Jun 10, 2020
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan Press Conference Transcript June 10
Maryland Governor Larry Hogan held a June 10 press conference. Hogan announced that indoor dining can resume Friday in Maryland, and gyms, malls, and casinos can open next week.
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Governor Larry Hogan: (02:11)
Good evening. Today marks the 16th day of protests around our state and across America. And once again, I want to thank the many community leaders and organizers and the state and local law enforcement agencies who all helped to make the peaceful demonstrations here in Maryland a model for the rest of America.
Governor Larry Hogan: (02:40)
Public health officials do have serious concerns, however, about the dramatic, immediate end to physical distancing and the potential public health impact of going from 10 person gathering limits to thousands of people gathering together in close proximity.
Governor Larry Hogan: (03:05)
Former FDA commissioner, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, who serves on our Coronavirus recovery team cited a recent study which found a potential for a 250% increase in the rate of infection among those attending mass gatherings. Our health experts are strongly encouraging anyone who attended any of the protests or gatherings in Maryland over the past two weeks to immediately get tested for the Coronavirus, and they were also advised to try to avoid contact with vulnerable populations, such as older people and those with underlying conditions. And we are going to make every effort to ensure that every single one of the thousands of protesters will have the opportunity to be tested.
Governor Larry Hogan: (04:03)
The Maryland Department of Health and the Maryland National Guard will be opening multiple high volume coronavirus testing sites across Baltimore city, including at the Maryland and at the Baltimore convention center. This expanded testing capacity is just the latest example of how far our state has come in the fight against COVID-19 in recent months.
Governor Larry Hogan: (04:34)
One of the biggest problems across the country and every state in America from the beginning of this COVID crisis was the lack of availability of testing. It was the most serious obstacle to safely reopening the economy.
Governor Larry Hogan: (04:51)
In March, we had the ability to conduct just 50 tests per day. We were forced to compete with all the other States, the federal government and other countries to acquire the desperately needed components in a globally constrained market with huge demand and very little supply. But our team has been working around the clock to tackle these problems, and incredibly as of today, Maryland has conducted 451,967 COVID-19 tests. Over the past 50 days, we’ve increased testing in Maryland by 429%. We’ve now tested 6.4% of the population, the entire state population, including 100% of the nursing home residents and staff. With these additional new sites in Baltimore city, we will have more than 120 testing sites operating all across the state of Maryland. And once again, we are strongly encouraging anyone who wants to be tested and anyone who has been in any large gathering or who may have been exposed, especially those who are in or are around vulnerable populations, should get tested.
Governor Larry Hogan: (06:14)
As more and more people are returning to the workplace, and as more people are beginning to interact with larger numbers of people, testing will become even more critical than ever. And as we have potential outbreaks spikes and rebounds, and as we move into the fall flu season, the state of Maryland will continue to have an abundant supply of testing available at no out of pocket cost to anyone in our state that needs or wants to be tested.
Governor Larry Hogan: (06:52)
The infectious disease modeling showed that without taking aggressive action, we could have had more than 300,000 infections and 12,500 deaths in Maryland at this point in time and potential surge capacity problems in our hospitals and ICU beds. But because of the early and aggressive actions taken, we have not only flattened the curve. We have actually crushed that curve in Maryland. Every one of the important metrics in our state has continued to drop across the board in every single jurisdiction, all across the state.
Governor Larry Hogan: (07:35)
Our statewide positivity rate is down to 7.2%, which is a more than 73% decrease since its peak 55 days ago when we were at 26.91%. over the past week, Maryland has experienced the largest decline in positivity in America. 23 of Maryland’s 24 jurisdictions, now have a positivity rate in single digits. Baltimore city is down by more than 71% from a high of 27.38 on April 19th to only 7.84% today. And Arundel County is at 7.04%, Baltimore County at 6.07%, Frederick County 6.44 and Howard County is at 6.4%. All of them below the state average.
