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Maryland Governor Outlines Actions His Administration Is Taking Around Coronavirus

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

From restaurant closings to school cancellations to activating the National Guard, many of the measures taken to prevent the spread of the coronavirus have come at the state level. Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, has been leading his state's response. He's also chairman of the National Governors Association, and he joins us now.

Welcome, Governor.

LARRY HOGAN: Thank you, Ailsa.

CHANG: All right, so you have ordered schools to close in your state. You're limiting bars and restaurants to curbside takeout and delivery only. You have postponed your state's primary elections. These were all your decisions, not directives from the federal government. Let me ask you this - does it seem like states right now have been more proactive on this outbreak than the federal government has been?

HOGAN: Well, look; each state is sort of making decisions that - the governors and the various states across the country are making decisions that they feel are necessary to take to save the lives of thousands of people in their states. And while we're working together with the folks at the federal level - and quite frankly, we have had pretty good communication. Look; as the chair of the National Governors Association, we've had all of the nation's governors three times in the past two weeks on a call - meetings with the vice president and yesterday with the president, so we're working with them. But yes, we've had to take our own decisions. I declared a state of emergency in my state two weeks ago.

CHANG: Right.

HOGAN: It just happened on Friday at the federal level. We closed all of our schools last Thursday. And we were, I believe, the first state in the country to do that, and many other states have followed.

CHANG: But are you concerned that a patchwork of responses might result from the various states rather than coordinated nationwide action? Does that concern you?

HOGAN: Yeah. It's a little bit of a concern, and it's one of the things that all the governors have talked about with our leaders in Washington. But I think everybody - look; I think it's probably less productive for us to kind of argue and finger-point about, you know, what should have happened or what could have happened. We're all just trying to take the actions as quickly as we can. Now, so this is so unprecedented and it's, quite frankly, overwhelming for everybody involved...

CHANG: Let me...

HOGAN: ...And it's changing not on a daily basis or an hourly basis but almost minute by minute. And so instead of waiting to get everybody in agreement or to get permission or to get some decision...

CHANG: Right.

HOGAN: ...Out of folks in Washington, we're just acting, you know, because time is not our friend.

CHANG: Well, on that front on time not being your friend, I want to focus on hospitals.

HOGAN: Yeah.

CHANG: Ventilators right now are critical for the treatment of severe cases.

HOGAN: Yes.

CHANG: At a press conference yesterday, President Trump said that it's always going to be easier if states can get ventilators directly rather than go through the federal government. Do you agree with that - that it is easier for you to get ventilators on your own?

HOGAN: Well, it's not quite - that's not quite how I would view it. But it's a little bit of both. And I talked about this. So look; we need the help of the federal government on these ventilators, and they are trying to work with us. We have - we did get a supply from the national stockpiles yesterday in our state - and some other states are. But we're also directly having to go on our own and not wait for those - that help and that assistance and all of those things. So yeah, it's not like the states should be on their own or that we are on our own or that it should be just the federal government.

CHANG: Well, what more do you need from the...

HOGAN: Look; we're - again, we're all trying to do everything we can.

CHANG: What specifically, at this moment, would you like to see the federal government be doing to help Maryland right now?

HOGAN: Well, some of the things - it's not just what they're doing here for our state but all the governors have common kind of issues, and we've been directly discussing those with the president, the vice president, all of the cabinet secretaries. And it's...

CHANG: And what's the top of mind?

HOGAN: So it changes almost daily or several times a day. So while - testing and ramping up the testing was the big concern, and they have been taking steps. We have been - we were one of the first states in the country to be approved to do our own testing. The federal government has been ramping up testing, as have other states, but it's still a huge pinch point. But it's - now it's on to ventilators. You know, it's just - it's a constant changing.

Today they're doing some economic stimulus, which is great. But it's going to continue to evolve, and we're going to try to continue to work together with everybody on both sides of the aisle - both in the - Washington and in our states.

CHANG: All right. That is Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican.

Thank you very much for your time, Governor.

HOGAN: Thank you, Ailsa. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.