Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the US – Latest State Updates – April 3, 2020

Georgia

As of April 3rd

As of April 2nd 2020 the State of Georgia has 5,444 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and has suffered 176 deaths. Yesterday, Governor Kemp issued a state-wide stay at home order via Executive Order to Ensure a Safe and Healthy Georgia. This most recent executive order rescinds and replaces the executive order issued on March 23rd and suspends any local ordinances passed since March 1st that were adopted with the stated purpose or effect of responding to the COVID-19 crisis. In short, this is operative law in the entire state.

Click here to read a summary of the executive order from our Georgia Public Policy team.

Kansas

As of April 2nd

The Legislative Coordinating Council met on 04/02/2020 at 2:00 PM to review, discuss and take possible action relating to issues addressed in the Governor’s Executive Orders 20-17 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.

Rep. Ryckman: Called meeting today to review EO 20-17.

  • Tom Day, Director of Legislative Administrative Services
    • HCR 5025 available on kslegislature.org and EO 20-16 available on gov.ks.gov. No one in attendance but available to listen via livestream.  Agenda available prior to meeting at kslegislature.gov  Documents will be available on website after the meeting. Individuals will speak name before speaking to identify them self, including votes.  No public comments. LLC cannot recess to a closed or executive meeting.  Motions will be clearly stated, and votes announced. Chairperson can sign any binding documents on behalf of LLC.

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

Executive Order 20-17 Temporary relief from certain unemployment insurance requirements in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Jill Wolters, First Assistant Revisor of Statutes, Revisors Office
    • All employers operating in Kansas are required to provide notification of the potential availability of unemployment insurance benefits at the time of separation from employment. Such notification shall be in compliance with requirements established by the Secretary of Labor.
    • The waiting week requirement for unemployment benefits, provided for in K.S.A. 44-705(d), is temporarily waived for all claimants.
    • The requirement that claimants for unemployment benefits actively seek work each week, provided for in K.S.A. 44-705(c), is temporarily waived for all claimants.
    • All other laws, regulations, or rules relating to unemployment benefits remain in effect.
    • This order supersedes any contrary order by any local health department regarding unemployment benefits and should be read in conjunction with previous executive orders is superseded by this order.
    • This order became effective immediately and will remain in force until rescinded, until May 1, 2020 or until the statewide State of Disaster Emergency proclaimed on March 12, 2020, relating to COVID-19 expires, whichever is earlier. This order may be extended as circumstances dictate.

Questions/Comments

  • Sen. Denning: Wanted to make sure that people know the legislature removed the one-week requirement prior to federal government. In SB 27 which passed before they left had people getting paid in week 3 for week 1.  Federal government states it will be paid in week 1 so want to clarify they aren’t getting paid twice for week 1.
    • Jill Wolters: We are in discussion with Governor’s office that people only get paid for week 1 and not double dipping.
    • Rep.  Ryckman: Good point Senator Denning. Sounds like staff is trying to get an answer.
  • Sen. Denning:  Revisor Reimer emailed that SB27 will work with federal requirements.
  • Rep. Ryckman: We want people who can work to work safely.  Is it necessary for the federal requirements to continue to look for a job?
    • Sen. Denning: I work for a company that was asked to hard stop so we furloughed staff.  We will hire them back and don’t want them out looking for another.  They will apply for a 7A SBA loan. One of the requirements is you keep paying them.
  • Rep. Ryckman: There are companies looking for employees but can’t compete with the federal $600 a week plus state funds so I want to have this provision looked at to see if necessary.
  • Sen. Wagle: I was hopeful we would have Governor’s staff here.  My county commissioner contacted me and told me that people are coming to Wichita for elective abortions when the Governor is telling us to stay home. They requested a response from the Governor. Tags from cars are from out of state.  They have not received an answer from the Governor yet. Need PPE going to places that need it and not to this clinic.

Missouri

As of April 2nd

Missouri is now reporting 1,834 cases of coronavirus and 21 deaths. One week ago, we were at 502 cases and 8 deaths. Missouri recently experienced the largest percentage increase of new cases in the country. On Monday, April 6, Governor Parson’s social distancing order will expire. This order prohibits gatherings of more than 10 people. We expect him to reauthorize this order tomorrow morning, Friday April 3. 

Stay at Home Orders 

Andrew, Bates, Caldwell, Chariton, Christian, Clinton, Crawford, Dade, Gasconade, Harrison, Howell, Johnson, Lafayette, Lincoln, Linn, Maries, Marion, Nodaway, Perry, Phelps, St. Charles, St. Francois, Stoddard, Taney, and Webster counties have joined the list, in the last week, of local jurisdictions in Missouri issuing Stay at Home orders. 

