Jan 26, 2021
MD Governor Larry Hogan COVID Press Conference Transcript January 26
Maryland Governor Larry Hogan held a COVID-19 news conference on January 26, 2021. Read the full transcript of his coronavirus press conference here.
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Governor Hogan: (00:00)
Good afternoon. Joining me today are Major General Tim Gowan and Brigadier General Jeannie Burkhead of the Maryland National Guard. Secretary Dennis Schrader of the Maryland Department of Health and Dr. David Marcozzi from the University of Maryland Medical System who serves as our senior medical advisor on COVID-19.
Governor Hogan: (00:32)
This morning. I convened a meeting of the state’s multi-agency command team. And later today I will join the nation’s governors for a teleconference with senior Biden administration officials regarding COVID-19 vaccinations. As we continue to navigate this global pandemic here in Maryland, we are continuing to see positive indications in our key data metrics. This month, Maryland statewide positivity rate has declined by nearly 30% to 6.64%, our case rate has declined by 36% to 34.1 per 100,000, and our COVID hospitalizations have declined by 15%. These encouraging numbers along with the initial launch of safe and effective vaccines makes it possible for us to look forward to the return of a sense of normalcy, but we must continue to do the things that have put us in this position. To keep doing the things that help us keep our families and our friends healthy and safe.
Governor Hogan: (01:55)
The COVID-19 vaccination campaign is the largest peace time undertaking in history. And as with any massive new effort, the nation is facing some serious obstacles. The primary one currently facing every state in America is the extremely limited supply of vaccines that are being produced and allocated by the CDC and the federal government. Right now, Maryland is only allocated roughly 10,000 doses per day, for the roughly two million people who are currently eligible to receive it just in phase one. So it goes without saying it is simply an impossibility for all of them to immediately receive it.
Governor Hogan: (02:56)
Yesterday, the Biden administration was pledging to increase production by 50%. While we are hopeful that the federal government will be able to keep its pledged to increase production, to increase Pfizer and Medina allocations to the states. We’re also hopeful that other promising vaccine candidates are supposedly getting closer to FDA emergency use authorization approval. But the plain truth is that for at least the near future, we fully expect the demand for vaccines will continue to far exceed the supply that will be available to us.
Governor Hogan: (03:45)
In order to complete phase one, Maryland will need a total of four million doses. We currently have a remaining supply of 110,000 first doses available. Nearly all of which have already been deployed to vaccinators and are already scheduled and spoken for. At our current pace, Maryland providers are administering an average of more than 18,000 doses each day. So that’s less than a one week supply. Overall, we will require 12 million to reach two doses for all Marylander’s. And today Maryland has only been allotted 5.8% of that amount. 95% of all of those doses allocated to Maryland have already been deployed and delivered directly to the hundreds of providers across the state who are in the process of administering those vaccinations. As frustrating as this is for every single one of us, this will obviously be a much longer process than any of us would like. And it’s going to require a great deal of patience for many months, while the states continue to push the federal government and the manufacturers to increase their productions and to drastically increase the allocations to the states. I will be discussing that again today with the Biden administration, along with my fellow governors from across the country, immediately following this press conference.
Governor Hogan: (05:42)
In the meantime, we’re dealing with what we can actually control here at the state level, by building the broadest possible vaccination network to further expand deployment for the maximum utilization of the limited doses as we received them. As of today, as I said, 95% of the state’s vaccine allocation has already been deployed, distributed and delivered to frontline vaccinators. Including local health departments, hospitals, pharmacies, and assisted living and skilled nursing facilities. And all of phase one is now open, including for Maryland’s residents over age 65.
Governor Hogan: (06:36)
Those Maryland vaccination providers have now administered nearly 400,000 vaccines, 348,026 of those are first doses and 75.9% of all of Maryland’s first doses have already been completed. The remaining doses are nearly all spoken for already. We have received 208,725, which are required for second doses, and 23.3% of those have already been utilized. Now, these obviously can only be administered within certain timeframes, either 21 days or 28 days, depending on the vaccine after the first dose. So those can’t be sped up, they have to be held until the date that they’re allowed to be given.
Governor Hogan: (07:46)
Through the federal contract, CVS and Walgreens have completed all of their initial clinics at all 227 nursing homes across Maryland. They’re contracted to provide three clinics at each nursing home in the state to make sure that vaccines are available to every single resident or staff member who wants one. They’ve already begun second shots at these nursing homes. And then they have now moved into part B of their federal partnership, which now includes doing vaccinations at the 1,680 assisted living facilities and other long-term care facilities in Maryland. CDC is now requiring Maryland to set aside approximately 20,000 of our weekly allocated doses for this federal long-term care program, which leaves only 50,000 doses per week remaining for all of the other providers in the state. 198,562 have been deployed to the 24 county health departments, and they have completed 136,846 vaccinations. County health departments have been able to pick up their pace with the help of the Maryland national guard, mobile vaccination support teams that we sent in. More than 370 members of the guard have assisted with thousands of vaccinations in Prince George’s, Charles, Baltimore, Anne Arundel, Cecil, St Mary’s and Talbot County’s. State is also deployed 825 Maryland Responds Medical Reserve Corps members to 11 jurisdictions, including Prince George’s, Charles County’s, Baltimore City, as well as Baltimore, Cecil, Frederick, Howard, Kent, Montgomery, Somerset, and Queen Anne’s Counties. A task force of state officials is working around the clock to recruit and assign more vaccinators for those counties that have requested assistance. Maryland has 465 active provider organizations, which are ready to hire and train as many vaccinators as are necessary.
Governor Hogan: (10:32)
County leaders have requested, and we have granted them, flexibility in how their health departments decide to utilize the doses they receive as long as they prioritize the elderly and the vulnerable populations, 365,788 doses have been deployed and delivered to Maryland’s hospitals and healthcare systems. And they have now completed 190,882 vaccinations. Consistent with a state health order, hospitals that have fallen under 75% of utilization are not being prioritized for additional allocations and will not receive allocations until they demonstrate that they can pick up the pace. Last week, we directed hospitals, which began by vaccinating their own critical staff to begin utilizing their remaining doses for older Marylander’s and priority populations. Nearly 40 hospitals have already agreed to join this provider network to do so. Hospitals that hold vaccination clinics for the public will be prioritized for additional allocations.
Governor Hogan: (11:50)
In anticipation of an increased supply from the federal government, this week we began the process of opening more points of access through multiple private sector, pharmacy partnerships. This week, 22 Giant locations in Prince George’s and Montgomery Counties and throughout the Baltimore region, and their three Martin’s locations in Washington and Allegany Counties, as well as 10 Walmart locations on the Eastern Shore and Western Maryland have all begun offering vaccinations. In addition, 16 Safeway and Rite Aid locations will begin to offer vaccinations beginning next week.
Governor Hogan: (12:39)
Given that supply remains very limited and we are focused on equitable distribution, we are utilizing data and modeling to prioritize underserved areas and places where there is the greatest need. To that end, we are working to support hard to reach areas and populations by standing up mobile clinics and partnership with Rite Aid. As soon as the state receives higher allocations from the federal government, our infrastructure will already be in place and we will be able to quickly expand well beyond these pilot programs to include much higher volumes, more and more pharmacies, and many more locations across the state. There’re currently more than a hundred vaccine providers in the state, including pharmacies, hospitals, and local health department clinics. This number is growing weekly and will continue to expand as the supply increases. You can go to COVIDvacs.maryland.gov to find a list of current vaccination sites in your county, as well as the appropriate platforms for scheduling-
Governor Hogan: (14:03)
… as well as the appropriate platforms for scheduling appointments. At this time, because of the serious shortage of vaccines, vaccinations are only being done by appointment only. And vaccination providers will require a verification of your eligibility. Obviously, as we have said at every press conference over the last month or so, due to the extremely limited supply of vaccines, these appointments will fill up very quickly and you should expect to be put on a waiting list.
Governor Hogan: (14:39)
Again, with the anticipation that the federal government will be able to address these supply chain issues and that they will increase deliveries to the states, we have directed the Maryland Department of Health and the Maryland National Guard to work with county leaders, with hospitals and private partners to establish mass vaccination sites at at least six central locations statewide. By the end of the week, hundreds of Maryland National Guard members, who have been in Washington protecting our nation’s Capitol will be immediately reassigned to plan, build and launch these mass vaccination sites. We’ve already begun the process of converting to states Six Flags America testing site in Prince George’s County to serve as a mass vaccination site, which will open no later than next Friday, February 5th. In addition through a partnership with the University of Maryland medical system and the Baltimore City Health Department, we will be opening a mass vaccination site at M&T Stadium as soon as we are able to secure higher allotments of vaccines from the federal government. In order to get mass vaccination in Baltimore City up and running sooner than that, the Baltimore City Convention Center Field Site will begin providing vaccinations by next Friday, February 5th. The Convention Center is one of the most advanced COVID care sites in the country. We opened it in the spring as a field hospital for surge capacity. We then expanded it to become our highest performing testing center, and then later to include an infusion center for groundbreaking antibody treatments. And now it will also begin to provide vaccinations to the general public.
