State Workforce Strategies

States are addressing the workforce challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. Below are links describing their efforts.

(11/27/20) COVID-19 in Illinois Updates: Here’s What’s Happening on Thanksgiving Weekend
This article covers the expectations and provides updates on the current surge of COVID-19 and plans for addressing the pandemic in Illinois. The Director of the Illinois Department of Public Health expects cases, hospitalizations, and deaths will surge in the next week or two following the Thanksgiving holiday.

(11/24/20) Asymptomatic Health Care Workers With COVID-19 Allowed to Continue Working in Oklahoma
The Oklahoma State Department of Health has announced health care workers who have tested positive with COVID-19 but are not experiencing symptoms of the disease will be allowed to continue working at hospitals and long-term care facilities. This follows recent moves and considerations across the United States to address health care workforce shortages.

(11/18/20) States Are Getting Ready to Distribute COVID-19 Vaccines. What Do Their Plans Tell Us So Far?
This issue brief from the Kaiser Family Foundation investigates how prepared states are for distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine. The brief looks at the the priorities for distribution of a vaccine as well as which providers will administer the vaccine and how the data on vaccine use will be collected and reported.

(11/13/20) Northeast Governors to Meet to Coordinate on Coronavirus Surge
The governors of the northeastern states of Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Vermont are meeting to discuss ways to align COVID-19 response plans between their states. New York and New Jersey have already begun aligning some regulations to address spikes in COVID-19 infection in recent days.

(11/13/20) As Cases Soar, Massachusetts Is Better Prepared to Handle Coronavirus Surge, Baker Says
As Massachusetts experiences a rise in hospitalizations and cases of COVID-19, Governor Charlie Baker has announced the planned reopening of several field hospitals previously opened in the spring. Hospitals are also planning to convert 400 acute care beds to intensive care unit beds to help meet demand.

(11/12/20) ‘At the Breaking Point’: Utah Shatters Single-day COVID-19 Record With 3,919 New Cases, 9 Deaths
Governor of Utah, Gary Herbert, announces actions taken in response to the recent uncontrolled outbreak of COVID-19 being experienced in the state. A mask mandate, restrictions in gathering, and increasing capacity for testing are all means announced to help keep hospitalizations down and preserve intensive care unit capacity.

(11/11/20) Ohio Governor Warns Hospitals Could Be Overwhelmed With COVID-19 Cases in ‘A Few Short Weeks’
Ohio Gov Mike DeWine discussed how the state is on track to lose its ability to provide emergency care in just a few weeks. Cases have quadrupled in the past month and DeWine shows concern on several fronts for how the state will be able to handle things if this trend continues.

(11/11/20) North Dakota Lets Healthcare Workers With COVID Stay on Job as Record Surge Strains Hospitals
North Carolina is seeing 60% more hospitalizations from COVID-19 than just four weeks ago and hospitals are struggling to keep up. This article dives into various perspectives on how the state is managing the frontline workers, the risks of allowing asymptomatic but COVID-positive nurses to keep working, and what these workers would to see happen at the government level.

(11/11/20) Wisconsin Health Official Warns State Nearing ‘Tipping Point’ on COVID Hospitalizations
According to this article, the COVID-19 caseload in Wisconsin is as bad as the severe wave seen early on in New York City. The chief medical officer for the Wisconsin Department of Health Services gives specific data and talks about how overcrowding/understaffing is already causing problems for patient care.

(11/10/20) Most States Aren’t Ready to Distribute the Leading COVID-19 Vaccine
ProPublica has published a review of state distribution plans for the leading COVID-19 vaccine, based on an announcement this week on early success from Pfizer. The investigation finds that most states, especially those with large rural populations, will find difficulty distributing the vaccine based on the current storage and transportation requirements to maintain the vaccine effectiveness.

(11/06/20) Governor: New Mexico in ‘Extreme Crisis’ With COVID-19
The Governor of New Mexico, Michelle Lujan Grisham, has announced the state is in “an extreme crisis” addressing the COVID-19 pandemic and will have difficulties meeting the staffing demands to conduct adequate testing and treat hospitalized patients.