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

  • Cities: Branson, Columbia, Hannibal, Kansas City, Maryville, Nixa, Ozark, Rolla, Springfield, St. Joseph, St. Louis City, West Plains 
  • Counties: Andrew, Bates, Boone, Caldwell, Cass, Chariton, Christian, Clay, Clinton, Cole, Crawford, Dade, Gasconade, Greene, Harrison, Howell, Jackson, Jefferson, Johnson, Lafayette, Lincoln, Linn, Maries, Marion, Nodaway, Perry, Phelps, Platte, Randolph, Ray, St. Charles, St. Francois, St. Louis, Stoddard, Taney, Webster 

Governor Announces Budgetary Withholds 

Governor Parson announced $175,983,774 in withholds from the current fiscal year’s operating funds. You can find the complete list of 24 items here. Below are the 10 largest cuts. 

  • Four-Year Higher Education Institutions – $61,321,869 
  • Facilities Maintenance Reserve Fund Transfer – $54,220,625 
  • DNR Multipurpose Water Resource Program – $12,161,012 
  • Community Colleges – $11,605,267 
  • OA Missouri Consolidated Health Care Plan Excess Authority – $7,129,018 
  • DED Division of Tourism – $6,479,780 
  • Fast-Track Workforce Incentive Grant Fund – $5,000,000 
  • Missouri One Start Job Program Development – $3,313,635 
  • Drug Treatment Courts – $2,995,616 
  • DED Missouri Technology Corporation – $2,910,000 

Missouri Unemployment Claims Skyrocket 

More than 104,000 Missourians filed new unemployment claims last week, recording a number 26 times higher than it was three weeks ago. 

The Legislature will Return to the Capitol Next Week 

The Missouri House and Senate will return to the Capitol next week to finish work on a supplemental spending bill for the current fiscal year. The House approved this measure on March 18. The bill approved by the House included $40 million for emergency coordination by the Department of Health and Senior Services. The Senate will increase this spending dramatically to account for money that the state will receive from the CARES Act and the House will approve the Senate version on the same day (Wednesday) that the Senate votes on it.  

The federal government is paying a larger share of the Medicaid program and sending direct aid to the states, with each state to receive at least $1.5 billion to support general budgets for costs ranging from public schools to prisons. 

The Senate will also approve the two-year extension of the FRA tax, which has already been approved by the House. This bill will allow Missouri hospitals to pull down an additional $2 billion in federal funding. 

Other Actions 

Governor Parson mobilized the National Guard to assist local and state civilian authorities respond to the pandemic. 

The Missouri Department of Natural Resources is closing all or parts of five state parks through the end of April after officials said too many people packed in to those facilities last weekend.  

Governor Parson issued an Executive Order suspending penalties for conceal carry license renewals. 

Governor Parson directed the Department of Health and Senior Services to prohibit the operation of coin-operated amusement devices and slot machines. These machines, often referred to as “grey machines” because of their questionable legality, had been the subject legislative attempts to both classify them as illegal and remove them and legalize them. 

Several state agencies and the National Army Corps of Engineers are evaluating facilities that could be used as temporary hospitals if Missouri’s hospitals become overcrowded. Some of the sites that have been discussed include: the Edward Jones Dome, the Hearnes Center, Hy-Vee Arena, and the Show-Me Center. Gov. Parson has been careful to say that they are monitoring the situations at Missouri’s hospitals and will only use these sites if it looks like hospitals are going to become overcrowded. 

Candidate Filing Comes to a Close 

The deadline for candidates to file for office closed this week with little in the way of surprises. Eric Greitens did not file a primary challenge to Governor Parson, but Saundra McDowell, former Republican nominee for State Auditor, did. Her candidacy will have a very limited impact on the race. Rep. Matt Sain (D-Kansas City) was the only incumbent legislator who did not file for reelection. 

Oregon

As of April 2nd

Lots of updates today: Governor Brown announced that she will wait to call a special session until we see how the CARES Act meets Oregon’s needs. Speaker of the House Tina Kotek soon after announced that—though she supports the Governor’s decision—she will pursue convening Oregon’s Emergency Board to “provide some relief until the federal stimulus from the CARES Act reaches Oregonians’ pocketbooks.”  

Governor Brown also announced the launch of the Coronavirus Small Business Resource Navigator. More on that below.

In other news: Portland elected leaders sent a letter to state and federal officials asking that they waive rent and mortgage payments for individuals and businesses; estimated state allocations of the CARES Act are available and Oregon stands to get $1.6 billion; and Oregon’s confirmed cases and deaths from COVID-19 continue to rise. 