Governor Hogan: (16:51)
We’re currently finalizing sites for regional mass vaccination centers on Eastern shore in Western Maryland, and in Southern Maryland. I am committed to activating as many members of the National Guard as are needed to accomplish this critical, lifesaving mission. We had productive discussions today with FEMA, regarding the potential opening of federally supported regional mass vaccination hubs. In addition, FEMA just approved our request for an additional $219 million in federal funding to support Maryland’s COVID-19 emergency vaccination programs.
Governor Hogan: (17:46)
After consulting with physicians and medical experts at Maryland’s leading healthcare systems, including University of Maryland, Hopkins and MedStar beginning Monday, February one, we’re expanding eligibility for some severely immunocompromised individuals, such as those receiving chemotherapy, and those with certain immune disorders who require frequent medical care. Those individuals will be eligible to receive vaccinations through their hospital-based providers. Dr. Marcozzi will provide more details about that in just a few minutes. Lastly, I just want to thank and extend my appreciation to all of the vaccinators, the hospitals, the local health departments, the pharmacists, the Maryland National Guard, our state health department. Many of them have been working around the clock, seven days a week to serve the community. After everything that we’ve all been through over the past year, I know that people are really sick of this virus. We’re completely fed up and frustrated right now. Trust me. I know exactly how you feel. No one is more frustrated than I am. And no one is more eager to get this pandemic behind us than I am. We can’t fix all of these problems by ourself. We can’t fix them overnight, but I can assure you that we will keep doing everything that we possibly can to push the federal government for more vaccines. We’re going to leverage every possible resource we can find to support the vaccinators, to help them get shots into arms as quickly as possible.
Governor Hogan: (19:49)
And we will not rest until the vaccine is available to every Marylander who wants one. Look, I’ve always been a guy who tells it like it is. And the truth is that this is not going to magically get better overnight. The last 10 months has been really hard. This is going to be much, much harder. So I ask all Marylanders to, as difficult as it is, to please be patient with the vaccination providers. They’re all doing the very best they can with really limited resources.
Governor Hogan: (20:27)
I also would ask you that when it is your turn to get the vaccine to please be ready to get that vaccine. Because getting vaccinated is the best way that we can return to a sense of normalcy. It’s the way to keep you, your family and your friends and your community healthy and safe. It’s the way that we’re going to be able to prevent more illnesses, more hospitalizations, and more deaths. And it’s the way that we’re going to finally get to the point where we can bring this pandemic to an end. So at this time, I’m going to turn it over to Dr. Marcozzi to discuss guidance for immunocompromised populations. And then we’ll turn it over to Secretary Schrader to discuss the upcoming mass vaccination sites. Dr. Marcozzi.
Dr. Marcozzi: (21:29)
Thank you, Governor Hogan, Secretary Schrader for your continued leadership to our state during this unprecedented time. Good afternoon. I’m honored again to speak to you today. I want to begin by thanking my fellow Marylanders. On a daily basis, I am inspired by the actions we are all taking to continue to help each other fight back against COVID-19. This can be seen through our state data as the governor described, or simply by going out to the grocery store. Whether it is wearing a mask over your nose and mouth, talking to a colleague about vaccination or connecting to someone during these physically distant times, our collective actions are having an impact on this pandemic. Data in our state from case positivity to hospitalizations suggests that our policies are working, working because all of us are pulling together. Many national and world leaders remind us, though, that COVID-19 remains a threat, like a smoldering fire in a dry forest.
Dr. Marcozzi: (22:49)
Winter is a time when we are all indoors, and this virus moves silently and easily between us if we aren’t wearing masks. None of us should be overly confident during this high-risk time. As of this morning, our state has lost over 6,788 neighbors, colleagues, friends, and family members to this deadly disease. And now we have a new twist in this pandemic, variants. Yes, this virus is changing and mutating, which is a natural part of the way viruses multiply. What is a variant? Basically, it is a small change in a virus which may or may not lead to improved ability to infect us all and make us more sick. As a result. There are many questions about COVID-19 variants, including the UK one identified here in Maryland. It is important to note that current vaccines remain effective against the okay variant, which may be the predominant strain in the US come March. Continuing to perform active surveillance and research to identify other variants of COVID-19 and their impact is another important effort our state and region are undertaking.
