Jul 16, 2020

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan Press Conference Transcript July 15

Larry Hogan MD Press Conference July 15
RevBlogTranscriptsPolitical TranscriptsMaryland Gov. Larry Hogan Press Conference Transcript July 15

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan held a June 15 press conference on coronavirus. Read the full transcript of Hogan’s news briefing speech.

 

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Governor Larry Hogan: (03:26)
Good afternoon. Thank you all for being here. Joining me are Maryland Labor Secretary, Tiffany Robinson, and Special Agent Derek Pickle from the US Department of Labor Office of the Inspector General. We are here to announce that the state of Maryland has uncovered a massive sophisticated criminal enterprise involving widespread identity theft and coordinated fraudulent unemployment insurance claims in Maryland involving more than 47,500 fraudulent claims and totaling over $501 million. The state of Maryland exposing this illegal scheme and notifying the federal authorities has helped shed light on related fraudulent criminal activities in at least a dozen other states. I want to congratulate Secretary Robinson and her team at the Maryland Department of Labor for their incredible efforts. After detecting an unusual increase in out of state federal pandemic unemployment assistance claims, the Maryland Department of Labor discovered these more than 47,500 fraudulent claims which were involving massive identity theft, attempting to utilize stolen identities and the personal information of innocent and unsuspecting individuals which was apparently acquired from previous national data breaches.

Governor Larry Hogan: (05:16)
Our Maryland Department of Labor immediately notified our federal partners, including Maryland US Attorney Robert Hur, as well as the office of the Inspector General at the US Department of Labor. And we have been coordinating with them on this ongoing investigation. Yesterday I spoke with US Attorney Hur who praised Maryland’s decisive actions. Thanks to our efforts of our Labor Department, not only did we identify the fraudulent activity here in Maryland and save the taxpayers a half a billion dollars, we also helped the federal authorities uncover related illegal activity in states across the country. I want to praise the Maryland Department of Labor, the Office of Inspector General and the US Attorney for their work. And I also want to assure the people of Maryland that the state of Maryland Department of Labor has not experienced any breach of our unemployment insurance information system and Maryland claimants’ personal information has not been compromised in any way.

Governor Larry Hogan: (06:35)
Maryland was the first state in the nation to establish a comprehensive website with the capabilities of processing unemployment benefits for both regular unemployment claims and the CARES Act unemployment programs. That comprehensive website at the Maryland Department of Labor has helped us successfully process over $4.3 billion in federal unemployment insurance benefit payments to more than 489,000 Marylanders who desperately needed that assistance over the past few months. In the great recession of 2008, it took 18 months to reach that number of claims here in Maryland, which now the department has had to handle in just the past few months. It is equal to the total number of claims in the previous three years in Maryland added together. The department has successfully processed 96.4% of all the claims in Maryland and the percentage of cases that they’re still working hard to help people resolve is down to 3.6% which is in fact even lower than normal pre-pandemic processing levels.

Governor Larry Hogan: (08:08)
But we’re committed to ensuring that all unemployed Marylanders get the help that they need and that they receive every single penny that they’re entitled to. Some had suggested that we compromise the integrity of these federal programs and that we just pay out benefits regardless of whether it is a legal claim or whether or not an individual is eligible. That would have violated state and federal law. And it would exploit innocent taxpayers. This criminal enterprise seeking to take advantage of a global pandemic to steal hundreds of millions, perhaps billions of dollars from taxpayers is despicable. And we will continue to work with both the US Attorney and the US Department of Labor Office of Inspector General on this ongoing investigation both here in Maryland and in other states across the country, to do whatever it takes to ensure that the perpetrators are apprehended and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Detecting and stopping this fraud ensures that money remains available in these funds for the tens of millions of deserving people all across America who actually need the help. And I can assure you that nothing is going to stop us from continuing to help struggling Marylanders get the assistance that they need during this crisis. This time I’d like to turn it over to Secretary Tiffany Robinson from the Maryland Department of Labor to discuss her team’s efforts to identify and stop this fraud and how our innovative Maryland Labor website allowed us to uncover this massive criminal fraud scheme. Secretary.

