Apr 17, 2020

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan Coronavirus Briefing Transcript April 17

Larry Hogan April 17 Briefing
RevBlogTranscriptsCOVID-19 Briefing & Press Conference TranscriptsMaryland Gov. Larry Hogan Coronavirus Briefing Transcript April 17

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan held an April 17 coronavirus press conference. He said Maryland schools will remain closed through May 15. Read the full transcript here.

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Governor Larry Hogan: (00:01)
After our deadliest week to date, 818 people in the region, including 425 Marylanders, have now lost their lives to the virus. And our prayers and our heartfelt thoughts are with their families and loved ones. We do have a bit of good news in that the number of Marylanders who have recovered from the virus has risen by 22% this week. Just before this press conference, I had another productive teleconference with Governor Ralph Northam of Virginia and Washington DC Mayor Muriel Bowser, to discuss our response to this escalating crisis and a collaborative strategy for the recovery of our region.

Governor Larry Hogan: (01:01)
Yesterday, I led the governor’s teleconference with President Trump, Vice President Pence, and members of the Coronavirus Task Force. I thanked the president for the progress that we have seen on the federal and state coordination issues in recent weeks, with regard to some of the top needs of the states, including ventilators, testing capabilities, and the availability of PPE and supplies. I thanked the president and Secretary Mnuchin for expediting funding through the CARES Act. And I also want to thank the president for committing to work with us to secure additional critical relief and funding for the states.

Governor Larry Hogan: (01:53)
With the virus continuing to devastate our economies, the National Governors Association has requested federal stimulus to help address revenue shortfalls. Without this relief, states will be confronted with the prospect of making cuts to much needed services. And it will also make it much harder for us to have an economic recovery, which is a top priority for the president and for all of America’s governors. Now is not the time for partisan politics. And we asked for the president’s leadership to weigh in and to break the log jam in the US Senate so that we can get this done for the American people. The president discussed his proposed recommendations for states to consider, regarding the reopening of their states.

Governor Larry Hogan: (02:52)
The administration has laid out a gradual phased approach that recognizes that different states are in different parts of the curve, and in different situations, and that governors will have to make the decisions regarding the timing and manner of safely reopening their individual states. Our team is reviewing these guidelines and recommendations that came out just yesterday. As I announced a few days ago, our case numbers are still growing each day, and the number of deaths is continuing to increase. But because of our early and aggressive actions, and the extraordinary sacrifices of Marylanders, we are beginning to see some hopeful and encouraging signs which have allowed us to begin laying the groundwork to reopen, to rebuild, and to recover as soon as it is safe to do so.

Governor Larry Hogan: (03:59)
The recovery plan that we have been developing over many weeks has four building blocks that must be solidly in place before the lifting of restrictions. First, as I mentioned, the expanding of our testing capacity, second, increasing hospital surge capability, third, increasing our supply of PPE, and fourth, a robust contact tracing operation. Our incredible team has been making significant progress on every one of these criteria. And early next week, we will be providing an update on much of that progress. And then later in the week, we will be introducing our Maryland Strong Roadmap to Recovery in greater detail.

Governor Larry Hogan: (04:52)
I want to remind Marylanders that beginning tomorrow morning, when inside retail establishments, including grocery stores, pharmacies, and convenience stores, or when riding any form of public transportation, the wearing of masks or face coverings will be necessary. Now, some people have said that covering their faces infringes on their rights, but this isn’t just about your rights or protecting yourself, it’s about protecting your neighbors. And the best science that we have shows that people might not know that they’re carriers of the virus and, through no fault of their own, they could infect other people. And spreading this disease infringes on your neighbor’s rights.

Governor Larry Hogan: (05:46)
Two weeks ago, we launched a $175 million comprehensive business relief program to help hard-pressed Marylanders and small businesses get through this difficult period. This included the COVID-19 Layoff Aversion Fund to provide an additional $9.3 million to assist small businesses and the retainment of their employees. And I’m pleased to report that $8 million of that has already been provided to small businesses all across the state, which has helped more than 9,000 Marylanders, who work in those small businesses, to keep their jobs.

