Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, hospitals and treatment centers across the country have been struggling to keep up with the rising number of cases appearing each day. Viral epicenters like New Orleans and New York City have been suffering from a severe shortage of medical supplies of PPE materials, diagnosis tests, and N95 masks for healthcare professionals. In Maryland, the need for tests was so great that the governor decided to take matters into his own hands.
Gov. Larry Hogan negotiated a private deal with suppliers based in South Korea and ordered 500,000 coronavirus tests. Hogan made the order happen with the help of his wife Yumi, a Korean immigrant who speaks fluent Korean. The Republican governor has been very critical of the Trump administration whose members claim they are providing these materials to states.
“The No. 1 problem facing us is lack of testing,” said Gov. Hogan to the New York Times. “We can’t open up our states without ramping up testing.”
This weekend, a Korean Air flight arrived at Baltimore-Washington International Airport carrying 5,000 test kits that would give the state the ability to make 500,000 new tests to administer to patients in need. The Food and Drug Administration and other agencies gave their seal of approval for the kits as the plane was landing. “I was frosted because my team was saying that the FDA approval was going to hold it up,” Gov. Hogan said. “I didn’t care and was going to get the tests anyway.”
The death toll in Maryland is now more than 500. So far, the state has conducted over 70,000 tests for the virus and has confirmed nearly 14,000 infections. The state plans to expand testing capacity in high-priority areas, such as nursing and group homes, expanded drive-through sites, primary care practices, and urgent care centers.