State Updates:  

  • Governor Brown won’t be convening a special session any time soon: The Governor issued a press release today to say she is waiting to see how the CARES Act dollars meet Oregon’s needs before calling a session. “We want to make sure our scarce state dollars are focused on filling in gaps left by the federal stimulus package, not duplicating efforts. Once we have sufficient clarity about the federal stimulus, I will call a special session and ask lawmakers to take further action.”Read the full press release here.  
  • Emergency Board appears likely: Shortly after the Governor’s press release went out, Speaker of the House Tina Kotek issued a statement saying that she supports Governor Brown’s decision and will “work to get more support to Oregonians through Emergency Board funding.” Emergency Board funds will be limited, but Kotek says “they could be allocated strategically to provide some relief until the federal stimulus from the CARES Act reaches Oregonians’ pocketbooks.” 
    • Context: HB 5050 allocated $75,000,000 to the E-Board in 2019. March 9th action from the E-Board is here. The E-Board spent a total of $24,350,000 in 2019, so the remaining balance is around $50M.  
  • Coronavirus Small Business Resource Navigator: Governor Kate Brown announced the launch of a new tool that aims to connect small businesses to financial support and information they need to stay in business through the COVID-19 crisis. Business Oregon will lead the new Small Business Resource Navigator, with support from several state agencies including the Oregon Employment Department, the Oregon Secretary of State, and the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services. The Resource Navigator will include a hotline and a website containing comprehensive information on key programs for small businesses, available at oregon4biz.com, with access to: 
  • Small Business Association programs established by the recently passed federal CARES Act, including: the Paycheck Protection ProgramEconomic Injury Disaster Loans, and Debt Relief programs  
  • State of Oregon programs, including the Entrepreneurial Development Loan Fund 
  • Local government programs, such as the South Central Oregon Economic Development Development District Economic Relief Loan Fund for Small Businesses 
  • More resources will be rapidly added to the Resource Navigator website on an ongoing basis 
  • A hotline and email will be available for small business owners to get more information on accessing financial support at the local, state, and federal levels 
  • Moratorium on commercial evictions, strengthened ban on residential evictions: Governor Kate Brown issued Executive Order 20-13 yesterday, which temporarily bans commercial evictions and strengthens the moratorium on residential evictions. Read the full order here

Local Updates: 

  • Wheeler, Eudaly, Fritz, and Hardesty call for waiving rent and mortgage payments: A letter signed Wednesday by Mayor Ted Wheeler and Commissioners Chloe Eudaly, Amanda Fritz and Jo Ann Hardesty calls on state and federal elected officials Wednesday to waive payments for those “substantially impacted by COVID-19” so renters, homeowners and business owners don’t accrue insurmountable debt while deferring their rent or mortgage payments. Read more here.  
  • May ballots will be out at the end of the month, and voters will be asked to weigh in on two local measures—for regional homeless services funding, and to renew Portland’s local gas tax. Willamette Week has more, noting “proponents say the need for the dollars is greater than ever.”  

COVID-19 Update: 

Oregon News Related to COVID-19 

Resources 

Nonprofits & Small Businesses 

CARES Act 

General Resources 

Tennessee

As of April 2nd

The total number of positive cases in the state stands at 2,845 with the most cases now in Davidson County (Nashville-617) followed by Shelby County (Memphis-570). There are 32 confirmed deaths in the state and 263 hospitalizations.

More information from the COVID-19 Unified Command can be found HERE.

Health Response

Today, Gov. Lee signed Executive Order 23 requiring that Tennesseans stay home unless they are carrying out essential activities as data shows an increase in citizen movement across the state.

Data from the Tennessee Department of Transportation analyzed traffic patterns for March 2020. While safer at home measures and further restrictions on businesses showed a steep drop-off in vehicle movement from March 13-29, data beginning on March 30 indicates travel is trending upwards, again.

The executive order remains in effect until April 14, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. Additional information is available here.

Today, FEMA approved Tennessee’s COVID-19 major disaster declaration. This accelerates efforts to expand statewide capacity by an additional 7,000 beds. The state is assessing sites across Tennessee to build capacity and create Alternate Healthcare Facilities.

  • The Music City Center in downtown Nashville will be transformed into a COVID Positive Non-Acute Alternate Healthcare Facility.  It will serve COVID patients who need hospital care, but do not require critical care. The current plan for the Music City Center is to provide more than 1600 Patient Care Spaces.
  • In Memphis, the Corps will be constructing a COVID positive Non-Acute Alternate Healthcare facility at Gateway Shopping Center. Additional sites in Memphis are being actively assessed to ensure capacity in this hotspot is built up quickly and efficiently. 
  • Chattanooga Convention Center and the Knoxville Expo Center will also serve as a COVID positive Non-Acute Alternate Healthcare facility.