Governor Larry Hogan: (06:27)
We established a $50 million Maryland Small Business COVID-19 Relief Grant Fund to provide direct immediate grants to businesses and nonprofits that have lost revenue because of the Coronavirus, along with a $75 million Maryland Small Business COVID-19 Relief Loan Fund to provide working capital to businesses and nonprofits, with fewer than 50 employees, that have lost revenue due to the pandemic. And our commerce department has received more than 9,100 applications for this loan fund and more than 20,200 applications for the grant fund. We’ve also created a $5 million fund to incentivize Maryland businesses to manufacture personal protective equipment, or PPE, and other supplies to meet the current needs of the healthcare industry. And today, I’m pleased to announce the awarding of grants to three Maryland small businesses, DVF Corporation, a Washington County based tech firm, which specializes in metals and plastics fabrication, DVF was recently awarded a contract from a Landover company, AirBoss Defense, to help manufacture 156,000 plastic parts for respirators, and Awesome Ninja Labs, which is kind of a cool name, a Baltimore City company.

Governor Larry Hogan: (08:03)
… The Labs, which is kind of a cool name, a Baltimore city company, is we’ll get a grant that will enable them to purchase equipment and raw materials to expand their capacity to manufacture face shields, and a grant to NRL and Associates, a Queen Anne’s County manufacturer, to ramp up production on their ventilator line. We will also be awarding grants to dozens of additional Maryland companies in the days to come through the federal Paycheck Protection Program or PPP. The Maryland Department of Commerce has approved $3.8 billion in loans to assist nearly 12,000 Maryland businesses. The Maryland Department of Labor is launching a new one-stop shop, comprehensive online application for independent contractors, self-employed Marylanders, and all other types of claims, including federal employees, multi-state wage claims, and members of the military. This will ensure that every Maryland applicant, whether they’re a W2 employee or not, will have the option of being able to file online, which will dramatically decrease the call wait times, and it will also help more Marylanders get their checks faster and more efficiently.

Governor Larry Hogan: (09:25)
Food banks across our state have stepped up in a truly inspiring way, and in order to boost their efforts. The state of Maryland is investing an additional $4 million to the Maryland Food Bank and the Capitol Area Food Bank, and we have worked with local jurisdictions to match that investment, bringing that total to $8 million for these food banks. The Maryland Department of Human Services is also working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to dramatically accelerate the implementation of our online Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP Pilot Initiative, which will give Maryland families in need the opportunity to be able to purchase meals online and to have them deliver to their homes at no cost. I’d like to thank ShopRite and Amazon for committing to waive delivery fees to help us make this initiative successful. This week is recognized across America as the Week of the Young Child, and I have four young grandkids myself, and not a day goes by that I don’t think about them and about all of the young children here in Maryland. Not only have their lives been disrupted, but it’s an especially confusing and frightening time for them right now, and I know it’s difficult for parents to explain to them everything that’s happening. Dr. Karen Salmon, the state superintendent of schools, will be making some announcements regarding Maryland public schools and daycares in just a moment, but before she does, I just want to take a minute to thank all of our childcare providers, our teachers and staff for all of their hard work in keeping our children and our students safe and healthy and learning during this very difficult and unprecedented time. So many of our childcare providers are providing really exemplary services while working hard to institute physical distancing measures.

Governor Larry Hogan: (11:54)
At Johns Hopkins Childcare and early learning center, which is run by Bright Horizon, the teachers were fabric face coverings all day long, and they’re ensuring that children and the staff are washing their hands multiple times throughout the day. The YMCA of Central Maryland pivoted their operations almost overnight to transform their centers into personnel childcare centers for essential personnel, and Rashmi Tandon, who’s a family care provider in Columbia, has prioritized helping children with their social/emotional needs during the crisis, and she’s even been making meals for the families of her students. There are so many people that are doing amazing things to help others in this time of uncertainty. This has really been the toughest time that many of us have ever been through, but it is perhaps most difficult for our young children, who are trying to understand what’s happening in our state and in our country and in our world. I just want all of our young Marylanders and their parents and their grandparents to know that we are all in this together and that we will get through this together. With that, I’m going to turn it over to Dr. Karen Salmon.

Dr. Karen Salmon: (13:29)
Thank you, Governor, and thank you for your extraordinary leadership during this time. After extensive consultation with the State Board of Education and leading public health experts in the state, I am extending the closure of schools through May 15th. With regards to the remainder of the school year and the summer, we will use this time to examine every option and continue to develop a longterm plan for recovery. In a very short time frame, school systems have continued to increase their digital presence and capabilities to provide learning opportunities to all students. All school systems must submit these continuity of learning plans to the Maryland State Department of Education for review.

