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The Coronavirus is a serious global public health threat with information rapidly evolving. We are proud of our Members who are working hard to bring forward potential Covid-19 solutions to prevent, diagnose and treat this deadly infectious disease. Georgia Bio Member Companies, as employers, are also rushing to develop policies in response to employee concerns and safety needs. In support, Georgia Bio is working diligently to gather valuable tools and information for our Members to use as resources and guidelines.

BIO Coronavirus Hub

We have heard and seen many requests from medical research centers, biopharmaceutical companies, testing developers and testing sites requesting supplies and inquiring about manufacturing capacity. The BIO Coronavirus Hub enables you to post requests, announce the availability of supplies and capacity and to respond to those requests and announcements.

Symptoms

Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough and shortness of breath. Georgia's departments of Public Health are working with local health care providers throughout the state to ensure readiness to respond to this novel virus.

The State of Georgia has a new COVID-19 hotline. If you believe that you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or have been exposed to the novel coronavirus, please contact your primary care doctor or an urgent care clinic. Please do not show up unannounced at an emergency room or health care facility.

Hotline: (844) 442-2681

Business Guidelines

Georgia Chamber Business Guidance During COVID-19:

  1. Every Georgia business should implement their plans to protect the health and safety of their employees and customers.  
  2. Every Georgia business should follow the CDC social distancing guidelines. All businesses should make every effort to ensure adequate social distancing occurs by maintaining at least six feet of personal space or as otherwise recommended by the CDC, and providing a station(s) to wash hands with warm water and antibacterial soap, hand sanitizer containing at least 60 percent alcohol, or both, according to the ordinance. 
  3. Businesses operating in localities that have not implemented restrictions should follow the Governor’s direction to limit public gatherings to 10 or fewer and, if they decide to remain operational, should strictly enforce social distancing. For example, if your manufacturing facility employees 400 you should ensure that they remain 6 feet apart or seek further guidance from the Department of Public Health. We also recommend providing employees with masks, gloves and other health personal protection equipment (PPE) as needed.  
  4. Essential businesses and services are not considered to be social gatherings
  5. If your community has implemented an “Essential Business and Services Only” order, we have strongly recommended that they follow the pre-approved Department of Homeland Security (DHS) list of critical industries for national continuity. That list can be found here: https://www.cisa.gov/publication/guidance-essential-critical-infrastructure-workforce. Those companies operating as “essential” should also continue to prioritize the safety of their employees.  
  6. If your community has implemented a “shelter in place” order without an “Essential Business and Services Only” order, we recommend you reach out to your local chamber or elected officials to comply with their specific order and continue to follow Governor Kemp’s Executive Order noted in (3) above

Suggestions to maintaining a safe workplace:

  • Educating employees on the signs and symptoms of the coronavirus and the precautions that can be taken to minimize the risk of contracting the virus.(94%)
  • Allowing sick employees to work from home or take leave as appropriate. (86%)
  • Minimizing unnecessary travel. (81%)
  • Minimizing unnecessary meetings and visitors. (75%)
  • Establishing first-line points of contact within the HR team responsible for managing employee questions or concerns. (39%)
  • Implementing and/or evaluating workplace emergency response protocols.(38%)
  • Training supervisors about strategies to address overreaction from employees and conflict in the workplace. (25%)
  • Other: Sending daily reports to all staff, updates pertinent to our office, colleagues, and clients

How organizations are handling travel concerns:

  • Providing other meeting options, such as video conferencing, to avoid such travel. (69%)
  • Suspending all travel to affected areas. (63%)
  • Monitoring and sharing travel advisories and warnings from relevant public health and governmental authorities with respect to areas where your employees may travel or where you currently have operations. (56%)
  • Asking employees who have recently returned from affected regions to work from home. (44%)
  • Implementing guidelines for travel to affected regions. (38%)
  • Contingency planning for operations and supply-chain disruptions that may occur due to travel restrictions in affected areas. (38%)
  • Developing a policy to address employees who refuse to work with co-workers returning from travel in affected regions. (to avoid anti-harassment and anti-discrimination) (10%)

What an organization's communicable illness policy and response plan should include:

Click here to download the World Health Organization's guide to developing a "Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan for the New Coronavirus."

  • When an ill employee must stay home, when an ill employee will be sent home and when and in what circumstances the employee may return. (81%)
  • What illnesses or exposure to illness an employee must disclose to the employer, and when and how such disclosure should be made. (63%)
  • When an employer may require an ill employee – or those who have been exposed – to be quarantined. (63%)
  • Whether the employer will pay employees for the time spent in quarantine as well as an outline of the benefits that are available to employees. (56%)
  • Other: Provisions for critical employees (like manufacturing personnel ) who must work but you want exposure limited - hotel accommodations be provided to insulate their families

Business Tools:

