Californians, New Yorkers ordered to stay home & 25 other updates from the 6 hardest-hit states

President Donald Trump is pushing more action on the coronavirus pandemic to the state level.  

Below are key updates from March 19-20 from the states hardest hit by the pandemic:

Editor's Note: This is not an exhaustive list of health measures being taken by the states.

New York (5,711 cases as of 7:48 a.m. CDT March 20)

1. Gov. Andrew Cuomo mandated on March 20 that 100 percent of nonessential workers in the state stay home. He urged all residents to remain indoors and canceled all nonessential gatherings of any size. Residents were told to not to leave their homes unless the reason was "urgent and absolutely necessary."

2. The governor also said the state will offer incentives and "pay a premium" to any company that increases production of medical equipment, such as masks and surgical gowns, which are currently in short supply around the country. He also asked all healthcare facilities in New York to provide ventilators to hospitals and health systems in need.

3. The governor joined with the governors of New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania to order all personal care businesses in the region to close. The order takes effect March 21 at 8 p.m. and includes businesses in which services cannot be performed while maintaining social-distancing practices, such as barbershops, hair salons, tattoo and piercing parlors, nail salons and hair removal services.

4. With New York now home to more than 40 percent of all confirmed COVID-19 cases in the U.S., New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio renewed his call for a statewide shelter in place order, The New York Times reports. He also criticized the federal government's lack of support, suggesting that President Donald Trump activate the military to deliver needed medical supplies to hardest-hit areas.

5. Mr. de Blasio predicted that New York City will run out of supplies such as face masks, ventilators and surgical gowns by early April. Citing this shortage, he called on Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk, who tweeted this week that his companies' technology could be used to build ventilators in case of a shortage.

"New York City is buying!" Mr. de Blasio tweeted at Mr. Musk on March 19. "We will need thousands [of ventilators] in this city over the next few weeks. We're getting them as fast as we can, but we could use your help!"

6. The New York City mayor also announced on March 19 expanded COVID-19 testing capacity across the city. The tests are available by appointment only at 10 acute-care hospitals, seven Gotham Health community-based health centers and four drive-thru test sites.

Read more about other measures New York took this week here.

Washington (1,376 confirmed cases as of 7:48 a.m. CDT March 20)

1. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has ordered hospitals and surgery centers statewide to halt elective surgeries. Orthodontic and dental practices were also ordered to suspend nonemergent dental services. The new restrictions are an effort to ensure that the state has more protective equipment to the workers on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic. 

2. In response to Gov. Inslee's request for more COVID-19 tests, HHS delivered 8,000 additional sample collection test kits to the state on March 19, along with supplies of the protective equipment needed to conduct the tests.

3. CMS has approved a waiver request from the state of Washington to ease some regulatory requirements from Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP to enable the state to focus its resources on fighting the pandemic and providing the best care to beneficiaries in the state.

4. Washington's Department of Social and Health Services' has cut back its in-person services to protect staff and community members. The department assists residents in the state ink getting cash, food, child support, child care, disability determination and  employment assistance, among other services.

Read more about other measures Washington took this week here.

California (1,030 confirmed cases as of 7:48 a.m. CDT March 20)

1. California Gov. Gavin Newsom has issued a statewide stay-at-home order to slow the spread of COVID-19. The order went into effect March 19. Only businesses deemed essential by the state will remain open, including pharmacies, hospitals, gas stations and banks. 

2. The state of California has projected that about 56 percent of its population will be infected with the virus over an eight-week period. As a result, the governor has asked President Donald Trump to deploy the USNS Mercy Hospital ship to a port in Los Angeles "immediately." 

3. Mr. Newsom penned a letter to House and Senate leaders requesting $1 billion in federal funding to help with the state's COVID-19 response. The funding would be used to help support hospitals, including boosting the supply of protective gear and testing materials.

4. The Franchise Tax Board has pushed back the deadline to file for taxes to July 15 for all California taxpayers due to the coronavirus pandemic. Taxpayers will not need to claim special treatment or call the tax board to qualify.

5. Jails across the state of California are beginning to release inmates early or modify their sentences due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to local news station KTVU. The idea is to help slow the spread of COVID-19 in close quarters, like jail cells. On March 19, 314 people at Santa Rita Jail in Dublin, Calif., were approved for sentence modification or early release. Earlier this week, Santa Clara County released six inmates from custody early, according to the report. 

Read more about other measures California took this week here.

New Jersey (742 confirmed cases as of 7:48 a.m. CDT March 20)

1. New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed into law a bill that expands access to telehealth services and allows professional and occupational licensing boards to expedite licensure of out-of-state healthcare providers.

The law authorizes any healthcare professional to provide telemedicine and telehealth services during the public health emergency declared by Gov. Murphy March 9.

2. The governor and state Director of Emergency Management Col. Patrick Callahan issued an administrative order March 20 stating personal care businesses which cannot comply with social-distancing guidelines must close indefinitely. These businesses include barbershops, hair and nail salons, spas and tattoo parlors, among others.

3. The governor also issued an executive order protecting New Jersey residents from eviction or foreclosure.

The governor asked any financial institution holding residential or commercial mortgages, equity loans, lines of credit or business loans, to work with the mortgagors or loan holders to avoid foreclosure or default that results from the coronavirus pandemic.

4. The governor has implemented changes to elections in the state, including postponing the fire district election in the Township of Old Bridge and the special elections in the Township of West Amwell and Atlantic City until May 12.

All elections scheduled will be conducted solely via mail ballots.

Read more about other measures New Jersey took this week here.

Florida (432 confirmed cases as of 7:48 a.m. CDT March 20)

1. While providing an update to the state's coronavirus response March 19, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis praised the response in Broward County, which has been hit hard by the pandemic, according to WJXT/News4JAX, an independent TV station. In Broward County, there have been 96 cases of COVID-19 and two deaths. The county implemented several strategies, including using the Florida National Guard to help set up testing sites and a mobile hospital to help stem the outbreak.

2. Schools have been closed across Florida, but child daycare centers are still open in many cities, according to NBC 6 South Florida. At a news briefing earlier in the week. Gov. DeSantis said he was hesitant to close daycares statewide, since the spread of the virus is uneven and health officials have not said that it is necessary.

3. The Central Florida Expressway Authority suspended cash collection at tolls on Florida roads March 19 to protect toll collectors and drivers from potential exposure to COVID-19, TC Palm reports. Drivers will instead receive a bill in the mail for toll fees. They will have the option to pay the bill online via a credit card.

4. Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Giménez issued an executive order March 19 that mandates the closure of all "nonessential" businesses. The order and an amendment list the businesses considered essential, such as healthcare institutions and facilities, grocery stores, gas stations, banks and media services.

Broward and Palm Beach counties plan on following in Miami-Dade County's footsteps, closing nonessential businesses, such as restaurants, according to a Sun Sentinel report. At the opening of a new drive-thru testing site in Pembroke Pines, Fla., Gov. DeSantis said he will help the counties craft orders to close these businesses.

Read more about other measures Florida took this week here.

Illinois (422 cases as of 7:48 a.m. CDT March 20)

1. Gov. J.B. Pritzker issued a directive on March 19 offering relief for small businesses' sales tax payments. The state's Department of Revenue will not charge penalties or interest on late sales tax payments in March, April or May for bars and restaurants that incurred less than $75,000 in sales tax liabilities in 2019.

2.  Additionally, through emergency rules and an executive order, Mr. Pritzker's administration has relaxed rules around telehealth, increasing provider reimbursement for these services and improving patient access to virtual care.

3. During a March 19 address, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced the creation of a $100 million relief package, the Chicago Small Business Resiliency Loan Fund, which will offer low-interest loans to local businesses severely impacted by the effects of the pandemic.

4. Allison Arwady, MD, Chicago's public health commissioner, issued an order March 19 requiring all residents who either have tested positive for COVID-19 or are exhibiting symptoms of the disease to stay in their homes unless seeking essential services. Those who violate the order could be ticketed by the Chicago Police Department or the city's Department of Public Health.

Read more about other measures Illinos took this week here.

More articles on public health:
Washington nursing home with 34 coronavirus deaths mistook outbreak for pneumonia, flu
US prepares for 18-month pandemic; 52% of COVID-19 patients are younger than 55 — 8 key updates
Providence donates $500K to bolster coronavirus response efforts

 

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