The eagerly anticipated application period for Pennsylvania’s largest economic development grant program is expected to open for 30 days starting on July 13, 2020. The Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP) provides grants for the acquisition and construction of economic, cultural, civic, recreational and historical improvement projects. Earlier this month the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and Senate approved SB 905, the Capital Budget Itemization bill. The Governor is expected to sign this bill by the end of June, giving the program the green light to open up for new applications.
Projects with a total cost of $1 million or more are eligible to apply for up to 50% of the total construction budget. Candidates for RACP must have been previously authorized in a Capital Budget Itemization Act in order to be eligible. Not sure what that means? We have a unique expertise in this particular program and can assist with all aspects of this process from the application completion to the drawdown of awarded grant funds.
Governor Wolf has recently announced the availability of $225 million in funding for new grant programs to help Pennsylvania small businesses that are struggling to survive through COVID-19. The recently enacted state budget includes $2.6 billion in federal stimulus funds through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES). The Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) will distribute the funding to the Pennsylvania CDFI Network, which will then administer the funding in the form two grant programs:
$100 million for the Main Street Business Revitalization Program for small businesses that experienced loss as a result of the Governor’s March 19, 2020 order relating to the closure of all non-life-sustaining businesses and have or will incur costs to adapt to new business operations related to COVID-19;
$100 million for the Historically Disadvantaged Business Revitalization Program for small businesses that experienced loss as a result of the business closure order, have or will incur costs to adapt to new business operations related to COVID-19, and in which socially and economically disadvantaged individuals own at least a 51 percent interest and also control management and daily business operations.
Small businesses with 25 or fewer employees are eligible to apply for grants up to $50,000. Additionally, $25 million in funds have been set aside for the Loan Payment Deferment and Loss Reserve Program, which will allow the CDFIs the opportunity to offer forbearance and payment relief for existing portfolio businesses that are struggling due to the impact of COVID. For additional information on these programs or if you are interested in applying please contact the Public Affairs Group.
The Governor of the State of Georgia has signed an Executive Order that renews the Public Health State of Emergency that was set to expire on June, 12, 2020, so that it shall now terminate on July 12, 2020 at 11.59pm unless renewed by the Governor.
The Governor of the State of Georgia has signed an Executive Order that provides ongoing direction for reviving a healthy Georgia in response to COVID-19, including detailed orders for retailers, restaurant and dining services, general industry, and education facilities.
As of May 27th
Governor Kelly has reissued several Executive Orders following her new emergency declaration. Those EOs can be found by clicking here.
As of May 30th
The Governor of the State of New York has published an executive order authorizing business owners and building operators to deny entry to individuals who do not wear masks or face-coverings.
At least 27,793 people in North Carolina have tested positive for the coronavirus, and 929 have died as of Saturday afternoon, according to state and county health departments. The NC Department of Health and Human Services on Saturday reported an additional 1,185 cases of the virus, the largest single-day increase since the pandemic first struck the state.
Lawmakers Vote to Reopen Bars Despite Governor’s Order (WRAL) State lawmakers voted Thursday to allow bars to reopen in outdoor spaces, overriding Governor Cooper’s executive order that has closed them since March. The legislation would allow bars to serve patrons in outdoor spaces, permanent or temporary, at 50 percent of the capacity of their indoor area, with social distancing guidelines. House Bill 536 would also allow restaurants to set up temporary outdoor spaces to serve customers in the same way. Restaurants are currently limited to 50 percent of their capacity, and the outdoor seating could bring them up to 100 percent, or close to it. Governor Cooper said he would veto the bill.
Gym Owners File Lawsuit Against Governor Cooper (Raleigh News & Observer) A group of gym owners are suing Governor Cooper for not allowing them to reopen their businesses under Phase Two of the state’s reopening plan. The state has not specified whether gyms can reopen in Phase Three or earlier. Phase Three will lessen restrictions even further and allow most businesses to open. Phase Two is expected to last through at least June 26. Some gym owners said they don’t think it was fair that businesses such as ABC stores and restaurants were able to be open, but not gyms.
Utilities Panel Refuses to Make Duke Energy Raise Fees for NC Factories During Pandemic (Charlotte Observer) North Carolina’s Utilities Commission has denied a request that it order Duke Energy to temporarily waive fixed monthly charges affecting commercial and industrial customers during the coronavirus pandemic. The Carolina Utility Customers Association, a manufacturers’ trade group, had sought to waive fees by both of Duke’s N.C. utilities and by Dominion Energy North Carolina, which serves the state’s northeastern corner.
NC Unemployment Chief Replaced (Durham Herald Sun) There’s a new boss at North Carolina’s unemployment office. Governor Cooper didn’t say why the old boss, Lockhart Taylor, moved to a different job in state government “with separate duties and responsibilities.” But the move comes after numerous complaints about long waits that newly unemployed people having been facing — waits to get through to the office on the phone, or to get benefits at all.
Media Coalition Sues Cooper, Cabinet Agencies for COVID-19 Records (Raleigh News & Observer) A coalition of more than two dozen media outlets filed a lawsuit seeking the release of a list of records related to COVID-19 that the state had, so far, refused to provide. The lawsuit names as defendants Gov. Roy Cooper and two of his Cabinet secretaries, Dr. Mandy Cohen, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, and Erik Hooks, secretary of the Department of Public Safety. The complaint lists a total of 26 outstanding records requests — nine to DPS and 17 to DHHS — submitted by media outlets for records that could be helpful in reporting on COVID-19. All but one of the requests were submitted since the pandemic began.
RNC Sets Deadline for Response on NC Convention (AP) The Republican National Committee says it wants to hear from Governor Roy Cooper by June 3 on whether the state can fully accommodate the party’s national convention in August this summer. The letter sent Saturday by RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel to Cooper comes a day after Cooper talked by phone with President Trump about the issue. The two disagreed about the viability of a full-fledged convention.
NC House Passes Funding, Rules to Prepare for Spike in Voting by Mail (Raleigh News & Observer) A bill making it easier for people to vote by mail in the 2020 elections passed with near-unanimous support Thursday in the N.C. House of Representatives. State officials have told lawmakers that normally, around 4% or 5% of North Carolinians vote by mail. But because of uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 and public health concerns, they expect that it could grow to as high as 40% this year.
