Mar 30, 2020

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan COVID-19 Briefing Transcript: Issues Stay-at-Home Order for State

Larry Hogan Maryland Stay at Home COVID 19
RevBlogTranscriptsPress Conference TranscriptsMaryland Governor Larry Hogan COVID-19 Briefing Transcript: Issues Stay-at-Home Order for State

Maryland Governor, Larry Hogan, issued a stay-at-home order amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Read the full transcript of his March 30 press conference.

 

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Larry Hogan: (00:00)
Not to exceed one year or a fine, not exceeding $5,000 or both. In an effort to ensure that this message reaches every single Marylander and in order to reinforce the critical nature of this order, we will be sending out a wireless emergency alert on all cell phones and mobile devices in Maryland with a public safety advisory to follow this stay at home directive. This is a rapidly escalating emergency situation which will soon hit all of Maryland and our nation’s Capitol. In just a few minutes, I will once again be leading America’s governors on a teleconference with the President, the Vice President, and some of our top federal leaders. Later today, we will also convene another call with our partners in the region, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam and Washington DC Mayor Muriel Bowser. Two weeks ago, the three of us sent a joint letter to the President requesting that the national Capitol region be designated as a priority location for a federally supported COVID-19 testing site.

Larry Hogan: (01:21)
The Washington region is where national leaders are actually fighting this battle for the nation and this region is about to be hit with the virus in the same way that some other major metropolitan areas have been. We are home to more than 404,000 federal workers in Maryland, DC, and Virginia. The NIH and FDA are headquartered in Maryland. And these agencies are on the front lines of the battle against the coronavirus. Maryland is also home to institutions that are critical to the security of our nation, including the NSA and the US Cyber Command. Last week, four employees at Fort Mead tested positive for COVID-19. Federal workers at these institutions and all agencies of the federal government are and will continue to be getting sick and a major outbreak among our critical federal workforce could be catastrophic, crippling the national response. This region also represents the third largest economy in the nation. The health of the national capital region, Maryland, Washington DC, and Virginia needs to be an urgent priority focus for our national leaders.

Larry Hogan: (02:54)
It is critical for the nation’s health response, for our national security, for our economy and for the continuity of our government. On behalf of the nation’s governors, we will continue to push for more progress on ramping up production and delivery of PPE, test kits, masks, ventilators and other necessary equipment and for more federal resources directly to the states that are on the front lines of this crisis. I want to thank our federal partners for answering our calls to action by dedicating some stimulus resources to the states and for committing to more state funding and the next round of stimulus. Also, for agreeing to our request to extend the deadlines for the census and the implementation of the Real ID ,for implementing the Defense Production Act, for granting our request for a major disaster declarations, including for us here in Maryland, and for agreeing to invoke Title 32 for the National Guard’s relief missions.

Larry Hogan: (04:07)
We’re also grateful to the President and the Congress for coming together in a bipartisan way to deliver the coronavirus aid relief and economic security or CARES act, which includes roughly $2.3 billion in federal assistance directly for the state of Maryland, including $ 810 million from the FEMA Disaster Relief Fund, $284 million for SNAP benefits, $220 million for Maryland local school districts, $158 million for local nutrition programs, $63 million for childcare in Maryland, and $54 million for the Community Development Block Grant program. The CARES act also includes much needed support for small businesses and extended benefits for the unemployed. All of the federal assistance is critically needed and these efforts are appreciated. However, our state is not simply relying on or waiting for action from the federal government. We’re very fortunate that Maryland has some of the top health research facilities in the world. I remain confident in our ability to be a leader in developing treatments and perhaps even a vaccine for COVID-19.

