Coronavirus (COVID-19): Resources for Regions

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NARC COVID-19 Webinar for Regional Councils
NARC hosted a webinar yesterday examining the role that regional councils can play in addressing the COVID-19 epidemic. Leaders from the Puget Sound Regional Council (Seattle), Metropolitan Area Planning Council (Boston), and Washington Metropolitan Council of Governments (COG) spoke on their response to the COVID-19 epidemic and shared ideas for ways that regional councils can support efforts to contain the virus.

CARC Coronavirus Resource Page / Request for Resources and Policies
NARC has created a webpage to house regional resources for combatting coronavirus. If your region has developed resources or policy tools that you would like to share with other regions, please send them in to Jessica Routzahn at jessica@narc.org so that they can be incorporated into the resource page.

SUMMARY/BACKGROUND

The coronavirus disease of 2019, otherwise known as COVID-19, is a respiratory disease caused by a new strain of the coronavirus that was first detected in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) are responding to the outbreak which has now been detected in more than 100 countries internationally, including in the United States. On January 30, 2020, the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee of the World Health Organization declared the outbreak a “public health emergency of international concern.” Less than two months later WHO declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic on March 11, 2020.

BY THE NUMBERS

In the United States at least 1,215 people have tested positive for coronavirus as of 10:00 AM March 13, according to the CDC, and at least 40 patients with the virus have died. The CDC updates their coronavirus page regularly at noon Mondays through Fridays. Numbers close out at 4 p.m. the day before reporting resulting in a possible lag of accurate reporting.

Other institutional and media sources are reporting a higher number of confirmed cases. As of Friday morning March 13th the New York Times (NYT) reported 1,663 cases of coronavirus in the United States confirmed by lab tests and 41 deaths, according to the New York Times database. The map below, created by the NYT, showcases the currently reported cases of coronavirus in the U.S.  

New York Times Map of reported Coronavirus Cases in the U.S.: This map was generated on 3/12/2020 at 10:00am.

According to Business Insider, more than half of US states have declared states of emergency in response to the novel coronavirus outbreak, so far these 29 states include:  

Washington, Florida, California, Kentucky, New York, Maryland, Utah, Oregon, North Carolina, Colorado, Massachusetts, Indiana, New Jersey, Iowa, Illinois, Michigan, Arizona, Connecticut, Louisiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Virginia, Delaware, Montana, Nevada, Arkansas, Kansas, Wisconsin, and Tennessee.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Most recent information confirms that COVID-19 is spreading from person to person throughout the United States. Risk of infection with COVID-19 is higher for people who are close contacts of someone known to have COVID-19 such as healthcare workers or household members. Patients with COVID-19 have had mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms of fever, cough, and shortness of breath. The first case of COVID-19 in the United States was reported on January 21, 2020 and there are now more than 1,000 cases. The following documents from the CDC provide more information on “what you need to know” (English, Simplified Chinese, Spanish), “what to do if you are sick” (English, Simplified Chinese, Spanish), and how to “stop the spread of germs” (English, Spanish).

People can help protect themselves from respiratory illness with these everyday preventive actions:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.

If you are sick, you should do the following to keep from spreading respiratory illness to others:

  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

FUNDING RESOURCES UPDATE

Congressional Spending Package:

Politico reported last Thursday March 6th President Trump signed the $8.3 billion emergency funding package Congress quickly cleared. The bipartisan package (H.R.6074/Public Law 116-123) provides a total of $7.7 billion in new discretionary spending and authorizes an additional $490 million in mandatory spending through a Medicare change. More than $400 million will be disbursed to states within the first 30 days of the law’s enactment with each state receiving no less than $4 million. The $8.3 billion new emergency supplemental funds encompass the following breakdown:

  • More than $3 billion for research and development of vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics.
  • $2.2 billion in public health funding for prevention, preparedness, and response.
    • $950 million of which is to support state & local health agencies.
  • $1 billion for procurement of pharmaceuticals and medical supplies, to support healthcare preparedness and Community Health Centers, and to improve medical surge capacity.
  • $61 million to facilitate the development and review of medical countermeasures, devices, therapies, and vaccines, and to help mitigate potential supply chain interruptions.
  • $1.25 billion to address the coronavirus abroad to help keep Americans safe here at home.
  • Allows for an estimated $7 billion in low-interest loans to affected small businesses, to help cushion the economic blow of this public health emergency o $300 million so the government can purchase vaccines at a fair and reasonable price.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS):

On March 4th the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced upcoming action to provide initial resources to a limited number of state and local jurisdictions in support of our nation’s response to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

  • Initial $25 million cooperative agreement to the states and local jurisdictions who have borne the largest burden of response and preparedness activities to date.
  • Initial $10 million cooperative agreement to state and local jurisdictions to begin implementation of coronavirus surveillance across the U.S., building on existing influenza activities and other surveillance systems.

Coronavirus Response Package:

In a Bloomberg Government report individuals affected by the novel coronavirus could receive paid leave, food assistance and unemployment insurance would be expanded, and Medicaid funding to states would be increased under H.R. 6201 introduced in the House by Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-NY). The measure would also provide emergency funding for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, also known as WIC, as well as the Commodity Assistance Program. The measure would require insurers, Medicare, Medicaid, and other federal health programs to fully cover tests for the virus. Under the legislation funds provided would be designated as emergency requirements and wouldn’t count against the discretionary spending cap for fiscal 2020.

Stafford Act and FEMA Disaster Relief Funds:

In a new letter, Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Patty Murray (D-WA), and Gary Peters (MI) led 36 senate democrats in urging President Trump to immediately consider a national disaster declaration  that would allow FEMA to utilize $40+ billion disaster relief funds to aid state and local governments  responding to the coronavirus outbreak. In the letter, the Senators note that were a disaster declaration granted, use of the Disaster Relief Fund would allow FEMA to provide emergency protective measures to the state at a 75% federal to 25% state cost share for a wide range of eligible expenses and activities.

As more information comes out about the coronavirus outbreak, we will provide updates on a NARC webpage that is currently being developed as this is an emerging, rapidly evolving situation and the CDC is providing updated information and guidance as it becomes available.

All information and resources provided in this blog should be paired with the frequent updates provided by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Executive Office of the President of the United States, the World Health Organization (WHO), and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), among others.

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