Governors to urge feds for more funding, testing, equipment

National

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, who chairs the National Governors Association, talks about initiatives and funding Maryland is making available to help small businesses and employees hurt by the coronavirus’ impact on the economy during a news conference in Annapolis, Md., on Monday, March 23, 2020. Hogan also discussed plans to ask the federal government for more direct financial aid to the states in a conference call Monday with the White House. Kelly Schulz, the secretary of the Maryland Department of Commerce is standing left, and Tiffany Robinson, secretary of the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation, is standing right. (AP Photo/Brian Witte)

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — The nation’s governors will be calling on the federal government for major economic help in battling the coronavirus and keeping businesses afloat during a conference call with the White House on Monday afternoon, the chairman of the National Governors Association said.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said governors are scheduled to hold the call with President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence. Governors will ask for more testing, ventilators and personal protective equipment like masks for health care providers, Hogan said.

“We’re going to continue to press for further coordination and further resources from the federal government,” Hogan said at a news conference outside his office in Annapolis, Maryland. “This will be our fifth such teleconference with the governors.”

States have been scouring for medical gear to battle the virus.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said Monday her state still was not getting enough help from the federal government. She said Michigan just received its allotment from the U.S. government’s national stockpile. For one hospital, she said, it is 747 N-95 masks, 204 gowns, 4,467 gloves and 64 face shields.

“With the exception of the gloves, that allotment is barely enough to cover one shift at that hospital,” Whitmer, a Democrat, said. “It’s not even a full day’s worth of shifts.”

Whitmer, citing efforts from companies in her state, said Michigan has secured more than 4 million gloves, 4 million N-95 masks and thousands of gallons of hand sanitizer.

“While I can’t do overnight what the federal government should have done over the course of months in planning, my team and I are working 24/7 to secure the things we need,” Whitmer said.

Congress and the White House have been struggling to complete a nearly $2 trillion economic rescue package.

“As I’ve said repeatedly, the governors are leading on the front lines of this crisis, and we need Congress to work together to support our efforts,” Hogan, a Republican, said. “This is no time for partisan dysfunction. It’s going to take all of us working together in order to save thousands of lives.”

Hogan said he’d also like to hear more action from the federal government on other priority areas governors presented to the White House on Thursday. He said some progress has been made on invoking Title 32, so that the Federal Emergency Management Agency can cover the cost of National Guard relief missions and providing states with flexibility to use Guard resources.

Hogan also noted some federal assistance by extending deadlines relating to the 2020 census. However, he said states are still pushing to extend deadlines for Real ID compliance. Starting Oct. 1, those without a Real ID-compliant license or passport will not be able to board domestic flights, visit a military base or enter some federal buildings.

“We’re still pushing very hard for major economic stimulus for monies to go directly to the states so that we can help these businesses and individuals that are impacted and there’s still no action on that,” Hogan said.

Hogan announced several initiatives in a $175 million relief package to help small businesses and their employees in Maryland. He announced a $5 million fund to provide incentives to Maryland businesses to manufacture masks, personal equipment and other supplies to help meet the immediate demands of health care workers. Some governors on Monday announced school closures through the end of the academic year, or extensions of closures through May.

“All of the federal assistance is critically needed, and the efforts so far are appreciated, but the states continue to need more assistance and more action,” Hogan said.

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Follow AP coverage of the virus outbreak at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak.

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Associated Press Writer David Eggert contributed to this report.

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