Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan Negotiates Deal With South Korea For 50,000 COVID-19 Test Kits

(Scott Eisen/Getty Images)

Patrick Hauf Contributor
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Republican Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced Monday that his administration, with some help from his wife, successfully negotiated with South Korea to have coronavirus testing kits delivered to his state. 

A total of 50,000 testing kits were flown in Saturday from South Korea to Baltimore-Washington International Airport (BWI). These kits can produce up to 500,000 tests, Hogan said during a Monday news conference. 

To put that number in perspective, as of Monday, Maryland had conducted roughly 70,000 COVID-19 tests. Hogan noted that less than 500,000 tests have been conducted in four of the top five states with positive cases of the coronavirus.

The news conference featured Hogan and his wife, Yumi, who he said played a major role in negotiations. Yumi Hogan is the first Korean-American First Lady in the United States and first Asian-American First Lady of Maryland. She grew up on a South Korean farm and immigrated to Maryland more than 40 years ago. (RELATED: INTERACTIVE: This Map Shows How Many Have Died From COVID-19 In Each State)

“From the beginning of this coronavirus pandemic, one of the biggest problems in America has been the lack of availability of testing,” Hogan said during the news conference.”It remains the most serious obstacle in safely reopening our states.”

Hogan, who also serves as the chairman of the National Governors Association, said he and his wife spent 22 days negotiating with the South Korean government and vetting with the federal government to finalize a deal. In total, Hogan said using the kits will cost the state $9 million. 

The plan to bring the testing kits from South Korea to Maryland was referred to by Hogan as “Operation Enduring Friendship.” A South Korean flag stood behind Hogan during the news conference between the U.S. and Maryland flags. (RELATED: Can Sunlight Really Kill Coronavirus? Separating The Truth From The Fake News)

While meeting at the residence of the South Korean ambassador to the U.S. in Washington two months ago, Hogan said he spoke digitally with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who had kind words regarding his wife and referred to him as a “son-in-law to the Korean people.”Hogan has made frequent media appearances in recent weeks, during which he has expressed concerns about the lack of testing in states.

The governor said he plans to release a detailed plan later this week regarding how to reopen Maryland’s economy. He established a mandate Friday requiring Marylanders to wear masks in stores and on public transit.