In a conference call with legislators Wednesday, Gov. Lee indicated that his COVID-19 Unified Command is planning for a “surge” in the next 2-4 weeks that could overwhelm the state’s hospital systems. “We know based on modeling we’re looking at that we will have a bed shortage, both with hospital beds as well as ICU beds. We’re taking that very seriously,” Unified Command Director Stuart McWhorter said.

Economic Response

The Department of Labor & Workforce Development released the latest number of new unemployment claims filed for the Week ending March 28 (see graph below). Among the new claims, 32,246 came from northern Middle Tennessee and 20,025 came from East Tennessee. 

Cities’ Response

Two assessment center locations are currently active and serving the public in Nashville. Nashville’s police chief indicated that every day, MNPD has between 25 and 30 officers on self-quarantine awaiting coronavirus test results.  On Tuesday night alone, he said, they had two officers exposed who are now self-quarantined.

Nashville Post reports more than 160 employees of the three largest health systems in Middle Tennessee are self-isolating from COVID-19, with 112 of them still waiting for their test results. 

Memphis health officials today indicated that the county needed to double its bed capacity and increase the number of ICU beds by six to eight times in anticipation of the surge. They also indicated they will need three times the roughly 700 ventilators it currently has on hand.

Virginia

As of April 3rd

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam has ordered a hiring freeze at state agencies, elimination of agency discretionary spending and revisions to the biennial spending plan set to take effect on July 1 as the commonwealth continues to grapple with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a press conference Friday, Northam said a surge in unemployment has forced state officials to upgrade the state employment commission’s server capacity and expand call center staffing. More than 112,000 Virginians applied for unemployment benefits in the past week, more than doubling the previous week’s applications and an increase of more than 5,000 percent compared to the same period last year. Medicaid enrollment also has jumped; more than 400,000 Virginians have now enrolled in the state-run health insurance program.

The more densely populated Richmond, Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads regions have shown the greatest numbers of job losses and COVID-19 cases. The governor said he had approved plans to build temporary hospital facilities at the Dulles Expo Center in Northern Virginia, as well as at the Richmond and Hampton Roads convention centers, to alleviate pressure on existing hospital facilities. Design and construction are expected to take six weeks, which would allow the first patients to be admitted at the temporary facilities in mid-May, just as the outbreak is expected to peak in Virginia, Northam said.

Meanwhile, the governor faces an April 11 deadline to veto or amend bills recently approved by the General Assembly. Among them are a series of business-oriented measures, including bills to hike the minimum wage and empower local government to allow public employees to engage in collective bargaining. Northam has said he is discussing the economic impacts of the bills with business and labor groups, as well as delegates and senators. State agency directors have been instructed to plan for budget cuts and avoid any new spending commitments in the fiscal year starting July 1.

House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn told the Richmond Times-Dispatch on Friday that legislators will reconvene on April 22 to consider the governor’s amendments or vetoes, as required under the state constitution, but not likely inside the Capitol. Her preference is to hold reconvened session outdoors, with a backup location indoors, although sites are still being evaluated.

Municipal elections in May and congressional primaries in June remain on schedule. Northam has encouraged all Virginians to vote by absentee ballot.

Virginia remains under a statewide stay-at-home order until June 10. Public schools are closed through the rest of the academic year; colleges and universities have transitioned to online instruction; correctional facilities have suspended visitation; most entertainment and recreational activities and businesses have been shut down; and restaurants and breweries have had to shift to delivery or drive-through to serve the public.

Northam plans to hold another press conference on Monday.

COVID-19 could change the face of commercial real estate in Pittsburgh

By Mark Belko

As offices empty out and social distancing becomes the norm, the COVID-19 pandemic could bring big changes to the commercial real estate market.

With so many people now working from home, some local real estate experts believe the new norm could prompt companies to re-evaluate the need for all of that office space they are renting in Downtown skyscrapers or elsewhere.

Read the full article

How Gov. Wolf’s business shutdown bit him where it hurts | John Baer

By John Baer

When Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf shut down all but “life-sustaining” businesses to stem the spread of coronavirus, he couldn’t have known the action would bite him in a prized place, his Mr. Clean image.

But it did.

A week after Wolf’s March 19 order to shutter thousands of businesses across the state, Spotlight PA reported that Wolf’s former kitchen cabinet company did not shut down – it got a waiver to stay open.

