Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the US – Latest State Updates – March 27, 2020

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Arkansas

On the 26th, Governor Hutchinson announced a proposal to protect and support health care professionals, the public, and providers. The Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) is submitting a Medicaid Section 1115 Demonstration Project (“waiver”) to the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). The waiver will provide US$116 million in additional Medicaid funding to support a number of initiatives to protect Arkansas health care workers and their patients and to support health care providers. Out of 335 positive cases, 14 are children, 108 are over 65 years of age, and 213 are between the ages of 19 and 64. 41 people are hospitalized as of Thursday, with 13 on mechanical ventilation.

Colorado

The Governor issued a “Stay at Home Executive Order” as well as an “Amended Public Health Order.”

Connecticut

Executive Order No. 7N enacts the following provisions:

  • Restricts all social and recreational gatherings to no more than five people: The order modifies the governor’s earlier executive order placing limits on the amount of people who can participate in social and recreational gatherings and reduces that number to no more than five people, through at least April 30, 2020 unless otherwise modified. This order includes, but is not limited to, community, civic, leisure, or sporting events; parades; concerns; festivals; plays or live performances; conventions and similar activities; except that religious, spiritual, or worship gatherings will remain subject only to the prohibition of 50 persons or more. This does not apply to government operations, private workplaces, retail establishments, or other activities that are not social or recreational gatherings.
  • Restricts restaurant payment and pickup operations: Where reasonably practicable, the order requires restaurants, eating establishments, and any bars that remain open for sales of food for off-premise consumption to limit entrance of customers or third party delivery personnel into their locations to the minimum extent necessary to pick up and/or pay for orders, use touchless payment systems, and require remote ordering and payment. The order does not require businesses to acquire or use ordering or payment technology that they do not already have, doesn’t prohibit drive-through ordering and pickup, and doesn’t prohibit in-person payment or cash payment where this is no reasonable alternative. Previously issued guidance for hospital and business cafeterias remains in effect.
  • Further restricts retail operations: The order requires all retail establishments that have been allowed to remain open and permit customers inside to take appropriate and reasonable measures to ensure customers maintain six feet of distance between each other and to manage any resulting lines to maintain such distance while people are waiting to enter. It also requires these establishments, where reasonably practical, to employ touchless payment technology if they already have such technology available and the customer has such technology available.
  • Requires firearm transactions to be conducted by appointment only: The order requires all retail businesses that sell firearms, ammunition, and other similar components or supplies to conduct all transactions by appointment only in order to limit person-to-person contact as much as possible, effective immediately. Appointments must be limited in order to allow a six-foot distance between any customers and staff in a store, and only customers conducting such transactions will be allowed in the store.
  • Suspension of tax on single-use checkout bags: The order temporarily suspends certain state statutes in order to suspend any tax on single-use plastic checkout bags at grocery stores and other retail businesses.
  • Prohibits employers from requiring employees to place items in customers’ reusable bags: The order prohibits employers of any grocery store or retail business from requiring their employees to bag items into a customer-provided reusable bag. Customers are still permitted to use reusable bags, but they may need to bag their own items.
  • Suspends 21-month limit on Temporary Family Assistance: The order modifies certain statutes and regulations to exclude from the 21-month time limit on receipt of Temporary Family Assistance all months of such assistance received during the public health and civil preparedness emergency. Suspending the time limit for this program will help families get the time and resources they need to get back on their path to self-sufficiency after the emergency is over.
  • Suspends school testing assessments for the 2019-2020 school year: Recognizing that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a major disruption on schools, the order waives all annual student assessment testing requirements for the current school year.

Governor Lamont Submits Request for Presidential Major Disaster Declaration in Response to COVID-19 Pandemic

Governor Ned Lamont today announced that he has submitted a request to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for a presidential major disaster declaration resulting from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the State of Connecticut.

The governor is requesting public assistance for all eight of the state’s counties. This includes all four supplemental assistance programs under the Individual Assistance Program, including Disaster Unemployment Assistance, Crisis Counseling program, Disaster Case Management, and Disaster Legal Services. Additionally, he is requesting Individuals and Households Program Other Needs Categories of Child Care Assistance and Funeral Assistance.

If the assistance is approved, Connecticut residents may have access to additional resources to support childcare, crisis counseling, and other needs identified as a result of the pandemic.

Governor Lamont Launches Emergency No-Interest Loan Program for Connecticut Small Businesses and Nonprofits Impacted by COVID-19

Governor Ned Lamont today announced that Connecticut small businesses and nonprofits that have been negatively impacted by the global spread of the COVID-19 pandemic can now apply for one-year, no-interest loans of up to US$75,000 under the launch of a new program administered by the state’s Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD).

The Connecticut Recovery Bridge Loan Program will make US$25 million available to Connecticut businesses and nonprofits that have 100 or fewer employees to assist with cash flow. Loan amounts are up to the lesser of either three months operating expenses and/or US$75,000.

Provisions and eligibility requirements include:

  • Zero percent interest rate;
  • 12-month term with six-month extension per request;
  • Personal guaranty and credit score required;
  • Approval contingent upon business being profitable prior to March 10, 2020 and no adverse personal credit reports 60 days past due for the last 6 months; and
  • Ineligible companies include those involved in real estate, multi-level marketing, adult entertainment, cannabis, and firearms.


All eligibility and application information can be found on the state’s COVID-19 website at ct.gov/coronavirus.

Data updates on testing in Connecticut

As of March 26, 2020, a total of 1012 laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been reported among Connecticut residents. Cases have been reported in all 8 Connecticut counties. One hundred and twenty-five patients were hospitalized, and 21 residents have died (13 in Fairfield County, 3 in Tolland County, 2 in Hartford County, 2 in New Haven County, and 1 in Middlesex County).

A county-by-county breakdown includes:

County Laboratory Confirmed Cases Hospitalized Cases Deaths
Fairfield County 607 49 13
Hartford County 138 27 2
Litchfield County 44 3 0
Middlesex County 18 5 1
New Haven County 156 34 2
New London County 13 2 0
Tolland County 33 5 3
Windham County 3 0 0
Total 1012 125 21

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, visit ct.gov/coronavirus.

Georgia

March 27, 2020

  • State cases are up to 2,001 at noon today as compared to 1,643 at 7 p.m. Thursday.  We are now up to 64 deaths up from 56 at 7 p.m . Thursday. 566 confirmed patients are hospitalized.  Fulton, Dougherty, DeKalb, Cobb and Bartow Counties have the most cases in Georgia. 
  • The Department’s hot line number is +1 844 442 2681.
  • 12,140 people filed for unemployment benefits between March 15 and 21, up from 5,445 the week before.
  • Speaker Ralston stated this morning on Bill Nigut’s radio show that the Legislature must reconsider the teacher pay raise and income tax cut.
  • State Rep. Matthew Gambill is the first House member to disclose a positive test result for the virus.
  • The State is sending a National Guard medical support team to Phoebe Putney.  Phoebe reported its death toll from the virus is now 16, an increase of four in the past day.  The hospital still has 31 virus patients, and another 95 suspected cases in the hospital waiting for test results.
  • A lawsuit was filed by the Libertarian Party and Green Party requesting the signature requirement to be reduced because of social distancing guidelines.

March 26, 2020

Daily State Public Health stats:

  • State cases are up to 1,525 at noon as compared to 1,387 as of 7 p.m. Wednesday.  We are now up to 48 deaths up from 47 at 7 p.m. Wednesday.  473 confirmed patients are hospitalized.  Fulton, Dougherty, DeKalb, Cobb and Bartow Counties have the most cases in Georgia. 

Townhall – Thursday at 8 p.m. ET

  • The Governor, Dr. Kathleen Toomey, Mayor Bottoms and Homer Bryson [State EMA] hosted a one hour townhall on TV at 8p on Thursday.

Testing

  • GA’s public health lab and private companies have processed approximately 6200 kits, compared to more than 10,000 in NC and 11,000 in TN.  5,000 test kits provided by the federal government  kits were recently deployed in Albany and Cherokee County.  The State also received 1,550 kits this week from private suppliers.
  • Phoebe has tested 173 patients with positive results, 12 deaths and 796 people awaiting results.

Confirmed cases

  • Senator Lester Jackson of Savannah has become the 5th State Senator to test positive for the virus.
  • Roughly one-third of Georgia’s confirmed COVID-19 patients are hospitalized.

Fraud and legal malpractice

  • Appellate Judge Christian Coomer being is accused of fraud and legal malpractice. See details here.

Traffic impact

  • Per GDOT, statewide interstate traffic is down 22 percent, freight traffic up 5 percent, morning interstate rush hour down 47 percent.

Schools

  • Governor Kemp has issued a new Order closing K-12 through April 24 [previously it was through March 31].

Georgia Primary

  • Speaker Ralston wants the GA Primary to be delayed until at least June 23.

Labor Commissioner

  • The Governor signed an Executive Order today permitting Labor Commissioner to issue two new emergency rules.  The first extends unemployment from 14 to 26 weeks.  The second rule permit an individual to seek part-time employment and make up to $300 a week and still claim full unemployment benefits.

Local:

City of Atlanta

  • Mayor Bottoms launched a text service for up to date info and resources.  Just text ATLCOVID19 to 888777.

Cobb County

  • Cobb County Chairman Mike Boyce signed an Emergency Order allowing Sterigenics to temporarily resume operations.

Dobbins

  • All Grand Princess cruise ship passengers who were quarantined at Dobbins have left. Seven of them are still at the former Radisson Hotel.

Kansas

Please see a report from today’s Legislative Coordinating Council meeting. The Council reviewed two recent Executive Orders issued by the Governor. Links to the Orders are included in the report below.

Introduction.  The Legislative Coordinating Council met on 3/24/2020 at 2:00 PM to review, discuss and take possible action relating to issues addressed in the Governor’s Executive Orders 20-14 and 20-15 and any other Executive Orders issued after this agenda was posted pursuant to House Concurrent Resolution No. 5025.

Attendees: Representatives Ryckman, Hawkins, Finch and Sawyer and Senators Wagle, Denning and Hensley.

  • Tom Day, Director of Legislative Administrative Services
    • HCR 5025 available on website and EO 20-14 and 20-15 available on gov.ks.gov. No one in attendance but available to listen via livestream.  Agenda available prior to meeting on website. Documents will be available on website after the meeting. There are nine in the room and following section 2a of E.O. 20-14. Individuals will speak name before speaking to identify them self, including votes.  No public comments. LLC cannot recess to a closed or private room.  Motions will be clearly stated, and votes announced. Chairperson can sign and documents on behalf of LLC.

Review, discussion and possible action relating to issues addressed in the Governor’s Executive Orders:

Executive Order 20-14 Temporarily prohibiting mass gatherings of 10 or more people to limit the spread of COVID-19 and rescinding Executive Order 20-04

  • Jill Wolters, First Assistant Revisor of Statutes, Revisors Office
    • Effective at 12:01 p.m. March 25, 2020, all public or private mass gatherings, as defined below, are prohibited in Kansas.
      • The phrase “mass gathering” as used in this order means any planned or spontaneous, public or private event or convening that brings together 10 or more people in a confined space at the same time.
      •   The prohibition includes, but is not limited to, mass gatherings at: auditoriums, theaters, movie theaters, museums, stadiums, arenas, conference rooms, meeting halls, exhibition centers, taverns, health and fitness centers, recreation centers and licensed pools.
    • The following activities or facilities are exempt from the prohibition of this order:
      • Meetings or proceedings of the Kansas Senate or Kansas House of Representatives and their legislative committees;
      • Operations or facilities of the US Government.
      • Religious gatherings, as long as attendees can engage in appropriate social distancing.
      • Funerals or memorial services or ceremonies, as long as attendees can engage in appropriate social distancing;
      • Airports;
      • Public, private, or charter schools for instructional purposes, for non-instructional purposes – such as medication pickup, childcare services, providing meals and when operating polling places;
      •  Childcare locations, residential care centers and group homes;
      • Hotels and motels, as long as restaurant and bar guidelines, listed below in subparagraph t, are followed;
      • Military and National Guard facilities;
      • Law enforcement, jail, or correctional facilities.
      • Any facility being used as part of a government or community response to a natural disaster;
      • Food pantries and shelter facilities, including day centers for individuals and families;
      • Detoxification centers;
      • Apartment or other multi-family residential buildings, except the prohibitions of paragraph 1.
      • Shopping malls and other retail establishments where large numbers of people are present but are not within arm’s length of one another for more than 10 minutes;
      • Hospitals, medical facilities and pharmacies;
      • Long-term care and assisted living facilities, as long as the facility follows all current Dept. of Health Services Recommendations for Prevention of COVID-19;
      • Libraries;
      • Senior Centers, but only for the service of meals and follow these 2 requirements:
        • Preserve social distancing of 6 feet between tables, booths, bar stools and ordering counter; and
        • Cease self-service of unpackaged foods
      • Restaurants and bars, but only if the requirements listed below are followed:
        • Preserve social distancing of 6 feet between tables, booths, bar stools and ordering counter; and
        • Cease self-service of unpackaged foods
      • Retail food establishments (grocery stores, convenience stores, farmer’s markets) as long as the requirements listed below are followed:
        • Preserve social distancing of 6 feet between tables, booths, bar stools and ordering counter; and
        • Cease self-service of unpackaged foods
      • Office spaces and government service centers;
      • Manufacturing, processing distribution and production facilities;
      • Public transportation;
      • Utility facilities;
      • Job centers; and
      • Facilities operated by state or municipal courts.
    • All public gatherings that bring together or likely to bring together fewer than 10 people in a single room or confined space at the same time should:
      • Preserve social distancing of 6 feet between people; and
      • Follow all other public health recommendations issued by the Kansas Dept. of Health and Environment and all county and municipal health codes.
    • The order supersedes any less restrictive order by any health department and should read in conjunction with previous order responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. Any less restrictive provision in previous executive orders is superseded by this order. Local “stay home” orders that are more restrictive, E.O. 20-07 and E.O. 20-15, and other restrictive local or executive orders are not affected by this order.
    • E.O. 20-024 is rescinded.

Questions/Discussion:

Sen. Wagle: Is anyone from Governor office in the room?

                Rep. Ryckman: Yes, discussed family gatherings and a clarification will be sent out on how this applies.

Executive Order 20-15 Establishing the Kansas Essential Function Framework for COVID-19 response efforts.

  • Jill Wolters, First Assistant Revisor of Statutes, Revisors Office
    • This order supersedes and overrides the provisions of any local “stay home” or similar order that fails to exempt the Kansas Essential Functions Framework (KEFF) essential functions listed in paragraph 11.
    • This order should be read in conjunction with previous executive orders responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. Any contrary provision in previous E.O.s is superseded by this order.
    • All local “stay home” or similar orders prohibiting citizens from leaving their homes in order to slow the spread of COVID-19 must follow the KEPP established in this order and explained below. No such order may require enforcement by state authorities.
    • KEFF is a framework for identifying and continuing essential functions that must remain operation during a local “stay home” order to maintain critical services and infrastructure during the COVID_19 pandemic. The goal of KEFF is to provide for the continuation of essential functions while allowing local authorities to limit sustained personal interactions as necessary to protect the public health and safety.
    • KEFF was developed with reference to national critical function guidelines established for pandemic and other disaster response efforts.
    • KEFF focuses on four functional areas: Connect, Distribute, Manage, and Supply. KEFF organizes each area into a taxonomy so that each function can be easily referenced but also expanded when more detail is desired by the implementing governing body.
      • This order does not prevent a local issuing authority from adding essential functions or specific subcategories appropriate for its jurisdiction to the KEFF essential functions listed in paragraph 11.
    • Local authorities issuing “stay home” orders should distribute the KEFF framework to companies and other organizations in their jurisdiction.
    • A company or other organization in a jurisdiction subject to a “stay home” order that may qualify under one of the essential functions listed in paragraph 11 should contact the local issuing authority and request an exemption from restrictions of the local order for its personnel. Exemptions for essential functions listed in paragraph 11 must be granted as directed under paragraph 11 must be granted as directed under paragraph 11. If the exemption is granted, the company or other organization may continue the essential functions so exempted.
    • In its request, the company or organization should identify by number the categories of essential functions it performs and provide any brief necessary explanation to establish that it performs those functions.
    • The local issuing authority should quickly determine which, if any, functions of the requesting company or organization are exempt from the local order and inform the requesting company or other organization of the determination.
    • Local issuing authorities must grant – and do not have the discretion to deny – exemptions from the restrictions of any local “stay home” order to requesting companies or other organizations for the performance of the following essential functions:
  • The KEFF list of businesses and organizations can be reviewed below paragraph 11 in E.O. 20- 15.

Questions/Discussion:

  • Sen. Denning: When reading the document saw production and delivery of electricity was listed but didn’t see reference to natural gas. Can we get clarification? Accounting, Janitorial, employee benefits, are they included in the codes. Please clarify that those are included.
    • Will Lawrence, Governor’s Chief of Staff.  Those items job descriptions fall under those included. Drafting a document to clarify. This is for counties to have consistency in defining “stay home” orders across the state.

Adjourned

Minnesota

Walz Administration Updates

This afternoon, Governor Walz issued an order most Minnesotans have been expecting for days. Effective Friday, March 27th at 11:59 pm, Minnesota residents are ordered to “Stay at Home” until Friday, April 10th at 5 pm. The Executive Order 20-20 provides exemptions for Critical Sectors, as defined in the US Department of Homeland Security CISA Guidance and a number of additional categories. Attached is the Order 20-20 along with a document provided by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, which lists Critical Industries by NAICS Code. Order 20-20 provides exemptions for the following activities: Relocation to ensure safety, Health and safety activities, Outdoor activities, Necessary supplies and services, Essential intra and inter state travel, care of others and displacement.

The following webpage has been created by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development to assist employers and employees in determining whether their business or job is an essential service. The website also provides a process for businesses to request an exemption to the Governor’s order.

DEED Critical Industry

The most important take away from today’s announcement – if you can continue your business operations remotely, you can keep your business open. If you need help trying to navigate the Governor’s Order, or the process for requesting an exemption please let me know.

The Governor also announced he has amended two previous executive orders. Executive Order 20-18, amends the Governor’s Executive Order 20-04 and extends the closing of bars, restaurants, gyms and entertainment facilities until 5 pm on May 1st. Executive Order 20-19, amends the Governor’s Executive Order 20-01, and extends school closings until May 4th. This order also directs all schools to begin implementing “distance learning”.

Other items of interest announced during the Governor’s now daily 2pm press event

  • Unemployment claims now exceed 164,000, women have been dis-proportionally impacted according to a DEED analysis of the filings.
  • 287 confirmed cases, 26 hospitalizations and 1 death. 6,365 tests have been conducted.
  • A violation of the “Stay at Home” order is punishable by a US$1,000 fine or imprisonment of not more than 90 days.

Legislative Updates

On Thursday, the Minnesota Legislature will return to St. Paul for a brief session. The House is set to start at noon and the Senate plans to start at 2 pm. House and Senate Committees have been holding informal working group meetings for the past week. Issue area leads and Committee Chairs have been limiting participation in the discussions to keep from triggering Minnesota’s open meeting laws. The discussions have been conducted by conference calls and Zoom. After substantial backlash from Minnesota reporters, the House released the following webpage with details regarding legislative activity during the recess.

Minnesota House COVID-19 Updates

House and Senate Leadership have promised to post the COVID-19 bill scheduled for Thursday’s debate once it is finalized. Leadership is also working on plans for managing the floor sessions, while also recognizing the Minnesota Department of Health’s social distancing guidelines. The House has announced there will be no public access to the second floor of the Capitol during the session. Reporter access will also be limited, and there are no plans for the Legislature to hold any hearings on what is projected to be a massive piece of legislation with a price tag that may near US$350 million.

The House and Senate Sessions will be available online at the following links.

House Floor Session

Senate Floor Session

These are challenging times for all us, we are trying our best to keep everyone updated in an environment that changes numerous times each and every day. We are also working to separate rumor from fact and get you the most complete picture of every announcement. If you have unique questions, want more information regarding anything taking place in St. Paul or across Minnesota, please let me know.  

Missouri

When we wrote this report one week ago Missouri had 24 cases of the Coronavirus and one death. We now have 504 cases and 8 deaths. The pandemic escalated quickly and so has the government response.

One Missouri legislator, Rep. Joe Runions, and one employee of the Department of Economic Development have contracted the virus. All state office buildings, including the Capitol, are closed to the public through, at least, April 6. 

Stay at Home Orders 

Governor Parson has thus far resisted requests, including one from the Missouri state Medical Association, to issue a statewide Stay at Home order. He has banned gatherings of more than 10 people and directed bars and restaurants to limit service to delivery and pickup orders. 

Every Stay at Home order that we have seen has used the US Department of Homeland Security, Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency’s (CISA) Memorandum on Identification of Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers During COVID-19 Response as the core of their list of businesses and workers deemed essential, with some variations. 

The following Missouri cities and counties have issued their own Stay at Home orders. You can find links to each of their individual orders here.

  • Cities: Branson, Columbia, Kansas City, Springfield, St. Joseph, St. Louis City 
  • Counties: Boone, Cass, Clay, Cole, Greene, Jackson, Jefferson, Platte, Randolph, Ray, St. Louis 

We are aware of instances in both St. Louis and Springfield where drivers have been pulled over by the police and asked to show documentation that they had been deemed an essential worker. Employees travelling in the jurisdictions listed above should be equipped with this documentation. 

Other Actions 

Governor Parson requested a federal disaster declaration in Missouri to help respond to the pandemic. The Governor is requesting assistance from two FEMA programs: Disaster Unemployment Assistance and Crisis Counseling and the Public Assistance Program. The first would help newly unemployed individuals; the second would assist local governments and nonprofit agencies responding to the pandemic. 

Governor Parson granted until July 15 to pay income taxes and file tax returns, including estimated payments for this year, without penalty. 

The Missouri Supreme Court suspended all in-person proceedings in appellate and circuit courts through April 17. This includes all associate, family, juvenile, municipal, and probate divisions. 

Missouri State Budget

The second half of the 2020 legislative session will not at all resemble the usual flurry of activity that leads to the passage of 180-200 bills. The General Assembly will use whatever time they have remaining before their May 15 adjournment to address three priorities: the FY2020 supplemental budget, the extension of the FRA tax, and the FY2021 budget. There is also a possibility that a legislative relief effort may be drafted to address the health and economic impact of the pandemic. 

FY2020 Supplemental Budget 

A supplemental budget bill is passed nearly every year to allow the legislature and Governor to work together to address unforeseen issues in the current year’s operating budget. Given the current economic situation created by the COVID-19 pandemic, ensuring the General Assembly gives the governor the authority to spend federal aid that is on its way from Congress, is critical and must be done in the supplemental budget. Although a date has not been set for the House and Senate to return to work on the supplemental budget, a decision is expected early next week on a return date.

FY2021 Operating Budget 

As was reported last week, the Missouri House of Representatives did not give final approval to its version of the Fiscal Year 2021 state operating budget. It remains unclear when the House will come back to complete its work on the operating budget. The Constitutional deadline for finishing the FY21 budget is May 8. However, Fiscal Year 2020 does not end until June 30th. Therefore, if the legislature is unable to finish its work on the FY21 budget, a special session could be called for May/June to complete that budget. 

The CARES Act 

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act, HR 748) was passed by the Senate late on Wednesday night and has been delivered to the House for action on Friday. A copy of the CARES Act, HR 748, may be found here

Bill Passage 

Speaker Pelosi will not attempt passage by unanimous consent but has provided assurance that members want to return to the House for debate and vote. The bill is expected to pass, and the President has already indicated his willingness to sign it as early as this weekend. The US$2 trillion bill is considered “Phase 3” of Congressional action taken to fight the coronavirus pandemic. An additional US$4 trillion in authority was provided to the Federal Reserve to further enhance their ability to ensure liquidity and credit in the markets laying the groundwork for a quick recovery at the point the virus is defeated. 

Strategy  

The approach to the package includes a combination of tactics: increasing appropriations to existing federal programs while loosening any existing program restrictions that would act as a barrier to efficient use to address COVID-19 impacts; creating new programs and direct payments to get money into the hands of businesses and families as quickly as possible to address the abrupt income losses; and supplementing amounts previously provided under the Phase 1 and 2 coronavirus response bills to address more updated information.  

Bill Structure and Content 

The bill is divided into two Divisions: Division A – Keeping Workers Paid and Employed, Health Care System Enhancements, and Economic Stabilization and Division B – Emergency Appropriations for Coronavirus Health Response and Agency Operations. Division A is organized by Sections that include: Keeping American Workers Paid and Employed Act; Assistance for American Workers, Families and Businesses; Supporting America’s Health Care System in the Fight Against the Coronavirus; Economic Stabilization and Assistance to Severely Distressed Sectors of the United States Economy; Coronavirus Relief Funds, and Miscellaneous Provisions. 

Appropriations 

A breakdown of the appropriations by Senate Appropriations Sub-Committee may be found here.  

A breakdown of appropriations by familiar federal program may be found here.

The main highlights of those appropriations can be grouped by activity: 

  •  US$117 billion for Hospitals and Veterans Health Care 
  •  US$45 billion for the FEMA Disaster Relief Fund 
  •  US$16 billion for the Strategic National Stockpile 
  •  US$4.3 billion for the Centers for Disease Control 
  •  US$11 billion for Vaccines, Therapeutics, Diagnostics and other Medical Needs 

The staff of the Senate Appropriations Committee reports a significant portion of the emergency supplemental goes to state and local governments for administration to their communities. 

Keeping American Workers Paid and Employed Act 

This section of the bill approaches the desire to keeping employees on the job and paid in a variety of ways by creating and expanding loans, loan guarantees, loan subsidies grants, secondary market guarantee sales and existing debt relief for a variety of eligible employers who agree to keep their employees on the payroll. The main vehicle for the new Paycheck Protection Program and the other tools identified in this section of the bill is the SBA and their 800+ certified lenders. The traditional eligibility factors and the eligibility criteria and processing are relaxed. The bill also authorizes the SBA to support the infrastructure of their resource partners, the Small Business (Technology) Development Centers and Women’s Business Centers to expand their training, technical assistance and support to entrepreneurs and small businesses. It expands the eligibility for entities applying under the SBA Economic Injury Loans and amends criteria under the Chapter 7, 11, and 13 Bankruptcy laws. 

A more detailed description of the content for the Keeping American Workers Paid and Employed Act may be found here. 

Assistance for American Workers, Families, and Businesses 

This section of the bill addresses unemployment assistance for displaced workers including those not typically covered by unemployment insurance (self-employed, independent contractors, those with limited work history and others) who are unable to work because of the coronavirus. The bill provides an emergency increase in unemployment benefits and provides temporary full funding allotment to cover the first week for states who choose to implement this provision. The provisions allow for an additional 13 weeks of unemployment compensation through December 31, 2020 for those who remain unemployed after the state benefits are no longer available. The section also provides for “short-term compensation programs” directed at the employer and the state. 

