Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the US – Latest State Updates – May 7, 2020

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Arkansas

As of May 7th

Worship services are encouraged to stay online but the state will be releasing guidance for in-person services. As it relates to large outdoor venues, a 12-foot distance between performers or players with fewer than 50 players/performers and less than 50 in the crowd are permitted as long as there is six-foot distancing between attendees, face coverings and sanitation.

Georgia

As of May 7th

  • Daily State Public Health stats:
    • As of 11:25 a.m. today, Georgia has 31,260 confirmed cases as compared to 30,706 4:25 p.m. yesterday, with 5,804 hospitalized patients as compared to 5,770 at 4:25 p.m. yesterday, and 1,335 deaths as compared to 1,311 at 4:25 p.m. yesterday. Over 217,000 tests have been administered.
  • Smartphone data shows out-of-state visitors flocked to GA as restaurants and other businesses reopened.
  • State and private labs in GA have more than doubled the total number of tests they’ve processed in the last two weeks.
  • The GBI has opened a criminal investigation involving allegations of fraud against Court of Appeals Judge Christian Coomer.

Local:

  • The Gwinnett School District has revised its plans for staff and teachers to return on-site.
  • Cobb County’s remaining parks will reopen Monday, with playgrounds and restrooms still closed. No organized athletic activities will be allowed.

Kansas

As of May 7th

After yesterday’s announcement that the Kansas Legislature will return on May 21st for a single day of work to finish up the 2020 Legislative Session, we set about to try and gather “intel” on what specifically House and Senate Leadership’s plan was.   We believe the Senate will permit a limited number of Committees to work prior to the 21st, and take up only a few “absolute must do in 2020” bills/topics:

  • Commerce Committee
    • Investigate shortcomings with the Department of Labor’s Unemployment Insurance system
  • Judiciary Committee
    • COVID liability immunity
    • Kansas Open Records Act
    • Governor’s Executive Powers
  • Assessment & Taxation Committee
    • Property tax transparency
    • Property tax filing extension
  • Financial Institutions and Insurance
    • Select insurance bills that have passed the House committee (KID)
    • Banking loan deposit bill

North Carolina

As of May 5th

Update

  • Laboratory confirmed Coronavirus cases: 12,758
  • Coronavirus deaths: 484
  • Currently hospitalized: 516
  • Completed tests: 164,482
  • NC Counties affected: 99/100
  • Realtime COVID-19 Data for NC

Highlights

The Governor, along with legislative leadership from both parties and both chambers, signed the two bills passed by the legislature over the weekend. The enacted bills are linked below. 

Governor Cooper issued an executive order Tuesday that allows the state to move into Phase One of lifting statewide restrictions that he said have slowed the coronavirus spread. The new order takes effect starting Friday, May 8th.

Executive Order 138, Easing Restrictions on Travel, Business and Mass Gatherings Phase 1, May 5

Update

Governor Cooper issued an executive order Tuesday that allows the state to move into Phase One of lifting statewide restrictions that have slowed the coronavirus spread. The new order takes effect starting Friday at 5 pm. Cooper said the stay-at-home order will remain in place but will allow more reasons to leave from home and will remove the distinction between essential and non-essential businesses. 

Phase 1 allows shopping at stores including clothing, sporting goods and housewares. Those open stores will have to have customer and employee social distancing, extra cleaning, screen employees for symptoms, accommodate vulnerable workers and “provide education to employees and workers to combat misinformation.” The state will also encourage employers to use teleworking. Businesses that open can only be occupied at 50 percent capacity. Bars, personal care businesses like hair and nail salons, entertainment venues and gyms will still be prohibited from opening. Restaurants may continue serving customers with to-go orders and delivery, but no in-house seating will be allowed in Phase 1. People will be allowed to socialize with non-family members once again. Small outdoor gatherings of no more than 10 people will be allowed. Childcare centers will be reopened but must follow strict cleaning guidelines. 

The executive order allowing the state to move into Phase 1 runs through May 22. The Governor said that if the trends move in a negative direction, restrictions could return.

Dr. Mandy Cohen, Secretary of the NC DHHS, said the state has hit three of the four benchmarks in trending related to the virus to allow for an easing of restrictions. The number of patients being seen with COVID-19 symptoms by health care workers, the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients and the percent of tests coming back positive are all declining or leveling off. The number of confirmed cases continues to rise, but Cohen attributes that to an increase in testing. 