Dr. Marcozzi: (24:25)
I’m proud to be an emergency physician. In fact, treating patients during their times of crisis is one of my greatest honors. Typically and honestly, an emergency physician might not think too often about vaccines during a busy shift. That is until you or your child did not receive one. Then and all too often, individuals become severely ill, requiring emergency treatment because of a preventable illness. Let me provide an example of a life-saving vaccine that we all take for granted. The Haemophilus influenza type B or HIB vaccine, which prevented bacterial infection was introduced in 1987 and is administered in a four dose series, typically from a pediatrician during infancy. This vaccine has a 98% efficacy and has resulted in a dramatic decrease in illness from HIM, including the deadly meningitis. Yes, vaccines work. They are safe, and they’re a wonderful tool to protect us all.
Dr. Marcozzi: (25:42)
There is good news, as there are more COVID-19 vaccines getting closer to being authorized for use. It is anticipated that Johnson & Johnson’s COVID vaccine efficacy will be available in a few weeks. And shortly thereafter will be submitted to the FDA for EUA consideration. The J&J vaccine is a single dose shot with less cold chain storage requirements. So the authorization of this vaccine could be a game changer. Once the FDA approves this or other vaccines, it will improve vaccine availability and greatly assist our vaccination efforts, which we all started just over one month ago. There are many risks to becoming critically ill and dying from COVID-19. Some of those risks are due to medical conditions, while others are not. The adjusted prioritization described by the governor and agreed to by representatives from the major health systems in Maryland allows for those at higher risk of death per the CDC guidelines to receive a vaccine earlier. These new high risk conditions are: cancer patients currently inactive treatment, end stage renal disease patients requiring hemo dialysis.
Dr. Marcozzi: (27:09)
Patients who have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Solid organ transplant patients that are recipients. Sickle cell disease and diabetic patients. In addition to those high risk medical conditions, studies also define specific ethnicities, access to healthcare and challenges with things like transportation or health literacy as other risk factors for severe COVID-19 infection and death. The fact is this virus is amplifying healthcare disparities. National data on COVID-19 from the CDC illustrate this. African-Americans and Hispanics are about four times more likely to be hospitalized and two times more likely to die from COVID-19 than are whites-
Dr. Marcozzi: (28:03)
… as more likely to die from COVID-19 than are whites. In short, community leaders, educators, and those of us in public health and healthcare must recognize this issue and work to address it. I am impatient. Perhaps that helps me in an emergency department, but it is a frustration when I’m waiting for vaccine for our state. Expanding the 1C category and addressing healthcare disparities does not unfortunately rectify the issue that limited vaccine will be our unfortunate present day situation.
Dr. Marcozzi: (28:40)
This remains a national challenge, and hopefully the vaccine candidates receive FDA approval. But we will have to be patient. As more supplies received we are putting in place and all of Maryland approach for vaccination. One that engages the private sector and the public sector, from hospitals to churches, from insurers to grocery stores, from large mass vaccination sites to mobile vans to reach into hard to reach communities. Today’s announcement by Governor Hogan regarding Maryland’s mass vaccination efforts at the convention center and M&T Stadium in Baltimore continues to actualize an all of Maryland approach, as these sites will be staffed by state employees, Maryland National Guardsman and University of Maryland Medical System colleagues together, shoulder to shoulder to get this work done.
Dr. Marcozzi: (29:36)
On Martin Luther King Day, I had the honor of vaccinating Marylanders over 75 years of age. During these difficult times, everyone who was working or being vaccinated was positive and optimistic, something I hadn’t seen in some time. I took great pride in participating particularly on that national holiday. This past year has taught me a lot about the human spirit. My colleagues in healthcare continue to demonstrate unending courage and stamina. I’ve seen coworkers, neighbors, and friends all stand in solidarity against this virus and support each other.
Dr. Marcozzi: (30:22)
We are getting used to this, but we don’t like it. We are realizing how to cope, but look forward to reconnecting in person. We are anxious to have our state open back up and realize that this time is coming as more of us are vaccinated and with our continued vigilance. Together we Marylanders are persevering despite this virus. Let’s keep it up. And I’ll now turn it over to Secretary Schrader.
Secretary Schrader: (31:04)
Thank you Governor Hogan, General Gowen, Brigadier General Birkhead, and Dr. Marcozzi, and good afternoon to everybody. Standing up mass COVID-19 sites across the state is a necessity and requires meticulous planning, coordination, and collaboration. In preparation for mass vaccination sites, the Maryland Department of Health is developing a broad, scalable vaccine administration infrastructure.