Governor Larry Hogan: (08:35)
Prince George’s and Montgomery counties while higher than the state average are continuing to see dramatic improvements. The positivity rate in Prince George’s County has dropped by nearly 73% from a high of 41.6% on May 2nd to a current rate of 11.44%. And Montgomery County has also dropped by more than 70% from a high of 32.64 to now 9.53%.
Governor Larry Hogan: (09:11)
Even more importantly, our COVID hospitalizations have now dropped to 960, below 1000 for the first time, since April 10th, the lowest level in 61 days. The number of patients in ICU has fallen to 380, which is also an eight week low.
Governor Larry Hogan: (09:33)
Dr. David Mark cozy from the university of Maryland school of medicine said yesterday during a meeting of our Coronavirus recovery team, that the public health experts recognize the need to balance the economic model with the harm reduction model. The virus is still out there and this battle is not yet over, but while we are continuing to battle this deadly virus, we are also fighting to protect and improve the health of those small businesses that have been suffering, and the thousands of Marylanders who have not been working and are struggling to make ends meet, which is why we are continuing to push to safely reopen more and more of our economy.
Governor Larry Hogan: (10:19)
On April 24th, we introduced a well thought out, safe, effective, and gradual roadmap to recovery for Maryland. 29 days ago on May 13th, we announced the beginning of stage one, and then 15 days ago on May 27th, we announced we were taking the remaining actions necessary to complete stage one. And a week ago, we announced that we were able to begin stage two. Thanks to the amazing work of all those small business owners, their employees and customers, those safe reopenings have been a huge success. And even as more and more businesses continued to reopen and as more and more Marylanders returned back to work, all of the key health metrics continued to trend in a very positive direction, which now has us in position to continue with additional stage two reopenings.
Governor Larry Hogan: (11:22)
Effective this Friday, June 12th at 5:00 PM, indoor dining will be able to resume at restaurants across the state at 50% capacity with distancing and following strict public health requirements, consistent with the CDC, the FDA and the National Restaurant Association. In addition, coinciding with the end of the school year, we are encouraging local school systems where possible to plan and to hold safe outdoor graduation ceremonies with appropriate capacity and distancing measures in place. And in order to help summer be summer also effective this Friday at five o’clock outdoor amusements and rides miniature golf go-karts may resume with appropriate health and safety protocols. Capacity restrictions at outdoor pools will increase to 50% with the same strict safety guidelines in place.
Governor Larry Hogan: (12:29)
In addition, one week later, beginning next Friday, June 19th at 5:00 PM, gyms and other indoors studio fitness activities such as dance studios and martial arts may begin to safely reopen at 50% capacity with strict health, distancing and sanitation measures. And casinos, arcades, and malls will also be able to begin resuming operations with strict health…
Governor Larry Hogan: (13:03)
That’d be able to begin resuming operations with strict health and safety protocols. I want to thank the many businesses that have been taking the health and safety precautions so seriously, and those who have been taking the Maryland strong back to business pledge and displaying it on their storefronts and places of business in order to assure their employees, their customers and the public that they are adhering to CDC and state health department guidelines. And as we take these additional steps to safely reopen our economy and put more people to work, we want to continue to strongly stress the need to follow CDC and state and local health department requirements and guidelines. The fight against this virus is far from over. In fact, now more than ever as we begin to come in contact with more people, we must all continue to remain vigilant. Our health and economic recovery depends on all of us continuing to exercise personal responsibility in order to keep ourselves, our family members, our neighbors and our coworkers safe.
Governor Larry Hogan: (14:22)
The Maryland strong roadmap to recovery plan is based on a flexible community based approach. And while we are very encouraged by the metrics that we have achieved in every single one of Maryland’s 24 jurisdictions, we are continuing to give local leaders the flexibility that they have requested. Ladies and gentlemen, these past three months have been a very difficult time for our nation from an unprecedented global pandemic that has infected 2.2 million Americans and taken the lives of more than 114,000 of our fellow citizens to the worst economic collapse since the great recession. And then more recently the senseless murder of George Floyd, which has shed new light on old wounds that have not healed and serious problems that need to be confronted and addressed. We have been challenged in so many ways that we never could have imagined just a few months ago. There is real pain and hardship across our country right now.
