Governor Responses to COVID-19

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On March 19, 2020, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, the chair of the National Governors Association, issued a press release on behalf of the nation’s governors.

In the press release, Governor Hogan announced that on March 19, 2020, he expected to submit five requests to the president, vice president, and leaders in both houses of Congress on behalf of the nation’s governors to help them combat the novel coronavirus, COVID-19.

The five requests included:

(1) Dedicate at least 50 percent of supplemental funding to the states, including direct funding, and act quickly on waiver requests;

(2) Increase access to PPE, masks, test kits, extraction kits, and accelerating the production of life-saving equipment, such as ventilators;

(3) Support Title 32 authorization to give governors maximum flexibility for use of the National Guard;

(4) Provide guidance on implementation of Defense Production Act to include what health and medical resources Secretary of Health and Human Services Azar is prioritizing under his new authority; and

(5) Allow more time and flexibility for completion of both the Census and the transition to REAL ID

Hutchinson and Ige Letter

This request is in addition to a letter sent by co-chairs of the Presidentially appointed Council of Governors, Asa Hutchinson (AR) and David Ige (HI). In that letter, Hutchinson and Ige requested that the Trump Administration “authorize the use of National Guard members under Title 32, United States Code, specifically 502(f).”

The governors also stated their belief that “this authority, in support of the current National Emergency, will ensure more streamlined and operationally effective and responsive operations to support our communities and citizens in combatting COVID-19.”

The letter also requested that should the National Emergency continue for a “prolonged period,” the Administration should “avoid the use of Title 10, United States Code for the National Guard, which takes away the governors ability to manage their response and diminishes that partnership that helps to ensure each state and territory can address and respond to their unique circumstances.”

National Governors Association

The National Governors Association has a State Coronavirus Action Network (SCAN) that holds regular calls for states to hear from subject-matter experts, learn from peers in other states, and discuss common challenges related to COVID-19. For example, the telephone call that took place on Tuesday, March 17, focused on the decision-making criteria and mitigation strategies governors have used in their response efforts, including restricting state employee travel and mass gatherings, school closures, and employer guidance.

As of the writing of this article, all states/territories had issued some form of State of Emergency/Public Health Emergency declaration; 30 states/territories had activated their National Guard; 26 states/territories had restricted state employee travel/state travel; 28 states had implemented mandatory limits on gatherings and another 15 states issued recommended limits on gatherings; and there were 44 statewide school closures and 11 local school closures.

 The National Governors Association is working with governors’ offices across the country to coordinate responses to the pandemic, including best practices in managing public-health crises in states and territories, as well as federal advocacy. You can learn more about state actions here.

 

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