Read the full article

Pa. senators want to know more about Gov. Tom Wolf’s post-COVID-19 plan to ‘a return to normalcy’

By Jan Murphy

On the same day Gov. Tom Wolf expanded his stay-at-home order to the entire state to slow the spread of the coronavirus, a majority of Pennsylvania senators sent him a letter calling on him to “expedite opening as many businesses as possible at this time”.

The letter signed by 29 senators commends Wolf and his team for their efforts to contain COVID-19 but calls that a short-term plan.

Read the full article

Laid off workers battle outages, jammed phone lines as Pa. unemployment system buckles from coronavirus surge

By Rebecca Moss

HARRISBURG — Each day last week, Shawn McCreary settled into a new and strange routine.

Instead of going to his job in Mechanicsburg as a substitute special education teacher, McCreary picked up the phone and began calling the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry’s unemployment compensation hotline, hoping to reach anyone who could help him.

Read the full article

Trump declares federal disaster in Pennsylvania

By Michael Rubinkam, Mark Scolforo and Claudia Lauer

HARRISBURG -— The president declared a major disaster in Pennsylvania on Monday night, capping off a day that saw nearly 700 new cases in the state as Gov. Tom Wolf extended the closing of schools and nonessential businesses indefinitely.

The president’s declaration makes federal funding available to eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations for emergency protective measures, including direct federal assistance, for all areas in the state affected by COVID-19.

Read the full article

Georgia COVID-19 Update

Introduction

As of April 2nd 2020 the State of Georgia has 5,444 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and has suffered 176 deaths. Yesterday, Governor Kemp issued a state-wide stay at home order via Executive Order to Ensure a Safe and Healthy Georgia. This most recent executive order rescinds and replaces the executive order issued on March 23rd and suspends any local ordinances passed since March 1st that were adopted with the stated purpose or effect of responding to the COVID-19 crisis. In short, this is operative law in the entire state. Highlights of the executive order include:

  1. State-wide stay at home order for all residents
  2. Restrictions on all visitors to those under stay at home orders
  3. Limiting all travel outside of the home unless fulfilling essential services as defined in the order
  4. Constraining business to minimum basic operations as defined in the order, but for Minimum Basic Business Operations and “critical infrastructure” as defined by the US Department of Homeland Security
  5. Prohibits dine-in service at restaurants and social clubs but permits takeout, curbside, pick-up and delivery services

The Georgia Department of Economic Development has been authorized to issue guidance to any business, corporation, organization or trade group regarding its status as critical infrastructure.

In regard to enforcement, the Georgia National Guard and Department of Public Safety are tasked with providing the resources as requested to assist with the enforcement of the Order. Moreover, the Department of Public Health, the Department of Public Safety, or any other state department or state officer deputized by the Governor or Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security are authorized to mandate the closure of any business, establishment, corporation, non-profit corporation or organization that does not comply with the Order for a period not to extend beyond the term of the Order.

Any person who violates the Order will be guilty of a misdemeanor.

Notably, the Order, which goes into effect on Friday April 3, only extends until April 13th. That is, in part, due to the fact that the state of emergency, declared on March 14th, is only in place for a maximum of 30 days per OC.G.A. 38-3-51 9 (a). That being said, the resolution passed by the Georgia General Assembly did not place a time limit on further concurrence should the Governor extend the State of Emergency. However, it did assert their right to terminate the state of emergency at any time. As such, there is a good argument that the General Assembly has given the governor the power to renew after 30 days without the necessity of it reconvening to ratify the renewal. 

Executive Order to Ensure a Safe and Healthy Georgia

Per the April 2nd Executive Order All residents and visitors of the State of Georgia shall practice social distancing and sanitation in accordance with this Order and guidelines published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