Governor Larry Hogan: (15:43)
I just finished leading my 35th crisis call with America’s governors this afternoon, I think in 90 days. And I just want to take a moment to say I’m proud of my fellow governors on both sides of the aisle from all across America, who I believe have truly stepped up and shown real leadership during this crisis. I also want to sincerely thank our Maryland state government team, all of the dedicated public servants who literally have been working around the clock seven days a week. I’m proud that I get the opportunity to serve with each and every one of them. But most of all, I’m proud of the people of Maryland for sticking together, for never losing hope and for staying Maryland strong during this incredibly difficult time. This truly is one of the most daunting challenges that our state has ever faced, but sometimes the worst of times have a way of bringing out the very best in Marylanders.
Governor Larry Hogan: (17:02)
And while I cannot promise you that we will fully recover from all of these problems quickly, I will tell you that together we have faced and overcome daunting challenges before and that we will get through these difficult times together. I’m a lifelong small businessman who had never held elective office. And in 2014 I stepped up to run for governor because I was so frustrated that our state had lost thousands of businesses and hundreds of thousands of jobs and I pledged to stand up and fight to grow more small businesses and to put more people to work and to turn our economy around. It’s the reason why I’m here. It’s been my primary mission for six years. We went from 49th out of 50 States in overall economic performance to having the best years for business in Maryland in more than a decade, best years for job growth in 15 years. We had more businesses open and more people working than at any other time in the history of our state. And we had the best economic turnaround in America.
Governor Larry Hogan: (18:19)
We did exactly what we said we would do, but now the American economy has taken a major hit like we’ve never seen before in our lifetime. And Marylanders, just like everyone else across America have suffered greatly. But Maryland is better positioned for an economic comeback than most of the other states in America. Our unemployment rate is more than one third better than the national average. We’re in better shape than 42 other states. We have the eighth lowest unemployment rate in the nation and the very best number one in our region. We have led and Maryland will continue to lead on the road to economic recovery. And I just want the people of this great state to know that for the next two and a half years I am going to keep giving this job everything that I’ve got every single day that I am given.
Governor Larry Hogan: (19:21)
We’re all in this together and together we will continue to change Maryland for the better and continue to set an example for the rest of America. Thank you. And with that, I’m going to turn the podium over to deputy secretary of health, Fran Phillips. I also want to give a shout out we have with us lieutenant governor Boyd Rutherford, who we’ve been separated for a long time because of the coronavirus. We’ve been both working really hard in different places. He’s been working out at Baltimore. I just want to thank him for basically doing all of the hard work of government while I was goofing off on these twin crises. And he’s done an amazing job. I just want to say thank you for being with us. And we have Dr. Karen Salmon superintendent schools who will be talking in just a moment, but I’m going to turn it over to Fran Phillips. Thank you.
Fran Philips: (20:19)
Well thank you governor and lieutenant governor. It’s a pleasure to be here and to be part of your team, your leadership has over these long months, these long weeks have brought us to the place where we are as we together confront the coronavirus pandemic, but in a very, very different place than we could have imagined absent some of the measures that have been taken. Without a vaccine, again without an effective treatment, a very powerful tool that we have to protect Marylanders and to fight back against this virus are exactly the social measures which you have implemented through these many orders and through these many weeks. You have taken unprecedented steps in this state to slow to flatten and to crush that curve. And as you point out, the numbers truly are encouraging as we look day after day at the developments in our state.
Fran Philips: (21:15)
There are some other tools, other tools that we have taken to fight back against this coronavirus. That’s widespread testing as well as contact tracing. For the last month and a half 9,000 employees at the Maryland department of health and local health departments with support from all of the state agencies, with support from the national guard have been working 24/7 to help Marylanders get the testing and the contact tracing that they need to the point that we are today. And thanks to Maryland’s healthcare providers, individuals and organizations who have managed under extraordinarily difficult circumstances to maintain the high quality of hospital care and all types of outpatient care to Marylanders every day. As we’re pitching in both with our private sector partners and public health workforce to increase testing, whether that’s through drive-through locations, walk through locations and in other kinds of settings, it’s very, very important that we think about the other steps, the tools that we have to flatten this virus.