Larry Hogan: (05:37)
Last week, the state committed funding to a joint partnership with Bloomberg Philanthropies and Johns Hopkins to fund ground breaking research into the potential therapeutic uses of COVID-19 convalescent plasma, which has the potential to save thousands of lives. Today, in coordination with the Maryland Department of Health, the Maryland Department of Transportation, State Highway Administration, Maryland State Police, Maryland National Guard and local partners have begun drive-through testing for COVID-19 at three motor vehicle emissions inspection stations in Glen Burnie, Waldorf and Belair. In addition, today at Prince George’s County COVID-19 screening and testing site has opened at FedEx Field in partnership with the University of Maryland Medical System, the Maryland National Guard, the Maryland State Police and Prince George’s County Police. Residents can call the Prince George’s County Health Department at (301) 883-6627 for more information. There is no charge at any of these COVID-19 assessment, screening and testing sites. However, I want to stress that the testing allotment in Maryland and across America is still limited, and testing at these sites is strictly limited to those with a referral from their healthcare provider or doctor and who have an appointment to be tested.

Larry Hogan: (07:19)
I also want to provide an update on our hospital surge efforts. On Saturday, FEMA delivered 250 bed packages to the Baltimore Convention Center Field Hospital and the Maryland National Guard immediately began setting up the site. The state has assisted the University of Maryland Medical System and starting construction for the reopening of the 130 bed Laurel Hospital and is currently contracting for staff and equipment for that hospital site. We have ordered 500 additional new bed packages for onsite surge expansion at our hospitals, with an option for another 500 beds which will be deployed to sites based on need at any coronavirus hotspots. We have also ordered 100 advanced medical tents to provide an additional 1000 bed field hospital capacity for onsite surge expansion at the hospitals and convention centers.

Larry Hogan: (08:29)
They will be deployed to hospital sites at coronavirus hotspots based on need. We are also coordinating with the DC government to ensure that regional surge capacity is addressed and engaging MedStar, which operates facilities in both DC and Maryland, and Kaiser Permanente, which operates in the Capitol region. Kaiser is planning to surge another 500 beds throughout the region, including an increase of 218 beds at their Maryland …

Larry Hogan: (09:03)
facilities. A week ago we launched a $175 million comprehensive business relief program here in Maryland that brought together resources from two key state agencies, the Maryland Department of Commerce, and the Maryland Department of Labor to help hard-pressed Marylanders and small businesses get through this difficult period. We introduced the COVID19 Layoff Aversion Fund to provide an additional $7 million to assist small businesses in the retainment of their employees. The Maryland Department of Labor has already received more than 1500 applications and today I have authorized an additional $2 million to bring this fund immediately up to $9 million. $8.8 Million has already been provided to over 400 small businesses across the state, which has helped more than 8,000 Marylanders who work for small businesses keep their jobs in 20 out of 24 jurisdictions across Maryland.

Larry Hogan: (10:11)
A week ago we also established a $50 million Maryland small business COVID19 relief grant fund to provide direct immediate grants to businesses that have lost revenue because of the coronavirus, along with a $75 million Maryland Small Business COVID19 Fund to provide working capital to businesses and nonprofits with fewer than 50 employees that have lost revenue due to the pandemic. Our commerce department has already received more than 5,300 applications for this new relief fund and more than 11,000 applications for the new grant fund. Information on all of these Maryland assistance programs is available businessexpress.maryland. gov.

Larry Hogan: (11:01)
Over the past few weeks, we took steps to direct insurers to waive all cost sharing for COVID19 testing and to open up a special enrollment period of the Maryland Health Exchange and expanding the use of Telehealth. Today I am also enacting another executive order which temporarily suspends any requirements that families would have to pay premiums into the Maryland Children’s Health Program so that families will not lose any coverage during the COVID19 outbreak.