The assistance also addresses rebates for individuals and families with adjusted gross incomes up to US$75,000 (US$150,000 married) with payments up to US$1200 per adult and an additional US$500 per child. This applies to persons with zero income and who may receive other means tested support from the federal government. 

The bill addresses provisions for retirement funds, required minimum distributions, charitable contributions, and certain employer payments of student loans. 

Support directed at businesses include employee retention credits, delay of payment of payroll taxes, treatment of operating losses, business interest, qualified improvement property, and a temporary exemption from excise tax for alcohol produced for hand sanitizer. 

A more detailed description of the content for the Assistance for American Workers, Families and Businesses may be found here. 

Supporting America’s Health Care System in the Fight Against Coronavirus 

This section of the bill addresses the supply chain and national stockpile for medical supplies and reiterates the treatment of respiratory protective devices as covered countermeasures.  

The section requires the FDA to expedite the review of drug applications and to address measures to prevent drug and medical device shortages.  

The section also defines eligibility and access to health care for COVID-19 patients as well as the coverage of testing for the virus.  

Support directed at health care providers covers supplemental financing, telehealth and technologies, rural healthcare services, and assures liability protection for volunteers. And innovations in health are also supported through assistance with research and development and manufacturing scale-up. 

Education provisions are also covered in this section including campus-based aid waivers, allowance for the continued payments under work-study and a variety of waivers and allowances for students and student loans. 

Labor provisions include limitations on paid leave and paid sick leave among other waivers and finance provisions address health savings accounts, prescription medication, Medicare and Medicaid rules and allowances. 

Health and Human Services are addressed through new TANF extensions. 

A more detailed description of the content for the Supporting America’s Health Care System in the Fight Against Coronavirus may be found here. 

Economic Stabilization and Assistance to Severely Distressed Sectors of the United States Economy 

This section of the bill focuses on the U.S. Treasury and Federal Reserve’s loans, loan guarantees and investments to eligible businesses, states and municipalities and directs certain opportunities to hard hit industries such as passenger air carriers, cargo air carriers and businesses important to maintaining national security. The opportunities include limitations on employee compensation, conflict of interest, continued operations, and establishes an oversight board. 

The section also addresses expanding liquidity in credit unions and banks, and temporary relief for troubled debt restructuring. It includes prohibitions of mortgage foreclosures for a period of time on all federally backed mortgage loans and addresses the forbearance of residential mortgage loan payments for multifamily properties with federally backed loans as well as temporary moratoriums on eviction filings. 

Aviation employees are addressed with a relief package dedicated to their salaries, wages and benefits for passenger carriers, cargo carriers and airline contractors. 

The Coronavirus Relief Fund provides US$150 billion to states, territories and tribal governments to use for expenditures incurred due to the public health emergency in the face of revenue declines to be allocated by population proportions with a minimum of US$1.25 billion for states with relatively small populations.

A more detailed description of the content for the Supporting America’s Health Care System in the Fight Against Coronavirus may be found here. 

Montana

Gov. Bullock issued a “stay at home” directive late yesterday. View here.

Oregon

State Updates:

  • Recommendations from JSCCVR: The co-chairs of the Joint Special Committee on Coronavirus Response have sent their list of recommendations to Legislative leadership. We’ll be providing a deeper overview tomorrow, however the proposals fall into these main buckets:
  • Housing and shelter: ban on residential evictions, increase in rent and mortgage assistance, increase homeless shelter beds 
  • Food and community benefit: SNAP, WIC, TANF, food bank investments
  • Family support: expanded access to sick child leave  
  • Health care access: protections from out-of-network charges, expanding network capacity
  • Short term employer support: ban on commercial evictions and foreclosures, increased funding for business grants and low-interest loans
  • Courts: Provide greater flexibility to Oregon Chief Justice on statutory timelines 

The co-chairs also alluded to additional proposals they may act on in the future after federal legislation is fully implemented or after further policy development has occurred.

  • Special session: No word yet on the special session that seems likely to be scheduled for next week. Stay tuned! 
  • Oregon Growth Board/CDFI Stabilization: The Oregon Growth Board met today to discuss stabilization of Community Financial Development Institutions (CDFI) and took the following actions:
  • Made policy change to the Investment Policy Statement that allows the Oregon Growth Board to award grants
  • Forgave outstanding Oregon Growth Fund loans or convert loans to grants. MESO ( US$125,000); Community Lending Work ( US$250,000); & Craft3 ( US$225,000) 
  • Awarded grant amount of US$700,000 to the Oregon Community Foundation Small Business Stabilization Fund targeted at deploying capital to CDFI 

Local Updates: 

  • Portland City Council work sessions postponed indefinitely: City of Portland budget work sessions have been cancelled and are unlikely to be rescheduled. In lieu of budget work sessions, bureau budget presentations are available online.
  • Portland budget town halls likely cancelled: Similarly, it is unlikely the public town halls on the City of Portland budget will proceed in April and it is unlikely that the Spring Budget Monitoring Process (BMP) or the over-expenditure ordinance will proceed as normal. The City is exploring using virtual sessions to fulfill requirements for a hearing of the Mayor’s proposed budget in May and possibly budget adoption. The City Budget Office is asking for the community to weigh in on the bureau requested budgets through an online form. Submitted comments are provided to Council offices weekly. 
  • Small business relief: In addition to the US$1 million allocation from General Fund contingency to the Small Business Relief Fund yesterday, Prosper Portland has matched an additional US$1 million of their existing resources for business relief in the form of grants and loans (link to Prosper Portland below) for quick disbursal.

COVID-19 Update: 

  • We now have 316 confirmed cases in Oregon as of 8 a.m. today (up from 266 yesterday), and 11 deaths.
  • A surge of testing should be happening in the next week, as 4,000 testing swabs have just been delivered to the state by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, reported by OPB.

Oregon News Related to COVID-19 

Resources 

Nonprofits 

Small Business 

  • The Oregon Community Recovery Fund was launched yesterday by the Oregon Community Foundation with a focus on providing funds for: 
  • Addressing the increased need for childcare during school and day care closures 
  • Support for hard hit small businesses 
  • Addressing social isolation of seniors and others during social distancing 
  • Providing educational opportunities for kids out of school 
  • Access to the internet for people who do not have it, but need to work from home 

CARES Act 

General Resources 

Tennessee

The following items are in regard to the State of Tennessee’s response to COVID-19. The total number of positive cases in the state stands at 784 with the majority in Davidson County (Nashville-188) and Shelby County (Memphis-117). There are 3 confirmed deaths in the state.

Health Response

As of today, the CDC has pledged US$10 million for Tennessee’s efforts to fight COVID-19. Tennessee has purchased additional testing capacity and supplies per guidance from the CDC.

On Tuesday, Gov. Bill Lee extended his recommended school closure period to April 24. Additionally, 23,000 state workers who have been working from home have been instructed to keep doing so until April 24. They had previously been scheduled to return to work at the end of the month.

The governor has mobilized the National Guard to assist with the state’s pandemic response. Lee said 250 guard members have been called up, including 150 who are medically trained. They will be assigned to assist with 35 remote assessment sights around the state as the virus spreads to more rural counties.

Economic Response

On Tuesday, the Governor also announced that the state’s deadline for filing corporate franchise and excise taxes will be extended from April to July 15.

The Department of Human Services has deployed the US$10 million emergency response and recovery grants for existing child care facilities. A church, gym, or non-profit can open an emergency temporary child care facility by registering with the Department of Human Services. Additional information can be found here. Gov. Lee has directed the Department of Human Services to personally reach out to each existing child care facility in the state to help organizations secure supplies.

Unemployment Information from the TN Dept. of Labor & Workforce Development:

For Employers

For Workers

Cities’ Response

Metro Nashville has closed portions of public parks, including playgrounds, basketball and tennis courts, and dog parks. Parks, greenways, trails and golf courses will remain open, however social distancing is expected and required.

Metro Nashville Public Health Department officials today also launched a COVID-19 telephone hotline with nurses and other public health professionals available to answer questions, provide the latest information about COVID-19, and assist Davidson County residents with the assessment process. The hotline can be reached by dialing 615-862-7777, and will operate from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week.

In Memphis, officials noted today that while there is no curfew, the “Safer at Home” order is legally enforceable, and that they will take every measure available to enforce it. This includes possibly issuing misdemeanor citations, revoking beer permits, and closures of businesses under nuisance abatement ordinances.

Texas

At a news conference today, Texas Governor Greg Abbott made two new announcements regarding COVID-19 today. There is No Change in Gov Abbott’s March 19 statewide COVID order, which closed schools, gyms, bars and restaurants.

Gov. Greg Abbott began his briefing by updating the state on testing. As of today, Texas has 21,424 tests. Less than 10 percent of the people tested for COVID-19 test positive. COVID 19 has now been identified in 92 of Texas’s 254 counties. Texas has 1,396 cases reported and 18 deaths to date.

Today’s New Order (attached): Executive Order Mandating 14-Day Quarantine For Travelers Arriving From New York Tri-State Area, New Orleans

Executive Order mandating a self-quarantine of 14 days for individuals traveling to Texas as their final destination through an airport from the Tri-State Area of New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut as well as the city of New Orleans, Louisiana.

This Executive Order is consistent with the guidance of Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx of the White House Coronavirus Task Force and will be enforced by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS). During this period, a quarantined person shall not allow visitors into or out of the designated quarantine location, other than a physician or healthcare provider, and cannot visit any public spaces.

Mandatory self-quarantines will last a period of 14 days or for the duration of a person’s presence in Texas, whichever is shorter. Those entering Texas as their final destination from the designated areas will use a form from DPS to designate their quarantine location. DPS special agents will conduct unannounced visits to designated quarantine locations to verify compliance. Failure to comply with this order is considered a criminal offense that is punishable by up to a US$1,000 fine, up to 180 days in jail, or both.

Item #2: Governor Abbott Announces HHSC Request Of 1135 Medicaid Waiver

Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) has submitted a Section 1135 Medicaid Waiver to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS). If approved, this would grant Texas flexibility in administering Medicaid while the state continues to respond to COVID-19. 

If approved, the federal flexibilities would include:

  • Temporarily extending existing prior authorizations for services so that Texans can get the care they need without delay.
  • Extending deadlines for state fair hearings and appeals.
  • Allowing services to be performed by telehealth, telemedicine, or telephonic contact.
  • Extending current medical necessity, service authorizations, and level of care authorizations for Medicaid programs.
  • Allowing the state to waive any requirements that require the signature of a physician, durable medical equipment provider, or Medicaid recipient.
  • Streamlining provider enrollment for out-of-state and new providers to increase the number of providers in Texas, which will ensure continued access to care.
  • Waiving requirements that health care professionals be licensed in the state in which they are providing services, so long as they have equivalent licensing in another state.

