Experts appointed to 7-state council to restore economy; New York policy on resuming elective procedures expected April 21 + other updates from the 6 hardest-hit states

Below are 28 updates from the six states hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic: 

New York (248,417 confirmed cases as of 7:25 a.m. CDT April 20)

1. At a media briefing April 20, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that the peak of the pandemic in the state has been more of a plateau, and now the question is what the descent will look like. 

"Assuming we are off the plateau and we are seeing a descent — how long and steep is the descent?" Mr. Cuomo said. 

The number of new COVID-19 patients walking into New York hospitals has held steady over the past day or so, and 478 New Yorkers died April 19. 

2. Mr. Cuomo called for hazard pay for frontline workers, including healthcare workers, saying they should receive a 50 percent bonus. 

"They are the ones carrying us through this crisis and this crisis is not over," he said. 

Mr. Cuomo pointed out that 40 percent of frontline workers are people of color, two-thirds are women and a majority are from low-income households, so they need financial support. 

The infection rate has also been higher among black and brown Americans in New York, and this could be because they make up a large swath of the frontline workers exposed to the virus, Mr. Cuomo said. 

3. The National Governors Association is renewing its bipartisan call for $500 billion in aid to states from the federal government, Mr. Cuomo said April 20. Without aid from the federal government, New York will need to cut state funding for schools and local governments as well as a 20 percent cut to funding for hospitals. 

4. The state will announce a new policy April 21 that will allow some hospitals, which currently have empty beds, to perform elective surgeries, Mr. Cuomo said. The state will weigh allowing a hospital to start elective surgeries with the potential for a coronavirus outbreak in the area. 

5. Governors from seven states, including New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Delaware and Rhode Island, have appointed experts to a multistate council that will help develop a framework to gradually ease stay-at-home restrictions and rebuild the economy. Each state governor has appointed three people to the council, including one health expert, one economic development expert and their respective chief of staff. 

Mr. Cuomo, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, Delaware Gov. John Carney, Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo and Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker announced the appointments April 19. 

The New York appointees are: Melissa DeRosa, secretary to the governor; Robert Mujica, director of NYS Division of the Budget; and Michael Dowling, president and CEO of New Hyde Park, N.Y.-based Northwell Health.

6. The state will begin conducting antibody testing this week, with the aim of performing 2,000 tests per day initially, Politico reports. The tests can help identify COVID-19 antibodies in people's blood, which will indicate whether a person has had COVID-19, even if they were asymptomatic and did not require hospital care.

The testing survey will sample 3,000 people for a population of 19.5 million people.

7. Mr. Cuomo said April 19 that New York is prepared to transport 400 ventilators to Massachusetts within 24 hours, if they are needed. 

Read more about how New York is fighting the coronavirus here.

New Jersey (85,301 confirmed cases as of 9:25 a.m. CDT April 20)

1. Governors from seven states, including New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Delaware and Rhode Island, have appointed experts to a multistate council that will help develop a framework to gradually ease stay-at-home restrictions and rebuild the economy. Each state governor has appointed three people to the council, including one health expert, one economic development expert and their respective chief of staff. 

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, Delaware Gov. John Carney, Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo and Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker announced the appointments April 19. 

The New Jersey appointees are: George Helmy, chief of staff to the governor; Richard Besser, MD, president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and former acting director of the CDC; and Jeh Johnson, former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security under President Barack Obama.

2. The Andover Subacute and Rehabilitation Center "received several citations" from the New Jersey Department of Health, Commissioner Judith Persichilli, RN, said during an April 18 media briefing.

State and CMS officials surveyed the facility after at least 70 residents and staff died due to coronavirus-related complications, according to The New York Times.

Ms. Persichilli told the facility's owner that a plan of correction, which must include an onsite infection prevention specialist, a chief nurse officer and an administration manager, is required by April 20.

3. EMS squads are seeing a drop in service as 13 EMS providers in New Jersey have died due COVID-19-related complications since March 31, NJ.com reports. Rescue units are feeling the pressure after hundreds of EMS workers have become sick with COVID-19 symptoms in recent weeks.

The rising number of coronavirus within EMS squads and concern for older volunteers with underlying medical conditions have contributed to staff shortages, with several squads temporarily dropping service.

"You haven't seen this number of first responders die as a result of line-of-duty death since Sept. 11," Mike Bascom, team leader for the NJ EMS Task Force, told NJ.com.

4. Drugstore chain Rite Aid opened appointment-only COVID-19 testing at two New Jersey facilities over the weekend, with a third to open April 22, Mr. Murphy said in an April 18 tweet.

The Rite Aid locations will provide free nasal self-swab tests via a drive-thru service, with results returned to patients seven days later. Each site is projected to conduct 200 tests a day.

The company is working with HHS to open further testing facilities throughout New Jersey, as well as New York and Pennsylvania.

Read more about how New Jersey is fighting the coronavirus here.

Massachusetts (38,077 confirmed cases as of 9:25 a.m. CDT April 20)

1. Governors from Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Delaware and Rhode Island have appointed experts to a multistate council to develop a framework to gradually ease stay-at-home restrictions and rebuild the economy. Each governor has appointed three people to the council, including one health expert, one economic development expert and their respective chiefs of staff. 

The seven governors announced their appointments Sunday. 

The Massachusetts appointees are: Kristen Lepore, Gov. Charlie Baker's chief of staff; Michael Kennealy, secretary of the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development; and Lauren Peters, undersecretary at the state's Executive Office of Health and Human Services.

2. The governor said that the state would need to see 14 days of consistent declines in positive COVID-19 tests before Massachuetts would reopen, according to NBC Boston. He also said that the state's contact-tracing system must be working effectively and efficiently so that any flare-ups can be quickly tracked and contained. He has not determined whether specific areas of the state can reopen before others, according to the report. 

3. Massachusetts has begun reporting COVID-19 patient census by hospital daily in an effort to better manage bed capacity in the state. As of April 16, Boston-based Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center was treating the highest number of patients with COVID-19 patients at 252, followed by Boston Medical Center, which was treating 208 COVID-19 patients. 

Read more about how Massachusetts is fighting the coronavirus here.

Pennsylvania (32,991 confirmed cases as of 9:25 a.m. CDT April 20)

1. Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf released an outline April 17 of his administration's plan to reopen the state and set a path for economic recovery. The plan includes six key points: using data to determine reopenings; ensuring adequate personal protective equipment and testing materials are available before reopening; developing an effective monitoring and surveillance program; limiting large gatherings unrelated to occupation; keeping protections in place for vulnerable populations, such as limiting visitors at healthcare facilities and prisons; and abiding by federal and state health guidance for employers, individuals and healthcare facilities.

"We're going to make sure we have a plan that respects the reality of the situation on the ground and works with our local, regional and federal partners," Mr. Wolf said. "All of us are anxious to reopen the commonwealth. As a former business owner, I deeply share the concerns of some in the legislature, but we cannot exacerbate the pandemic's damage on Pennsylvania."

2. Governors from seven states — New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Delaware and Rhode Island — have appointed experts to a multistate council that will help develop a framework to gradually ease stay-at-home restrictions and rebuild the economy. Each state governor has appointed three people to the council, including one health expert, one economic development expert and their respective chief of staff. 

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, Delaware Gov. John Carney, Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo and Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker announced the appointments April 19. 

The Pennsylvania appointees are Michael Brunelle, chief of staff for the governor; Rachel Levine, MD, secretary of the state health department; and Dennis Davin, secretary of the state Department of Community and Economic Development.

3. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has delivered 86,500 N95 masks to Philadelphia, the city's Mayor Jim Kenney tweeted April 18. 

The masks, manufactured by 3M, will be distributed to front-line healthcare staff and first responders in the city. 

4. The order mandating that all Pennsylvania residents must wear masks when going into stores or other businesses went into effect at 8 p.m. on April 19, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer. The order also mandates that employers take measures to ensure adequate social distancing at their workplaces, including providing space to employees to take breaks while maintaining social distance. 

5. On April 19, Pennsylvania reported its largest single-day jump in deaths during the pandemic, Penn Live reports. The state reported 276 deaths, but state Health Secretary Rachel Levine, MD, said during a news conference that the death toll includes deaths that occurred a week or more ago, as the Department of Health just completed reconciling electronic submissions from hospitals and long-term care facilities, among other places, with data from the Vital Records department. 

"As we collect data, we are also verifying its accuracy," she said, according to Penn Live. "Some deaths are reported to us with several causes of death with COVID-19 listed as maybe the fourth or fifth cause of death, and our epidemiologists then investigate whether or not that person has previously tested positive for COVID-19."

"This work takes time," she added. "And so today, the increase in deaths is a culmination of that data-validating effort."

California (31,531 confirmed cases as of 9:25 a.m. CDT April 20)

1. California Gov. Gavin Newsom has unveiled a state task force on business and job recovery. The task force will be co-chaired by Ann O'Leary, Mr. Newsom's chief of staff, and Tom Steyer, a philanthropist and businessman. The task force will help plan the state's economic revival. 

Some of the other members on the task force include Walt Disney Executive Chairman Bob Iger, LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner, and Chipotle CEO Brian Niccol.

Access the full list of task force members here. 

2. In California, 3,523 healthcare workers have tested positive for COVID-19 as of April 18. This is an increase of 549 from April 15. The confirmed case number includes individuals who tested positive after on-the-job exposure, as well as travel and close family contact, according to data from the California Department of Public Health.

3. In California, 280,900 COVID-19 tests had been conducted as of April 18. This is an increase of 34,500 from the number of tests conducted as of April 15. Of the 280,900 tests, 273,721 results have been received and another 7,200 are pending, according to data from the California Department of Public Health. 

4. Mr. Newsom said that after signing an agreement with Motel 6, the state has procured more than 15,000 hotel rooms to help shelter the homeless population during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to The Hill. 

Motel 6 agreed to offer the state 5,025 hotel rooms at 47 locations in 19 counties across California. The state had already struck deals to acquire 11,000 hotel rooms. Acquiring hotel rooms to house homeless individuals in the state is part of Project Roomkey, an initiative the governor announced two weeks ago. 

Mr. Newsom said that homeless Californians who have tested positive for COVID-19 or who are at high risk for fatal complications will be prioritized when it comes to obtaining a room. 

Read more about how California is fighting the coronavirus here.

Michigan (31,424 confirmed cases as of 9:25 a.m. CDT April 20)

1. Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer called for more support from the federal government to get the state's COVID-19 testing to the point where she can begin reopening the economy, The Washington Post reports.

The state has the capacity to triple the number of tests it is performing, but needs more reagents and swabs to do so, the governor said.

"While our capabilities are there, these important supplies are not," she said.

2. The governor is requesting that the Federal Emergency Management Agency waive cost-sharing requirements for emergency work in Michigan in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Trump administration granted Michigan a major disaster declaration on March 27, ordering federal assistance to supplement state recovery efforts for the pandemic. Under the program, emergency work is authorized at 75 percent federal funding, with state institutions responsible for the remaining 25 percent.

"I believe that the extreme nature of the necessary COVID-19 response far exceeds the capability of the State of Michigan and warrants the full resources and support of the federal government," the governor wrote.

3. The governor is considering relaxing some of Michigan’s stay-at-home restrictions by May 1, Click On Detroit reports. She said she is considering several factors for reopening the economy, including density, public contact and how much shared equipment is used.

She is expected to reveal more details at an April 20 afternoon media briefing.

4. On April 18, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services reported 2,804 COVID-19 recoveries, bringing the state's total to 3,237. The department defines "recovered" as the number of persons with a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis who are alive 30 days after onset, or referral date, if onset is not available.

5. St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Ann Arbor, part of Livonia-based St. Joseph Mercy Health System, treated its first hospitalized COVID-19 patient with plasma donated by a person who has recovered from the virus.

Data from studies using COVID-19 convalescent plasma for the treatment of individuals with a severe condition indicates that a plasma infusion showed benefit for some patients, according to a St. Joseph news release.

The treatment is part of a Mayo Clinic program which will include more than 1,000 U.S. hospitals. Four St. Joseph hospitals are participating in the program.

Read more about how Michigan is fighting the coronavirus here.

More articles on public health:
COVID-19 activity continues to rise: 4 CDC findings
Texas governor announces plan to reopen state next week
Duke registry to collect clinicians' clinical, personal experiences with COVID-19

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