businesses open.

There’s one more variable: Natural immunity. We know that a greater share of Marylanders are vaccinated than Floridians but we don’t know that a greater share are immune. It’s possible that the two states are comparable in terms of overall immunity and that Florida will benefit relative to Maryland from warmer weather this winter, when Delta is expected to surge again. COVID is a long “race” with lots of twists and turns. If I were Hogan, I wouldn’t take a victory lap yet.

Here’s Joe Biden singling out Hogan for praise for encouraging vaccination.