Executive order lets New York take, redistribute ventilators + 23 other updates from the 6 hardest-hit states

Below are 24 updates from the six states hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic:

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

New York (92,743 cases as of 7:25 a.m. CDT April 3)

1. In a media briefing April 3, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he has signed an executive order allowing the state to gather ventilators, personal protective equipment and other supplies from hospitals where they are not being used and redeploy them to hospitals that need them urgently.

The institutions will either get their ventilators back, or they will be reimbursed for the equipment.

"I am not going to be in a position where people are dying and [we] have several hundred ventilators in our state somewhere else," he said.

When asked if he is worried that healthcare organizations will sue if the state takes their ventilators, Mr. Cuomo said that if organizations "want to sue me for borrowing excess ventilators to save lives, sue me."

"I will borrow them and return them, or I will pay you for a new one," he added.

2. During the April 3 briefing, Mr. Cuomo doubled down on his call for a rolling deployment program at the national level, where equipment, personal protective gear, ventilators and staff are deployed to areas of the country that need it most at the moment and then are redeployed to other parts of the country as those areas reach their apex — the point at which the most people need hospital care.

"Why not?" Mr. Cuomo said. "What is the alternative to the looming crisis nationwide?"

"There is no abstraction or philosophy with this," he added. "This is — a person walks in a door, do you have a bed, do you have a staff person, are they wearing PPE and do you have a ventilator, and are they all present at that moment when the person walks in the door?"

3. The U.S. Department of Justice and HHS will distribute hoarded personal protective equipment to healthcare systems in New York and New Jersey. The FBI discovered the supplies during an enforcement operation and alerted the HHS, which used its authority under the Defense Production Act to order that the supplies be turned over to the United States.

The supplies include approximately 192,000 N95 respirator masks, 598,000 medical grade gloves and 130,000 surgical masks, procedure masks, N100 masks, surgical gowns, disinfectant towels, bottles of hand sanitizer and other supplies.

4. The outsize demand for medical supplies across the country has resulted in New York paying up to 15 times the normal price to acquire the equipment and supplies, ProPublica reports. According to payment data provided by state officials, the state has paid $7.50 each for masks, which is around 15 times their usual cost; $2,795 for infusion pumps, which is more than two times the normal price; and $248,841 for a portable X-ray machine, which typically costs $30,000 to $80,000.

5. The New York State Department of Financial Services will require health plans to defer payment of premiums due under individual and small group commercial health insurance plans through June 1 for those experiencing financial hardship due to the pandemic.

The New York State of Health insurance marketplace and the New York State Department of Financial Services will also extend the special enrollment period through May 15.

6. There needs to be a national draft of physicians and healthcare workers, so they can be sent to areas of the country they are needed most, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said, according to The New York Times.

"Unless there is a national effort to enlist doctors, nurses, hospital workers of all kinds and get them where they are needed most in the country in time," Mr. de Blasio said on MSNBC April 3, the Times reports. "I don't see, honestly, how we’re going to have the professionals we need to get through this crisis."

7. The Javits Center in New York City was recently converted into a temporary hospital to care for non-coronavirus patients, but will now accept COVID-19 patients as hospitals in the city see a huge surge of patient volume, according to the New York Daily News.

8. As the federal government considers recommending all Americans wear face coverings in public, New York City officials advised residents April 2 to cover their faces with a scarf, bandanna or other cloth when they are outside their homes, The New York Times reports. But this advice does not mean people should ease up on social distancing and staying at home as much as possible.

Read more about measures New York is taking here.

New Jersey (25,590 confirmed cases as of 7:25 a.m. CDT April 3)

1. The Department of Justice and HHS are distributing personal protective equipment seized by the FBI in a March 30 operation to front-line workers in New Jersey and New York.

Supplies include about 192,000 respirator masks and 598,000 medical gloves, as well as 130,000 masks, gowns, hand sanitizer and other disinfectant equipment.

"If you are amassing critical medical equipment for the purpose of selling it at exorbitant prices, you can expect a knock at your door," said Attorney General William Barr in an April 2 statement.

2. During his April 2 media briefing, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy ordered state police to take masks, ventilators and other protective equipment needed by healthcare facilities to slow the spread of COVID-19.

"While we look forward to these facilities cooperating with us and providing this equipment as needed, this order gives [police] the express authority to requisition it for distribution to our acute care hospitals and other healthcare facilities," the governor said. "And needless to say, they badly need the equipment."

3. As states across the country continue to face shortages of protective gear, Mr. Murphy called for an assessment of the federal government's response to the coronavirus after the crisis has subsided.

"All of us have to do one of the biggest postmortems, when the dust settles on this, in the history of our country," the governor said in an interview with CNN. "We've got to figure out how the heck we got into this spot and make sure we never get in this spot ever again."

Mr. Murphy's comments come after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on April 2 announced the formation of a bipartisan House select committee to oversee the federal government's response to the pandemic.

California (11,126 confirmed cases as of 7:25 a.m. CDT April 3)

1. California has at least 60,000 COVID-19 tests on backlog, Gov. Gavin Newsom said April 2, according to ABC 10. This backlog accounts for about 64 percent, or two-thirds, of the total tests done in the state. Currently, lags in getting test results back can be as long as 12 days in California, which experts say is leaving an incomplete picture of how widespread the novel coronavirus is in the state, according to the report. 

2. The California Department of Health is once again reporting the number of healthcare workers who test positive for COVID-19 each day, according to The San Francisco Chronicle. Earlier this week, the health department said it would cut down on the COVID-19-related data it will share with the public, including the data on healthcare workers. The move to cut data-sharing prompted outrage from nurses and other healthcare professionals in the state who said the infection details are crucial to combat the virus' spread.

On April 2, the state said 127 healthcare workers were infected. This is an increase from 73 workers on March 28, the last day the state reported the numbers before stopping, according to the Chronicle. 

3. Mr. Newsom and the state's top health official have revealed that the need for 50,000 more hospital beds, 10,000 more ventilators and millions of protective masks is just "Phase 1" of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to The Sacramento Bee. 

"If you extrapolate that out … we'll exceed that Phase 1 surge capacity of 50,000 [beds] somewhere in the middle part of May," Mr. Newsom said at a press briefing, according to The Bee. 

The state has now begun preparations for Phase 2, which is expected to occur in June. During the second phase, California expects to exceed the anticipated need of 50,000 hospital beds, according to the report. 

4. USNS Mercy, the Navy hospital ship that is docked in Los Angeles, has only treated 15 patients since arriving a week ago, according to the Navy Times. Of the 15 patients treated, five of them already have been discharged. The Mercy, which has 1,000 beds, is not treating COVID-19 patients, instead focusing on patients recovering from traumatic accidents, heart problems or gastrointestinal issues.

Michigan (10,791 confirmed cases as of 7:25 a.m. CDT April 3)

1. In an April 2 interview with Nightline, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer called for a "national strategy" to address the spread of COVID-19.

"I am concerned about our allotment from the national stockpile not meeting our needs," the governor said. "This virus has no cure, it has no vaccine, and frankly every one of us needs to be spending all of our energy to combat COVID-19."

Ms. Whitmer also swatted away President Donald Trump's recent criticism of her handling of the coronavirus pandemic. "We have too many people that are getting sick, we have too many people that are dying. ... I'm doing my job," she said. "I've never taken pot shots at other politicians and I'm not going to start now."

2. Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Robert Gordon issued an emergency order on April 2 that enforces a civil penalty of up to $1,000 for people not following social distancing guidelines, reports Fox 2 Detroit. The order requires every person in the state to abide by the procedures detailed in Ms. Whitmer's executive orders during the coronavirus pandemic.

3. More than $53 million in funding is being provided to local governments in Southeast Michigan to address the coronavirus pandemic, according to Click On Detroit.

The funding, announced by Michigan Democratic Sens. Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters on April 2, is part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, which was signed into law March 27.

Funding will go toward financial assistance for businesses, job training for healthcare workers, COVID-19 testing and critical protective gear.

Louisiana (9,159 confirmed cases as of 7:25 a.m. CDT April 3)

1. Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards extended the state's stay-at-home order until April 30. The state reported an additional 2,726 confirmed cases on April 2, the largest jump in coronavirus cases in a single day for the state. 

"It is absolutely critical that each Louisianan take this stay-at-home order seriously. Act as if your life depends on it — because it does. We have seen federal modeling data that shows that Louisiana could see more than 1,800 deaths by August. It doesn't have to be that way. By working together, we can help flatten the curve in Louisiana, but we need all of our people to comply with the order," Mr. Edwards said.

2. Larrice Anderson, RN, a nurse who worked at New Orleans East Hospital and New Orleans-based LCMC Health, died April 1 from complications related to COVID-19, according to local news station WDSU. She had been a practicing nurse since 2008.

"As we battle this global pandemic, caregivers throughout the world and in our community are bravely serving on the frontlines. These medical professionals — people like Larrice — are true heroes, deserving of our gratitude for their dedication, sacrifice and service to patients during this unprecedented time. We stand with our care teams and caregivers, here and everywhere, who continue to give their all," LCMC officials said in a statement obtained by WDSU.

3. Mr. Edwards, through a proclamation, has eased some medical licensure laws to ensure healthcare professionals from outside of the state can help Louisiana battle the COVID-19 pandemic. Healthcare workers who come to the state to help from outside of Louisiana can get free flights via Delta Airlines.

4. Mr. Edwards also announced a new text alert system that will inform Louisianans of COVID-19 updates in a timely manner. State residents can opt in to the new system by texting "LACOVID" to 67283.

"I encourage all Louisianans to sign up for the new text alert system and stay up to date with the latest COVID-19 information. We are all in this together, and having the most recent information is critical in stopping the spread of COVID-19 throughout Louisiana," Mr. Edwards said.

Florida (9,008 confirmed cases as of 7:25 a.m. CDT April 3)

1. After issuing a statewide stay-at-home order, Gov. Ron DeSantis quietly signed a second executive order April 2 that appeared to override restrictions put in place by local governments to halt the spread of COVID-19, according to The Tampa Bay Times. The second order says the state guidelines that take effect April 3 "supersede any conflicting official action or order issued by local officials in response to COVID-19."

Local officials interpreted that counties and cities could not implement stricter limitations than the statewide guidelines.

However, Mr. DeSantis said late in the day April 2, after the Tampa Bay Times report, that this was not the case. "If [local governments] want to do more, they can do more in certain situations."

2. Mr. DeSantis issued an executive order that suspends evictions due to the nonpayment of rent and foreclosures for 45 days. The measure is meant to help people remain in their homes to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus. In Florida, about 227,000 people have filed for unemployment, according to The Miami Herald.


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