My office just got off a long conference call hosted by the White House’s COVID-19 Task Force with state leaders. Here are some quick notes detailing information from the call:
POTUS signed Federal Government $8.3 Billion emergency funding for COVID-19 response passed by Congress. National Emergency declared makes 42 Billion in funding now available. Travel Ban on Global hot spots in Europe, Ireland, Iran and UK.
Vice President Pence: • Working on legislation for Paid Family leave to all Americans for small and large businesses • COVID-19 testing for Medicare/Medicare and working to extend to all including uninsured. • Working on a federal economic stimulus bill with Congress • All 50 states have cases of COVID-19 • FEMA is level 1 status and active in all regions. Run local and state level response in coordination with the Federal government • According to all the experts, the risk of serious illness is low for average Americans, but the risk for senior citizen or compromised immune systems are at serious risk. • Guidelines for every American should be followed, whether your state or area has 1 case or 100 cases. The issue is spreading the disease. • COVID-19 is 3 times more infectious than the Flu. You may expose someone who is elderly or immune-compromised. • Avoid gathering more than 10 and travel • Use drive through/order out eating. • Act early to significantly limit the reach over the coming weeks/months
Dr. Debra Burkes: • There are numbers of people who are asymptomatic and could be circulating around communities for weeks, and until the vulnerable were found sick, we did not know the spread was so significant. If it feels like too much, it is right. • Resolution will come community by community, state by state. • When you have persons at 75-80 committed to hospital sick, it may have been circulating among healthy population for 2 weeks. • 2% positive rate to a 7% positive rate among tests. this is because we are targeting the right areas for testing. • The availability/capacity to test will be increasing. Prioritizing the elderly and persons who are exhibiting symptoms is important • Developing a more easily accessible and self testing. in the works. • All commercial labs should have capacity for tests across states. • We should get more data, such as a Epidemiological curve to give better picture county by county, state by state as backlog of tests data comes in.
FEMA: • Level 1 FEMA response • FEMA has Health care facilities oversight • Put out restrictions on nursing home visitation, only mandatory staff. • Kirkland WA: someone who was infected probably went into nursing home before guidelines were in place. • Federal Gov is expanding telehealth wholesale services to medicare clients without copay’s. • Asking medical community to postpone all elective surgeries and procedures to preserve medical and protective equipment • Locally executed, state planned, federally supported.
Supplemental Funding update: • $8.3B in funding • $6.5B for Health Services • $570M CDC additional funding • $350M to state and local partners from CDC • $500M for purchase of N-95 respirators to National Stockpile • Using funds to expanding medical shelters and national stockpile • Working with congress to pass relief to families affected, including free testing indulging medicaid/medicare and uninsured. Hoping Senate to take up today, POTUS will sign ASAP. • 11.5B health and human services for developing medical supplies and vaccine development
Homeland Security: • Cyber security- maintaining critical infrastructure that may be affected during a quarantine is vital. Captures a wide array of private/public sector areas. Electricity and utilities. Elections, IT data centers and infrastructure. Transportation. • Working to protect IT infrastructure with partners in industry and state/local officials. Working to share data. • Planning to issuing guidance tomorrow morning for private sector, states and local officials • State use your discretion on guidance to protect your own state’s infrastructure • Look out for disinformation.
Dept. of Agriculture • Food supply chain and nutritional programs is critical, working to maintain flow. • nutritional programs- closing off schools has forced Federal Government to get innovative. • Sec. Purdue announced collaboration for 1 million meals per week to get to kids in rural areas where schools are closed. Encouraging other private sectors partners to join. • Waive restrictions to increase supply of food for needy and children. • Food supply chain: been in contact with executive with food supply chain community members (grocery stores, production Exec’s etc.). continue communication that supply chain is strong. increased demand has left certain grocery stores bare, they are restocking shelves everyday. This is NOT because of lack of supply. • Tracking employee absenteeism to monitor need of employees on front lines of supply chain • Agriculture inspection and grading process will continue
Small business Administration: • Need Gov’s request for federal disaster small business loans. • SBA has expanded their eligibility to be more flexible, no need for 5 businesses in every county to be identified as in need. • apply up to 2 Million in loans for small businesses • What to expect: https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/disaster-assistance for info and to apply. Working as fast as possible to approve loans to get relief fast. Average of 2-3 weeks to approve and loans would go out 1-3 days after approval. Time line may be increased.
Elementary and Secondary Education: • COVID-19 working group within Dept. of Education • ed.gov/coronavirus website with information • K-12 waivers state could request if states need for flexibility for assessments, working with students with disabilities, and student privacy protections • higher education, will not have to pay interest on federal student loans for now. • Civil Rights has released webinar for students with disabilities to access online education • Temporary flexibility for institutions and crediting organizations.
US Dept. of Labor • Unemployment Insurance- federal/state partnership • States are having huge influx of cases