Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan approved nearly $10 million in taxpayer funds for 500,000 COVID-19 tests from a South Korean company that proved to be defective and used an additional $2.5 million to pay the same company for replacement tests, reports The Washington Post.
Hogan, a Republican, announced his acquisition in April as an ”exponential, game-changing step forward” in the state’s coronavirus-fighting efforts.
In an essay adapted from his book, ”Still Standing: Surviving Cancer, Riots, a Global Pandemic, and the Toxic Politics that Divide America,” published in July, Hogan wrote that he and his Korean-born wife, Yumi, arranged to buy the tests from South Korea because Maryland had ”nowhere else to turn.”
The Post cited emails obtained through the Maryland Public Information Act to show that Hogan directed procurement and health officials to focus on South Korean test makers over U.S. suppliers.
The tests, from LabGenomics PCR, cost $9 million and $464,389 to ship, amounting to nearly $19 per test.
When the replacements came, Hogan described the purchase to a reporter as an upgrade.
”They were swapped out, like you trade in your iPhone, for faster, better tests … at a couple dollars more per kit,” Hogan said, according to a news report.