New York governor to ask that Navy ship accept COVID-19 patients; California unveils COVID-19 testing task force + 25 other updates from the 6 hardest-hit states

Below are 27 updates from the six states hardest hit 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 (123,160 cases as of 7:25 a.m. CDT April 6)

1. Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a media briefing April 6 that he will ask President Donald Trump to allow the Navy ship Comfort, which was initially brought in to treat non-coronavirus patients in New York, to accept COVID-19 patients.

The ship was expected to act as a relief valve for the hospital system, taking on patients without COVID-19 that the system could not handle when overrun with coronavirus patients.

"But as it turned out, there are not a lot of non-COVID people in the hospital system," said Mr. Cuomo. This is likely because the stay-at-home order and social distancing measures have resulted in fewer accidents and injuries that usually take place, he said. 

As of April 2, only about 20 people had been transferred to the Navy ship, causing frustration among hospital executives, The New York Times reports.

2. New York saw its one-day death toll drop slightly, from 630 deaths reported April 4 to 594 deaths reported April 5, according to The New York Times. The increase in the number of people currently hospitalized April 5 was the smallest increase reported by the state in about two weeks — growing by 574 from April 4 to April 5, which is a 4 percent increase. The day before, the number of people hospitalized increased by 7 percent.

"You could argue that you're seeing a slight plateauing in the data, which obviously would be good news," Mr. Cuomo said at a media briefing April 5, the Times reports.

But, "you can't do this day to day. You have to look at three or four days to see a pattern," he added.

3. Mr. Cuomo said the federal government is deploying approximately 1,000 healthcare personnel to New York, including physicians, nurses, respiratory technicians and therapists. The first 325 were deployed to New York City hospitals April 5.

4. New York is receiving donated medical supplies from several sources:

  • The Joseph and Clara Tsai Foundation donated 1,000 ventilators.
  • The Joseph and Clara Tsai Foundation and the Jack Ma Foundation donated 1 million surgical masks, 1 million N95 masks and more than 100,000 pairs of goggles.
  • The National Basketball Association, in collaboration with the New York Knicks, Brooklyn Nets and China's New York Consul General Huang Ping, is donating 1 million surgical masks.

5. Oregon Gov. Kate Brown said April 4 the state is sending 140 ventilators to New York from its stockpile.

"Oregon doesn't have everything we need to fight COVID-19 — we need more PPE and testing — but we can help today with ventilators. We are all in this together," she tweeted.

6. At an April 4 media briefing, Mr. Cuomo said he will also issue an executive order allowing medical students slated to graduate to begin practicing immediately to help with the state's pandemic response.

7. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said April 5 the city has enough medical supplies to last until Tuesday or Wednesday, The New York Times reports. City hospitals still need gloves, gowns, N95 masks and around 1,000 to 1,500 more ventilators to get through the week.

Read more about measures New York is taking here.

New Jersey (37,505 confirmed cases as of 7:25 a.m. CDT April 6)

1. New Jersey secured from the federal government an additional 500 ventilators, which is the state's "No. 1 need right now," Gov. Phil Murphy announced in an April 5 tweet. Among the 850 devices that New Jersey previously received, 14 had been faulty, according to NJ.com.

The governor said the additional resources were a result of "multiple conversations" with the Trump administration and vowed not to "stop fighting to get us the equipment we need to save every life we can."

2. The field hospital at Meadowlands Exposition Center in Secaucus opened on April 6, reports ABC7 NY.

The 150-bed temporary hospital is one of four such facilities in New Jersey that will treat non-coronavirus patients to ease the burden on emergency rooms.

3. In an April 6 interview with CNN, Mr. Murphy warned New Jersey residents to brace themselves for a challenging couple of weeks as experts anticipate the coronavirus pandemic to worsen within the state.

He cautioned that the effects of the virus will "spill meaningfully into the summer," according to NJ.com.

"Our reality is similar to New York, but we're a beat or two behind them in terms of numbers ... but I think we're in for a really challenging at least next two or three weeks and then it'll take a fair amount of time after that for us to continue to fight through it."

4. Multiple charges and summons were brought against businesses and people accused of violating social distancing orders outlined in Mr. Murphy's executive orders, reports app.com.

New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal and State Police Col. Patrick Callahan announced the cases on April 5. Law enforcement officials are clamping down on gatherings that violate the executive orders, which are put in place to slow the spread of the virus.

Violations can carry a prison sentence of up to six months and a fine of up to $1,000.

5. The coronavirus pandemic has caused almost 100 more deaths in New Jersey than the Sept. 11 attacks, according to NPR.

Mr. Murphy signed an executive order directing all U.S. and New Jersey flags across the state to be lowered to half-staff indefinitely in honor of those who have died due to COVID-19.

"This is one of the greatest tragedies to ever hit our state. We must have a constant & visible memorial," the governor said in an April 3 tweet.

Michigan (15,718 confirmed cases as of 7:25 a.m. CDT April 6)

1. Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is considering extending the stay-at-home order beyond April 14 as COVID-19 cases in the state continue to increase, reports Click On Detroit.

"Hospitals are reporting that discharges are picking up, but that doesn't mean the numbers are decreasing — we're just slowing the growth," the governor said in an April 6 media briefing. "We're not close to hitting the apex yet."

Ms. Whitmer added that 2.2 million masks purchased by the state are being distributed.

The state also issued a purchase of 1 million face shields from Ford over the next three weeks, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency is sending 300 ventilators, 1.1 million masks, 232,000 face shields and 2 million gloves in the next 24-48 hours.

2. Michigan's largest convention center — TCF Center in Detroit — is set to open as a 1,000-bed field hospital April 8, the Detroit Free Press reports.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been working with trades crews to develop the hospital, which will treat COVID-19 patients. Six hundred beds will be allocated for COVID-19 patients who do not need a ventilator, with the other 400 beds kept for patients who are considered to be recovering from the virus.

The state is leasing TCF Center through Sept. 30 for almost $8.2 million.

3. Lisa Ewald, RN, 53, of Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, died due to complications associated with the coronavirus, according to Michigan Radio.

Ms. Ewald is believed to have contracted the illness while treating a patient at the hospital, where she worked for more than 20 years.

She tested positive for the illness on March 30 and died alone at her home the next day.

4. John Fox, CEO of Southfield, Mich.-based Beaumont Health, called attention to the lack of communication between hospitals and state officials amid a spike in COVID-19 patients, according to Bridge magazine.

"Part of the role of governments is to pull us together in times of crisis when we need a coordinated response," Mr. Fox told Bridge. "If somebody has to wait 12 hours in one of our ERs, but they can be seen within two hours, 5 miles away, I think we have a moral obligation to tell the patient."

Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Robert Gordon signed an order on March 24 requiring hospitals to report data to the state, including bed and ventilator capacity, patient census, and supply and personal protective equipment shortages.

However, several hospitals have not been filing regular reports. The state health department is seeking to improve the response rate and will provide updated information in the coming days.  

5. Mr. Gordon also signed an emergency order on April 4 that requires physicians and funeral homes to report COVID-19-related deaths more quickly, reports Mlive.

The order directs physicians who know or suspect a death as a result of COVID-19 to quickly notify the funeral director, who is then required to submit the death record to the attending physician within 24 hours and file the record with the local registrar within 48 hours.

California (15,158 confirmed cases as of 7:25 a.m. CDT April 6)

1. California Gov. Gavin Newsom unveiled plans to launch a public-private COVID-19 Testing Task Force to help boost the state's testing capacity and mitigate any shortages or supply chain issues, according to KMPH, a Fox News affiliate. 

The task force will be co-chaired by California Department of Public Health Assistant Director Charity Dean, MD, and Blue Shield of California President and CEO Paul Markovich, according to the report. 

2. Mr. Newsom also said during a press briefing this weekend that the state has launched a website to help get critical medical supplies to workers on the front lines. The website, which is called covid19supplies.ca.gov, is a one-stop place where companies or the public can donate, sell or offer to manufacture supplies for healthcare workers. It asks for items like ventilators, N95 respirators and testing materials.

3. About 79,000 people in California have signed up to become part of the state's Health Corps, an initiative that aims to recruit healthcare professionals to help combat the COVID-19 pandemic, according to The Sacramento Bee. State officials are working to process the applications of the medical professionals. Mr. Newsom announced the initiative March 30 and has asked retired physicians, pharmacists, nurses, medical assistants and other medical professionals to sign up. 

4. California has significantly reduced its COVID-19 testing backlog, according to NPR. On April 2, Mr. Newsom said that the state had at least 60,000 COVID-19 tests on backlog. This backlog accounts for about 64 percent, or two-thirds, of the total tests done in the state. However, the testing backlog was cut this weekend from 60,000 to 13,000.

"The testing space has been a challenging one for us and I own that," Mr. Newsom said during the press briefing, according to NPR. "And I have a responsibility as your governor to do better and to do more testing in the state of California."

Louisiana (13,010 confirmed cases as of 7:25 a.m. CDT April 6)

1. Louisiana could run out of ventilators by the end of the week if the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases there continues to rise, Gov. John Bel Edwards said on CNN's "State of the Union" April 5. Projections show the state could exceed its current ventilator capacity by April 9 and exceed its intensive care unit bed capacity a few days after.

He reiterated the importance of staying at home and social distancing, saying, "As we achieve success in slowing the rate of spread, we also push out that date."

2. The federal government is sending hundreds of ventilators to the states hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic, including 200 ventilators to Louisiana, President Donald Trump said during a White House briefing April 5, The Hill reports.

3. Checkpoints have been set up at the Louisiana-Texas border to identify people entering from Louisiana so the state of Texas can ensure they self-quarantine, according to KLFY-TV, a CBS affiliate. People will be subject to mandatory self-quarantine when entering Texas from Louisiana, an executive order from Texas Gov. Greg Abbott reads.

The order does not apply to those in military service, emergency responders and healthcare workers coming to assist in the state.

Read more about measures Louisiana is taking here.

Massachusetts (12,500 confirmed cases as of 7:25 a.m. CDT April 6)

1. Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker said the state has received 100 ventilators from the national stockpile, according to NBC Boston. The ventilators are expected to be distributed to hospitals on April 6. Mr. Baker, who requested 1,400 ventilators from the national stockpile, said he estimates the federal government will be sending additional ventilators to the state on an incremental basis, according to the Berkshire Eagle. 

"We believe that the process as it's been laid out to us is going to be an incremental one," Mr. Baker said, according to the Berkshire Eagle. "We don't believe this is the last shipment. We fully expect that we'll get additional ventilators over the next two weeks." 

2. Boston Mayor Martin Walsh has implemented a 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew for non-emergency workers in Boston. 

"I cannot stress enough that the actions we take now through the next several weeks will help curb the spread of this virus, and save lives," Mr. Walsh said. 

3. A field hospital in the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center may be ready to house patients this week, according to the Boston Herald. When the hospital is completed, it will house 1,000 beds, including 500 for homeless individuals and another 500 for noncritical patients who otherwise need to be in the hospital, according to the report. The hospital is also expected to house six acute care suites, a physical therapy suite and 52 nurses stations, according to the report. 

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