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

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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.