Secretary Robinson: (10:24)
Good afternoon. Thank you Governor for your leadership and for your support through this investigation. Since the beginning of the pandemic, our federal partners have consistently and strongly warned unemployment insurance programs about the prevalence of fraudulent and criminal activity. As states across the country continue to experience unprecedented volume of claims, fraudsters are capitalizing upon the hardships created by the pandemic and are targeting unemployment insurance programs due to the additional benefits offered by the CARES Act. The PUA program in particular allows individuals to self-certify that they are unemployed due to the Coronavirus, eliminating the employer check and balance that exists under the regular state UI program and increasing the potential for fraud.

Secretary Robinson: (11:11)
In fact, a recent spike in criminal activity led the FBI to issue a national warning about fraud in the unemployment insurance system. While quickly paying unemployment benefits to eligible claimants has been of the highest priority, we have also been committed to maintaining program integrity to ensure that both taxpayers and claimants are protected during these already difficult and uncertain times. Knowing that fraud was a real and ever increasing threat, our department’s employees remained vigilant. And when our division of Unemployment Insurance recently detected an unusual increase in out of state PUA claims, we were prepared. With a secure website and heightened security measures in place, our department quickly detected, reported, and blocked payment to over 47,500 fraudulently-

Secretary Robinson: (12:03)
… works payment to over 47,500 fraudulently filed out of state claims. The immediate actions taken, saved taxpayers over $501 million. The most significant unemployment cost savings in the country announced since the beginning of the pandemic. I’m so proud of my team for working around the clock to allow our department to emerge as the victor rather than the victim of fraud. Our department will continue to coordinate with the U.S. Attorney’s office and the U.S. Department of Labor’s office of the Inspector General to investigate and prosecute the criminals taking advantage of the PUA program by filing fraudulent claims, using stolen personal identities. While U.S. Attorney, Robert Hur could not be here with us today, he stated, my office and the entire law enforcement community are committed to bringing justice to fraudsters who are preying on citizens during this unprecedented public health crisis, by using their stolen personal information to fraudulently attempt to obtain unemployment benefits.

Secretary Robinson: (13:02)
We are grateful for our partnership with the state of Maryland in stopping unemployment fraud and believe that this joint federal state partnership will continue to bear fruit. We will continue to work together to prevent this abuse as well as continue our outreach efforts to make the public aware of COVID-19 scams and frauds. I urge citizens to remain vigilant and to report suspicious activity or fraudulent use of their personal information. I’m grateful for that statement by U.S. Attorney Hur. And we also appreciate our strong partnerships with the U.S. Attorney’s office, the office of Inspector General and our vendor Bank of America. I want to be very clear that the Maryland Department of Labor has not experienced a breach of our unemployment insurance system. And claimant’s personal information has not been compromised in any way. We have already taken a series of actions to even further enhance security, and we will continue to closely monitor our unemployment insurance system out of an abundance of caution to prevent any further fraud from occurring.

Secretary Robinson: (14:04)
If any Marylander believes that their information has been used to fraudulently file an unemployment insurance claim, they should contact our department’s division of unemployment insurance by emailing ui.fraud@maryland.gov or visiting mdunemployment.com. Since the beginning of the pandemic, like every state, our department has faced a series of challenges. As the governor mentioned, we have received more claims in just the last few months than we received in the past three years. We created a brand new online application in a matter of weeks to administer three new CARES Act unemployment programs while navigating the ever-changing federal guidance directives.

Secretary Robinson: (14:47)
Our department has overcome these challenges and made significant progress in the processing and payment of claims paying over $4.3 billion in benefits to claimants and in the midst of it all, our team successfully blocked payment to over half a billion dollars in fraudulent claims. We remain committed to helping Marylanders through this pandemic, which means ensuring that all eligible claimants get the benefits they deserve as quickly as possible while also protecting the integrity of our system and your taxpayer dollars. We will continue to build upon this positive progress and will not stop until each and every customer has been served. And now I would like to introduce special agent in charge, Derek Pickle from the U.S. Department of Labor’s office of Inspector General, who has been working alongside our department as we fight fraud. Thank you.