(10/21/20) NJ Hospitals Prepare for What’s Ahead as Cases Rise
With cases of COVID-19 rising across the United States, hospitals in New Jersey are preparing for another potential surge in hospitalizations. Although any future surge would be met with adequate stock of personal protective equipment, meeting staffing issues remain a concern for New Jersey.

(10/20/20) CARES Act Grant to Expand Telehealth Services for Seniors in Maine
A new federal grant to the University of New England is being used to launch telehealth services for residents in rural Maine. This telehealth program will incorporate wellness services and advanced care planning.

(10/18/20) Healthcare Workers, High-risk People Will Get Priority for COVID-19 Vaccine in New York: Governor
An article highlighting an announcement by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo that the state will prioritize distribution of any approved COVID-19 vaccine to front-line health care workers and the elderly first. The health care workers prioritized include those directly working with patients in primary care, hospitals, and long-term care facilities.

(10/15/20) Montana Hospitals Grapple With Staffing Challenges Amid COVID-19 Surge
This article discusses the move from hospitals in Montana to work with the state to meet issues with staffing, which are being exacerbated by the recent surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. While previously in the pandemic hospitals would lend some of their workforce across the state as needed, they are currently unable to with a strained workforce experiencing surges in many parts of the state.

(10/07/20) How Maryland’s Total Cost of Care Model Has Helped Hospitals Manage the COVID-19 Stress Test
This blog post from Health Affairs covers how Maryland’s unique Total Cost of Care alternative payment method has handled stress from the COVID-19 pandemic. This unique system and partnership with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is in part credited for Maryland’s success in avoiding reaching maximum intensive care unit capacity and major financial pressure from the pandemic.

(10/07/20) Due to Increased Hospitalizations in the Fox Valley, Gov. Evers Announces Wisconsin State Fair Park Alternate Care Facility to Accept COVID-19 Patients October 14
A press release outlining plans from the Governor of Wisconsin, Tony Evers, to open a field hospital following statewide hospitalizations tripling over the course of the month. The field hospital is meant to treat those who are seeking treatment for COVID-19 but not seriously ill patients, who may need an intensive care unit.

(10/01/20) New Laws Keep Pandemic-Weary California at Forefront of Health Policy Innovation
This article from Kaiser Health News reviews how the pandemic changed plans California had for wide-scale reform in their health policy, instead leading in a new direction with many first-in-the-nation health reforms relating to the COVID-19 pandemic itself.

(09/25/20) Governor Abbott Announces Agreement With Health Insurers to Continue Payment Parity for Telehealth
An article covering Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s announcement that major insurers in Texas have agreed to continue reimbursing for virtual care at the same rate as in person care, a change that was enacted to help maintain capacity during the COVID-19 pandemic.

(09/24/20) California Expands Privacy Protection to Public Health Workers Amid Threats
Threats to health care workers have led to an executive order from Governor Gavin Newsom of California which offers to make their home addresses confidential. Health care workers in California have received threats related to their work in treating and prevention efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic.

(09/14/20) Medicaid Emergency Authority Tracker: Approved State Actions to Address COVID-19
An aggregate, frequently updated page issue brief covering the changes in Medicaid Emergency actions approved by states in response to COVID-19.

(09/09/20) Medicaid Managed Care Rates and Flexibilities: State Options to Respond to COVID-19 Pandemic
This issue brief released from the Kaiser Family Foundation describes many of the flexibilities and other changes states have implemented to their Medicaid programs in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Reimbursement changes seeking to increase access and coverage for COVID-19 related visits are common themes.

(08/30/20) Hawaii’s Hospitals are in Urgent Need of Nurses to Tackle a Surge in COVID-19 Cases
Hospitalizations for COVID-19 are on the rise in Hawaii and nurses are in short supply, leading to concerns about a problem that continues to worsen. Many of the employee representative organizations within Hawaii are collaborating to bring more nurses and other health care workers to Hawaii to help deal with the surge.

(08/28/20) ADA Supports Bill Addressing Workforce Shortages, Disparities
This press release from the American Dental Association praises a bipartisan bill introduced to the Senate with the aim of investing in the National Health Service Corps and National Disaster Medical System in an effort to improve surge capacity and reduce existing workforce shortages.

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