Maryland Gets 500,000 COVID-19 Tests From South Korea
Over the weekend, Maryland received 500,000 COVID-19 test kits from South Korea. The shipment, which cost the state $9 million, was the culmination of weeks of negotiations between Maryland and Korean officials.
Gov. Larry Hogan said his wife, Yumi, who is Korean-American, helped make a “personal plea” for help from the South Korean government.
“That call set in motion 22 straight days of vetting, testing, negotiations and protocols between our scientists and doctors, eight Maryland state government agencies and our counterparts in Korea,” Hogan described at a press conference Monday. “And at the last minute, we then navigated clearances across multiple U.S. agencies, including the FDA, the USDA and Customs and Border Patrol in order to complete this incredible mission for the people of Maryland.”
The test kits, purchased from the South Korean company Lab Genomics, landed at Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport on Saturday, in the first Korean Air passenger plane to land there.
Tests are a key part of Hogan’s plan to eventually lift the stay-at-home order. But he said the federal government has provided little help getting test kits.
“Why we haven’t made more progress on testing, I’m not sure,” Hogan said. “But the administration made it clear over and over again they want the states to take the lead and we have to go out and do it ourselves, and so that's exactly what we did.”
Hogan said the kits are just one step toward reaching his goal of being able to test 20,000 people a day — an increase from the goal he gave last week of being able to test 10,000 people a day.
To test people for COVID-19 requires cotton swabs, reagents, and labs that can process the tests.
“It’s going to take a while to ramp up all of the things that we need to utilize all of the tests,” Hogan said.