NC Unemployment Triples in April to 12.2%, Worse to Come in May (Winston Salem Journal) North Carolina’s unemployment rate nearly tripled from 4.3% in March to 12.2% in April, a stark reflection of the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on the state’s economy. By comparison, the state unemployment rate reached a 33-year peak of 10.9% in 2010 as the state and national economies began their slow recoveries from the Great Recession. Economists project the May jobless rate will be significantly higher since the US Labor Department collects employment data during the week that contains the 12th of the month.
Protesters, Police Clash at Raleigh Protest of Floyd’s Death; Buildings Damaged, Looted (Raleigh News & Observer) The streets of Downtown Raleigh were filled with protesters and police in riot gear Saturday evening. The event started peacefully, with protesters singing and chanting throughout downtown, but within an hour after the crowd began marching, police released tear gas and pepper spray. Protesters threw fireworks, rocks and water bottles at police and vandalized several downtown businesses. At least one protester was arrested.
GOP Campaigns Pick Up Steam Ahead of NC-11 Second Primary (The Mountaineer) For an election that early on garnered attention from national media and top-tier politicians, the second primary to see which Republican will advance to the general election for North Carolina’s 11th congressional district has fallen by the wayside. Overshadowed by the coronavirus pandemic the last few months, early voting for the contest is set to start in just a couple of weeks, and the candidates, Lynda Bennett of Haywood County and Madison Cawthorn of Henderson County, are planning their final push.
NC Lawmaker Accuses Multiple Senators of Abusive Behavior (WRAL) A North Carolina state senator accused multiple colleagues Thursday of abusive behavior. Sen. Erica Smith (D-Northampton), who ran this year for the US Senate, said three fellow Democrats made disparaging or sexual comments and that one of them – Sen. Paul Lowe (D-Forsyth) – was seconds away from physically assaulting her last year before colleagues stepped in.
The Legislature continued their virtual May Legislatives Days, with the House Committee Meetings largely focusing on specific policy areas impacted by COVID-19. Senate Committees will take place from June 1-5.
A special meeting of the House Business & Labor Committee will meet this Saturday at 9:00AM to ask questions of Oregon Employment Department Leadership. The meeting is a follow up to a meeting earlier this week, where lawmakers didn’t have a chance to ask questions of department leadership. The committee will also accept public testimony on this topic through Monday, June 1 @ 5PM. Meeting info can be found here.
Murmurs of potential special session continue to be floated, with rumors ranging from as early as the week of June 22, to late summer.
Earlier this week, Multnomah County released an update on reopening, announcing a goal to submit their plan on June 5 for a targeted June 12 Phase 1 reopening. While the county has met several requirements, they still need more contract tracing & testing sites.
Portland City Council held a work session on CARES Act funding prioritization for approximately $74 million in resources. During the work session, funding opportunities from bureaus, a decision-making process, and proposed high-level priorities were presented by the Office of Management and Finance. An Equity Toolkit was created to serve as a guide for city bureaus in the recovery and relief efforts. There was no Council consensus on high-level priorities for funding by the end of the work session.
Over the next week or two Council offices will try to find agreement on shared high-level priorities for city CARES Act funds. The desired timeline is to disburse CARES Act funds by mid-July, which means City Council would approve funding decisions at a City Council meeting mid-June (TBD).
Oregon now has 4,131 confirmed cases of COVID-19; There have been 151 deaths.
Masks will be required for anyone who is indoors in public, effective May 29.
Northern Virginia, City of Richmond and the Eastern Shore’s Accomack County will join the rest of the state in Phase 1 of the re-opening
All beaches in Virginia will be permitted to open for recreational activities on May 29.
All people entering indoor businesses and other indoor public spaces across Virginia will be required to wear a covering over their nose and mouth, starting on May 29, as part of Gov. Ralph Northam’s effort to slow the spread of COVID-19.
The mandate will not be enforced through the criminal justice system, although Northam left open the possibility that unruly or disorderly patrons who refuse to wear a mask could potentially face other charges related to their conduct in public.
Instead, Northam urged Virginians take the responsibility upon themselves to wear a face covering in public to protect themselves and others, and suggested business owners ask patrons without a mask to return when they have one, or for the business owner to offer to provide one.
The governor also will bring Northern Virginia localities, the City of Richmond and Accomack County into Phase 1 of the state’s reopening. Other localities across the commonwealth entered Phase 1 on May 15. Northam indicated the entire commonwealth would remain in Phase 1 until at least June 5 in order to collect more public health data.
Under Phase 1 guidelines, non-essential retail businesses and churches are permitted to reopen at 50 percent of indoor capacity. Personal grooming businesses such as salons and barbershops are able to serve customers by appointment only, and so long as staff and customers wear face masks, the governor said.
Teleworking and practicing social distancing remain recommended practices. Restaurants are permitted to serve customers at half the outdoor seating capacity; indoor dining remains prohibited.
After Virginia Beach successfully implemented a restricted plan for reopening its Oceanfront resort area for Memorial Day weekend, Northam said the rest of Virginia’s beaches may open for recreational activities on May 29, too, so long as there are no large gatherings, group sports, alcohol or tents on the beach.
NASCAR will be allowed to hold its June 10 race at Martinsville Speedway but without spectators, Northam said.
Entertainment and amusement venues, as well as overnight summer camps, remain closed. Public gatherings of more than 10 people will continue to be banned. Under Phase 2, limitations will be further eased and the cap on public gatherings will be raised to no more than 50 people.
While Virginia DMV offices have reopened on a limited basis, individuals who have a driver’s license or identification card that expires before July 31 have until August 31 to renew, Northam said.
The state’s stay-at-home order, in effect until June 10, has been amended to inform Virginians that they are safer at home. Older Virginians and others at higher risk of developing complications associated with infection are encouraged to remain home.
Municipal elections scheduled for May 5 were rescheduled to May 19, and congressional primaries from June 9 to June 23. Public schools are closed for the rest of the academic year, and officials are having discussions about fall classes. Northam said he will have an announcement in early June regarding when and how youth sports can safely resume.
Initial unemployment claims have begun to recede but remain historically high. According to the Virginia Employment Commission, the 10 weeks ending May 23 yielded more than 100,000 claims greater than the number of claims filed during the Great Recession of December 2007 to June 2009.
As of June 1st
Updated numbers released over the weekend:
The Wisconsin Department of Health Services and the Wisconsin Hospital Association released updated numbers over the weekend:
414 Current Hospital Admissions (133 patients in ICU)
The total number of hospital admissions reported decreased by 9 over the weekend (-9).
Hospital admissions went from 423 on Friday to 409 on Saturday (-14) to 414 on Sunday (+5).
The total number of ICU patients reported decreased by 11 over the weekend (-11).
The number of ICU patients was 144 on Friday and Saturday and then decreased by 11 on Sunday to 133 (-11).
Cumulatively there have been 268,506 COVID-19 tests in Wisconsin;
18,403 positive tests and 250,103 negative tests in Wisconsin (6.8% positive rate)
On Saturday there were 523 positive tests reported on 9,843 tests (5.3% positive rate)
On Sunday there were 173 positive tests reported on 7,368 tests (2.3% positive rate)
Deaths from COVID-19 now total 592 in Wisconsin (+24 for the weekend).
There were 20 deaths reported on Saturday
There were 4 deaths reported on Sunday
11,646 patients who have tested positive for COVID-19 and are listed as having recovered (63%), 6,164 cases are still considered active (33%) and 592 patients have died (3%). (last updated by DHS on 5/31)
UpFront; Adrienne Pedersen interviews DHS Secretary-designee Andrea Palm
UpFront host Adrienne Pedersen interviewed Wisconsin Department of Health Services Secretary-designee Andrea Palm about the status of Wisconsin’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Of note in the interview:
Sec. Palm was asked about the spike in positive test results and she responded that there are a number of things that may be contributing to that; one is the end of the Safer-At-Home order and people having more contacts with individuals outside of their family units and the other is the increased testing that the state is doing.
When asked if the increase can be connected to the lifting of the Safer-At-Home order, Sec. Palm said, “I think it is not easy to make a direct connection between the lifting of Safer-At-Home, but we know this virus is very contagious and our ability and the work we did as a state to flatten the curve was as a result of people limiting their contact with other people. It is not surprising, as the state opens up more, that we will see increases of infections as more people contact with each other.”
Wisconsin Public Television: Here & Now interview with Governor Evers
Here & Now anchor Frederica Freyberg interviewed Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers in their weekly segment with the Governor on the status of Wisconsin’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Of note in the interview:
When asked about the spike in the numbers this week, the Governor noted that increase in numbers was concerning, but also noted that the state is also testing more and that Wisconsinites need to remain vigilant about keeping social distance and practicing good hygiene.
The Governor noted his disappointment in the photos he sees of people that are not wearing masks or practicing social distancing.
Capital City Sunday: Rep. John Nygren (R-Marinette) on delayed state action on unemployment insurance
Capital City Sunday’s Emilee Fannon interviewed Joint Finance Committee Co-Chairman regarding the Legislature’s concerns over the Department of Workforce Development’s processing of unemployment insurance claims during this pandemic.
Of note in the interview:
Rep. Nygren said that there are 675,000 Wisconsinites who have filed UI claims that have not been processed yet.
When asked about delays caused by restrictions placed on DWD by the Walker Administration, Rep. Nygren said that the Evers Administration asked for one change in the COVID-19 Relief bill for DWD, the elimination of the 1-week wait change, which Rep. Nygren said the Republicans put in the bill.
Gov. Kemp held a press conference today at 4 p.m. The Governor will be extending the State of Emergency for a third time through July 12. Summer camps and schools can start May 31. Shelter in place for 65+ continues through June 12. From June 1, gatherings can have up to 25 people, 6 feet apart. Live entertainment venues will still be closed. Bars and nightclubs can open June 1 with many restrictions e.g. 35% total occupancy limit. Amusement parks can open June 12. Pro Sports can reopen June 1 if they are in compliance with their respective leagues.
As of 9:00 a.m. today, Georgia has 44,932 confirmed cases as compared to 44,638 at 7:00 p.m. Wednesday, with 7,746 hospitalized patients as compared to 7,745 at 7:00 p.m. Wednesday, and 1,957 deaths as compared to 1,933 at 7:00 p.m. Wednesday. Over 523,000 tests have been administered.
Governor Kelly has reissued several Executive Orders following her new emergency declaration. Those EOs can be found by clicking here.
As of May 27th
The Governor of the State of Texas has issued an Proclamation expanding the enumerated list of covered services in Executive Order GA-23, including opening up waterparks, recreational sports, and food-court dining areas in malls.
As of May 26th
The Wisconsin Department of Health Services and the Wisconsin Hospital Association released updated numbers on Wednesday:
413 Current Hospital Admissions (139 patients in ICU)
The total number of hospital admissions reported decreased by 9 on Wednesday (-9) to 413, down from 422 reported on Tuesday.
-5 in SE WI, -4 in NW WI and -3 NE WI and +2 SC WI and +1 Western WI
The total number of ICU patients reported increased by 4 on Wednesday (+4) to 139 patients, up from 135 reported on Tuesday.
+7 in SE WI, +2 in SC WI, +1 Fox Valley and -5 NE WI and -1 NW WI
Cumulatively there have been 16,462 positive tests and 210,605 negative tests in Wisconsin:
There were 599 positive test results reported on Wednesday on 10,330 tests (5.8% positive rate).
Deaths from COVID-19 now total 539 in Wisconsin.
There were 22 deaths reported on Wednesday
9,405 patients who have tested positive for COVID-19 and are listed as having recovered (59%), 5,940 cases are still considered active (3%) and 517 patients have died (3%). (last updated by DHS on 5/26)
Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers, Department of Health Services (DHS) Secretary-designee Andrea Palm, DHS Chief Medical Officer Dr. Ryan Westergaard, and Ryan Nilsestuen, Chief Legal Counsel held a briefing for the media today.
Governor Evers stressed in his opening remarks the importance of wearing a mask in public, especially when it is not possible to socially distance. The Governor said that he wears a mask while coming and going to the State Capitol, and that masks shouldn’t be a political statement.
Secretary-designee Palm in her opening remarks said that DHS is launching a new public awareness campaign with the message, “If you need a test, get a test” and encouraged people with any symptoms to get tested.
It was noted in the update that two new records were set; 599 positive cases (but 5.8% positive rate remained relatively stagnant) and the number of tests conducted in one day exceeded 10,000 for the first time.
Media questions of note:
Governor Evers was asked if he would be mandating that the public wear masks, and he said, noted the Supreme Court decision doesn’t allow for them to do that and is instead encouraging people to wear masks when they are out in public.
Governor Evers responded when asked about a lawmaker’s statement regarding some state employees who are not able to work from home and but are being paid to stay home, that he believes zero state employees are being paid to stay home and not work.
Secretary Palm said that she can’t say at this point whether new cases or the uptick in hospitalizations are tied to the Safer-At-Home restrictions being repealed two weeks, but the state will continue to monitor data.
Gov. Evers Announces $200 Million “Routes to Recovery: Local Government Aid Grants” Program
Gov. Tony Evers today announced the launch of the “Routes to Recovery: Local Government Aid Grants” program, a $200 million effort aimed at helping local leaders address some of their most urgent and unique COVID-19 recovery needs. Administered by the Wisconsin Department of Administration (DOA), Routes to Recovery Grants will be allocated to every Wisconsin county, city, village, town and federally recognized tribe.
The effort is funded by $200 million in federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act dollars and will be administered by the DOA. Of the $200 million, $10 million will be allocated to Wisconsin’s tribal nations, with the remaining funds being distributed to every Wisconsin county, city, village and town.
Routes to Recovery Grants for Wisconsin counties, cities, villages and towns will provide reimbursements for unbudgeted expenditures incurred this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, in the following categories:
Emergency operations activities, including those related to public health, emergency services, and public safety response
Purchases of personal protective equipment
Cleaning/sanitizing supplies and services, including those related to elections administration
Temporary isolation housing for infected or at-risk individuals
Testing and contact tracing costs above those covered by existing State programs
FMLA and sick leave for public health and safety employees to take COVID-19 precautions
Meeting local match requirements for expenses submitted for reimbursement by FEMA, to the extent allowed by federal law
The determination of a local government’s Routes to Recovery Grant amount is a formula based on the jurisdiction’s population, as well as the priority of providing Wisconsin’s units of local government no less than $5,000, regardless of size of the population.
Senate Committee on Labor and Regulatory Reform informational hearing on UI
The Senate Committee on Labor and Regulatory Reform, chaired by Sen. Steve Nass (R-Whitewater) held an informational hearing on Unemployment Insurance during the COVID-19 pandemic. Among those who testified at the hearing were Department of Workforce Development Secretary Caleb Frostman. According to Chairman Nass today’s hearing will be one of many that will occur over the next several months on the UI program.
Following the hearing several committee members released statements on the status of the UI backlog;
Sen. Van Wanggaard (R-Racine) released the following statement:
“I appreciate Secretary Caleb Frostman and the other experts testifying today about the problems in the unemployment system,” said Senator Van Wanggaard (R-Racine). “The information we received was at times sobering and completely unacceptable, but it’s important that the information be publicized.”
Besides the unemployment claim backlog lasting for another 3-5 months, other discoveries at the committee hearing included:
The Department of Workforce Development unapologetic refusal to expand call center hours beyond 7am to 5pm
An apparent complete lack of communication between Governor Evers’ office and the Department of Workforce Development;
The Department of Workforce Development doing virtually nothing to prepare for the inevitable rise in unemployment benefits prior to Governor Evers’ “Safer-at-Home” order, and reacting slowly to add staffing capabilities;
The Department of Workforce Development stating they didn’t begin programming to administer the supplemental 13-weeks of unemployment payment prior to a couple of days ago;
“I’ve been saying it for weeks. People need help now. Not weeks or months from now. They need it today, now.” said Wanggaard. “Not clearing the unemployment backlog until August or October is completely unacceptable. How is anyone supposed to last that long without any income?”
Sen. Janis Ringhand (D-) released the following statement:
“Lowering protections for Wisconsin workers was a theme of the Walker administration.
The Republican legislature’s effort to make it more difficult for laid-off workers to navigate the Unemployment system has really been exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
When Scott Walker lost, the Republicans quickly convened a lame-duck session to limit Governor Evers’ power, including a prohibition preventing him from loosening Unemployment Insurance eligibility rules.
“The Republican plan is working exactly as expected. There are now more trip wires for workers to jump over in order to get Unemployment. As a result, it is taking some people longer to get their benefits.”
DWD Secretary Caleb Frostman issued the following statement on Wisconsin beginning to issue PUA payments:
Due to PUA being a brand-new federal program and in order to ensure accurate payments, DWD conducted additional testing prior to deployment. While understanding the potential impacts of a minor delay in deployment, -we felt it prudent and responsible to prevent any widespread issues that could cause even greater delays and hardship. We understand many claimants have been patiently waiting for PUA. Please know that DWD is committed to paying out eligible benefits as fast as possible.
It is important to note that PUA is not like our normal UI process, so it takes much longer to process an application. Most claimants have probably heard all about our antiquated, inflexible base benefits system, but it is important to explain how it affects our payment of PUA: When you apply and enter all of your information in the online portal, our staff has to take the information you enter and then manually enter it into our benefits system. Then we can begin processing your application, which involves a DWD staffer manually assessing your PUA eligibility, reviewing your 2019 income, and creating your new PUA monetary and weekly benefit rate. Once your application is fully processed, your dashboard will be updated with “Your PUA application has been processed…” and present a link to file PUA weekly claims.
We have received over 80,000 PUA applications since April 21. Now that our PUA platform is deployed, we have staff dedicated to processing these determinations and will continue to onboard more over the coming weeks. It will take some time, but please know we are working to process your application and send out eligible benefits as quickly as possible.
43,730 confirmed cases as compared to 43,586 at 9:00 a.m. today
7,547 hospitalized patients as compared to 7,511 at 9:00 a.m. today
1,871 deaths as compared to 1,853 at 9:00 a.m. today
Over 514,000 tests have been administered.