Secretary Schrader: (31:37)
We are using our COVID-19 testing infrastructure as a model. If you recall, the testing infrastructure proved very successful, as we grew from 50 tests a day initially, to upwards of over 50,000 tests per day. Just as our testing infrastructure features a wide variety of site models, some small, some large, some better suited to pedestrians, others better suited to drivers, our vaccine infrastructure will feature different site models that compliment the communities they serve.
Secretary Schrader: (32:16)
As we plan the placement of these sites across the state, we are considering our many communities unique needs and ensuring that Marylanders have equitable access to vaccines. Our goal is to have an efficient combination of models across the state. The Maryland Department of Health is facilitating public and private partnerships with hospitals, retail pharmacies, private practices, and community-based organizations to make this scalable infrastructure a reality. Our local health departments have been the backbone of our initial vaccine distribution system. They are vaccinating individuals who are currently eligible in each jurisdiction in Maryland.
Secretary Schrader: (33:02)
Hospitals and large private practices joined the mix early on. They have taken care of many of our frontline healthcare heroes, and they are helping us to vaccinate vulnerable priority populations. Retail pharmacies began administering vaccines just yesterday. We are now running a pilot program at Giants, at Martins, and Walmart locations across the state, from the Eastern shore to Western Maryland, and more densely populated urban areas in between. High capacity community sites, mass vaccination sites will take shape in the next week. We are working with communities where we can serve large numbers of eligible individuals efficiently. The sites will be operated by clinical partners, such as hospitals, that do the actual vaccinating or the needles in arms.
Secretary Schrader: (33:57)
As we receive more vaccines, we can scale up these operations to serve more and more Marylanders. The department of health created a public webpage for vaccination site listings, as was mentioned earlier, covidvax.maryland.gov. Marylanders can use this locator tool to find available appointments at vaccination sites and directly access scheduling tools. Keep in mind though that appointments may not be immediately available at sites closest to an individual’s residence. All vaccination providers are asked to list their vaccine appointment registration webpages and phone numbers on this site.
Secretary Schrader: (34:43)
We are now in phase 1C, and has been said, over 2 million Marylanders are now eligible for vaccines, including the most vulnerable Marylanders and all residents 65 and older. A person’s eligibility never expires and Marylanders who were eligible in previous phases remain eligible. Eligible Marylanders who have an increasing number of vaccination options each week. And when the vaccine supply is ready, the vaccination sites will be ready. The expansion of eligibility helps to ensure that no vaccine goes to waste.
Secretary Schrader: (35:22)
We are working with our partners to make sure the vaccination sites have the necessary auxiliary supplies and personal protective equipment. The state is also actively recruiting personnel to support local jurisdiction sites through Maryland Med Now and Maryland Responds, the Medical Reserve Corps. Maryland Responds has already placed over 770 volunteers in 10 jurisdictions with more scheduled to start this week. In addition, we are looking for interested parties among providers that can register on ImmuNet, which is our long standing immunization website to become a vaccination provider. And you can find that at www.mdimmunet.org.
Secretary Schrader: (36:12)
Let me say in closing, by establishing a robust infrastructure now while vaccine supply remains limited for all states, we can seamlessly deliver and administer doses when the national supply chain matures. When Maryland receives more vaccines, we will be ready to distribute them, and a variety of providers will be prepared to administer them. Thank you Governor.
Governor Hogan: (36:41)
With that we’d be happy to take some questions.
Governor, we’ve already established that there’s about two million [inaudible 00:36:48]. You’re adding an additional group of Marylanders eligible, which creates more competition for vaccine that’s not available. I just heard Secretary Schrader say that this eligibility is meant to prevent waste. Can you talk a little bit about what exactly the state has seen in terms of wasted doses, and whether that’s a percentage of doses [inaudible 00:37:07] of doses?
Secretary Schrader: (37:09)
I can answer that. We have not seen wastage other than in one case where a refrigerator failed. But across the board, people are using it. We’re actually getting more out of certain doses, where we found that we could get six shots instead of five. So to the credit of the people who are doing this, the vaccinators, we’re being very careful and have not observed wastage.
Speaker 1: (37:43)
[inaudible 00:37:43] just say [inaudible 00:37:44] vaccination site may not be available [inaudible 00:37:50]. So could the individual go to another jurisdiction to get it?
Governor Hogan: (37:54)
Yes. The state run mass vaccination sites will be open to anyone anywhere in the state.
Speaker 1: (38:00)
And just a clarification, regarding [inaudible 00:38:00] county has to go through [inaudible 00:10:06], jurisdiction’s X for residents within that jurisdiction go through their own particular health department?
