Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) in the US – Weekly Update – March 13, 2020

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Summary

As of Thursday, March 12, the number of states with confirmed cases of COVID-19, commonly known as coronavirus, stands at 43. On Wednesday, March 11, President Trump announced from the Oval Office the cancellation of travel from 26 European countries to the United States for the next 30 days.

Meanwhile, Congress is in the midst of negotiations on an emergency relief package. Democrats are pushing for legislation to provide expanded food assistance and unemployment insurance, temporary paid sick leave and widespread free testing for COVID-19. At the moment, the House GOP caucus and the White House oppose the bill. Vice President Pence continues to head the federal coronavirus task force, alongside new coronavirus response coordinator Ambassador-at-Large Dr. Deborah L. Birx and Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex M. Azar II.

While the federal government is seeking to pass funding for test kits and to coordinate best practices, the administration has left significant responsibility in the hands of governors. This weekly update will provide relevant information on the spread of, and government responses to, the coronavirus, as well as links to all state health websites.

Alabama

Alaska

Arizona

Governor Doug Ducey declared a public health emergency in Arizona on Wednesday. The state has nine cases of COVID-19 at present. The order gives the state government additional powers and access to a public health fund. The state has also set up a hotline staffed by health care professionals at 1-844-542-8201.

Dr. Cara Christ, Director of the Arizona Department of Health Services, said previously that public health may begin working with community and business leaders to encourage social distancing, teleworking, and reducing or canceling large gatherings of people.

Arkansas

California

On Wednesday, Governor Gavin Newsom announced that gatherings of more than 250 people should be cancelled. He also said smaller gatherings may proceed as long as six feet of social distance is observed. The Governor said the state currently has a shortage of coronavirus testing kits and is working with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to update the testing protocols for the coronavirus.  Newsome said that as of Tuesday, March 11, California only had 7,675 testing kits and many are incomplete.

On March 2, the Governor requested emergency funding of $20 million from the state government, and on March 4, he declared a state of emergency.

Colorado

Connecticut

There are four confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Connecticut. The state Department of Public Health has placed visitation restrictions on nursing and convalescent homes to help prevent the spread of the virus. Legislative leaders announced that the Capitol and the Legislative Office Building will be closed to the public effective Thursday, March 12, and that they will evaluate, on a day-to-day basis, when to reopen the buildings. Governor Ned Lamont held a conference call for legislators and municipal leaders on Monday night providing them with updates, and directing them to cancel large public events. St. Patrick’s day festivities in the state’s large municipalities have been postponed or cancelled.

The Governor has declared civil preparedness and public health emergencies. The state’s Insurance Department is notifying travel insurance companies about the emergency declarations and will be monitoring their compliance with the terms of their policies. The declarations also trigger price-gouging laws, and make clear that municipal leaders have emergency powers to mitigate disasters and emergencies.

Click here for the Governor’s latest press release on COVID-19.

Delaware

Florida

On Thursday, March 12, Governor Ron DeSantis confirmed 10 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the state total to 34. DeSantis also announced measures to address the current bottleneck in testing for coronavirus, saying that the state had purchased some 2,500 commercial testing kits that would allow labs to more rapidly test for the pathogen.

The Governor also urged those organizing big events such as concerts, fairs and sporting events to “strongly limit or postpone” the activities. If such activities were to move forward, they must adequately screen participants for symptoms of the virus at the entrance.

Georgia

Due to the recent outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19), the Georgia General Assembly has suspended the second half of the biennial legislative session until further notice. The suspension comes one day after Crossover Day, the point at which legislation must move from one body of the legislature to the other. This ensures that when the legislature resumes several key issues will still be up for debate.

Georgia, home to the CDC, has a total of 45 confirmed cases of COVID-19. The majority of the cases are concentrated in the Metro Atlanta area. Governor Brian Kemp’s office said there are six new confirmed cases and three new presumptive positive cases of the disease, and health officials said the source of infection of most of them is unknown. On Thursday the state suffered its first coronavirus death. Governor Kemp requested an additional $100 million to assist the Georgia Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Public Health in their response efforts.

The Georgia legislature is hopeful to reconvene at a later date and there are several important questions still pending before both bodies at the state capital including senior care, gambling and surprise billing. Additionally, they have yet to pass the fiscal year 2021 budget. However, they were able to pass the amended 2020 budget with the additional funding appropriated to fight COVID-19.

The decision was announced jointly by House Speaker David Ralston and Lt. Governor Geoff Duncan. Lt. Governor Geoff Duncan stated “We continue to urge calm and appropriate responses to the coronavirus situation. However, the current environment demands that we take additional preventative action. Speaker Ralston and I are working diligently to ensure that, at the appropriate time, the General Assembly resumes its critically important work.”

Hawai`i

According to the state Department of Health, there have been no reported cases of coronavirus, or COVID-19, in Hawai`I, but the department continues “to monitor the situation closely.”

Governor David Ige has made an emergency request to the Hawai`i State Legislature for $7.2 million to fight a possible outbreak. The state Senate’s Ways and Means Committee on Thursday, February 27, agreed to appropriate about $10.5 million to the Department of Health and other state agencies to deal with an outbreak should it occur.

Idaho

Illinois

Illinois health officials have requested that the CDC send a team to the state to support their containment efforts. The state currently 25 cases of COVID-19 according to government officials. Several universities in the state have moved to remote learning. All St. Patrick’s Day celebrations planned in Chicago have been canceled. As of Wednesday, March 11, the state had tested 367 people in all, including the 25 confirmed cases and 76 still under investigation, according to the Department of Public Health.

Indiana

The Indiana State Department of Health is urging citizens to take common-sense steps to prepare for the possibility that the coronavirus (COVID-19) gains a greater foothold in the US. The department is working with state, local and federal partners to refine existing pandemic response strategies, which include specific measures to prepare communities to respond to local transmission of the virus.

While Indiana has no confirmed cases of COVID-19, and no one in the state is suspected of being infected at this time, 26 residents are being monitored due to their history of travel or contact with an individual who has traveled to an affected country.

Iowa

Kansas

Kentucky

Louisiana

Maine

Maryland

Massachusetts

On Tuesday, March 10, Governor Charlie Baker declared a state of emergency to address an outbreak in the state. As of Wednesday, March 11, Massachusetts has 95 reported cases of COVID-19. Schools across Massachusetts are canceling classes or moving to online-only educationmore than 1,000 people have been put in quarantine in the state and companies are sending workers home to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Michigan

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services announced that in addition to the confirmed cases, nearly 400 residents are currently being monitored for symptoms. To accommodate the disease’s increased proliferation throughout the US, Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced that the Michigan Medicaid Program will waive copays and cost-sharing for testing and health care treatment related to the coronavirus disease, with a number of insurers, including Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Blue Care Network of Michigan, Priority Health, CVS Health, McLaren, and Meridian also committing to fully cover the cost of coronavirus tests. While none of the state’s universities have announced closures as a result, nearly three dozen students and staff members at Eastern Michigan University have entered self-quarantine following recent trips to Italy.

Minnesota

On Monday, March 9, the Minnesota DFL-controlled House and GOP-controlled Senate unanimously passed a Coronavirus Response Bill.  Following a weekend of negotiations between Governor Tim Walz and House and Senate leadership, an emergency was declared, the state’s constitution was suspended, and a bill was introduced to provide nearly $21 million in immediate funding to a public health emergency account. The account already contained $4.6 million. The original funding is available for future disease outbreaks. The new funds are only available for addressing the current outbreak. Click here to view House Article on bill passed.

Mississippi

Missouri

To limit the spread of the coronavirus, the Missouri Senate will not meet next week. The state House of Representatives will meet with the purpose of speeding up their portion of the budgetary process for fiscal year 2021. The entire legislature will be off the following week for their annual Spring Break. The legislature will determine at that time when they will reconvene. Republican and Democrat legislative leaders issued a joint statement urging members of the public not directly participating in the legislative process to refrain from visiting the Capitol.

Montana

University resources

On March 3, Governor Steve Bullock and state public health and emergency response officials announced activation of the Governor’s Coronavirus Task Force. There are no current diagnosed cases in the state, but Montana is monitoring the situation and taking steps to prepare a response in the event the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak reaches Montana. The task force will help coordinate the response and support communication among state, federal, and local agencies. The Montana Department of Health and Human Services (DPHHS) has set up a website to monitor the disease in Montana. The DPHHS public health laboratory now has the capability to test for the coronavirus after recently receiving new test kits from the CDC.

Reported Cases

According to DPHHS there are no reported cases, but a handful of residents have been tested for the virus:

However, we found out on March 10 that a 70-year-old woman from Montana contracted the disease while visiting family in Maryland. She is currently being treated in a hospital there.

Press Coverage and Releases

  • Governor Bullock held a press conference on March 3 to announce the creation of his Coronavirus Task Force.
  • Counties like Missoula County held updates on the virus.
  • The Montana Commissioner of Securities and Insurance announced in a March 10 press release that all health insurance companies covering lives in Montana must waive the cost of testing for the coronavirus for their policyholders.

Local and Regional Actions

Numerous city and county health departments are coordinating with the CDC and Montana DPHHS and have created websites to monitor the coronavirus and to provide residents with a hotline to answer any questions or concerns. Missoula City-County Public Health Department’s website is a good example of what other counties are also doing.

Additionally, local hospitals around the state have committed to collaborate with their local public health departments. They’ve also created websites, including Benefits Health System in Great Falls.

School Closures

As far as we can tell, there haven’t been any school closures in Montana. Many school districts are creating websites to monitor the virus, including Missoula County Schools. Nonetheless, it looks like school districts are making contingency plans relating to the virus.

Major Event Cancellations

  • In February, the University of Montana cancelled a student trip to China.
  • The Western Art Museum in Great Falls postponed its annual art exhibition and auction.
  • We were told that a healthcare conference in Missoula was canceled.
  • With this said, the Billings MetraPark facility is still planning to host the NAIA Women’s Basketball National Championship beginning March 18.

Nebraska

Nevada

Nevada has a total of seven COVID-19 cases in the state. At Wednesday’s news conference, Dr. Fermin Leguen, acting chief health officer for the health district, said no decision or recommendation had been made to cancel any upcoming events in Las Vegas. The Southern Nevada Health District is encouraging people who visited The Mirage recently or attended the “Women of Power Summit” who have questions or concerns to call the district’s information line at 702-759-INFO (4636).

New Hampshire

New Jersey

As of March 12 New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy has recommended cancelling all public gatherings of 250+ people including parades, concerts and sporting events.

New Mexico

New York

New York has over 60 cases of COVID-19. Governor Andrew Cuomo has banned gatherings of over 500 people and instituted containment zone in New Rochelle. The National Guard began arriving on Wednesday, March 11, marking the start of a new phase in the state’s response to the virus. They were deployed by the Governor primarily to deliver food and clean and sanitize buildings.

New York City could soon introduce “more restrictions” to contain the spread of the coronavirus, Mayor Bill de Blasio said in an interview on CNN on Thursday, March 12.

North Carolina

There were seven confirmed cases of COVID-19 in North Carolina as of March 11. Six of the cases are in Wake County (Raleigh and the surrounding area). In five of those six cases, Wake County patients had traveled to Boston to attend a Biogen company conference, state officials said.

Because of the concentration in Wake County, officials have recommended more restrictions there. Employers in the Research Triangle-area (Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill), including state agencies, are urged by DHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen to use technology to enable employees to work from home, and to implement flexible sick-leave policies and staggered worker arrival and departure times. Secretary Cohen also urged organizers of large events in the region that attract people in higher-risk categories to consider canceling or postponing them.

Statewide, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper declared state of emergency on March 10 in response to the state’s growing number of COVID-19 cases. The statewide focus is on slowing the rate of infection so hospitals do not become overwhelmed. Cooper’s declaration gives the state government broader powers and fiscal flexibility, such as granting health agencies access to temporary workers and the ability to aggressively clean public places and state facilities. The governor’s statewide health recommendations include limiting visitors to nursing homes and assisted-living facilities.

Concerns about the potential spread of COVID-19 have led to schedule changes and event cancellations at many schools, colleges and universities. The University of North Carolina System has posted a page with the latest updates on its response to COVID-19. Duke University announced on Tuesday, March 10, that it has suspended on-campus classes and that all students currently out of town for spring break should not return to campus if at all possible. Local school systems across the state have reacted to the spread of the virus in a wide range of ways.

ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament in Greensboro will be played without fans in the stands. North Carolina is still waiting for the NHL to make an announcement regarding the Carolina Hurricanes. NASCAR has announced they will race as planned.

Testing concerns

The North Carolina State Laboratory of Public Health can run its own tests; however, like other states, it is short on supplies due to a supply chain issue. The state lab can currently test 190 people, but this needs to be higher. Duke University and the University of North Carolina are setting up testing. Lab Corp, a North Carolina-based company, is using a different testing method which was approved by FDA, but is still not at the level the state needs to be.

In the news

North Dakota

North Dakota has tested five individuals for COVID-19, but all came back negative. The state Department of Health has released several resources for the public and held press conferences on the inevitable spread of the virus.

Ohio

Oklahoma

Oregon

Oregon currently has 15 confirmed cases of coronavirus, with 67 COVID-19 tests pending. The confirmed cases are reported in seven different counties and none have been able to be linked to international travel. As of Wednesday, March 11, 232 people were being monitored for symptoms. Governor Kate Brown has declared a state of emergency and the Oregon Legislative Assembly, through Oregon’s Emergency Board, allocated $5 million to aid the state’s response to the coronavirus. Oregon’s largest public university, Oregon State University, is preparing to suspend face-to-face instruction and move all courses online, while other universities have instituted travel restrictions.

In the news

Pennsylvania

Rhode Island

As of Tuesday, March 10, five people had tested positive for COVID-19 in the state and nearly 300 people were voluntarily quarantining themselves. Governor Gina Raimondo has declared a state of emergency and is hopeful that federal funds will help the state pay for the cost of addressing the virus. The Governor may also ask the state legislature for increased funding.

South Carolina

South Dakota

South Dakota had 8 total confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of Wednesday, March 11. The state has tested a total of 46 cases. The state still has the ability to test about 800 people for COVID-19. Newly equipped with the ability to test for the coronavirus in their public health labs, South Dakota, like other states, is discovering cases of the coronavirus at a steady clip.

Tennessee

In total, six cases have been confirmed in the state and Governor Bill Lee and emergency teams met this week to coordinate a response plan.

Vanderbilt University has cancelled all in-person classes for at least the remainder of the month. Nashville’s iconic “Batman Building” has closed for a “thorough cleaning.” The Tennessee Department of Health has offered resources here and established a coronavirus hotline at 877-857-2945. Call volume has been high and callers are urged to be patient if they receive a busy signal and try their call at a later time. Governor Bill Lee has assembled a task force of the public and private sector to monitor the situation and update the public as developments occur.

On March 12, Governor Bill Lee signed executive order declaring state of emergency over coronavirus. Click here for more information.

Texas

Utah

Vermont

Virginia

On March 10, organizers of the 26th annual Virginia Festival of the Book announced they were canceling the annual event, which typically draws about 20,000 people to Charlottesville in mid-March.   

Gov. Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency on Thursday, March 12, in response to the spread of COVID-19 in Virginia. As of Thursday, 17 people in Virginia had tested positive for the virus, and 117 tested negative, according to the state Department of Health. In addition to issuing numerous updates regarding COVID-19 cases, and testing and containment/prevention efforts in the commonwealth, the department maintains a collection of resources on COVID-19 for various audiences, including businesses, educational institutions, healthcare workers and the general public.

The governor banned state employees throughout Virginia from traveling for official business outside the commonwealth for at least 30 days. He also directed his administration to implement a phased transition to teleworking for state employees. The governor called on localities and nonprofits to limit large public events, effective immediately, and took steps to cancel specially-scheduled state conferences and large events for the next 30 days.

Meanwhile, several universities and colleges, including Virginia Commonwealth University, the College of William and Mary and University of Virginia, have extended spring break, sent most students home and transitioned to online instruction for the rest of the semester. Numerous public K-12 school divisions across Virginia have canceled field trips, after-school activities and athletic events, and notified parents, students and employees that school closures are possible.

Washington

As of Wednesday, March 11, there have been 29 deaths in the state of Washington due to the coronavirus. Governor Jay Inslee previously declared a state of emergency in response to new cases of COVID-19, directing state agencies to use all resources necessary to prepare for and respond to the outbreak.

The Governor’s proclamation directs state agencies and departments to utilize state resources and do everything reasonably possible to assist affected communities responding to and recovering from COVID-19 cases. It also allows the use of the Washington National Guard, if necessary. In January the Washington Military Department activated the State Emergency Operations Center at a Level 1, the highest level, to help coordinate a statewide response.

Throughout the state, bans have been put in place on large gatherings, including temporary restrictions on gatherings of more than 250 people in King, Snohomish and Pierce Counties.

West Virginia

There are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in West Virginia. Nonetheless, in the closing days of the West Virginia Legislature, lawmakers appropriated $2 million specifically for preparation and efforts to fight the coronavirus. The budget passed and is awaiting a signature from the governor. West Virginia University has suspended in-person classes, while at least one county school system is dismissing students early for facilities cleaning and for teachers to prepare in case schools ultimately get canceled. County school superintendents will be updated on progress this Friday, May 13.

The state Department of Health and Human Resources has a hotline. Operators are available 24/7, toll-free at 1-800-887-4304 to provide accurate information about COVID-19, the risk to the public, and the state’s response. Also, public information sessions are being hosted around the state by local chambers of commerce and the state Department of Health and Human Resources 

In the news

Wisconsin

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) and the Public Health Department of Pierce County (on the Wisconsin/Minnesota border southeast of the Twin Cities) announced on Tuesday that a third COVID-19 case was confirmed in the state. In addition, a school district in Osceola, which is just north of Pierce County but along the MN-WI border northeast of the Twin Cities, cancelled all activities after an individual that tested positive for COVID-19 attended an event at the high school this past weekend.

University of Wisconsin–Madison will suspend spring semester face-to-face instruction, effective Monday, March 23. See more information about campus operations here.

On Thursday, March 12, in response to new cases of COVID-19, Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers declared a public health emergency. At the press conference held at the state’s Emergency Management Center, the Governor was joined by Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes, Secretary-designee of the Department of Health Services Andrea Palm, Emergency Management Director Darrell Williams and acting Deputy Adjutant General of the Wisconsin National Guard Joane Mathews. (Link to video)

The Governor has signed an executive order declaring a state health emergency and freeing up agency resources to combat the spread of the virus and respond to potential outbreaks.

DHS has updated its guidance relating to the virus, including the following;

  • Recommends cancelling events with 250 or more people
  • Advises against travelling out of state to areas with sustained community transmission (currently Washington, California and New York)
  • If you do travel to places with sustained community transmission, recommends isolating in your home for 14 days upon your return
  • Recommends keeping a two-week supply of food and medicine on hand, but urges the public not to hoard.
  • Urges the public to maintain good hygiene and social distancing.

Wyoming

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