Maryland governor says coronavirus tests acquired from South Korea under guard at undisclosed location
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) said Thursday that thousands of coronavirus tests obtained by the state from South Korea are currently protected in an undisclosed location by the Maryland National Guard.
Asked in a Washington Post Live interview whether he was concerned the federal government would seize the tests, Hogan acknowledged “it was a little bit of a concern.”
Maryland @GovLarryHogan on whether he was concerned that the federal government would seize the tests the state procured from South Korea. He says the tests are being guarded by the National Guard at an undisclosed location. https://t.co/uGcUi6U5rL pic.twitter.com/15BhHmLzql
— Washington Post Live (@postlive) April 30, 2020
“We spent about 22 days and nights dealing with this whole transaction with Korea. We dealt with the Korean Embassy, folks at the State Department … and our scientists on both sides trying to, you know, figure out these tests,” Hogan said, adding that he also coordinated with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
“And then at the last moment, I think 24 hours before, we got the sign-off from the FDA and Border and Customs, to try to make sure that we landed this plane safely,” he continued.
Hogan said state officials ensured the plane landed at Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport rather than Dulles International Airport in Virginia, noting that it was the first time a Korean Air passenger plane had landed at the airport.
“We landed it there with a large contingent of Maryland National Guard and Maryland State Police, because this was an enormously valuable payload. It was like Fort Knox to us, because it’s going to save the lives of thousands of our citizens,” Hogan continued.
Asked whether the National Guard was continuing to protect the tests from seizure, Hogan responded, “They are.”
“The National Guard and the State Police are both guarding these tests at an undisclosed location. These things are being distributed; they’re helping us distribute the tests,” he said.
He also said that the National Guard was assisting the state in various other humanitarian efforts, including supply and personal protective equipment distribution.
Hogan’s decision reflects growing distrust between states seeking to outsource their own medical supplies and federal agencies.
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) had a purchase of 3 million N95 masks confiscated by an unspecified federal agency at the Port of New York in March just as the state was in the process of acquiring another 1.2 million from China.
Baker ultimately relied on a private jet owned by the New England Patriots to transport the other 1.2 million masks that he purchased from China to Boston.
Two weeks later, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) arranged for two charter flights to transport millions of masks and gloves from China to Illinois, intentionally keeping the details of the flights secret from the Trump administration to avoid confiscation.
“It is true that the federal government seems to be interrupting supplies that are being sent elsewhere in the nation, and so I wanted to make sure that we received what we ordered,” Pritzker told reporters at an April 15 press conference.
–Updated 4:05 p.m.