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

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

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.