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Trump estimates US coronavirus death toll will be lower than earlier projections

President Trump and senior members of his administration suggested during Monday’s White House briefing that Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan did not need to secure coronavirus tests from South Korea.

Hogan, a Republican, has been pressing the federal government for more coronavirus testing capacity, and announced that the tests had been secured from South Korea earlier Monday. 

Admiral Brett Giroir told reporters during the briefing, “I don’t know what the governor of Maryland is doing in South Korea, but there is excess capacity every day. If he wanted to send 30 or 40,000 tests to LabCorp and Quest, that could be done. That could be done tomorrow.” 

Vice President Mike Pence said he would follow up with Hogan’s office. He also pointed to a slide that showed testing facilities “just in the state of Maryland.”

“I don’t know when the governor placed the order from South Korea. I wouldn’t begrudge him or his health officials for ordering tests. But the capacity for all the different laboratories and number of machines across Maryland is part of what we were communicating today,” Pence said, adding that governors were assured access to federal testing facilities.

The President was more pointed in his response to Hogan’s decision to get tests from South Korea, saying, “Take a look at that map. The governor of Maryland could have called Mike Pence, could have saved a lot of money.” 

“I don’t think he needed to go to South Korea. I think he needed to get a little knowledge would’ve been helpful,” he added.

Following the President’s comments, Hogan’s spokesperson tweeted a copy of a letter from Hogan, Washington, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser and Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam that “specifically asked for a federal testing site in the region.” 

Hogan announced Monday that Maryland took delivery of 500,000 coronavirus tests from South Korea in a deal brokered with help from his South Korean born wife, Yumi.

A Boeing 777 landed at BWI on Saturday, part of what Hogan dubbed “Operation Enduring Friendship.” The coronavirus kits come from LabGenomics and Hogan says the half million kits are “equal to the total amount of testing which has been completed by four of the top five states in America combined.”

“I want to sincerely thanks our Korean partners for assisting us in this fight against our common hidden enemy,” Hogan said.

“The state of Maryland owes an incredible debt of gratitude to the people of South Korea,” he added.

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