Derek Pickle: (15:48)
Good afternoon. Thank you, Governor Hogan and secretary Robinson for inviting me to be here with you today. My name is Derek Pickle I’m the special agent in charge of the Washington DC region for the U.S. Department of Labor’s office of Inspector General. The office of Inspector General is the law enforcement agency primarily responsible for investigating fraud in the unemployment insurance program. And we take great pride in working with our law enforcement and state workforce agency partners to accomplish that part of our mission. Since the pandemic began, we have seen a dramatic increase in the amount of unemployment insurance fraud occurring throughout the nation. To give you a sense of how that spike corresponds to our work, unemployment insurance fraud investigations have historically made up approximately 10% of our agency’s investigative workload. Today, more than 50% of our investigative matters pertain to unemployment insurance and that number continues to grow by the day. And that includes investigative matters in all 50 States.

Derek Pickle: (16:49)
Over the last many months, the office of Inspector General has prioritized to working with our state and federal partners to combat fraud being perpetrated against the unemployment insurance program. A major focus of that work has involved the collection and analysis of unemployment claims data in order to identify fraud indicators and move proactively to address fraud and prevent the loss of taxpayer funds to criminals who seek to exploit the system for personal profit. Today’s announcement demonstrates the strength of our partnership with the state of Maryland, the U.S. Attorney’s office, and offers an example of the kind of result made possible through our shared commitment to safeguarding taxpayer funds and ensuring the integrity of the unemployment insurance program. In closing, I personally wanted to commend secretary Robinson and her team, the diligence exhibited by your personnel in identifying this fraud and bringing it to our attention was outstanding. And we look forward to our continued accomplishments through that partnership. Thank you.

Governor Larry Hogan: (17:53)
I want to thank you special agent Pickle very much for joining us here today. And again, I want to thank the U.S. Department of Labor, office of Inspector General very much, want to thank the U.S. Attorney and our entire team at the Department of Labor. Processing the sudden and unprecedented increase in employment claims while following complex federal regulations and guarding against fraud is certainly not an issue unique to the state of Maryland. The federal government and every state in America has had to overcome challenges to handle this recent overwhelming caseload. Over the past few months, America has seen an unprecedented economic collapse never before seen in our lifetime and Marylanders have not been immune to this national economic collapse.

Governor Larry Hogan: (18:57)
Here in Maryland, however, we were able to keep more than 70% of our state economy open throughout this entire crisis without shutting down. And then with our safe, effective, and gradual roadmap to recovery, 62 days ago, we were able to lift our stay at home order in Maryland and 41 days ago, we moved into stage two of the recovery plan. Maryland is open for business with 98% of our economy open and able to operate in a safe way. Because of these decisions and actions, our unemployment rate while obviously considerably higher than it was before the pandemic, is much lower than the national rate, far better than most of the States in America, and is the very best among all the States in our region. On Monday, I led my 44th call with my fellow governors in just the past few months, was our 29th call with either the president and or vice president. Yesterday we also convened the 20th meeting of our coronavirus, recovery team of leading public health experts, doctors, scientists and business and labor leaders. And we held another emergency meeting of my entire cabinet. As we continue to navigate through both the health and economic crisis, our key health metrics in Maryland continue to remain low and stable. Our daily positivity rate dropped again today to 4.26%. And our seven day positivity rate dropped again today to 4.49%, which is a more than 83% decrease since its peak 90 days ago on April 17 when we were at 26.91%. We did see a slight uptick in COVID hospitalizations today, but they are still down 73% from their peak 77 days ago on April 30th.

