ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — Gov. Larry Hogan went on a number of morning talk shows Tuesday to defend his decision to buy 500,000 coronavirus test kits for Maryland after President Donald Trump called him out for not knowing his state’s testing capability during a press conference Monday.
Trump singled out Hogan for purchasing the tests from South Korea for $9 million and not understanding the state’s testing capabilities.
“Some of the governors, like as an example, the governor from Maryland didn’t really understand the list, he didn’t understand too much about what was going on,” Trump said. “The governor of Maryland could have told Mike Pence because that’s a lot of money. No, I don’t think he needed to go to South Korea, I think he needed to get a little knowledge who would have been helpful.”
Trump also added he felt Hogan acquiring the tests was unnecessary.
“No, I don’t think he needed to go to South Korea. I think he needed to get a better knowledge, that would have been helpful,” the president told reporters at his Monday night briefing.
President Trump appeared to confuse having access to those tests with the ability to process them. He repeatedly said Maryland had enough resources to process tests at federal labs in Maryland, which Hogan said the state was not allowed to use.
“We now have the tests. They have the labs, and that should be a great solution,“ the governor told MSNBC.
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Hogan said he’s not sure why the president lashed out at him, saying that the governors had a great call Monday with Vice President Mike Pence and that he thanked Pence and the president’s coronavirus task force for their help. He said on that call they told the governors about federal labs in each state.
“We were very familiar with all of the labs in our state already but the list they provided us was all federal labs, which I pointed out, and which we hadn’t had any access to,” Hogan said on “The View.” “But our discussion really was about test it wasn’t about lab so the president seemed to be a little confused yesterday in his press conference I have no idea what set him off.”
Hogan said the president asked all the governors to get our own tests.
“He said we needed to be leading and we needed to be stepping up and the governors needed to go get their own testing. That’s what we’ve done,” he added. “The president was not on that call, and I was somewhat, you know, taken aback by his, his sort of fighting attacks on me yesterday I have no idea what that was about.”
On “Fox & Friends,” Hogan reiterated that he was just following the president’s previous directives about reaching out and finding your own ways to test.
“I’m really not sure what he was upset about,” Hogan said, adding that on Monday the governors got a commitment that states can use federal labs, they previously didn’t have access, to for coronavirus testing.
“We already knew where the state labs were in our state but the list that they gave us was mostly federal labs, which we’ve been attempting to use for more than a month now,” Hogan said on Fox News. “So, we got a commitment yesterday from the Vice President and from the President that we can now use federal labs, which is terrific.”
On MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Hogan was asked “Would there be have been an easier way to get testing to your state is the president right about that? Are you missing some knowledge, and if there was an easier way what would it be?”
“Well if there was an easier way we certainly would have taken it, you know, every governor in America has been fighting to get tests since the beginning of this crisis and it’s probably been the number one problem in America throughout this entire crisis,” Hogan said. “You know, the President said that the governors are on their own and they should really focus on getting their own tests and that’s exactly what we did. His message changed yesterday, I’m not sure why, but we were very pleased that we had such tremendous success this half a million tests that we secured is more than the top four out of the five states in America have done.”
Hogan said the president has since approved state use of Maryland’s federal labs and sent a letter to Trump on Tuesday afternoon thanking him for doing so.
As for when Hogan said Maryland will reopen, he said he’s listening to the experts’ guidance on that, which is when any state or region has seen a decrease in new cases for at least 14 days.
He also called out the president for encouraging protesters to reopen states including Maryland. Over the weekend, protesters flocked to Annapolis to protest the governor’s stay-at-home order and other executive actions related to the coronavirus.
“I think it’s unhelpful. It doesn’t make any sense, the mixed messages we are getting out of the president,” Hogan said on “The View.” “He basically was encouraging people to violate his own federal policy so I don’t think it was helpful.”
Maryland saw a decrease in number for two consecutive days over the weekend, but then numbers increased Monday.
As of Tuesday morning, there are more than 14,000 cases of COVID-19 in the state and nearly 600 deaths.
At his Tuesday press briefing, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said Hogan was resourceful in getting tests from South Korea, but he should not have had to get that assistance from another country.
NY Gov Cuomo praises MD Gov. Larry Hogan for "thinking outside the box" when buying coronavirus test kits from South Korea but pushes the federal government to figure out international supply issues rather than have 50 states fending for themselves https://t.co/UXPuQyaR0P pic.twitter.com/dy9Vm42HeZ
— CBS News (@CBSNews) April 21, 2020