Maryland saw a single-day high in new deaths related to the coronavirus Tuesday as Gov. Larry Hogan pointed to the growing case count as evidence the state is not ready to reopen.
State officials announced 68 new confirmed deaths from COVID-19, the illness caused by the new coronavirus, bringing the state to at least 584 killed by the virus. They attribute another 68 probable deaths to the virus, likely caused by the infection but not confirmed by a laboratory test.
The total number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the state rose to at least 14,193, as Maryland announced 509 new positive tests. And those numbers are likely to spike as the state rolls out 500,000 tests acquired from South Korea — a significant increase in its testing capabilities. As of Tuesday, Maryland has reported results for fewer than 74,000 tests, with more than 80% coming back negative.
“Today is a tough day,” Hogan said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe”. "These 500,000 tests are going to help us save the lives of thousands of people.”
Expanded testing capability is one of four pillars of Hogan’s plan to eventually reopen the state. But even as other Republican governors have started motions to reopen, Hogan said Maryland is not quite at that stage.
Hogan said he is not considering the wide-ranging opening of business that the governors of Georgia and Tennessee are implementing as soon as the end of this week, though he said he “can’t speak to exactly what the situation is in their states.”
“We’re going to open up our state as soon as we can because I want to get people back to work. I want our small businesses back open again,” Hogan said. "But we’re not gonna do it at a time when it’s gonna be endangering lives.”
Despite criticism from President Donald Trump over the acquisition of the South Korean tests, Hogan repeatedly pointed to the president’s recommendation of not beginning to reopen a state until its count of new cases decreases for 14 straight days. Maryland’s longest such stretch to this point is three consecutive days.
“In our region, because of all the distancing we put in place — we were one of the first, most aggressive, earliest-acting states — our numbers are behind everybody else,” Hogan said on Fox News’ “America’s Newsroom.” "We’ve flattened the curve, we’ve lengthened the curve, but now, we’re starting to go up.
"Under the president’s own plan, we can’t open yet. But we’ve been working on a reopening plan for several weeks now. ... I’m anxious to get us open as soon as we can possibly do it in a safe way.”
Hogan also questioned Trump’s support of nationwide protests, including one in Annapolis, to reopen the economy despite ongoing concerns about the spread of the virus.
Protestors call for a reopening of America from coronavirus restrictions during a gathering in front of the Orange County Administration Building in Orlando
“I think it’s unhelpful," Hogan said on ABC’s “The View.” "It doesn’t make any sense, the mixed messaging we’re getting out of the president...
"I feel like protesting myself frankly, but I think to encourage people to go out against your own policy, I don’t think it’s helpful to the discussion.”
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Increasing hospitals’ surge capacity is another part of Hogan’s plan, which he said he would detail later this week. On Tuesday, Maryland began reporting its current hospitalizations from the virus; previously, only the overall count of hospitalizations during the pandemic was available. There are 1,433 patients currently hospitalized, with 526 in intensive care.
Maryland has reported 3,158 total hospitalizations total caused by the virus, meaning about 55% who have been hospitalized are no longer — though it’s unclear how many of them have died. The state also reported that 930 people total have been released from isolation to date.
Almost 72% of people who have died from COVID-19 have been at least 60 years old, though that group — considered the most at-risk to the virus’ effects — accounts for less than a third of Maryland’s confirmed cases.
About 45% of the victims and of the infected, among those whose race is known, are black, while African Americans make up 30% of Maryland’s overall population, according to U.S. Census data. The state is not reporting race in about a fifth of its cases.
Hogan said on “The View” that he empathizes with those protesting and those who want to return to work, but as Maryland’s case and death counts continue to rise, he must also focus on the ongoing health crisis.
“Everybody’s gonna try to get our economy back on track, but I understand and empathize,” Hogan said. “I feel really badly for the people that are out there suffering. I also feel terrible about the people who have lost their lives and all the people that are sick. We’re trying to fix both problems at the same time.”