As of May 25th
The Governor of the State of New Jersey has published an executive order, increasing the capacity limit on outdoor gatherings to no more than 25 people, with various conditions.
As of May 25th
The Governor of the State of New York has published an executive order which modifies an earlier order, and now permits any non-essential gathering of ten or fewer individuals, for any lawful purpose or reason, provided that social distancing protocols and cleaning and disinfection protocols required by the Department of Health are adhered to.
North Carolina has 23,964 confirmed cases of COVID-19, the state reported Monday, representing a day-over-day increase of 742. The number of patients reported hospitalized with COVID-19 reached a new high with 627 people receiving in-patient care. State health officials reported Monday completing 8,034 more coronavirus tests, bringing the total of completed tests to 344,690. About 7 percent of all tests are positive. DHHS said the most recent day of testing saw 8 percent of tests come back positive. A total of 14,954 people are presumed to have recovered as of Monday – up from 11,637 on May 18.
Memorial Day Draws Crowds to Beaches, Heats Up Debate About Social Distancing (WRAL) After North Carolinians being cooped up with stay-at-home orders for months, Phase 2 of reopening lined up closely with Memorial Day weekend–a time when people traditionally travel and congregate at crowded pools and beaches. Photos of crowded beaches and lakes heated up debates on whether or not visiting the beach was safe during this time.
NC DHHS Recommends Testing All Long-Term Care Facilities for COVID-19, But Questions Remain (NC Health News) Dr. Mandy Cohen, director of the state Department of Health and Human Services, announced that North Carolina is heading in the direction of universal testing of North Carolina nursing home residents and staff. State health officials have issued guidance, or at least a recommendation, to follow the direction set out last week by the White House Coronavirus Task Force. The practice is up and running in the states of Washington, West Virginia, Maryland and South Carolina.
Election in a Pandemic: Bipartisan Election Bill Promised as Others Fight Over Ballot Rules (WRAL) House leaders are close to filing a bill, with bipartisan support, changing state election rules because of the pandemic. The measure has most of what the State Board of Elections asked for two months ago when it rolled out a laundry list of requests. There are key exceptions though: The bill won’t make Election Day a holiday, and it won’t cover postage costs on absentee ballots, both state board requests.
NC Solar Industry Weathering the Pandemic Better Than Most States (Energy News Network) The solar industry is weathering the pandemic better in North Carolina than in most states, data released today by the Solar Energy Industries Association show. The Tar Heel State will see 19% fewer solar workers than expected in June, according to the nonprofit trade group — hardly rosy projections but better than national predicted losses of 38%. A handful of states like New Jersey and New York will see cuts of more than 60%.
Judge Says NC Schools Need More Money. Sen. Berger Says COVID-19 May Limit That. (Raleigh News & Observer) The coronavirus pandemic could become the latest obstacle to North Carolina’s efforts to provide every student with their state constitutional right to a sound basic education. In January, Superior Court Judge David Lee signed a court order in the long-running Leandro school funding case ordering state leaders to “work expeditiously and without delay to take all necessary actions” to improve the state’s education system. But Senate leader Phil Berger warned at a news conference this week that the state expects to face a revenue shortfall of billions of dollars caused by the coronavirus shutdown.
NC Lawmakers Are Requiring Remote Learning Plans. Schools Warn There Are Limits. (Charlotte Observer) North Carolina public schools are warning that problems such as spotty broadband access will limit their ability to provide students with quality remote instruction next school year. The State Board of Education approved a new policy Thursday on the remote learning plans that the General Assembly is requiring schools to develop for the 2020-21 school year. But the plans will also include a section, requested by the districts, that will “describe the limitations that exist for implementation of quality remote learning based on each local context.”
NCDOT Orders Unpaid Leave for All 9,300 Employees (WRAL) Thousands of North Carolina Department of Transportation workers are bracing for furloughs as the department works to recover from a rapid loss of revenue. According to NCDOT leaders, less travel on North Carolina roads and stay-at-home orders have translated to a big cut in gas tax collections and fees from car sales, adding up to $300 million in projected revenue losses through June.
“Citizens Are Getting Poisoned”, NC Legislator Says of Chemicals (Carolina Public Press) N.C. Rep. Pricey Harrison and about three dozen co-sponsors have introduced a series of bills intended to demonstrate the range of steps the state could take in regulating a group of chemicals, per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS. Harrison acknowledged that none are likely to pass in their current form, but she was disappointed that after years of work, the legislature has been unable to move on further PFAS regulation.
As of May 23rd
The Governor of the State of Texas has issued an Executive Order terminating air travel restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic. This Executive order immediately terminates all restrictions contained in the Governor’s previous Executive Order (GA-20) that mandated temporary quarantines for air travelers arriving from the following areas of the United States: California; Connecticut; New York; New Jersey; Washington; Atlanta, Georgia; Chicago, Illinois; Detroit, Michigan; or Miami, Florida.
As of May 25th
The Governor of the State of Washington has published a proclamation that extends Proclamation 20-49 and executive order 49.1, regarding Garnishments and Accrual of Interest, until 27 March, 2020 or the termination of the state of Emergency, whichever occurs first.
As of May 26th
Updated numbers released over the Holiday weekend:
The Wisconsin Department of Health Services and the Wisconsin Hospital Association released updated numbers over the Holiday weekend:
388 Current Hospital Admissions (121 patients in ICU)
The total number of hospital admissions dropped by 28 over the weekend (-28) to 388 on Monday, down from 416 reported on Friday.
The total number of ICU patients dropped by 13 over the weekend (-13) to 121 patients on Monday, down from 134 patients reported on Friday.
Cumulatively there have been 15,584 positive tests and 193,379 negative tests in Wisconsin:
There were 481 positive test results reported on Saturday on 7,107 tests (6.8% positive rate).
There were 400 positive test results reported on Sunday on 7,277 tests (5.5% positive rate).
There were 307 positive test results reported on Monday on 7,480 tests (4.1% positive rate).
Deaths from COVID-19 now total 514 in Wisconsin, +18 over the Holiday weekend:
There were 11 deaths reported on Saturday
There were 3 deaths reported on Sunday
There were 4 deaths reported on Monday
9,207 patients who have tested positive for COVID-19 and are listed as having recovered (59%), 5,862 cases are still considered active (3%) and 514 patients have died (3%). (last updated by DHS on 5/25)
On Friday, May 22, at 7:54 AM, the Kansas Legislature concluded its 2020 Legislative Session. Like most legislative sessions across the country, the work done in Kansas was significantly disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, most of the bills that lawmakers had worked on since January died during the legislative process because the number of days lawmakers had to work were significantly reduced.
Legislative leadership voted to return to Topeka on Thursday, May 21. This day was designated as “Sine Die” or the last day of the Legislative Session. Typically, Sine Die is ceremonial in nature and little business is addressed. This year, however, lawmakers decided they would finish all remaining items on that day. And, although there appeared to be mixed interpretations of legislative rules by lawmakers and staff, the general consensus was that all business for the Session must be finished by midnight on Sine Die (Thursday) or it would risk being declared unconstitutional. Due to delays in debate, the large number of items that were scheduled to be addressed in one day, as well as a multitude of other reasons, lawmakers did not finish their work on Thursday, but rather passed most of their bills Friday morning. Thus, any act passed on Friday could potentially be at risk of becoming null and void.
As of May 21st
The Governor of the State of New Jersey has published an executive order, directing that certain recreational businesses or activities that were closed by paragraph 9 of Executive Order No. 107 (2020) are permitted to reopen to the public or their members, with conditions.
It took eight weeks for North Carolina to record its first 10,000 infections; however, going from 10,000 to 20,000 took only three weeks.
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services unveiled an updated COVID-19 Dashboard. The interactive dashboard provides an overview on the metrics and capacities that the state is following to inform decisions to responsibly ease measures that slow the spread of the virus.
New modeling from a group of researchers at the University of Washington has significantly cut the number of COVID-19 deaths expected in North Carolina through August.
Governor Cooper announced Wednesday that the state will move to Phase 2 reopening beginning at 5:00 pm on Friday, May 22 and lasting until June 26.
Governor Cooper announced today that the state will be moving to Phase 2 of the reopening plan beginning on Friday, May 22. The Governor described the next phase as a “more modest step forward than originally envisioned” and referred to the plan as “safer at home”. Phase 2 reopening continues the recommendation for teleworking and includes reduced capacity openings for dine-in at restaurants; personal care businesses such as barbershops and nail salons; swimming pools; and overnight and day camps. Childcare centers will be allowed to open at full capacity. The following businesses are not allowed to open during Phase 2: bars, nightclubs, gyms and indoor fitness facilities, indoor entertainment venues such as concert and event venues and public playgrounds. Mass gathering limits will be 25 or less at outdoor venues and 10 or less at indoor venues. Outdoor mass gathering requirements apply to parks, beaches, stadiums, etc. The Governor said that local governments may enforce more stringent requirements than the state order. The Governor also stated that Phase 2 will boost North Carolina’s economy, but only if citizens have confidence in their own safety.
While the state reported sharp increases in deaths and hospitalizations due to COVID-19 on Tuesday, the Secretary of NC DHHS said that the overall trends are stable enough to remove social restrictions on Friday. Dr. Mandy Cohen stated, “As we look at North Carolina’s numbers, we see them remain stable. We believe we can move forward to easing restrictions.”
New modeling from a group of researchers at the University of Washington has significantly cut the number of COVID-19 deaths expected in North Carolina through August. Projections from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation now forecast 2,500 deaths from the disease through August 4. This projection is down about 40 percent from the group’s projection last week of 4,400 deaths. Daily deaths are still expected to peak in mid- to late-June, but at a lower rate of nearly 30 a day.
The Wisconsin Department of Health Services and the Wisconsin Hospital Association released updated numbers on Thursday:
398 Current Hospital Admissions (126 patients in ICU)
The total number of hospital admissions increased by 5 (+5) on Thursday
+3 in SE WI, +2 Fox Valley, +2 SC WI, +1 NE WI and -1 in NC WI, -1 NW WI and -1 Western WI
The total number of ICU patients decreased by 2 (-2) on Thursday
-1 in NE WI, -1 in Fox Valley and -1 in SE WI, and +1 in CE WI
Cumulatively there have been 13,885 positive tests and 163,238 negative tests in Wisconsin:
There were 472 positive test results reported on Thursday on 9,410 tests (5% positive rate).
Deaths from COVID-19 now total 487 in Wisconsin:
There were 6 deaths reported on Thursday
7,728 patients who have tested positive for COVID-19 and are listed as having recovered (58%), 5,203 cases are still considered active (39%) and 481 patients have died (4%). (last updated by DHS on 5/20)
Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers, Department of Health Services (DHS) Secretary-designee Andrea Palm, DHS Chief Medical Officer Dr. Ryan Westergaard, and Ryan Nilsestuen, Chief Legal Counsel held a briefing for the media today.
Governor Evers noted in his opening remarks that now every county in Wisconsin has reported a case of COVID-19 with Taylor and Langlade county both reporting their 1st cases today. The Governor also requested diligence in continuing to stay “safer-at-home.”
The Governor also discussed his announcement of $100 million in federal funding from the CARES Act being distributed via grants to Long-Term Care, Home and Community Based Services, and Emergency Medical Services. (See more below)
The Governor was asked during the media briefing regarding a new lawsuit that has been filed challenging the local health authorities implementing the “Safer-At-Home” orders. The Governor’s legal counsel stated that they are engaging to have the lawsuit dismissed and believe the interim Attorney General opinion issued by Attorney General Josh Kaul last week provides clarity on the topic. (Link to State Journal story).
Gov. Evers Announces $100 Million for Long-Term Care, Home and Community Based Services, and Emergency Medical Services
Gov. Tony Evers today announced a grant program funded by the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Totaling $100 million dollars, the funding will support providers most at-risk for financial hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic. The providers targeted for financial assistance include emergency medical services, home and community-based services, and long-term care providers such as skilled nursing facilities and assisted living facilities.
“We recognize the significant burden the COVID-19 response has placed on these providers,” said Gov. Evers. “We also recognize the integral role they play in ensuring the health and safety of some of our most vulnerable Wisconsinites and we want to support their efforts during this pandemic.”
