The following is a transcript of an interview with Maryland Governor Larry Hogan that aired Sunday, January 16, 2022, on "Face the Nation."
MARGARET BRENNAN: We go now to Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, who joins us from Annapolis. Good morning to you, governor.
MARYLAND GOV. LARRY HOGAN: Good morning.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Eighty percent of hospital beds are occupied in your state, Omicron is really hitting hard. There are comparisons right now to where we were in 2020. Have you seen a real change in the ability of the federal government to respond to states like yours?
GOV. HOGAN: Well, so we have been impacted really hard over the past couple of weeks, and we reached a higher point than we ever did during the rest of the nearly two years of this crisis. We've got a little bit of positive news and- in that it's not quite a trend, but over the past four or five days, we've seen fairly dramatic decreases in both hospitalizations, positivity rate and case rate. And so it's hopeful, and we're- we're going to keep an eye on that over the next 10 days to see if we continue. But we're still in a pretty tough spot, and that's why I declared a state of emergency. We- we did a lot of things to try to help increase the capacity of our hospital systems. Sent in a thousand members of the National Guard. And you know, we're taking a lot of actions directly and we're- we're trying to get as much help as we can from the federal government. But, you know, quite frankly, they're fallen short in a couple of ways.
MARGARET BRENNAN: How- what do you need?
GOV. LARRY HOGAN: Well, we've been pushing for quite some time, you know, the president announced nearly a month ago before Christmas that he was going to distribute these half a billion rapid test out across the country. And so far we haven't seen any. We were acquiring our own, you know, the states have been on the front lines throughout this crisis. And now it appears as if, rather than producing more of these rapid tests, the federal government is just purchasing the ones that we had already contracted for. You know, so now we're sort of hijacking the tests that we already had plans for, and we're now getting some of those providers to tell us they no longer have the mat-Masks- the rapid tests. On masks, you know, I announced last week that we were- we were delivering free of charge 20 million N95 and can KN95 masks across the state. And I think the federal government is following behind trying to do the same thing in other places.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Right. The president is expected to announce something in detail this week on that front.
GOV. HOGAN: I hope so.
MARGARET BRENNAN: And I understand- I understand the CDC just changed their guidance or adapted their guidance on Friday regarding masks. But other states were out there, like Connecticut distributing and N95s earlier. Why did you wait until this point?
GOV. HOGAN: Well, we've been distributing them throughout the crisis. I mean, from the beginning, but the 20 million is a pretty huge number. So we've had unlimited mass for the schools, for, you know, more than a year already. We've got them out of health departments and hospitals. But now we're- we're having even bigger reach because we realize that these masks are much more protective and that we've got a much more contagious variant that's spreading not only across our state but across the country.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah. In nearby West Virginia, their governor, also Republican Jim Justice, has asked the CDC to authorize a fourth booster for the most vulnerable in his state. Are you going to do the same? Are you interested in that?
GOV. HOGAN: Well, five or six months ago, we did move forward on the third booster ahead of the federal government because we- we had done our own antibody study in our nursing homes, which were some of our most vulnerable patients that we were very concerned about. The CDC was taking their time, and so we were now doing another very similar antibody study in our nursing homes to see if we should move forward with a four fourth dose, at least for our most vulnerable patients that are at risk.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So you're working on that. When it comes to–
GOV. HOGAN: Yes.
MARGARET BRENNAN: What's happening in schools right now, and I understand that this is district by district and the decisions are different, but Prince George's County, as you know a District of Columbia suburb, went virtual right around Christmas. They're going back to school in person this coming week. You will pose that. You wanted kids in person.
GOV. HOGAN: I don't oppose them going back to school.
MARGARET BRENNAN: No, but you oppose them going virtual and in other- other parts of the state where they did go back in person, you had some lower attendance rates because people were sick. So why not allow for a little bit of flexibility there? Is there a time when virtual remote school actually is the best choice?
GOV. HOGAN: Well, there is flexibility with local school systems, but what we ought to do and what the state policy actually is, if there's an outbreak in a particular classroom or a particular school, then they have certain protocols that they, you know, they should take, but shutting down entire school systems to punish a million kids. Look, we have- we currently have 34 people in the hospital–
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well they went remote–
GOV. HOGAN: 30 of them are children, 30 of them are children, and half of them are in for another reason in the hospital. We're now filling our pediatric empty pediatric beds with adults because children have not been that big of a problem. Our school systems have not been overrun. And you know, we started vaccinating teachers more than a year ago as a priority. That was what they asked for. We provided the masks. We provided hundreds of millions of dollars for filtration systems to try to keep our kids safe. And you know, I understand people being concerned about kids. We all are. But we missed a year of learning in some cases, and it's absolutely not the way to go to keep the entire school system shut down.
MARGARET BRENNAN: understood, but remote is somewhere in between. But I want to ask you about some politics here because as you know, there's been a lot of talk among some high level Republicans, including Mitch McConnell, the Senate Republican leader who's trying to recruit you to run for Senate. You said you don't have a burning desire to serve in the Senate. You got a February 22nd filing deadline. If you don't want to tell me you're running or not today, can you at least tell me if a Republican can win a statewide federal election in Maryland?
GOV. HOGAN: Well, most Republicans couldn't, but both The Washington Post and the Senate leadership did two polls showing me beating Chris Van Hollen by 12 points, so I think it is possible it's the same- same- same number that I was reelected by in 2018 against Ben Jealous as governor. But look what I said, I've been saying all along. It's not something I aspire to, but I also have said that I-I care very much about the-the country and where we are and the divisive rhetoric that the divisiveness and dysfunction in Washington. And so, you know, people are calling on my kind of more patriotic duty to say, even if it's not the job that you want, maybe we need you to run anyway. And so that's where we are. I've never expressed an interest in it, and I still haven't taken any steps in that direction.
MARGARET BRENNAN: February 22nd Are you going to run or are you going to file?
GOV. HOGAN: February 22nd is like a month away, and right now we're just focused on the day job as governor and focused on this Omicron crisis and our legislative session, and that's where my focus is going to stay.
MARGARET BRENNAN: OK, well, we will stay on top of you and then we'll start asking you if you're going to run in 2024, which you've been asked and said, you won't comment on either. Governor, thank you very much for your time today and good luck with the hospitalizations. We'll be right back with the mayor of Kansas City, Missouri.
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