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COVID-19 in Maryland Government & Politics

Hogan Makes Rounds, Hounds Trump’s COVID-19 Response

Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) interviewed by CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Tuesday night.

Amid growing politicization of the COVID-19 crisis, Republican Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. continued to use blunt language on Tuesday to sound the alarm regarding severe challenges that states are facing.

Hogan (R), who is chairman of the National Governors Association, and Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D), who is a frequent target of President Donald J. Trump,  co-wrote a Washington Post op-ed. They titled it “What governors need from Washington during this health emergency.”

Hogan also reinforced his message in a series of live media interviews with CNN, NPR, MSNBC, C-SPAN, and Fox News Radio.

“President Trump has suggested that the testing problems are over, they’ve been fixed, it’s no longer an issue,” NPR host Rachel Martin said during her interview with the governor.

“Yeah, that’s just not true,” Hogan replied. “I know that they’ve taken some steps to create new tests, but they’re not actually produced and distributed out to the states. So it’s an aspirational thing. … No state has enough testing.”

CNN played an audio clip from Trump’s conference call on Monday with the nation’s governors. In it, Montana Gov. Steve Bullock (D) said his state is one day away from running out of test kits. Trump then tells him, “I haven’t heard about testing in weeks.”

Asked to respond, Hogan tried to balance criticism with praise. “I’m not here to point blame,” he said. “But there’s no question this is a pinch point — on testing, on supplies and materials, on PPE and ventilators. Everybody in America knows we don’t have enough of these things.”

“The federal government,” he added, is “taking great steps to try to address this issue.”

Asked why testing is so important, Hogan said that without more tests, “we really are flying blind.”

“We’re sort of guessing about where the outbreaks are and what the infection rate and the hospitalizations rates are, and the mortality rates.”

Hogan also noted that the states and the Federal Emergency Management Agency are searching for the same items at the same time — creating unnecessary competition.

“The president has said the states are on their own, they should go out and get these things, and we all are trying to get them. But the federal government is also in the private sector, trying to purchase those same things.”

With the catalog of the president’s coronavirus mis-statements growing by the day, Hogan made it clear he relies on health experts for his information. “I think Dr. [Deborah] Birx and Dr. [Anthony] Fauci are the ones that are telling us the truth about the numbers.”

In a radio interview, “Fox & Friends” host Brian Kilmeade attempted to goad Hogan into criticizing former California Gov. Jerry Brown and Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York, both Democrats.

Hogan declined to take the bait, saying “there’s no reason to point fingers about who didn’t do what.”

Meanwhile, Maryland enforces distancing 

On CNN, Hogan said Maryland state and local police have conducted more than 5,000 “compliance checks” in support of the state’s new rules against large gatherings.

The checks have been largely routine, he said, “to disperse crowds and make sure people are leaving, and breaking up situations where they’re out endangering themselves and their fellow neighbors.”

In only two cases, he said, were people arrested because “they just refused to comply.”

On Monday, Hogan signed a declaration requiring people to stay home except to go out for food, medical care, exercise or essential travel.

Those who violate this latest order risk a $5,000 fine and a year in jail, penalties that Hogan said are needed “just to insure compliance.”

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Hogan Makes Rounds, Hounds Trump’s COVID-19 Response