HHSC will also be seeking additional regulatory flexibilities through the Section 1135 Medicaid waiver related to federal requirements for long-term care providers, intermediate care facilities, home and community-based services programs, and hospitals.

If granted, this Section 1135 Medicaid waiver flexibilities would remain in place for as long as necessary during the public health emergency.

Also today, the Public Utility Commission of Texas approved a series of measures intended to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 hardships on power, water and sewer customers across the state (attached). The 3 PUCT Commissioners voted unanimously to issue orders which will temporarily suspend a series of rules pertaining to the provisions for utility industry participants to disconnect service for non-payment.

They also created the COVID-19 Electricity Relief Program, a funding mechanism through which Retail Electric Providers (REPs) may recover a reasonable portion of the cost of providing those uninterrupted services to customers facing financial hardship. REPs in the ERCOT market must suspend late fees and offer deferred payment plans to residential customers in danger of disconnection.

Customers at risk of disconnection because of COVID-19-related unemployment should first contact their Retail Electric Provider to request a deferred payment plan. Information will be forthcoming on how to enroll in the COVID-19 Electricity Relief Program under which service disconnections can suspended for up to six months.

REPs who forego disconnecting customers certified as experiencing COVID19-related hardship will be empowered to request reimbursement from the COVID-19 Electricity Relief Program, which will be funded by the proceeds of a 33 cent per megawatt hour charge billed monthly by Transmission and Distribution Utilities. (For a Texas household that typically uses 1,000 kilowatt hours of electricity per month, the charge on their bill would be an additional 33 cents.)

In addition, Texas water and sewer utilities and integrated electric utilities outside of the ERCOT market (specifically Entergy, El Paso Electric, SPS and SWEPCO) whose rates are set by the PUC, may not charge late fees or disconnect customers for non-payment during the emergency.

Vermont

Click here for Vermont COVID-19 response update.

Click here to view Addendum 6 to Executive Order 01-20.

Virginia

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam has ordered all K-12 schools closed for the rest of the academic year and mandated indoor recreation and entertainment businesses close through April 23 as part of a sweeping 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 Thursday, March 26, the state Department of Health reported 460 cases of COVID-19, with 65 resulting in hospitalization and 13 deaths. The state confirmed 6,189 had been tested.

The first case of COVID-19 in Virginia was reported on March 7; Gov. Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency on March 12. 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.

Wisconsin

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

  • The number of positive cases is up to 707 in Wisconsin, up from 583 in Wednesday’s update.
  • 11,583 negative test results (10,089 were reported on Wednesday).
  • 8 patients have died in Wisconsin (up 2 from Wednesday)

A new county by county map break down is at the end of this update as well as timeline of positive and negative test results.

Source: DHS COVID-19 Outbreak page

DHS Hosts Facebook Live to Answer Questions related to Safer At Home

Link to Facebook video; https://www.facebook.com/DHSWI/videos/1412848268876513/

Secretary Palm started the Facebook Live session updating on the current number of positive and negative test results in Wisconsin, and the number of deaths. Palm noted that modelling by DHS experts, based on data from what has been seen globally, suggests that if Wisconsin continues on its current path, without implementing the Governor’s “Safer at Home” order, we would likely see 22,000 Wisconsinites infected by April 8th, which could result in 440 to 1,550 deaths. Palm noted that staying at home is the best tool we have to prevent the spread of the virus, protect health care workers and ensure that the health care system capacity is not overwhelmed.

Through the course of the conversation Sec. Palm and Dr. Westergaard answered several questions regarding the Stay at Home Order. Answers to the majority of the questions raised could be found on the Governor’s Office Safer at Home FAQs page.

WMC Releases COVID-19 Relief & Recovery Agenda

Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce (WMC) released its COVID-19 Relief & Recovery Agenda on Thursday “aimed at providing economic assistance to those in need; a reprieve of costly and burdensome regulations on businesses stepping up during this public health emergency; and getting people back to work quickly following this crisis.”

Here is a brief summary of WMC’s agenda from their press release:

  • Provide liquidity for businesses through tax credits and payment deferments
  • Enact liability protections to allow businesses to safeguard employees and other essential visitors at their facilities
  • Temporarily pause Dept. of Revenue audits that are incredibly disruptive to business operations
  • Prohibit unemployment benefit withdrawals from counting against an employer’s experience rating
  • Prioritize COVID-19 testing for employees working in essential industries like health care, manufacturing and energy
  • Provide families with financial assistance through tax credits and unemployment insurance waivers
  • Provide families with increased flexibility for tax payments
  • Provide flexibility for employees by temporarily waiving continuing education requirements

The full Relief & Recovery Agenda can be viewed by clicking here.

DWD: Employers Providing Essential Services Need Workers

The Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development has created a webpage to connect job seekers to the in-demand jobs posted on JobCenterofWisconsin.com. These jobs include healthcare occupations like registered nurse and pharmacist, but also transportation and material moving occupations, such as laborers and freight, stock, and material movers, and light truck or delivery service drivers who help transport supplies, food, and other products that still need to be delivered to grocery stores, restaurants, and hospitals.

Wisconsinjobcenter.org/lookforjobs/in-demand.htm  to connect to in-demand jobs in Wisconsin.

Employers looking to connect with job seekers can post positions for free on JobCenterof Wisconsin.com, Wisconsin’s free online job search tool.

Number of Positive Results by County

We are transitioning from the use of tables to graphics. If you need the data in tables, please let us know.

Previous Wisconsin COVID-19 Updates

  • Previous COVID-19 Updates are archived here
  • COVID-19 State of Wisconsin Resources here

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