Maryland governor says he will unveil plan Friday to begin easing restrictions

Maryland governor says he will unveil plan Friday to begin easing restrictions
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Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) said Wednesday that he will unveil a plan on Friday for the state to transition away from restrictions implemented during the coronavirus pandemic.

“On Friday, we will be introducing our Maryland Strong: Roadmap to Recovery,” Hogan said at the Wednesday press briefing, calling it “a safe, effective and gradual plan which will allow us to reopen to rebuild and to recover just as soon as it is safe for us to do so.”

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Hogan, speaking in front of the University of Maryland Laurel Medical Center, said the process depends on achieving four key objectives: an increased testing capacity, a comprehensive tracing system, a greater supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) and an expanded hospital surge capacity.

As part of this strategy, Hogan said, Laurel has been reopened to better accommodate increased demand for hospital services after it was shuttered three years ago. The reopening adds 135 beds to the state’s surge capacity.

Federal guidelines released by the White House call on states to achieve 14 days of declining coronavirus cases before beginning the reopening process.

Hogan said Wednesday that President TrumpDonald John TrumpNew Jersey incumbents steamroll progressive challengers in primaries Tucker Carlson ratchets up criticism of Duckworth, calls her a 'coward' Trump on Confederate flag: 'It's freedom of speech' MORE and Vice President Pence have responded to his request for access to federal labs. The governor announced on Monday that the state has secured 500,000 testing kits from South Korea, saying his wife, Yumi, played a critical role in acquiring them.

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“Our teams have been making significant progress [on] each of these criteria,” Hogan said at the briefing. “Maryland has successfully expanded our testing capability by over 5,000 percent. Over the past month, we’ve completed more than 76,000 tests to date.”

With regard to PPE, Hogan said a multi-agency task force has acquired 5.9 million surgical masks, 2.3 million surgical gowns, 1 million N95 masks, 1.1. million face shields and another 1,000 intensive care beds.

On the issue of contact tracing, Hogan said the state has contracted the National Opinion Research Center for a projected tracing capacity of 1,000 cases per day.