Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday declared a state of emergency amid news that passengers on a recent cruise, many of whom are California residents, could have been exposed to the new coronavirus, in today's bite-sized hospital and health industry news from California, New York, and Tennessee.
California: Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) on Wednesday declared a state of emergency after a 71-year-old patient with underlying health issues died of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, which he likely contracted during a recent cruise. The patient's death marks the 11th reported death linked to the virus in the United States as of Thursday morning, and the first COVID-19 death in the country outside of Washington state. Officials said it is possible that other passengers on the cruise, the Grand Princess, were exposed to the virus, and one estimate says more than half of the 2,500 or so passengers who traveled on the ship with the patient are California residents. Newsom said 11 passengers and 10 crew members who are still on the ship, which is being held off the San Francisco coast, are showing symptoms of COVID-19. Princess Cruises, which owns the ship, in a statement Thursday said there are currently no confirmed cases on the ship and the U.S. Coast Guard will use a helicopter to deliver testing kits (Mervosh/Smith, New York Times, 3/4; Karlamangla et al., Los Angeles Times, 3/5).
- New York: The Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) on Tuesday announced that it will begin deep cleaning New York City's subway trains and busses every three days to help prevent the new coronavirus from spreading across the city. Transport Workers Union President Tony Utano told NBC's New York affiliate that MTA employees also will conduct daily wipe downs of subway turnstiles, station handrails, and MetroCard and ticket vending machines. Overall, MTA's sanitation measures will apply to 472 subway stations, 124 Long Island Railroad stations and terminals, more than 100 Metro-North train stations, and 21 Staten Island Railway stations (Johnson, The Hill, 3/3).
- Tennessee: Gov. Bill Lee (R) on Monday appointed Stephen Smith to serve as the director of Tennessee's Medicaid program, called TennCare, which covers 1.4 million Tennesseans. Smith previously served as TennCare's deputy director and chief of state, as well as chief of staff, policy director, and senior advisor under former Gov. Bill Haslam's (R) administration. The appointment comes as Tennessee is seeking federal permission to convert its Medicaid financing structure from an open-ended federal funding system into a type of block-grant system (AP/Modern Healthcare, 3/3).