Maryland Governor Institutes Budget Freeze, Launches New Testing Program to Combat Coronavirus

Hogan urges voters to use mail-in ballots for June 2 primary

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After Gov. Larry Hogan announced on Tuesday that the state is an emerging hot spot with 6,968 confirmed coronvairus cases and 171 deaths, he is ramping up efforts for testing and accommodating the economic strain of the pandemic.

Hogan said the state established a new partnership with the University of Maryland School of Medicine to invest $2.5 million to be able to run up to 20,000 tests per day.

The Department of Transportation along with FEMA is setting up decontamination site at BWI Airport to clean and sterilize 80,000 N95 masks per day. It will be one of the first states to receive this type of technology. Hogan thanked President Trump and Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine for the machine.

Hogan said the state is also launching COVID Connect for Marylanders who have recovered from the coronavirus. They are able to donate plasma for their antibodies to be used in the treatment of other patients with the disease. The project is partnered with Bloomberg Philanthropies and Johns Hopkins to fund $2 million in research.

The state is projecting a potential $2.8 billion loss in revenue for 2020. Hogan said he is instituting an immediate budget freeze for all state spending, except for expenses related to COVID-19 and payroll for state employees. A hiring freeze is also going into effect.

Hogan is anticipating a "multi-year" budget issue as he said the state will likely use all of its rainy day funds. Any bills that are looking to increase spending will not be signed into law.

Maryland received 108,000 new unemployment claims in the last week. Hogan said this number is more than the claims for the entire year of 2019.

"These are not just numbers, each of these represents a Marylander experiencing hardship right now," Hogan said.

Hogan is strongly urging people to vote by mail for the June 2 primary election. Special polling places will be made available for people who are not able to vote by mail such as those without a permanent address or people with disabilities.

As for the ongoing religious holidays, Hogan is pleading with people to continue observing social distancing guidelines despite their challenges.

He told the children of Maryland not to worry as he declared the Easter Bunny and essential employee on Friday.

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