Connecting state and local government leaders
STATE AND LOCAL NEWS ROUNDUP | Principals told to quarantine after coronavirus exposure at meeting … Pennsylvania Supreme Court rules for governor on emergency powers … Portland, Oregon extends police union contract.
A handful of intensive care units in Tampa Bay-area hospitals reported running out of beds, as coronavirus cases climbed over the 200,000 case threshold on Sunday. Hospital officials in Pinellas County have emphasized that they have plans to quickly expand capacity if they need to, but state bed tallies on Sunday showed four hospitals in that county and two more in nearby Hillsborough County without room. “It’s absolutely a concern,” said Thomas Unnasch, a public health professor at University of South Florida, while noting that as patients who had elective surgeries recover there will be more room for Covid-19 patients. Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez instituted an indefinite curfew on Friday night, while also closing down entertainment spots that had been allowed to reopen like casinos, strip clubs, and movie theaters. Baycare Health Chief Medical Officer Dr. Nishant Anand, whose hospital system operates in Pinellas County, said on CNN that one positive is that doctors have gotten better at treating seriously ill Covid patients. Arizona also saw a record number of ICU beds occupied and patients on ventilators, with 89% of ICU beds occupied and 49% of ventilators in use. In Texas, where coronavirus hospitalizations also continued to rise over the weekend, local officials said that reopening too quickly led to the community spread. Austin Mayor Steve Adler said his city won’t have enough medical personnel if the cases keep climbing. “If we don’t change this trajectory, then I am within two weeks of having our hospitals overrun,” he said on CNN, adding he needed the authority from the state to impose a local shelter-in-place order. [Tampa Bay Times; Orlando Sentinel; WFTS; Arizona Republic; Associated Press; Washington Post; WFLA]
QUARANTINED PRINCIPALS | Principals and top administrators with the Santa Clara Unified School District in California had to quarantine after a person who attended a 45-person meeting tested positive for the coronavirus. The meeting in late June was to discuss school reopening plans for the fall. “I know there may be some that question every decision we make, but the reality is there’s no road map for this pandemic,” said Superintendent Stella Kemp at a school board meeting. She said the difficulties associated with reopening necessitated the in-person meeting. Participants said people kept physical distance from each other and wore masks. Amber Wacht, president of the United Teachers of Santa Clara, questioned why the meeting wasn’t held by teleconference. “My concern is even though we were following the protocols like we were supposed to, there was still exposure,” she said, noting this should be considered as schools move to reopen. No other administrators tested positive for Covid-19, a spokeswoman said. [San Francisco Chronicle; Mercury News; NBC Bay Area]
LEGISLATIVE DISPUTE | The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled against a petition brought by Republicans in the state legislature who argued that Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, had been granted too many emergency powers during the coronavirus pandemic. Republican leaders said the decision was tantamount to granting the governor “king status.” A spokesperson for Wolf said that the administration is pleased they can keep in place the disaster proclamation “to assist in the state’s response to the pandemic and to provide protections for businesses, workers, and residents.” [PennLive]
RICHMOND STATUES | Work crews in Richmond, Virginia took down the statue of Stonewall Jackson after Mayor Levar Stoney ordered the removal of several Confederate monuments in the capital city. Stoney said he had the power to do so without the approval of the city council because the city is in a declared state of emergency. "We've had 33 days of unrest. It's time. It's time to move beyond the lost cause and embrace the righteous cause,” Stoney said. [NPR]
UNION CONTRACT | The city council in Portland, Oregon voted to extend the police union contract for one year, which city commissioners said will allow the city to host public bargaining sessions about what changes to policing the community wants to see. “This extension does not mean everybody stops work for a year,‘' said Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty. “What it means is we will have the time to do it right and do it thoughtfully.‘' [Oregon Live]
Laura Maggi is the managing editor at Route Fifty and Emma Coleman is the assistant editor.