Fran Philips: (22:24)
We have the most important tool which is what each and every one of us decide to choose to do every day. Those are the steps that we take as individuals to protect ourselves, to protect our families and to protect our community. And it is through the responsible actions of Marylanders over these past many, many weeks and months that has put us in the position now that we can reopen. It’s been Marylanders’ overwhelming cooperation in staying home when it’s possible and absolutely staying home when sick, it’s been Marylanders who have maintained social distancing and using face coverings that has brought us to this point. So we’re asking Marylanders to again continue to use common sense and use the best defense that we have against COVID-19 and that’s not to get infected in the first place. This virus hasn’t changed since we first started talking about it in March, it’s still contagious, it’s still sneaky. It takes days before symptoms appear and people may be infectious before they realize they have symptoms.
Fran Philips: (23:33)
So to fight this virus, we need to be vigilant in the very same ways that we’ve talked about. Stay six feet apart, wear a face covering, wash your hands frequently, carry hand sanitizer. And we know that outdoors is safer than indoors, and that’s because of the contained environment indoors can allow that virus to circulate. We also know that if you need to be in a confined space, think about how long you’re in that confined space. So a shorter period of time is safer than a longer period of time. What you heard from the governor today is that we are able now to move forward on phase two of reopening. That’s to allow for this week some more facilities, some more activities to reopen indoor outdoor, I’m sorry outdoor this week and indoor next week. With regard to indoor dining, the department of health will issue secretary’s orders today that will provide facilities, food service facilities with the guidance that they need to maintain safety for their staff, as well as for their customers.
Fran Philips: (24:41)
Examples of some of that guidance are pretty straightforward. Customers need to be seated at least six feet apart, no more than six at a table unless they are household members. Customers and staff must wear masks as much as possible. Tables and chairs need to be disinfected and cleaned each time and high touch surfaces need to be maintained in the strictest of sanitation. No buffets, no self serves and staff themselves need to be screened for illness. These are some examples of the kind of guidance and if you think through it’s very straight forward guidance, that we will be directing to restaurants who will begin to open today for indoor dining.
Fran Philips: (25:24)
Likewise, we will be offering directives from the department with regard to gyms, fitness centers and other indoor activities that will open next week. We will detail infection control activities for every facility and the kind of signage that would need to be up for example in a gym to remind clients about social distancing and about hand hygiene. Indoor facilities are traditionally close quarters and so every gym member, every occupant needs to take that moment and choose for themselves use that responsible behavior. We will be also offering guidance on other kinds of openings having to do with youth-
Dr. Fran Phillips: (26:03)
Well, we’re also offering guidance on other kinds of openings having to do with youth and amateur, as well as professional sports, concerts and convention events. Lastly, as we move forward with reopening, I’d like to stress a couple of points, which is to say, as the governor said, we’re not out of the woods yet. Those of us have that have returned to work if we are able to do so via teleworking, that needs to continue.
Dr. Fran Phillips: (26:27)
We need to continue to make workplaces and environments safer. And I can be sure that the local health departments will be available to work with employers, with businesses and with the public on maintaining that degree of safety, as well as workplace safety. So once again, I’ll end with three thoughts. One is that nothing is zero risk. So we need to be prudent in the decisions that we make, particularly if we or our family members have underlying health conditions. Secondly, just because it’s open doesn’t mean that you have to participate. And so if indoor dining is available, you may choose to be outdoors or you may choose to dine at home. And thirdly, we can continue to keep this curve flat and to prevent a second wave if we all continue to use common sense and practice social distancing.
Dr. Fran Phillips: (27:18)
These are the tools that we can control and they will make us safer. So with that, I would like to turn this over to my colleague and to my partner, my very good partner in that and that is a State School Superintendent Dr. Karen Salmon. Dr. Salmon.