Dr. Karen Salmon: (14:11)
These plans include an overall description of how systems will deliver continuity of learning to all their students, a description of the roles and responsibilities of district staff, school administrators, teachers, instructional assistants, students and parents, a sample teacher and sample student day, a plan of accountability of how systems will monitor and assess student performance, and a description of how school system plans to address equity for special education students, English learners, students with academic needs and homeless students. There’s also a section that identifies the professional development plan for staff, and finally a description of the resources currently available for students.

Dr. Karen Salmon: (14:57)
We are helping school systems obtain these resources such as additional devices, platforms for learning and expanded broadband capabilities that they need to carry out their plans in equitable and meaningful ways. We are hopeful that the additional $207 million in funding from the federal CARES Act, 90% of which will go directly to local school systems, will help address gaps in the availability of these resources. After speaking with locals superintendents this week, school systems have also started to develop plans for additional digital learning and the recovery of any lost instructional time in the form of planning expanded summer school programs. State and local school officials are preparing for a number of scenarios depending on when our educators and students would be able to reenter school buildings. I understand the impact of the uncertainty of the situation, and it’s created much anxiety across our school communities, especially for groups like our high school seniors. We want …

Dr. Karen Salmon: (16:03)
…especially for groups like our high school seniors. We want seniors and their families to have an opportunity to recognize their wonderful accomplishments from their time in high school and receive their diplomas. I will let you know that local superintendents have been working on a number of creative alternatives to ensure our high school seniors receive the recognition they deserve.

Dr. Karen Salmon: (16:22)
I would also like to take a moment to give recognition to all of our local school superintendents for their unwavering tenacity and outstanding leadership during this unprecedented time. Additionally, I want to thank the teachers for their hard work and flexibility as they provide instruction to cover our almost 900,000 students across the state.

Dr. Karen Salmon: (16:44)
I also want to recognize the school system staff that provides support services to students, such as counselors, psychologists, and specialists, as their work is especially critical during this time of uncertainty. There are also some unsung heroes operating in our schools and they are the food service workers, custodians, and maintenance staff, and many other employees who have been working 24/7 to make and deliver food, clean and sanitize, and keep our schools infrastructure in great shape. Thank you for your dedicated and tireless efforts.

Dr. Karen Salmon: (17:19)
We continue to provide childcare services to essential personnel at more than 3,700 state funded sites across Maryland. Over 25,000 children of essential personnel are enrolled in these sites and the state has the capacity to serve another 20,000 if the need should arise. Eligible families can continue to identify locations where childcare services are available at licensed child and family care centers, as well as a number of YMCAs, senior centers, Boys and Girls Club. And they can do this through the LOCATE hotline service available on our State Department of Education website.

Dr. Karen Salmon: (17:58)
I am so pleased that Maryland has received an additional $45.8 million from the federal CARES Act to support the maintenance of childcare programs and continuation of childcare services for essential personnel in our state during this pandemic. As we celebrate the week of the child, as the governor discussed, I want to thank all those individuals providing childcare who have dedicated their lives to children. You are champions and we thank you for stepping up during this crisis.

Dr. Karen Salmon: (18:28)
Challenge remains, as we take these unprecedented and swift steps, to continue learning for students. And I want to thank the educators, parents, and students who have exhibited incredible patience and stepped up tremendously through this difficult time. Our lives are not determined by what happens to us, but how we react to what happens. Not by what life brings to us, but by the attitude we bring to life. A positive attitude causes a chain reaction of positive thoughts, events, and outcomes. It’s a catalyst, a spark that creates extraordinary results. Let’s continue to stay positive and work together while we are physically apart. Thank you.

Governor Larry Hogan: (19:14)
We have a number of our leaders of the administration here. Of course, Fran Phillips, who you’ve heard from a lot from our Health Department. We have our Secretary of Commerce, Kelly Schulz, and our Secretary of Labor, Tiffany Robinson. And we’d be happy to answer anybody’s questions.

Governor Larry Hogan: (19:28)
Governor, this weekend some people created some gridlock in protest, trying to get things reopened in the state. There was also some rural folks in Maryland who [inaudible 00:19:33] it’s time to re-open. What do you say to those who have protest [inaudible 00:19:40]?

Governor Larry Hogan: (19:41)
Well, I understand the frustration. I’m a lifelong small businessman myself who ran for governor because I was concerned about us losing businesses and people losing their jobs. So, I completely understand why people are anxious to get things going. I want to get our economy back and get things opened up as quickly as possible just as much as anybody does.

Governor Larry Hogan: (20:04)
But we’re also going to have to do that in a safe manner. And you heard the president’s comments yesterday, that many of these folks are strong supporters of his. And he was encouraging them to take a look at his plan. His plan calls for… you can’t start to do any reopening in phase one until after 14 days of consistent numbers going down. Our numbers are all going up. So, no matter who you talk to, now is not the time to open things up. But look, I understand people’s right to protest, and I understand their frustration because I’m just as frustrated as they are.

Governor Larry Hogan: (20:42)
One more question about the present system, letters to lawmakers are saying, “Hey, it’s time to let inmates out.” What do you say to that school of thought?

Governor Larry Hogan: (20:52)
Again, I think a lot of people have more time to sit around sending letters. I’d rather focus on trying to help save people’s lives and get things done, but I think they missed some of the things that we have been doing. We lowered our prison population more than any state in America, more than 49 other states, with our Justice Reinvestment Act. So, we’ve reduced our nonviolent prison population dramatically prior to this crisis.

Governor Larry Hogan: (21:19)
And then, since the crisis started, I believe we’ve reduced another 2,300. We’ve taken almost all the actions that people are recommending. Secretary Green has been amazingly aggressive in our efforts to try to protect our prison staff and our prison population. And we’re continuing to take more steps every day, and we’re obviously concerned about potential outbreaks. And it’s not an issue that we’re not concerned about, but I’m not sure how many more letters we need to get that’s going to help us along in that process.

Speaker 4: (22:21)
[ inaudible 00:21:56].

Governor Larry Hogan: (22:21)

Dr. Karen Salmon: (22:21)
Well, let me answer the first question first and that is, the governor through this time has taken great care in making strategic decisions and doing things incrementally. I’ve learned a lot from him and I feel that this is one of those decisions that we need to make incrementally to see where we are in another month. We don’t know what’s going to happen and I certainly don’t want to dash the hopes of many children and parents that there might be some other ways to do public school going forward. So, that’s the reason I decided to do that. And to answer your second question, graduation is a local superintendent issue, but obviously they have to follow the guidelines that are set forth by the governor and what ideas I’ve heard were very creative. There’s a lot of superintendents have talked about virtual celebrations and so, I don’t think that we’re going to be seeing the types of ceremonies at this point that we had in the past.

Speaker 4: (23:20)
Dr. [inaudible 00:07:20], what is the [inaudible 00:23:24]-

Dr. Karen Salmon: (23:23)
Hi, Pam.

Pam: (23:25)
Hi. Is May 15th the end of the epidemic [inaudible 00:23:30]?

Dr. Karen Salmon: (23:30)
No, it’s just a time period of extended closure. We still have until the 15th of June and in many cases the week after that for some school systems.

Speaker 4: (23:39)
Dr. [inaudible 00:00:23:43], shouldn’t we see a flare up in the fall, which has been talked about. What are you doing to prepare? Shouldn’t you have to keep schools closed in part, come the Fall or Winter semester?

Dr. Karen Salmon: (23:49)
Well, I think we’re certainly looking more towards summer and summer learning programs, but we’re getting better at digital online learning. We need to do that. This is the 21st century. I’ve been saying that for a long time, so we’re just-

Speaker 5: (24:03)
… 21st century. I’ve been saying that for a long time. So we’re just beefing up our professional development with our staff, looking at what resources we might need to get and school systems are very appreciative of this federal money that they’ll be able to use to increase their digital platforms, and also their devices and professional development for teachers. They’re very excited about it.

Speaker 6: (24:24)
If I could follow up on that, I know that summer school for both jurisdictions right now are looking to add on kind of, there are some students though who have had no instruction for a month, or it will be by the time they start it. Are you saying summer school could be a way for all students [inaudible 00:24:45]?

Speaker 5: (24:49)
Yeah, I’d rather say, certainly instruction is different, I don’t think we can say that students haven’t had any instruction during this time because students are involved in their digital learning platforms, they’re getting phone calls from their teachers or doing lessons on FaceTime, even if they’re students with disabilities. But, I think the idea for the summer is expanded opportunities. And the school leaders, the superintendents, have been very creative in their thinking about how they want to do this. And it’s going to be a very robust kind of a program, from what I heard from them yesterday.

Speaker 5: (25:25)

Speaker 7: (25:32)
[ inaudible 00:25:32].

Speaker 5: (25:33)
Well, it’s just what the governor got done talking about. We have to go through all of those four things that he mentioned before we can even think about reopening anything. So, that’s what we’re going to be taking a look at. And this is not just for schools, this is comprehensive across the state. His plan is broad and it’s comprehensive and we’ll take it little by little once we see what the results are.

Speaker 8: (25:53)
In terms of the childcare for essential workers, I’ve been wondering if they are able to oversee the digital learning for those who have children, they have to be there all day.

Speaker 5: (26:05)
I have no idea what individual families are doing. I imagine they’re doing like what most of us did when we raised our kids and one parent stays home and one parent goes to work. So, I’m not sure I understand your question.

Speaker 8: (26:18)
The daycare centers. 25,000 children, they set up at all to help the children who are taking care of the essential workers-

Speaker 5: (26:28)
… they’re doing their normal programming that childcare centers would do, and I’m sure they have, if the child brings their device, I’m sure they can access that through their facility.

Speaker 9: (26:43)
Governor, can you tell us a little more about the meeting you had with the governor of Virginia and the Mayor. You’ve been collaborating for a long time, how is that going forward in terms of [inaudible 00:26:56] reopening? Is that going to closely align, and what else can you tell us about the meeting?

Governor Larry Hogan: (27:00)
Well look, first of all I want to thank governor Northam and mayor Bowzer, we’ve had tremendous cooperation and collaboration from the beginning of this crisis. And not only have the three of us been talking on a regular basis, but our staffs are talking, and our chiefs of staffs, and our various cabinet level folks, and other members of our team are talking on a daily basis. And while we may have individual differences about how we’re going after different things, the sharing of information, the willingness to try to cooperate on things that are of importance to the region has been terrific, and it has been throughout the crisis. And I think it’s going to continue.

Governor Larry Hogan: (27:40)
So we talk just in general terms today about some specific issues on the potential reopening. All three of us are in a similar situation, we talked about, in that our numbers are all going up rather than down. We’re all in some part of a phase of talking about the gradual reopening, but not able to start that quite yet. And we all are in agreement that we want to do that in a way that’s cooperative. We understand that while we’re each state or each area is unique, that there are certainly things that we have to do together as a region.

Speaker 10: (28:20)
[inaudible 00:04:25].

Governor Larry Hogan: (28:36)
So there are a lot of different sets of numbers that we look at every day. The president’s plan, which we thought was a pretty good outline by the way, it’s not exactly like our plan, and he left it up to the States to tailor theirs. But there’s some smart people on this task force, and Dr. Birx and Dr. Fauci, and Scott Gottlieb, who’s on our team, has us on the president’s team. They came up with some things to look at. You have to have 14 days of numbers going down on hospitalization rates, on ICU beds and on deaths. The number of cases is not the one we’re looking at so much, because as we dramatically increase the number of tests, our tests are going up rapidly every day. As I said two days ago, our tests are up 5,000% over the past 30 days. They’re going to continue to ramp up.

Governor Larry Hogan: (29:25)
The number of cases is going to rapidly rise. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. It just means we’re testing a lot more people, but we’re really keeping an eye on how many people are going in the hospital, how many people are moving from the hospital to an acute or intensive care bed, and then how many people we’re losing to the disease. So those things, all three of those categories have to be in a downward direction for 14 straight days before you can even consider the reopening of anything. And that’s according to the federal guidelines for any state in America.

Speaker 10: (30:07)
Can that decision be made in part with the White House and the federal government, reopening the entire federal government?

Governor Larry Hogan: (30:07)
Well, that doesn’t have anything to do with the opening of the federal government. The federal government laid out guidelines that they thought made sense for the States to consider. And we think those particular guidelines are pretty good ones to consider.

Moderator: (30:17)
Last question.

Speaker 11: (30:17)
Is there anything else that you’re going to reconsider or start out with reopening?

Governor Larry Hogan: (30:25)
I mean, we’re going to take a look at a lot of different things, but those are the … in phase one, those are the real numbers we want to watch. And I said the other things, the four building blocks that I’ve been talking about, we have to make sure we have the hospital capacity in case the numbers spike up, we have to make sure we have enough testing to handle this capability, we have to have the ability to do the contact tracing. Because if we start getting people out there and we have a spike, we’ve got to have the PPEs, all of those things have to be in place and the numbers going down. So it’s really the numbers and those other four things. And then we can start ratcheting things up in a safe and a smart gradual way. Yep.

Moderator: (31:04)
Thank you.

Governor Larry Hogan: (31:04)
Thank you, everybody.

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