Governor Larry Hogan: (21:26)
However, we are concerned that 40 States across America are experiencing spikes and increasing numbers, including States just across our borders. And we’re watching a few concerning trends in our state. The positivity rate among Marylanders under the age of 35 is now 83% higher than Marylanders who are 35 and older. And an increasing number of COVID-19 cases have been connected to noncompliance with public health requirements, particularly in bars and restaurants. Yesterday, I sent a letter to county leaders, urging them to enforce public health requirements in bars and restaurants across the state, reminding them that it was the responsibility of their local health departments, local liquor boards, and inspectors and local law enforcement agencies to work together to actively and aggressively enforce these critical public health measures.

Governor Larry Hogan: (22:31)
Young people should avoid crowded bars, house parties, and large gatherings of any kind. You are not only putting yourselves at risk, you’re also risking the lives of your parents, your grandparents, and other vulnerable people in the community. Any Marylander who has been engaged in any type of risky behavior should immediately get tested for COVID-19. We are also advising that Marylanders refrain from traveling to areas that are experiencing rapidly escalating numbers. Any Marylander who has traveled to, or is returning from travel out of state, especially from those States that are experiencing spiking numbers should immediately get tested. I want to remind Marylanders that while our health metrics are continuing to slightly decline or plateau, this battle is not behind us, not by a long shot. Only you can stop the spread of this virus. All Marylanders are still safer at home, but particularly older and more vulnerable populations. Low risk does not mean no risk. Outside activity is still much safer than inside activity. Employers should continue to encourage telework for their employees.

Governor Larry Hogan: (24:03)
Employers should continue to encourage telework for their employees when possible. And individuals who can work from home should continue to do so. Marylanders should not use public transportation unless it’s absolutely necessary. Everyone should continue wearing masks in public areas, businesses, and on public transportation. Marylanders should continue practicing physical distancing, staying six feet apart whenever possible, and should continue avoiding all large gatherings.

Governor Larry Hogan: (24:37)
Our economy is open, recovering, and doing better than many other states. But only you can keep Maryland open for business by continuing to follow the public health guidance. While other states are beginning to experience serious testing shortages, here in Maryland, we do not have that problem. Back at the end of April, we laid out a longterm testing strategy. Last month, the Signature State Lab we built at the University of Maryland, Baltimore became fully operational. So, we’re now able to handle our own large scale testing. And, unlike many other states, most other states, we have a substantial strategic stockpile of COVID-19 test kits that will keep us in good shape all the way through the fall as the normal flu season begins and as the demand for COVID tests increases.

Governor Larry Hogan: (25:43)
Finally, today, I want to address a major issue that is on everyone’s minds, what action the State Board of Education will take regarding our schools. We all want our children to get back to school as soon as possible, but only if and when we can do it in a way that keeps our students and our teachers safe. Last month, Dr. Karen Salmon, the State Superintendent of Schools and the Maryland State Department of Education put out Maryland Together, Maryland’s recovery plan for education. Since that time, they have been meeting with County Boards of Education, local school superintendents, teachers, parents, and key stakeholders to collaborate on and develop a detailed, safe, and effective recovery plan for all our Maryland public schools.

Governor Larry Hogan: (26:42)
A few counties have already begun submitting their proposed plans. Other local jurisdictions are continuing to work to finalize theirs in order to meet the August 14 deadline. Once all of that input is received, the State Department of Education will institute protocols that follow CDC guidance and take into account the input of public health experts and which provide for flexibility for our local school systems. We cannot and should not rush this decision. It is absolutely critical that we get it right for our communities and for each and every one of our children and our teachers. Dr. Karen Salmon, the State Superintendent of Schools, will join us for a press conference next week, in order to update us on the progress the State Department of Education is making and on the state’s education guidance.

Governor Larry Hogan: (27:47)
In closing today, let me just say that this crisis has tested all of us in nearly every way imaginable. But, with the help of Marylanders coming together, we have been leading in the fight against this deadly pandemic by flattening the curve, by reopening our economy safely, and today, by detecting criminals who are trying to exploit innocent people for their own gain. From the beginning, we have all been in this together. And, although this is far from over, and it will not be easy, we will get through this together and Maryland will come out of this stronger and better than ever before. With that, I’d be happy to take a few questions.