Dr. Karen Salmon: (27:37)
Thank you, Fran. I have so enjoyed working with you. And governor, thank you for your continued leadership and this is why we’re here today is because of what you have done to lead us through this crisis. Today, I’m excited. I’m optimistic. I’m going to share some what I think is positive news about moving education forward in Maryland. In light of the encouraging data that we’ve seen in recent weeks that allowed the governor to move and to move the state into stage two, and what he just reiterated of the roadmap.
Dr. Karen Salmon: (28:13)
The education community has been able to move alongside the rest of the state. School systems will now be able to bring small groups of students and staff into school buildings for summer school programming. After consultation with leading health experts, that would mean between having 10 to 15 individuals maximums at a time in rooms within school buildings. Students with the most intense learning needs are the ones that have been hit the hardest by the pandemic and without an intense focus on these students, they would be among the last to recover.
Dr. Karen Salmon: (28:49)
Therefore, I’ve been strongly and will strongly encourage local school systems to focus any return to school buildings for summer instruction on those have been most deeply impacted by the pandemic or those that have struggled with distance learning. This likely includes our younger children, students who are the farthest behind academically, students who lack the capacity to work independently and students without the proper resources to participate effectively in distance learning.
Dr. Karen Salmon: (29:22)
Longstanding gaps in educational opportunity and access have further exposed and widened during this COVID-19 crisis. Now is the time for school systems to engage their equity plans. This is required by a regulation that I recommended and that was passed by the State Board of Education, so that these groups of students are our first priority in their recovery plan for Maryland education. It’s incumbent upon state and local leaders in education to maintain the emphasis on equity and action for those most affected by current events.
Dr. Karen Salmon: (29:58)
Additionally, all non-public special education schools may reopen to serve students with disabilities. These schools may begin bringing back small groups of children into their buildings under the same capacity parameters as public school systems. As one of the first programs to reopen following extended school closures, Maryland’s non-public special education schools may develop a model for replication across the state during the recovery period.
Dr. Karen Salmon: (30:28)
This reopening allows for instruction to many students with disabilities through an alternative service delivery model, including opportunities for face-to-face instruction. Eligible programs that opt to reopen will need to develop a recovery plan aligned with the new service delivery system. This plan will require thoughtful planning and intentional collaboration with all parties to ensure the continuum of teaching and learning, and the smooth transition of students returning to the physical school building. Health and safety protocols and procedures that are in accordance with state guidelines must be addressed prior to reopening. In the coming days as we move forward with the state’s recovery, all childcare providers may reopen as long as they follow the health department protocols listed on the MSD website and also adhere to class size restrictions. We are expanding the number of individuals, number of children that childcare providers can have in one room to a maximum of 15 total.
Dr. Karen Salmon: (31:34)
This will assist providers and members of the community as many parents and families return to work. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, local school systems and MSDE have consistently maintained student access to nutritious meals with more than 13 million meals served since the start of these school closures. The United States Department of Agriculture has extended several waivers through the end of the summer to include non-congregate meals, meal service time flexibility, and allowing parents and guardian to pick up meals on behalf of their children.
Dr. Karen Salmon: (32:11)
As we transitioned to a more familiar and routine summer food meal service program, the level of operation, including number and types of meals served as well as the number of locations will be a local school system decision. State Department of Education is incredibly grateful for the hard work and effort of our local food service personnel and their operations team. My team at the State Department of Education continues to collect feedback from the stakeholders and local districts on items for inclusion within the Maryland Together Recovery Plan for Education.
Dr. Karen Salmon: (32:46)
A significant portion of the updated plan includes recommendations and options that can be implemented in local school systems within our now stage two. The revised plan, which was posted on the MSD website last night, includes several requirements that school systems must follow as they begin to return students and staff back into buildings. Each school system must establish a local stakeholder recovery group that is representative of their schools and the community. And their equity plans need to be reflected through their recovery plans.