Governor Hogan: (38:13)
So the local health departments can make decisions about how they’re going to handle their own local health department. The guard is in helping Prince George’s County with their health department. It’s also why we’re standing up all those Giants and Safeways all over Prince George’s County, to help get more people in Prince George’s County vaccinated. But they get to make the decisions about who’s going to be eligible in their local county health department. But when we stand up the Six Flags site, drive through site at Six Flags, that’s going to be a state run site, anybody from anywhere will be able to get vaccinated.
Speaker 2: (38:46)
Governor, do you expect the vaccine supple to be more forthcoming now that a change in administration [inaudible 00:38:54]?
Governor Hogan: (38:54)
That’s what we’re hopeful, but we keep getting … like, I have a call right after this with all the governors with the Biden team. We heard like a week or two ago that they were 55 million more doses that were sitting in Michigan, that they said the Trump administration hadn’t acquired, that they could immediately get out. That turned out to be not true. Then we heard we were going to go from a million a day to 1.5 million a day. We heard that I think yesterday or two days ago, and that’s apparently not true. So today I think there’s some report about maybe a 16% increase. So instead of 10,000 a day, we get another 1,000 a day. We’re doing 18,000 a day, so that’s not going to make much of a difference to us at all.
Speaker 3: (39:40)
Governor, [crosstalk 00:39:40] you and many of the governor’s nationwide have clearly expressed your frustration with federal government in getting the vaccine to you. Are you able or have latitude to either purchase it yourself and have you tried?
Governor Hogan: (39:55)
I mean, just to give them … Look, we’re all in this together, and I’m not trying to point fingers at either the Biden administration or the Trump administration or saying … They’re not holding them back I don’t think. This is a very difficult thing. Operation Warp Speed is actually a year or so ahead of schedule into discovering the vaccine. But there’s only two companies. They just can’t make them fast enough. And so there’s no place for us to go buy them, even if we were allowed to, which were not. They don’t have any. Everybody in the world wants them and there’s only so many. That’s why we got to get, as Dr. Marcozzi touched on in his remarks, we’re very close apparently on this Johnson & Johnson, which would be a tremendous breakthrough. We’re going to be making them, producing them right here in Maryland. It’s a one-shot deal. I mean, that will be terrific, but it’s not here yet.
Speaker 4: (40:48)
Governor, we’re hearing from a whole of people who are very frustrated with being eligible and unable to find an appointment and feeling like they’re competing with other people who need it. At this point, with two million people eligible and 600,000 doses, there’s three times more people eligible than doses available. And I understand increasing demand to make sure nothing goes to waste, but the question we’re getting a lot is, did you have to increase it so much?
Governor Hogan: (41:07)
Speaker 4: (41:07)
Governor Hogan: (41:20)
Well, we don’t know. I mean, we’re trying to get it right. For the first three, four weeks, everybody was complaining that we had too many, not enough people were taking it. So 60% of the healthcare workers weren’t getting it. Only one-third of the people in nursing homes were taking it. And we were sitting around in shelves and all of you, and all of our local county health departments, and the CDC and the federal government, both the Trump administration and the Biden administration said, “You need to open it up to more groups.” They all specifically said to open it up to phase 1B and 1C and open it up to 65. We were getting, ” Why are other states opening up to 65? Why are you not?” Then when we did-
Governor Hogan: (42:03)
“Why are other states opening up to 65? Why are you not?” Then when we did, then you said, “Why?” First it’s like, “You’re going too slow. You’re going too fast.” We’re all trying to get … We’re assuming that they’re going to get up to speed, but yes, we didn’t have enough for Phase 1A. We don’t know exactly how many people are going to take it. We don’t have enough for everybody that’s in it. We can’t have them going bad on the shelf, but we don’t want to run out, either. But we’re where almost every other state is. But we’re doing better than 31 other states, but almost everybody’s in the same categories.
Speaker 5: (42:34)
Governor Hogan: (42:40)
It wasn’t just the desire. Before he left, Robert Redfield came in my office pleading with us to open up to 1C and 65-year-olds. Then Biden came in and said the exact same thing. They were pushing, pressing. Our county leaders were begging, and most of you in the media were saying, “Why can’t 65-year-olds get it here like they can in other states?” Then week later, it’s like, “Why did you do that?” It doesn’t make any sense.
Governor, a question about schools. The letter issued this morning [inaudible 00:01:09]. We’re hearing from a lot of teacher this frustration [crosstalk 00:43:24] about wanting to get it, wanting to get back into class, but they can’t get it. You had heard the good news at the time of this press briefing about the measures. So Governor, what would drive the school decision, the metrics or the vaccination?
