Maryland governor: 'Simply not enough supplies' on hand to tackle coronavirus

Maryland governor: 'Simply not enough supplies' on hand to tackle coronavirus
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State governments are searching for new stockpiles of medical supplies they will need to combat the spreading coronavirus, the head of the National Governors Association said in an interview, in an acknowledgement that the federal response to the pandemic has fallen short.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) had hoped to use his year as chairman of the governors group to promote infrastructure spending across the country. Instead, he has taken the rare step of delegating day-to-day governing authority to his lieutenant governor so that he's free to spend his energy on the outbreak.

"I'm directing basically the war on the coronavirus, which is a massive undertaking," Hogan said in an interview. "That's a 20-hour a day job."

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Hogan's approach stands in contrast to President TrumpDonald John TrumpDonald Trump and Joe Biden create different narratives for the election The hollowing out of the CDC Poll: Biden widens lead over Trump to 10 points MORE's decision to hand responsibility for the federal response to Vice President Pence. Pence has overseen the administration's coronavirus task force, regularly briefing the media on whole-of-government efforts to contain the disease.

"I sort of did the opposite of what the president did. I think the president made the right decision in delegating authority to Vice President Pence," Hogan said.

Hogan's office has issued nearly a dozen executive orders since the first three cases of the COVID-19 disease were confirmed on March 6. Hogan activated 1,000 members of the National Guard and put 1,200 more on standby, ordered the state to open shuttered hospitals to increase the number of beds available for patients, and ordered bars, restaurants and gyms to close.

On Tuesday, Hogan said he had ordered Maryland's April 28 presidential primary to be held on June 2. A special election to replace the late Rep. Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsThe Postal Service collapse that isn't happening House Democrat reintroduces bill to reduce lobbyist influence The Hill's Campaign Report: Amash moves toward Libertarian presidential bid MORE (D) will take place entirely by mail, Hogan said.

"It's going to take an all-hands-on-deck approach, from federal, state and local leaders and the private sector," Hogan said of containing the outbreak. "It takes every single individual to be a part of it too."

In the 11 days since the first cases emerged, Maryland has confirmed a total of 57 cases. Hogan said his state is stocking up to prepare for a wider spread.

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"We're getting some distributions from the national stockpile. We got some stuff delivered yesterday. It's not nearly enough," Hogan said. "That has been a frustration and kind of a pinch point in the process."

Hogan said governors raised the lack of supplies with the Trump administration during a conference call Monday, which grew heated at points.

"It was a topic of discussion about there's simply not enough supplies," Hogan said. "All the governors are trying their best to get it ramped up."

But Hogan gave Pence high marks for communicating with governors. The vice president has held three conference calls with the nation's governors in the past few weeks.

"Their efforts to reach out to us and to try to communicate to the local leaders has been excellent," Hogan said. Still, he acknowledged: "They're behind the eight ball. They're way behind on these things."

Hogan, a business owner before spending four years working in former Gov. Bob Ehrlich's (R) administration, took office just months before the death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man who went into a coma after being arrested and allegedly beaten by Baltimore police. The protests that followed shook the state for weeks.

Now in his second term, Hogan compared the scale of the coronavirus response to the scale of the response needed to calm the protests.

"This thing makes that situation look like a walk in the park," he said.