Speaker 1: (28:37)
I talked to someone last week who was the victim of fraud and several people who said all of a sudden my debit card was canceled. So, I wanted to know when exactly the fraud rings were detected. How many of the frozen accounts were verified fraudsters? How many were legitimate people? And when do you anticipate returning funds and the reopening accounts for those who are the victims?

Governor Larry Hogan: (29:01)
So, the frozen accounts were all out of state folks that we stopped the payment on the debit cards to stop the 501 million dollars in fraud, the 47,500 criminal fraudulent accounts. A few real people who really needed benefits got caught up in that because we had to put a hold on all those payments. But the department is working diligently to process them as quickly as possible. And I think very quickly they’ll get those resolved. Now that we’ve cleared out the 47,500 cases of fraud, I think those folks will be taken care of right away. They had to freeze all the out of state accounts in order to conduct the investigation. What’s that?

Speaker 1: (29:39)
Do you have the exact number or an approximate-

Governor Larry Hogan: (29:41)
It’s a very small number. The total number of all the outstanding cases is only 3%, which is far lower than our normal monthly average in a normal year. So, it’s very small.

Speaker 2: (29:55)
It was mentioned some other states are involved. Do you know how many, and maybe name some of them?

Governor Larry Hogan: (29:55)
In talking with a Special Agent Pickle and U.S. Attorney Hur, there is no question that all 50 states and all the territories have been hit with serious cases of fraud totaling billions and billions of dollars. The cases that are directly involved in this same thing that we’re involved in helping to uncover, that our information is helping in the investigation of, is 12 other states, a dozen other states.

Speaker 3: (30:25)
Governor, around a month ago, Secretary Robinson, speaking to a legislative panel, said the statement, not yet, to her knowledge, [inaudible 00:30:34]. When exactly was the fraud discovered?

Governor Larry Hogan: (30:40)
We can’t get into all the details of the ongoing investigation. But it was relatively recently. We caught the fraud, which just happened. So-

Speaker 4: (30:47)
July 4th weekend.

Governor Larry Hogan: (30:48)
Over the July 4th weekend. And immediately notified federal authorities. And we can’t give a whole lot more detail than that because the investigation is really just beginning.

Speaker 3: (30:55)
And this has nothing to do with the subpoenas that the federal government served on states who are looking for unemployment fraud?

Governor Larry Hogan: (31:01)
Well, the federal government has put out warnings all across. It has nothing to do with a subpoena, but they have put out warnings all across America warning about fraud.

Speaker 5: (31:10)
Governor, on July 6th, you reported a Maryland man whose identity used by someone in Florida to obtain unemployment insurance benefits.

Governor Larry Hogan: (31:17)
Yes. I saw that report actually

Speaker 5: (31:21)
It took them several weeks to get the attention of the Department of Labor, him and his company, which is why he contacted us. On July second, I asked for data on this.

Governor Larry Hogan: (31:28)
Well, we’ll have a Secretary Robinson and follow up with you directly. And I think we’ll have her call that person directly and try to get that case solved. Again, it’s 489,000 cases that have been resolved with the 3.8 billion dollars. It’s an enormous… it’s hard to talk to 489,000 people at the same time, even if you have hundreds and hundreds of additional people that you’ve hired.

Governor Larry Hogan: (31:52)
But both of us, the secretary and I both said, any one person, that’s not getting money that they deserve, we want to try to get to the bottom of. And that’s why we’ve got it down to far less than what’s normal, but there are 3% of the people still in process. We could deny all of those people, and then we’d have %100 compliance, but we’re working very hard, even though they haven’t qualified yet or they’ve got some issue. I can tell you, the department is working day and night to try to get those people the help they need. And those folks that had their identity messed up, I think that’s going to be resolved right away. It was just that this is all coming to a head in the last few days.

Speaker 6: (32:27)
Governor Hogan.