Governor Hogan: (43:46)
Well, so we, the State Board of Education approved safe reopening plans for every single school in Maryland in July, I think. We authorized every school to open. A majority of the school systems did bring at least some of the kids back in. All of the private schools opened in August. We now have five or six months of metrics with very little problem. Many states have been open entirely since then. Anthony Fauci, all the top federal experts, all the top health experts at the state, the State Board of Education, Joe Biden. Everyone wants to get kids back in school. We sat at the press conference last week that we still want to get kids back in school. Since then, I think five or six school systems have said they’re changing their plans, they’re going to start bringing kids back in school. That’s great progress.
Governor Hogan: (44:41)
But we also said, no, it’s not contingent on waiting until every teacher gets vaccinated. The metrics are good. Many schools have been open for five months without any vaccines. And every teacher doesn’t have to go back to school, if people don’t want to put their kids back in school. But certain kids that want, they need an opportunity at least to get an education after a year of not getting one.
[inaudible 00:03:06]. Governor, are you supportive of that? Are you going to take an active role in trying to [inaudible 00:45:15] the Republican Senator [inaudible 00:45:19]?
Governor Hogan: (45:20)
I’m sorry, Tom, I didn’t catch that question. You’re in the back of the room and you have a mask, and my hearing’s not good.
I’ll try to be louder. The President has proposed a $1.9 trillion stimulus. Do you support that? And would you help lobby Republicans who are voicing financial concerns about that?
Governor Hogan: (45:41)
I think we’ve got to get a stimulus bill passed and I think, as I said on the last three stimulus bills, I just hope that we’ll find a way for Republicans and Democrats to reach some type of a bipartisan agreement. The Problem Solvers Caucus, which is part of No Labels that I’m the chairman of, I think led the way on the last one. It can’t be a, “Take it or leave it. This is the Pelosi-Biden bill and the Republicans better get on board.” I don’t think the Republicans should say, “No way, Jose. We’re not going to have any stimulus.” I think we’ve got to work through the issues and get something done. I mean, we never got any assistance. We were shooting for aid to state and local governments that we still need. There are people out there suffering. We’ve got to get a stimulus bill done.
Governor Hogan: (46:24)
I said last time it was a good start, but it wasn’t enough. But I don’t think you can say it has to be exactly this bill. I think there’s certainly some negotiating and I’ll try to help knock some heads and drag some people to the middle of the room. I’m sorry. Kate, go ahead.
Thank you. Can you address criticism of the state’s mass vaccination plan that includes the 24 jurisdictions who at this point if you hear them talk they’re all a patchwork cobbled together and people are saying, “Why not have a centralized system?” I know you just announced those six mass vaccination sites [inaudible 00:00:47:00], but why is it a better approach to have this spider web rather than a centralized system?
Governor Hogan: (47:11)
Well, that’s just the way our system is set up. At State Health Department, we have county health officers and we have county health departments in each jurisdiction and they’re the ones. It’s the same thing, we did it on testing. As Dennis said, we’re building it same way we built the testing, which was one of the best in America. It’s the way the CDC recommends it. It’s the way other states are doing it. I mean, they’re on the front lines. We give them the flexibility. We’re providing all the assistance they need. There is no state workforce to go out into these 24 jurisdictions and stick all the needles in the arms. We’re building that from scratch. But many of them started out a little rough but we provided some help. Some of them are doing great, but they’re all up to speed. I mean, they’re running out of vaccines. This side got all the questions. I’ve got to pay attention. I’m sorry.
Speaker 6: (47:58)
[crosstalk 00:47:58] talk about the eligibility [inaudible 00:48:02]. Yesterday, you said, [inaudible 00:48:07]. Can you talk about the decision to move forward, and did you think about just bringing in the 65-year-olds instead of opening it up to everyone?
Governor Hogan: (48:19)
Well, I just answered that one. It was both the outgoing administration and the incoming administration and the local health departments and people everywhere pushing for us to expand it to those groups. And the fact that the argument before was nobody’s using these ones and they’re sitting on the shelf, and we didn’t want them to expire. So we had to get them in arms. Since then, we went from 10,000 a day or 12,000 to 18,000 a day. So it worked. On the weekends, we were only doing 2,000 a day and there were some of you, some others, really upset about that. Then we went up to 20,000 on a weekend. So by broadening it we now got to 400,000 vaccines. Yes, there’s not enough for everybody. We always knew that was going to be the case. I’ve said that repeatedly at five or six press conferences. Well, we got twice as many done.
