He says it will help Maryland recover after the coronavirus pandemic.
Laurel, Md (KM) Governor Larry Hogan says on Friday he will unveil his “Maryland Strong Road Map to Recovery” plan. It will help the state recover when the threat from the COVID-19 virus passes. “A safe, effective and gradual plan which will allow us to reopen, to rebuild and recover just as soon as it is safe to do so,” Hogan said.
He made his comments on Wednesday during the reopening of Laurel Hospital.
The Governor says before the state’s economy can reopen, there are four “building blocks” which must be in place. One is expanding the testing capacity for the COVID-19 virus. He says the state is making progress on that front. “Maryland has successfully expanded our testing capability by over 500% over the past month. We’ve completed more than 76,000 tests to date,” Hogan says.
On Monday, the Governor announced that a half-million testing kits arrived in Maryland from South Korea. Also, the Governor said on Wednesday that the President is allowing the state to have access to federal labs in Maryland. “Access to these federal labs will be key to utilizing the 500,000 tests we’ve acquired from South Korea, and we’re looking forward to moving forward on this potential federal-state collaboration.”
Another “building block” is the addition of hospital beds. “We’re on track to not only reach but actually exceed our goal of 6,000 additional beds by reaching a surge capacity of more than 6,700 new beds in the coming weeks,” says the Governor.
Laurel Hospital, which formally reopened on Wednesday, will have 135 beds, including 35 intensive care beds.
Another factor is developing a contact tracing system, which tracks down all of the individuals who may have contracted COVID-19 from another person. On Wednesday, the Governor announced that the state has signed a contract with the National Opinion Research Center, which is based in Bethesda and operated by the University of Chicago. “Under this agreement, we will quadruple our present disease investigation capability and ramping up to be able to contact 1,000 new case per day,” says Hogan.
And COVID-Link has also been established “which will assist in monitoring and collecting information about people who tested positive COVID-19 and individuals who have come in close contact with to determine who needs to self-isolate and any further steps that need to be taken to ensure that the virus is not spreading further,” he said.
The fourth “building block” is getting more personal protective equipment such as gloves, masks and gowns for medical personnel and first responders.
With progress being made in all of these categories, , Governor Hogan says now is not the time to reopen the economy. “If you look at the Maryland, DC and Virginia area–although we’re hopeful we’re going to start to see some numbers level off–we’re still on an upward trajectory rather than a downward trajectory,” he says.
But the Governor says he understands peoples’ frustrations. “I’m as anxious as anybody to get things open as quickly as we can. I’m concerned about the people who not working and small businesses. But we want to do it in a safe way because we can’t have an overload in our health care system,” he says.
By Kevin McManus