KEY POINTS

  • Maryland followed the President's directions and took care of itself
  • State's coronavirus testing ability is skyrocketing now
  • Trump: They should've come to me

Maryland First Lady Yumi Hogan is credited with working out a deal with South Korea to bring half a million coronavirus tests to the Free State, and President Donald Trump couldn't be less grateful.

Joined by his wife, a Korean-American, Gov. Larry Hogan told a Monday (April 20) afternoon news conference the state has acquired 500,000 tests from LabGenomics, a vendor headquartered in the city of Seongnam. The cost is about $9 million, Hogan, a Republican, estimated.

"The 500,000-test capacity which we have just acquired is equal to the total amount of testing which has been completed by four of the top five states in America combined," the governor said at the press conference.

Named Operation Enduring Friendship, state officials worked on the initiative for weeks.  Yumi Hogan joined the March 28 call with Lee Soo Hyuck, the South Korea's ambassador to the U.S., that kicked off the deal. The governor said that call set in motion 22 days of vetting, testing, negotiations and protocols among the state's scientists and doctors, eight state government agencies and their Korean counterparts.

Just before he and his wife stepped onto the tarmac at BWI to welcome "a game-changing step forward," Hogan said the state had to navigate clearances across multiple federal agencies, including the FDA, the USDA and U.S. Customs and Border Protection to see the mission to its end.

Over the past 30 days, Maryland has increased its testing capacity by 5,000%. Hogan has been stressing expanded testing as one of the four critical building blocks necessary to begin Maryland's reopening and recovery.

The President has repeatedly called on states to lead and build stockpiles of personal protective equipment. As far as tests are concerned, Trump was quoted Sunday saying, "Testing is a local thing. It's very important. It's great, but it's a local thing."

But once the governor took action, a Trump aide criticized Maryland for wasting money. After Adm. Brett Giroir, the Trump administration's testing czar, boasted about expanding testing capacity across the country, CNN’s Kaitlin Collins asked why Hogan had to go overseas for tests if they were so readily available in the U.S. Giroir seemed amused by the question. "I don’t know what the governor of Maryland is doing in South Korea," he said, smirking, the Dispatch reported.

The President mocked Hogan for his efforts and chastised the Maryland governor for not seeking help from the Trump administration. "The governor of Maryland could have called (Vice President) Mike Pence," Trump said. "Could have saved a lot of money. ... No, I don't think he needed to go to South Korea. I think he needed to get a little knowledge—would have been helpful."

Of course this is the same President who asked governors to “not simply ask the federal government to supply unlimited support,” taking shots at a governor who’d avoided begging for federal handouts, the Dispatch wrote.

Gov. Hogan was on the phone with Pence on Monday. Hogan expressed concerns that the Maryland-based  National Institues of Health, a federal lab, would not assist with testing, and Pence said federal labs would be employed. 

In an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper on Sunday, Hogan disputed Trump’s contention that there are already enough tests to allow governors to begin loosening restrictions on their states. The claim, Hogan said, “is just absolutely false.”