Coronavirus response: Updates from the 6 hardest-hit states

President Donald Trump is pushing more action on the COVID-19 pandemic to the state level.  Below are key updates from March 16-19 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 (3,083 confirmed cases as of 7:48 a.m. CDT March 19)

1. During a March 19 news conference, Gov. Andrew Cuomo outlined the state’s three-step plan to fight the spread of the pandemic: reduce density, increase current hospital capacity and identify new hospital beds. He also announced that New York will offer residents a 90-day delay on mortgage payments based on financial hardship.

2. As part of New York’s density-reduction efforts, Mr. Cuomo issued an executive order March 18 directing all "nonessential businesses" to develop remote work policies that will go into effect March 20. Policies must include a reduction of  in-office workforces by at least 75 percent, he said.

3. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said some inmates in city jails with health conditions or who were jailed on minor charges will be released to prevent further spread of COVID-19. His announcement came in a WCBS radio interview March 18, after an inmate and a correctional officer at the city's Rikers Island prison complex both tested positive for the disease, the New York Post reports.

4. Mayor de Blasio said in a March 18 interview with local TV station NY1 that he is pushing Mr. Cuomo to implement a shelter-in-place order for New York City, according to CNBC, though the governor repeatedly has expressed reluctance to do so.

5. New York City is considering converting hotels into hospitals for patients being treated for minor conditions in order to free up more hospital beds for those who have tested positive for COVID-19, Deanne Criswell, the city's emergency management commissioner, told The Wall Street Journal. Some hotels already are being used for quarantine purposes and could potentially be used to house healthcare workers who need a safe place to stay.

Read more about New York's COVID-19 state-level response here. 

Washington (1,187 confirmed cases as of 7:48 a.m. CDT March 19)

1. On March 1, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee Gov. Inslee issued a statewide ban on evictions for the next 30 days. Under these protections, law enforcement can not enforce eviction orders based solely on missing rent payments. The measure excludes other reasons for eviction, including committing a crime on the premises.

"In this public health emergency, it's important to strengthen our social safety net to protect vulnerable Washingtonians," Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson said. "I appreciate Gov. Inslee's leadership, and the opportunity to work with his team to safeguard Washingtonians from homelessness during the COVID-19 pandemic."

2. The governor also announced a mandate that cuts the one-week wait for state residents to receive unemployment insurance. This is an extension of the governor's first emergency rule expanding unemployment insurance criteria for those affected by COVID-19. The order is retroactive for claims filed up to March 8.

3. Washington also is working to ease pressures on long-term care facilities by speeding admissions and suspending long-term care inspections and surveys.

4. Under the governor's direction, the state expanded eligibility for the Family Emergency Assistance Program to include families without children.

5. The governor also granted the state's department of revenue authority to waive penalties and interest on some late tax payments.

6. The governor also waived restrictions on hours worked for delivery drivers who deliver groceries, medical supplies and equipment, pharmaceutical drugs, fuel and pet food and supplies. 

Read an update on other measures Washington took this week here. 

California (870 confirmed cases as of 7:48 a.m. CDT March 19)

1. California Gov. Gavin Newsom has placed the National Guard on alert in response to COVID-19.  He's asking the National Guard to be ready to conduct humanitarian missions statewide, including supporting food distribution, supply lines and public safety efforts.

2. Mr. Newsom also signed a bill into law to help protect homeless Californians from COVID-19. The law allocates $100 million to local governments for shelter support and emergency housing and $50 million to purchase trailers and lease rooms in hotels.

3. The governor  issued an executive order suspending all standardized testing for California students. The order affects more than 6 million California students in K-12 schools.

"This time is stressful enough for students, families and educators without the additional burden of annual testing," Mr. Newsom said.

4. San Francisco Mayor London Breed has classified marijuana dispensaries an "essential business," according to NPR. Earlier this week, San Francisco was placed under a "shelter in place" order, which mandates that only essential businesses  remain open to support residents. At the time of the initial order, marijuana dispensaries were missing from the list, but the city revised its position a day after the order and classified cannabis as an "essential medicine."

Read more about other measures California took this week here. 

New Jersey (427 confirmed cases as of 7:48 a.m. CDT March 19) 

1. On March 16, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy recommended a statewide curfew for New Jersey residents, urging them not to leave their homes between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m., according to North The state also ordered casinos, bars, movie theaters, nightclubs, performing arts centers and gyms to shut down and remain closed until further notice.

In addition, the governor ordered public and private schools, universities and colleges to close starting March 18.

2. On March 17, the governor ordered all indoor shopping malls as well as indoor and outdoor amusement parks and centers in the state to close until further notice, reports.

3. Gatherings of more than 50 people in the state are banned, CBS New York reported.

"We mean it when we say 50 people," the governor said. "I feel awful about this. You're going to have to figure that out. We mean it. It's a real public health reality."

4. The governor said the state plans to meet with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers March 19 to discuss ways to expand hospital capacity, CBS New York reported.

5. State officials are reportedly working with Vineland, N.J.-based Inspira Health to reopen Underwood Memorial Hospital in Woodbury, N.J., to provide more space to care for COVID-19 patients, according to Philly Voice. The hospital closed acute care services in December, but continued to maintain its emergency department, a mental health program and outpatient facilities. If made available for COVID-19 care, the hospital would provide 300 new beds.

6. Ras Baraka, mayor of Newark, N.J., has imposed an 8 p.m. curfew in the city and ordered all nonessential businesses, such as salons and retail stores, to close March 18 and not reopen until April 1, reports. Restaurants can remain open but cannot serve any dine-in customers.

Florida (330 confirmed cases as of 7:48 a.m. CDT March 19)

1. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has refused to order the state's beaches to close, instead signing an order that would prohibit groups of more than 10 people to gather and would require places selling liquor to cut occupancy by half, according to NBC News.

2. The governor has ordered classrooms at schools and universities to move online or close, according to the Herald-Tribune.

3. COVID-19 testing in the state has increased, with the health department now reporting 2,800 tests up from 471 a week ago, but the governor complained that it hasn’t increased enough.

4. At the governor's direction, Florida's Division of Emergency Management Director requested federal assistance with getting more supplies March 17, including five mobile intensive care units, 5,000 ventilators, 5,000 hospital beds and 2 million N95 face masks.

5. Florida cities and counties have shut down beaches and dine-in restaurants, ABC affiliate WPLG Local 10 reports. Miami Beach, Fort Lauderdale and Hollywood closed public beaches in an effort to reduce spring break crowds, while Miami-Dade County officials closed restaurant dining rooms, gyms and banquet halls, according to WSVN, a Fox affiliate.

Illinois (290 confirmed cases as of 7:48 a.m. CDT March 19)

1. Gov. J.B. Pritzker activated about 60 National Guard service members on March 17 to assist with the state's response to the pandemic. He said on March 18 that more service members may be needed to help with "a variety of missions," such as staffing hospitals and delivering meals to children while schools are closed, per the Chicago Tribune.

2. After the number of COVID-19 cases in Illinois grew by more than 120 overnight, on March 18 the governor that he expects to see the number to continue to grow exponentially, but expressed optimism that the state will soon have access to much-needed tests, according to the Tribune.

"I believe that now that maybe in the next three days we're going to see thousands and thousands and thousands more tests for the state of Illinois," said the governor, who has been a vocal critic of the federal government's lack of coronavirus testing capability.

3. As Oak Park, a suburban village west of Chicago, reported its first positive test result for COVID-19, Mayor Anan Abu-Taleb declared a local state of emergency, and Mike Charley, the village's public health director, issued a shelter in place order that will last March 20 through April 3, NBC 5 Chicago reported. The public order makes Oak Park the first municipality in the state to receive a shelter in place mandate.


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