Maryland Governor Larry Hogan quietly replaced 500,000 defective COVID-19 kits they got from South Korea. At the onset of the pandemic in April, Hogan ordered $9.46 million worth of test kits using state funding. Then, they turned out flawed and would need replacing. Meanwhile, President Donald Trump let Hogan know that he’s as bad as the kits he ordered.
Last April, the media celebrated Maryland’s Republican governor as a coronavirus hero. He contrasted himself to Trump by being an action man capable of quick decisions. He directed Maryland to buy 500,000 coronavirus tests from South Korea when supply was bad. As part of the publicity, he even stayed at the airport to personally receive the delivery.
By April 20, Hogan announced Maryland’s test kits. He told the press that they acquired test kits that are “equal to the total amount of testing that has been completed by four of the top five states in America combined.”
Defective COVID-19 kits
Unfortunately, the test kits showed that they didn’t live up to expectations. Then, Maryland had to fork over an additional $2.5 million. This went to the same Korean supplier for 500,000 replacement tests. The state offered the tests free to two private labs. However, only one firm accepted. The declining party refused because the tests took much longer to process than U.S. versions.
The University of Maryland spent months setting up their facility to use the kits. They had to give up using them by fall as there were too many defective COVID-19 kits giving false positives. The other recipient of the South Korean kits, a local private laboratory, still uses the batch given them. They used around 370,000 of the replacement tests.
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What Happened in March
Hogan, as chairman of the National Governors Association then, urged President Trump to help with mass testing. However, the White House advised the states to handle their affairs. Hogan heard of South Korea’s effective method of large-scale testing. Meanwhile, local US manufacturers managed to ship millions of tests to labs all over. However, testing remained hard as the process took time. In addition, there were shortages of swabs and reagents.
Through his Korean-born wife, Yumi, Hogan managed to arrange an order from abroad. The state ordered 500,000 LabGun test kits from LabGenomics of South Korea. The total cost came in at $9 million-plus $460,000 in shipping fees. Ultimately, this comes out at $19 per test kit. This is more expensive than some of the locally available kits. At the same time, US companies are now assuring states that there are enough supplies available. So, there is no need for imports.
Withholding the flaws
Hogan and his top aides allegedly withheld the bad test results from the defective COVID-19 kits. Top state officials denied knowing how many kits got used. Spokesman Mike Ricci said Marylanders are “updated often on the progress we are making in our long-term testing strategy.” The tests “could have been used through a custom lab process, but this would have taken longer than purchasing the upgraded kits.”
Senator Clarence K. Lam (D), the Senate’s lone doctor, stated his disappointment. “It’s incredibly frustrating that the administration seems to have taken very obvious measures to avoid accountability and oversight of these tests. We spent a lot of money on these tests, and to not be able to have forthcoming answers as to how they were used while people were dying is just unconscionable.”
Where Were the Tests?
With the excitement from the kits’ press coverage, state lawmakers awaited the results. By May, Sen. Paul G. Pinsky (D) began getting impatient. Then, he asked State officials to explain the kits. Specifically, he asked why the sale was “outside of normal procurement channels.”
“For two weeks, we saw on national TV that Santa Claus had landed in Maryland, and you had procured 500,000 tests with the administration to save our lives,” Pinsky said. When asked about the tests and why they were not used, they got nothing. Instead, state officers referred the questions to the health department.
Hogan is one of the growing numbers of Republicans that have called for Trump to hold his legal team in check. They also called on the President to accept the outcome and start the transition process. He joins another Republican, former New Jersey governor Chris Christie, in asking Trump to concede. Also included are Representatives Paul Mitchell and Fred Upton of Michigan. and Senators Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.
Outside of Maryland, Governor Hogan prides himself as President Trump’s foil. Last Sunday, the Republican governor appeared on CNN. He said Trump should stop trying to “overturn the election. “We’re beginning to look like a banana republic,” he said. “Frankly I’m embarrassed more people aren’t speaking up.” In response, the President fired a tweet about the Governor. He said: “This RINO (Republican In Name Only) will never make the grade. Hogan is just as bad as the flawed tests he paid big money for!”
Watch this as WBAL TV-11 reports that President Trump again took a swipe at Gov. Hogan over COVID tests:
What do you think of Maryland Governor Larry Hogan? Is he the progressive Republican that he makes himself to be? Or, is Trump correct in saying he’s a Republican In Name Only? Let us know what you think by commenting below!