Mar 19, 2020
Maryland Governor Larry Hogan Coronavirus Briefing Transcript March 19
Maryland governor Larry Hogan gives a March 19 update after first COVID-19 related death in the state. Read the full transcript right here on Rev.com.
Larry Hogan: (01:14:55)
Good morning. Last night, it was my sad duty to report the first death in Maryland as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic. A Prince George’s County resident in his 60s with underlying health condition and no known travel history. This Marylander was infected with the virus through community transmission and I know that all Marylanders join me in praying for his family and his loved ones. Unfortunately, we are only at the beginning of this crisis and while this is the first death here in Maryland, unfortunately it will not be the last. As of this morning, we now have 107 confirmed cases of COVID-19 here in Maryland and 88% increase in the past 48 hours. Among today’s new cases is a five year old girl in Howard County who has tested positive for COVID-19, the first case of a child contracting the virus here in Maryland. As of this morning, there are more than 220 confirmed cases in the Washington region here in Maryland, Washington, D.C. and Virginia, and 9,500 cases across the country and more than 220,000 cases around the world. The president yesterday announced that he will invoke the Defense Production Act the first time this power has been used since the Korean War, which gives the president the authority to direct private industry to manufacture medical supplies and equipment needed to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
Larry Hogan: (01:17:06)
Yesterday afternoon as chairman of the National Governors Association, I convened and led a call with my fellow governors from across the country to discuss the unprecedented actions being taken in various states and our efforts to help slow the spread of this infection. The governors have agreed to five immediate priorities that we are requesting of the federal government, which we will be taking directly to the president and the vice president on a call with all the nation’s governors today. And I will then be reaching out to leaders of both parties in both Houses of Congress later this afternoon.
Larry Hogan: (01:17:56)
First, we will push for dedicating at least 50% of funding in the phase three supplemental directly to the states. Second, increased access production and supply of PPE test kits, ventilators and other supplies. Third, the authorization of Title 32 to give governors maximum flexibility for the use of the National Guard. In Maryland, I will be working to a point a dual status commander who will command both National Guard and active duty military that the Department of Defense will soon assign to our state.
Larry Hogan: (01:18:45)
Fourth, the governors will urge federal leaders to provide guidance on how the Defense Production Act will be implemented. Fifth, the governors are requesting a delay or a greater flexibility for the completion of both the 2020 Census and the transition to Real ID. We need all levels of government working together to get through this crisis. Later today I will be convening a call of regional leaders with D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and Virginia Governor Ralph Northam.
Larry Hogan: (01:19:26)
I will also be convening our second call with all of the county leaders from across Maryland. This fight against this global pandemic is a race against time and we must take action now. We cannot afford to delay, which is why here in Maryland I am continuing to take whatever actions are necessary to protect the health of millions of Marylanders and to save thousands of lives. Earlier this week, I strongly urged all Maryland citizens to avoid unnecessary travel and we discouraged anyone from entering BWI Marshall Airport unless they are actually a traveling passenger or reporting to a job. That is no longer a recommendation. At my direction, the Maryland Department of Transportation will now restrict access to the BWI Terminal to ticketed passengers only and badged airport employees only. Exceptions will be made for those visitors who are assisting disabled passengers. No one else will be granted access.
Larry Hogan: (01:20:54)
Maryland Transportation Authority Police will be strictly enforcing this policy effective immediately. In addition, we are urging the use of all of our transit assets for essential travel only. No one, no one should get on a MARC Train, Metro, Amtrak train or bus or any of our transportation assets unless you are an emergency personnel, a frontline health care provider or your job is essential to the supply chain. And we have installed critical public service announcements on signage on all of our modes of transportation all across the state, including major highways, Bay Airport, all of our transit facilities urging all Marylanders to stay home to help us slow spread of this virus.
Larry Hogan: (01:21:55)
Following updated CDC guidelines, today we have amended our previous executive order to prohibit any events of more than 10 people in close proximity at all locations, establishments and venues anywhere across Maryland. After working closely with our County executives and getting their input and guidance, we have jointly made the decision to close all enclosed shopping malls and all entertainment venues across Maryland affective at 5:00 PM today.
Larry Hogan: (01:22:35)
Despite all of our repeated warnings for weeks and despite the rapid escalation of this virus across our state, the region, the nation and the world, some people are treating this like a vacation or a spring break with parties and cookouts and large gatherings at some of our parks. Let me be very clear. If you are engaged in this type of activity, you are in violation of state law and you are endangering the lives of your fellow Marylanders.
Larry Hogan: (01:23:17)
This week, Johns Hopkins University and I believe today Morgan State University and McDaniel University have announced that they will finish their spring semesters online. I have been in communication with the Board of Regents for the University System of Maryland and asked them to take the same steps for the entire university system and while the campuses will remain open that they should discourage students from coming back to the campus and to take their courses online for the remainder of the semester.
Larry Hogan: (01:23:57)
As part of our public health surge, I’m enacting an executive order to allow trucks to exceed their legal weight limits in order to facilitate the delivery of important equipment and supplies. On Tuesday, I enacted an executive order directing the Maryland Department of Health to conduct an immediate assessment and come up with a plan in order to open closed hospital facilities across the state and to take other measures necessary to immediately increase our capacity by an additional 6,000 beds to meet the demand created by the escalating spread of this virus. Through phase one of this surge plan, 900 beds have already been made immediately available and Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore City is opening new floor to add greater capacity.
Larry Hogan: (01:24:54)
By early April, we expect to have an additional 1,400 beds open as we continue to work to reopen closed four floors and hospital facilities across the state. I want to thank those hospitals who have stepped up and been a large part of this massive undertaking. In order to advance this plan, we have also today issued an executive order to provide regulatory flexibility to allow emergency medical services personnel to augment other healthcare providers. I am issuing an executive order today allowing for delivery and carry out sales of alcohol by bars, by restaurant bars, distilleries, and wineries, subject to local liquor laws and local regulations. We’re doing this to help small businesses and restaurants and to protect vulnerable people from having to leave home, but I want to urge people to be responsible and to avoid large crowds in stores.
Larry Hogan: (01:26:04)
Finally, I am pleased to report that we have now more than 350 meal distribution centers open and operating for our students across the state. This truly is one of the most daunting challenges that our state has ever faced, but sometimes, the worst times have a way of bringing out the very best in people and Marylanders are a shining example of that.
Larry Hogan: (01:26:43)
We’ve seen so many examples of compassion and generosity in recent days, and there are dozens of them, but let me just tell you a couple. A number of our distillers all across the state are now, instead of producing alcohol, they’re producing hundreds of bottles of hand sanitizer for the local communities. Yesterday, the owners of Pasadena Boat Works donated 14,000 respirator masks to the Maryland Department of Health and a group of Baltimore City residents has come together to form a quarantine response network to run errands and check in on their elderly neighbors in places like Hampden Charles village and Sandtown, Winchester.
Larry Hogan: (01:27:35)
In these times of anxiety and uncertainty, the people all across our state always look for ways to reach out and help their neighbors and to encourage that a generous spirit, today we are launching a new Maryland Unites website at governor.maryland.gov/marylandunites to highlight the ways and opportunities that Marylanders can volunteer and assisting their neighbors and their communities in the days and the weeks ahead.
Larry Hogan: (01:28:21)
I spoke yesterday with Gail McGovern, who’s the national President of the American Red Cross who told me that they are experiencing a severe blood shortage across the country and here in Maryland as a result of COVID-19. The Red Cross has implemented additional precautions and strict protocols to ensure the safety of donors and staff. And yet they continue to see a dramatic decline in the number of donations, and the need for blood will continue as this outbreak grows. So if you’re healthy and you’re feeling well, please consider donating blood. You can go to redcross.org to learn more about how to do that in your community.
Larry Hogan: (01:29:16)
Look, I know that the actions that we’ve been taking may seem extreme and they seem frightening, but as I said before, they are also absolutely necessary to save the lives of thousands of Marylanders and hundreds of thousands of Americans. And we’re all in this together and if we all do our part and if we rise to this challenge to meet this moment, we will get through this together and I just ask that you continue to pray for each other and for our state and for our nation in the days ahead. May God bless each and every one of you, may God bless the great state of Maryland. With that I’ll take some questions.
Governor, do you see [inaudible 01:30:14] with small businesses accessing federal [inaudible 01:30:28] anticipate to have [inaudible 01:30:21]?
Larry Hogan: (01:30:28)
One of the things that we’ll be talking with the president and the vice president about today is one of the lists about making sure that we get some of those dollars right out to the states because I think we’re in a better capacity to help those small businesses. And it’s why we have that on the list. Look, the federal government is working. All of the branches of government are working together, some of the actions they took to get money out to the people that need it to get unemployment benefits out, to provide some back up for some of the large industries that we don’t want. The collapse is great, but the small businesses and the people in our states that are being hurt, we were in a better position to understand who needs the help right now and to get that help faster. So that’s one of the things that governors are going to be asking for that flexibility and for that money from the federal government so that we can implement it. So I agree with the comptroller.
Governor, you have announced a number of title descriptions today. Do you foresee a possibility of even more [inaudible 01:31:21] public gatherings, perhaps eliminating public gatherings and place orders regarding all travel?
Larry Hogan: (01:31:29)
I don’t anticipate that at this point Brian, but I mean these are discussions obviously that they’re having at the national level. And I think some of the folks in yesterday’s press conference in Washington at least talked about the fact that that’s being discussed. Some smaller segments of the country have taken some of those steps and actions like Europe. I mean you look at San Francisco Bay Area, they’re talking about things in New York City and Boston, but we’re not at that point yet.
Excuse me Governor, [inaudible 01:31:56].
Larry Hogan: (01:32:04)
Well, so today we’re talking about the universities but we’ll maybe let Karen salmon talk about that in a little while when we finished going through a round of questions. But right now the Superintendent State School is talking with all of the local superintendents on a daily basis, getting input about… And that’s what we said when we implemented the order over the two week period. They were going to get input about what we might do after that and how we would potentially provide education to kids in that eventuality. So the decision hasn’t been made but they’re working on what do we do in that case as far as online learning and or with the younger kids or people without access to computers, how we provide instructional kits. And so that’s not for today’s announcements but it’s something that lots of people are working on and taking a look at.
Governor Hogan, part of your announcements is [inaudible 01:32:56] following the recommendation [inaudible 01:33:00]. So what’s the tipping point for you to decide [inaudible 01:33:03]. What is there [inaudible 01:33:10]?
Larry Hogan: (01:33:11)
Yeah. So it’s a really good question. Look, we are just making the decisions as quickly as we can, as aggressively as we can. I think more aggressively than most people are. Look, a week or so ago I said that we wanted to limit based on the federal guidelines, gatherings of 250 or more. We talked about people, staying out of bars and restaurants and crowds and then we have the massive crowds in the bars and restaurants because nobody paid attention, we had to down all the bars and restaurants.
Larry Hogan: (01:33:47)
We then based on CDC requirements lowered the facet to 50 and we’ve got people totally ignoring that. We’re allowing it even further, we’re trying to avoid locking down society and we’re trying to keep things as normal as possible. But if you look across the country of what other states are doing, I mean, in the discussion with the governors, people are making decisions almost every hour of every day and different places are taking different actions. We’re taking all the best ones we believe are right for our state at the time we think they’re right to make.
Governor, some people have said that people are having trouble getting [inaudible 01:34:25], any advice for those people?
Larry Hogan: (01:34:30)
The Legislature yesterday passed some emergency legislation to help with unemployment. The Congress has passed legislation in Washington to help with unemployment and we’re asking for waivers of waiting periods so we can immediately process unemployment rather than making people wait a week or two. I mean, we should do it immediately, but yeah, there’s going to be an awful lot of people impacted but at every level of government we realize it and we’re trying to fix it so that we can get people money faster.
Governor, there is five things [inaudible 01:35:00] the government [inaudible 01:35:02]
Larry Hogan: (01:35:04)
Well, there actually were probably 25 things but we sort of narrowed it down to the ones that we’re going to try to talk about today with the president and the vice president.
I wanted to ask you to explain a little bit more on one of the [inaudible 01:35:19] the president actively doing that. Now do you [inaudible 01:35:25]?
Larry Hogan: (01:35:30)
Well, maybe I’ll let the General address that but, I don’t know how many states have activated the guard. I think there are a number of folks that have activated certain portions of their National Guard. Our Maryland National Guard has a dual purpose role and so, when the president calls them up for service for the nation and you know when they go assist us overseas to fight for our nation, they work under the command of the president. If I call them up as the commander in chief in Maryland, they work under my direction. The Adjutant General reports to the either one of us. I think when they joint command, they’re talking about having some active duty military be activated to come out to assist the states in some of their missions and to back us up.
Larry Hogan: (01:36:21)
And I think in that eventuality the requests to the things we will work out would be that the Adjutant General here in Maryland and or in other states would actually control the response with assistance from the active duty active duty military. Is that about right General?
Larry Hogan: (01:36:38)
Do you have [inaudible 01:36:39] how many [inaudible 01:36:40]?
Larry Hogan: (01:36:41)
No idea. They just have talked about the possibility of sending active duty military and we said, if that happens we want to be prepared for that and how we would utilize them, but there has been no decisions from the federal government. Not to my knowledge.
Governor, [inaudible 00:26: 58].
Larry Hogan: (01:37:00)
Yeah. I’m sorry.
Larry Hogan: (01:37:09)
Well, there’s a proposal in Washington about sending checks right away to [inaudible 00:27:13]. I haven’t seen French’s proposal on that. We’re going to try and get as much help as we can. I think we have about a billion dollars in the Rainy day fund, but we’ve got to figure out exactly where those dollars are going to be spent.
Governor, you mentioned some flexibility of [inaudible 01:37:27] Census and Real ID. Can you elaborate a little bit on that?
Larry Hogan: (01:37:32)
Yes. So we shut the MVAs and said, we don’t want people crowding into our motor vehicle administrations because they’ve got to get their licenses renewed. Almost every other governor agreed with that. They’re like, “Yeah, we don’t want that either.” And so we waived all the state requirements saying no one’s license is going to expire. We’ll give you a waiver until the end of the state of emergency and then you’ll have 60 days to update and renew or whatever you have to do. But the federal law says you have to get a Real ID by October 1. We, I believe are either number one or we’re way ahead of almost anybody. We have something like 80% compliance or 70% compliance, 70% compliance.
Larry Hogan: (01:38:13)
Some States are down at 20% but we still probably right now don’t want people coming into the MVA with their birth certificates and all this stuff they have to have that they can’t do online. And so we’re just… And other governors all agreed and said, “Yes, that’s a big problem for all of us.” They’re just asking to push the pause button on all these things that require interaction with people where they would spread the disease. So that’s going to be a discussion we’ll have later today.
Governor, [inaudible 01:38:36] but there haven’t been discussions with MVA of governors [inaudible 01:38:41] to take action across the board.
Larry Hogan: (01:38:49)
Well, so governors have been taking action across the board and… Look, this is a combined response that every leader… And I said earlier that I’m talking with leaders in the region, the leaders in the nation, at the White House, in the administration, in the Congress, with our locals, county leaders. It’s going to take every single one of us working together. There are certain powers and authorities and responsibilities at the federal level, but the governors of the states, also their states rights and states powers and we have the ability and the need to do certain things and we’ve been all taking those actions, but we also need to work together with the folks at the levels below us and the levels above us because it’s going to take everybody working together to fight this crisis.
Governor you’ve talked a lot about [inaudible 01:39:42] some states seem to have been advocating [inaudible 01:39:51]. Do you consider or order [inaudible 01:39:57] travel or people who have [inaudible 01:40:10]?
Larry Hogan: (01:40:15)
We haven’t seen the proposal. I read something about it, but no proposal has been sent to us on the surface. Maybe it’s something… We will consider any proposal that comes from any one of our state’s attorneys, but we’re now asking citizens to stay in their homes. The people that are in our correctional facilities are kind of protected and in quarantine. So where if we tell everybody else they have to stay home, but we’re going to let people out of prisons, it seems to be the opposite. It would have the opposite impact and we’re putting people out in the streets to be… They’re safer where they are is what I’m saying. So I’m not sure. That’s a great, great idea. All right. Thank you very much.
General, [inaudible 01:40:56]
Speaker 1: (01:41:01)
So a lot of transportation right now, there’s a lot of assistance required to distribute things like the Strategic National Stockpile distribution when that’s ready to go. We’re also able to augment a little bit, just a little bit with our medical capabilities. As we said before, a lot of my medical units also work. Of course, we’re all national guardsman they work with civilians. However, we do have some capabilities. We have the structure in place that we can stand up and work with the Maryland Department of Health to augment some of the different counties out there. We were an agile force, so we have a lot of capability and a lot of things and there’s things that we haven’t even discovered yet that we’re capable of doing. People ask for help and we figure out a way to get it done.
General, when do you expect to have shipments from the Strategic National Stockpile arrive?
I’m going to have to defer to the Maryland Department of Health are the ones that have that mission. We assist them when they’re ready to distribute it.
Speaker 2: (01:42:09)
Anything else? Thank you.