Larry Hogan: (11:37)
Marylanders need to know that unfortunately we are only at the beginning of this crisis and it is going to get considerably worse before it gets better. And I realize that this is incredibly difficult on everyone in our state, but I want people to know that we have been through difficult challenges before and that we are going to get through this together. I also want to take just a moment to thank our doctors, nurses, all of our healthcare providers and first responders, along with our citizens soldiers of the National Guard, they are on the front lines every single day putting their own health at risk in order to keep others safe and they are true heroes. And there are also other heroes that you don’t always hear about. Like for example, the 12 school systems across Maryland that have donated all of their medical supplies to their local emergency operations centers and health departments. Allegany schools offered 8,000 surgical masks. Cecil County public schools donated 265 medical gowns, 1,200 surgical masks, 8,000 pairs of gloves, 150 oxygen tube packs and 6,000 alcohol prep pads. And Howard County public schools donated 5,800 surgical masks and 6,000 pairs of surgical gloves, and Wicomico County public schools donated 195 masks and 120 Tyvek suits.

Larry Hogan: (13:35)
There are just literally hundreds of wonderful stories of small businesses, nonprofits, churches, volunteer groups and individuals that are doing truly incredible things. And the fact is that each and every one of us has a chance right now to do something to help our neighbors. Every single Marylander can be a hero just by staying home and by practicing social distancing. This will not only keep you and your family safe, but it could also save the lives of thousands of others. In the days to come we are all going to need to depend on each other, to look out for each other and to take care of each other because we are all in this together. And now with that I’m going to turn it over to our deputy Secretary of Health, Fran Phillips.

Fran Phillips: (14:49)
Thank you Governor. Thank you Governor for your leadership and for the decisive steps that you’ve taken to protect public health in Maryland to slow the spread and to save lives. 26 days ago Governor Hogan stepped forward to declare a catastrophic health emergency in face of this virus. Since then, our lives have changed in ways that we could not have imagined. We are in this for weeks, if not months. This will be a sustained effort by every one of us to battle this virus. This is indeed the greatest public health challenge of our lifetimes and we all need to face this together. We have no vaccine to protect us against this virus. We have no treatments to cure this disease. As the number of people hospitalized across the country and here in Maryland grow we see that even the basic gear to protect healthcare workers, first responders is in short supply.

Fran Phillips: (15:54)
One development that the Governor announced is the opening of very limited coronavirus testing sites across the state this week. I want to talk specifically about the point of these test sites for a moment. This is for at risk people with symptoms of the disease who will not be tested in emergency rooms or in crowded physician’s offices. The point of these test sites is to pull people away from those healthcare facilities to spare the emergency rooms and to allow for testing in an alternative site. This is not for everyone. These are only for people either with a provider order for a test or an appointment. These are for people with symptoms, as well as being in certain age or other priority groups. This testing is for people with symptoms and people who are over 65, healthcare workers are first responders, people who live in group homes or people who are determined by their healthcare provider to be medically unstable.

Fran Phillips: (17:07)
For the rest of us, the only strategy that we have is to take huge steps, as Governor Hogan has outlined, in our daily lives across society as well as at home. And the key to what we can do together is social distancing. That’s keeping space between us. So important for all of us and particularly for people who have underlying medical conditions, people who are 65 and older, but don’t for a minute think that you are immune from this virus if you are younger. As the Governor reported, we have some very, very young infants who are now infected with this virus. So I want to say specifically to the people in Maryland, we are in this together. When this crisis is over, and one day it will be over, we will look back at this time in our lives as a particularly extraordinary moment.

Fran Phillips: (18:03)
When we look back, we have to be able to say that we did everything we could to save lives. We stayed home. We missed school. We missed our friends. All of our normal routines, so we could fight this virus and save lives. We will say we gave up so much for a while in order to save our loved ones, our friends, neighbors, and countless others that we will never know. This virus and this disease is sneaky. It spreads very easily, and it takes days before we know we have become infected, before symptoms appear.

Fran Phillips: (18:42)
The symptoms can seem minor, or they can come on very suddenly and feel overwhelming. Some people, most people, can handle this illness on their own at home with rest, with fluids and with over-the-counter fever reducers. But there are some people who will get into real trouble with this disease. They will lose their ability to breathe properly. They will feel weak. These are people who may have underlying conditions, or as I said earlier, they may not. If you are in that situation, if you have symptoms, you call your healthcare provider. If you continue to have difficulty breathing, you feel faint, you need to call 911.