The N.C. Chamber and Senate leader Phil Berger both prefer a speedier reopening than what the Governor outlined. The Chamber released its  “Relaunching North Carolina” plan, which calls for reopening restaurants, personal care businesses and churches during Phase 1 with social distancing restrictions. Bars would be the only businesses required to wait for Phase 2. Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger said in a news release that the Governor’s Phase 1 plan is largely a continuation of the existing lockdown and questioned how a blanket, one-size-fits-all statewide order justified. He stated, “I’m concerned that Governor Cooper is ignoring more reasonable approaches and the experiences of the majority of states.” 

Executive Actions, Week of May 4th

Executive Order 138, Easing Restrictions on Travel, Business and Mass Gatherings Phase 1, May 5

Legislative Actions, Week of May 4th

COVID-19 Laws

North Carolina Agencies/Programs

Relevant Articles

Minnesota

As of May 5th

The Minnesota Office of Management and Budget has just released their rare mid-session and mid-year updated forecast.  MMB Leaders will present their findings at a 2 pm press event.  The budget projections are for the current biennium or Fiscal Years 2020 and 2021.  According to their release “Minnesota’s budget and economic outlook has significantly worsened since the coronavirus pandemic.”  The state is now projecting a $2.426 billion deficit, which is nearly a $4 billion change from the February Forecast.  The state is projecting revenues to fall $3.611 billion and appropriations to increase by $391 million from the February announcement.  The state continues to maintain a $2.359 billion budget reserve which can be used to help mitigate the impact to the state’s budget.  We will provide further details as they become available throughout the day.

The MMB Presentation can be viewed on the Governor’s YouTube channel using the following link:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC7CPBsekv_4u34kIVqaVtDA

Link to MMB Budget Documents

While the budget has worsened, the state’s COVID cases are also beginning to spike.  Here are the latest numbers as of 12pm on May 4th. 

  • New Cases 617
  • Total confirmed cases 7,851
  • New deaths 27
  • Total deaths 455 (368 – nursing homes/long-term care)
  • Hospitalizations 434
  • ICU hospitalizations 182
  • Total Tests 89,009
  • New tests 1,837 (last 24 hours)

Texas

As of May 5th

Governor Abbott conducted a news briefing at 2:30 pm today, joined by Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) Commissioner John Hellerstedt, MD, Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) Chief Nim Kidd, Texas Health and Human Services (HHS) Acting Executive Commissioner Phil Wilson and Texas Education Agency (TEA) Commissioner Mike Morath. 

Today’s COVID Texas numbers per DSHS:

  • 33,369 confirmed cases (6,967 in Harris County/Houston)
  • 906 fatalities
  • 16,791 estimated recovered 
  • 427,210 total tested
  • 1,888 currently in TX hospitals
  • COVID+ cases in 216 of Texas’s 254 counties. 
  • Texas PPE from state and federal sources now amount to:   53.5 million masks
  • 2.5 million face shields
  • 777 million gloves
  • 14.5 million gowns

MOBILE TESTING:  The Texas National Guard continues to staff mobile testing facilities, and have served 158 Texas counties collecting 11,648 specimens  and fielding 41,410 calls with approx. 1,400 Texas military force personnel are engaged.   

SURGE RESPOSE TEAMS: TDEM, HHSC, TMF and others (including Texas non-profit BCFS Health and Human Services) have organized 47 Surge Response Teams to serve nursing homes, prisons, meat packing plants and other potential hot spots.   

The teams will help address PPE, testing, health care capabilities and health and social distancing challenges at these facilities.

The Texas National Guard is also creating Facility Disinfections Teams using 250 soldiers to assist with training, PPE and cleaning.  This is modelled after a successful program in the State of Georgia.

REOPENINGS AND MODIFICATIONS TO PRIOR EXECUTIVE ORDERS:

  • Funerals, memorials, burials and weddings may all be conducted using the same guidance that Texas has previously issues for church services (such as social distancing and alternating seats/rows).  At risk populations (esp. 65+) are urges to participate remotely/online or have organizers set aside special areas for at-risk participants. 

Guidance manual: https://www.texasattorneygeneral.gov/sites/default/files/images/admin/2020/Press/Revised%20Guidance%20for%20Houses%20of%20Worship%20During%20the%20COVID-19%20Crisis%20-%20Final.pdf

  • Wedding receptions should be treated like restaurants.  Using 25% capacity and distancing.
  • Parks, lakes and beaches: Masks are recommended and 6 ft social distancing.
  • Salons, barbers, nail salons, tanning and cosmetology providers can reopen Friday, May 8th.   Texas has a handbook recommending safe practices for these providers, including the use of masks, 1:1 customer/haircutter ratios, social distancing or outside for waiting areas. 
  • Gyms can open May 18th with safe distancing, the use of full-hand/finger gloves, and disinfecting equipment before and after each use (including customer-brought items like yoga mats).  Showers and locker rooms should remain closed.
  • Bars: The state is still working on plans to reopen bars.  They will remain closed for now.   
  • Non-essential manufacturers and office buildings: May reopen May 18th with 25% occupancy, staggered shifts and other protective measures.
  • School graduations: TEA will be publishing guidance for graduation and school promotion ceremonies that will include:

TX Economy Note: Last week (May 1), The Texas Comptroller announced that Texas sales tax revenues in April were $2.6 billion, down 9.3% from April 2019, the steepest decline since January 2010.  Comptroller Hegar expects steeper declines in the coming months.  Remittances from oil and gas also fell significantly.    

Virginia

As of May 7th

 The latest in Virginia, as of Monday, May 4:

Total cases: 19,492

Hospitalizations: 2,700

Deaths: 684

The latest:

  • Governor announces plans to allow non-essential businesses to reopen on a limited basis starting on Friday, May 15.
  • The first phase of opening will last at least two to four weeks before restrictions are further loosened.
  • As testing has increased, Virginia has posted a declining percentage of positive cases.

Gov. Ralph Northam announced Monday that he intends to let non-essential businesses reopen on a limited basis statewide, effective Friday, May 15, after nearly two months of heavy restrictions designed to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The current restrictions on non-essential businesses, including restaurants and indoor recreation and entertainment businesses, are set to expire at 11:59 p.m. Thursday, May 7, but Northam said he will extend that order through May 14 to collect another week’s worth of public health data. The state’s stay-at-home order, in effect until June 10, will be amended to inform Virginians that they are safer at home, Northam said.

Hospitals, healthcare systems and medical and dental offices were allowed to resume outpatient, elective and non-emergency procedures on Friday, May 1.

The scheduled reopening on May 15 will preserve existing restrictions banning gatherings of more than 10 people, and face masks will still be recommended in public. Northam said Virginians should continue to practice social distancing and telework if possible. There will be additional requirements for cleaning and disinfecting public spaces, and restaurants will be restricted to serving a fraction of their dine-in capacity, as will gyms, hair salons and barbershops. Public schools remain closed for the rest of the academic year. Municipal elections scheduled for May 5 were already rescheduled to May 19, and congressional primaries from June 9 to June 23.

If the threat of spreading infection continues to decline, the second phase of reopening will consist of gradual loosening of restrictions, including a ban on gatherings of more than 50 people, and continued social distancing.

The governor credited heavy public restrictions for slowing the spread of COVID-19 and said the commonwealth has made significant strides in stabilizing its supplies of personal protective equipment and available hospital beds. Testing capacity has also surged, and officials have witnessed the percentage of positive tests decline steadily in recent days.

Northam rejected suggestions that the state adopt a regional approach to restarting economic activity, emphasizing instead that the commonwealth remain united through the crisis. Some in western parts of the state, where reported COVID-19 cases have been comparatively small, have expressed frustrations as neighboring states such as Tennessee move quicker to let businesses reopen.

Initial unemployment claims have soared in Virginia since the pandemic was declared in mid-March. According to the Virginia Employment Commission, more than 340,000 continued week unemployment claims had been filed in the week ending April 25. The figure amounts to more than 10 percent of the private-sector payroll in Virginia.

Wisconsin

As of April 6th

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services and the Wisconsin Hospital Association released updated numbers on Wednesday:

  • 298 Current Hospital Admissions (107 patients in ICU)
    • The total number of hospital admissions is down 11 (-11) from Tuesday and the number of patients in ICU is up 16 (+16) from Tuesday, all of which were in the Southeast Healthcare Emergency Readiness Coalition (HERC) region .
  • There were 335 positive test results reported on Wednesday. The percent positive test results out of total tests was 8%.
    • Cumulatively there have been 87,826 negative tests and 8,901 positive tests.
  • 9 deaths were reported on Wednesday for a total of 362 deaths from COVID-19 in Wisconsin.
  • 4,348 patients who have tested positive for COVID-19 and are listed as having recovered. (last updated by DHS on 5/6)

Sources: 

Wisconsin Hospital Association (WHA) COVID-19 Situational Awareness Update site
DHS COVID-19: County Data; https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/covid-19/county.htm

WI Health News COVID-19 Update with Assembly Speaker Robin Vos  

Of note from the webinar were the following;

  • When asked about the Supreme Court case, Speaker Vos noted that the case isn’t about fighting the virus but about the roles of the different branches of government. He said they gave Gov. Evers a great deal of latitude in responding to the pandemic during the 60-days that the Governor is given to respond to the pandemic. They assumed that the 60-days was the period of time that the Governor could act unilaterally, but beyond those 60-days would be the time that the Legislature would be consulted with and brought into the solution moving forward. Unlike where that is happening in other states, that has not happened in Wisconsin.
  • The Speaker was asked if the Court rules in the Legislature’s favor, how is he confident that the Legislature and the Governor can work together on Emergency Health Orders. The Speaker said that there shouldn’t be a Democratic or Republican plan to fight the virus, there should be a Wisconsin plan that the whole state can support.
  • When asked who he receive input from, Speaker Vos said he has spoken with the Wisconsin Hospital Association, those that running nursing homes, public health officials and those in the private sector from everyone from natural medicine to those who run ambulatory surgical centers.
  • When asked who needs to be at the table for these discussions, Speaker Vos pointed to public health, hospitals, nursing homes and the business community, because they will have to implement what is decided.
  • Speaker Vos reiterated his call for a regional approach and pointed to other midwestern states that are implementing that approach. Speaker Vos said “Let’s start to turn the dial, as opposed to treating every part of the state like it is Milwaukee. Because if we wait for Milwaukee and Brown County to be the indicator, it’s going to be a long time potentially before Wisconsin can open up.”

Link to WisconsinEye video

Legislative Fiscal Bureau Update on General Fund Tax Collections:

Legislative Fiscal Bureau Director Bob Lang updated the Wisconsin State Legislature on the status of April 2020 General Fund Tax collections today and noted that as anticipated, due to the coronavirus pandemic, April tax collections were significantly less than compared to April 2019;

[Excerpt]… Tax collections in the month of April, 2020, were $1,145 million. This is $870 million below collections of April, 2019. And, for the 10 months of the current fiscal year, collections are $313 million below those over the same 10 months of 2018-19.

Lang noted that the extent of the impact will not be known until after the pandemic extended July 15 filing deadline for income and franchise taxes, but he did note that there are some items that might mitigate the decline in the 2019-20 balance. Those items are;

  1. It is unlikely that the $189 million transfer to the budget stabilization fund identified in the January 23 report will occur. That $189 million will remain in the general fund and enhance the 2019-20 balance.
  2. Last week, DOA Secretary Brennan announced that certain state operations GPR appropriations will be required to lapse 5% to the general fund in the 2019-20 fiscal year. The Secretary indicated that $70 million will lapse under this directive.
  3. Under the federal CARES Act, the state will receive $2 billion from the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF). Funding is to be used for expenditures made in response to the pandemic. The federal guidelines for the CRF indicate that these funds cannot be used to replace state revenue shortfalls. There are, however, ongoing discussions that the guidelines may be modified or that additional federal funds will be made available under subsequent legislation to allow for the replacement of revenue shortfalls.
  4. It is estimated that the budget stabilization fund will have a balance of $655 million at the end of the 2019-20 fiscal year. Legislation is required in order to access any amounts in the stabilization fund.

Link to LFB Memo

Former US Senate Candidate Eric Hovde launches statewide tv ad to “Open Wisconsin”

Former 2012 US Senate candidate and businessman Eric Hovde today announced the launch of a statewide television ad focused on “Wisconsin’s ongoing lockdown.” In the ad, Hovde poses a series of questions that to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers that “the citizens of Wisconsin deserve to have answered.”

 According to the release, which lists Governor Scott Walker’s former 2018 campaign manager Joe Fadness as the contact, Open Wisconsin Today is the first project of Our Future Matters, a new 501(c)(4) organization comprised of people who care about the future of America. Hovde is frequently mentioned as a potential Republican candidate for the US Senate and Governor.

Link to ad https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mwTNP1Fu6R4&feature=emb_logo

Link to release

Updated Charts

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