  1. No business, establishment, corporation, non-profit corporation, organization, or county or municipal government is permitted to allow more than ten (10) persons to be gathered at a single location if such gathering requires persons to stand or to be seated within six (6) feet of any other person. This does not apply to cohabitating persons outside of their homes, family units or roommates residing together in private homes, or entities defined as “Critical Infrastructure”
  2. All residents and visitors of the State of Georgia are required to shelter in place within their homes or places of residence, meaning remaining in their place of residence and taking every possible precaution to limit social interaction to prevent the spread or infection of COVID-19 to themselves or any other person, unless they are:
    • Conducting and participating in Essential Services
    •  Performing Necessary Travel
    • Are engaged in the performance of, or travel to and from, the performance of Minimum Basic Operations for a business, establishment, corporation, or organization not classified as Critical infrastructure; or
    • Are part of the workforce for Critical Infrastructure and are actively engaged in the performance of, or travel to and from their respective employment
  3.  Essential Services permitted pursuant to the provisions of this Order are limited to the following:
    • Obtaining necessary supplies and services for family or household members, such as food and supplies for household consumption and use, medical supplies or medication, supplies and equipment needed to work from home, and products needed to maintain safety, sanitation, and essential maintenance of the home or residence. Preference should be given to online ordering, home delivery, and curbside pick-up services wherever possible as opposed to in-store shopping.
    • Engaging in activities essential for the health and safety of family or household members, such as seeking medical, behavioral health, or emergency services.
    • Engaging in outdoor exercise activities so long as a minimum distance of six (6) feet is maintained during such activities between all persons who are not occupants of the same household or residence.
  4. Necessary Travel permitted under this Order is limited to such travel as is required to conduct or participate in Essential Services, Minimum Basic Operations, or Critical Infrastructure as defined by this Order.
  5. Minimum Basic Operations are limited to:
    • The minimum necessary activities to maintain the value of a business, establishment, corporation, non-profit corporation, or organization, provide services, manage inventory, ensure security, process payroll and employee benefits, or for related functions. Such minimum necessary activities include remaining open to the public subject to the restrictions of this Order.
    • The minimum necessary activities to facilitate employees or volunteers being able to work remotely from their residences or members or patrons being able to participate remotely from their residences.
    • Instances where employees are working outdoors without regular contact with other persons, such as delivery services, contractors, landscape businesses, and agricultural industry services.
  6. All businesses, establishments, corporations, non-profit corporations, or organizations that are not Critical Infrastructure shall only engage in Minimum Basic Operations as defined in this Order during the effective dates of this Order. Such entities shall also implement measures which mitigate the exposure and spread of COVID-19 among its workforce. Such measures shall include the following:
    • Screening and evaluating workers who exhibit signs of illness, such as a fever over 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit, cough, or shortness of breath;
    • Requiring workers who exhibit signs of illness to not report to work or to seek medical attention;
    • Enhancing sanitation of the workplace as appropriate;
    • Requiring hand washing or sanitation by workers at appropriate places within the business location;
    • Providing personal protective equipment as available and appropriate to the function and location of the worker within the business location;
    • Prohibiting gatherings of workers during working hours;
    • Permitting workers to take breaks and meals outside, in their office or personal workspace, or in such other areas where proper social distancing is attainable;
    • Implementing teleworking for all possible workers;
    • Implementing staggered shifts for all possible workers;
    • Holding all meetings and conferences virtually, wherever possible;
    • Delivering intangible services remotely wherever possible;
    • Discouraging workers from using other workers’ phones, desks, offices, or other work tools and equipment;
    • Prohibiting handshaking and other unnecessary person-to-person contact in the workplace;
    • Placing notices that encourage hand hygiene at the entrance to the workplace and in other workplace areas where they are likely to be seen;
    • Suspending the use of Personal Identification Number (“PIN”) pads, PIN entry devices, electronic signature capture, and any other credit card receipt signature requirements to the extent such suspension is permitted by agreements with credit card companies and credit agencies;
    • Enforcing social distancing of non-cohabitating persons while present on such entity’s leased or owned property;
    • For retailers and service providers, providing for alternative points of sale outside of buildings, including curbside pick-up or delivery of products and/or services if an alternative point of sale is permitted under Georgia law;
    • Increasing physical space between workers and customers;
    • Providing disinfectant and sanitation products for workers to clean their workspace, equipment, and tools;
    • Increasing physical space between workers’ worksites to at least six (6) feet.
  7. The term “Critical Infrastructure” shall refer to businesses, establishments, corporations, non-profit corporations, and organizations as defined by the US Department of Homeland Security as “essential critical infrastructure workforce,” in guidance dated March 19, 2020, and revised on March 28, 2020, and those suppliers which provide essential goods and services to the critical infrastructure workforce as well as entities that provide legal services, home hospice, and non-profit corporations or non-profit organizations that offer food distribution or other health or mental health services. The operation of Critical Infrastructure shall not be impeded by county, municipal, or local ordinance. Critical Infrastructure that continues in-person operation during the effective dates of this Order shall implement measures which mitigate the exposure and spread of COVID-19 among its workforce. Such measures may include, but shall not be limited to:
    • Screening and evaluating workers who exhibit signs of illness,  such as a fever over 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit, cough, or shortness of breath;
    • Requiring workers who exhibit signs of illness to not report to work or to seek medical attention;
    • Enhancing sanitation of the workplace as appropriate;
    • Requiring hand washing or sanitation by workers at appropriate places within the business location;
    • Providing personal protective equipment as available and appropriate to the function and location of the worker within the business location;
    • Prohibiting gatherings of workers during working hours;
    • Permitting workers to take breaks and lunch outside, in their office or personal workspace, or in such other areas where proper social distancing is attainable;
    • Implementing teleworking for all possible workers;
    • Implementing staggered shifts for all possible workers;
    • Holding all meetings and conferences virtually, wherever possible;
    • Delivering intangible services remotely wherever possible;
    • Discouraging workers from using other workers’ phones, desks, offices, or other work tools and equipment;
    • Providing disinfectant and sanitation products for workers to clean their workspace, equipment, and tools;
    • Prohibiting handshaking and other unnecessary person-to-person contact in the workplace; and
    • Placing notices that encourage hand hygiene at the entrance to the workplace and in other workplace areas where they are likely to be seen; and
    • Suspending the use of Personal Identification Number (“PIN”) pads, PIN entry devices, electronic signature capture, and any other credit card receipt signature requirements to the extent such suspension is permitted by agreements with credit card companies and credit agencies.
  8. The Georgia Department of Economic Development is authorized to issue guidance to any business, corporation, organization, or industry trade group regarding its status as Critical Infrastructure. This guidance shall not require a finding of fact but shall be in writing and shall be considered a final agency action for the purpose of proceedings under Code Section 50-13-19.
  9. All restaurants and private social clubs shall cease providing dine-in services. Takeout, curbside pick-up, and delivery are permitted in accordance with the provisions of this Order. This provision shall not limit the operation of dine-in services in hospitals, healthcare facilities, nursing homes, or other long-term care facilities; however, to the extent possible, such facilities should offer in-room dining.
  10. All gyms, fitness centers, bowling alleys, theaters, live performance venues, operators of amusement rides as defined by Code Section 25-15-51, body art studios permitted pursuant to Code Section 31-4o-2, businesses registered pursuant to Code Sections 43¬10-11 and 43-10-18, estheticians as defined by Code Section 43-10¬1(8), hair designers as defined by Code Section 43-10-1(9), persons licensed to practice massage therapy pursuant to Code Section 43¬24A-8, and businesses which possess a license to operate as or otherwise meet the definition of “bar” as defined by Code Section 3¬1-2(2.1), shall cease in-person operations and shall close to the public while this Order is in effect.
  11. Persons required to shelter in place under any provision of this Order shall not receive visitors, except as follows:
    • Visitors providing medical, behavioral health, or emergency services or medical supplies or medication, including home hospice;
    • Visitors providing support for the person to conduct activities of daily living or instrumental activities of daily living;
    • Visitors providing necessary supplies and services, such as food and supplies for household consumption and use, supplies and equipment needed to work from home, and products needed to maintain safety, sanitation, and essential maintenance of the home or residence; or
    • Visitors received during end-of-life circumstances.
  12. To the extent practicable under the circumstances, visitors shall maintain a minimum distance of six (6) feet between themselves and all other occupants of the person’s home or residence. Any visitors visiting for the sole purpose of delivering medication, supplies, or other tangible goods shall, to the extent practicable, deliver such items in a manner that does not require in-person contact or require the deliverer to enter the person’s home or residence.
  13. The provisions of this Order related to visitors listed in the immediately preceding paragraph shall be strictly enforced against nursing homes or other long-term care facilities, including inpatient hospice, assisted living communities, personal care homes, intermediate care homes, community living arrangements, and community integration homes.
  14. The Department of Public Health, the Department of Public Safety, or any other state department or state officer deputized by the Governor or the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency are, after providing reasonable notice, authorized to mandate the closure of any business, establishment, corporation, non-profit corporation, or organization not in compliance with this Order for a period not to extend beyond the term of this Order.
  15. Pursuant to Code Section 38-3-51, the powers of counties and cities conveyed in Titles 36 and 38, including those specific powers enumerated in Code Sections 36-5-22.1 and 36-35-3 are hereby suspended to the extent of suspending enforcement of any local ordinance or order adopted or issued since March 1, 2020, with the stated purpose or effect of responding to a public health state of emergency, ordering residents to shelter-in-place, ordering a quarantine, or combatting the spread of coronavirus or COVID-19 that in any way conflicts, varies, or differs from the terms of this Order. Enforcement of all such ordinances and orders is hereby suspended and no county or municipality shall adopt any similar ordinance or order while this Order is in effect, except for such ordinances or orders as are designed to enforce compliance with this Order

Critical Infrastructure

The Executive Order exempts “Critical Infrastructure” from the shut-down order and stay at home provisions. “Critical Infrastructure” refers to businesses, establishments, corporations, non-profit corporations, and organizations as defined by the US Department of Homeland Security as “essential critical infrastructure workforce,” in guidance dated March 19, 2020, and revised on March 28, 2020. It also includes those suppliers which provide essential goods and services to the critical infrastructure workforce as well as entities that provide legal services, home hospice, and non-profit corporations or non-profit organizations that offer food distribution or other health or mental health services. The order makes it clear that the operation of Critical Infrastructure shall not be impeded by county, municipal, or local ordinance.

The US Department of Homeland Security Guidance that is referenced in the executive order exempts businesses in the following industries:

  • Health Care/Public Health
  • Law Enforcement, Public Safety, and Other First Responders
  • Food and Agriculture
  • Energy (including electricity, petroleum, natural gas, natural gas liquids, propane and other liquid fuels)
  • Water and Wastewater
  • Transportation and Logistics
  • Public Works and Infrastructure Support Services
  • Communications and Information Technology
  • Other Community or Government Based Operations and Essential Functions
  • Hazardous Materials
  • Financial Services
  • Chemical
  • Defense Industrial Base
  • Commercial Facilities
  • Residential/Shelter Facilities and Services
  • Hygiene Products and Services

Select Industry Profiles

Residential: The Department of Homeland Security exempts residential construction workers in relation to activities to ensure additional housing units that can be made available to combat the nation’s existing housing supply shortage.

Commercial Facilities: Workers who support the supply chain of building materials from production through application/installation, including cabinetry, fixtures, doors, cement, hardware, plumbing, electrical, heating/cooling, refrigeration, appliances, paint/coatings, and employees who provide services that enable repair materials and equipment for essential functions are exempt. Additionally, workers supporting ecommerce through distribution, warehouse, call center facilities, and other essential operational support functions and workers in hardware and building materials stores, consumer electronics, technology and appliances retail, and related merchant wholesalers and distributors – with reduced staff to ensure continued operations are exempt. Finally, those distributing, servicing, repairing, installing residential and commercial HVAC systems, boilers, furnaces and other heating, cooling, refrigeration, and ventilation equipment are exempt.

Critical Manufacturing: Any manufacturing facility that produces materials necessary to sustain other “critical infrastructure” is exempt. This includes manufacturing facilities that produce materials for medical supply chains, industrial minerals and metals, critical chemicals, food and agriculture etc.

Transportation: The exemptions provided to the transportation industry are focused on maintaining logistical networks to sustain the critical industries. Additionally, mass public transit service workers are permitted to continue work as they provide a portion of the population with needed mobility.

Financial: Any workers need to provide, process and maintain systems for processing, verification, and recording of financial transactions and services, including payment, clearing, and settlement; wholesale funding; insurance services; consumer and commercial lending; and capital markets activities.

Emergency Order Powers

As previously mentioned, the action taken by Governor Kemp in relation to COVID-19 today is pursuant to the State of Emergency Order issued on March 14th which was ratified by the General Assembly, two days later, on March 16th

Under O.C.G.A. §38-3-51, the Governor can declare a State of Emergency due to a health crisis but must also call the General Assembly into a special session “for the purpose of concurring with or terminating the public health emergency.”  The state of emergency remains in effect for 30 days unless expressly extended by the Governor.

Among the powers enumerated by O.C.G.A. §38-3-51, the state of emergency gives the governor considerable power to deal with our present health care crisis. For more information on the powers given to the Governor and Department of Health via the State of Emergency order see our March 14th Soapbox blog post, “Georgia Governor Brian Kemp Declares State of Emergency to Deal with Coronavirus Pandemic and Calls a Special Session of the General Assembly”.

DPH Administrative Orders

Pursuant to the Georgia Code and expanded powers granted under the Emergency declaration, the Department of Public Health issued two Administrative Orders, one on March 23rd and one on March 27th. Further regulatory announcements will likely come due to the latest stay at home executive order.

The March 23rd order addressed isolation and quarantine policies and procedures. Now that the Governor has put in place a state-wide stay at home order that applies to everyone, these administrative regulations are no long applicable.

Similarly, much of the March 27th administrative order is no longer relevant aside from administrative regulations on the staff of any Nursing, Long-Term Care Facilities and Early Child Education Programs, Non-profit food services and any other businesses licensed and monitored by DHS. Said regulations were reaffirmed and in some cases strengthened in the executive order.

Conclusion

The state-wide stay at home Order ends what was a local government driven process that resulted in a myriad of restrictions throughout the state. However, the Executive Order will certainly be followed up by regulations from the Department of Public Health and the publication of a process by which the Department of Economic Development will determine critical versus non-critical business in relation to the US Department of Homeland Security Guidance. As previously mentioned the Executive Order extends through April 13.

If you have any questions please contact the Dentons Public Policy Team.