Maryland Governor Larry Hogan made a promise in an interview with The Sports Junkies on Tuesday to all the restless residents stuck at home quarantining from the coronavirus: It really is helping.
"We have made a real difference and I want to thank the vast majority of Marylanders, who have really listened," Governor Hogan said on 106.7 The Fan. "They have stayed home. They are avoiding crowds. And look, this is very disruptive to people's lives and it's very difficult, but I can promise you it really is helping and it's helping to stop spread the virus, which is why we had to close the schools, it's why we had to close some of these businesses."
"But if you look out in the streets, people are really listening to that and it's making a difference," he said. "But we just have some knuckleheads that are out there still gathering, doing crazy things, and that's what we're trying to stop, because they're actually – this is no joke – I mean they really are endangering themselves and their friends and their family by continuing to be out there helping to spread this virus, which is killing people."
"It took a pandemic to get me on your show," Governor Hogan joked about making his first appearance on the show. "It's like... hell freezes over, I'll come on The Junkies."
Jokes aside, Hogan assured that providing people entertainment they can enjoy from home really is a valuable service to the community.
"You're an essential business," he said. "That's why I'm glad you're still open, because people are at home and they need to have something to take their mind off of tough, bad news and listening to all the things that are happening, so thanks for being on there and making people laugh. "
Hogan insisted repeatedly that residents everywhere should be taking these precautions seriously. The consequences could be dire otherwise. Maryland already has the numbers to prove it.
"We're now up to 349 cases. We added 61 more cases yesterday," he said. "So it's continuing to rise in spite of all those things. And we're going to continue to try to stop it. We don't want to become New York. We don't want to be Italy. We want to try to blunt the spread of this thing. Most people are doing great."
"How do we know when it's effective? There's no easy answer," said Hogan. "We're talking to the leading docs at Hopkins and University of Maryland, and NIH, and we're also talking to the federal folks every other day, and nobody has an answer about when exactly we can say...
"There's not gonna be a magic time where we go, 'Oh, it's all over. Everything's great. Let's all go back to normal.' But when we can start to see the numbers going down instead of up, and when we start to see that we think we have controlled it. I mean, it's going to spread and people are going to get this disease and some people are gonna die."
"But when we can get back to normal we don't know," he continued. "We don't know how bad it's gonna get or how long it's gonna last. I can promise you we're gonna try to do everything we can to keep people safe and to get things back to normal as fast as we can."
Asked how many consecutive days the state needs to see numbers decline, Hogan answered, "That's a good question. So they say if you go about 15 days, and you really can stop it, then that's good. Right now it's all about testing and there's not enough testing to know."
"As soon as you ramp up the testing the numbers skyrocket, because a lot of people are out there with it that we just don't know about, so we're a little bit flying blind," he conceded. "But the social distancing stuff really will help and keeping apart, not being so close together.
"And the good news is we got a lot of practice on this. Throughout most of the season for the Redskins there was social distancing going on. There wasn't that many people in the stands and they were spread out. It was good practice."
"The National Guard is setting up a screening and testing site there at FedEx Field and we're ready to open that," he said. "The issue really is not setting up the site, which is relatively easy. We've got that one ready to go. We've got five drive-through admission centers ready to go and another dozen sites around the state. But just like every other state in America, we don't have the back-end testing capability and the labs.
"And they're trying to – as the president talked about yesterday, and some of the national leaders – we're trying to reserve the testing for the people who really need it, which is the ones that are in the hospital, the ones that are really displaying symptoms. We don't want just every random person, tens of thousands of people, rushing to get tested when they don't need to because there's a limited number of tests and it takes them away from the people that are sick and really need the help."
"We're ready to do that. We appreciate the Redskins assisting with that at FedEx Field and it's pretty much ready to go, and hopefully we'll get that ramped up and opened up this week," Hogan said, ramping up for another Redskins zinger. "The good news is the Redskins are not an essential business and they're shut down. They're gonna win the same number of games either way, whether they're playing or not."
"It's a terrible choice to make, but each governor's gonna be making those choices," Hogan said. "Even in (President Trump's) own administration you've got differences of opinion."
"So yesterday, (Dr.) Anthony Fauci, who seems to be the smartest guy – he's the head CDC guy through NIH – saying we're not going to hit the peak until July, and it's going to continue to rise, and we shouldn't be opening up anything," Hogan continued. "And then you've got the Surgeon's General saying it's gonna get much worse. And then you had the president saying, 'Hey, we're going to be ready to open up right away.' So there are competing voices and thoughts."
"That situation is we have two terrible problems," he said. "One is we're trying to save people's lives and we're trying to make the difference between hundreds of thousands of people dying, or just thousands of people dying. But we also don't want to kill the economy and the businesses and all the people who have lost their jobs. So we're trying to stop both of those.
"Yesterday we announced the additional social distancing stuff and shutting down essential businesses, but we also launched all kinds of economic help here in the state for the popele who are losing their jobs, for the small business so they can stay afloat. We're pushing the federal government to do the same thing."
"There's some economic help in Congress right now that's being tied up for days with stupid partisan bickering between the parties, that we need to just get things done," Hogan said. "Right now, if ever there was a time for Democrats and Republicans to work together and just be Americans, now is the time."
"You can't say, is the choice: Should we just let people die and just focus on the economy, or should we try to save people and kill the economy? We don't want to do either one. We want to try to solve both problems and it's a very difficult thing to do."
"Older people – and I'm one of them – people over 60 and people that have some underlying health conditions, like you're talking about your parents and grandparents, are more impacted," Hogan said. "And kids who are coming back, people that are partying – they're having coronavirus parties, thinking they're bulletproof – and they're coming back from spring break.
"We said they really should be quarantining themselves for 14 days. They shouldn't be around. They shouldn't be going to visit grandma. They shouldn't be hanging out because they really are risking endangering people."
"The other thing I want to make clear to your listening audience is that it's no longer about just older people," he said. "About 40% of our cases are from 18-54. And they're not just people in the 70s and 80s. We have a guy on our communications team who has a best friend from high school from New York, who is 25 years old, star athlete in great shape, who is now on a ventilator in New York City in a hospital in very critical condition with this coronavirus. He had no underlying conditions.
"We have a 10-month old, a five-year-old (infected in Maryland)," he continued. "We're getting kids that are impacted. So it's not just, 'Hey, let's not worry about the older people and the sick people in the nursing homes.' This has the potential to infect anybody."