Dr. Karen Salmon: (33:18)
School systems and schools must determine where their students are instructionally, identify those learning gaps and prepare a path for instructional success and recovery. Maryland’s College and Career-Ready Standards and all state frameworks for each content area must continue to be followed. A system must also put in place a way to track student attendance and engagement in learning activities.
Dr. Karen Salmon: (33:42)
Local school systems must also follow federal provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act as well as all health and safety protocols developed by the Maryland State Department of Education and the Maryland Department of Health for daily cleaning and collection of materials, as well as procedures for if a student or staff member test positive for COVID-19.
Dr. Karen Salmon: (34:07)
The safe transportation of students is also critically important. And the state’s recovery plan outlines a number of vital steps to assist school systems as they make decisions on how to provide transportation to students in this current environment. School systems are currently in the process of working through and releasing their plans for summer learning opportunities and all local recovery plans for what stage three will look like in the fall we’ll come after in the summer will come later in the summer with an outline from the school system on how they’re going to communicate the information from their plans to the community. MSDE will be reviewing each plan to ensure that they meet the requirements outlined in the state’s education recovery plan.
Dr. Karen Salmon: (34:49)
Finally, I’m announcing today that outdoor high school sports may resume practice and training within the same guidelines that were previously announced for youth sports programs by the governor. Any and all sporting activities must align with, again, the health and safety parameters outlined and local school systems and some are also detailed in our education recovery plan. As the unprecedented 2019-20 school year draws to a conclusion, I want to first congratulate all of our 2020 high school seniors that have either already graduated or are still pending graduation ceremonies in many creative, very unusual and very exciting ways, including being out in the parades and being on the boardwalk and also outdoor ceremony.
Dr. Karen Salmon: (35:42)
So it’s been really heartfelt to see what’s been going on in our local systems. And I want to congratulate those students because they will be the ones that carry us forward in the future with all of their good ideas about how we deal with these kinds of issues in the future. I also want to thank superintendents, administrators, teachers, school support staff, childcare providers, parents, and all the members of the community who have stepped up in these remarkable times to do their very best to keep our children safe, engaged, and learning.
Dr. Karen Salmon: (36:12)
I am so eager to work with all of those communities to move education forward in the coming months, we will be stronger than ever and I want to thank everyone very much.
Governor Larry Hogan: (36:27)
Well, thank you. You can see we have a great team. Thank you very much. And I’ll be happy to take some questions.
Speaker 5: (36:35)
Governor and the section part. Governor and Ms. Phillips you discussed that just because something is open doesn’t mean we necessarily should. Would each of you be comfortable doing indoor dining at this point?
Governor Larry Hogan: (36:44)
Well, I can say this. I don’t want to speak for Dr. Phillips, but I gave the very specific guidelines that there are different, more vulnerable populations. I’ll be honest, from my personal standpoint, I am over 60. I’m a cancer survivor. So I check a few boxes that are in a vulnerable population. I would not feel comfortable dining inside. And if I were going to a restaurant, I would prefer to sit outside, which is much safer. And if it’s a beautiful day out there in the summertime, we’ve had some really creative things with closing streets and I think some people will feel comfortable and it’ll be great to help get our restaurants back on track. But I think other people like me might not be quite ready to do inside dining. And I think that’s going to be a personal choice.
Speaker 6: (37:29)
Well governor, what do you have to say to the county executives that might think they should start making their own decisions about whether or not they should reopen these things. I know you gave them some flexibility. Some have said, “There’s so much confusion out there.” Where would you push them in that direction?
Governor Larry Hogan: (37:43)
Well, again, all of the county executives are the one that asked for that flexibility. It was not my idea, but there were a while ago, there were some counties that were in a pretty bad spot as compared to the rest of the other jurisdictions. And that made a lot of sense. I think today County Executive Elrich in Montgomery County was actually saying, he’s ready to open up things right away, which was almost the complete opposite of where he was.
Governor Larry Hogan: (38:10)
All the other counties are well below the state average with the exception of Prince George’s. And so we still want to give them that flexibility. The counties do have the authority to put their own health restrictions in place no matter what the state does. So they have that flexibility. But I think it’s now we’re looking at the numbers that we’re looking at and the dramatic declines in every single category. It seems to me that we’re all ready to open the things that we believe are ready to open. We’ve had a lot of experts that believe we are so.