Speaker 6: (49:14)
[inaudible 00:07:16]. Do you recommend to counties to schedule out weeks in advance [crosstalk 00:49:22]?
Governor Hogan: (49:24)
No, I mean, I know this is really frustrating. And if I were trying to get a vaccine for a parent or somebody, and you say, “Why can’t I get my appointment?” Again, we have 100,000 doses. We’ve got two million people that want to make an appointment. We don’t know when they’re going to get more supplies. So if those counties said, “We’re going to schedule them now,” they would say, “We can schedule you for October.” I think it’d be better for them to say, “All of our appointments are full. Contact us when we get more things.” So you can’t schedule appointments for too many people when you don’t have the doses. And you don’t know when we’re going to get more doses, or if we’re going to get more doses or when they’re going to open up new factories. That’s just the way the system is. We only can get what we get.
Speaker 7: (50:10)
You said the numbers for Phase 1A with the health care workers and some of the people didn’t want the vaccine and there was some reluctance in that. Is the state tracking healthcare workers who aren’t getting the vaccine and are those numbers high enough that they concern you?
Governor Hogan: (50:25)
I think maybe, I don’t know, we’ll Dr. Marcozzi on the spot, but I think at first when we rolled them out, hospitals got them first, it was the holidays, they were short-staffed. They were busy taking care of patients. I think that’s picked up pretty steadily. They’re still behind the county health departments. But I think they’re picking up the pace. And I think some people, because they were in critical positions and busy taking care of patients, maybe they waited for the first round and they’re now picking up the slack. But I think they have a lot of them scheduled. They just didn’t want to vaccinate the entire hospital at the same time. So I think many of those are already spoken for and scheduled in those slots like we’re talking about.
Speaker 8: (51:08)
Governor, health officials in Montgomery [inaudible 00:51:10] the state’s web link, the link that people go to, to make their appointments is allowing people to sign up for appointments in certain counties that they’re not eligible in and they’re putting that on the state saying the [inaudible 00:51:26] are making sure that it can’t be forwarded officially. Your thoughts on that?
Governor Hogan: (51:31)
Yeah, I spoke with the County Executive from Montgomery County yesterday, and the Lieutenant Governor spoke with Prince George’s County yesterday, just really came to our attention. Our website, COVID VAX, does not schedule any appointments at all. This is an old system that is run by a private contractor that was for other types of vaccines and other things. I think we’ve now addressed the issue. People were going on there mistakenly and trying to book appointments. It was for other types of medical things and maybe previous flu shots and whatnot. It’s not where you should be going. So I think we’ve already fixed it or are addressing it.
Secretary Schrader: (52:15)
Let me address it, Governor. Thank you. Yeah, we have this system. There are a lot of vaccinations for children and other folks that were in that system. What we decided is that we wanted to design a more robust system just for COVID and that’s what the website is for, and we’re in the process of bringing that up. But at the same time, we don’t want to cut off our citizens from these very important other vaccines. It’s just that the volume and scale of what we need for COVID is so much greater that this particular website isn’t going to be able to handle that volume. But we don’t want to cut it off because it’s important to the citizens.
Speaker 9: (53:01)
Secretary Schrader: (53:04)
We’re working on it as we speak. I’m expecting answers in the next 24 hours as to the timing. I don’t want to just shoot from the hip, but we are committed to changing that and building something more robust. And it’s going on as we speak.
Speaker 10: (53:18)
Speaker 11: (53:20)
Governor, talk about the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Is it being produced here in Maryland? Can you explain that a little more, where that’ll happen and how many they might be able to make a day?
Governor Hogan: (53:30)
I don’t know about how many, but we announced this earlier, Emergent BioSolutions, which has six locations in Maryland, they’re headquartered in Gaithersburg, they have a facility in Baltimore and four other locations, they have about 1800 employees in Maryland. We’ve talked about them quite a bit. They have contracts both with Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca to produce, to be the manufacturer of their vaccines. And I think they’re already in a process of preparing for that EUA. I don’t know what goes into the production of them, but they’re ready, as soon as they get that EUA, to start cranking out hundreds of millions of vaccines. I’m supposed to be talking with the CEO of that group. I think my Chief of Staff talked with them today and I’m going to be talking with them in the next day or so, but if Johnson & Johnson gets to go ahead, we’re going to be making some of them right here in Maryland.
Speaker 10: (54:29)
That’s it. Thanks, guys.
Governor Hogan: (54:30)