May 19, 2020 COVID-19

State Spotlight: May 18, 2020

United States of Care is supporting policy makers and public servants across the country as they respond to the COVID-19 crisis. Our support includes sharing innovative approaches communities and states are taking to respond to the immediate public health crisis and the resulting economic impacts. Below is a snapshot of the most interesting and innovative action we saw in states over the last week from the public and private sectors. These policies are focused in four priority areas:

  • Protect people from the virus and give them the information they need to be safe.
  • Build a reliable health care system that is adequately resourced to support front-line workers and available to care for people when they need it – both now and after the pandemic.
  • Provide people with the financial and health care security they need to weather COVID-19 and other health care needs they face.
  • Build an equitable COVID-19 response and health care system which cares for all, especially the most vulnerable.

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Protect people from the virus and give them the information they need to be safe.

State Response Plans

  • Governor Mark Gordon of Wyoming allocated $17 million in federal funding to expand the state’s testing capacity, improve contact tracing efforts, and increase the state’s supply of PPE.
  • Maine Governor Janet Mills announced a rural reopening plan aimed at reopening certain additional businesses, including restaurants and retail, in rural Maine where community transmission is not present over the course of the next two weeks with added health and safety measures.
  • Governor Laura Kelly signed Executive Order 20-32, which establishes a new phase to the “Ad Astra: Plan to Reopen Kansas.” Phase “1.5” continues reopening efforts while preserving some data-driven restrictions necessary to prevent community transmission of COVID-19.

Contact Tracing

  • Governor Inslee of Washington announced the launch of a statewide contact tracing initiative to complement the state’s reopening plan. The effort will be led by local health departments and supported by the state Department of Health. The statewide contact tracing team will be trained and available as needed.
  • In New Jersey, Governor Murphy signed an Executive Order mandating that all local, county, and regional health departments use Dimagi’s CommCare platform to support their contact tracing efforts. The state will work with Dimagi to create a centralized database with uniform reporting requirements for contact tracing efforts across the state. In order to further grow the ranks of contact tracers and create jobs for New Jerseyans, the state will also partner with an organization to work as a Contact Tracing Deployment Provider to assist with hiring, on-boarding, and managing contact tracers throughout the state.
  • Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards outlined a plan for COVID-19 testing and tracking that would hire as many as 700 Louisianans to serve as “contact tracers,” interviewing and advising people who have tested positive to determine who in their lives could also be at risk.
  • Johns Hopkins announced it would offer free COVID-19 contact tracing training.

Testing Expansion

  • The New Mexico Department of Health announced COVID-19 testing for all workers in the state. This includes: all government employees (state, county, municipal, federal, etc.), utility and construction workers, grocery and pharmacy employees, retail and wholesale, anyone in food service or other service industries, and any New Mexican at work who would like access to a test, symptomatic or not.
  • Tennessee Governor Bill Lee announced a plan to provide voluntary COVID-19 testing for families and residents at 14 Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency communities in Nashville.

Build a reliable health care system that is adequately resourced to support front-line workers and available to care for people when they need it – both now and after the pandemic.

  • North Carolina is working with local manufacturers to shift their production to make critical medical supplies. This development stems from Governor Roy Cooper’s Task Force for Emergency Repurposing of Manufacturing (TFERM), which was charged with increasing the amount of protective gear made locally. Governor Cooper’s Task Force has worked with over 300 North Carolina companies who have been able to pivot their operations to produce critical personal protective equipment.

Provide people with the financial and health care security they need to weather COVID-19 and other health care needs they face.

  • In Maine, the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) launched a statewide campaign to promote awareness of affordable health insurance options, particularly for people whose employment or income has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The Pennsylvania General Assembly sent Senate Bill 67, which amends regulations to expand the availability of psychological services through telemedicine to Governor Tom Wolf for his signature.
  • Governor Greg Abbott announced that the Texas Division of Emergency Management has applied for Federal Emergency Management Agency assistance funding to provide financial support to Texas’ network of food banks.
  • The Minnesota Legislature passed The Prescription Drug Price Transparency Act requiring drug makers to provide a detailed rationale to the state for any large price increases on drugs that cost $100 or more for a 30-day supply.
  • Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo announced the state will be distributing 500,000 masks and disinfectant solution to Rhode Island businesses through chambers of commerce and industry associations.
  • The Mississippi Legislature passed a bill that would allocate $300 million for small businesses across the state that have been adversely impacted by the novel coronavirus. Of those total funds, $240 million will go to businesses that have incurred unexpected expenses from the virus. Additionally, $40 million of these funds will go toward minority-owned or disadvantaged businesses.

Build an equitable COVID-19 response and health care system which cares for all, especially the most vulnerable.

Protecting the elderly and/or those in Long Term Care

  • Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced the Staying Connected Program, which will provide a daily check-in by phone for Ohioans age 60 or older.
  • Governor Greg Abbott announced that the Texas National Guard will activate Facilities Disinfection Teams, in coordination with the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, to support Texans in nursing homes.
  • Texas, New York, New Jersey will now require widespread testing of staff and residents of nursing homes.
  • With Minnesota’s “Shelter-in-Place” order set to expire on May 18th, Governor Tim Walz issued an Executive Order that strongly encourages Minnesotans at greatest risk of serious illness to continue staying home.