Speaker 7: (38:39)
Governor, you mentioned earlier about concern over the protests and how that can affect the average number of cases. What would you like to see to possibly pause or rolled back the reopening? What types of spikes would you have to see?
Governor Larry Hogan: (38:59)
It’s a great question. We’ve been watching all of these metrics …
Governor Larry Hogan: (39:03)
That’s a great question. We’ve been watching all of these metrics on a daily basis. They’re on our dashboard, so everybody gets to watch these things as we do. We have a call, our team, I think, talks every day. I’m on it every other day with all of these experts reviewing all these numbers. If we see some dramatic changes in numbers, it’s going to cause us to slow things down or pump the brakes. That’s why we’re watching things. But so far, with all the steps we’ve taken, part one of phase one, part two of phase one, part one of phase two, our numbers have been dropping like a rock. So far the most concerning thing were thousands and thousands of people all jammed together, and hopefully we don’t see the kinds of things that we’re concerned about, but we will be watching it very closely.
Governor Larry Hogan: (39:56)
And that’s why we want to get the testing done, so if people did become exposed, that they’ll know about it, and that we’ll be able to kind of stop the spread. Because there were certainly a lot of young people that were involved. It was certainly people of all ages, and races, and from every community that were participating, but a lot of young people that maybe aren’t as concerned, and that maybe aren’t as affected, but when they come home or when they’re with their parents or grandparents, that’s when we really get concerned, or folks that may have an underlying condition where it might be a serious issue and they needed to know that they’ve got the virus.
Speaker 8: (40:31)
[inaudible 00:40:31] some of the small businesses, especially involved, that still are not able to reopen and hanging on by a thread, and yet they’ve seen outside their windows, crowds of people [inaudible 00:40:41]-
Governor Larry Hogan: (40:43)
I think it’s absolutely absurd that there are thousands of people gathering in the streets and yet a small business in Baltimore can’t open their doors, and I think Jack Young should let those small retail shops open. They should have been opened a long time ago. And Baltimore is far below the state average. There’s no excuses.
Speaker 9: (41:03)
Governor Larry Hogan: (41:04)
Especially with all the additional testing.
Speaker 9: (41:05)
Well, I just wanted to follow up on that. You’re a small businessman as you’ve said, and the changes you’ve made for the threshold is the bar at the top. But like you just said, in some places, including Baltimore city, do you plan to do something to put a bar at the bottom when you know the metrics in a certain jurisdiction are okay for small businesses to reopen, can you do anything or will you do anything to make sure that happens?
Governor Larry Hogan: (41:34)
So again, there are certain authorities that local governments have, and the state has now lifted all the restrictions on those things. Every county and the city is able to open. I don’t believe the city has any excuse for not opening those things, but they do have the authority legally to have their own restrictions in place. So, I think we’ll maybe have a chat with the mayor and see if he can’t move along, because he’s actually in much better shape than others. And Baltimore city is the only place in the state that has not moved. They’re actually I think behind Prince George’s and Montgomery County, which have far higher rates than they do.
Speaker 10: (42:18)
Governor, why the dual restrictions on restaurants where you are restricting 50% capacity, but also distancing of tables. Wouldn’t square footage of a restaurant and six foot distancing of tables automatically limit capacity?
Governor Larry Hogan: (42:33)
You know, I think the experts studied all of the, first of all, they got the input from the Restaurant Association, from all the public health experts and doctors, and they looked at all the other proposals from states all across the country and looked at all the guidelines that were recommended, and I think it was, in some places, a 50% capacity might have worked in some places, a distancing might have worked, and they just decided that either or, or both, was a better way to go.
Speaker 11: (43:05)
Governor, Prince George’s County as we saw has twice the level of positive [inaudible 00:43:06] as the state average. So, they’re talking about possibly reopening-
Governor Larry Hogan: (43:07)
It’s not twice, I don’t think.
Speaker 11: (43:15)
Governor Larry Hogan: (43:15)
It’s, I think, 11% now.
Speaker 11: (43:20)
Oh okay, the graphic said 14. Sorry. But it’s obviously still higher than the rest of the state, and they’re talking about finally starting phase two on Monday. Do you think it’s too soon? What’s your reaction to that?
Governor Larry Hogan: (43:33)
The CDC guidelines say under 15. I think it’s at 11. It’s slightly higher than the state average, but it’s dropped 73%, which is exactly the same as the rest of the state. But they are the highest, and hopefully we’ll see them drop into single digits like everyone else in the next few days. But again, they have the ability to make the decisions that they feel are the best for their local jurisdiction.
Speaker 12: (43:59)
Can I just [inaudible 00:43:59] by the childcare? Does that start immediately that childcare can reopen? Does it start Friday at 5:00? There’s a lot of parents who want to know the answer.
Governor Larry Hogan: (44:09)
Any in particular you’re talking about? [crosstalk 00:44:10]
Speaker 13: (44:12)
Yeah. Just to clarify, we’ve been encouraging childcare centers to open up even before today. I just wanted to make it clear that now they don’t have to fill out an application like they did before. They can just open up as long as they follow the guidelines. And we’re hoping that it’s a smooth transition and then parents can figure out where they want to go. It’s summertime now and it’s the time when parents are really looking for camps and things like that. So we’re just doing it. As people open up, we’ll put it on the website, and we still have all the information there. If you’re needing to find childcare, you need to go on locate or call us up. We still got people on the phones and we’ll try to help you out.
Speaker 12: (44:54)
Okay, thank you.
Speaker 15: (44:55)
One more. Go back to the Governor.
Speaker 13: (44:57)
Speaker 15: (44:58)
Speaker 14: (44:58)
A little off topic, speaking of Baltimore city, what are your thoughts about Brandon Scott’s victory and have you spoken with him?
Governor Larry Hogan: (45:05)
I know that the Lieutenant Governor spoke with him earlier. I plan to reach out and give him a call. I want to congratulate him for winning the primary. I want to point out, I know a lot of people are believing that he’s the mayor now, but there is a general election in November that I want to make sure everybody doesn’t forget about. This is a democracy. We still have to worry about that. So, I want to congratulate him on winning this part. He’s still got another campaign to do.
Speaker 15: (45:33)
Speaker 16: (45:33)
Unemployment. We’re still hearing from folks who have been waiting since March for their phone interviews or for their forms to be processed. What do you have to say to the people have simply run out of patience?
Governor Larry Hogan: (45:42)
Yeah. So I know that it’s very, very frustrating. The people that have not gotten an answer, it’s probably the most frustrating thing for folks that are desperate to get that answer. And there’s no simple answers to that question other than I know that they cleared half of that backlog in the past a week. They’ve paid out $2.2 billion in claims to 400 some thousand people. And the remaining people, unfortunately, many of them do not qualify, are not going to qualify, and there’s many, many reasons for that. We got additional guidance from the federal Department of Labor, just Friday, explaining why we can’t pay even more people. So I know that the state Department of Labor is working. I had an hour long conversation with Senator Cardin last week about problems at the federal level. We’re asking the congressional delegation to help with, but we have paid hundreds of thousands of people $2.2 billion, and we’ve tried to address all the problems at the state level.
Governor Larry Hogan: (46:48)
But much of this, there are three new federal programs, very cumbersome. I believe we’re one of only three states in the country who’ve been able to have a website that can handle them. We’ve paid out a huge percentage of them. The remaining people, which I think is about 13% that we’re trying to adjudicate, many of them may not qualify. And so, as I explained to Senator Cardin, we could just tell them all, “Sorry, you’re not going to get paid,” but the position our state has been taking is trying really hard to jump through hoops to see if we can’t get these folks because they’re desperately in need of help. But unfortunately the federal program will not allow us to pay them so far. All right, thank you very much.
Speaker 15: (47:30)