Fran Phillips: (19:27)
Some people will deteriorate and need to be hospitalized, and there again, that’s a reason for us all to step forward and to do what we can to flatten that curve so that people, when they do go to the hospital, our healthcare workers can take care of them. Our numbers are mounting, as we know. Today, we had 67 new hospitalizations in the last 24 hours. We have a deadly outbreak in Carroll County. And we know that there are clusters of concern under investigation around the state. So, we have to stop the spread. We have to do everything we can to stop this infection today so that next week and in the weeks to come there will be enough care available for those who do get sick.

Fran Phillips: (20:08)
What you do today, what you do tomorrow it matters. It really matters. It matters to the future of us all. And I want to tell you right now that there are some very sick people here in Maryland. I want to recognize and thank the dedicated and courageous healthcare workers and first responders, and all of the people in our community who have stepped forward to take care not only of COVID patients, but also of our community itself. I want to thank the thousands of people working in nursing homes, in primary care, in public health, people who are doing everything they can, everything in their power to keep people from getting sick.

Fran Phillips: (20:45)
If you have healthcare skills or other skills that you would like to volunteer, I urge you to consider volunteering with Maryland Responds. That’s the Medical Reserve Corps. If you go to mdresponds.health. maryland.gov you can sign up and be registered to be a volunteer and part of this corps. Every single person in Maryland has to help these dedicated people right now. We need to protect ourselves and to save lives. So, don’t go out. Only take a walk by yourself or with the people that you live with, and for a very short period of time. Don’t do unnecessary things. You need to stay home. Do everything that you can online or by phone. If you must get out, particularly if you are vulnerable, you must stay six feet away from other people. Wash your hands frequently and don’t touch your face.

Fran Phillips: (21:42)
If you need help, if you need more information, please call 211. If you’re feeling that you’re needing some extra guidance, please call 211. These are extraordinary times. By acting right now, by pulling together, we can slow the spread, save lives and take charge of our future. Thank you.

Larry Hogan: (22:05)
Thank you. With that, we’ll be happy to take a few questions.

Speaker 1: (22:08)
Governor, you already have some businesses that are shutdown. Just the essential ones open. Is that number going to pare down or stay where we are?

Larry Hogan: (22:18)
I think we’ve already got a lot of businesses shut down in the state, and I think further ones will shut down as a result of the actions today.

Speaker 2: (22:25)
Governor, can you describe some of the activities? I’ve got a couple of messages from people saying, “Can I walk my dog? Can I go for a jog? Can I go to Home Depot to buy plumbing supplies? [inaudible 00:22:37] grocery supplies?

Larry Hogan: (22:38)
Yeah, so I think a lot of it is common sense and Fran Phillips just touched on some of that. People are not locked in their homes. We’re just telling people that they need to stay in their homes except for essential and necessary things. So, we want people who have to go out and get food, they need to get prescriptions. You should be able to get outside for your own physical and mental wellbeing and go for a walk and take your dog for a walk. You should not be going out with a crowd of a 100 people congregating at a park somewhere. If your plumbing is leaking all over your house and you have to go out and do something about fixing that, that’s probably a necessary function. But you shouldn’t be out shopping for new carpets or cabinets or buying furniture or clothing. You should be buying the necessary things you need to survive.

Speaker 2: (23:34)
One more thing. Have you taken any consideration, like Florida has done, looking at cars coming from New York and anything along those lines?

Larry Hogan: (23:34)
Yeah, so we’ve told people anyone traveling from anywhere, not from just New York but from any other state outside our region should self quarantine for 14 days. We’ve told people in Maryland that they should not travel outside the region for any reason whatsoever unless it’s absolutely essential. And we’re messaging all of those things at all of the entrances to the state, at all of our airports, on AMTRAK, on our state highways. We’re cracking down on enforcement and we’ve shut down … We’re down to about 15% on our transit systems, only for essential riders and we’ll take whatever further actions are necessary. Kate?

Kate: (24:16)
Governor Hogan, can you elaborate on what Miss Phillips said that we are aware of other clusters of concern in Maryland? I’m assuming those clusters may know they’re of concern, but could you give us a description of what entities they might be?

Larry Hogan: (24:29)
Maybe Miss Phillips would like to touch on a few of them, but we talked about kind of the worst case scenario, the most frightening one today is this nursing home situation in Carroll County because we got 67 positives. But there are smaller outbreaks in a number of places around the state that are of concern, that are in senior centers or nursing homes or with the staff at hospitals, or people in sensitive locations. So, there’s a whole long list that’s in every … We’ve got things happening in 22 out of our 24 jurisdictions. But the list would be too long to go into all of them. I think those are the highlighted ones, but we can probably address that at a later time. There are things that concern us that we could probably talk about all day long.

Speaker 3: (25:21)
Governor Hogan, speaking of institutional cases, Clifton Perkins Hospital Center, a lot of staff was very concerned about [inaudible 00:25:25] protecting their health.

Larry Hogan: (25:26)
Yeah.

Speaker 3: (25:26)
What can you do to make sure that those employees are safe-

Larry Hogan: (25:29)
Well, that’s one of the things. So, it’s at Perkins, at our psychiatric hospitals, it’s at all of our normal medical hospitals. It’s at our detention facilities, it’s at all of our assisted living facilities. It’s at all of our nursing home facilities. There are literally thousands of facilities that we’re concerned about in the state of Maryland, including that one.

Speaker 3: (25:55)
Do you have enough gear for the workers?

Larry Hogan: (25:55)
No, we do not have enough gear. No one in the country has enough gear. That’s the number one problem in America right now that everyone’s talking about.

Speaker 4: (26:00)
How is that search going, Governor, to get more equipment, to get more ventilators, to get more equipment to where you need it?

Larry Hogan: (26:06)
Well, we’re going to continue to press that with the federal partners. Just as soon as I finish talking with you, every governor is concerned about that. We’re also pressing … I spent the weekend talking to people at the federal level. Also pushing to get some of these supplies everywhere we can find them on the open market and around the world, not just here domestically. But there simply are not enough of all of these things, which is the greatest tragedy of this crisis. It’s not a situation for this one mental health facility or this one state, there are not enough PPE, masks, swabs or ventilators anywhere in America. And that’s the number one problem we have with this crisis.

Speaker 4: (26:54)
What do you tell those people who work at those facilities who don’t have the proper equipment that they need to go do their job? They’re in danger.

Larry Hogan: (26:56)
They are in danger and that’s the thing that everyone in the federal, state and local level and in all the hospital systems are focusing on-

Larry Hogan: (27:03)
like a laser beam.

Speaker 5: (27:07)
Governor, what effect is this likely to have on the state budget, both in the current year that we’re winding up in and the fiscal year that we’re about to start?

Larry Hogan: (27:12)
Well it’s going to be devastating to the state budget and we’re going to tap into and perhaps drain the entire rainy day fund and we’ve already asked for half of the next stimulus package from the federal government to the states. I was happy to see that the president the other day recognized that fact and when they asked a question about a fourth stimulus package, he said the States are going to need help. Several governors have already talked about the fact that their states may be in grave fiscal danger.

Speaker 5: (27:42)
The comptroller’s projected perhaps 30% revenue loss for the state in the coming year, do you think-

Larry Hogan: (27:43)
I don’t think that’s too unrealistic of a number. We’re talking about nationally 25% unemployment, revenues should be down dramatically.

Speaker 6: (27:51)
I have [inaudible 00:00:53]. You mentioned that the experts predicted we may look like the Tristate area by Easter. Sources of mine in the Tristate area, Connecticut specifically, say that autopsies are coming back confirming what they’ve seen in [inaudible 00:01:12], that ibuprofen appears to be attracted to this molecule, is it too early to say that you’ve seen that correlation yet. It’s a warning that I’ve been getting over and over.

Larry Hogan: (28:22)
Is it too early to talk about that? Yeah. So, Fran Phillips says it’s too early to say anything about ibuprofen. I don’t think we’ve heard anything about that rumor from Connecticut.

Speaker 5: (28:31)
Governor, will health officials be going back and looking at cases that perhaps predate the state of emergency to determine whether or not any earlier deaths in Maryland might’ve been related to COVID-19?

Larry Hogan: (28:40)
That’s a good question. Yeah.

Speaker 7: (28:44)
The state medical examiner’s office is completely wired in and working with us every step of the way. And whenever there is any kind of suspicion as far as any kind of unexplained death, that they go ahead and do testing. And so, they’re very much have heightened surveillance.

Speaker 5: (28:59)
Will they be going back and looking at previous cases that predate the March [inaudible 00:29:06]?

Speaker 7: (29:05)
They may do that in an aggregate way. Of course, there’s no way to do testing. So, to look at what the trend line for past unexplained respiratory illnesses might be something to take a look at, but right now they’re focusing immediately on the cases at hand.

Speaker 6: (29:18)
May I ask a follow up on the percentages. On one of the Sunday shows, governor, you said 56% of hospitalization are people younger than 50. Is that rate percentage the same for today’s hospitalizations. And can you clarify the number of negative test results that are being posted, because all test results, they give the public a comfort that doesn’t exist in terms of the infection rate.

Larry Hogan: (29:47)
Sure. As of today, 51% of all the positive cases are 50 and younger, which is a quite a difference from what we’ve been talking about. Fran can address the hospitalizations of yesterday. 56% of all the hospitalizations were under 60. On the testing, so we now have all of the labs reporting. We require them to do so. So, we have negatives and positives. Our percentage of positives is going up, but that’s because we’re doing a better job of testing the people that are sick. So, I think we’ve gone up from 3% to 10 or 11%, Fran can explain why that’s a good thing, not a bad thing, because we’re testing the right people rather than just wasting tests on people that did not have the disease. Do you want to address that further, Fran?

Fran Phillips: (30:34)
Sure. Just to say that our positivity right now is over 11%. It started down at 3% and that’s when we had tests available, not only at the state and as well as in commercial labs, there wasn’t this requirement that people to be tested needed to have symptoms. So, we don’t want to waste these tests. We want to test where it’s really important to the individual and to the contact tracing that we’re doing in order to stop the spread.

Speaker 5: (31:03)
[crosstalk 00:31:03] test results posted on your website-

Fran Phillips: (31:03)
Yes, they are.

Speaker 5: (31:04)
… people with negative-

Fran Phillips: (31:05)
Those are tests. So, there are some instances where a person would have more than one test, but that’s really insignificant.

Speaker 8: (31:12)
In regards to the test, could you also talk about the time frame it takes to get results back? [crosstalk 00:31:19] talking about a long time in terms of getting their test results.

Fran Phillips: (31:22)
Sure. As the governor said, one of the key shortages that we have is not only personal protective equipment, but it’s the lab supplies to do these tests, and so it’s the raw ingredients that go into being able to turn these tests out, not only in the state lab, but in the hospital labs as well as in commercial labs. And as a result, in the commercial labs, there is a backlog so that some of the results that we report today are people that had their tests submitted days and days ago and who could’ve been infected a week and a half ago. So, you have to look at this in terms of the process. That’s a very good question because we still have backlog. Now the state lab has prioritized for urgently needed testing, and that’s for hospitalized patients primarily, or in these cluster investigations. Those are ones that we prioritize our state lab to do that we can turn around in less than 24 hours.

Speaker 9: (32:12)
Last question, please.

Speaker 10: (32:12)
Speaking of the testing data, there’s been a request for a report by racial breakdown. Is that something the state can do?

Fran Phillips: (32:20)
I’m not aware that we have looked into that. Thank you.

Speaker 9: (32:21)
Thank you all.

Speaker 11: (32:21)
Thank you.