The program will be administered in two parts: an initial release of funds to support immediate needs, and a second, targeted release for additional needs of individual providers. Both rounds of funding will be allocated to support expenses directly related to COVID-19 as well as expenses associated with the interruption of typical operations, such as overtime pay, changes to sanitation procedures, and disruption to the standard delivery of care.
Governor Lamont signs 43rd executive order to mitigate the spread of COVID-19
Yesterday, Governor Lamont signed another executive order – the 43rd since he enacted the emergency declarations. Executive Order No. 7PP enacts the following provisions:
Reopening Phase 1: Repeals several previously enacted executive orders to allow for the safe reopening of certain sectors of the economy on May 20, including for the reopening of outdoor dining, offices, retail and malls, museums and zoos, and outdoor recreation businesses.
Enforcement of sector rules governing the reopening of businesses: Modifies certain statues and regulations to permit the enforcement of sector rules as certain businesses reopen on May 20, including for local and district health directors and municipal chief executive officers
Extension of prohibition on large gatherings to June 20, 2020: Extends the prohibition of large gatherings in Executive Order Nos. 7D and 7N through June 20, 2020.
Extension of restrictions on off-track betting, indoor fitness, and movie theaters to June 20
Further clarification of limits on restaurants, bars, and private clubs – mixed drinks permitted for takeout delivery: Allows for the sale of mixed drinks for takeout and delivery by various liquor permittees under certain conditions.
Limitation on the operation of day camps: Prohibits day camps, which were not already operating as of May 5, 2020, from beginning operations for the season until June 22, 2020.
Enhanced health procedures for all day camps: Requires day camps to comply with the limitations on child group sizes and enhanced health procedure requirements placed on child care programs by Executive Order No. 7Q, and by orders of the commissioner of the Office of Early Childhood.
Cancellation of resident camp operations: Prohibits the operation of resident camps for the duration of the civil preparedness and public health emergency.
Limitation on the operation of summer and educational programs operated by local or regional boards of education: Prohibits summer school programs from beginning prior to July 6, 2020, unless earlier extended, modified, or terminated by the governor. The commissioner of the Department of Education is required to issue guidance on the limited operation of summer school programs that are permitted to engage in-person classes after that date.
Suspension or modification of regulatory requirements to protect public health and safety: Permits the commissioner of the Department of Education to temporarily waive, modify, or suspend any regulatory requirements as he deems necessary to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and protect the public health.
Data updates on COVID-19 testing in Connecticut
The following is a summary of the day-to-day newly reported data on cases, deaths, and tests in Connecticut.
Change Since Yesterday
Laboratory-Confirmed COVID-19 Cases
Patients Currently Hospitalized with COVID-19
COVID-19 Test Reported
As of April 18th
The Governor of the State of Florida has published an Executive Order that modifies 20-112, as modified by Executive Order 20-120, to bring all Florida counties into Full Phase 1.
As of May 19th
SPARK Taskforce Announced
Governor Laura Kelly today announced the Strengthening People and Revitalizing Kansas (SPARK) Taskforce. The taskforce is charged with leading Kansas forward in recovery from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. See the following press release for more information.
Phase II of the Plan to Reopen Kansas – Executive Order
We reported earlier today that Governor Kelly announced her plan to institute a modified “Phase II” plan as it relates to reopening the state. See the Executive Order that outlines that modified plan by clicking here.
As of May 20th
Governor Abbott conducted a news briefing at 2:00 pm today at the Texas Capitol and announced that Texas will enter the next phase (Phase II) of reopening in the coming days/weeks, except for the four counties around Amarillo, Texas (where there have been outbreaks among meat packing workers), and El Paso County. In those counties the May 22nd openings are delayed one week.
Governor Abbott and others implored Texans to continue to socially distance, hand-wash and take other precautions (especially for those 65+) even as Texas reopens further.
Today’s COVID Texas numbers per DSHS:
47,784 confirmed cases
25,570 estimated recovered
693,276 total tested
1,551 currently in TX hospitals
COVID+ cases in 222 of Texas’s 254 counties.
Today’s Phase II executive order and announcement open or further reopen:
Personal care services (including tattoo and massage and cosmetology) can open today.
Child care centers other than youth camps can open
Businesses located in office buildings can open today to 10 employees or 25% of capacity, whichever is greater.
Beginning Friday, May 22 (May 29 for Amarillo and El Paso areas):
Restaurants can move to 50% capacity (not including outdoor capacity)
Bars, wineries and breweries can open to 25% capacity
Bowling alleys at 25% capacity
Aquariums, natural caverns and rodeos can open to 25% capacity
Amateur sporting events with no general public access so long as participants have tested negative for COVID-19 prior to the event.
Beginning May 29:
Zoos can reopen outdoor areas at 25% capacity.
Beginning May 31:
Youth and summer camps, overnight camps, and professional sports can reopen with certain limitations.
Beginning June 1
Schools can offer summer school
Amusement parks and water parks remain closed.
Texans are still asked not to visit nursing homes, state supported living centers, assisted living facilities and long-term care facilities.
ALSO, in recent days Texas has made the following announcements:
May 15: Governor Abbott and the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) announced that local fire departments in Texas are partnering with local public health authorities to provide testing in nursing homes throughout the state. Costs associated with providing these tests are eligible for federal reimbursement.
May 14: Governor Abbott announced that Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) has received more than $3 million in federal funding to provide shelter and services to survivors of family and domestic violence during the COVID-19 pandemic. This federal funding will support the 78 HHSC-funded local family violence centers that provide survivors with immediate shelter, supportive services, and access to community-based programs. These funds are made available through the CARES Act.
May 13: Governor Abbott and TDEM announced that the federal government has extended seven community-based testing sites in Texas through June 30, 2020. These federally-supported, state-managed, and locally-executed sites include El Paso (1), Dallas (2), Houston (2), and Harris County (2).
May 13: Governor Abbott announced the Texas National Guard has activated Facilities Disinfection Teams to support Texans in nursing homes. Six teams have already been mobilized to facilities across the state with more coming online. Each team is equipped with unique supplies such as advanced personal protective equipment, ionized sprayers, and vital oxide. The teams received training from the Texas Military Department 6th Civil Support Team, who specialize in man-made and natural disaster assessment and rapid response in hazardous environments.
