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Md. Gov. Larry Hogan says government actions now will decide whether people ‘live or die’

Governors across the U.S. are taking unprecedented steps to limit the spread of novel coronavirus in their states. Republican Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland ordered all restaurants, bars, gyms and movie theaters to close Monday. He joins Judy Woodruff to discuss the other steps he is taking to address this “scary” situation, including increasing the state’s supply of critical medical resources.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    As we reported, governors all over the country are taking unprecedented steps to limit the spread of the coronavirus in their states.

    Earlier today, Republican Governor Larry Hogan of Maryland ordered all restaurants, bars, gyms, and movie theaters in his state to close.

    And Governor Hogan joins us now from Annapolis, the capital.

    Governor, welcome back to the "NewsHour."

    So, what are the main steps you have taken in response to this?

  • Governor Larry Hogan:

    Well, so about 11 days ago, we declared a state of emergency.

    We have taken a number of unprecedented steps. I think I was the first governor in America to close all of our schools statewide. That was last Thursday. Today, we took a whole another host of steps, because, as this crisis is rapidly escalating — and as your last — as the doctor was just talking about, trying to spread out this curve and bend the curve, we have got to stop the spread.

    And so we today closed all bars, restaurants, movie theaters, gyms, which is an unprecedented step. It's going to cause tremendous hardship on a lot of people. And it may seem extreme, but we believe it's absolutely necessary to try to protect the lives of thousands of people in our state.

    We also called up a number of — we have 1,000 activated members of the National Guard as of today. We have got another 1,200 on standby. And we're trying to rapidly activate 6,000 new hospital beds in our state to address the other issue you were just talking about, the surge on our hospitals and the possibility of not being able to handle the capacity.

    So we're trying to open some closed hospitals, add additional beds. We're waiving licensure requirements for people whose medical — nursing licenses expired, or waiving them from other states…

  • Judy Woodruff:


  • Governor Larry Hogan:

    … and activating people, you know, all kinds of steps that are unprecedented, to try to get a handle on this.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    So, with all that, do you believe you have done everything you could do?

  • Governor Larry Hogan:

    Well, you know, every day, we keep — we try to take actions.

    We have taken actions every day for the past two weeks. And we think we're doing everything we can do. And then it — another thing changes, and we come up with another thing we have got to.

    And I have just been trying to make the decisions as quickly and aggressively as possible, because I don't think — you know, time is not our friend in this. And the actions that we hesitate to make mean whether some people are going to live or die.

    So, we're trying to just make them as quickly as we can. And I'm trying to get the best advice I can. We have got a coronavirus task force made up of some of the smartest doctors from Johns Hopkins and from all of the top hospitals in our state advising us.

    And we're just trying to take the best medical advice. We have been waiting for some — getting some direction from the federal government, but just making decisions on our own and taking the actions we think are necessary in our states.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    So, Governor, we understand the president said today that he's — basically is saying to the governors, it's better for you to reach out, for example, to get the number of ventilators you're going to need for people who become seriously ill with coronavirus.

    Do you think that's the right approach? And how are you dealing with it?

  • Governor Larry Hogan:

    Well, I'm not sure that's exactly the way he said it.

    So, I'm chairman of the National Governors Association. We had 48 governors on the call with the president, the vice president, and most of the top federal leaders.

    And I think he sort of misspoke when he was talking, and some of my colleagues may have put that out there. He didn't — I'm not sure what he meant to say.

    But part of that is true. The governors are taking steps on our own to get our own ventilators. But we also need the federal government to get us as many as they possibly can as quickly as possible.

    We did get, here in our state, a load from the stockpiles from the federal government last night. It's not nearly enough. We don't have nearly enough. Neither do any of the other governors.

    So, we have got to do both. We got to get as much help as we possibly can from the federal government as quickly as possible. And we made that point very clear, I think, with the president.

    But we're also taking actions on our own to try to get the other — these kinds of things from private sector and from other sources, because it's not really — we don't have time to just argue about whose responsibility it is or what we have to get. We just have to get things done, no matter how we get them done.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Governor, how worried are you at this point about the six million citizens of your state?

  • Governor Larry Hogan:

    Well, we're pretty worried.

    We don't want people to panic. And I understand that these steps that we're taking, they sound really scary, and they seem — they are disruptive.

    And I want people to just understand that most people that get this virus are going to be OK. And it's not really going to be even that bad of a — the symptoms aren't going to be that bad.

    But we're trying to protect the people that are vulnerable, which is our older citizens, the people with underlying health conditions. And those younger folks who are not really going to get that sick can help us save the lives of many others.

    But it's obviously the worst crisis I think that any of us have ever dealt with. It's unprecedented. Nothing like this has ever happened throughout the world. It's going to challenge and tax every resource we have.

    But I just want people to understand that we will get through this together. And everybody at every level is trying to do everything we possibly can to try to save lives and keep people safe.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And a few more words of advice for those families who are cooped up in their homes, whether they're elderly, whether they are young, whether they're single or have children.

    What would you say to them?

  • Governor Larry Hogan:

    I would say just enjoy the time that you have with your families and let them know that it's going to be OK.

    We don't know how long it's going to take. But we're going to make sure people get the basic necessities that they need. We're going to do everything we can to protect them.

    And while it might not be convenient that you can't go out to the restaurant or to the movie theater, stay home and enjoy some time with your family. And let's hug each other, and let's spend that quality time together. Stay home. Watch television. Listen to your show and stay informed and stay involved and pay attention to what's going on.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Some words we all need to hear, I'm sure.

    Governor Larry Hogan of Maryland, who is the chair of the National Governors Association, thank you very much.

  • Governor Larry Hogan:

    Thank you, Judy.

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