Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the US – Latest State Updates – March 25, 2020

Connecticut

Data updates on testing in Connecticut

Since yesterday’s update, an additional 203 Connecticut residents have tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 618. To date, more than 5,300 tests have been conducted in Connecticut among both state and private laboratories. Approximately 71 people have been hospitalized and there have been another two fatalities, bringing the total number of fatalities due to complications of COVID-19 to 12.

A county-by-county breakdown includes:

County Laboratory Confirmed Cases Hospitalized Cases Deaths
Fairfield County 384 23 7
Hartford County 88 17 2
Litchfield County 22 3 0
Middlesex County 8 4 0
New Haven County 89 19 0
New London County 6 1 0
Tolland County 19 4 3
Windham County 2 0 0
Total 618 71 12

For several additional charts and tables containing more data groups, including a town-by-town breakdown of positive cases in each municipality and a breakdown of cases and deaths among age groups, click here.

Governor Lamont signs thirteenth executive order to mitigate the spread of COVID-19

Governor Lamont today signed another executive order – the thirteenth since he enacted the emergency declarations – that builds upon his efforts to encourage mitigation strategies that slow down transmission of the virus.

Governor Lamont’s Executive Order No. 7L enacts the following provisions:

  • Extends the cancellation of classes at public schools statewide through at least April 20: To promote and secure the safety and protection of children in schools related to the risks of COVID-19, the order extends the cancelation of classes at all public schools statewide through April 20, 2020. The governor notes that this date could possibly be extended further. Private schools and other non-public schools are encouraged to follow the same schedule.
  • Orders the early opening of the fishing season, effective immediately
  • Suspends restrictions on the re-employment of retired municipal employees: To enable municipalities to meet critical staffing needs caused by COVID-19 with skilled and experienced employees who require little to no additional training, the order modifies state statutes to allow certain retired employees who are in the municipal retirement system to work without any hourly or durational limitation while also continuing to receive retirement allowances.
  • Exacts flexibility to maintain adequate medical marijuana access for patients: The order modifies the state’s medical marijuana program to improve patient access and address staffing shortages in facilities. This includes permitting patients to be certified via telehealth; extending expiration dates for patient and caregiver registrations; allowing dispensary facility staff to move work locations among facilities and, with approval of the state, make adjustments to staffing ratios; and waiving the fee normally charged if someone loses or misplaces their registration certificate.
  • Extends the time period for nursing home transfers: The order extends the time allowed for an applicant to transfer from a nursing home where they were temporarily placed after their nursing home closed from sixty days after their arrival at the new facility to “not later than one year following the date that such applicant was transferred from the nursing home where he or she previously resided.”
  • Enacts flexibility in availability and registration of vital records: The order authorizes the Commissioner of Public Health to conduct birth, death and marriage registration, in order to assist local registrars of vital statistics in carrying out their duties as may be required, and to issue any implementing orders she deems necessary.
  • Suspends in-person purchase of copies of vital records at the Department of Public Health: The order suspends the requirement that the purchase of vital records at the Department of Public Health be available in person, and limits those requests to online or mail.
  • Modifies the requirement that marriage licenses be obtained in the town where the marriage will be celebrated: As municipal offices around the state are closed or have selective hours due to the COVID-19 crisis, the order permits those seeking a marriage license to obtain it in a different municipality than where it will be celebrated.

Insurance Department calls on insurers to extend a grace period for premium payments during the COVID-19 crisis

Connecticut Insurance Department (CID) Commissioner Andrew N. Mais today sent a bulletin to every insurance company in the state calling on them to immediately institute a grace period for insurance premium payments in light of the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The commissioner is requesting that all admitted and nonadmitted insurance companies that offer any insurance coverage in Connecticut – including life, health, auto, property, casualty, and other types of insurance – to immediately provide customers with a 60-day grace period without interest or penalty to pay their insurance premiums.

For more information, see the press release CID issued today.

Georgia

  • The Governor, Dr. Kathleen Toomey, Mayor Bottoms and Homer Bryson [State EMA] will host a one hour townhall on TV at 8 p.m. on Thursday.
  • Through Tuesday, Georgia teacher pension system, which sends checks to 133,000 retired educators each month, has lost $15 billion in the wake of the stock market crash caused by the virus.
  • The power point Dr. del Rio shared with GMA etc. on Monday can be found at here.
  • Governor Kemp is nearing a decision on how long to extend an order closing schools to curb the spread of coronavirus, with less than a week to go on his mandate that Georgia’s public schools and colleges should be shuttered until March 31.

Daily State Public Health stats:

  • State cases are up to 1,247 as of noon as compared to 1,097 as of 7 p.m. Tuesday. We are now up to 40 deaths up from 328 at 7 p.m. yesterday. Fulton, DeKalb, Dougherty, Cobb and Bartow Counties have the most cases in our State.
  • The Departments hot line number is (844)442-2681.

Local:

  • A company called Unacast claims the following reductions in travel due to social distancing:
    • Fulton         47%
    • Gwinnett       43%
    • DeKalb         36%
    • Cobb           46%

MARTA

  • A few MARTA employees may have tested positive for the virus. On Thursday, MARTA will begin boarding most bus passengers only from the rear of the bus and suspend fare payments on buses.

Hartsfield-Jackson International

  • Hartsfield Jackson passenger volume down 85 percent and flights down 65 percent this week from pre-COVID-19. Cargo is up!

Georgia Guard Medical Support Team

  • The first GA Guard Medical Support Team arrived at Grady this morning to train with and support the medical staff.

Montana

Montana Coronavirus Response Update

Since declaring a state of emergency in Montana relating to the coronavirus on March 12, 2020, Governor Bullock has issued a number of press advisories related to the pandemic:

Reported Cases

According to news reports and the state tracking site there are 53 confirmed cases in Montana as of March 25:

Press Coverage and Releases

See Gov. Bullock’s press releases listed above.

Press coverage is ubiquitous, but a broader emerging story is the effect that potential “shelter in place” orders could have on business operations, in particular what are referred to as “essential services.” For example, the nurses association in Montana has requested that Governor Bullock issue a statewide “shelter in place” order. Governor Bullock has resisted doing so based on the small number of cases in Montana. His spokesperson responded: “Some states with massive outbreaks have issued shelter-in-place. Gov. Bullock has taken the necessary and aggressive steps to work to slow the spread of the virus at this time. We don’t know how long any of the closures will last, but we do know that it will take at least a few weeks to evaluate how social distancing is working in limiting the spread of the virus in Montana.”

Local and Regional Actions

A number of counties have adopted emergency proclamations. Both the Montana Association of Counties and the Montana League of Cities and Towns have developed guidelines and other resources to guide local government response to the coronavirus situation.

School Closures

All schools have been ordered closed until April 10. See Governor Bullock’s announcement listed above.

Major Event Cancellations

There has been a wave of cancellations around the state. This article provides a snapshot of the magnitude.

Weblinks to State and Local Online Resources

Texas

At a news conference at 2:30 this afternoon, Texas Governor Greg Abbott said 65 Texas counties have been impacted by the new coronavirus. There have been 11 deaths and 715 positive tests. “You can expect the number of tests to continue to go up every day,” he said.

The governor announced a new executive order that requires hospitals to submit daily reports on bed capacity and COVID-19 tests.

The Governor announced that the newly established Supply Chain Strike Force has already secured more than $83 million of purchase orders for essential supplies. Additionally, the Governor announced that the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) will begin receiving 100,000 masks per day by the end of this week and the Supply Chain Strike Force will begin receiving an additional 100,000 masks per day by the end of next week—meaning the State of Texas will soon be receiving more than one million masks per week.

Texans can donate equipment and volunteer. Click here.

Governor Greg Abbott also directed the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) to issue guidance allowing restaurants to sell bulk retail products from restaurant supply chain distributors directly to consumers provided that such foods are in their original condition, packaging, or presented as received by the restaurant. Under this guidance, restaurants will be able to sell items like packaged meat, fruit and vegetables, and dry goods directly to the public to prepare and consume at home.

Abbott did not change from his March 19th executive order, which closed schools, bars, restaurants and gyms and urged Texans to maintain social distancing practices. “Stay home unless you need to be out,” he said at his news conference today.

Regarding a stricter Shelter-in-Place-Order, Abbott said he will continue to evaluate data and advice from health experts to determine whether there needs to be heightened standards and stricter enforcement of his directives.

Texas’s largest cities and counties have issued Shelter-in-Place or Stay-at-Home orders today. Most of these orders have exemptions for businesses and services deemed essential critical infrastructure by the US Department of Homeland Security.

According to KXAN TV, these Texas counties and cities have issues local shelter in place or stay at home ordinances.

Stay-at-home order issued (17 counties)

  • Bell County (Central Texas/Temple)
  • Bexar County (San Antonio)
  • Brazos County (TAMU/College Station)
  • Cameron County (South Texas)
  • Collin County (DFW)
  • Dallas County (Dallas)
  • Denton County (DFW)
  • El Paso County (El Paso)
  • Galveston County (Greater Houston area)
  • Harris County (Houston)
  • Hidalgo County (South Texas)
  • Hunt County (East of DFW)
  • Lampasas County (Central Texas/East of Fort Hood)
  • McLennan County (Waco)
  • Rockwall County (DFW)
  • Tarrant County (Fort Worth)
  • Travis County (Austin)
  • Williamson County (Greater Austin area)

Virginia

As of Wednesday, March 25, the state Department of Health reported 391 cases of COVID-19, with 59 resulting in hospitalization and nine deaths. The state confirmed 5,370 had been tested.

Wisconsin

On Wednesday afternoon, DHS released updated numbers on test results in Wisconsin:

  • The number of positive cases is up to 585 in Wisconsin, up from 457 in Tuesday’s update.
  • 10,089 negative test results (8,237 were reported on Tuesday).
  • Six patients have died in Wisconsin (up one from Tuesday)

The county by county break down is at the end of this update

Source: DHS COVID-19 Outbreak page

Legislative Leaders Held a Media Availability

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) held a joint media availability to discuss Wisconsin’s public health emergency, and the Legislative perspective on the actions being taken both by the federal and the state government.

The video is available here.

They took questions from the media, below ;

April 7th Spring Election:

  • Speaker Vos said that he agrees with Governor Evers’ decision to keep the Election on April 7th.
  • Sen. Fitzgerald said he is monitoring it closely, and recognizes the concerns that are being raised, but doesn’t see changing the date at this point, especially given over 100,000 absentee ballots that have been returned.
  • Speaker Vos also said he does not support the “mail-in only” Election that Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett is requesting. Speaker Vos said clerks are being creative and finding ways to ensure the safety of voters and poll workers like only allowing a certain number of electors, give away pens so there is no sharing of pens, handing out free sanitizer, etc… Speaker Vos also pointed to the amount of time that it took the State of Washington to become a “mail-in only” state, the amount of time it took to put the program in place and to keep the confidence of the electorate. It is not something you can do 2 weeks before an election.
  • Sen. Fitzgerald said there a certain group of citizens who have the expectation of being able to vote in person and won’t participate in the process in a different way that they are not familiar with. There is no time for communication to educate voters on this change before the election.
  • When asked about repealing the witness requirement for absentee ballots for the public health emergency, the lawmakers said they were not interested in changing the statutes and are aware that people are being creative in getting witnesses to sign their ballots, including calling their lawmakers to be a witness.

Ability for Legislature for Revoke the Public Health Emergency

  • Speaker Vos said that the Governor has 60 days to use his authority under the Public Health Emergency. Beyond that 60 days they would need to see a really good reason to keep the declaration in place.
  • When asked if they would use their Legislative authority via a Joint Resolution to rescind the Public Health Emergency the leaders said they have not discussed or looked at possibility of revoking 60-day emergency powers related to the coronavirus pandemic

Uncertain economic environment

  • Sen. Fitzgerald said the businesses he is talking to are looking for anyway to keep their employees because just weeks ago it was difficult to hire.

Virtual Session

  • Speaker Vos, said will conduct a session as safe as possible. Pointed out that grocers and hospitals are still able to do their jobs in person, and think that the Legislature can meet that way, with exceptions for those who have compromised immune systems or have to be quarantined or have been quarantined. On topics he would consider for a Special Session, one would be addressing licenses that are expiring during the emergency that need to be renewed for food processors and other industries, so production is not stopped during the emergency.
  • Sen. Fitzgerald believes there may be legislation necessary to address items or funding that are part of the federal legislative package so they state can access funds or resources.

Safer at Home order

  • Sen. Fitzgerald noted he was disappointed with the communication ahead of the order and the position that it put businesses in his district.
  • Speaker Vos said that the Governor has more information than Legislature has, so he said they need to trust that Governor Evers is making decisions based on that information. He noted that most workers live pay check to paycheck and businesses are similarly low on operating reserves, so the longer this goes on, the less chance that those businesses will be reopening after this.
  • Speaker Vos said it was good that Governor Evers gave an end date to his Safer at Home order, because it gives businesses a chance to plan.

Federal Aid Package

  • Sen. Fitzgerald, a candidate for congress, said he would have absolutely voted for the federal aid package.

Legislature prepares to hold a virtual session

The Wisconsin State Journal had a story this morning on a dress rehearsal held in anticipation of Wisconsin’s first-ever virtual session.  Wisconsin law allows the Legislature to meet virtually, which Senate President Roger Roth (R-Appleton) notes in the story could, once a couple tweaks are made, could happen at any time to address COVID-19 related legislation.

Number of Positive Results by County

  • Bayfield-1
  • Brown– 3 Calumet-1 Chippewa-1 Columbia-5
  • Dane– 88 (+16) 1 Dodge -3 Douglas-4 Dunn-1 Eau Claire-5 (+1) Fond du Lac– 18 1
  • Grant-1
  • Green-1
  • Jefferson-5 (+1)
  • Kenosha– 14 (+1) La Crosse- 10 (+5) Marathon-1 Milwaukee– 290 (+71) 3
  • Monroe-1
  • Outagamie-4 (+2)
  • Ozaukee-20 (+4) 1
  • Pierce- 3
  • Racine-7 (+2)
  • Rock-4 (+1)
  • Sauk-6 (+2)
  • Sheboygan- 7 (+1)
  • St. Croix-4
  • Walworth-5 (+1) Washington- 21 (+4) Waukesha– 42 (+11)
  • Winnebago- 5
  • Wood- 1
  • Total: 585 (6)

Comprehensive List of Actions Taken by the State of Wisconsin

Executive Orders

Executive Order 72 (March 12th, 2020)   Governor Evers Executive Order declaring a health emergency in response to the COVID-19 Coronavirus  

Emergency Health Orders

Order #1 (March 13th, 2020)   Order the closure of all public and private Wisconsin schools for purposes of pupil instruction and extracurricular activities, beginning Wednesday, March 18, 2020.  
Order #2 (March 14th, 2020)   Allows WisDOT to issue permits and waive fees for the delivery of groceries.  
Order #3 (March 15th, 2020)   Orders the suspension of certain Department of Children and Families administrative rules related to child care, foster care, residential care and in-home facilities  
Order #4 (March 16th, 2020) Order prohibiting mass gatherings of 50 people or more.
Order #5 (March 17th, 2020) Order prohibiting mass gatherings of 10 people or more
Order #6 (March 18th, 2020) Order restricting the size of childcare settings
Order #7 (March 18th, 2020) Order to the Department of Workforce Development regarding Unemployment Insurance
Order #8 (March 20th, 2020) Update to Order #5 on Ban on Mass Gatherings
Order #9 (March 20th, 2020) Order to the Department of Corrections
Order #10 (March 21st, 2020) Department of Public Instruction Administrative Rule Suspension and Emergency Orders
Order #11 (March 21st, 2020) Public Service Commission Administrative Rule Suspension
Order #12 (March 24th, 2020) Safer at Home Order

Office of the Commissioner of Insurance Bulletins related to COVID-19

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Coverage Request  (March 6th, 2020)   The Office of the Commissioner of Insurance (OCI) is issuing this Bulletin to assist individuals and entities regulated by OCI regarding the provision of insurance-related services during this urgent Coronavirus (COVID-19) public health challenge. In order to protect the public health, insurers, self-funded plans, pharmacy benefit managers and cooperative health plans (collectively, Health Plan Issuers) are requested to identify and remove barriers to testing and treatment for COVID-19. OCI requests Health Plan Issuers that offer health care plans to Wisconsin residents to take the following immediate measures related to the potential impact of COVID-19.  
Regulatory Flexibility Regarding COVID-19 (March 15th, 2020) This bulletin provides guidance to insurers regarding managing corporate governance issues and filing deadlines in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.  
Proctoring of Online Courses (March 19th, 2020) This bulletin outlines the temporary changes OCI is making to WI requirements for delivering online courses and online course proctoring.  
Complying with Regulatory Requirements during the Public Health Emergency (March 20th, 2020) This bulletin provides guidance to insurers regarding compliance with regulatory requirements during the COVID-19 public health emergency.
Coverage for Delivery Drivers during the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (March 23rd, 2020) This bulletin provides guidance to insurers and restaurant regarding insurance coverage for delivery drivers during the COVID-19 public health emergency.

Department of Administration

Teleconference Bid Openings   (March 18th, 2020)   Until further notice, no in-person bid openings for construction projects will be conducted in Madison. Beginning March 19, 2020, the Department of Administration (DOA) is implementing revised bidding procedures for all state construction projects with bid openings occurring in Madison, WI. These revisions are being made in response to Governor Evers’ declaration of a statewide public health emergency.  

Department of Transportation

Go Online for DMV Services   (March 16th, 2020)   Wisconsin DMV reminds customers that the majority of people do not need to visit a DMV for vehicle services. Renewing license plates, changing address, titling a new vehicle, ordering a duplicate driver license or ID card and more can all be done online at wisconsindmv.gov  
Driver licenses that expire during COVID-19 public health emergency automatically extended 60 days   (March 18th, 2020) Driver licenses and CDLs that expire during this public health emergency will be automatically extended 60 days. Late fees will be waived. The driver record, visible to law enforcement, will show the extension and that the driver license is valid. All driver skills tests are being cancelled as of March 18 until further notice. ​Customers are being notified that Administrative Suspension hearings will be offered by telephone (or paper), not in-person.
WisDOT public construction meetings are on hold (March 19th, 2020) ​Effective immediately, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) is temporarily suspending all public involvement meetings and open houses for design and construction projects.
Rest areas remain open to support truckers (March 20th, 2020) The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) is keeping its 28 rest areas under normal operation to support truckers during a critical time for moving supplies.  
DMV Extends emissions testing timeline (March 23, 2020) The extension affects vehicles Kenosha, Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Racine, Sheboygan, Washington and Waukesha counties and makes the following changes: Customers who have a routine vehicle registration renewal date after March 12 and require an emission test will have 90 days from their renewal date to complete an emission test and maintain valid registration.    Customers who obtained a new vehicle registration this year (January 26-March 12) will need to complete an emission test by June 10 to maintain valid registration. Customers who apply for, or obtained, new registration after March 12 (when the Governor’s emergency Executive Order took effect) will have 90 days from their date of registration to complete an emission test and maintain valid registration. This gives customers another 45 days to complete the original requirement.  

Department of Workforce Development

Unemployment Insurance Claims Data   (March 20th, 2020)   The Department of Workforce Development (DWD) launched a new webpage that displays preliminary numbers related to unemployment claims received by DWD’s Unemployment Insurance Division (UI). The displayed data currently includes the preliminary number of unemployment applications filed each day in the week, as well as last year’s counts for the same day and week for comparison. The preliminary number of unemployment weekly claims filed each day will be included as of Monday, March 23, 2020. The preliminary numbers will be updated daily.  

Department of Natural Resources

Fees waived for Wisconsin State Parks & Trails   (March 24th, 2020)   In light of Gov. Evers’ Safer at Home order, item 11.c. recognizes outdoor activity as essential. As such, all State Parks, Trails and Forests remain open and all fees are now waived. The public should stay as close to home as possible and in their community. Parks, law enforcement and property staff will also continue to provide routine sweeps of state park system properties.  

Public Service Commission

PSC Tells Wisconsin Utilities to Suspend Disconnections for Nonpayment During Public Health Emergency   (March 13th, 2020)   The Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSC) directed water, electric, and natural gas utilities to cease disconnecting residential service for nonpayment until the state public health emergency has been lifted. Additionally, utilities must make reasonable attempts to reconnect service to an occupied dwelling that has been disconnected.
PSC Awards $24 million in State Broadband Expansion Grants   (March 19th, 2020) ThePublic Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSC) met and awarded $24 Million in Broadband Expansion grants. The 72 new grants will extend high-speed internet access to as many as 3,182 business locations and 46,537 residential locations, including 39,778 locations that are currently unserved.

Department of Health Services: ForwardHealth Alerts & Updates

  • ForwardHealth Alerts are short, targeted publications designed to disseminate the latest COVID-19 information to providers quickly. They may contain news, policy, or resources deemed critical or helpful for providers. Providers will receive messaging letting them know when Alerts have been published that may impact them, and all Alerts relating to COVID-19 will be linked from this page.
  • ForwardHealth Updates announce changes in policy and coverage, prior authorization requirements, and claim submission requirements. Links to all published Updates relating to COVID-19 will be available on this page, as well as being listed on the ForwardHealth Updates page of the ForwardHealth Portal.
Alert 001 ForwardHealth Accepted Procedure Codes From Eligible Providers Who Test Patients for COVID-19
Alert 002 Temporary Policy Changes for Personal Care Providers  
Alert 003 Non-Emergency Medical Transportation (NEMT) Services
Alert 004 Tribal and Non-Tribal Federally Qualified Health Centers Billing Guidance for Telehealth Policy Changes in ForwardHealth Update 2020-09
Alert 005 Temporary Changes to Narcotic Treatment Services
ForwardHealth  Update 2020-09 Changes to ForwardHealth Telehealth Policies for Covered Services, Originating Sites, and Federally Qualified Health Centers
ForwardHealth Update 2020-11 COVID-19 Information for Pharmacies
ForwardHealth Update 2020-12 Temporary Changes to Telehealth Policy and Clarifications for Behavioral Health and Targeted Case Management Providers  

Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation

Small Business 20/20 Program     The Small Business 20/20 Program provides grant funds to approved community development financial institutions (CDFIs). Approved CDFIs will award grants of up to $20,000 to their existing loan clients to assist with cash-flow challenges resulting from COVID-19.
Businesses that are not currently CDFI clients are not eligible to access these funds, but WEDC will work to expand access to funding through other programs as more resources become available.
Strategies for Small Businesses to Navigate COVID-19 Challenges Downtown District and Business Coronavirus Response: Ideas and Resources.  
Small Business Administration The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has approved Wisconsin’s request for small businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic to access low-interest federal disaster loans. Under the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program, businesses may qualify for up to $2 million in loans to cover losses resulting from the pandemic. The interest rate on the loans is 3.75% for for-profit businesses and 2.75% for nonprofits. Participants may be able to extend payments for up to 30 years.

Previous Wisconsin COVID-19 Updates

  • COVID-19 Updates are archived here.
  • Comprehensive list of state of Wisconsin to the public health emergency here

Stay up-to-date with all of our insights and guidance by visiting our US COVID-19 hub here.

Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the US – Latest State Updates – March 24, 2020

Alabama

Alabama State Government has issued a wide variety of emergency declarations, rules, etc. in response to the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic. Below is a compilation of those notifications from the executive and judicial branches of state government. The Alabama legislature is on a regularly-schedule Spring Break until Tuesday, March 31, but we expect further information regarding their schedule when they return next week.

Arkansas

Arkansas is up to 168 cases across 31 counties. Governor Asa Hutchinson has closed all restaurants in restaurant dining, takeout and delivery are still available; he has also waived alcohol regulation to allow for delivery of beer and wine from restaurants and for liquor stores to begin home delivery. The Governor has also asked that all non-essential state employees begin to transition to remote work.

California

The California Department of Finance issued a letter to all State agencies in regards to the health of the State budget as a result of the pandemic. Click here to view.

Colorado

Colorado is taking a more asking non-essential businesses to adjust work schedules to keep 50+ percent of the workforce out of the office for social distancing.

Information on the outbreak of COVID-19 in Colorado can be found at this website.

Connecticut

Capitol complex to remain closed until at least April 13

In an email to their colleagues this evening, House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz and House Majority Leader Matt Ritter notified them that in order to continue to limit COVID-19 exposure, they’ll be extending the LOB and State Capitol Complex closure until at least April 13.

Governor Lamont signs twelfth executive order to mitigate the spread of COVID-19

Governor Lamont today signed another executive order – the twelfth since he enacted the emergency declarations – that builds upon his efforts to encourage mitigation strategies that slow down transmission of the virus.

Governor Lamont’s Executive Order No. 7K enacts the following provisions:

  • Suspension of non-critical probate court operations and associated requirements: Suspends, for the duration of the public health and civil preparedness emergency, all statutory reporting and filing requirements of the Office of the Probate Court Administrator concerning probate court operations; probate court facility, location, or venue requirements; time requirements, statutes of limitation or other limitations or deadlines relating to service of process, court proceedings, or court filings; and all time requirements or deadlines related to the probate courts or their judicial officials to issue notices, hold court, hear matters, and/or render decisions.
  • Suspension of non-critical Workers’ Compensation Commission operations and associated requirements: Suspends, for the duration of the public health and civic preparedness emergency, all location or venue requirements; time requirements, statutes of limitation, or other limitations or deadlines; and all time requirements or deadlines of the Workers’ Compensation Commission relating to the Workers’ Compensation Act and other statutory programs and schedules over which the commission provides adjudication, dispute resolution, administrative oversight or support.
  • Authorization of remote notarization: Modifies state laws and regulations to permit any notarial act that is required under Connecticut law to be performed using an electronic device or process that allows a notary public and a remotely located individual to communicate with each other under certain conditions, including recording and live presentation of identification.
  • Suspension or modification of regulatory requirements to protect public health and safety: Permits the commissioner of Public Health to temporarily waive, modify, or suspend regulatory requirements adopted by the agency or related boards or commissions deemed necessary to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and to protect the public health.
  • Suspension of certain requirements regarding the temporary hire of care workers at long-term care facilities: Allows long-term care facilities to temporarily hire care workers to address the critical need in these facilities without background checks of state and national criminal history records, expanding the availability of an existing statutory waiver process.

Data updates on testing in Connecticut

Since yesterday’s update, an additional 88 Connecticut residents have tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 415. To date, more than 4,500 tests have been conducted in Connecticut among both state and private laboratories.

Delaware

Delaware has issued a stay at home order. The states has also closed schools through May 15 and declared a public health emergency.

Georgia

  • State cases are up to 1,026 as of noon today as compared to 800 at 7 p.m. Monday. Georgia is now up to 32 deaths up from 26 last night. Fulton, Cobb, Bartow, Dougherty, DeKalb and Gwinnett still account for the majority of cases, with Carroll, Cherokee, Clayton and Lee Counties right behind. 
  • Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger announced all of Georgia’s 6.9 million active voters will be mailed absentee ballot request forms for the May 19 Primary.
  • Phoebe Putney Hospital has 31 COVID-19 patients in the hospital with another 78 inpatients suspected of having the disease.

Local:

City of Atlanta

Atlanta Mayor issued a 72-hour Order that requires stay at home for 14 days with only essential personnel being deployed. That includes those who in engage in certain essential business and government services, i.e. groceries, pharmacy, etc. It does include public works construction.

Georgia Municipal Association

Following a presentation Monday afternoon by Dr. Carlos del Rio to Mayors, City Managers, County Commission Chairs and county managers across the state, GMA urged the leaders of all 538 cities to declare public health emergencies and shutdown non-essential businesses.

Hawaii

The City and County of Honolulu issued a work from home emergency order effective March 23 through at least April 30.

Minnesota

In what has become a routine for state officials – Governor Walz and various Commissioners held their daily update this afternoon. The Governor now plans to hold these events every day at 2 p.m. Breaking news over the past 24 hours made today’s update both more challenging and brought the impacts of the virus closer to home. 

This morning, the Governor announced he and his family are now under a 14-day quarantine after a member of the Governor’s security detail tested positive for the Coronavirus. The Governor is not showing any symptoms and based upon testing protocols has not been tested. The Governor’s daily briefings will now be conducted by phone.

Right before Governor Walz’s announcement, it was reported Lt. Governor Flanagan’s brother Ron, passed away over the weekend as a result of contracting COVID-19. A resident of Tennessee, he had a compromised immune system following a recent cancer diagnosis. This follows the recent death of Lt. Governor Flanagan’s father. It was also reported this morning, U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar’s husband was hospitalized over the week following his diagnosis with and complications related to COVID-19.

The total number of confirmed Coronavirus cases in Minnesota increased overnight by 66, bringing the total confirmed cases to 235. There has been one reported death related to the pandemic in Minnesota, 12 individuals have been hospitalized, 5 in critical condition.

During today’s press event, the Governor announced the release of four new Peacetime Emergency Executive Orders, once they have been posted I can provide links to these individual orders.

Executive Order 20-14: Places a moratorium on evictions and writs of recovery.

Executive Order 20-15: Captures US$30 million in unused funds in two Special Revenue Accounts within the Department of Employment and Economic Development. Those funds are being dedicates for use in loans to small businesses and Independent Contractors. The loans will range from US$2,500 to US$35,000. The program will be managed by the agencies lending partners. Up to 50 percent of the zero interest loans will be forgivable. 

This order also allows cities flexibility to use local revolving loan funds to support local small businesses. Commissioner Grove believes there are nearly US$28 million available across the state in local revolving loan funds.

Executive Order 20-16: Directs all non-hospital entities to conduct an inventory of personal protection equipment (PPE) and to make them available for use.

Executive Order 20-17: Clarifies order 20-08 which prohibited all elective surgeries. This order extends that prohibition to veterinary services. This order is intended to protect the supply of PPE. 

Additional items of interest in today’s call:

  • The Governor announced the state will match the federal government’s 2019 federal tax filing extension of July 15.
  • Since last Monday’s announcement closing bars, restaurants and areas of entertainment 123,624 individuals have filed for unemployment. 
  • In the past week, Minnesota schools have provided more than 354,000 meals to students across the state and daycare to 14,000 students of first responders, healthcare and essential service providers.
  • Details regarding the Executive Order 20-15 loans for small businesses will be available on the Department of Employment and Economic Development website later this week.
  • The Governor announced he and Lt. Governor Flanagan have released a revised Supplemental Budget Proposal with an additional US$356 million in spending related to the state’s response to COVID-19. The following is a link to that request. Walz/Flanagan Additional Supplemental Budget Request

The Governor also spent a substantial amount of time discussing what we might expect in the coming days. He was asked his thoughts on making a “stay and shelter” order similar to one ordered in Wisconsin earlier today. The Governor shared he has been in close contact with Governor Evers of Wisconsin and is waiting for more Minnesota specific date before he reaches the same conclusion. He also indicated it is likely the orders regarding schools and business closings set to expire later this week will need to be extended. It has been reported the Administration has been working with various business groups and industries to identify essential services if the Governor were to issue an Executive Order further shutting down movement and travel across the state. 

Late this afternoon, it has also been reported the Minnesota Legislature is considering returning Thursday for a one day floor session where a handful of items related to recent Executive Orders would be considered. For any legislation to be considered over the recess all four Legislative Leaders must agree to what is being proposed or considered. 

New Jersey

As of this writing, New Jersey has 2,844 confirmed COVID-19 cases and has reported 27 deaths.

The Governor provides daily, morning briefings on the state’s efforts to combat the virus that can be viewed on YouTube here.

The Governor has issued eight executive orders related to the pandemic: Governor Murphy Executive Orders

The Legislature has an emergency voting session last week and passed the below bills in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Health care, food and housing

  • NJ A3843 (20R) would direct the state’s Medicaid program and health benefit plans to cover coronavirus testing. Murphy took similar action last week, advising plans to cover coronavirus testing as well as emergency room, urgent care and office visits. Murphy’s guidance applies to any health plan available through the state’s individual, small and large group marketplaces.
  • NJ A3854 (20R) would allow licensed health care facilities to collect swabs during the period covered by Murphy’s public health state of emergency and grants Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli the ability to waive any staffing requirements for those facilities during that period.
  • NJ A3855 (20R) would require the state’s departments and agencies to put information about accessing food on public notifications relating to public health emergencies.
  • NJ A3856 (20R) would allow for a one-time, US$10 million appropriation to set up a fund to support health care facilities and residential facilities, including nursing homes and long-term care facilities, to support cleaning and sanitation efforts intended to stem the spread of the virus.
  • NJ A3857 (20R) would allocate US$15 million from the state Department of Agriculture for New Jersey food banks, long one of Coughlin’s core issues. Most of the funding, US$10.8 million, would go to the Community Food Bank of New Jersey, with US$2.4 million going to the Food Bank of South Jersey and US$1.8 million to Fulfill Monmouth & Ocean.
  • NJ A3858 (20R) would unlock supplemental temporary assistance for those enrolled in WorkFirst NJ, the state’s welfare program. Under the bill, the state Department of Human Services commissioner would be able to issue additional payments during public health emergencies, should they consider it necessary.
  • NJ A3860 (20R) would allow out-of-state health care providers to offer care using telemedicine or telehealth platforms for coronavirus infections or COVID-19. The provider would also be able to bill for those services, of course, so long as the fees are “reasonable and consistent with the ordinary fees typically charged for that service.”