Governor Greg Abbott, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, and House Speaker Dennis Bonnen today sent a letter directing state agencies and institutions of higher education to each submit a plan identifying savings that will reduce respective general and general revenue related appropriations by five percent for the 2020-2021 biennium.
This has become standard operating procedure in recent years whenever Texas faces a recession or revenue challenges, such as the 2000-2001 dot.com bust and the economic crisis in 2008.
Texas has two-year budget cycles and the Legislature will not be back in regular session until January 2021, at which time they will pass a budget for 2022-2023.
The twin-hit of the COVID shutdown and oil crash has hammered state revenues. Texas is starting to reopen, but clearly the 87th Texas Legislative session – which begins January 12, 2021 – will be challenging.
As of May 18th
The Governor of the State of Washington has published a proclamation that extends Proclamation 20-49, which waives and suspends statutes and prohibits certain activities relating to garnishments of wages and other income to collect judgments for consumer debt throughout Washington State until the termination of the COVID-19 State of Emergency or 11:59 PM on May 21, 2020, whichever occurs first.
As of May 19th
Updated numbers released on Tuesday:
The Wisconsin Department of Health Services and the Wisconsin Hospital Association released updated numbers on Tuesday:
398 Current Hospital Admissions (130 patients in ICU)
The total number of hospital admissions increased by 19 (+19) on Tuesday
(+13 in SE WI, +3 in SC WI, +2 in NW WI and +1 in W WI and NC WI, -1 in NE WI).
The total number of ICU patients increased by 3 (+3) on Tuesday
(+6 in SE WI, +1 in Fox Valley, +1 in NW WI and -3 NE WI, -1 W WI, -1 SC WI).
Cumulatively there have been 12,885 positive tests and 148,237 negative tests in Wisconsin:
There were 198 positive test results reported on Tuesday on 3,933 tests (5% positive rate).
Deaths from COVID-19 now total 467 in Wisconsin:
There were 8 deaths reported on Tuesday
7,012 patients who have tested positive for COVID-19 and are listed as having recovered (55%), 5,215 cases are still considered active (41%) and 459 patients have died (4%). (last updated by DHS on 5/18)
Gov. Evers Announces $1 Billion Statewide Effort to support COVID-19 Testing, Contact Tracing, Operations, and Resources for Local Communities
Gov. Tony Evers today announced a $1 billion statewide effort to support COVID-19 testing, contact tracing, acquisition of needed supplies, emergency operations, and resources for local communities throughout Wisconsin. The effort is funded by $1.17 billion in federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act dollars.
“As I’ve said before, regardless of the political overtones of the past week, we still know what we need to do to box in this virus and help keep people safe,” Gov. Evers said. “Our statewide approach to containing the spread of COVID-19 will continue with robust testing and contact tracing efforts in all corners of Wisconsin, resources that ensure our critical workers have the equipment they need to do their jobs safely, and direct investments in local communities and health providers. Wisconsin’s Safer At Home order may have ended, but our all-out war on this virus has not.”
How the $1.17 billion is slated to be allocated:
$260 million for testing efforts
$202 million to provide COVID-19 test collection kits to Wisconsin hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, local public health departments, and others at no cost to ensure that everyone who needs a test receives a test.
Approximately $3 million in funding (30,000 grants) to 96 local and tribal public health departments
$45 million in funding to local public health departments, occupational health providers, home health agencies, and health systems to conduct COVID19 testing in congregate, community and occupational settings.
$75 million for contact tracing
up to $50 million will be available to local and tribal public health departments to hire additional staff to perform disease investigation, contact tracing and monitoring.
$150 million for the acquisition of PPE.
$40 million towards the procurement of ventilators.
$445 million is being allocated to ensure Wisconsin hospital systems and communities are prepared to handle a surge of COVID19 patients over the summer and fall.
$200 million has been spent by state agencies across Wisconsin in support of getting emergency operations up and running and of providing important resources and assistance to local partners across the state.
Tuesday Media Briefing at the State Emergency Operations Center
Department of Health Services Deputy Secretary Julie Willems Van Dijk and Wisconsin National Guard Adjutant General Paul Knapp conducted their Tuesday Media Briefing from the State Emergency Operations Center.
Of note in the briefing were;
Discussion regarding Governor Evers’ $1.17 billion spending announcement, noting that the announcement puts dollar figures around work that has already taken place as well identifying the amount that is being reserved to handle a potential surge in cases in the Fall.
One change of note is the discussion that DHS is having with local public health department officials about contact tracing and the state shifting from hiring the 1,000 contact tracers as state employees, to leveraging the existing local public health infrastructure helping reach the 1,000 additional contact tracers by growing out their capacity and having the state infrastructure and state contact tracers as backup.
General Knapp was asked about the Politico story on the National Guard’s currently scheduled June 23rd end of deployment. General Knapp noted that Governor Evers and other governors has asked for an extension for that end of deployment to the end of July. But General Knapp noted that they are in the mode of knowing that they will need to wind down the deployment at some point and hand off responsibilities back to the state and local health departments that they have been doing.
OCI Issues Notice to Insurers on Coverage for COVID-19 Testing
The Wisconsin Office of the Commissioner of Insurance (OCI) issued a notice to insurers today aimed at clarifying federal requirements detailed in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) and the Corona Virus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES). Testing for COVID-19 must be covered by private health insurance, including cost-sharing like co-pays for office, urgent care, and emergency department visits, said Wisconsin Insurance Commissioner Mark Afable.
“We need folks to know that testing for COVID-19 is available and can be accessed without any out-of-pocket costs,” said Commissioner Afable. “Under federal law, most insurers cannot require cost-sharing like co-pays for office, urgent care, or emergency department visits. If you have symptoms of COVID-19 or have been exposed to someone with the disease, get tested.”
Based on news stories and the Wisconsin Association of Local Health Departments and Boards website, https://www.walhdab.org/general/custom.asp?page=DraftOrders, here is the current list of health orders that have been rescinded and those that are in effect. This list changes frequently, so please check in with your local public health department for ultimate clarity.
Local Authority Health Orders that have been rescinded: