Maryland has received 500,000 COVID-19 test kits from a South Korean company, Gov. Larry Hogan announced Monday — the result of negotiations with the South Korean government dubbed “Operation Enduring Friendship.”

The governor and first lady Yumi Hogan reached out to Korea’s ambassador to the U.S. in late March to ask for assistance, Hogan said at a press conference, describing the “special relationship” between the state and the country. Hogan said his wife, the first Asian first lady of Maryland and the first Korean American first lady of any state in the U.S, was a “champion” of the operation.

The 500,000 test capacity amounts to the same number of tests completed by four of the top five states in the United States combined, Hogan said — dramatically increasing the state’s capacity to test. To date, Maryland has completed over 71,000 tests. 

“I want to sincerely thank our Korean partners for assisting us in our fight against this common hidden enemy,” Hogan said. “Each part of this international collaboration was unprecedented, from identifying and vetting the Korean testing company and getting the scientists in our labs to work through all of the technical details with the teams in Korea.”

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Earlier this month, the state of Maryland announced it could potentially lose $2.8 billion in revenue — and these tests cost about $9 million, Hogan said.  

But the sum is a “worthwhile investment” when it comes to keeping Marylanders safe and getting the economy back on track, he said. 

 “Adequate testing is one of the core critical building blocks of our ‘Maryland Strong: Roadmap to Recovery,’” Hogan said.

In the past 30 days, Maryland has expanded its testing capability by over 5,000 percent and invested $2.5 million in the University of Maryland, Baltimore lab to build testing capacity.

Hogan also announced that more information about the state’s recovery plan would be introduced later this week. This plan will include robust contact tracing, increasing the state’s supply of PPE and boosting hospital surge capacity, Hogan said. 

 “After ‘Operation Enduring Friendship,’ the state of Maryland owes an incredible debt of gratitude to the people of South Korea.” Hogan said. “As Maryland begins its reopening and recovery, Marylanders should feel confident knowing that we have done everything in our power and gone to every length and used every tool and every resource at our disposal to defeat this deadly virus.”

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