Coronavirus response: Updates from the 3 hardest-hit states

President Donald Trump is pushing more action on the COVID-19 pandemic to the state level. Below are some key updates from March 16-18 from the states hardest hit by the coronavirus:

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

New York (1,717 confirmed cases as of 9:40 a.m. CDT March 18)

1. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has reached an agreement with the state legislature that will guarantee job protection and pay for residents who have been quarantined due to COVID-19. 

2. New York City Mayor Bill de Blassio signed an executive order mandating that New York City hospitals and surgery centers cancel elective surgeries to help ensure they have more staff and beds to treat COVID-19 patients.

3. The governor and New York Attorney General Letitia James March 17 announced the state will halt the collection of medical and student debt owed to New York. 

4. The governor limited crowd gatherings to 50 people or less on March 16. 

5. The governor signed an executive order requiring casinos, gyms and theaters to be closed until further notice. The closures went into effect March 16 at 8 p.m. Bars and restaurants are ordered closed to dine-in customers. 

6. The mayor signed an executive order temporarily banning pool rides in Uber, Lyfts and other ride-sharing apps. 

Washington (1,014 confirmed cases as of 9:40 a.m. CDT March 18)

1. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee issued an emergency proclamation March 16 that requires a two-week closure of all restaurants, bars and recreational facilities. The limits will be in place through March 31. 

2. The governor also expanded a ban on group gatherings. As of March 16,  all events of 50 or larger statewide are prohibited. Gatherings of under 50 participants are prohibited unless social distancing criteria from the CDC are met.

3. The governor also signed a package of five COVID-19-related bills into law March 17. One law allocates $200 million to state agencies, local government and tribal governments for COVID-19 outbreak response.

4. The second law reduces credentialing delays in an effort to increase the healthcare workforce.

5. A third law ensures that hourly employees at schools throughout the state can maintain healthcare eligibility provided by the School Employees Benefits Board despite closures. 

6. The fourth law expands the shared leave program. Under the changes, employees who must isolate or quarantine may use the program. 

7. The fifth law bans most visitors to long-term care facilities. Exceptions include visitors to patients at the  end of life and visits by attorneys, administrative law judges or patient advocates. 

California (718 confirmed cases as of 9:40 a.m. CDT March 18)

1. California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed emergency legislation March 17 providing up to $1 billion to help the state combat the COVID-19 pandemic. The funding will be used to increase hospital bed capacity, buy medical equipment and protect hospitals and nursing homes most vulnerable to the virus spread. 

2. The governer also requested March 17 a federal waiver to make it easier for  California to quickly and effectively provide care to about 13 million Medi-Cal beneficiaries in California. If the waiver is granted, it will loosen rules regarding the use of telehealth and ease federal rules governing the treatment of Medicaid patients in the state. 

3. Six counties in the San Francisco Bay area were placed under a shelter-in-place order, according to USA Today. It went into effect March 17. 

4. The governor signed an executive order to ease restrictions on commercial drivers   supporting emergency efforts to deliver goods on time.

5. The governor also ordered all restaurants closed to dine-in customers on March 16. Gyms, health clubs and movie theaters were also ordered shut.

6. The governor's March 16 order also directs state health and social services agencies to redirect resources and staff to facilities that protect older adults and those at higher risk for serious illness from COVID-19.

More articles on public health:
15 coronavirus resource sites created by hospitals
5 tips on talking to patients about coronavirus, from NIH Director Dr. Anthony Fauci
5 health systems with in-house COVID-19 testing

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