Re: COVID-19 March 22 Update
1. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) – protective masks, face shields, gowns, gloves, etc. IMPORTANT NOTE - I am told that requests for PPE are to be made through the manager of your local Emergency Management Agency (EMA) who will then forward the request on to MEMA, and MEMA will try to meet the request. Therefore, if anyone needs to make a request for PPE, they should contact their local EMA immediately. As we discussed yesterday, MEMA distributed 25% of their PPE supply across the State yesterday, and the plan is to distribute another 25% tomorrow (Monday). The belief is that more supplies will come from FEMA by the middle of the week.
2. Testing facilities. Yesterday’s update included a list of testing facilities. Below is a revised list. This list is compiled from information provided by the local EMAs. You will see in the “Notes” column that some are “verified” and some are “not verified”. I am told the Department of Health (DOH) is trying to verify these as testing facilities. Apparently the “verified” are providing testing. The “not verified” are facilities that the local EMAs have said will be testing facilities but which the DOH has not been able to verify because they are not open this weekend. We will update this list once the verifications are complete. In the meantime, you should use the phone number listed with each facility to make an appointment for testing. One correction from yesterday – the local EMA in Clarke County represented the H.C. Watkins Hospital in Clarke County as a testing facility. Upon further investigation, the DOH discovered that it is NOT a testing facility. Please note this correction.
3. Unemployment benefits. Last Friday, I told you that we had made a request of the Governor to enter an executive order to waive the one-week waiting period for employees to receive unemployment benefits. I am glad to report that the Governor entered that order yesterday. This should provide immediate relief to those who apply for unemployment benefits.
4. Employers. We have also made a request on behalf of employers that the Governor enter an executive order holding employers harmless in their unemployment rating for the increase in unemployment claims that will occur during this crisis. This should give protections to our employers and help them avoid an increase in their unemployment claims rating. We are hopeful the Governor will sign this executive order today or tomorrow.
5. State Tax Filing Deadline. We are also making a request of the Department of Revenue and the Governor to extend the deadline for filing state income tax until some date after April 15. This will give some financial relief to our citizens. We are looking at what date would be best. As you know, the federal government extended the federal deadline to July 15. We will update you when this decision is made.
6. Town Curfews. We have received notice that some towns around the state have implemented curfews. To my knowledge, there is no order from the DOH or any State official that this be done. They apparently are doing this on their own initiative.
7. Daycare Facilities. As of this morning, Dr. Dobbs at the DOH says that there is no recommendation that daycare facilities close. If they are closing, they are doing that on their own initiative. However, the DOH will continue to monitor this situation.
8. Call if you need help. We have heard from some who have expressed difficulty in getting information. We have had phone calls to our office forwarded to our staff. If you need any help at all, please call us at 601-359-3300.
9. Finally, on this Sunday, I would like to offer a word of encouragement. This morning in my pastor’s sermon, he referenced Lamentations 3:22-24 – “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I will hope in him.” Stay strong and keep the faith!