Connecting state and local government leaders
STATE AND LOCAL NEWS ROUNDUP | Vermont to provide aid to migrant workers … Florida local governments can keep holding remote meetings … Michigan state employees get paid parental leave.
Over the weekend, New Jersey officials said they would take the lead in tracking down workers at President Trump’s golf course who may have come in contact with him on Thursday during a fundraiser and therefore could have been exposed to the coronavirus. While the state received a list of donors who attended the event at Trump National Golf Club Bedminster, they didn’t receive phone numbers and other necessary information. A source told NJ.com that the White House will therefore reach out to the attendees, although three contacted by CNN said they had not yet heard from contact tracers. The state health department and Somerset County Department of Health is reaching out to 20 workers who staffed the fundraising events, which at the high end cost $250,000. On Sunday, Trump remained at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for coronavirus treatment, with his medical team reporting that he’d received supplemental oxygen on Friday. He also received dexamethasone, a steroid often used to treat Covid-19. After Trump had a high fever on Friday, he also received an experimental antibody cocktail. His physician, Dr. Sean P. Conley, acknowledged not being completely honest about the president’s status on Saturday. “I didn’t want to give any information that might steer the course of illness in another direction, and in doing so, you know, it came off that we were trying to hide something, which wasn’t necessarily true,” Conley said. The president recorded a video before driving out in an SUV to briefly wave at supporters outside the hospital. "It's been a very interesting journey, I learned a lot about Covid," Trump said. "I learned it by really going to school. This is the real school. This isn't the let's-read-the-book school, and I get it, and I understand it." [NJ.com; CNN; USA Today; New York Times; Washington Post]
MIGRANT WORKERS | Vermont is poised to provide direct aid to migrant workers and their families who were excluded from receipt of federal CARES Act funds. Through a program approved by state lawmakers, $5 million is allocated for $1,200 payments to workers. Many have been on the front lines throughout the pandemic, working in agriculture, hospitality and construction. The state estimates 4,000 adults and 1,000 children would receive the payments, though officials said it is difficult to provide a complete count. [VTDigger]
FLORIDA MEETINGS | Local governments in Florida will be able to continue conducting public meetings via Zoom or Webex through Nov. 1 after Gov. Ron DeSantis extended an order this week that allows them to hold virtual meetings. The decision takes the pressure off local government officials, who had been scurrying to make adjustments to meeting rooms or scouting larger locations to allow officials to meet safely as the coronavirus pandemic continues. “I think there’s a collective relief. We were all very worried with so many things happening all at once,” said Ramiro Inguanzo, president of the Miami-Dade County City and County Management Association and assistant manager for Bal Harbour Village. “This gives us respite ... it gives cities the opportunity to really be prepared.” [Miami Herald]
MARYLAND NURSING HOMES | Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan lifted restrictions on indoor visitations at nursing homes after a significant drop in the number of Covid-19 infections at the facilities. Some of the largest and deadliest outbreaks in the state occured in nursing homes, with the facilities accounting for 15,800 cases and 2,155 deaths, or more than half the people who died from Covid-19 in Maryland. State officials announced Thursday that Maryland had no virus-related fatalities in a single day for the first time since March. The number of Covid-19 cases in Maryland nursing homes has dropped by more than 40% over the last two months. Indoor visitation restrictions would be implemented again if the percentage of positive tests in a county tops 10%. To improve safety in the facilities, Hogan announced the state would provide another $6 million for testing of staff. [Baltimore Sun, Washington Post]
MICHIGAN FAMILY LEAVE | State employees in Michigan are for the first time now eligible to take paid parental leave. State workers who are past their probation period will be eligible for 12 paid weeks of parental leave after the birth or adoption of a child. The state’s roughly 47,000 workers have approximately 1,200 newborns and adopt about 20 children each year and the new benefit is expected to cost around $10 million annually. Office of State Employer Director Liza Estlund Olson said the new benefit is seen as a way to attract and retain employees. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who promoted the benefit, said it would allow state employees to “rest assured that they will be able to take that time when they need it the most without having to worry about their paycheck." [Lansing State Journal]
Andrea Noble is a staff correspondent at Route Fifty and Laura Maggi is the managing editor.