Business and employment

  • NJ A3841 (20R) would extend income tax filing and corporate business tax filing deadlines by 90 days, matching the extension made available by the federal government.
  • NJ A3845 (20R) would extend grants to small businesses impacted by the virus.
  • NJ A3846 (20R) would create a US$20 million fund to compensate workers for lost wages as a result of the pandemic.
  • NJ A3848 (20R) would prohibit employers from firing workers who need to take time off because of the coronavirus.
  • NJ A3861 (20R) would allow corporations to hold shareholders’ meetings remotely, rather than in person, during a state of emergency.
  • NJ A3862 (20R) would allow licensing boards to expedite their processes for certain individuals during states of emergency.
  • NJ A3864 (20R) would let notaries conduct business on a remote basis. 
  • NJ A3865 (20R) would allow grocery stores to limit returns of goods purchased during the current public health state of emergency.

Government

  • NJ A3095 (20R) would county clerks an extra week to mail ballots for the 2020 primary election. Murphy is still weighing whether to delay the primary , which is likely to feature high voter turnout as it’s a presidential election year.
  • NJ A3849 (20R) would provide some flexibility for custodians under the state’s open records law, extending the time frame by which they have to respond to requests during a state of emergency, public health emergency or state of local disaster emergency.
  • NJ A3850 (20R) would allow public bodies to conduct business remotely, or using electronic means, during a period of emergency.
  • NJ A3851 (20R) would extend the deadline by which local and county governments have to adopt their budgets during periods when New Jersey is in a state of emergency or public health emergency.

Schools 

  • NJ 3813 (20R) would grant schools the ability to use virtual instruction tools to meet the minimum 180-day threshold required by the state for funding.
  • NJ 3840 (20R) would require schools to provide school meals and meal vouchers to students entitled to free and reduced lunches for as long as facilities are closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
  • NJ A3842 (20R) would create a new grant program, called “Bridging the Digital Divide in Schools,” to pay for laptops, tablets, Wi-Fi hotspots and other tech products for low-income families whose children are relying on virtual instruction.

New York

  • On Friday March 20, Governor Cuomo added to Executive order declaring that effecting March 22 at 8:00 p.m., 100 percent of non-essential employees in New York State must stay home. Only those deemed essential by regulations released by ESDC are allowed to stay operational.
  • In addition, the Governor suspended all mortgage payments, residential and commercial evictions, ATM fees, overdraft fees, State debt collections, and waived all interest and late payment fees for State Sales tax collections.
  • All courts in the State are closed until April 19 including criminal court, civil court, and traffic court.
  • The department of motor vehicle is closed until further notice and all registrations and license renewals are suspended without penalty.
  • All beauty salons, barbershops, tattoo parlors and nail salons are to close until further notice.
  • The State is looking to fund any manufacturer that will change their production to start making medical masks, gowns, and medical supplies in addition to buying the products at a premium.
  • The Governor issued an Executive Order on March 23 requiring every hospital in NYS to increase their beds by 50 percent.

Executive Orders

North Carolina

At least 336 people in North Carolina have tested positive for the coronavirus. As of Monday, March 23, there are 11 people hospitalized with the virus. No deaths have been reported in the state.

Labs in North Carolina have tested more than 8,400 people. State Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen said there are thousands more samples already taken and waiting to be tested. Governor Cooper stated that the federal government has not given North Carolina the testing supplies it should have given.

On Monday, March 23, Governor Cooper issued Executive Order 120, which banned gatherings of more than 50 people and ordered some businesses to close by Wednesday as he tightened restrictions meant to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus.

The Governor ordered two types of businesses to close by 5 p.m. Wednesday: personal care and grooming businesses, and entertainment facilities without retail or dining. Examples of entertainment facilities in Cooper’s order:

  • Bingo parlors, including those run by charities
  • Bowling alleys
  • Gyms
  • Yoga studios
  • Martial arts facilities
  • Indoor trampoline facilities
  • Rock-climbing facilities
  • Health clubs
  • Indoor pools
  • Live performance venues
  • Movie theaters
  • Skating rinks
  • Spas
  • Sweepstakes lounges
  • Video game arcades.

Personal care and grooming businesses include, according to the order:

  • Barber shops
  • Beauty salons, including those doing waxing and hair removal
  • Hair salons
  • Nail salons and manicure and pedicure providers
  • Massage parlors
  • Tattoo parlors

In previous Executive Orders, Cooper had banned mass gatherings of more than 100 people, closed K-12 schools through at least March 30 and banned dine-in service at restaurants and bars.

Executive Order 120 also closed North Carolina public schools through May 15. The state’s 1.5 million public school students have been home since last week when Governor Cooper ordered all K-12 schools closed through March 30. The extended closure means North Carolina students will be at home for two months. Governor Cooper said that he is not ready to give up on reopening yet. Most North Carolina public schools have classes scheduled until June 12.

In the last week, 113,000 people have filed for unemployment with the North Carolina Department of Employment Security – nearly triple the number of unemployment claims that North Carolinians filed so far in 2020. Federal data shows the state had just 33,000 claims total in all of January, February and the first week of March. Accompanying the deluge of new claims have been numerous complaints about the inability of the unemployment office to handle such massive demand. The agency has already been upgrading its computer servers, so the website is less likely to crash under heavy traffic and the unemployment office is seeking to hire 50 new employees to help handle the workload.

North Carolina requires larger companies to notify the state of layoffs, through something called a WARN notice. The following show just some of the widespread impact of the last few days. BLT Steak, a high-end steakhouse with a location in Charlotte, laid off 57 people there. Sanderling Resort, a luxury hotel in the Outer Banks, laid off 81 people. New World Concepts, which owns several Triangle area restaurants, laid off 120 people. A chain of hotels and restaurants based in Greensboro, Quaintance-Weaver, cut 700 jobs. Nearly all of the last week’s 113,000 claims were due to COVID-19. When Governor Cooper ordered bars and restaurants to close except for takeout and delivery last week, he also issued an executive order aimed at helping people who lose their jobs due to coronavirus and the business slowdown in its wake. Under the order, people who aren’t laid off but have their hours cut might still be able to qualify for unemployment. And people don’t have to look for new jobs in order to keep receiving benefits, as it typically the case. 

North Carolina has among the nation’s lowest unemployment benefits. Only about 10 percent of people who apply for benefits actually qualify, and, of those who did qualify in 2019, the average person received US$264 a week for eight or nine weeks — a total of around US$2,300 over two months. It is possible that those averages will rise somewhat due to the Governor’s order relaxing restrictions. But Governor Cooper could not raise either the weekly payments or the amount of time people can receive them because that must be done by the state legislature.

Governor Cooper has taken aggressive steps to slow the COVID-19 virus, but has not issued a statewide “Shelter in Place” order requiring North Carolinians to stay at home except for essential tasks. At least two local governments issued “shelter in place” or “stay at home” orders Monday: Pitt County (to include unincorporated areas of the county) and the Town of Beaufort in Carteret County. Both orders are effective on Wednesday, March 25.

Executive Actions

Executive Order 119, March 20th facilitating critical motor vehicle operations and delegating authority to the Secretary of the Department Health and Human Services to waive regulations in order to expand access to childcare and support local health departments.

Executive Order 120, March 23rd additional limitations on mass gatherings, restrictions on venues and long-term care facilities and extension of school closure date.

Office of the State Fire Marshal, Dept. of Insurance building inspection departments are taking precautions limiting the number of people and the public from possible exposure to the coronavirus. These local inspectors are still performing requested inspections, but also perform the inspection remotely using guidance from DOI. Permit holders should continue to make sure the jobsites are clean and provide a safe environment for all workers.

Relevant Articles

South Carolina

Click here for the list of six executive orders to date under the emergency response to the virus.

Current Status: The latest official statement below from Governor Henry McMaster over the weekend is that South Carolina hopes to avoid a mandatory shelter in place order but it remains under consideration. They are reassessing every day.

“Team South Carolina is constantly reviewing the COVID-19 situation, and all plans and contingencies to contain this virus remain on the table,” said Gov. Henry McMaster. “That includes “shelter-in-place,” a drastic action that other states with larger population centers have taken. It is my hope that this will not be necessary here, and I believe it to be much less likely, as long as South Carolinians follow official instructions and take recommended precautions now.”

  • South Carolina Manufacturing: Some large manufacturing plants including Volvo, Mercedes and Bridgestone Tire have suspended operations voluntarily but most manufacturers in South Carolina are still operating. Click here for additional details. 
  • General Assembly: The South Carolina House is closed for at least two weeks and then at the call of the Speaker. The Senate is closed this week but no announcements beyond this week.

Other state actions under the Governor’s Emergency Declaration

  • Schools Closed: The Governor announced on March 15 that all South Carolina schools and universities are closed through the end of March but no announcement has been made beyond that. 
  • Bars and Restaurants are closed statewide with the exception of carryout service
  • The Governor restricted state offices and agencies to essential personnel only but state offices are not closed
  • South Carolina Department of Revenue says Tax Returns and Payment due date delayed to July. Click here for details. 
  • South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce has expedited the process for unemployment claims. Click here for details.

Gov. Henry McMaster Urges Donations, Extends Income Tax Deadline, Allows Curbside Sale of Beer and Wine by Restaurants 
Report: Over Half of State Employees Working from Home

COLUMBIA, S.C. – Governor Henry McMaster took additional actions today to enhance the state’s response to COVID-19’s continued impact to South Carolina.

“Team South Carolina is constantly reviewing the COVID-19 situation, and all plans and contingencies to contain this virus remain on the table,” said Gov. Henry McMaster. “That includes “shelter-in-place,” a drastic action that other states with larger population centers have taken. It is my hope that this will not be necessary here, and I believe it to be much less likely, as long as South Carolinians follow official instructions and take recommended precautions now.”

The governor has asked construction contractors and others in the skilled trade industry to donate whatever personal protective equipment they can spare to healthcare professionals and state agencies in the greatest need, including respirator masks commonly used in construction settings. Those willing to make donations can contact Mary Louise Resch of Habitat for Humanity for logistical coordination via email at mlresch@habitatsc.org

The governor has also issued Executive Order 2020-12, which directs the Department of Revenue to waive additional regulations in order to allow restaurants to include sealed containers of beer and wine for curbside pickup or “to-go” orders only. This waiver does not authorize or apply to open containers or delivery services. 

The governor also directed the Department of Revenue to conform the state’s income tax deadline to July 15, which is the new federal income tax deadline. Other state taxes will remain delayed until June 1, as previously ordered.

On Thursday, Governor McMaster issued Executive Order 2020-11, to ensure that critical state government services remained available to the public and to prevent potential exposure to the COVID-19 virus.

As of Friday afternoon, the Department of Administration reports that for 52 of 74 state agencies there were 13,902 state employees working from home or taking leave. There were 11,411 state employees at work. As remaining agencies report to the Department, these numbers will be updated.

Tennessee

The total number of positive cases in the state stands at 228 with the majority in Nashville (101) and adjoining Williamson County (35).

Legislative Proceedings

At 11:30 p.m. local time Thursday night, the House and Senate recessed after adopting a significantly-revised, emergency budget. In a matter of days, close to US$1 billion was cut from the Administration’s original budget as a result of the new economic outlook. They also approved emergency legislation Thursday to drop state testing requirements and waive the mandated 180 days of classroom instruction. The legislature plans to reconvene on June 1 to complete its business for the year.

Health Response

Yesterday, Gov. Lee signed Executive Order 15 which includes further deregulation of hospital beds to free up capacity, further deregulation of scope of practice, allowing more health care professionals to treat patients, and expanding the number of providers who are eligible to provide telehealth services by loosening regulations around technology and geographic area and urges insurers to provide coverage for COVID-19.

On Thursday, Tennessee heath officials have indicated there are 758 adult and 120 pediatric ventilators in the state — and have ordered 570 additional ventilators. Tennessee Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Lisa Piercey did caution that the 570 new machines wouldn’t be available for immediate use. That figure, she estimated, would be closer to 80 to 150 on-hand by next week.

Economic Response

Executive Order 15 also includes waiving one-week waiting periods to receive unemployment benefits following loss of employment, adding individuals who leave work as a result of a doctor’s order to qualify for unemployment benefits, providing DHS full discretion to waive child care licensure requirements, and temporarily removing childcare restrictions including provisions about capacity, grouping, and certain licensure regulations.

As a result of a large increase in the number of unemployment claims, the Tennessee Department of Labor & Workforce Development will be tripling its staff to process those claims.

Cities’ Response

Metro Nashville has ordered all restaurants to close their dining areas. The Grand Ole Opry will proceed without a live audience and the Country Music Hall of Fame has been closed through the end of the month. The Mayor of Memphis has declared a civil emergency, ordering restaurants, bars and gyms to close. Restaurants can continue serving to-go food orders. Memphis officials have also cancelled food distribution to students as a result of a nutrition services staff member testing positive for COVID-19. No curfew has been implemented in either Memphis or Nashville. Memphis Metro has 30 confirmed cases of COVID-19 after having reported only 10 just yesterday.

Texas

Summary of Abbott COVID-19 Press Conference, which occurred at 3 p.m., Sunday March 22, 2020:

As of Sunday afternoon, according Department of State Health Services (DSHS), 334 Texans have been tested positive for COVID-19 in 43 of Texas’ 254 counties. There have been six deaths. 8700 Texans have been tested (up from 6400 as of Saturday) with fewer than 10 percent of those tested testing positive. Johns Hopkins has different numbers (566 cases and six deaths), which seem to be based on presumptive positives rather than actual positives.

Gov. Abbott issues two new executive orders on Sunday, building on his March 17 gatherings/business and schools closure order. 

The new executive order from Sunday expands hospital bed capacity as the state responds to the COVID-19 virus, by directing all licensed health care professionals and facilities to postpone all surgeries and procedures that are not immediately, medically necessary. The Governor also suspended certain regulations as requested by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) to allow for increased occupancy of hospital rooms — meaning hospitals will be able to treat more than one patient in a patient room, thus increasing their ability to care for the growing number of COVID-19 patients. 

The newest Abbott Executive order can be seen here.

Gov. Abbott also announced the creation of state strike force for acquiring needed supplies. Task force members will include:

Name (current employer) Role
Keith Meyers (Dell, Chief of Procurement) PROCUREMENT
Clint Harp (LCRA VP) PROCUREMENT
Dr. John Zerwas (UT VICE CHANCELLOR)  HEATH CARE BEDS CAPACITY AND STAFFING
Elaine Mendoza (TAMU REGENT) DAY CARE FOR HEALTH CARE WORKERS

Governor is NOT yet changing his March 19 executive order and NOT yet issuing a shelter in place order.

He noted that 200+ Texas counties have no COVID-19 cases. Local units of government may issue stricter orders that Gov’s x.o. Dallas County has already done so, issuing a local shelter in place ordinance. Abbott’s orders may change in the future, but he wants the March 19 order to continue to take effect. 

Abbott’s March 19 executive order remains in place, which shuttered bars, restaurants and gyms; closed schools; curtailed visitors to nursing homes and long-term care facilities; and discouraged gatherings of more than 10 people to help stem transmission of the corona virus until at least April 3, 2020. The March 19 order is here.

On March 19, Governor Greg Abbott issued an executive order shuttering bars, restaurants and gyms; closing schools; curtailing visitors to nursing homes and long-term care facilities; and discouraging gatherings of more than 10 people to help stem transmission of the corona virus until at least April 3, 2020. 

At a Thursday Capitol news conference with Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, Speaker Dennis Bonnen and Texas public health and emergency management leaders, Abbott said, “I am issuing an executive order authorized by Chapter 418. This executive order adopts for Texas the standards that have been set out by the president and by the CDC. It provides the following:

Number 1: Every person in Texas shall avoid social gatherings in groups of more than ten.

Number 2: People shall avoid eating or drinking at bars, restaurants and food courts, or visiting gyms. Simply put, there will be no dining it at bars and restaurants and gyms will be closed. However, and this is very important, the use of drive-thru, pickup or delivery options is allowed and, in fact, highly encouraged, through the limited duration of this executive order.

Number 3: People shall not visit nursing homes or retirement centers or long-term care facilities, unless it is to provide critical assistance.

And Number 4: All schools in the state of Texas will be temporarily closed, but this does not mean education stops. The state superintendent should continue to work with the Texas Education Agency to continue on-line or additional educational options.

This order is effective at midnight tomorrow, and continues through midnight, April the 3rd.It may be extended after that, depending on the status of COVID-19 in Texas and the recommendation of the CDC.

Abbott noted that he is not issuing a shelter in place order. The order does not prohibit people from doing things like going to the grocery store or gas station or to parks or banks. All critical infrastructure will remain open and operational. Domestic travel will be unrestricted. Government entities and businesses will continue to provide essential services. Offices and workplaces may remain open, but should only require essential employees to report to the place work and should, where feasible, allow and encourage employees work from home, or other remote sites.

Texas has accelerated the unemployment process so people can get their unemployment benefits faster.

Abbott’s Executive Order states:

Governor Abbott Issues Executive Orders To Mitigate Spread Of COVID-19 In Texas

03/19/2020 03:51 PM CDT

The four orders serve to limit public gatherings and help reduce exposure for people across the state.

WHEREAS, the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has been recognized globally as a contagious respiratory virus; and

WHEREAS, I, Greg Abbott, Governor of Texas, issued a disaster proclamation on March 13, 2020, certifying that COVID-19 poses an imminent threat of disaster for all counties in the state of Texas; and

WHEREAS, COVID-19 continues to spread and to pose an increasing, imminent threat of disaster throughout Texas; and

WHEREAS, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has advised that person-to-person contact heightens the risk of COVID-19 transmission; and

WHEREAS, the President’s Coronavirus Guidelines for America, as promulgated by President Donald J. Trump and the CDC on March 16, 2020, call upon Americans to slow the spread of COVID-19 by avoiding social gatherings in groups of more than 10 people, using drive-thru, pickup, or delivery options at restaurants and bars, and avoiding visitation at nursing homes, among other steps; and

WHEREAS, the Texas Department of State Health Services has now determined that, as of March 19, 2020, COVID-19 represents a public health disaster within the meaning of Chapter 81 of the Texas Health and Safety Code; and

WHEREAS, under the Texas Disaster Act of 1975, “[t]he governor is responsible for meeting . . . the dangers to the state and people presented by disasters” (Section 418.001 of the Texas Government Code), and the legislature has given the governor broad authority to fulfill that responsibility.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, Greg Abbott, Governor of Texas, by virtue of the power and authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the State of Texas, do hereby order the following on a statewide basis effective 11:59 p.m. on March 20, 2020, and continuing until 11:59 p.m. on April 3, 2020, subject to extension thereafter based on the status of COVID-19 in Texas and the recommendations of the CDC:

Order No. 1 – In accordance with the Guidelines from the President and the CDC, every person in Texas shall avoid social gatherings in groups of more than 10 people.
Order No. 2 – In accordance with the Guidelines from the President and the CDC, people shall avoid eating or drinking at bars, restaurants, and food courts, or visiting gyms or massage parlors; provided, however, that the use of drive-thru, pickup, or delivery options is allowed and highly encouraged throughout the limited duration of this executive order.
Order No. 3 – In accordance with the Guidelines from the President and the CDC, people shall not visit nursing homes or retirement or long-term care facilities unless to provide critical assistance.
Order No. 4 – In accordance with the Guidelines from the President and the CDC, schools shall temporarily close.

This, executive order does not prohibit people from visiting a variety of places, including grocery stores, gas stations, parks, and banks, so long as the necessary precautions are maintained to reduce the transmission of COVID-19. This executive order does not mandate sheltering in place. All critical infrastructure will remain operational, domestic travel will remain unrestricted, and government entities and businesses will continue providing essential services. For offices and workplaces that remain open, employees should practice good hygiene and, where feasible, work from home in order to achieve optimum isolation from COVID-19. The more that people reduce their public contact, the sooner COVID-19 will be contained and the sooner this executive order will expire.

This executive order supersedes all previous orders on this matter that are in conflict or inconsistent with its terms, and this order shall remain in effect and in full force until 11:59 p.m. on April 3, 2020, subject to being extended, modified, amended, rescinded, or superseded by me or by a succeeding governor.

Given under my hand this the 19th day of March, 2020.
Governor Greg Abbott

View the executive orders

Virginia

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam ordered all K-12 schools closed for the rest of the academic year and mandated indoor recreation and entertainment businesses close for 30 days as part of a sweeping new effort to slow the spread of COVID-19 in the commonwealth.

The measures, announced Monday, March 23, as part of Executive Order No. 53, build upon previous efforts to ban public gatherings of 10 or more people, shut down Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles offices and suspend visitation at state correctional facilities. Restaurants, farmer’s markets, wineries and breweries were ordered to close to the public, effective at the end of Tuesday, March 24, but may continue to serve patrons via take-out or delivery, according to the executive order.

As of Monday, March 23, the state Department of Health reported 254 cases of COVID-19, with 38 resulting in hospitalization and six deaths. The state confirmed 3,697 had been tested.

Public K-12 schools have been closed since March 16, and nearly every college and university in Virginia has sent students home, closed campus buildings and transitioned to online learning for the rest of the spring semester. Spring sports seasons and commencement exercises have been canceled. Economic impacts associated with closures and cancellations are just beginning to be calculated but in some instances have been described as catastrophic.

Last week, Northam announced an expansion of eligibility for unemployment benefits and opened access to federal disaster loans for small businesses.

The governor’s administration also released a FAQ guide regarding Executive Order No. 53 but said additional guidance would be forthcoming.

West Virginia

Governor Justice just ordered a stay home order for West Virginia at 1:30 p.m. All non-essential businesses are scheduled to close at 8 p.m. tomorrow.

For additional information click here.

Wisconsin

Governor Tony Evers just released Emergency Order #12 to institute a “Safer At Home” policy.

The order is effective at 8:00 AM, Wednesday, March 25 and will remain in effect until 8:00 AM Friday, April 24, or until a superseding order is issued.

The order can be found here.

Specific to essential business operations, excerpted below, the Order says the following:

Essential Businesses and Operations. All entities described in this section shall meet Social Distancing Requirements between all individuals on the premises to the extent possible. Essential Businesses and Operations shall, to the greatest extent possible, use technology to avoid meeting in person, including virtual meetings, teleconference, and remote work (i.e., work from home). For the purposes of this Order, Essential Businesses and Operations means Healthcare and Public Health Operations, Human Services Operations, Essential Infrastructure, and Essential Governmental Functions, and the following:

  • CISA List. Any business or worker identified in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), Memorandum on Identification of Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers During COVID-19 Response, updated March 23, 2020, and any subsequent versions of this Memorandum.
  • Stores that sell groceries and medicine. Grocery stores, bakeries, pharmacies, farm and produce stands, supermarkets, food banks and food pantries, convenience stores, and other establishments engaged in the retail sale of groceries, canned food, dry goods, frozen foods, fresh fruits and vegetables, pet supply, fresh meats, fish, poultry, prepared food, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, and any other household consumer products (such as cleaning and personal care products). Such establishments shall:
    • Close all seating intended for consuming food.
    • Cease any self-service operations of salad bars, beverage stations, and buffets.
    • Except for grocery stores, prohibit customers from self- dispensing all unpackaged food.
    • Abide by Social Distancing Requirements.

      This section should not be interpreted to provide an exemption for businesses engaged in the sale of food or beverage ancillary to its primary purpose, such as those businesses required to close under Section 4 who also may engage in some food or beverage sales.
  • Food and beverage production, transport, and agriculture. Food and beverage manufacturing, production, processing, transportation, and cultivation; farming, livestock, fishing, baking, and other production agriculture, including cultivation, marketing, production, and distribution of animals and goods for consumption; businesses that provide food, shelter, and other necessities of life for animals, including animal shelters, boarding, rescues, kennels, and adopting facilities; farm and agriculture equipment, supplies, and repair services.
  • Restaurants. Restaurants shall close, except as follows:
    • Restaurants may remain open for food take-out or delivery service only.
    • Alcohol sales must comply with section 13.e. below.
    • Customers may enter the above establishments only for the purpose of ordering, pick up, and paying for food or beverage or both.
    • No seating may be provided.
    • Food and drink may not be consumed on premises, either indoors or outdoors.
    • Establishments shall meet Social Distancing Requirements between all individuals on the premises to the extent possible.
    • Cease any self-service operations of salad bars, beverage stations, and buffets.
    • Customers are prohibited from self-dispensing any unpackaged food or beverage.
  • Bars. This includes breweries, brewpubs, wineries, distilleries, and alcohol beverage retailers. Such establishments shall close, except as follows:
    • Carryout sales of alcohol beverages and food are allowed, if permitted by state law and municipal ordinance.
    • Delivery of alcohol beverages to retail customers is prohibited.
    • Wineries holding direct wine shippers’ permits may make deliveries of wine in accordance with their permit.
    • Customers may enter the above establishments only for the purpose of ordering, pick up, and paying for food or beverage or both.
    • No seating may be provided.
    • Food and drink may not be consumed on premises, either indoors or outdoors.
    • Establishments shall meet Social Distancing Requirements between all individuals on the premises to the extent possible.
    • Self-service operations of salad bars, beverage stations, and buffets are prohibited.
    • Customers are prohibited from self-dispensing any unpackaged food or beverage.
  • Child care settings. Secretary-designee Andrea Palm’s Emergency Order #6 remains in effect, with the following amendments:
    • Child care settings shall prioritize care for families as follows:
      • Tier 1: employees, contractors, and other support staff working in health care;
      • Tier 2: employees, contractors, and other staff in vital areas including but not limited to military; long term care; residential care; pharmacies; child care; child welfare; government operations; public safety and critical infrastructure such as sanitation, transportation, utilities, telecommunications; grocery and food services; supply chain operations; and other sectors as determined by the Secretary of the Department of Children and Families.
    • Child care settings include all licensed and certified child care providers who may provide care for any age or ages of children up to 13 years of age, unless specially licensed for children with disabilities up to 19 years of age.
  • Organizations that provide charitable and social services. Businesses and religious and secular nonprofit organizations, including prevocational group supportive employment, food banks and food pantries, when providing food, shelter, and social services, and other necessities of life for economically disadvantaged or otherwise needy individuals, individuals who need assistance as a result of this public health emergency, and people with disabilities.
  • Weddings, funerals, and religious entities. Religious facilities, entities, groups, and gatherings, and weddings and funerals, except that any gathering shall include fewer than 10 people in a room or confined space at a time and individuals shall adhere to Social Distancing Requirements as much as possible.
  • Funeral establishments. Funeral establishments, as defined in Wis. Stat. § 445.01(6), except that any gathering shall include fewer than 10 people in a room or confined space at a time and individuals shall adhere to Social Distancing Requirements as much as possible.
  • Media. Newspapers, television, radio, and other media services.
  • Gas stations and businesses needed for transportation. Gas stations; auto and motorcycle supply, repair and sales; boat supply, repair, and sales; and bicycle supply, repair, and sales.
  • Financial institutions and services. Banks, credit unions, and other depository or lending institutions; licensed financial service providers; insurance services; personnel necessary to perform essential functions at broker dealers and investment advisor offices.
  • Hardware and supplies stores. Hardware stores and businesses that sell electrical, plumbing, heating, and construction material.
  • Critical trades. Building and Construction Tradesmen and Tradeswomen, and other trades including but not limited to plumbers, electricians, carpenters, laborers, sheet metal, iron workers, masonry, pipe trades, fabricators, finishers, exterminators, pesticide application, cleaning and janitorial staff for commercial and governmental properties, security staff, operating engineers, HVAC, painting, moving and relocation services, forestry and arborists, and other service providers who provide services that are necessary to maintaining the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences, Essential Activities, Essential Governmental Functions, and Essential Businesses and Operations.
  • Mail, post, shipping, logistics, delivery, and pick-up services. Post offices and other businesses that provide shipping and delivery services, and businesses that ship or deliver groceries, food, beverages, goods or services to end users or through commercial channels.
  • Laundry services. Laundromats, dry cleaners, industrial laundry services, and laundry service providers.
  • Supplies to work from home. Businesses that sell, manufacture, or supply products needed for people to work from home.
  • Supplies for Essential Businesses and Operations and Essential Governmental Functions. Businesses that sell, manufacture, or supply other Essential Businesses and Operations and Essential Governmental Functions with the support or supplies necessary to operate, including computers; audio and video electronics; household appliances; IT and telecommunication equipment; hardware; paint; flat glass; electrical, plumbing, and heating materials; construction materials and equipment; sanitary equipment; personal hygiene products; food, food additives, ingredients, and components; medical and orthopedic equipment; firearm and ammunition suppliers and retailers for purposes of safety and security; optics and photography equipment; diagnostic; food and beverages; chemicals; paper and paper products; soaps and detergents.
  • Transportation. Airlines, taxis, transportation network providers (such as Uber and Lyft), vehicle rental services, paratransit, and other private, public, and commercial transportation and logistics providers necessary for Essential Activities and other purposes expressly authorized in this Order.
  • Home-based care and services. Home-based care for seniors, adults, children, and/or people with disabilities, substance use disorders, and/or mental illness, including caregivers or nannies who may travel to the child’s home to provide care, and other in-home services including meal delivery.
  • Professional services. Professional services, such as legal or accounting services, insurance services, real estate services (including appraisal, home inspection, and title services). These services shall, to the greatest extent possible, use technology to avoid meeting in person, including virtual meetings, teleconference, and remote work (i.e., work from home).
  • Manufacture, distribution, and supply chain for critical products and industries. Manufacturing companies, distributors, and supply chain companies producing and supplying essential products and services in and for industries such as pharmaceutical, technology, biotechnology, healthcare, chemicals and sanitation, waste pickup and disposal, agriculture, food and beverage, transportation, energy, steel and steel products, petroleum and fuel, mining, construction, national defense, communications, and products used by other Essential Governmental Functions and Essential Businesses and Operations.
  • Critical labor union functions. Essential activities include the administration of health and welfare funds and personnel checking on the well-being and safety of members providing services in Essential Business and Operations, provided the checks are done by telephone or remotely where possible.
  • Hotels and motels. Hotels and motels, except that such establishments shall:
    • Comply with requirements of 12.b, 12.d. and 12.e.
    • Close swimming pools, hot tubs, and exercise facilities.
    • Prohibit guests from congregating in lobbies or other common areas, including providing adequate space to adhere to Social Distancing Requirements while queuing for front desk services.
  • Higher educational institutions. Higher educational institutions, for purposes of facilitating distance learning, performing critical research, or performing essential functions as determined by the institution.
  • WEDC designated businesses. In the exceptional circumstance that a business is not listed in this Order as an Essential Business or Operations but believes that it should be included in that designation, the business should consult the information page on the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) web site, here: www.wedc.org/essentialbusiness. If a business still believes that it does not fall within the meaning of Essential Businesses and Operations, it may apply to the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) using the provided form requesting designation as such.

Stay up-to-date with all of our insights and guidance by visiting our US COVID-19 hub here.

Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the US – Latest State Updates – March 19, 2020

Colorado

Representative Dafna Michaelson Jenet, D-Commerce City, today released the following statement announcing she has tested positive for the COVID-19 virus:

“This morning I received news that I have tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. I was tested at UC Health after experiencing symptoms. While I have had a confirmed case of bronchitis for much of March, my doctors have told me that it’s likely I contracted COVID-19 in the last few days. I am staying quarantined at home, and my children and husband are self-isolating. We will all get through this together, and I look forward to seeing my friends, colleagues and constituents when I’m better and no longer at risk of spreading the virus to others.”

The representative is at home as she recovers from the virus, and requests her privacy during this time.

Information on the outbreak of COVID-19 in Colorado can be found at this website.

Connecticut

  • Since yesterday, an additional 28 Connecticut residents tested positive, bringing the total positive cases reported in the state to 96.
  • Governor Lamont today signed another executive order taking actions to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, this one:
    • Closes large indoor malls and places of amusement (but not parks and open space areas) effective 8:00 p.m. on Thursday, March 19;
    • Allows Medicaid to cover audio-only telehealth services;
    • Provides flexibility for critical legal functions regarding conservators and competency hearings to ensure the safety of nursing home patients; and
    • Exempts certain schools inside state facilities from school cancellation order.
  • Department of Public Health is providing a status update on Personal Protective Equipment.
  • Access Health CT is opening a special enrollment period for those who are uninsured.
  • Governor Lamont offers guidance for restaurants seeking clarification on take-out and delivery rules.
  • Governor Lamont directs the early release of certain state aid to municipalities.
  • Department of Labor closes main office and American Job Centers to in-person visits, encourage use of online services.
  • DEEP is requesting PURA take emergency actions to protect utility rate payers.
  • Department of Agriculture sent communications today affirming that farmers’ markets can remain open.
  • Department of Education is seeking a waver for standardized testing requirements, continues providing resources to support student learning during closures, assist in meals program.
  • Through a partnership with the state, a coalition of outdoor advertisers are donating electronic billboard space to spread public awareness about COVID-19.

Georgia 

  • Former BB&T and SunTrust branches, now Truist locations, will soon limit activity to drive-thru lanes and make in-lobby consultations by appointment only. 

Gov. Kemp, DPH Commissioner Toomey Briefing

  • At the Georgia State Capitol, Governor Kemp and Georgia Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Kathleen Toomey are giving a briefing on COVID-19 via Georgia Public Broadcasting livestream at Thursday, March 19 at 4:30 p.m.

Daily State Public Health stats

  • State cases are up to 287 from 197 yesterday.  We are now up to 10 deaths.  Fulton, Cobb and Bartow Counties have 129 or 45 percent of the cases.  If you add in DeKalb, Dougherty, Gwinnett and Cherokee Counties, these 7 counties account for 199 of the 287 cases or 69 percent of the cases. The Departments hot line number is +1 844 442 2681.
  • Allegedly, Phoebe Putney Hospital has announced a total of 43 positive results [doubled since 3/18] and 4 deaths [doubled since 3/18].
  • Senator Brandon Beach has been diagnosed with COVID-19. Senator Bruce Thompson has been hospitalized for several days and is still waiting on the test results.  Thankfully he has been upgraded.

LOCAL NEWS:

Closures

City of Forsyth

Marietta

Drive-through testing

Cobb and Clayton Counties; City of Albany; DeKalb County

Cobb and Clayton Counties and the city of Albany have limited drive through testing with DeKalb preparing for same. Click here for more information.

New York

Governor Cuomo announced during a March 19 press conference that he will be issuing an order to further reduce the workforce to 25 percent, which is a 75 percent mandatory reduction in the workforce.

He also announced the following:

  • 90 Day Mortgage relief, based on financial hardship. Waiving mortgage payments for 90 days.
  • Suspending foreclosures.
  • Waiving overdraft fees for ATMs and Credit Cards.
  • Reiterated commitment to keep NYC out of a stay-in-place order.

Wisconsin

Governor Evers Issues Emergency Order #7 to Department of Workforce Development regarding Unemployment Insurance

Emergency Order #7 waives the work search requirement and modifies the availability requirements for unemployment insurance (UI) benefits for workers impacted by COVID-19.  Specifically;

  • Emergency Order #7 waives the requirement that UI claimants conduct at least four weekly work search actions during the COVID-19 emergency. This section of the order is retroactively effective to March 12, 2020.
  • Emergency Order #7 also ensures that claimants who are otherwise eligible but out of work due to COVID-19 are considered available for work and therefore eligible for benefits.

The order goes into effect immediately and will remain in effect for the duration of the COVID-19 public health emergency.

DFI Issues Emergency Guidance on Character and Fitness Requirements for Payday and Licensed Lenders

Last night the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions (DFI), at the direction of Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers, issued emergency guidance on “character and fitness requirements” for all payday and licensed lenders doing business in Wisconsin. 

In light of the financial distress caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, DFI cautioned payday and licensed lenders that increasing interest rates, fees, or any costs of borrowing in response to this crisis may result in license suspension or revocation. The department also encourages the reduction of rates and fees as low as operational expenses and sound lending practices allow. 

[Excerpted from the guidance document]

Wisconsin needs you to be a part of the solution for struggling families. Before this Department first granted you a license to operate in this State, we were required by law to assess the character and fitness of your business and its officers and directors.1 This crisis will put your character and fitness to the test.

Businesses with character recognize that this is a time for shared sacrifice, not financial exploitation. We recognize that the statutes that govern your businesses set no maximum limit on the interest you can charge, even when many are facing sudden financial distress. But fundamental human decency does. Therefore, effective immediately, this Department shall deem it an essential failure of your character and fitness if you increase your customary interest rates, fees, or any costs of borrowing in response to this crisis. 

We further urge you to reduce your rates and fees as low as operational expenses and sound lending practices allow. How you treat desperate people during this crisis will determine the long-term future of your industry and the status of your license to do business in this State. Engaging in any opportunistic and exploitative conduct will be deemed proof of your company’s underlying lack of character and general fitness—a fact that would’ve caused us to deny your license in the first place, had it been revealed at the time you applied for one. Willfully engage in such behavior, and your license to operate in this State will be suspended or revoked.

DFI Issues Emergency Guidance on Remote Notarization

Also, at the direction of Governor Tony Evers, the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) issued emergency guidance today pertaining to remote online notarization in Wisconsin.

“Due to the COVID-19 public health emergency, remote online notarization is now authorized in this state, subject to several safeguards to ensure the integrity of the notarial process,” said DFI Secretary Kathy Blumenfeld.

Remote online notarizations must be performed using technology providers that are regulated under standards that meet or exceed the safeguards set by Wisconsin Act 125. DFI has approved four remote online notarization providers thus far: Notarize.com and NotaryCam, which provide remote notary services to the general public, and Pavaso or Nexsys, which provide them for title companies and other real-estate transactions.

DFI has also issued several other guidance letters to Financial Institutions, Lenders and Credit Unions over the last week and have those posted on their homepage in the COVID-19 Information and Resources Section.

Department of Administration (DOA) Division of Facilities Development and Management announce Teleconference Bid Openings

The Department of Administration announced that until further notice, there will be no in-person bid openings for construction projects. Beginning March 19, 2020, DOA is implementing revised bidding procedures for all state construction projects with bid openings occurring in Madison, WI. These revisions are being made in response to Governor Evers’ declaration of a statewide public health emergency. DOA will be announcing bid openings via teleconference on the day bids are due. Details about the teleconference bid process is as follows:

  • Bidders will call a specified call-in number to hear bid results announced on the day bids are due. The number to call will soon be available on the “DOA List of Projects Out to Bid” website, which is: HERE
  • The teleconference line will be open at 1:45 p.m. CT and all bids will be opened after 2:00 p.m. CT.

More information on the new process can be found here

Industry and Department of Workforce Development working to donate any available N95 masks to local hospitals

Wisconsin’s Transportation Building Industry sent out a message to their membership urging them to donate any available supply of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE), especially NIOSH 95 (N95) masks to local hospitals.

WTBA Members:

As I am sure you know, the COVID-19 outbreak is placing tremendous strain on Wisconsin health care’s supply of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE). This includes quickly dwindling supplies of gowns, gloves, eye shields and, especially, face masks (specifically NIOSH 95 masks, or N95s). This equipment is critical to protecting our frontline health care workforce from infection when testing and treating for COVID-19, keeping our dedicated doctors, nurses, technicians and others there when we all need them most. WTBA has been asked to reach out to our members to help.

Because of surging usage and still inadequate supply, Vice President Mike Pence, at the White House briefing yesterday, asked all construction companies to donate unused/packaged N95 masks to their local hospitals and to limit ordering more:

“We would make one specific request, and that is we would urge construction companies to donate their inventory of N95 masks to your local hospital and forgo additional orders of those industrial masks,” Vice President Mike Pence said during a White House press conference on Tuesday.

He continued, “Because of what the president asked to be included in legislation moving through the Congress today, those industrial masks that they use on construction sites are perfectly acceptable for healthcare workers to be protected from a respiratory disease.”

If you are able, we are asking that you contact your local hospital(s) to donate this vital equipment that will help protect our frontline healthcare workers during this unprecedented time.

Thank you,
Pat Goss, Executive Director, Wisconsin Transportation Builders Association

In addition, Secretary Caleb Frostman has called on Wisconsin’s construction industry, labor organizations, and private industry to donate any available N95 masks to local hospitals.

Keeping WI Small Businesses Open

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, Majority Leader Jim Steineke and many other lawmakers have been aggressively promoting on social media the need to support Wisconsin small businesses that are still open during this health emergency, and the importance of patronizing them and especially restaurants that are serving takeout and delivery options. The WI Restaurant Association is continuously updating a list of restaurants that are open on their website organized by County.

WMC “All Business” Webinar with Governor Evers and Cabinet

Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce has made their “All Businesses” Webinar on the state’s response to COVID-19 with Governor Tony Evers, Dep. DHS Secretary Julie Willems Van Dijk, Department of Workforce Development Secretary Caleb Frostman and Wisconsin Economic Development Corp Secretary & CEO Missy Hughes available here.

This update is available online at https://capitolconsultants.net/wi-update-13-covid-19/

Past updates are now archived on our website:

Stay up-to-date with all of our insights and guidance by visiting our US COVID-19 hub here.

Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the US – Latest State Updates – March 18, 2020

Hawaii

Hawaii Governor David Ige made an announcement yesterday regarding efforts to curb COVID-19, including encouraging a 30-day suspension of visitors, closure of bars and clubs, and directing non-essential government workers to stay home for 15 days. Click here for additional information.

New York

Governor Andrew Cuomo has made the following announcements during ongoing briefings regarding COVID-19:

  • The Department of Health will waive regulations in order to increase bed capacity within existing hospitals.
  • Army Corps of Engineers will be in the state of New York this afternoon to begin preparations and discussions.
  • President Donald Trump will be sending the USNS Comfort to the New York City Harbor. The ship has 1,000 beds available, as well as additional operating rooms.
  • Mandatory statewide, all businesses must adhere to no more than 50 percent of their workforce on the premises. The Executive Order will exempt essential services, food, pharmacies, healthcare, shipping, supplies, etc. Click here for more details.
  • Pennsylvania will join New York, Connecticut and New Jersey in the restaurant, bar, casino closure compact. All restaurants and bars are limited to take-out or delivery only and laws were lifted to allow for alcohol to be allowed to be sold as a take-out item at restaurants and bars. 

The legislature will be voting today on two pieces of legislation. The paid sick leave legislation and legislation that would change the rules on petitioning to be on the ballot in November. The Governor introduced the legislation earlier this week that would provide paid sick leave; 14 paid days for everyone, for small-businesses some or all costs will be borne by insurers or all temporary disability insurance leave program. Future paid sick leave would be brought down to five days for small businesses and five days for large businesses. 

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is considering the possibility of a shelter-in-place order for the City. He is reportedly communicating with the state on the topic. A decision is expected in the next 48 hours.

“New Yorkers should be prepared right now for the possibility of a shelter-in-place order,” de Blasio said. “The decision will be made in the next 48 hours.”

North Carolina

NC Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission Issues Directive Regarding Executive Order 118, March 17: prohibiting all on premise sales and consumption. This includes patios and outdoor picnic tables. Only off-premise sales of beer and wine are allowed from establishments with appropriate retail beer or wine permits. On-premise mixed beverage sales or consumption is not allowed at distilleries while this Executive Order is in effect. Retail permittees may deliver to vehicles at a curb or a parking space adjacent to the licensed premises. ABC Stores will remain open at the discretion of the local ABC Board. 

Tennessee

The total number of positive cases in the state stands at 73 with the majority in Nashville (42) and adjoining Williamson County (21).

Governor Bill Lee will continue to hold daily press briefings. Today’s press briefing is at 3:00 p.m. CT and can be viewed here.

“No Growth” Revised Budget

The Commissioner of the Department of Finance & Administration Stuart McWhorter presented the Administration’s significantly revised “no growth budget” to the Senate Finance Committee moments ago. While he indicated that Tennessee is better prepared than many other states, the revised budget eliminates the bulk of cost increases originally proposed. That includes removing the proposed US$250 million trust fund for mental health services in schools.

After reviewing economic forecasts, the Administration has reduced their anticipated growth rate for FY 20 from 3.75% to 2.5% (~US$155 million reduction) and from 3.1% to 0% for FY 21.

The revised budget does include the following cost increases:

  • Fully funding BEP education formula, higher education formula, state employee pension contribution, and inflationary growth in TennCare and DCS.
  • US$350 million to rainy day fund, a US$300 million increase from original budget.
  • Additional state troopers and TBI field agents.
  • Doubling local government grants from US$100 million to US$200 million.
  • Increasing safety net for mental health and primary care.
  • Establishing a new US$150 million fund to help us be responsive to Health & Safety Issues resulting from COVID 19.
  • Utilizing the US$700+ million Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) fund for emergency financial assistance of up to US$1,000 for qualifying families.
  • US$10 million in emergency grants to child care facilities as they meet new demand after schools shut down across the state.

Legislative Proceedings

The House and Senate are hoping to pass the revised budget on Friday and then recess until June 1. Live video of the budget considerations and those of “mission-critical bills” can be found here.

Recognizing being in violation of CDC guidelines for gatherings, legislative leadership has attempted to stagger when committees meet to ensure that not all 132 members of the legislature and their staff are in close proximity at any given time. Legislators, particularly over the age of 60, have also been encouraged to vote from the chamber’s upstairs gallery during House floor proceedings.

Health Response

The TN Department of Health continues to update their website with the number of confirmed cases by county and age group as well as a list of COVID-19 Remote Assessment Sites across the state. Gov. Bill Lee said Tuesday between the public lab and Vanderbilt University Medical Center facilities alone, the state has the capacity to test nearly 1,800 patients per day.

The state’s largest municipalities continue to follow CDC guidance on group gatherings. In Nashville, bars were ordered to close while restaurants were asked to take precautions in the number of patrons they serve and their proximity to one another.

Economic Response

The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development updated its www.tn.gov/workforce to put information and resources in a convenient form for Tennesseans to access.

Individuals out of work due to COVID-19 can file for Tennessee unemployment insurance benefits by visiting www.Jobs4TN.gov. Several different eligibility factors will determine the approval of a worker’s claim. The maximum weekly unemployment benefit in Tennessee is $275 before federal taxes are deducted. Between March 1-March 7, 2,031 claims were filed. In the past week, 6,092 claims were filed.

Virginia

67 positive COVID-19 cases had been reported in Virginia out of 1,028 tested as of Tuesday, March 17, according to the Virginia Department of Health. In a press conference earlier in the day, Gov. Ralph Northam announced the indefinite closure of all Department of Motor Vehicles offices statewide. Drivers with licenses set to expire would receive a 60-day extension.

Northam stopped short of ordering restaurants and other businesses to close but encouraged them to serve customers via take-out or drive-through only, and for all Virginians to refrain from gathering in public in groups of 10 or more people, per the latest CDC guidelines. Meanwhile, the Virginia Employment Commission will waive the one-week waiting period for applicants seeking unemployment benefits, effective immediately, the governor said.

The closure of public schools in the city of Richmond has been extended to at least April 13; other school divisions across Virginia remain closed through at least March 27. The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported on Tuesday that state education officials are weighing whether to cancel state-mandated testing typically conducted in the spring.

Wisconsin

Executive/Legislative Action of Note:

  • Gov. Tony Evers is expected to issue an executive order today to speed up unemployment benefits for workers affected by the COVID-19. According to a press release by DWD, the Executive Order will waive work search requirements and modify the availability requirements for unemployment insurance benefits for workers impacted by COVID-19.
  • Gov. Evers is also working with lawmakers to immediately repeal a one-week waiting period in collecting unemployment benefits.
  • Gov. Tony Evers is joining a 2:00 PM webinar being hosted by Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce that will include Dep. DHS Secretary Julie Willems Van Dijk, Department of Workforce Development Secretary Caleb Frostman and Wisconsin Economic Development Corp Secretary & CEO Missy Hughes (Link)

University of Wisconsin- Madison;

Chancellor Rebecca Blank announced yesterday afternoon that the University of Wisconsin-Madison was ceasing in-person learning for the remainder of the semester. In the announcement, Chancellor Blank said UW Madison will take the following steps;

  • We will shift to alternate delivery of courses from March 23 through the end of the spring semester, including final exams. Students will receive information about instruction as plans are completed.
  • In addition, we advise those who have opted to travel away from Madison for Spring Break to carefully consider whether they need to return to Madison or can continue the semester from their permanent residence.

Students in residence halls who cannot return home or who are unable to access alternative course delivery from elsewhere may remain in the residence halls. Limited dining services will continue to be open. (Residents will be receiving a follow up message from University Housing shortly.)

  • All units were asked to move all possible employees into teleworking this past Monday, March 16. Beginning March 18, campus will take steps so that the only employees (including graduate student employees) physically working on campus are those needed to deliver essential services that cannot be done via telecommuting. This will be in effect until further notice. Employees who cannot telecommute and who are not involved in essential services will be eligible to use leave.
  • Essential services include public safety, academic course delivery and student support, admissions, financial aid and enrollment for new and continuing students, certain research activities and associated animal care, University Housing, communications as well as core administrative and facility services.

Wisconsin Elections

The Wisconsin Elections Commission is holding an emergency meeting this afternoon to discuss how to conduct the state’s spring election on April 7 within the confines of the public health emergency. Members of the public may attend by calling +1 855 947 8255. The passcode is 42463# or you may listen in on WisconsinEye www.wiseye.org The meeting begins at 4:00 PM. A memo outlining issues to be discussed notes several hurdles that need to be addressed by the Commission on the call, including a shortage of absentee certificate envelopes.

 Wisconsin Outbreak

  • Today’s DHS 2:00 p.m. update will contain new locations where positive test results have been found. La Crosse County Health Department has reported they have been notified of a positive test result in La Crosse county (Link) and several media outlets reported additional positive results in Milwaukee County, and new positive test results in Fond du Lac and Washington/Ozaukee County, bringing the new total new positive results as of last evening to 90 (Link)
  • Below is a visual representation of positive results in Wisconsin by county location based on DHS’s 3-17 update.

Stay up-to-date with all of our insights and guidance by visiting our US COVID-19 hub here.

Georgia Post-Crossover Legislative Update – March 17, 2020

Due to the recent outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19), the Georgia General Assembly has suspended the 2020 legislative session until further notice. The suspension began on Friday, March 13, one day after Crossover Day, the point at which legislation must move from one body of the Legislature to the other.

However, the Legislature did reconvene for a one-day special session on Monday, March 16 to ratify Governor Kemp’s executive order that declared a State of Emergency. It is unclear when or if the General Assembly will reconvene under normal circumstances but they expect to hold another special session on April 15 in order to extend the emergency declaration if required.

This update will cover the government’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak and also review the bills that survived Crossover Day and remain up for consideration when the General Assembly reconvenes.

COVID-19 State of Emergency

As of noon on March 16 there are 121 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the state of Georgia, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health. The plurality of cases are in metro Atlanta with 27 cases in Fulton County, 22 in Cobb County and 10 in DeKalb County. In response to the outbreak, Governor Kemp has declared a State of Emergency. The powers provided to the Governor via declaration and ratification of a State of Emergency significantly increase the ability of the executive branch to fight the outbreak.

Governor Kemp now has new abilities to suspend laws and regulations, assume direct operational control of all civil employees, compel health care facilities to provide services, transfer from any available fund in the state treasury sums as may be necessary to meet the emergency or disaster and provide welfare benefits to citizens.

Under this emergency authority, the Georgia Department of Public Health has regulations in place authorizing it to isolate persons infected with COVID-19, quarantine persons exposed to, or reasonably suspected of having been exposed to COVID-19, require surveillance, including the active and direct active monitoring of carriers of the virus and persons exposed to the virus, require persons to be vaccinated or immunized, examined, and treated, restrict travel into or within the state, limit or cancel public gatherings, and close, evacuate, or decontaminate any facility, or destroy or decontaminate any contaminated materials.

Governor Kemp has stated that he intends to use the broad powers to deploy “all available resources” to contain the spread of the coronavirus. The Governor said Friday he’ll initially use the authority to grant nurses from other states temporary Georgia licenses and lift restrictions on commercial truck drivers. He also called up as many as 2,000 Georgia National Guard troops to active duty and ordered all public K-12 schools to close through at least the end of March.

COVID-19 Judicial Emergency

On Saturday, March 14, Georgia Chief Justice Harold Melton issued a thirty day order declaring a statewide judicial emergency. Essentially, the order reduces but does not shut down court actions, gives litigants relief during this period of time from responding to statutory deadlines, and provides greater flexibility to judges in how to conduct court business. 

Justice Melton, however, recognized that certain “essential” court functions need to continue. That includes where an immediate liberty or safety concern is present, criminal court search warrants, arrest warrants, initial appearances, and bond reviews, domestic abuse temporary protective orders and restraining orders, juvenile court delinquency detention hearings and emergency removal matters and mental health commitment hearings.

To the extent court proceedings are held, he ordered they should be done in a manner to limit the risk of exposure, such as by videoconferencing, where possible.

State Budget

Both the Georgia House and Senate passed the mid-year budget that adjusts what the state expects to spend for the second half of 2020. The mid-year budget, which awaits Governor Kemp’s signature, keeps state government running through June 30. Notably, the final version includes $100 million Kemp requested Wednesday to help the state deal with coronavirus. The additional money is intended for the Georgia Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Public Health to aid in the response effort. Lawmakers also added $5 million into the mid-year budget for hospitals, which they said may face special costs associated with the virus.

In addition to the 2020 mid-year budget, the Legislature also must pass a 2021 budget. The House was able to pass its version of the budget, but the Senate did not take action on it before the session was suspended. Because approving a budget is a requirement of the Georgia Constitution, the General Assembly has to come back before the start of the new fiscal year on July 1. Leaders in both chambers are confident that they will meet the deadline, even if it means returning only for that purpose.

The FY 2021 budget has been hotly debated up to this point. The House draft would give teachers a $1,000 pay raise, half of the $2,000 raise that Governor Kemp requested while adding 2% pay raises for state employees and government workers, which could increase to as much as 5% more for those in high-turnover jobs, including food safety inspectors, prison guards and mental health workers.

The House plan also would restore some of the 1,200 positions Kemp had marked for elimination, including food safety inspectors, child welfare and program eligibility workers, agricultural extension employees, GBI lab scientists and technicians, juvenile justice security staff, and workers who help make sure veterans receive the benefits they earned. Moreover, the House draft includes grants for county health departments that Kemp wanted to cut and money to ensure that GBI crime labs don’t fall behind in testing of rape kits and DNA.

There could be political fallout from the budget fight between the Governor and the Legislature that survives beyond this legislative session. The House passed House Bill 1112 which would limit the Governor’s power to set the revenue estimate each year. The bill would require state agencies to send budget proposals to the House and Senate first rather than the Governor. The House also voted to curtail the Governor’s ability to withhold appropriations specifically determined by the Legislature.

Health Care

Health care has been a central focus for state legislators this session as they attempt to address a health care system in Georgia, especially in rural Georgia, that is increasingly strained. They are particularly focused on three main topics: surprise billing, price transparency and pharmacy benefit managers.

Among those three, surprise billing seemingly has the most momentum. Of the bills introduced to address the surprise billing issue, three have risen to the top and received approval from at least one legislative body: House Bill 789, House Bill 888 and Senate Bill 359.

The House of Representatives passed House Bill 789 on March 3. The bill, which is now assigned to the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, requires insurance companies to maintain an online directory of anesthesiologists, pathologists, radiologists and emergency medicine doctors that are covered by their plans.

The House also passed House Bill 888 by a vote of 164-4 on that same day, March 3. The legislation aims to protect patients from having to pay bills after receiving care at a hospital that is in their insurance network. These bills are currently sent to patients in the event they saw a contract doctor who is out of network at a hospital where they are supposedly covered. In such cases, the insurance company and the provider would be required to sort out the payments through arbitration. HB 888 is currently assigned to the Senate Health and Human Services Committee. Senate Bill 359 sponsored by Senator  Chuck Huftstetler (R-Shannon) is functionally the same language as HB 888. SB 359 passed the Senate unanimously on February 24 and is now in the House Special Committee on Access to Quality Health Care.

In addition to surprise billing, legislators are looking to make changes to the pharmacy industry, specifically pharmacy benefit managers who act as middlemen between insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies and consumers. House Bill 946, which passed the House on March 4, would increase oversight on the industry and bar managers from charging an insurance company more for a drug than it cost from a pharmacy. The Senate passed SB 313 a nearly identical bill on Thursday. Another bill, House Bill 947, would allow the state to study the financial impact of removing pharmacy benefit managers from its Medicaid plan entirely. House Bill 946 has been assigned to the Senate Insurance and Labor Committee while House Bill 947 was assigned to the Senate Health and Human Services Committee. Senate Bill 313 was referred to the House Special Committee on Access to Quality Health Care.

Finally, Senate Bill 303 sponsored by Senator Ben Watson (R-Savannah) passed the Senate on February 25 and has been referred to the House Special Committee on Access to Quality Health Care. The bill aims to provide for greater price transparency for non-emergency health care services. It would require the disclosure of pricing information on insurer websites thereby allowing consumers to compare competitors.

Taxes and Tax Credits

As with any legislative session, taxes are top of mind for legislators. That being said, this year, amidst declining revenues and an upcoming election, revenue is particularly salient. One of the first priorities of the session was to pass House Bill 276, which would put the burden of tax collection on online retailers. Overall the bills seeks to collect sales tax from online and third-party platforms selling retail products, thereby leveling the playing field for Georgia-based brick-and-mortar retailers and increasing revenue for the state. After the bill almost passed last year, a conference committee was appointed from the House and Senate which produced a compromise bill that was approved by both chambers on January 16. On Thursday, January 30 Governor Kemp signed the bill into law. It goes into effect April 1.

In other tax news, the House of Representatives passed a bill that would create a flat tax system in Georgia. Should the bill pass into law all Georgians would be subject to a 5.375 percent tax rate instead of the graduated system in place now where citizens pay between 1 and 5.75 percent depending on income level. The plan, which does include a credit for some low- and middle-income families, would accrue savings disproportionately to the wealthy (those making six figures) and could raise taxes on some lower income families. House Bill 949 is expected to cost state government $250 million per year.

Finally, tax credits have been a hotly debated topic thus far due, in part, to several audits conducted by both the state agencies and universities indicating that the film tax credit may not provide the benefit its supporters purport. Representative Matt Dollar (R-Marietta) introduced House Bill 1037 in part to address those concerns. The bill would require every film production to be audited and would only award tax credits after the audit process is complete. However, the legislation would also expand the tax credit to include companies that broadcast non-recurring sporting events with an economic impact of $50 million or more, such as Super Bowls and the NCAA Final Four basketball tournament. The bill passed the House of Representatives on March 12 and currently awaits action by the Senate Assignments Committee.

Going forward, more consistent review of tax credits may be on the horizon thanks to Senate Bill 302 sponsored by Senator John Albers (R-Alpharetta). The bill would permit the chairmen of the House and Senate tax committees to request independent economic-impact reviews of a few tax credits per year. The bill passed the Senate on February 24 and awaits action by the House Ways and Means Committee.

Transportation

As has been the case for the past few years, addressing Georgia’s transportation needs is a major concern for lawmakers. Part of the solution is raising revenues for transportation spending. That is the aim of House Bill 105 which was originally drafted to create a tax credit for disaster relief funding but now includes 50-cents-per-ride tax on rideshare companies such as Uber and Lyft, taxis and limos. The tax on rideshare would replace the sales tax required under House Bill 276. House Bill 105 which had already passed the Senate was amended to require that the money generated from the new fee – up to $40 million annually, by some estimates – be dedicated to public transportation. The amended bill now returns to the state Senate for a final vote.

Some of the language that found its way into HB 105 was stripped from HB 511 which was a massive rural transit bill pushed last session. House Bill 511 now makes slight changes to the Atlanta Transit Link Authority appointment and voting procedures. It was favorably reported by the Senate Transportation Committee on March 9.

The Senate took action to address another novel part of the transportation system — electric scooters. Senate Bill 159 passed the Senate on February 4 and is currently in the House Transportation Committee. The bill would leave regulation of scooters up to local governments while providing a definition of an electric scooter in state law.

The final major transportation push is related to Georgia’s freight and logistics network. Representative Kevin Tanner (R-Dawsonville) has sponsored two pieces of legislation on the issue, House Resolution 935 to establish the Georgia Freight and Logistics Commission and House Bill 820 to create a line item in the state budget for state investment in rail infrastructure. Both passed the House and were favorably reported by the Senate Transportation Committee.

Education

Three major education bills are working their way through the legislative process. The first, House Bill 444, has received approval from both the House and the Senate. The bill limits state funding for college courses provided to high school students to 30 credit hours. The change to the popular dual enrollment program was spurred by increased costs as enrollment increased. House Bill 444 will now go to the Governor for his signature.

The Senate voted in favor of a piece of legislation, Senate Bill 386, that would expand Georgia’s only private school voucher program. The program aimed at special needs students would be expanded to include students with 504 plans which applies to students with disabilities that do not require special instruction under the Disabilities Education Act. The bill now awaits action from the House Education Committee.

Finally, the Senate approved Senate Bill 367 on March 3, which would reduce the number of tests required of students throughout their K-12 education. Backed by Governor Kemp and State School Superintendent Richard Woods, the bill would reduce the total number of mandatory tests in Georgia’s public schools to 19 from 24. The legislation, which passed the Senate 53-0, cuts four tests from high school and one from the fifth grade.

Foster Care

Led by Governor Brian Kemp and Lt. Governor Geoff Duncan, a significant effort is underway to improve the foster care system in Georgia. Three major bills survived Crossover Day, each introduced to try to improve care for foster children.

House Bill 912 would allow foster parents to leave children in the care of a babysitter for up to three days without having to get approval from the state Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS). Current law limits that time to two days. HB 912 passed the House of Representatives unanimously and awaits action from the Senate Assignments Committee.

House Bill 913 would, among other things, lower the age requirement for potential adoptive parents to 21 from 25. HB 913 passed the House of Representatives and is currently in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Senate Bill 335, which passed the Senate on February 20, would require judges to prioritize court cases involving children in foster care and asks juvenile courts to better track those cases. It would also allow DFCS to vary the amount of training time foster parents are required to undergo annually based on their experience level. The bill currently sits with the House Juvenile Justice Committee.

Senior Care

Prompted by an Atlanta Journal-Constitution investigative report on the state of senior care in Georgia, House Bill 987 passed the full chamber by a vote of 160-1. The legislation, which is sponsored by Representative Sharon Cooper (R-Marietta), would expand the regulation of senior care facilities and increase fines for violations causing serious physical injury to, or the death of, a resident. Specifically, the bill would (i) require administrators who run assisted living facilities or large personal care homes to receive special training and licenses; (ii) require special certification for memory care units; and (iii) double the minimum fine where a home is cited in relation to death or serious harm. The legislation is now in the Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee.

Two other Senior Care related bills failed to gain approval from either legislative body. House Bill 955 was aiming to help ensure local coroners or medical examiners are notified of unexpected deaths in senior care homes and House Bill 849 called for families to be allowed to install so-called “granny cams” in rooms at nursing homes and assisted living facilities to monitor what’s going on with their loved ones. Neither will remain under consideration.

Coal Ash

Concern over coal ash disposal reached a fever pitch this year as residents in rural Georgia experienced contaminants in their water supply as a result of old, leaky unlined coal ash ponds at Plant Scherer, one of the nation’s largest power plants. Several major bills gained approval from at least one side of the Capitol. House Bill 93, which would require public notice when wastewater is being drained from coal ash ponds into local waterways was approved by the House on March 12 and Senate Bill 123, which would reduce imported coal ash was approved by the Senate on February 24.

Additionally, HB 929, which would require long-term monitoring of groundwater around ash ponds with results of the monitoring made available to the public in clear language, passed the House 113-52 on March 12, the same day that House Bill 959, which would discourage out-of-state coal ash from entering Georgia by raising the fee on coal ash being dumped in landfills, gained approval.

Ethylene Oxide

Two bills requiring companies to publicly report their ethylene oxide emissions, House Bill 927 and Senate Bill 426, passed each of their original chambers – the Georgia House and Senate – but one or the other must pass both chambers in order to be presented to the Governor for signature en route to becoming law. The bills would make it mandatory for facilities to make these notifications if they want to continue operating in Georgia. Reports would be posted on the state Environmental Protection Division’s website. At present, companies only have to report when more than 10 pounds of ethylene oxide is released in a 24 hour period. The newly passed legislation would give businesses 24 hours to report any amount of the gas released.

Elections

The Senate approved a bill sponsored by Senator John Kennedy (R-Macon) to require that election officials take action to address long lines on election day. Specifically, the proposal, which is supported by Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, states that if lines last more than one hour, county election superintendents would have to split up precincts that have more than 2,000 voters, provide additional voting equipment or hire extra poll workers in the next general election. The legislation also gives election officials greater latitude to provide more voting machines in the event of long lines. But it also gives local officials the latitude to provide fewer voting machines which was cause for concern amongst Senate Democrats.

Business Efficiency

Two major tort reform bills, Senate Bill 390 and Senate Bill 415, failed to crossover to the House this past week. Both would have made major changes to how tort cases were argued and the type of damages that could be awarded.

Another priority of the business community, Senate Bill 110, also hit a roadblock. Senate Bill 110 which would establish a new court specifically for complex business matters was voted down in the Senate on March 5. The measure has been tabled.

Alcohol Delivery

House Bill 879, sponsored by Representative Brett Harrell (R-Snelville), would permit home delivery of beer and wine so long as it is delivered to a person who would have to provide ID showing he/she is of legal age. The measure passed the House of Representatives on March 10 and is in the Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee.

Sovereign Immunity

Representative Andrew Welch (R-McDonough) is leading an effort to allow citizens to file lawsuits against the state to challenge unconstitutional laws. House Resolution 1023 would put a referendum on the statewide ballot asking whether to void the constitutional doctrine of sovereign immunity, which bars lawsuits against the government. The resolution, which needs to be approved by at least a two-thirds vote, passed the House and the Senate Judiciary Committee and now awaits action by the Senate Rules Committee and the full Senate.  

Criminal Justice

House Bill 994, supported by Governor Brian Kemp, which intends to strengthen anti-gangs laws has passed the state House. The legislation would allow prosecutors to ask juvenile judges to transfer gang-tied cases to the adult system. The bill would also mandate that the Department of Juvenile Justice put convicted juvenile gang members through an “evidence-based” gang rehabilitation program.

The legislation, which has seen opposition from criminal justice advocates, passed the House 93-65.

Parental Leave

The House of Representatives passed House Bill 1094 to provide three weeks of paid leave to state employees who are new parents regardless of gender. At present, state employees can take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave, which employers must offer under federal law. The bill would have no impact on private companies. It is currently in the Senate Insurance and Labor Committee.

Environmental Clean-Up Dedicated Fees

The Senate voted unanimously on March 9 in favor of House Resolution 164 which had already passed the House with over 2/3rds of the chamber in support. The Resolution would put a constitutional amendment on the November ballot to dedicate tire and solid waste fees to environmental cleanup projects. Georgians pay a $1 disposal fee on each replacement tire they buy, and counties pay a solid waste disposal fee of 75 cents per ton. Under state law, the General Assembly can’t formally dedicate fee money to specific causes without voters approving a constitutional amendment to do so.

Vaping

Both the Senate and the House have considered legislation pertaining to nicotine vaping devices. The Senate passed Senate Bill 375 which would require e-cigarette education to be added to mandatory drug and alcohol education programs in schools. It would also raise the legal age to buy tobacco products under state law from 18 to 21.

The House voted against a proposal, House Bill 364, that would have added a tax to vaping and other nicotine products.

Gambling

After heavy speculation prior to legislative session and industry optimism in the early weeks, House Resolution 378 which aimed to amend the constitution to allow for casino gambling and betting failed to get a vote on the House floor. There is talk amongst sports-betting supporters that separate language to legalize this narrow gambling practice could find its way as an amendment onto existing legislation but it is thus far unclear how likely that effort would be to succeed.

Conclusion

Until further notice, the Georgia General Assembly is suspended. Lawmakers have agreed to another special session on April 15 in order to extend the emergency declaration if required and possibly finalize a fiscal year 2021 budget. That being said, the Governor has the authority to renew the declaration unilaterally if lawmakers are unable to return to the Capitol due to the COVID-19 virus. Until Georgia and the country writ large get a handle on the coronavirus, legislation will not proceed. Dentons Georgia Legislative team will continue to monitor the situation at the Georgia Capitol as it evolves. Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns regarding the state’s response to coronavirus or any of the legislative efforts mentioned above.

Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the US – Latest State Updates – March 17, 2020

Connecticut

The State of Connecticut has taken considerable steps to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus in just a little under a week. Here’s where things stand as of Tuesday, March 17:

  • The General Assembly has suspended its activities, and the Capitol complex will be closed until at least March 30;
  • Legislative leaders are considering putting together emergency legislation to assist businesses and residents affected by the impact of the virus, but details of the bill’s contents have not been released;
  • Governor Lamont has ordered the closure of all of the state’s schools, effective tomorrow.
  • Governor Lamont joined New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy in the implementation of a tristate strategy to stem the spread of the coronavirus. As of 8 p.m. this evening:
    • Crowd capacity for social and recreational gatherings must be limited to 50 people;
    • Restaurants and bars that serve food will temporarily be required to move to take-out and delivery services only;
    • Bars that do not serve food will be required to temporarily close;
    • Movie theaters, gyms, fitness centers, and other similar facilities will be required to temporarily close;
    • Tribal casinos located within New York and Connecticut are being strongly urged to close.
  • Small businesses and nonprofit organizations in Connecticut that have been negatively impacted by the global COVID-19 outbreak are now eligible for disaster relief loans of up to US$2 million from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).
  • Drive-through testing has been approved at seven Connecticut hospitals.
  • Healthcare providers are being granted a streamlined approval process to accelerate availability of COVID-19-related treatment and services.
  • The State Department of Education has been working with school districts to develop distance learning plans, and ensure students have access to nutritious meals.

The total number of positive COVID-19 cases reported in Connecticut (including presumptive positive) – from both the State Laboratory and private laboratories is 41.

A county-by-county breakdown of the positive cases includes:

  • Fairfield County: 29
  • Hartford County: 4
  • Litchfield County: 4
  • New Haven County: 4

Hawaii

COVID-19: Current Status

  • 10 confirmed cases of COVID-19 Positive
  • First case of community spread confirmed at Kualoa Ranch (3/15)

State Response & Actions

  • Governor David Ige issued Emergency & Supplementary Proclamations (3/4 and 3/16)
  • Hawai`i State Legislature suspends 2020 Session for Indefinite Period (3/16)
  • Hawai`i Department of Education extends Spring Break through March 27 for all public schools (3/15)

Key Links:

County Response & Actions

  • Prohibition of 50 people or more at City & County of Honolulu Facilities, including cancellation of a variety of City events-sponsored events
  • Honolulu City buses will continue to run, but riders are encourage to engage in “social distancing”

Key links

Private Sector Response and Actions

  • Ala Moana Shopping Center (largest outdoor mall in the world) restricts hours to 12:00 pm to 7:00 pm.  On Sunday, the mall closes at 6:00 pm. (3/15)
  • Restaurants and bars remain open

Iowa

Governor Kim Reynolds issues public health disaster emergency, orders closure of public facilities

Governor Kim Reynolds on Tuesday morning issued a wide-ranging order to close public facilities including Iowa churches, bars, theaters, fitness centers, senior centers, casinos and other gathering places in the face of a COVID-19 viral outbreak.

Gatherings of more than 10 people are prohibited as part of the governor’s order, and planned large gatherings and events were to be canceled or postponed until after the disaster is declared over. The measures are meant to implement the social distancing practices recommended by health experts to slow the spread of the virus. As of Tuesday morning, the state had recorded 23 cases of COVID-19, including a school employee in suburban Des Moines.

“These are unprecedented times and the state of Iowa will do whatever is necessary to address this public health disaster,” Reynolds said in a statement announcing the emergency.” I have authorized all available state resources, supplies, equipment and materials to combat the spread of COVID-19. The actions taken today are necessary to protect the health and safety of all Iowans and are critical to mitigating the spread of the virus.”

Iowa Legislature passes broad emergency powers for governor, new dollars to fight COVID-19

Lawmakers on Monday night passed broad powers to allow Governor Kim Reynolds to respond to the COVID-19 virus. On bipartisan votes, they approved emergency appropriations to allow state operations to continue as the Legislature hits the pause button on the 2020 session until at least April 15.

Supplemental appropriations included the following:

  • US$525,000 to support COVID-19 testing at the State Hygienic Lab at the University of Iowa
  • US$88 million for Medicaid
  • US$1.8 million for the children’s health insurance program HAWK-I
  • US$595,000 for the Glenwood Resource Center, a state institution for people with intellectual disabilities

Lawmakers’ actions will allow Reynolds’ administration to transfer up to 10 percent of the balance of the state’s economic emergency fund. If additional dollars are needed, the state’s Department of Management will be able to use those dollars with approval of the Legislative Council, which is made up of state and legislative leaders.

The legislature also suspended what are known as “joint rules,” which include a number of procedural deadlines for legislation and operations.

Legislature addresses school closures around the state

Lawmakers also voted Monday to waive instructional time and school day requirements for K-12 schools that experience closures. Reynolds has urged schools to close for the next four weeks to avoid the spread of COVID-19.

In the latest development, a school employee in the Urbandale school district reportedly tested positive for the virus, another indication that so-called “community spread” is occurring in Iowa.

Minnesota

Early this morning, the Minnesota Legislature completed work on a new Coronavirus Emergency Package. The legislation passed both bodies and has been sent to Governor Walz for his signature. This new package provides US$200 million in new funding, this is on top of the US$20 million in emergency funding the Legislature passed last week. This package is intended to provide assistant to health care providers. The new funding is split into two pots. US$50 million will be available for immediate relief to providers, the additional US$150 million is intended to be used for grants which may take longer to reach beneficiaries. If on February 2, 2021 any funds remain unspent, those funds will revert back to the state’s general fund. The new law will sunset on June 30.

Minnesota House of Representatives Media – article on COVID-19 Emergency Funding Bills Passage

The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development has created a dedicated web page for Minnesota Employers and Employees. The website will be updated as additional programs and services are made available. The site provides guidance for those employers and employees impacted by yesterday’s announcement on business suspensions.

Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development – COVID-19 Employment Related Advice

While the Legislature has adjourned until April 14, Senate Majority Leader Gazelka announced at the conclusion of this morning’s session the Legislature is tentatively looking to return for a “check-in floor session” on March 26. In order to meet prior to April 14, all four legislative leaders must agree to return. Senator Gazelka promised to give at least 48 advance notice before any session takes place. There are a number of rapidly developing issues related to the coronavirus which may need immediate attention from the Legislature.

New York

On March 7 the Governor declared a State of Emergency in New York State and passed legislation releasing US$40 million in funds to be used at his discretion. On March 10, the Governor put New Rochelle in Westchester county into a containment zone. He closed all schools and public gathering places until further notice. He also was able to open the first mobile drive thru testing center in the Country. 

Late last week, the state began to close schools and limited public gatherings to under 500 people and later changed that to less than 50 people.

On Monday, March 16, the Governors of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut put a tristate ban on restaurants, bars, theaters, clubs etc. All restaurants and bars are limited to take-out or delivery only and laws were lifted to allow for alcohol to be allowed to be sold as a take-out item at restaurants and bars. 

This week, the Governor introduced legislation that would provide paid sick leave; 14 paid days for everyone, for small-businesses some or all costs will be borne by insurers or all temporary disability insurance leave program. Future paid sick leave would be brought down to five days for Small Businesses and five days for Large Businesses. On March 18, the legislature will be voting on two pieces of legislation. The paid sick leave legislation and legislation that would change the rules on petitioning to be on the ballot in November. 

The State budget is still being considered and worked on by senior staff. They are in discussions to pass a bare bones budget to pay the bills for the next year and remove all policy from the budget. They would then recess and come back to Albany at a later date to finish the work of the legislature. 

The Governor has suspended all collections of state debt including student debt, medical debt, etc. for at least 30 days.

The Governor has asked all retired medical personnel and medical students in residency etc. to volunteer to work at hospitals. The DOH will work to expedite applications to reinstate them into the medical field. Health.ny.gov/assistance.

According to multiple media tweets, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is considering the possibility of a shelter-in-place order for the City. He is reportedly communicating with the state on the topic. A decision will be made in the next 48 hours, according to the tweets.

North Carolina

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) updated its official count of confirmed coronavirus cases based on presumed positive tests this morning with several additional cases around the state. According to the official count, there are 40 cases in North Carolina, though no deaths are so far connected to those cases.

DHHS also updated the list of counties with confirmed cases to include Iredell and Sampson. Counties that have previously been reported with confirmed cases are (from west to east), Watauga, Mecklenburg, Cabarrus, Forsyth, Chatham, Harnett, Durham, Wake, Johnston, Wilson, Wayne, Brunswick, Onslow and Craven.

A new test for the coronavirus is up and running at UNC Health. The test is only available for patients at UNC Hospitals including UNC Medical Center in Chapel Hill and UNC Rex in Raleigh. Dr. Melissa Miller, director of the microbiology lab at UNC Medical Center, said by the end of the week they’ll be ready to do 300 tests per week. According to Miller, UNC Health has purchased additional equipment that allows them to scale up to 500 per week soon.

North Carolina House Speaker Tim Moore said that the coronavirus crisis could require action from the legislature, but there’s no need to a special session just yet. Moore said in an interview with Spectrum News that “if we need to come back, we will. What we have told the governor is if there’s a need, we will do it.” He says possible legislative needs could include an extension of April’s income tax filing deadline if the federal government issues an extension, or an effort to speed up unemployment benefits by changing the usual two-week waiting period for benefits.

Executive Actions

Executive Order 117, March 14 Closing all public K-12 schools statewide and prohibitions on mass gatherings over 100 persons.

NCDHHS Community Events and Gatherings Recommendation, March 16 NCDHHS recommends that organizers (whether groups or individuals) cancel or postpone in-person events that consist of 50 people or more.

Governor Requests Small Business Administration Disaster Declaration, March 16 Governor Roy Cooper requested that the US Small Business Administration grant a disaster declaration for business owners in North Carolina facing economic losses due to the new coronavirus, COVID-19.

Governor Orders Bars and Restaurants Closed, March 17 Governor Cooper will announce a new executive order in response to COVID-19 that closes restaurants and bars for dine-in customers but allows them to continue takeout and delivery orders. The executive order will also include an expansion of unemployment insurance to help North Carolina workers affected by COVID-19.

Relevant Articles

Tennessee

The Senate Education Committee met Monday for a matter of seconds to advance the Department of Education’s budget to the Finance Committee on a voice vote. They then quickly adjourned despite having 121 bills on their calendar to consider. Chairman Dolores Gresham stated, “These interesting times make that challenging.” She did indicate “hope to have the opportunity to consider those” other bills before adjourning Sine Die, “whatever that date may be.”

On Monday, legislative staff over age 60 who have underlying health issues, were asked stay home. Governor Bill Lee has called on schools around the state to close as soon as possible through, at least, the end of the month. There is speculation that the Legislature could take a recess for eight weeks and come back to take up the budget. It’s also possible that they attempt to pass a budget in the coming days and adjourn for the year.

Also beginning Monday, the Governor will hold daily press briefings to update reporters on the latest developments with COVID-19.

The legislature plans to continue working through the week to finalize and pass the budget, as well as some bills directly related to it. Legislators will remain in Nashville into the weekend and then recess, but not adjourn for the year.

The announcement came moments after the state reported there are now 52 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Tennessee. It’s unclear when 132-member body expects to return to resume business.

Vermont

Governor Phil Scott on Friday evening declared a state of emergency in Vermont. Key actions/directives in the emergency declaration include:

  • Nursing home to prohibit access to non-medical visitors or family for end-of-life residents;
  • Visitors restricted in long term care facilities and hospitals;
  • All non-essential out of state travel by state employees is stopped;
  • All state employees who can work from home are being asked to do so (this is being worked out);
  • All gatherings of more than 50 people or 50 percent of the venue occupancy have been prohibited;
  • Bars and restaurants are to close for sit-down service as of 2 p.m. 3/17 (take away and delivery is allowed);
  • The National Guard has a blanket activation as necessary;
  • The Department of Financial regulation will collect and analyze data related to the economy and demographics and the impact on Vermont’s revenues;
  • The Vermont Department of Health will coordinate resources related to contact tracking;
  • The DMV will develop a plan to extend DMV licensing and registration renewal deadlines 90 days to reduce customer traffic through the DMV offices;
  • All K-12 schools are suspended until further notice schools will be open to provide essential services and online learning opportunities to students;
  • Medical and nursing services regulations will be suspended to the extent possible to enable staff to provide services more easily;
  • The Department of Commerce and Community Development will work with the US Small Business Administration and Vermont Small Business development Center to survey businesses to determine extent of the economic damage;
  • Department of Labor has been directed to extend unemployment insurance to those Vermonters who follow a directive from a healthcare provider to self-isolate and not be able to work.

Additionally, at present the government is encouraging working from home and has limited public gatherings to 50 people or 5 percent of a venue’s capacity at least until April 6. All K-12 schools will be closed for students starting Wednesday, March 18. This will be revisited April 6. Finally, bars and restaurants have been closed to all but takeout and delivery as of 2 p.m. on Tuesday, March 17.

Virginia

As of Monday, March 16, authorities reported 51 positive COVID-19 cases in Virginia among 489 tested. Two confirmed fatalities caused by respiratory failure stemming from COVID-19 infection have been reported in Hampton Roads. In both cases, the victims were men in their 70s.

With schools closed statewide through March 27, visitation at state correctional facilities suspended indefinitely and many public and private sector workers transitioning to telecommuting, Governor Ralph Northam has also banned public gatherings of more than 100 people.

West Virginia

West Virginia Governor Jim Justice has declared a state of emergency. Read it here.

Wisconsin

In a press conference this afternoon Department of Health Services Secretary-designee Andrea Palm announced that there is evidence of community spread in Milwaukee, Dane and Kenosha counties and therefore they are recommending more aggressive measures to halt the spread.

“Community spread” means that there are people who have tested positive, and it is unknown what their exposures have been. They have had no exposures to a known case and have not traveled to a location where there is community transmission.

The number of positive cases is up to 72 in Wisconsin, up from 47 in yesterday’s update. There have been 1038 negative results and one patient who tested positive in Dane County has recovered.

Governor Tony Evers has directed the Department of Health Services to issue an order for a statewide moratorium on mass gatherings of 10 or more people to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

DHS Emergency Order #5 does all the following;

A statewide moratorium on mass gatherings of 10 people or more to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. This order supersedes any previous Emergency Order that conflicts with this order. Effective at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, March 17, all public and private mass gatherings are prohibited in the State of Wisconsin.

All gatherings that bring together or are likely to bring together less than 10 people in a single room or confined or enclosed space at the same time must:

  • Preserve social distancing of six feet between people, and
  • Follow all other public health recommendations issued by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services and Centers for Disease Control.

Effective at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, March 17, all bars and restaurants shall close in the State of Wisconsin, except as provided below for restaurants.

  • Restaurants may remain open for take-out or delivery service only. No seating may be provided, and food may not be consumed at the restaurant. Restaurants shall preserve social distancing of six feet between customers during pick up.

Effective at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, March 18, all public and private schools and institutions of higher education in the State of Wisconsin shall close for instructional and extracurricular activities at 5 p.m. Such institutions shall remain closed for the duration of the public health emergency or until a subsequent order lifts this specific restriction.

This order may include, but is not limited to mass gatherings at: public or private schools, auditoriums, theaters, movie theaters, museums, stadiums, arenas, conference rooms, meeting halls, exhibition centers, taverns, health and fitness centers, recreation centers, licensed pools, and places of worship and religious gatherings.

(Exceptions can be found here)

In addition the Governor Evers said;

  • Schools are closed indefinitely, originally the school closure was to be lifted on April 6.
  • He is requesting the Legislature pass legislation to remove the one-week wait period on unemployment benefits.
  • The Governor also noted it may be necessary for the Legislature to come back for other COVID-19 related legislation.

Number of Positive Results by County

Wisconsin County Total Cases
Dane* 19
Fond du Lac 11
Kenosha* 4
Milwaukee* 24
Outagamie 1
Pierce 1
Racine 1
Sheboygan 3
Waukesha 4
Winnebago 3
Wood 1
Total 72

* An asterisk indicates community spread has been identified.

Stay up-to-date with all of our insights and guidance by visiting our US COVID-19 hub here.

Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the US – Latest State Updates

Arkansas

On Sunday, March 15, Governor Asa Hutchinson closed public schools statewide for the rest of this week, followed by spring break which is scheduled for next week.

The mandatory closures begin Tuesday, March 17, though districts statewide were authorized to begin Monday, March 16 if prepared and willing to do so, according to the Governor.

Normal classroom instruction will resume once spring break ends unless circumstances dictate the need for further action.

As of Friday, March 13 there were nine presumptive positive cases in Central Arkansas (Pulaski, Jefferson, Grant, and Saline counties). The first case of suspected community spread in Little Rock was announced in separate press conferences by Mayor Frank Scott and Governor Asa Hutchinson.

In the news

Kansas

As of Sunday, March 15, there were eight confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Kansas. There has been one death. Five of the cases are in Johnson County. The death was in Wyandotte County. There have also been cases in Butler and Franklin Counties.

As of Thursday, March 12, Kansas State University, University of Kansas, Washburn University, and Emporia State University canceled classes through March 20, and began a “social distancing” component until further notice.

Various press conferences have been held. Most notably, on Wednesday, March 11, Governor Laura Kelly held a press conference alongside Kansas Department of Health and Environment Director, Dr. Lee Norman, and Major General Lee Tafanelli, with the Kansas Department of Emergency Management to address the COVID-19 outbreak. Additionally, in a Thursday, March 12 press conference, Kansas City Major Quinton Lucas issued a state of emergency, canceling all events with more than 1,000 people and halting non-essential travel for city employees.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced on Wednesday, March 11 upcoming action to provide $5,940,546 in funding to Kansas in support of COVID-19 response efforts.

In the news

Michigan

As of Thursday, March 12, 120 tests conducted by the state have come back negative, 12 tests have come back positive and 26 tests are pending. Some 554 individuals thus far in Michigan have been either referred for assessment and/or monitoring. Of these individuals 174 are under active monitoring. Information and updates on specific Michigan testing results is reported daily. It is likely estimated that Michigan will unquestionably see a spike in confirmed cases.

In response to the 12 confirmed cases in Michigan, the Governor ordered all public and private K-12 school buildings to be closed from Monday, March 16 until Sunday, April 5. In addition, every university recently made the decision to suspend in-person classes and hold online classes. Private businesses across the state have also implemented preventative measures to reduce exposure by limiting access to large venues and/or encouraging work from home policies for employees. The Michigan Legislature has implemented similar best practices.

Michigan-based hospitals have indicated that they are prepared, equipped and confident to handle COVID-19. Outside of potentially some federal waivers, which are typically granted during national emergencies, hospitals have not requested any statutory changes to Michigan laws in order to adapt and respond to the current health emergency.

The Governor has announced that the Michigan Medicaid Program will waive all copays/cost sharing for COVID-19 testing. In addition, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) activated the Community Health Emergency Coordination Center and has been coordinating with county health departments, hospitals and other medical providers throughout the state.

On Friday, March 13 the Governor issued Executive Order 05 of 2020 which prohibits gatherings of more than 250 people beginning March 13 through April 5 at 5 pm.

Minnesota

Last week Governor Tim Walz, the four legislative leaders and the Chief Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court met to discuss the management of the Capitol Complex and additional community mitigation strategies during the coronavirus pandemic. Immediately following that meeting the Minnesota House of Representatives canceled all scheduled hearings and commissions on the calendar for Friday, March 13 and Monday, March 16. The Minnesota Senate also issued new guidance to Senate staff. The Senate guidance limits access to Senate offices to badged staff and members. Meetings with Senators will be limited to two escorted guests.

The Governor hosted a news conference with Minnesota Health Commissioner Jan Malcom to release statewide Community Mitigation Strategies. Click here to view the Governor’s Press Conference.

House and Senate leaders are expected to announce further legislative guidance in the coming days. Leadership has also indicated no decisions have been made about what further steps may be taken following the Governor’s declaration. Leadership plans to continue discussions over the weekend with a meeting planned for Sunday. The Senate has a floor session scheduled for their normal Monday time of 11 am. The House is also scheduled to return for a floor session Monday at 11 am, which is earlier than their normal 3:30 pm meeting time. The Speaker of the House has indicated it is likely the Legislature will take a “hiatus” in an effort to mitigate any opportunity for COVID-19 to be spread among the Capitol Complex. In order for the Legislature to adjourn for more than three days, a Joint Resolution must be adopted by a majority of both the House and Senate. While rumors are rampant about what the Legislature might do next, it would seem plausible they would meet Monday and adjourn. Given their previously scheduled Easter/Passover Break of April 4 through 14 they could return in mid-April and complete their work prior to their Constitutional Deadline of May 18. It is also possible on Monday, the Legislature could grant the Governor some additional Pandemic or State of Emergency Powers.

Lost in all of the pandemic news, Governor Tim Walz released his Supplemental Budget. In late February, it appeared as though the State had a more than $1.5 billion surplus. Those projected funds are likely to disappear as the state’s economy reacts to the pandemic. The Governor proposed adding just $250 million in new spending and leaving the remaining surplus on the bottom line and in budget reserves. Given the growing uncertainty, it is likely the Legislature will need to focus the remainder of the 2020 Session on the completion of a bonding bill, limited spending and further addressing issues related to the COVID-19 impacts.

We are certainly in unchartered waters and things are extremely fluid in St. Paul. In the coming days as the schedule and legislative activity become clearer we will continue to provide updates. Please prepare for the cancelation of legislative meetings, hearings and extreme limitations on future days on the hill.

Tennessee

Starting Monday, March 16 the Tennessee Capitol and legislative office complex will be off limits.

Governor Bill Lee stated “COVID-19 is an evolving situation but we urge vulnerable populations, including those over age 60 and with chronic medical conditions to limit participation in mass gatherings and to take extra precautions for personal well-being like increased hand-washing.” With 26 confirmed cases in our state, we have issued further guidance to help communities mitigate the spread of COVID-19.”

Joint statement from House Speaker Cameron Sexton and Senate Speaker Randy McNally:

Governor Lee continues to take a thoughtful approach to containing the possible spread of COVID-19. We applaud his steps to better protect the public’s health. Beginning Monday, March 16, we will limit access to the Cordell Hull Building out of an abundance of caution. Access is prohibited to everyone except elected members, staff and members of the media until further notice. However, the citizens of Tennessee will still be able to access the work they have elected us to do through the livestreaming services available on our website.

We must take any and all reasonable steps to slow the spread of COVID-19. It is imperative the public’s health be prioritized and economic disruption minimized. We will continue to evaluate this situation, remain in contact with Governor Lee, the state’s health leaders, and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to determine whether additional action is needed.

Additional guidance from governor’s office

Mass Gatherings

Heading into the weekend, many Tennesseans will be making decisions regarding faith gatherings and church attendance. Congregations and groups are urged to consider alternatives to traditional services by utilizing livestreams, pre-recorded messages and other electronic means. 

While at this time, mass gatherings such as conferences or other large social events remain at the discretion of the organizer, we strongly discourage events of 250 people or more as an important step in limiting exposure to COVID-19. 

Schools

At this time, school districts have been advised to exercise discretion when canceling school for K-12 students. The state will provide further support for districts pursuing this action but urge districts to consider the prevalence of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in their area. In partnership with districts, students who depend on school-provided meals will still receive this support, regardless of school closure.

State Employees, Business Travel 

Effective immediately, state employees who have been trained and certified to work from home within the state’s Alternative Workplace Solutions (AWS) program will work from home through March 31, 2020. Approximately 11,000 state employees are certified AWS employees and can begin work from home with no disruption to state business. 

Effective immediately, state employees have been instructed to cease all non-essential business travel through March 31, 2020. 

Tennessee State Capitol Closed to Visitors

The Tennessee State Capitol is closed to tours and visitors through March 31, 2020. Members of the media will continue to have access to the State Capitol building. 

Virginia

On Friday, March 13, Governor Ralph Northam ordered all public K-12 school divisions across Virginia to close for a minimum of two weeks, effective Monday, March 16 through Friday, March 27, to help protect against the spread of COVID-19. The state also has set up a dedicated COVID-19 public information hotline, and visitation at all state correctional facilities has been canceled indefinitely.

Thirty cases of COVID-19 had been reported in Virginia as of Friday, March 13, with ten resulting in hospitalization.

 Wisconsin

Governor Tony Evers, DHS Secretary-designee Andrea Palm, Dr. Ryan Westegard (Chief Medical Officer and State Epidemiologist for Communicable Diseases at the Department of Health Services, Division of Public Health, Bureau of Communicable Disease) and the Governor’s legal counsel Ryan Nilsestuen did a teleconference press conference this afternoon to announce a new order prohibiting mass gatherings of 50 or more. Click here to view DHS order.

This order may include, but is not limited to mass gatherings at: public or private schools, auditoriums, theaters, movie theaters, museums, stadiums, arenas, conference rooms, meeting halls, exhibition centers, taverns, health and fitness centers, recreation centers, licensed pools, places of worship and religious gatherings.

Exempted are the following;

  1. Airports;
  2. Public, private, and charter schools only for non-instructional purposes, such as medication pickup, childcare services, providing meals, and when operating as polling places;
  3. Childcare locations (including those that operate within a facility that is otherwise prohibited), residential care centers, and group homes;
  4. Hotels and motels as long as the restaurant and bar guidelines, listed below in section 15, are followed;
  5. Military and National Guard facilities;
  6. Law enforcement, jails, and correctional facilities, including any facility operated by the Department of Corrections, and responses to natural disasters;
  7. Food pantries and shelter facilities, including day centers, for individuals and families;
  8. Detoxification centers;
  9. Residential buildings;
  10. Shopping malls and other retail establishments where large numbers of people are present but are generally not within arm’s length of one another for more than 10 minutes;
  11. Hospitals, medical facilities, and pharmacies;
  12. Long-term care and assisted living facilities, as long the facility follows all current Department of Health Services’ Recommendations for Prevention of COVID-19 in Long-Term Care Facilities and Assisted Living Facilities.
  13. Libraries;
  14. Senior Centers only for the service of meals as long as the requirements listed below are followed:
    1. Preserve social distancing of 6 feet between tables, booths, bar, stools, and ordering counters;
    1. Cease self-service operations of salad bars, beverage stations, and buffets; and
    1. Prohibit consumers from self-dispensing all unpackaged foods.
  15. Restaurants and bars as long as the requirements listed below are followed:
    1. Operate at 50 percent of seating capacity or 50 total people, whichever is less;
    1. Preserve social distancing of 6 feet between tables, booths, bar stools, and ordering counters;
    1. Cease self-service operations of salad bars, beverage stations, and buffets; and
    1. Prohibit customers from self-dispensing all unpackaged food and beverages.
  16. Retail food establishments (grocery stores, convenience stores, farmer’s markets) as long as the requirements listed below are followed:
    1. If seating is offered, must operate at 50 percent of seating capacity or 50 total people, whichever is less;
    1. Preserve social distancing of 6 feet between tables, booths, bar stools, and ordering counters;
    1. Cease self-service operations of salad bars, beverage stations, and buffets; and
    1. Prohibit customers from self-dispensing all unpackaged food.
  17. Office spaces and government service centers;
  18. Manufacturing, processing, distribution, and production facilities;
  19. Public transportation;
  20. Utility facilities;
  21. Job centers; and
  22. Facilities operated by the Wisconsin Legislature and Wisconsin Court System.

The number of positive cases is up to 47 in Wisconsin. There have been 504 negative results and one patient who tested positive in Dane County has recovered.

Below is the current county breakdown of positive tests;

Wisconsin County Total Cases
Dane 10
Fond du Lac 11
Milwaukee 13
Outagamie 1
Pierce 1
Racine 1
Sheboygan 3
Waukesha 3
Winnebago 3
Wood 1
Total 47

Stay up-to-date with all of our insights and guidance by visiting our US COVID-19 hub here.