Biopharma Initiatives

State Updates

Updates from the States

  • Gov. Kemp Calls on Georgia Businesses to Aid with Critical Health Care Needs - On March 24, 2020 Governor Kemp called on all Georgia businesses who are able to help the state provide, produce, distribute, or store critical health care items needed to fight the spread of COVID-19. Click here to read the press release and to complete the information form, visit: www.georgia.org/covid19response.
  • Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced Monday night that she has signed 14-day stay at home order for the city of Atlanta. The order says all city residents are being directed to stay home except for essential services, essential activities, work or for government services. As of right now, the order does not include essential businesses, parks, the Atlanta BeltLine and restaurants serving takeout. Click here to read the executive order. 
  • On March 23rd Governor Kemp announced new restrictions by directing bars and nightclubs statewide to close. The executive order also limited gatherings, including those in churches, to 10 or fewer people, unless a safe “social distancing” space of six feet apart can be maintained. At minimum, this order for isolation, quarantine, or shelter-in-place covers those who live in a long-term care facility, have chronic lung disease, are undergoing cancer treatment, have a positive COVID-19 test, are suspected to have COVID-19 because of their symptoms and exposure, or have been exposed to someone who has COVID-19. Click here to view the executive order.
  • On March 20th Governor Kemp issued two additional executive orders: one authorizing nearly $20 million in emergency funding to pay for necessary medical supplies, and the other reducing regulations - especially in the healthcare context - to address COVID-19. All licensed Georgia pharmacists are now permitted to dispense a ninety-day supply of a prescription drug if a patient has no remaining refills and the pharmacist cannot get in contact with the prescribing provider. Pharmacists may also dispense early refills for prescription drugs. However, these authorizations do not apply to Schedule II controlled substances. Click here to view the executive order.
  • On March 14th Governor Kemp declared a public health state of emergency to deploy additional resources and give the Department of Public Health authority to direct specific healthcare action to fight against the spread of COVID-19. As part of this state of emergency, the Governor have authorized new processes for temporary licensure of out-of-state doctors and nurses, and authorized the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency to coordinate with the Georgia National Guard to call up as many as 2,000 troops to assist in emergency response. Click here to view the executive order.
  • On March 17, 2020, Governor Brian P. Kemp signed House Bill 792 - Georgia's amended fiscal year 2020 budget - with $100 million in emergency funding to address the spread of novel coronavirus and COVID-19.
  • Out of the cases under investigation detected by U.S. surveillance, there are total cases: 122,653 travel-related: 712 “close contact”: 1,326 The CDC now updates data Monday through Friday and data closes out the day before reporting. 
    • The CDC is reporting 2,112 deaths in the U.S. related to COVID-19.
    • New York has close to 25,700 cases and at least 157 deaths.
  • New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has extended the nonessential business closure until April 15th as the New York death toll surpassed 1,000.
  • An emergency field hospital has opened in Central Park, Manhattan. Today, volunteers and officials from Samaritan’s Purse, an organization that provides medical aid around the globe, set up a 68-bed facility in the park’s East Meadow, across the street from Mount Sinai Hospital. The facility will hold eight intensive care units with ventilators and will be staffed by about three to four doctors and several more nurse practitioners.
  • In Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott is now requiring that all individuals who have returned from New Orleans by road must self-quarantine for 14 days. The original order had extended only to those who had flown in from New Orleans, but now any Texas residents returning by air from Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit, Miami, or any California airport must stay at home for two weeks or be subject to a $1,000 fine or 180 days in jail.
  • The Ohio legislature moved the official primary date to April 28th and created a new plan, under which approximately 7.8 million registered voters in Ohio will receive postcards with instructions for applying for a ballot. Ballots postmarked by April 27th will be counted in the primary. Voters who are disabled or who do not have a permanent address will be allowed to vote in person at their local elections boards.
  • There are now school closures in all 50 states. This site maps school closures across states in counties.
  • A teenager in California is believed to be the first juvenile in the U.S. to die from COVID-19.
  • Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves announced late last week that he is postponing the March 31st Republican primary runoff in the state's 2nd Congressional District because of COVID-19. The new date is June 23rd.
  • Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida said today that he will sign an executive order directing the state’s surgeon general to require anyone flying (not driving) to the state from New York or New Jersey to observe a mandatory 14-day quarantine.
  • This document provides a more comprehensive list of state declarations, executive orders, and school closures (additions to the document are ongoing).
  • The CDC is reporting 400 deaths in the U.S. related to COVID-19.
  • Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey postponed the primary runoffs (including the Senate GOP showdown between Tommy Tuberville and Jeff Sessions) in the state originally planned for March 31, pushing them back until July 14 due to the spread of COVID-19. Two GOP-leaning open-seat House runoffs will also take place then.
  • Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced an executive order banning gatherings of more than ten people in the state. Additionally, malls in Maryland will close by 5pm today.
  • Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued a series of executive orders today to prepare for and mitigate COVID-19. The orders are: no groups of more than 10 people; people shall avoid eating at bars and restaurants, except for delivery/take-out; no visiting nursing homes or retirement facilities; and schools are temporarily closed.
  • California Gov. Gavin Newson just issued a “stay at home” order.
  • Forty-four states have now closed schools. This site maps school closures and is updated twice daily on weekdays.
  • New York state now has more confirmed cases than all but 10 countries in the world.
  • Thirty-nine states have now closed schools. This site maps school closures and is updated twice daily on weekdays.
  • California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the launch of a new COVID-19 public awareness campaign to provide useful information to Californians and inform them of actions they can take to further prevent the spread of the virus. The campaign is anchored by a new, consumer-friendly website, www.covid19.ca.gov, that highlights critical steps people can take to stay healthy and resources available to Californians impacted by the outbreak, including paid sick leave and unemployment assistance.
  • Kansas has announced that all schools will be closed for the rest of the school year.
  • Kim Reynolds of Iowa issued a State of Public Health Disaster Emergency plan that went into effect at noon today. The plan is in line with those in multiple other states, shutting down restaurants, theaters, and fitness centers, and banning mass gatherings of more than 10 people.
  • The Maryland primaries originally scheduled for April 28th will now be held on June 2nd. Maryland is the fifth state to postpone its primary.
  • The White House today urged governors in states with evidence of community transmissions to close schools in affected and surrounding areas. Leaders of top teachers unions have been vocal in backing the closure of schools nationwide.
  • CMS granted Florida’s request to expand its Medicaid program to remove barriers to needed services to combat COVID-19. With the approval, the state can waive prior authorization requirements under Section 1135 authority, streamline enrollment, and allow care to be offered in alternative settings that might be unlicensed.
  • New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio warned that residents should be prepared for a “shelter in place” order to go into effect in the next two days.
  • Beaches have started to ban groups of more than 10, starting with Florida during peak spring break tourist season.
  • West Virginia is officially the 50th state to report a case.
  •  

Federal Updates

Washington, D.C

  • On Friday, the House passed and the President signed the $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The bill text is available here, and a section-by-section is here. For further details on the COVID-19 legislative landscape, please refer to the COVID-19 Legislative Update email. If you do not already receive the update, please email Sierra Fuller (sfuller@cgagroup.com).
  • President Trump has extended the federal government’s social-distancing guidelines through the end of April.
  • The CDC issued a domestic travel advisory for residents of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. Individuals from those three states are urged to refrain from non-essential domestic travel for two weeks effective yesterday. The travel advisory does not apply to essential employees.
    • CISA updated their guidance on the essential critical infrastructure workforce on Saturday.
  • CMS announced the expansion of its accelerated and advanced payment program for Medicare participating health care providers and suppliers, to ensure they have the resources needed to combat COVID-19. The program expansion includes changes from the recently enacted CARES Act.
  • CMS sent a letter to the nation’s hospitals on behalf of Vice President Pence requesting that they increase their data reporting. The Administration is requesting that hospitals report COVID-19 testing data to HHS, in addition to daily reporting regarding bed capacity and supplies to the CDC National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN) COVID-19 Patient Impact and Hospital Capacity Module.
  • FEMA has a “How to Help” website for COVID-19 which includes donations, volunteering, and private sector subcategories.
  • The EPA is relaxing enforcement of multiple environmental regulations because of worker shortages and travel restrictions caused by COVID-19, per a memo circulated today. This has caused a stir in the environmental activism community as many facilities benefiting from the relaxed standards are still operating under full capacity.
  • President Trump sent a letter to America’s governors today saying the federal government hoped to provide a risk assessment for individual counties in conjunction with increased testing capabilities. In the letter, the President says that counties will be classified as high, medium or low risk to help local policymakers make decisions about whether to maintain, increase, or relax social distancing standards.
  • HHS banned the hoarding or price-gouging of N95 respirator masks, ventilators, gloves, and other personal protective equipment. The hoarding ban includes hydroxychloroquine after reports of the drug selling out at pharmacies. The list of banned materials can be found here.
  • The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at HHS issued guidance on how covered entities may disclose protected health information about an individual who has been infected with or exposed to COVID-19 to law enforcement, paramedics, other first responders, and public health authorities in compliance with HIPAA.
  • On March 25, the USTR announced the U.S. would grant tariff exclusions for more medical products from China. The new categories of medical equipment excluded from tariffs include refillable dispensers, sterile urology drain bags, ice bags, and wristbands.
  • The FDA announced multiple actions taken in its ongoing response effort to COVID-19.
  • The Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) authority allows the FDA to help strengthen the nation’s public health protections against CBRN threats by facilitating the availability and use of MCMs needed during public health emergencies. Click here for a list of current EUAs.
  • Today, the FDA took action to increase U.S. supplies to support the U.S. response to COVID-19 by providing instructions to manufacturers importing personal protective equipment and other devices.
  • HHS ASPR is providing $100 million to support the National Special Pathogen System (NSPS), which will leverage infrastructure set up for the U.S. Ebola response in order to assist health departments and hospital systems across the country. 
  • CMS approved Medicaid Section 1135 waivers for 11 states, bringing the total number of states approved for waivers to 13. The waivers offer states flexibilities to focus their resources on combating the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • CDC continues to update its list of FAQ for healthcare professionals.
  • CMS announced a new inspection process for nursing homes and healthcare facilities that includes a self-assessment tool for providers. The new inspection plans come following a CMS review of the Life Care Center nursing home in Kirkland, Washington. CMS is temporarily postponing routine inspections at healthcare facilities to focus on prioritized inspections. 
  • The NIH launched a website with educational resources for coronavirus workers dealing with the spread of COVID-19. The website contains virtual safety training for frontline responders who must continue working despite coronavirus.
  • The White House introduced the COVID-19 High Performance Computing Consortium to provide COVID-19 researchers worldwide with access to high performance computing resources. Researchers may submit COVID-19 research proposals to the consortium which will then be reviewed and matched with computing resources.
  • The IRS temporarily closed all Taxpayer Assistance Centers and stopped face-to-face service through the country. The IRS will continue to process tax returns, issue refunds, and help taxpayers to the “greatest extent possible.”
  • The Census Bureau has paused all hiring and on-boarding for nearly 600,000 employees due to COVID-19 until at least April 1st.
  • Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) penned a letter signed by 126 House Democrats urging the Administration to drop its ACA lawsuit amid the coronavirus pandemic. The letter warns of a healthcare system collapse should the Supreme Court strike down the ACA during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) joined Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) and Ben McAdams (D-UT) as the only members of Congress who have tested positive for COVID-19; however, 26 other members are now in self-quarantine. Four members have completed a self-quarantine.
  • Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) penned a letter signed by 126 House Democrats urging the Administration to drop its ACA lawsuit amid the coronavirus pandemic. The letter warns of a healthcare system collapse should the Supreme Court strike down the ACA during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The President has signed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which the Senate passed yesterday with a vote of 90-8. The House previously passed the bill (and then a correcting resolution), which is the second COVID-19 supplemental appropriations package. View the bill summary here.
  • During a conference call this afternoon, CISA released its guidance intended to help states, local governments and businesses determine which workers are considered essential during shelter in place orders and other restrictions on business operations. CISA made two things abundantly clear on the call: its guidance does not carry the force of law, and guidance is subject to change as it receives stakeholder feedback.
  • The State Department announced a Level 4 travel advisory for all international travel. The announcement of the Department’s most severe travel warning is unprecedented, and instructs all Americans abroad to either return to the U.S. or prepare to shelter in place. Americans also will also be instructed not to travel abroad.
    • Some Americans remain in limbo abroad: they are either unable to leave the country they are in due to travel restrictions, or are forced to pay steep amounts for the few remaining flights.
    • In countries where commercial departure options remain available, U.S. citizens who live in the United States should arrange for immediate return, unless they are prepared to remain abroad for an indefinite period. U.S. citizens who live abroad should avoid all international travel.
  • The Census Bureau said today that it will extend the deadline for counting everyone in the U.S. by two weeks.
  • The Census Bureau announced that it will temporarily suspend all of its field work for the 2020 census until at least April 1. The census can still be filled out online, however, and letters with instructions on how to participate are expected to arrive at "most homes" by Friday.
  • There are currently multiple proposals floating around for a third supplemental, which will be Senate-driven. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer released details of a $750 billion proposal, Treasury Sec. Steven Mnuchin has offered ideas for a $1.2 trillion package, and Senate Republicans have put together a bill that would cost around $850 billion.
  • President Trump announced March 18th that he will invoke the Defense Production Act (DPA), which would allow the Administration to mobilize American industry to manufacture medical supplies, such as masks, gloves, and other PPE, that are in short supply.
  • The FDA is allowing for the expanded use of devices to monitor patients’ vital signs remotely. Press release here.
  • The FDA published guidance on production of alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • The FDA issued a guidance for industry, investigators, and institutional review boards conducting clinical trials during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
  • On March 17th, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) granted U.S. Cellular special temporary authority to use more airwaves to help meet increased consumer demand for broadband during the pandemic.
  • Last week the House passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (and then a correcting resolution), the second COVID-19 supplemental appropriations package. We are currently awaiting Senate action, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has indicated the Senate will vote as soon as possible. View the bill summary here.
  • The Office of Management and Budget sent a letter to Congress outlining additional funding needs for FY20 and FY21 for the COVID-19 response.
  • Reps. Ben McAdams (D-UT) and Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) have both tested positive for COVID-19.
  • HUD Secretary Ben Carson authorized the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) to implement an immediate foreclosure and eviction moratorium for single family homeowners with FHA-insured mortgages for the next 60 days.
  • For the next in its FAQ series, CMS released updates to their Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for State Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) Agencies.
  • CMS has also released recommendations on adult elective surgeries and non-essential medical, surgical, and dental procedures.
  • CMS has released a Virtual Toolkit with resources for medical and public health partners to stay up to date with CMS materials.
  • Medicaid Telehealth Guidance to states.
  • Administration officials said all asylum seekers and other foreigners attempting to enter the U.S. from Mexico illegally will be turned away, citing the potential risk of COVID-19 spreading through detention facilities and border patrol agents. When acted upon (likely within the next two days), ports of entry would still remain open to American citizens, green-card holders, and foreigners with proper documentation.

Military/Defense

  • V.A. officials in New York will open up 50 beds to non-veteran patients in New York City as part of the department’s attempt to backstop community health needs in the event of a national emergency.
  • President Trump and Defense Secretary Mark Esper traveled to Norfolk, Virginia to see off the USNS Comfort. The 1,200-person vessel is scheduled to arrive in New York early this week to take on non-COVID-19 patients facing life-threatening ailments to alleviate the burden of the city’s increasingly overflowing hospitals. The Navy’s other hospital ship, the Mercy, arrived in Los Angeles Friday with an identical mission.
    • The Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) is contributing over $2 million in pharmaceuticals and medical supplies, 975,000 gallons of fuel, as well as food and repair parts for both the USNS Comfort and Mercy.
  • The Pentagon’s logistics agency has modified an existing contract and will spend $84.4 million to buy 8,000 ventilators from Zoll Medical Corp., Combat Medical Systems LLC, Hamilton Medical Inc., and VyAire Medical Inc., with an initial delivery of 1,400 by early May.
  • DoD’s Office of Industrial Policy has a website offering resources for industry navigating responses to COVID-19.
  • The Navy has begun testing all 5,000 people aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt after eight sailors tested positive for the coronavirus.
  • There are 227 cases of COVID-19 among active duty service members, up from 133 on Monday. The rate of service member cases is about 175 per million troops, which surpasses the U.S. at a large rate of 135 per million.
  • The Air Force Academy upped its Health Protection Condition to level Charlie, indicating substantial risk and sustained community transmission of the COVID-19 disease. Cadets are moving to online classes for the remainder of the school year. 
  • Defense Sec. Mark Esper has issued a stop movement order halting all travel and movement abroad for up to 60 days. The order applies to U.S. troops, civilian personnel, and family members. Sec. Esper said that U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan will continue.
  • The 1,000-bed USNS Comfort hospital ship will head to New York City in less than two weeks. Defense Sec. Esper highlighted the DOD’s effort to help with the COVID-19 response, including the departure of the USNS Mercy from Naval Station San Diego on Monday. Comfort’s mission will be to alleviate the burden on New York’s hospital system by providing non-coronavirus healthcare.
  • Production of the Air Force’s KC-46 refueling tanker and the Navy’s P-8 maritime surveillance plane will stop as Boeing shuts down all facilities in the Seattle area.
  • The Army said last week it does not currently expect COVID-19 to have an impact on planned contract awards, while also identifying several rescheduled efforts, including delivery of Humvee ambulances and updates to training simulators.
  • In response to yesterday’s increase to HPCON level Charlie, the Pentagon is shutting down a number of entrances beginning tomorrow at noon. The closed entrances include: Metro entrance, visitor screening, corridor 5, library & conference center, athletic center, mall annex vehicle access point, memorial gate, and river pedestrian booth.
  • V.A. Secretary Robert Wilkie writes about how the Department is responding to COVID-19 here.
  • The Naval Base San Diego hospital ship Mercy will arrive at the Port of Los Angeles later this week to take pressure off LA area hospitals. The ship will have more than 1,100 personnel and will be able to offer a broad range of critical care and other care. The Mercy has 1,000 beds and 12 operating rooms, but it cannot follow the necessary isolation protocol to prevent the spread of the virus so it won’t be taking COVID-19 patients.
  • The DOD is soliciting information from industry about how COVID-19 is disrupting businesses. The Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Industrial Policy has established an email address for industry to submit tips and leads.
  • The U.S.-led coalition in Iraq has suspended its training mission for 60 days. Additionally, the U.S. military has stopped deployments to Afghanistan, which will extend deployment for some service members.
    • In Afghanistan, the training mission is continuing, though it is being adapted to mitigate risks. When possible, the coalition and Afghan forces are conducting training via teleconference and other “technical means,” while bases reorganize to create physical distance, with limited access to mission-essential personnel.
  • The U.S. commander in Afghanistan is halting American and allied troops from entering Afghanistan and, in turn, preventing some troops from leaving, for the next month. About 1,500 multinational troops, civilians, and contractors who arrived in Afghanistan within the past week are now living in screening facilities to limit movement.
    • As of March 19, 21 Resolute Support personnel have shown flu-like symptoms and are receiving medical care in isolation.
    • There are roughly 12,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan. But under an agreement signed between the Taliban and American diplomats last month, that number is set to decrease to 8,600 within the next 100 or so days. NATO and coalition forces, with roughly 8,700 troops in the country, were set to draw down a commensurate amount. With the new order from Gen. Miller, it will be difficult to reduce troops to the agreed upon number if troops are not allowed to move in or out of the country.
  • In addition to sending the USNS Mercy and Comfort to pandemic hotspots, active duty troops could help staff up to 1,000 beds’ worth of field hospitals around the country, the Joint Staff surgeon told reporters Wednesday, in response to requests from civilian public health agencies. Thousands of National Guard troops have been activated across more than a dozen states in the past week, though not necessarily medical units, and tasked with running mobile testing centers and compiling care packages to deliver to vulnerable residents, for example.
  • The Air Force has postponed the second round of tests for its next-generation battle management system due to COVID-19, moving the exercise from April to June.
  • A Navy hospital ship will not be ready to deploy to the New York City area in the next few days because it is undergoing maintenance in Norfolk, VA. According to a Pentagon spokesperson, it will be “weeks,” not days, until the DOD is able to deploy the Comfort.
    • There is another Navy hospital ship, the Mercy, that could be ready within days to service the West Coast.
  • The Pentagon announced that the Air Force moved 500,000 virus testing swabs to the U.S. from Italy. An Air National Guard unit transported the swabs to Memphis, TN, at which point they were distributed around the country as directed by HHS.
  • The Association of Defense Communities, Blue Star Families, and participants from the White Oak Collaborative are hosting a COVID-19 Military Support Town Hall Meeting tomorrow at 3pm. Register here.
  • All battle assemblies for U.S. Army Reserve units have been suspended indefinitely.
  • The Pentagon announced earlier this week that it will create a COVID-19 task force which will work closely with the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Joint Staff and other agencies to develop policies and recommendations for the disease.
  • DOD officials cautioned against overestimating the Department’s capacity to provide medical support in the fight against COVID-19, citing capabilities designed for trauma care, not infectious diseases. The Pentagon assured that it is “ready, willing and able to support civilian authorities to the greatest extent possible.”
  • Defense Sec. Mark Esper said the DOD would provide 5 million N95 air-filtering masks and 2,000 ventilators to assist the COVID-19 response. He added that the Pentagon can also make the Mercy and the Comfort available as hospital ships.
  • Congresswoman Jackie Speier, Chair of the House Armed Services Military Personnel Subcommittee, sent a letter signed by 65 other members of the House to President Trump, calling on him to marshal DOD resources to protect against COVID-19. The letter highlights a number of ways DOD authorities, resources, and capabilities could be used to support the response to COVID-19, citing current authorities and past precedent. Some of these options include constructing mobile hospitals, aiding vaccine research and development, manufacturing emergency equipment, and making some equipment – like ventilators – available when possible.
  • A total of 670 National Guard members from 15 states have been activated as of yesterday morning in support of states’ responses to COVID-19, according to the National Guard Bureau. Any state that declares a state of emergency is authorized to call up its state’s Guard troops, according to a NGB release.

International Affairs

  • India is facing serious challenges with their country-wide lockdown. Hundreds of thousands of migrant workers are now homeless and jobless and have begun traveling on foot to get home. Prime Minister Narendra Modi apologized to the country for having to implement the lockdown, but emphasized the need to take precautions against COVID-19.
  • Greenland’s capital, Nuuk, has banned the sale of alcohol after authorities noted a rise in domestic abuse since the government ordered people to stay home to stave off the coronavirus.
  • Syria reported its first death from COVID-19. It came close to a week after the country announced its first confirmed case. Before officially reported cases, the Syrian government closed schools, limited working hours, banned gatherings, postponed elections, and built quarantine centers. There is now an evening curfew between 6pm and 6am.
  • The U.S. now has the highest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases globally (more than both China and Italy).
  • China has closed its borders to foreign nationals who live there starting Saturday at midnight. The government announced that it would suspend entry for nearly all foreign nationals holding valid visas and residence permits, including all visa-free transit policies. It does not apply to visas issued to diplomats or flight crew, or to people traveling to China for “necessary economic, trade, scientific or technological activities or out of emergency humanitarian needs.”
  • At a joint virtual press briefing, Secretary-General António Guterres, UN Humanitarian Coordinator Mark Lowcock, UN Children’s Fund Executive Director Henrietta Fore, and WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, launched a $2 billion coordinated global humanitarian response plan to fight COVID-19 in some of the world’s most vulnerable countries in a bid to protect the millions most at risk.
  • Italy’s daily death toll increased again today after two days of stunted growth, leading the Italian government to fear the worst is not over yet. The country has now reported 69,176 cases of the illness and 6,920 deaths from COVID-19.  
  • Spain has now joined Italy in surpassing China’s COVID-19 death toll.
  • 71-year-old Prince Charles, heir to the British throne, tested positive for COVID-19.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a weeklong national holiday starting this Saturday to mitigate COVID-19 spread and announced the postponement of a referendum next month on whether he can rule until 2036. He said of the virus today, “Don’t think that, ‘this doesn’t concern me.’ It concerns everyone.”
  • The WHO has delivered a new shipment of emergency medical supplies to the Islamic Republic of Iran as part of COVID-19 response measures. The shipment is the seventh sent to Iran since they first reported cases in February. Read more here.
  • Almost 14 percent of Spain’s cases are medical professionals.
  • Cuban Prime Minister Manuel Marrero Cruz said all visitors inside the country will be banned from walking outside and taxi drivers will be prohibited from transporting them anywhere starting today. Tourists staying in private homes will be moved into hotels in an effort to protect visitors and the locals renting out their houses. Hotels are under strict surveillance and will be screening employees and tourists for symptoms twice daily.
  • The Hubei province in China will begin easing its two-month lockdown restrictions tomorrow. Wuhan will remain sealed off until April 8th, but the public transportation system will be up and running again within a day.
  • India extended its lockdown to the whole country (population 1.3 billion), grounding all domestic flights. Prime Minister Narendra Modi commented that people in the country are still not taking the lockdown seriously, and took to Twitter to plead with individuals to stay home.
  • British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced today that the country would enter a virtual lockdown. All nonessential shops will close, meetings of more than two people are banned, and people are required to stay in their homes, except for trips for food or medicine.
  • French Prime Minister Édouard Philippe said the government would tighten the lockdown rules starting tomorrow. The lockdown will make it so most people would be able to leave their homes once a day, for a maximum of one hour, and they will be required to stay within a kilometer of their homes.
  • German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s COVID-19 test came back negative.
  • A new study shows that the COVID-19 death rate in China may have actually been lower than originally published. Previous estimates had the death rate as high as 2-3.4 percent. The study in Nature Medicine calculated it to be closer to 1.3 percent. This is still a high death rate, but not nearly as dire as 2-3.4 percent.
  • Brazil closed its borders today in an effort to mitigate spread of the virus. President Pair Bolsonaro has not implemented as restrictive measures as Peru, Chile, and Argentina, but the border closing is a significant step.
  • Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered most Israelis to stay in their homes except when buying groceries or medicine, and said there would be police enforcement. The order will last for one week.
  • Italy remains in the spotlight today as COVID-19 deaths have now exceeded the toll in China at 3,405. Cemeteries in the northern city of Bergamo are so overwhelmed that troops were called in to transport bodies elsewhere to be cremated. The army sent 120 doctors and health professionals to help in Bergamo and nearby Lodi, while field hospitals and emergency respiratory units are being set up elsewhere in the north.
  • The State Department is suspending routine visa services in South Korea, in accordance with travel advisories issued following the COVID-19 outbreak.
    • The Embassy will cancel all routine immigrant and non-immigrant visa appointments as of March 19. The policy does not affect visa-waiver programs, but it does apply to all countries with a level 2, 3, or 4 travel advisory. Operations will continue as usual for U.S. citizens.
  • The U.S. and Canada have agreed to close the border to non-essential traffic. President Trump and Canadian President Justin Trudeau have not said when the border will reopen.
  • The E.U. voted to bar most travelers from outside of Europe for the next 30 days. Exceptions will be made for E.U. citizens coming home, scientists, medical professionals, and people commuting between two European countries for work.
  • For the first time since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, China reported zero local infections. The 34 reported cases today all involved individuals who came from outside China.
  • Today, the WHO called on Member states in the South-East Asia Region to urgently scale-up aggressive measures to combat COVID-19. Eight out of the 11 countries in the region share a confirmed 480 cases between them. According to Dr. Poonam Khetrapal Singh, the South-East Asia regional director, more clusters of the virus are being confirmed and some of the region's countries are getting closer to crossing the community transfer threshold.
  • Germany has spent more than $55 million on logistics and flights to bring home citizens as countries around the world tighten border restrictions.
  • French government officials announced a relief package that would include postponing or slashing taxes, a government guarantee of loans for companies, and more than $1.1 billion for small businesses and independent contractors.
  • Global Cases:  414,179    Total Deaths:  18,440

Other Resources

Common Acronyms

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO), National Institutes of Health (NIH), Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Department of Defense (DOD), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Central Command (CENTCOM), Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), Transportation Security Administration (TSA), Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR), Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA)

Gov. Kemp Calls on Georgia Businesses to Aid with Critical Health Care Needs

  • Governor Kemp calls on all Georgia businesses who are able to help the state provide, produce, distribute, or store critical health care items needed to fight the spread of COVID-19. 
  • Click here to read the press release and to complete the information form, visit: www.georgia.org/covid19response.

FEMA Support 

Suppliers, donors and clients, see the following website: https://www.fema.gov/coronavirus/how-to-help

On the website under private sector you will find:

  • To sell medical supplies or equipment to the federal government, please email specifics to covidsupplies@fema.dhs.gov.
  • If you have medical supplies or equipment to donate, please provide us details on what you are offering.
  • If you are a private company that wants to produce a product related to the COVID response – email nbeoc@max.gov.
  • If you are a hospital and other companies in need of medical supplies, contact your state Department of Public Health and/or Emergency Management.
  • For non-medical supplies, services or equipment, if you are interested in doing business with FEMA, visit our Industry Liaison Program.

SBA Disaster Loan Funding

Small businesses in ANY state and territory may apply for the disaster loans online at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela. Due to heavy usage, it is best for companies to go onto the site at night.  If possible always apply online.

  • Small Business Development Center (SBDC) counselors can help companies complete disaster applications remotely. Contact your local SBDC.
  • For anyone already having an current  SBA disaster loan, it is deferred until 12/31/2020.

For individual questions on disaster loans, companies can call, email or use the website:
Online:  SBA.gov/Disaster 
Email:    disastercustomerservice@sba.gov
Call:       1-800-659-2955 (TTY: 1-800-877-8339)

Additional information about SBA assistance:

  • Borrowers with a current SBA 504  or 7(a) business loan can contact their lender to request a deferral for up six months.
  • SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans offer up to $2 million for working capital to help support small businesses overcome the temporary loss of working capital they are experiencing.
  • These loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can’t be paid because of the disaster’s impact. The interest rate is 3.75% for small businesses and 2.75% for non-profits.
  • SBA offers long-term loans up to a maximum of 30 years.
  • SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans are just one piece of the expanded focus of the federal government’s coordinated response, and the SBA is strongly committed to providing the most effective and customer-focused response possible.

Grants/Funding

Lifestyle and Economy

  • Monday morning trading in Hong Kong has begun and the S&P 500 futures dropped 1.4 percent, indicating that we could have another tough week ahead of us. Despite record-breaking gains last week, both the S&P 500 and the Dow are down more than 20 percent overall in 2020.
  • Health insurance companies Cigna and Humana have agreed to protect their customers from out-of-pocket costs if they require treatment for COVID-19. Last week, Aetna insurance said it would also waive cost-sharing related to hospital stays.
  • Producers and distributors of medical supplies across the country are raising red flags about what they say is a lack of guidance from the federal government about where to send their products, as hospitals compete for desperately needed masks and ventilators to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus. To date, the Administration has not provided formal guidance about where manufacturers can distribute their products.
  • The New York Times has started its own tracker of cases in the U.S. to fill in the gaps left by agency data.
  • There were 3.3 million unemployment insurance claims filed last week, the highest since 1982 at which point there were 695,000 in a week. The 3.3 million figure is around five times more than during the peak of the Great Recession.
  • Forbes is keeping a running list of all major international airline COVID-19-related change and cancellation policies.Capital from seed-stage funding, often the first significant source of cash for startups, has declined by about 22 percent globally since January. A recent analysis puts total private-market funding for startups at $67 billion in the first quarter, down from an initial forecast of $77 billion.
  • Children's National Hospital has opened a drive-up/walk-up location where primary care doctors in the Washington, D.C. region can refer young patients (up to 22-years-old) for COVID-19 specimen collection and testing. The specimens are sent offsite to the program's laboratory partner, Quest Diagnostics, for analysis.
  • If you’re looking for a way to entertain your young children during these times of telework, check out #operationstorytime, where beloved children’s authors are reading their books and posting the videos.
  • The New York Times offers 10 ways to ease your COVID-19 anxiety in this article.
  • The CDC published this article on COVID-19 and cruise ships in their Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
  • The National Park Service is urging visitors to avoid the Tidal Basin in D.C. where tourists are ignoring social distancing to see the cherry blossoms in peak bloom.
  • A figure in Prevent Epidemics highlights the association between age and severity of COVID-19 illness.
  • Multiple grocery store chains, including Safeway, Whole Foods, and Walmart, are changing their store hours to accommodate shoppers over 60-years-old and to leave time for deep cleaning. A list of stores that have changed their schedules is here.
  • Amazon confirmed their first warehouse employee COVID-19 case.
  • President Trump cancelled the in-person Group of Seven summit scheduled for June at Camp David. It will be held by videoconference instead.
  • The Cannes Film Festival has been postponed. It might be shifted to June or July depending on the state of the pandemic.
    • Lists of canceled conferences and events can be found herehere, and here.
  • Ford, General Motors and Fiat Chrysler decided to shut down all North American factories in order to alleviate the spread of COVID-19 until at least the end of the month. The closure of the factories will send about 150,000 workers home. These workers are likely to receive supplemental pay in addition to unemployment benefits, which combined will equal to what they normally make.
  • Police in India choreographed a dance and a recorded a video to encourage handwashing.
  • AARP is hosting a live Q&A tomorrow at 1pm to protect against coronavirus scams. Read background information and find a dial-in number here.
  • Colleges and universities continue to cancel in-person classes to switch to a virtual curriculum. Other schools have decided to cancel the remainder of the spring semester, having varied impacts on students and student-athletes. Continually updated lists of college/university decisions are outlined in this article and this article.
    • Lists of canceled conferences and events can be found herehere, and here.
  • A new analysis out of Harvard predicts that many parts of the U.S. would not have nearly enough hospital beds if COVID-19 does end up infecting up to 40 percent of adults. Hospitals have already begun canceling elective surgeries and sending home patients with milder ailments.
  • The American Public Transportation Association, which represents systems used by about 90 percent of public transit riders in the U.S. and Canada, released a statement asking Congress for $12.9 billion to help pay for system cleaning and to help offset lost fares and sales tax revenue.
  • Colleges and universities continue to cancel in-person classes to switch to a virtual curriculum. Other schools have decided to cancel the remainder of the spring semester, having varied impacts on students and student-athletes. Continually updated lists of college/university decisions are outlined in this article and this article.
  • The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) finally decided to suspend upcoming events, joining nearly every other professional sports organization.
  • St. Patrick’s Day parades in New York City, Boston, and – most importantly – Dublin were canceled. People were encouraged to celebrate the day online using the hashtag #StPatricksDayTogether.
    • Lists of canceled conferences and events can be found here and here.

Mental Health

Helpful Articles/Media

Johns Hopkins University Real-Time Coronavirus Tracker

“Flattening the Curve” is how we describe the need to take precautions to minimize the number of people infected by COVID-19. Above, you can see where the health care system’s capacity is, as well as how it stacks up against the number of cases with and without implementing protective measures.

RSS 2019 Novel Coronavirus