Speaker 7: (32:28)
Governor, you’ve expressed some frustration with young people and with bars. And we are seeing an increase in the numbers. Are you considering any sort of roll back?

Governor Larry Hogan: (32:39)
Well, so this is a problem all across America. And, in my discussions with the other governors, and with the White House, it’s come up repeatedly. A number of other states, many other states opened bars without restrictions. This happened in Florida, and Arizona, and Texas, and Mississippi. They’re all closing bars now because infections are out of control. And they all believe that they all have the same problems with young people. And they all believe they have, through contact tracing, trace it back to bars. Well, they have hundreds and thousands of people jamming into these places. We never opened bars like that. Our bars were only supposed to be open for a seated distanced, capacity restricted. 90% of the restaurant owners and the bars were following the rules. People would go in, they could have dinner, they could get a drink, you could sit at the bar. Some of them were completely, blatantly not following the rules.

Governor Larry Hogan: (33:38)
We’re really concerned about our small business owners. We’re concerned about those people who work in this restaurant. We want to get people back to work. We want to get our economy. And we want to keep people safe. So, at this point, we’re trying to crack down on the bad apples without killing the entire industry and all those folks that work there and causing more unemployment. But look, if this gets out of control, if people continue to not follow the rules, we’ll have to take another look. Right now, we believe it’s a small percentage of the people. Maybe 95% of the people are doing it right, both the businesses and the individuals. And the ones who aren’t, we’re going to try to get our counties to enforce the rules that have been in place for months and people just aren’t listening to.

Speaker 6: (34:18)
Governor Hogan, this might be a question for you or anyone else up there.

Governor Larry Hogan: (34:25)
Yeah. I think Special Agent Pickle who was not allowed to answer questions on the ongoing investigation and didn’t want to get into all of the Corona stuff has already left. And-

Speaker 6: (34:34)
Okay. Well, I’ll ask you then. Have you been able to identify how much may have been paid out to these frauds just before you detected the scheme? And do you believe this is one entity? Do you believe it’s a foreign entity, a foreign group that’s targeting the U.S.? Or do you think the bad actor is coming from inside the country?

Governor Larry Hogan: (35:01)
Great questions. I had the exact same questions. We don’t have an exact number on it. I’m sure some has slipped through that we didn’t catch. But we I think we caught the bulk of it all. And we will we’ll follow up and get to the bottom of any fraud cases that we were not able to catch. We don’t have a number on that. It is obviously a coordinated criminal enterprise, because this is not just random people in their basement that stole somebody’s identity. It’s 47, 500 fraudulent identities in Maryland and 12 other states that it’s billions of dollars. It’s a large, sophisticated criminal enterprise.

Governor Larry Hogan: (35:43)
Because of this ongoing investigation, which has just begun, not only can I not say the answer, I don’t know the answer. But we know that there was a similar case that involved a Nigerian crime ring. And, not to say that this is in any way connected, but it could be international. It could be organized crime in America. We just don’t know the answer to it. But it’s not-

Governor Larry Hogan: (36:03)
It could be organized crime in America. We just don’t know the answer to it, but it’s not just a random individual. It’s a very sophisticated… It appears as if, and we don’t know the specific where it came from, but we had a breach of the federal government system, a while back and OPM. We had a breach of Experian and a number of banks. And this was a huge cache of people’s identities. Did not come from here, and we don’t know where it came from. And we don’t know who’s responsible yet.

Speaker 8: (36:29)
Governor, quick question. [inaudible 00:36:34]

Governor Larry Hogan: (36:40)
So the letter just went out yesterday, but our team has been in communication with a number of the counties already. And a number of people have already taken action. Well, first of all, I also want to take a moment to praise the Bar and Restaurant Association, and many of the good operators. We had a situations in Ocean City where five or six bars and restaurants immediately, voluntarily shut down as soon as they had some of their workers test positive. They really did the right thing. That’s what we need everybody to do.

Governor Larry Hogan: (37:14)
A couple of places in Baltimore did the same thing. There were also a couple of instances around the state, where were people were flagrantly ignoring the rules. Montgomery County yesterday shut down two businesses, and there are a couple of others. So it just happened yesterday. But our team that coordinates with all the local governments was in touch with everybody. They got the directive. I think they all are in agreement that we need to do something about this and everybody’s going to be working together.

Governor Larry Hogan: (37:47)
The state police has been in communication with all of the county sheriff’s departments, county police departments, all the municipal governments and sent out guidance. But the state police department is very small in comparison to the counties and the city police departments and doesn’t have the capacity to do that. It really is a responsibility of the counties.

Governor Larry Hogan: (38:04)
And the reason we sent the letter yesterday, it needs to be a coordinated response. What we were finding, one of the concerns we had from some of the local governments was, the health department, the local county health department would say, “Well, it’s our responsibility, but we’re busy doing testing and we don’t have people to go to the bars.” The health inspector said, “We don’t have to know all those health rules.” And the police department said, ” We don’t have a citation for these new regulations.”

Governor Larry Hogan: (38:33)
So we told the county leaders, “Get your county law enforcement, your county health department, and your county liquor boards together in one room and say…” Find a coordinated way to enforce this. We don’t care how they do it, but they’ve got to do it. It’s not the state police’s responsibility.

Speaker 10: (38:48)
Governor, do you understand, as far as [inaudible 00:38:53] reopening schools, are you pushing [inaudible 00:02:56]?

Governor Larry Hogan: (38:56)
No.

Speaker 10: (38:57)
And do you understand the frustration from both sides? The kids should go back. The kids shouldn’t go back. A hybrid won’t work. It will work. What are your thoughts on that?

Governor Larry Hogan: (39:06)
I understand completely the frustration on both sides. And I think Dr. Salmon understands the input from both sides. I said the other day, when the president was saying, “You must do this, you must do that.” And I said, “We’re not going to be bullied into moving in one direction or the other.” And I mean that in one direction or the other.

Governor Larry Hogan: (39:24)
I really do think many people would love to see the kids get back to school. I certainly would, but I also don’t want to send kids back to school if it’s going to cause major issues. So they’re going to take all the input. As I said, they’re looking at the federal input from the CDC. We have our own state plan. One of the most detailed, more than a hundred pages. It came out more than a month ago. It might’ve been one of the best and earliest in the country.

Governor Larry Hogan: (39:44)
And we’re working with very collaboratively with all the county folks, and we’re listening to everything. They’re going to make the right decisions. And it may be some type of a hybrid. We may figure out the best way. I don’t know, and I’m not pushing because the State Board of Education is an independent body. Dr. Salmon works for the State Board of Education. She serves in my cabinet, but she’s not appointed by me. And we want them to make the right decision for Maryland and for our kids and for our teachers. And I’m not going to try to unduly influence them.

Speaker 11: (40:19)
[crosstalk 00:40:19] You talked about not rushing the school decisions. Prince George’s County [inaudible 00:40:23] in the state, said they’re going online the entire fall semester. Did they rush their decision [inaudible 00:04:32]?

Governor Larry Hogan: (40:35)
No, they didn’t rush the decision. The state plan requires the counties to come up with a plan no later than August 14. As of yesterday, it was only Montgomery County and Frederick County who had come up with a proposed plan. I understand, today, Prince George’s came up with their proposed plan. I haven’t seen it. And I don’t think the State Board of Education has seen it yet.

Governor Larry Hogan: (41:01)
But as I said, the plans all have to be in, all 24 of them, by August 14th. I’m trying to push to get that done faster because I don’t think we should wait that long Karen Salmon and the State Board of Ed is working with all of them, but I don’t think any final decisions have been made in any counties. And it’s all going to work under what the requirements of the State Board of Ed. All right, thank you all very much.

Speaker 9: (41:22)
[inaudible 00:41:22] if I may, Governor?

Speaker 9: (41:22)
(silence)