Maryland’s First Lady Leads Coronavirus Aid Campaign

Maryland first lady Yumi Hogan stands at a news conference at the governor's residence on Monday, April 20, 2020 in Annapolis, Md., where her husband, Gov. Larry Hogan announced she helped negotiations that led to a company in South Korea to send COVID-19 tests.

Your browser doesn’t support HTML5

Maryland’s First Lady Leads Coronavirus Aid Campaign

Yumi Hogan helped the American state of Maryland secure 500,000 coronavirus tests from her native South Korea.

Hogan is the wife of Larry Hogan, Maryland’s governor.

Now she is working to secure donations from the state’s Asian-American communities to fight the coronavirus.

Asian Americans in Maryland already have donated about 560,000 pieces of personal protective equipment to the state government. The donated supplies include face masks, hand sanitizer products, and medical clothing. They were given to “Maryland Unites,” a program that the governor launched in March. Its goal is to gather donations and sign up volunteers from private industry.

Yumi Hogan told VOA, “Through the donations, the Asian communities proved they can play an important role.”

Among the donors is Chiling Tong. She is the president of the Asian & Pacific Islander American Chamber of Commerce and Entrepreneurship. Tong worked with Eugenia Henry, the Baltimore Chapter president of the Global Federation of Chinese Business Women Association. The two women mobilized the Asian-American community to donate 40,000 surgical masks and 10,000 face shields to Maryland.

Tong told VOA that the donations were aimed at showing thanks to the state’s doctors and healthcare workers. She said that her ties with Yumi Hogan were important in her decision to donate. Tong added that Hogan “informed us about what PPE (personal protective equipment) the state of Maryland needs, how the state can accept and distribute them, which was very helpful for donors.”

On April 18, a special Korean Air flight landed at Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport. The airplane was carrying 500,000 coronavirus tests.

Two days later, Governor Hogan announced that he had purchased the test kits from South Korea because he could not secure them from the U.S. federal government. Hogan said that Maryland had to compete with every other state in America for tests. He also called his wife "a champion." He said the deal would not have happened if she did not help.

Yumi Hogan made a personal appeal to the South Korean Ambassador to the United States, Lee Soo Hyuk, as part of the effort.

U.S. President Donald Trump criticized the governor's deal to get test kits from South Korea. He said Hogan "could've saved a lot of money" if he would had called Vice President Mike Pence instead.

Yumi Hogan still remembers the day the test kits arrived with great emotion. She said she “was deeply moved” when the plane landed.

South Korean arts and culture

Maryland’s first lady also has been active in supporting arts and cultural exchanges between the United States and South Korea.

Maryland governor Larry Hogan and first lady Yumi Hogan are seen on Lunar New Year's day. (Courtesy - Executive Office of the Governor)

In 2017, she led a business delegation to South Korea. During the trip, Maryland reached a sister-state agreement with South Jeolla province. Yumi Hogan returned home with a Korean plant called “Jjok” and later used it to introduce Korea’s natural dye culture to Marylanders.

Hogan is an artist and enjoys painting. Art is what connected her with Larry Hogan 20 years ago. The two first met at an art show. They married in 2004. She has three daughters from an earlier marriage and is the first Korean American first lady of any state.

Role as Maryland’s first lady

Yumi Hogan noted that she is not a politician but a mother. She said that is how she defines her position as Maryland’s first lady.

“Children, women, people with disabilities, and financial difficulties, especially single mothers” are the ones who need attention, she said. Hogan helps sick children by providing art therapy through her non-profit group Yumi CARES.

She told VOA, “Even with a great legal system and administrative system, there are still many people who need attention and care.”

I’m Mario Ritter Jr.

Eunjung Cho reported this story for VOANEWS. Mario Ritter Jr. adapted it for VOA Learning English. George Grow was the editor.


Words in This Story

role –n. the part that someone plays in an activity

mobilize – v. to prepare and organize for future use

surgical adj. related to a medical operation

distributev. to give away or deal out

mask – n. a covering for the face or parts of the face

kit n. equipment or materials needed for a special purpose

first lady – n. the wife of a head of state or a governor

introduce – v. to bring into use for the first time; to make something known

dyen. a substance used to add color or change the color of something

therapy – n. a treatment for a disease or sickness