Gov. Hogan Says He's Taken Unprecedented Action To Try To Flatten COVID-19 Curve

Mar 31, 2020
Originally published on March 31, 2020 10:27 am
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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

This morning, the state of Maryland awakens to what's become the new normal for areas of the country hardest hit by the coronavirus. A stay-at-home directive issued by Republican Governor Larry Hogan took effect last night.

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LARRY HOGAN: No Maryland resident should be leaving their home unless it is for an essential job or for an essential reason, such as obtaining food or medicine, seeking urgent medical attention or for other necessary purposes.

MARTIN: Governor Hogan joins me now on the line. Thanks so much for making time this morning.

HOGAN: Sure. Good morning, Rachel.

MARTIN: What factors did you take into consideration to make this decision, and why now?

HOGAN: We've been taking unprecedented action nearly every single day for 25 straight days, I believe. We've issued 26 executive orders. We closed a number of our state businesses. We've been taking these actions to try to - you hear a lot about this, you know, bending the curve or flattening the curve. We've been trying to do that, but we've finally reached the point where, in spite of all of those efforts, here in the Washington, nation's capital region of Maryland, D.C. and Virginia, we just have seen a recent spike, uptick in numbers, with numbers more than quadrupling just in a very short period of time, looking much like New York did two weeks ago.

And all of our top epidemiologists and experts are telling us that we had to take further action. And so I made this decision yesterday, and it was quickly followed by the governor of Virginia and the mayor of D.C. So the entire nation's capital region is now in the same situation.

MARTIN: So if you're looking at New York and you're thinking that that might be the case for your state, how do you prevent that, or how do you prepare? I mean, do you have enough hospital beds? Do you have enough ventilators, personal protective equipment?

HOGAN: There's nobody in America that's prepared, and we're - we've been working very hard on that for more than three weeks. We have a hospital surge plan, which we're in the process of implementation, have been for some time now. We're trying to ramp up 70% increase in our hospital bed capacity. We've now opened, with the help of FEMA and our Maryland National Guard, a hospital - field hospital in the Baltimore Convention Center. We're opening closed hospitals. Several of them are underway as we speak. We've added already 2,400 additional hospital beds across the state, but we're working for - to add a total of 6,000.

And on - with respect to the personal protective equipment and masks and the ventilators and all of those things that you're hearing about, every single state in America has a shortage. I'm the chair of the National Governors Association, and we've been pushing these things at the federal level, but there's simply not enough of them.

MARTIN: I want to ask about the relationship between the federal government right now and state leaders like yourself. President Trump was pretty direct in his criticism of state governors in the past week, most notably Washington state's Jay Inslee, Michigan's Gretchen Whitmer, states that have been at the epicenter of this crisis. And he was asked by a reporter what he wants from governors, and here's what the president said.

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PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: All I want them to do - very simple - I want them to be appreciative. I don't want them to say things that aren't true. I want them to be appreciative. We've done a great job.

MARTIN: As you noted, you're not just a governor; you're the chair of the National Governors Association. Are state leaders able to communicate with this president in a way that's productive right now?

HOGAN: Well, so here's the good news - the good news is that we have now had six conversations with all of the nation's governors, with the president and vice president and his top team. We just had another one yesterday. We have conference calls with all of them. And we're pretty frank and direct in these discussions, and we tell the president exactly what we need and what the issues and problems are, and they lay out some of the things that they're doing. We have made progress.

I mean, there are maybe 8 out of 10 things that we've pushed the federal government to do that they have taken action on and done, and there are improvements. But we're continuing to push for more. We do appreciate some of the actions that have been taken. But we're still not satisfied with some of the others. You know, Governor Whitmer and I...

MARTIN: What do you need? I mean...

HOGAN: Governor Whitmer and I did an op-ed in The Washington Post today, together, talking about what governors need. And one of the things we need is what we - you just talked about, which is more production and distribution and coordination of these materials and supplies, the PPE's, testing and ventilators.

MARTIN: Well, let me ask you about that. We only have seconds left.

HOGAN: Yeah.

MARTIN: But President Trump has suggested that the testing problems are over. They've been fixed. It's no longer an issue.

HOGAN: Yeah, that's just not true. I mean, I know that they've taken some steps to create new tests, but they're not actually produced and distributed out to the states. So it's a aspirational thing, and they have taken - they've got some new things in the works, but they're not actually out on the streets, and that's - no state has enough testing.

MARTIN: Then how much concern does it give you that the president right now clearly doesn't have accurate information?

HOGAN: Well, it's - we think it's important to get the facts out there, and I think there are people in the administration who are talking about the facts every day. And we're listening to the smart team, the coronavirus team, the vice president and Ambassador Birx and Anthony Fauci and people like that who are giving factual information on a daily basis.

MARTIN: Republican Governor of the state of Maryland Larry Hogan, thank you so much for your time, sir.

HOGAN: Yeah. Thank you, Rachel. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.