New York creates surge healthcare workforce + 25 other updates from the 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 24-25 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 (26,376 cases as of 7:25 a.m. CDT March 25)

1. In a press briefing March 25, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that 40,000 people have signed up for a surge healthcare workforce that the state is putting together, comprised of retired healthcare workers as well as providers who have moved on to other jobs outside of the healthcare sector. So far the surge workforce includes 2,265 physicians, 2,409 nurse practitioners and 938 physician assistants. 

"That is a big, big deal," he said. "You can create beds, you can buy the equipment, [but] you have to have the staff."

2. The state is also working to gather the resources needed by healthcare workers, including personal protective equipment and ventilators. For the foreseeable future, the state has acquired enough PPE for workers in all hospitals across the state dealing with the pandemic, the governor said. The state is still running short on ventilators, with only 4,000 in its hospitals currently. The state has purchased another 7,000, but in total, New York hospitals need about 30,000, he said. 

3. The governor also said he has suggested a "rolling deployment" strategy to the White House, which would involve moving equipment, staff and resources from hot spot to hot spot around the country, before each region hits its critical point of need. New York currently has the most need for these resources among all U.S. states, and Mr. Cuomo said he will personally ensure those resources are moved to other parts of the country as they reach their apex.

4. With New York's COVID-19 cases spiking higher and faster than any other state by far, White House officials recommended that anyone who travels from the New York City metro area self-isolate at their destination for 14 days to prevent similar spikes elsewhere, The Wall Street Journal reports.

5. After a New York City prisoner tested positive for COVID-19 last week, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced March 24 the city will release about 300 inmates from the Rikers Island prison complex, CNBC reports. All 300 are serving sentences of less than a year for misdemeanor charges.

6. Hours after the governor outlined the ramifications of New York's higher-than-expected case numbers to the healthcare system, state and city officials warned residents of the pandemic's financial and social effect. During a March 24 news conference, Mr. de Blasio not only dismissed claims that Americans will be able to resume their normal lives in April, but suggested, "May could be worse than April," according to CBS New York.

And in an interview with The Wall Street Journal, state budget director Robert Mujica estimated that New York's gross domestic product could decrease this year by $9 billion to $15 billion due to the pandemic.

Read more about other measures New York took this week here.

New Jersey (3,675 confirmed cases as of 7:25 a.m. CDT March 25)

1. With the help of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New Jersey is opening four pop-up field hospitals to manage the influx of COVID-19 patients, which will add about a 1,000 beds, according to New Jersey now has the second-highest number of new coronavirus cases in the nation. The field hospitals are "en route," state officials said March 24. Each hospital will have 250 beds and will house critically ill patients who don't have COVID-19 symptoms in an effort to free up space in existing hospitals.

2. New Jersey will receive 200,000 more N95 masks and 84,000 respirators from the federal stockpile, Gov. Phil Murphy announced March 24, according to 6 ABC Action News. But, "we are still in need of more equipment for our hospitals and first responders," he said.

3. The governor launched an online portal to connect New Jersey residents with jobs in the industries on the front lines of the COVID-19 response. The jobs portal already has more than 12,000 openings in healthcare, shipping and logistics, grocery stores and janitorial services.

"The jobs portal will give residents who have lost their jobs or seen their hours reduced an opportunity to get back to work while also providing crucial support to the industries that are on the front lines of fighting this pandemic," the governor said.

4. The governor directed commercial laboratories to report all COVID-19 test results to the state's department of health. The data "will provide valuable insight on how many New Jerseyans are being tested overall and the percentage of negative test results in our state," New Jersey Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said. 

5. Tammy Murphy, the governor's wife, launched the New Jersey Pandemic Relief Fund, which will help gather essential resources for the communities hardest hit by the pandemic, including low- to-middle-income residents and the small-business community, NBC New York reports.

Read more about other measures New Jersey took this week here.

California (2,628 confirmed cases as of 7:25 a.m. CDT March 25)

1. California Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a news briefing March 24 that California is unlikely to lift its stay-at-home order in early April. "Based on the curve, we have a lot more work to do. Early April, I think that would be misleading at least for California," Mr. Newsom said. He added that the state has seen a 17 percent increase in recent days, and thousands of people are still waiting on COVID-19 test results.

2. In a news briefing March, 24, the governor expressed sympathy about the death of a teenager in Lancaster county who tested positive for COVID-19. "This underscores the enormity of the health crisis in front of us and how it can affect anybody and everybody," Mr. Newsom said. "Young people can, and will be, impacted by COVID-19." 

A bit later in the evening March 24, Los Angeles County health officials said the death of a minor previously reported as being from COVID-19 "will require further evaluation" by the CDC, according to The San Francisco Chronicle. "Though early tests indicated a positive result for COVID-19, the case is complex and there may be an alternate explanation for this fatality," health officials said. They still emphasized that anyone can be affected by COVID-19. 

3. The governor said he  and other governors are developing a collaborative strategy to acquire supplies instead of competing against each other for them. 

4. To reduce the spread of COVID-19 in correctional facilities, the governor signed an executive order March 24 that will temporarily halt the intake of inmates into the state's 35 prisons and four youth facilities. The order also halts transfers. 

5. California received  $13.8 million, the biggest chunk of an HHS award of $100 million to healthcare centers across the nation to boost medical supplies, acquire more testing kits and expand telehealth to help combat COVID-19.

Read more about other measures California took this week here.

Washington (2,472 confirmed cases as of 7:25 a.m. CDT March 24)

1. Bill and Melinda Gates are donating $3.7 million to support COVID-19 response efforts in the state, according to The Seattle Times. About $1 million will be distributed to public health agencies in Seattle and King County to help officials release timely and accurate information. The Gates Foundation will also support six regional COVID-19 response funds and three of Seattle's homeless service providers.

2. Microsoft, headquartered in Seattle, is using its vast global supply chain to help Washington secure products and protective equipment from overseas, according to The Seattle Times. Microsoft President Brad Smith said he helped his overseas teams negotiate and release 240,000 N95 surgical masks from an undisclosed foreign government to be shipped to the Seattle region. The company also is trying to get supplies for the state. On March 23, Microsoft recieved 15,000 eye protection goggles, 850 medical caps, 850 protective suits and 120 infrared thermometers. By Friday, Microsoft said it expects to get 15,000 more eye goggles, 35,000 bottles of hand sanitizer and 2,000 disinfectant wipe containers. The supplies will go to the areas in the state most in need.

3. A Seattle suburb is using a youth soccer field as the site of a temporary hospital for COVID-19 patients, according to The Intelligencer. Two large white tents in the suburb of Shoreline will have 140 beds. The suburb added the hospital to ease pressure on the state's strained healthcare system.

Read more about other measures Washington took this week here.

Michigan (1,793 confirmed cases as of 7:25 a.m. CDT March 25)

1. Michigan has approved $20 million for a loan fund and a grant program for businesses with fewer than 50 employees, according to WDET-FM, a public radio station. Jeff Donofrio, director of the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity, told the radio station that about 117,000 businesses have been affected by the stay-at-home order.

2. Michigan officials expect an additional 16,000 COVID-19 cases by April 4, and they are searching for alternate care sites and strategies to increase bed capacityCrain's Detroit Business reports. One option may be specialty hospitals that have canceled or postponed elective surgeries. Several specialty hospitals have reported their excess bed capacity to health systems in their area and the HHS, specialty hospital executives told Crain's.

Non-healthcare facilities also are offering extra space for COVID-19 cases, including Oakland University in Rochester, Mich., and the Lexus Velodrome in Detroit.

3. Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is calling upon the state's residents and businesses to donate items needed by hospitals and medical providers, including hospital gowns, ventilators, gloves and surgical masks.

Some businesses already have started manufacturing supplies to aid in the state's pandemic response. Ford, 3M, the International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America and GE Healthcare announced a partnership March 24 to make respirators.

Read more about other measures New Jersey took this week here.

Illinois (1,537 cases as of 7:25 a.m. CDT March 25)

1. MetroSouth Medical Center, a 314-bed facility that closed at the end of September, will reopen to house COVID-19 patients. The suburban Chicago hospital will provide 200 beds and could be ready to accept patients as soon as the end of this week.

2. During a March 24 address, Gov. J.B. Pritzker and public health officials offered worst-case scenarios projections about the state's hospital capacity. Without help, Illinois could need as many as 38,000 more beds, including more than 9,000 ICU beds, and about 5,000 ventilators by April 6, they said, according to NBC Chicago.

3. The state's two U.S. senators and 18 U.S. House members joined March 24 to urge the U.S. Defense Department to cover the costs of deploying National Guard members to Illinois. In their letter to Defense Secretary Mark Esper, they noted that similar deployments in New York, California and Washington have received the requested federal funding.

4. Amid hundreds of complaints of retailer price-gouging on necessities such as toilet paper and bottled water, Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul warned that those practices could face serious penalties. "Each instance can carry a fine of up to $50,000, and we can also seek injunctive relief from the court," he told ABC Chicago.

Read more about other measures Illinois took this week here.

More articles on public health:
Italian physicians urge other nations to treat more patients at home
How Americans are responding to coronavirus pandemic: 5 survey findings
Loss of smell may be COVID-19 symptom, physicians warn


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