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COVID-19, State Efforts

State Spotlight April 21, 2020

Published On April 21, 2020

By: Joanna Dornfeld

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:

  • Providing accurate information and clear recommendations that people need to be safe from the virus;
  • Building a reliable health care system – both now and after the pandemic – that is adequately resourced to support front-line workers and available when they need it;
  • Providing people with financial and health care security they need to weather COVID-19; and
  • Caring for the most vulnerable by building an inclusive and responsive COVID-19 approach and health care system.

Providing accurate information and clear recommendations that people need to be safe from the virus.

States and major cities are following advice from trusted public health professionals and sources like the CDC to build their capacity for contact tracing.

  • Alabama health officials continue to build on contact tracing efforts. State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris said that they are shifting employees from other parts of the agency into roles where they can do contact tracing.
  • San Francisco Mayor London N. Breed announced an innovative contact tracing program to strengthen coronavirus response and to identify Bay Area residents who have been exposed to coronavirus and give them access to testing and resources needed to keep themselves and their communities safe. The program will include daily text messages or phone calls to check on the health and symptoms of individuals who have been in contact with someone who tested positive throughout a 14-day monitoring period. They can self-report symptoms via text.

Building a reliable health care system–both now and after the pandemic

  • Minnesota Governor Tim Walz signed Executive Order 20-34 to help protect Minnesota’s first responders by sharing information between the Minnesota Department of Health, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, and 911 Dispatchers and first responders.

Providing people with the financial and health care security they need to weather COVID-19.

States and community-driven partnerships are focused on how to best reopen activity and restart economies in a safe and healthy way.

  • Governors across the country are beginning to outline their plans to ease economic restrictions while keeping their residents safe and healthy.
    • Maryland Governor Larry Hogan announced a plan for the state’s recovery phase that includes: expanding testing capacity; increasing surge capacity; ramping up supply of PPE; and building a robust contact tracing operation.
    • North Carolina Governor Cooper charted a path forward for eventually easing certain COVID-19 restrictions while still protecting North Carolinians from a dangerous second wave of the virus. The plan includes increasing testing capacity; boosting public health workforce to trace contacts of new cases; and monitoring trends to drive policy solutions.
  • Governors are also building teams of experts to inform the immediate- and longer-term economic recovery efforts.
    • Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves has created a private-sector task force to help Mississippi economically recover from coronavirus pandemic. The Governor’s Commission for Economic Recovery was established in April 2020 to make recommendations to the Governor on short-term and long-term economic revitalization.
    • Vermont Governor Phil Scott and the Agency of Commerce and Community Development announced the establishment of the Economic Mitigation and Recovery Task Force.

Building a COVID-19 response and health care system that cares for the most vulnerable.

  • States are using creativity and collaboration to provide safe places for individuals to stay who have been exposed to COVID-19 for self-isolation purposes. (Note: This is a fast-growing area of collective action that USofCare will share more information about in an upcoming publication.)
    • Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo’s Administration launched RI Havens, a website that connects those in need of a safe space to isolate or social distance with hotel rooms across the state offered at significantly discounted rates.
    • Colorado Coalition for the Homeless has begun moving people experiencing homelessness who are aged 65 and older into motel lodging, helping to reduce their risk of exposure to COVID-19.
  • Missouri Governor Mike Parson announced it would be the first state in the nation to receive a federal grant for rural transit as part of national COVID-19 relief efforts. The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration announced a $61.7 million grant to the Missouri Department of Transportation as part of the CARES Act.

In case you missed it: Three regional collaboratives are also allowing states to leverage expertise, purchasing power, and economies of scale in preventing the spread of COVID-19, treating the ill, and starting the recovery process: