Maryland

Maryland Gov. Says State Will Reopen in ‘Safe, Gradual' Way Despite Protests

"Nothing matters to me more than getting our economy back on track, but we want to make sure we do so in a safe way," Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan continues to say more coronavirus testing is needed before the state can reopen in a "safe, gradual way," even as several dozen protesters drove through the state calling for rules to be relaxed.

"Nothing matters to me more than getting our economy back on track, but we want to make sure we do so in a safe way," Hogan said on a Fox News program Sunday, shortly before President Donald Trump appeared from the Lincoln Memorial during a televised town hall.

Maryland's Republican governor, who is also the chairman of the National Governors Association, has taken a more cautious approach than some of his counterparts in other states and has clashed with President Trump over his decision to purchase 500,000 coronavirus test kits from a South Korean company.

Appearing on CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday, Hogan said the state is working with the federal government to address a coronavirus outbreak and finally deploy those tests.

Coronavirus Cases in DC, Maryland and Virginia

COVID-19 cases in D.C. and by county in Maryland and Virginia

Source: DC, MD and VA Health Departments
Credit: Anisa Holmes / NBC Washington

Hogan told CNN that officials flew the tests from South Korea into Baltimore Washington International Airport instead of Dulles International Airport in Virginia due to reports from other governors that the federal government intercepted shipments.

But he maintained that Maryland is working well with the federal government.

"We're working together with the federal government right now. An outbreak in Salisbury on our Eastern Shore of poultry workers that are infected, FEMA's doing a great job there helping us. And we have those Korean tests with the national guard, with our federal partners," Hogan said.

Hogan said more supplies, including swabs, are needed to carry out the tests.

He also said he hopes Congress will put aside partisanship and approve more money for states.

The capital region continues its lockdowns at the beginning of May, even as many states, including West Virginia, plan to start allowing some businesses to reopen Monday. D.C.'s stay-at-home order and closure of nonessential business are set to continue at least through May 15. Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam plans to announce a reopening plan Monday.

Several dozen Maryland residents demonstrated against Gov. Larry Hogan's stay-at-home order Saturday by caravaning across the state.

A group known as “ReOpen Maryland” organized the protest against the governor's mandates for social distancing and other measures designed to protect against the spread of the coronavirus, which has killed more than 1,100 people in the state.

Hogan in March ordered the indefinite closure of all nonessential businesses.

"We should’ve had the opportunity to adhere to certain rules and regulations rather than be shut down,” James Knowles, a Queen Anne’s resident, told The Baltimore Sun during a lunch stop in Kent Island during Saturday's protest.

Protesters made several stops as they drove from Frederick to Salisbury. Group members pledged to follow social distancing guidelines by remaining in their cars, but many did not.

Jeff Hulbert, the founder of Patriot Picket, a pro-Second Amendment group, said responsibility for defending against the virus should be on individuals, not the government.

“What Governor Hogan should be doing is setting the guidelines and the guardrails, then we put on our personal protective equipment, we go to work, we go shopping, we go out to meet with friends, but we use our personal responsibility to take care of our own lives.”

At the final stop in Salisbury, participants gathered in a parking lot, where speakers, including U.S. Rep. Andy Harris, criticized the restrictions. Harris, a Republican, is also a licensed physician specializing in anesthesiology. He said he thinks enough is known about the virus now to start ending restrictions.

“Let’s let common sense prevail now. We know what’s safe and what isn’t,” Harris said to a cheering crowd of at least several dozen people. Most people did not wear masks and did not follow social distancing guidelines that call for staying at least 6 feet apart.

Many wore yellow T-shirts that read “Open Maryland” on the front and “We are all essential. Trust each other” on the back.

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