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Coronavirus set to usher in big changes at U.S. offices

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The novel coronavirus may do to U.S. office rentals what e-commerce did to malls, or so goes a line of thinking running through commercial real estate circles.

If anything, millions more Americans working from home may hasten corporate moves to downsize their offices, a decade-old trend partially responsible for the office sector underperforming other property asset classes in recent years.

This has come even as the leasing business boomed in New York with a surging jobs market and economic expansion that was upended by orders to close offices to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Now technology threatens to further reduce the amount of square footage companies lease after seeing how well the work-from-home experience has fared.

Apps such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Google Hangouts have made it possible to collaborate remotely and for staff to be as productive as they are in the workplace, said Gina Szymanski, a portfolio manager at AEW Capital Management LP in Boston, one of the largest real estate investment managers.

“Work collaboration apps will likely have a long-term impact on office (space) similar to the impact that mobile shopping had on retail,” she said. “Corporate footprints will continue to shrink.”

In Manhattan, whose skyscrapers have long been the most valuable U.S. property class, further downsizing could pressure leasing prices that soared to record highs during the good times but now may slip as they typically do in a recession.

Space per worker slid in half to about 150 to 125 square foot (14 to 11.5 square meters) since the financial crisis, according to conventional estimates, and coworking cut that by about half again.


Publicly traded owners of office buildings have been challenged in New York for some time.

The share prices of SL Green Realty Corp (SLG.N) and Vornado Realty Trust (VNO.N), two of the city’s largest landlords, slid about 20% in the five years through the end of 2019 when the S&P 500 index rose 57%. Their stock fell twice as fast in the recent downturn on concerns some tenants would be unable to pay their rent.

FILE PHOTO: The buildings of Hudson Yards rise above lower Manhattan as seen from an apartment in the Central Park Tower building as the building celebrates its topping out in New York, U.S. September 17, 2019. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

The age of buildings is another important factor that could hinder investment returns. Landlords have poured hundreds of millions of dollars into rejuvenating Manhattan skyscrapers built as recently as the late 1990s. Such spending has been seen in many U.S. cities to protect an asset values.

“It’s going to accelerate this move to newer office space and it’s going to suck the life out of non-quality assets, this transition from older stock,” said Scott Crowe, chief investment strategist at real estate-focused CenterSquare Investment Management in Philadelphia, who added that the premium between new and old space has been increasing “exponentially.”

Manhattan is in the midst of the biggest boom of new office towers since the 1980s. Data from brokerage Newmark Knight Frank shows 13.1 million square feet (1.22 million square meters) still under construction – just 3% of the city’s stock but a big factor if the economic slump increases office vacancies.

Office space in the tony Far West Side, Plaza District and Park Avenue, where many hedge funds reside, costs more than $100 a square foot, while older buildings just south of Times Square, and swaths of downtown, rent for half that rate.

Companies typically lease 20% more space than they need, to allow for workforce growth.

Utilization studies show that often just 40% to 60% of workspace is occupied, which has led some companies to sublease extra space or turn it into collaborative areas, said Steven South, design director at architectural firm Spectorgroup in New York.

“If you’re not utilizing your space all the time, it has an impact on revenue costs,” South said.


Professional and financial services firms may reduce space more than others because so much work is done at functions outside the office. But not all firms will downsize.

Tech companies, a major driving force in new job creation, want their workforce at the office, South said. For every dedicated spot at a hot desk, an equal amount of space is assigned in common areas for collaborative work, he said.

Scott Nelson, chief executive of occupier services at Atlanta-based brokerage Colliers International, said that while office space demand overall will slacken as companies accommodate a workforce that chooses to work from home, some will rent the same amount of space, but design it less densely for fewer workers to maintain social distancing.

FILE PHOTO: Cyclists ride through a nearly empty Times Square in Manhattan during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in the Brooklyn borough of New York City, New York, U.S., March 31, 2020. REUTERS/Brendan Mcdermid

Elevators get complicated. Maintaining six feet of distance means long ground-floor lines to get to the office, a certain discouragement for commuters, unless more elevator banks are installed.

“Companies are going to reevaluate everything from the size of their locations to the concentration of their locations to the actual location of markets they’re in,” Nelson said.

“It will be a tenant market,” he said. “There is the potential that urban centers become less attractive too.”

Reporting by Herbert Lash; Editing by Alden Bentley and Grant McCool

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Trump team’s use of big insurer to dispense recovery funds comes under scrutiny

A spokesperson for the CEA, Rachael Slobodien, said that Parente was not responsible for the choice of UnitedHealth to administer the program. “Parente has had no role whatsoever in determining contracting decisions at HHS, neither for the recovery funds nor any contract ever,” she said.

Because UnitedHealth funded Parente’s academic center and nonprofit, and the company is not a former employer, his involvement with the project does not on its surface appear to violate any federal conflicts of interest guidelines. In addition, Parente’s consulting work for the company in recent years — which extended up until 2017, when he was nominated for a post at HHS — does not appear to have paid a large enough amount of money in recent years to trigger conflict-of-interest rules. But ethics experts still expressed concerns about his role.

“It’s certainly the kind of thing you’d expect ethics officials to look into,” said Jennifer Ahearn, policy director at the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. “There’s a great urgency to get this money out the door. But when that happens, that’s when safeguards for getting that money where it needs to go are under the most strain.”

Slobodien of the Council of Economic Advisers did not address whether Parente had conversations with ethics officials before working on the project, or if he had requested guidance about the ethics of working on a project involving UnitedHealth. “As with any CEA employee, Parente was made aware of his ethical obligations through compulsory training,” Slobodien said in an email.

Parente declined to comment.

Getting funds to hospitals and other health care providers has been a chief mission for HHS in recent days. Congress set aside a total of $100 billion for the department to distribute to hospitals and other health care providers to help stem losses from the coronavirus outbreak, and health care officials have been rapidly trying to determine how to fairly distribute the money. Parente, William Brady and Jim Parker, the latter two serving as senior advisers at HHS, have been leading the decision-making process, and Parente decided the methodology for how to make the initial $30 billion in payments, the HHS official said.

In the days after Congress passed its coronavirus relief bill, some HHS employees expected the department to use its regular Medicare contractors, who frequently oversee payments to hospitals, to distribute the money, according to the official, but on April 7, Brady announced on a call that UnitedHealth would be making the disbursements instead.

Now, there are lingering questions about why UnitedHealth was selected to distribute the $30 billion in funds.

As the country’s largest health care insurer, UnitedHealth and one of its subsidiaries, Optum, have the cash and the financial infrastructure to quickly move $30 billion to hospitals, proponents of the arrangement say.

“HHS considered a number of factors, including whether potential partners had a system already in place that could handle the distribution and how quickly the distribution could happen,” the HHS spokesperson said in an email. “UnitedHealth Group was positioned to facilitate the immediate delivery of more than 85 percent of the funds today.”

A separate HHS official also said that HHS’ Health Resources and Services Administration made the contracting decisions and is running the program. “UnitedHealth was picked because it was better positioned and more cost-effective to get the money out the door more quickly than other options that we considered,” the official said.

But emergency funds don’t necessarily need to be sent through a private company, one Obama administration appointee said, recalling that the distribution of emergency funds for providers during the Ebola crisis were handled within the health department.

While UnitedHealth has financial relationships with the many hospitals who take its insurance, Medicare’s relationships are even more extensive, as it is used by an overwhelming majority of hospitals across the country.

UnitedHealth will take a $1 million fee for administering the program and use it to set up a relief fund for family members of UnitedHealth employees who die from Covid-19, said UnitedHealth spokesperson Matt Wiggin.

“This is one of a number of things that we’ve been doing to support every stakeholder in the health care system as we go through this together,” Wiggin said. Wiggin said that Parente “wasn’t involved in the contract that we signed [with HHS], though we have been working with a broad group of folks over there.”

UnitedHealth and Optum are also boosting their profiles during a year when insurers could later face scrutiny over their handling of both coronavirus bills and of medical premiums, which they’re collecting as many hospitals face big losses. The distribution of federal funds may also enable the companies to collect basic data on providers that aren’t already in their networks. UnitedHealth currently has relationships with eight in 10 hospitals in the U.S., Wiggin said.

“It was absolutely a nice advertisement for the folks at Optum, and their parents at United, for their size and scale,” said one health care lobbyist, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of UnitedHealth’s prominent position in the healthcare space.

Before he was nominated by Trump for the top policy job at HHS, Parente had built up a lucrative academic and consulting career that included running a center at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management, called the Medical Industry Leadership Institute, that operated on gifts from corporate donors including UnitedHealth.

Parente and others had solicited UnitedHealth in 2017 for a $1.2 million grant that successfully came through after Parente was nominated for a post at HHS. The grant was the largest in the center’s history. UnitedHealth told POLITICO at the time that the funds had nothing to do with Parente’s possible role in the Trump administration, and Parente has since taken leave from the center.

“Steve’s a great faculty member and administrator,” said Michelle Wills, director of finance for Carlson School of Management. “He does a lot of great things for the school.”

Another person who knows Parente, but spoke on condition of anonymity, called him “one of the smartest, most decent people I’ve met in this town” and said “he doesn’t deserve the crap he’s gotten.”

In addition to running the center, Parente has served as director of the Health Care Cost Institute, which was founded with donations from UnitedHealth, Aetna, Humana and Kaiser Permanente. He has also consulted with UnitedHealth and other health care companies, including Pfizer.

In a video he did for the online learning company Coursera before joining the Trump administration, Parente talked about the “five hats” he holds in his life, including his consulting firm, and, with some pictures, noted that he lived on “a nice lake” in Minnesota, has a sailboat in the Caribbean and “a tiny cottage” with WiFi in the Scottish highlands overlooking the ocean.

“It’s an odd combination,” he said, speaking about his life. “Basically coffee glues the ADHD down. But sometimes great synergies occur from it. Sometimes it’s just complete frustration, but it’s a life, and we try to make it well-lived.”

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Coronavirus Live Updates : NPR

In March, the United States agreed with Mexico and Canada to restrict nonessential travel because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Lars Hagberg/AFP via Getty Images

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Lars Hagberg/AFP via Getty Images

In March, the United States agreed with Mexico and Canada to restrict nonessential travel because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Lars Hagberg/AFP via Getty Images

The United States and Canada have agreed to keep their shared border closed for nonessential travel for another 30 days to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the extension during a briefing Saturday in Ottawa.

The restrictions on the world’s longest frontier took effect on March 21, while allowing trade and other travel deemed essential to continue. The partial ban was to expire soon, but the neighboring countries have decided it is not safe to allow traffic to fully resume.

“This is an important decision and one that will keep people on both sides of the border safe,” Trudeau told a news conference outside the residence where he has been living and working in recent weeks.

Canada, with a population of under 38 million, has had more than 32,000 cases of infection and 1,340 deaths from COVID-19, as of Saturday. The U.S. has identified almost 720,000 cases and over 37,000 deaths, as of late Saturday afternoon. Several of America’s hardest-hit areas including New York state share a border with Canadian provinces. Both countries have testing shortages.

Border crossings have fallen dramatically, even despite the essential travel exemptions.

At the Peace Bridge between Buffalo, N.Y., and Fort Erie, Ontario, “passenger traffic [is] down 95%, bus traffic down … 99.6%, so essentially, it’s shut down,” Kathryn Friedman, a global fellow at the Wilson Center’s Canada Institute, said in a conference Tuesday. “Commercial traffic is down a little over 28%.”

“It is surreal to see such little traffic,” Ron Rienas, who runs the authority that manages the Peace Bridge, told The Buffalo News.

Since April 1, tunnel traffic between the heavily integrated Detroit and Windsor, Ontario regions is down 88% over the same period last year, according to Friedman.

Concerns have risen in Canada about daily trips by around 1,600 health care workers from Ontario to hard-hit Detroit. Some nurses who work in facilities in both the U.S. and Canada have had to choose one.

The extension of the border restrictions came after a week in which the governments gave mixed signals about the next step.

President Trump said on Wednesday that the Canadian border “will be one of the early borders to be released. Canada is doing well. We’re doing well.”

But the next day, Prime Minister Trudeau told reporters, “There is a significant amount of time, still, before we can talk about loosening such restrictions.”

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Shock And Strategic Retreat : NPR

President Trump arrives for the coronavirus task force briefing at the White House on Thursday.

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President Trump arrives for the coronavirus task force briefing at the White House on Thursday.

Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump’s nightly briefings on COVID-19 this week have featured stunning pronouncements and reversals.

Take the widespread response to the president’s assertion on Monday that he could reopen local businesses by fiat — even against the wishes of governors: “When somebody is the president of the United States, the authority is total.”

That sentence looks like a true-false question on a test in constitutional law class. (Answer: False.)

The next night, the president was walking back that widely repudiated statement to suggest a more cooperative posture. And by Thursday night, the message to governors was: “You’re going to call your own shots.”

Instead of orders to reopen, the White House laid out criteria for states to meet before their businesses and public spaces return to normal. There were “gates” to go through and “hurdles” to clear, with data-based criteria to determine the health risks involved.

But some experts said there was no new help for states in terms of testing or treatment. However, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases who serves on the coronavirus task force, said Friday the U.S. had enough tests to move into Phase 1 of the reopening plan, which calls to limit social gatherings to 10 people or fewer and for vulnerable populations to continue to shelter in place.

Still, the states maintain they were left with no further assistance in meeting the various criteria for reopening. When questioned about more testing, Trump has repeatedly said that it was “up to the states.”

The week was a crash course in the Trump style, issuing bold pronouncements, then dialing them back to seek another path.

The federal powers

To some degree, Trump is empowered by the sheer force of the federal government and its central role in any national crisis.

On the night he declared his “total authority” over the states, Trump also said he would not need to use such powers. “It’s not going to be necessary because the governors need us one way or the other,” the president said, “because they’re going to need us, ultimately it comes with the federal government.”

And indeed, the states do need the federal government. They need it the same way they needed it to fight World War II or the Great Depression. They need its unique ability to organize and coordinate programs across state lines. But even more important is the unique authority of the federal government to spend money it does not have.

The states cannot print currency, and they must generally balance their budgets. The federal government has always printed money and has been willing to operate in deficit for decades. It was on its way to a $1 trillion deficit in this budget year alone, and that was before it added $2 trillion in one COVID-19 relief bill last month.

The states — and the residents and businesses that are their constituents — desperately need that cash and those lines of credit. So they will work with the federal government, and to a large degree, that means working with the president.

Thrust and parry

Something similar is at work in the president’s announcement he was suspending the U.S. contribution to the World Health Organization, which gets roughly 20% of its budget from the U.S. and the American taxpayer.

Trump accused the WHO being “China-centric” and said the administration would review the organization’s handling of the pandemic over the next 60 to 90 days.

Trump’s action provoked outcries from around the world, as this arm of the United Nations is the primary international actor in what is a plainly global war and the U.S. is the organization’s largest contributor.

How could you cut off the WHO in the moment it is most needed? The very idea appears calculated to shock.

Funding from the U.S. to the WHO falls into two buckets — assessed dues and voluntary contributions. It is unclear how those contributions would change after the temporary freeze.

But here again, in that all-important short run in which he has his way, Trump can use the WHO to create a new front in his own war on the pandemic and strike another blow for his version of the pandemic narrative.

And the White House needs a win. The Pew Research Center released a poll Thursday showing 65% of Americans think the administration moved too slowly against the virus in the first months of 2020. That is a statistic the president cannot let go unchallenged.

Adjourning Congress

On Wednesday night, we got yet another demonstration of the president’s modus operandi when he lashed out at Congress at another coronavirus task force briefing.

The offense in question in this case was the House and Senate’s habit of remaining officially in session even when out of town on recess. This is done to prevent the president from making “recess appointments” of officials who could then serve without Senate confirmation.

Congress has in recent years blocked such appointments with pro forma sessions. In the Senate, this usually involves three senators, one to preside and one to represent each of the two parties. The threesome gavel themselves into session and almost immediately gavel back out again.

It looks silly, but it keeps Congress’ confirmation powers intact. It also means any executive officers who have not been officially submitted for Senate confirmation remain in “acting” status and do not have the full authority of their offices.

Until now, Trump has been seemingly fine with this. He has even praised the “acting” status because it gives him more “flexibility.” It also avoids the difficulties and distractions of a Senate confirmation process, with its vetting, and hearings and voting.

This week, however, the president said that he needs to have those he has nominated fully empowered and that he should be able to use his constitutional power of recess appointment to make it happen. If Congress won’t officially adjourn, he said, he has “the power to adjourn Congress.”

There is constitutional language allowing the president to call Congress into session or adjourn it. But the adjournment half of this has never been used, and it would seem to apply only in certain arcane circumstances.

Moreover, if it came to that, the whole mess would likely go to court, months would pass and no appointments would be official in the meantime.

So this is neither a practical tool nor an effective weapon. But explaining it all makes Congress look bad, rule-bound and feckless, while the president may look decisive by contrast.

And in the immediate moment of this week, “adjourn the Congress” gets headlines.

Sure enough, after Trump spoke of adjourning Congress, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., released a statement saying he was working with the president and would do everything he could to get nominees critical to fighting coronavirus confirmed but added that “under Senate rules,” it will take consent from Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.

All these machinations will strike many Americans as the kind of games that make people hate “Washington.” And if so, that can work in the president’s favor as well.

In the long run, the president will not need to issue orders to the governors beyond his authority, the WHO will probably continue its work (and probably get its U.S. funding) and Congress will adjourn only when it is ready.

It is not clear Trump will pay a price for any of these ultimately empty threats. He has paid no such price thus far. And in the meantime, these fights will continue on ground largely chosen by the president and in terms he sets.

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Reopening State Demands A ‘Nuanced Balance’ : Coronavirus Live Updates : NPR

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine addressed his state’s coronavirus response in an interview with NPR’s Weekend Edition on Saturday.

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Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine addressed his state’s coronavirus response in an interview with NPR’s Weekend Edition on Saturday.

Tony Dejak/AP

Updated at 2:30 p.m. ET

Urged by President Trump, states across the country are beginning to eye the next phase of their response to the coronavirus: the cautious process of lifting their widespread restrictions, piece by piece, and returning to a semblance of daily life before the pandemic settled in. But how should that happen — and when?

Three broad coalitions of states — one on the West Coast, one in the Northeast and one in the Midwest — have taken shape to collaborate on their response to the crisis. Among them is Ohio’s Republican governor, Mike DeWine, who is working with at least six neighboring governors in the bipartisan Midwestern partnership.

“It’s something that just naturally occurs,” DeWine told NPR’s Weekend Edition on Saturday, “and during this coronavirus, it’s something that, you know, is even more urgent that we we do — that share these ideas.”

Part of that urgency is coming from the president, whose administration has released guidelines for states considering reopening and who has targeted Democratic governors with tweets calling for them to “LIBERATE” their states. That handful of states includes Virginia, which Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine represents.

Kaine, in an interview with All Things Considered on Saturday, said he considers the tweets an attempt to “foment division in our country in the midst of a global pandemic,” noting that the president is “urging them to protest the social distancing guidelines that his own administration is urging us to follow.”

DeWine downplayed the president’s tweets, saying he doesn’t think Trump is calling for insurrection with the all-caps command to his followers to “liberate” their state from administrations led by his rival party: “You know,” DeWine said, “to fixate on two or three tweets by the president of the United States doesn’t make any doesn’t make any sense to me.”

Part of the urgency DeWine and his fellow governors feel is also coming from protesters, many of whom dressed in Trump campaign gear, who have flouted state social distancing recommendations and gathered at rallies not only in Ohio but in a number of other states across the country, as well.

Balanced against that pressure are the recommendations of health officials, who have warned that easing social distancing restrictions and allowing nonessential businesses to reopen too quickly — without extensive testing and sufficient medical resources — will merely lead to another deadly surge in coronavirus infections. The U.S. has suffered by far the biggest outbreak in the world, with more than 700,000 confirmed cases and a death toll surpassing 37,000, as of Saturday afternoon.

In Ohio, which has reported more than 9,000 of those confirmed cases, state officials are aiming for a “phased-in reopening of the state economy” beginning May 1.

DeWine said that the protesters “have every right to demonstrate” — but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be getting their way.

“I understand the demonstrators. They want to get the economy moving again. No one is more anxious to do that than I am, so I understand where they’re coming from,” he explained.

“But we also have to do it in a rational way. We have to do it in a phased way that protects human life and protects our medical institutions for being totally overrun. So this is a nuanced balance of things that we’re trying to do here.”

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How to Watch Saturday’s Latest COVID-19 Updates

The White House’s Coronavirus Task Force will hold its latest press briefing Saturday evening, where President Donald Trump is expected to announce updates on the federal government’s role in curbing the coronavirus pandemic – here’s how to watch.

The Saturday press briefing is set to take place at 5 p.m. Eastern Standard Time and will be broadcast from the White House’s James S. Brady Press Briefing Room. The official White House website will feature the livestream as well as its official YouTube channel.

Although the president is not a member of the Coronavirus Task Force, he announced he would be speaking at the Saturday presser–a move that has repeatedly angered critics who say he is using the information session to rail against political opponents.

On Friday, the president boisterously offered his support for “Open Up America” and “You Can’t Close America” rally-goers who are challenging coronavirus stay-in-place orders in several states with Democrat governors. “LIBERATE Minnesota!” Trump proclaimed on Twitter Friday evening, offering at least tacit support for the coronavirus lockdown protesters in Midwest swing states.

“The last thing I want to do is to have a second wave here,” Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer responded to Trump’s criticism. Protesters defying her stay-in-place orders chanted “lock her up” outside the Michigan Capitol last week. The phrase was previously used to refer to Trump’s 2016 presidential election rival, Hillary Clinton.

According to Johns Hopkins University’s latest COVID-19 statistics, the United States has over 716,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus as of Saturday afternoon. There have been also been more than 37,600 deaths tied to the coronavirus since it first emerged earlier this year.

On Saturday morning, the president lashed out on Twitter against the “Lamestream Media” and demanded that news outlets reveal the identities of anonymously quoted sources — a frequent argument made by Trump against negative reports. Talks between Trump, the federal government and state governments broke down again Friday as members of both parties in the U.S. Senate accused each other of blocking stimulus payments to millions of Americans.

“Republicans tried to pass more money for Americans’ paychecks last week. Democrats blocked it. Speaker Pelosi said she saw ‘no data as to why we need it.’ She said ‘we have time to negotiate.’ Democrats did nothing and now the program has shut down,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell remarked Thursday, in a tweet shared by the president.

The White House’s Coronavirus Task Force will hold its latest press briefing Saturday evening, where President Donald Trump is expected to announce updates on the federal government’s role in curbing the coronavirus pandemic.

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Coronavirus has devastating effects on local newspapers

Jeff vonKaenel has weathered wildfires, recessions and getting sued by a mayor in his nearly 50 years running weekly newspapers.

But the Sacramento newsman met his gravest challenge yet last month when public health officials urged cancellations of large gatherings to slow the novel coronavirus’ spread.

Four days after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s advisory, the 69-year-old owner of the Sacramento News & Review and sister publications in Chico and Reno made the “brutal” call to stop the presses and lay off 40 staffers.

“This could be the death knell, not only for us but for the dailies that we compete with,” VonKaenel said in an interview.

He hopes the closure is temporary because he doesn’t want to let down employees or readers of his free alternative weeklies, which have fearlessly covered deadly police shootings, casinos’ dark side and Sacramento’s vibrant arts scene. But the advertisers he depends on — restaurants, breweries, small museums and concert venues — were swept up in the economic shutdown, and without their support, VonKaenel can’t cover the $45,000 a week it takes to run his Sacramento paper.

“I think I’m a pretty good salesman, but to convince businesses to buy ads for events they are not having, well, it’s pretty tough,” VonKaenel said.

Even before COVID-19, America’s newspaper industry was on life support.

More than 1,800 newspapers have folded since the internet became a prime source for news. In 2000, at least 55 million American homes subscribed to a daily paper, about double what it is today, according to Pew Research Center.

During the last two decades, newspaper chains, including McClatchy, which owns the Sacramento Bee and Miami Herald, and the former Tribune Co., owner of the Chicago Tribune, have tumbled into bankruptcy. Leveraged buyouts and consolidations have left companies mired in debt. The nation’s largest chain, Gannett Co., which owns USA Today and 250 daily newspapers, including the Arizona Republic in Phoenix and the Desert Sun in Palm Springs, merged with another large company in November. It now reaches 1 in 4 daily newspaper subscribers, but its stock has dropped 85% this year.

“This could be the death knell, not only for us but for the dailies that we compete with.”

Jeff VonKaenel, owner of the Sacramento News & Review

Newsrooms have been hollowed, print pages slashed. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, for example, prints just three days a week. Billionaire Warren Buffett, who had owned the Buffalo News since 1977 and was hailed as a savior of local journalism, in January unloaded his chain, which includes the Omaha World-Herald, to Lee Enterprises, which owns the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Buffett previously conceded that newspapers were “toast.”

Since the Great Recession, nearly half of U.S. newspaper journalism jobs have disappeared, leaving fewer than 38,000 reporters, photographers and editors.

“It’s bad and it’s going to get worse,” news industry analyst Ken Doctor said, predicting the COVID-19 crisis will further strain local news: “It’s going to be the 2009 recession on steroids.”

In response to the pandemic, local governments and institutions — health departments, hospitals, schools and businesses — are making vital decisions that affect lives and livelihoods, highlighting how useful local newspapers can be.

The print industry’s demise has larger implications, Doctor and others say. Without reporters keeping tabs on city halls, state agencies and community organizations, there would be little accountability. Researchers have found that newspapers remain the nation’s most comprehensive, fact-based source of information.

The industry’s collapse has been driven by the exodus of longtime advertisers, who have shifted their money to internet giants Facebook and Google, leading to a precipitous revenue decline. Ad revenue to U.S. newspapers peaked in 2005 at $49.4 billion; it’s now less than a third of that amount, according to Pew Research Center.

Responding to the crisis, Facebook in late March announced $25 million in emergency funding for local news through its Facebook Journalism Project. “The news industry is working under extraordinary conditions to keep people informed during the COVID-19 pandemic. At a time when journalism is needed more than ever, ad revenues are declining,” Facebook said, adding that it would also spend $75 million to buy newspaper ads.

On Wednesday, Google Inc. announced its own $100-million journalism fund “to deliver urgent aid to thousands of small, medium and local news publishers globally.”

The need is great. Small dailies and alternative weeklies are among the most threatened. They rely on local businesses for advertising, rather than big-dollar national advertisers.

In Southern California, the alternative OC Weekly shut down in December and the LA Weekly has absorbed deep cuts and management turmoil. The Orange County Register’s parent, Southern California News Group, furloughed newsroom employees. And the Feather River Bulletin in Quincy, Calif., stopped printing this month — after 153 years.

The Los Angeles Times, which was thrown a lifeline in 2018 when biomedical billionaire Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong purchased the paper along with the San Diego Union-Tribune, also is feeling financial pain. The paper has spent 18 months rebuilding its newsroom and expanding its online offering only to be walloped by the virus.

“Advertising revenue has nearly been eliminated,” California Times President Chris Argentieri wrote in a memo to the newspaper’s staff this week, outlining initial cost-cutting measures, including furloughs and trimming salaries of high-level managers during the crisis, including the eight top editors.

On Thursday, the company folded three of its community newspapers — the Burbank Leader, the Glendale News-Press and the La Cañada Valley Sun — because they were losing money. The Glendale paper was a pioneer, publishing since 1905. The Valley Sun popped up in 1946 as the postwar building and population boom began to reshape California.

The widespread financial woes come even as traffic to newspaper websites has doubled, Doctor said, and subscriptions to digital sites have dramatically increased as readers rally to support trusted news outlets.

“This [coronavirus] story has been transformational: It has shown the absolute uniqueness and value of local news,” Doctor said.

It’s a grim paradox, said Kevin Cody, who owns the 45,000-circulation Easy Reader News in Hermosa Beach.

“The irony is that interest in the product is skyrocketing,” Cody said. He laid off his staff, and they’re now collecting unemployment checks, but they continue to put the paper out. “There is an urgency to the situation, but the financial basis for the newspaper has just evaporated.”

Last week, 19 Democrats in the U.S. Senate urged their colleagues to provide coronavirus stimulus funding to news organizations.

“Local news plays an indispensable role in American civic life as a trusted source for critical information,” the senators wrote. Since the pandemic was declared, they said, local news outlets have been “providing communities answers to critical questions, including information on where to get locally tested, hospital capacity, road closures, essential business hours of operation, and shelter-in-place orders.”

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), one of the signers, said in an interview that local journalists serve a vital role by uniting communities and serving as government watchdogs.

“People want good coverage out of local and state government, and that’s something that only local media can do,” Brown said. “While the New York Times is a great paper, and you’re a great paper … you can’t serve Akron, Ohio, very well,” Brown said.

A drama has unfolded in the newsroom where Brown’s wife, columnist Connie Schultz, used to work. The billionaire Newhouse family, through its Advance Local division, has maintained two separate newsrooms in Cleveland since 2013. One is a union shop that has long produced the Plain Dealer. The company established a bigger, nonunion staff for its website, The separate staffs contribute to both platforms.

Two weeks ago, the Plain Dealer axed 18 union journalists and four editors. Last week, an additional 10 journalists agreed to go. Now, there are just six Plain Dealer journalists, including four reporters who are union members. That’s a stark contrast from 20 years ago, when Cleveland’s newsroom teemed with more than 300 journalists. Award-winning investigative reporter Rachel Dissell, who started as an intern at the paper 18 years ago, was among those who volunteered for a layoff.

“This wasn’t the way I wanted things to end,” Dissell, 40, said by phone late last week, trying to hold back tears. Dissell said she and her colleagues were stunned by the timing of the cuts.

“Even as everything was happening, we were still working — calling people and telling their stories about how the coronavirus was affecting their lives,” Dissell said. “We’re journalists; we didn’t know what else to do.”

Advance Local declined to comment. But editor Tim Warsinskey, one of the six remaining Plain Dealer newsroom employees, said in an email that the 32 departures were “emblematic of a larger challenge our industry is facing.” He noted that, between the two staffs, Cleveland still has about 70 journalists, on par with other Midwestern cities.

In Northern California, Bradley Zeve, the founder and chief executive of the Monterey County Weekly, recently laid off seven members of his close-knit staff, including the managing editor.

“Worst day in my career,” Zeve said. “We’ve had some difficult times, but nothing has come close to this.”

His remaining staff has kept the paper going, and they branched out by sending daily email newsletters — an effort that has quickly grown to 46,000 subscribers.

“The silver lining is that we’ve done some amazing journalism in the last few weeks,” Zeve said. “But so many businesses that we relied on just closed down, and who knows how many of them will eventually come back. The future is unknown.”

That is what’s distressing VonKaenel, owner of the Sacramento News & Review. In a March 19 letter to readers, he warned: “It could be the end.”

Last year, VonKaenel and his wife had borrowed against their home to keep their operation afloat. Now, he’s waiting to learn whether his application for the federal Paycheck Protection Program will be approved. Concerned readers also have sent more than $40,000 in donations.

“The support has been incredible. We are so connected in all of our communities,” said VonKaenel, whose weeklies top 100,000 in circulation.

Even with the presses idle, VonKaenel has been trying to come up with a new business plan, such as teaming up with a nonprofit or a public radio station.

He worries about the loss of an alternative voice in communities. “It would just be horrible,” he said.

His Chico paper produced more than 300 stories that chronicled the deadly 2018 Camp fire and its aftermath. This month, a couple of weeks after being laid off because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the staff learned their coverage had won several prestigious California Journalism Awards.

His Sacramento paper gained surveillance footage and exposed that a deadly police shooting of a black man in 2016 wasn’t a “justifiable homicide” as the police chief publicly said. That chief later retired, and the press coverage led to increased scrutiny of police conduct and other reforms.

“I don’t think people fully understand the impact of having accurate information and the watchdog function, and the changes that can bring,” VonKaenel said.

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Bernie Showed Us What’s Possible. The Rest Is Up to Us.

In his speech announcing his campaign’s suspension last week, Bernie Sanders noted that “over the course of the past five years, our movement has won the ideological struggle.” It’s true: a $15 minimum wage, health care as a human right, ending our energy dependence on fossil fuels, and free public college for all have become commonsense ideas in the United States.

A presidential campaign is an incredible opportunity for mass political education. This idea has often been rejected by the Left in recent decades, but the Sanders campaign showed it was true. Despite a media environment that was outright hostile, the campaign was able to successfully popularize universal social policy demands and lay out a foreign policy program far more opposed to US imperialism than any other Democrat’s.

This movement secured the support of two segments of American society that are key to the Left’s future: young people and broad swaths of Latino, Arab, and Asian immigrants, in places as far-flung as Iowa, Nevada, California, Texas, and Massachusetts. Bernie did so by articulating a vision that guaranteed healthy bodies, a decent living, and dignified lives unfettered by debt and free of endless means testing. And his promise of a just foreign policy that reflected a global view of humanity was deeply appealing, especially to those of us who still have close family and friends in countries that bear the brunt of US military attacks and unfair trade policies.

My own Muslim community has made huge strides since we first heard about “Amo Bernie” and his commitment to these ideas five years ago. In 2016, he won the Arab neighborhoods of South and East Dearborn, Michigan by a two-to-one margin; this year, Bernie got nearly 90 percent of their vote. By letting us build a multigenerational force with his support and his campaign’s resources, he showed us we need not be afraid of becoming an unabashedly progressive political force, rather than clinging to old, conservatizing notions of the model minority.

In Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, where I was born, 2016 Bernie voters were the seed of our voter outreach list in the historic Khader El-Yateem race for New York City Council in 2017. We lost that race but ended up flipping our Republican congressional seat to a Democrat a year later and building multiple new political organizations like Yalla Brooklyn, a progressive Arab and Muslim-led political club, and the South Brooklyn branch of New York City Democratic Socialists of America (DSA). Now we are running Tahanie Aboushi, a progressive candidate for Manhattan’s district attorney, who is dedicated to pushing back against two decades of racist government surveillance against Muslims in particular, in the election this fall.

Bernie unlocked a lot of that possibility for us by articulating the beliefs we hold in common — beliefs that typical nonprofit outreach to our communities often don’t speak to. These groups’ reliance on large foundations and wealthy donors means that reforms related to economic justice, tax revenues, or universal health care usually go unmentioned. Bernie, with his independent small-donor funding structure, was able to raise these kinds of issues with huge audiences.

Personally, I learned that the fear and rage and commitment to keeping my family safe that welled up in the aftermath of Trump’s election was something that was shared by thousands of other people — people I did not know, who nonetheless would fight for me. And I learned that I didn’t have to do it all alone, as I found a movement home in DSA. Like many, I decided to dedicate myself to building a mass socialist organization, and I soon began to take on formal leadership roles: first, my neighborhood’s organizing committee, then co-chair of New York City DSA, then serving on the National Political Committee, DSA’s national elected leadership body.

A lot of the work that DSA has done since Bernie’s first campaign — fighting Amazon from moving into Queens and displacing enormous numbers of working-class New Yorkers while snatching billions in public money, demanding increased affordable housing, calling for publicly owned electrical utilities to fight climate change, campaigning for Medicare for All — has been a learning process. We have been serious about building power and connecting with working-class people to discover what they need, deserve, and can win for themselves.

But we’ve also struggled. DSA remains disproportionately white. People of color and working-class people in this movement like me bring lots of organizing skills and experience into these leftist spaces, but we often have to weave back and forth between the communities we come from and DSA, even though we’ve seen that both can share core political values.

But DSA is growing and becoming a more integrated socialist movement. Over the course of the 2020 campaign, because of Bernie’s broad appeal, DSA came together with national leaders in black and brown organizations like Dream Defenders and Mijente, who fight for prison abolition and immigrant justice, respectively, and locally with groups like the Muslim Democratic Club of New York.

Of course, Sanders didn’t win the election, and our actual power is still incredibly weak. While Latino, Muslim, and Asian support for Bernie was through the roof across all ages, among black and white voters, our success was entirely with young people. To remedy this, we will need to work side by side with our new movement allies on campaigns to improve people’s lives, taking the political insights as well as the rich trove of data about donors, volunteers, and voters from the Bernie campaign to build a true, interconnected movement infrastructure.

COVID-19 has taken every crisis that already existed before the pandemic to extremes, killing black people, the elderly, the poor, and front-line workers by the thousands. The pandemic serves as another critical point for political education and a refocusing of DSA’s ongoing collective work, from organizing around Medicare for All to fighting for good jobs through a Green New Deal to lifting international sanctions on countries like Iran and Venezuela, and elevates the necessity of other fights around ending mass incarceration, abolishing ICE, protecting our unions, and fighting austerity.

The people the Bernie campaign activated know that there is no returning to the world we were in. So how will this new crisis be radicalizing? How will we build lasting institutions? We will do it by fighting for somebody we don’t know, alongside those we do.

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Brian Stelter Says He ‘Crawled In Bed And Cried For Our Pre-Pandemic Lives’

CNN’s Brian Stelter admitted Saturday morning that he “crawled in bed and cried for our pre-pandemic lives” as the novel coronavirus crisis continues.

Stelter wrote that he “hit a wall” the night before and was “gutted by the death toll” of the novel coronavirus. He was also “disturbed,” “dismayed” and “worried” because of various things, from how the Trump administration has handled the pandemic to “political rhetoric that bears no resemblance to reality.”

“I crawled in bed and cried for our pre-pandemic lives,” Stelter wrote. “Tears that had been waiting a month to escape. I wanted to share because it feels freeing to do so.” (RELATED: CNN Bashed Trump For Saying The Same Thing About Coronavirus Death Percentage That They’re Now Reporting)

Stelter noted the breakdown in his Friday newsletter, too, CNN’s entertainment reporter Chloe Melas tweeted. Stelter added in the newsletter that he thinks “those tears had been waiting a month to escape.”

The CNN commentator added that he “missed last night’s deadline for the first time in years” because of it.

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This is where all 50 US states stand on reopening

President Donald Trump has indicated many states can reopen by May 1, and on Thursday shared federal guidelines for restarting the economy with governors.

Gov. Kay Ivey issued a stay-at-home order set to expire on April 30.
Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth announced the formation of a task force to reopen the state’s economy. It is scheduled to report its suggestions to the governor on April 22.

Ivey said April 14 she intends to work with other states and the Trump administration, but that “what works in Alabama works in Alabama.”

When the economy starts to reopen, Ivey said during a press briefing it will be a slow process over time, “segment by segment or region by region.”


Gov. Mike Dunleavy has ordered residents to stay at home until April 21.

Dunleavy has said that Alaskans can again schedule elective surgeries for on or after May 4 and visit their doctors for non-urgent needs.


Gov. Doug Ducey issued a stay-at-home order that will expire on April 30.
“I want to get the economy moving and people back to work as soon as possible — when it is safe and healthy for people to do so,” Ducey said on Twitter on April 13.

The governor emphasized the importance of maintaining social distancing and continuing to make “responsible choices.”

“It’s critical that we keep those efforts up as we plan for the future and a time when we can begin to return some normalcy to people’s lives,” Ducey said.


Gov. Asa Hutchinson has not issued a stay-at-home order.

Schools will be closed for the rest of the academic term. Fitness centers, bars, restaurants and other public spaces are closed until further notice.

Hutchinson told reporters on April 16 that he wants to bring back elective surgeries. “We want to get (hospitals) back to doing the important health-care delivery that is important in our communities,” he said.


Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a stay-at-home order on March 19 that has no set end date.

Newsom announced a joint Western States Pact with Oregon Governor Kate Brown and Washington Governor Jay Inslee on April 13.

“Health outcomes and science — not politics — will guide these decisions” to reopen the states, according to a joint statement from the governors.

Newsom outlined a framework for reopening the economy in the Golden State on Tuesday that he said was predicated on the state’s ability to do six things: expand testing to identify and isolate the infected, maintain vigilance to protect seniors and high risk individuals, be able to meet future surges in hospitals with a “myriad of protective gear,” continue to collaborate with academia on therapies and treatments, redraw regulations to ensure continued physical distancing at businesses and schools and develop new enforcement mechanisms to allow the state to pull back and reinstate stay-at-home orders.

“I know you want the timeline, but we can’t get ahead of ourselves and dream of regretting. Let’s not make the mistake of pulling the plug too early, as much as we want to,” Newsom said.

“I know you want the timeline, but we can’t get ahead of ourselves … Let’s not make the mistake of pulling the plug too early, as much as we want to,” Newsom said.


Gov. Jared Polis extended the state’s stay-at-home order, which now remains in effect until April 26.

He said April 15 that the key information state officials need to determine when parts of the economy can be reopened is likely to come within the next five days.

The governor warned that restrictions won’t all be lifted at the same time, and life will be different for some time. “The virus will be with us,” Polis said. “We have to find a sustainable way that will be adapted in real time to how we live with it.”


Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont extended the mandatory shutdown in the state until May 20.

Connecticut has joined a coalition with the Northeastern states of New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Rhode Island and Massachusetts to coordinate the reopening of the economy, according to a news release from New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office.

Lamont said he believed it would take at least another month before the state could decide on how and when to open things back up and emphasized “this is no time to relax.”

Looking to revive the state’s economy, Lamont announced Thursday the formation of the “Reopen Connecticut Advisory Board.”


Gov. John Carney issued a statewide stay-at-home order that will remain until May 15 or until the “public health threat is eliminated.”
Delaware has joined a coalition with the Northeastern states of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island to coordinate the reopening of the economy, according to a press release from NY Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office.
The governor said April 17 that once the state reopens, social distancing, face coverings in public, washing hands, limited gatherings and vulnerable populations sheltering in place will remain.

District of Columbia

Washington, DC Mayor Muriel E. Bowser extended a stay-at-home order until May 15.

“I don’t know if that means we will be open on May 16, but it will be a point for us to check in. And if we need to extend it beyond that, we certainly will,” Bowser said during April 15 media briefing.


Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis issued a stay-at-home order for Floridians until April 30.

DeSantis plans to announce his reopening plan for the state of Florida next week, he said April 16.

During a news conference Thursday, he suggested it could start with allowing elective surgeries.

DeSantis said he will meet April 17 with a task force that includes experts across various industries throughout the state.

Southeast Florida, which is the epicenter of the outbreak in the state, could be treated differently than other parts, the governor said.


Gov. Brian Kemp issued a statewide shelter-in-place order that runs until April 30. The governor also extended the public health emergency through May 13. All K-12 public schools will remain closed through the end of the school year.

Kemp emphasized the importance of expanding testing before reopening the state.

“We’re a little behind the curve from when our peak is going to be to other states around the country,” Kemp said during an April 13 press briefing. “That is certainly a day I am ready for, but I think today specifically we have been focused on the surge capacity, ramping up testing to do more than we’re doing.”


Gov. David Ige issued a stay-at-home order for Hawaii residents which will last through at least April 30.

He said Thursday the state doesn’t satisfy the federal criteria for phased reopening, one of which is a 14-day downward trend in the number of cases. “We’re making progress, but we’re not there yet, so please continue your hard work and perseverance, we will get through this together,” he said.


Gov. Brad Little amended his order April 15 to allow for some businesses and facilities to reopen for curbside pickup, drive-in and drive-thru service and for mailed or delivery services. It is now effective through the end of the month.

Little said that the measures were working and Idaho is “truly seeing a flattening of the curve.”

Little said that the measures were working and Idaho is “truly seeing a flattening of the curve.”

“Our goal is for most businesses to open after the end of the month, but with the understanding that it may not be possible if there’s an upward trend in severe Covid-19 cases in Idaho between now and then,” Little said.


Gov. J.B. Pritzker issued a stay-at-home order through at least April 30.

Pritzker said during a media briefing Monday that he believes the current state in Illinois has been enough to slowly start lifting shelter-in-place orders so that some industry workers can go back to work.

Although there is no clear time line, he hopes that restarting production will go “industry by industry, and maybe company by company.”

On April 15 when asked about possibly extending the order into May he said: “We’re continuing to (consult health officials) and we’ll be making announcements about our decisions over the next several days.”


Gov. Eric Holcomb on April 17 extended the stay-at-home order through May 1.

The extension will give the state additional time to look into what the best way is to reopen sectors of the economy, Holcomb said. He said he would work with the state hospital association to see when elective surgeries could resume.

Indiana is part of a Midwest coalition of states looking at reopening possibilities


Gov. Kim Reynolds has not declared a stay-at-home order. Reynolds issued a State of Public Health Disaster Emergency on March 17, ordering all nonessential businesses to close until April 30.

The governor formed an Iowa economic recovery task force consisting of state leaders and private business leaders and announced plans to discuss with education leaders about the possibility of reopening schools.

Reynolds on April 16 announced that residents of the region of the state with the most cases, where there was an outbreak at a food processing plant, cannot get together until April 30.

“You may gather only with members or your immediate household,” Reynolds said, adding there were a few exceptions like religious services with 10 worshippers or fewer.


Gov. Laura Kelly issued a stay-at-home order, which has been extended until May 3.

The initial order was set to expire April 19.

Kelly said Kansas expects to see its peak of coronavirus cases between April 19-29, based on projections.


Gov. Andy Beshear issued a “Healthy at Home” orde March 25 that is in effect indefinitely.

Kentucky is working with six other states to coordinate reopening measures.

The governor said April 16 it will be a phased-in approach “where we can have that that symbiotic bump … to make sure that the steps that we take ultimately have a bigger reward or bigger output, because they are being replicated in other areas that we already do so much business with.”


Gov. John Bel Edwards extended the state’s stay-at-home order through April 30.

The governor announced on April 16 the formation of an economic recovery task force.

“They’re going to look at our economy, make recommendations to make our businesses more resilient so that we can open them up, get businesses open, get workers back to work, but do so in a way that adequately affects public health,” he said.


Gov. Janet Mills issued a “Stay Healthy at Home” executive order through at least April 30. Mills extended the state’s civil state of emergency until May 15.
“We are in the midst of one of the greatest public health crises this world has seen in more than a century,” Mills said in a news release. “This virus will continue to sicken people across our state; our cases will only grow, and more people will die. I say this to be direct, to be as honest with you as I can. Because saving lives will depend on us.”

Mills said she wished she didn’t have to extend the state of emergency, but “the continued spread of the virus demands a sustained response by the State.”

Maine is in touch with neighbors New Hampshire and Vermont on reopening measures, the governor said April 14.


Gov. Larry Hogan issued a statewide stay-at-home order on March 30. There is no current potential end date.

The governor said during his appearance on CNN Newsroom on April 13 that the state is discussing ways to safely reopen the state with health officials, and that his priority is to save lives, not the economy.

“We’ve got to listen to the doctors and scientists,” Hogan said. “We’ve also got to be concerned about people getting the help they need and getting on track, but doing so in a gradual and safe manner when it’s really the right time to do it.”

Hogan said a cooperation amongst other governors on when to reopen the states would be a “good idea.”

People in Maryland will be required to wear face coverings in stores and on public transportation as of April 18.


Gov. Charlie Baker issued an emergency order requiring all nonessential businesses to close facilities until May 4.
Massachusetts has joined a coalition with the Northeastern states of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Rhode Island to coordinate the reopening of the economy, according to a press release from NY Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office.

Baker told residents of his state that officials have begun conversations around reopening the state but there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done before a plan is set into motion.

The state will need to have testing, tracing, isolation and quarantine procedures in place to reopen, the governor said.

“I think it’s going to be really important that we all pay attention to what the others are up to, and to make sure that nobody does anything that puts somebody in a really bad spot, because they just weren’t thinking about what that impact was going to be on some other part of the Northeastern part of the US,” he said.


Gov. Gretchen Whitmer extended the state’s stay-at-home order through April 30.

Whitmer said during Monday’s press briefing that reopening the state’s economy will be based on a “data-driven approach based on facts, based on science, based on recommendations from experts.”

The four factors the governor will take into consideration before reopening Michigan include a sustained reduction in cases, expanded testing and tracing capabilities, sufficient healthcare capacity, and the best practices for the workplace.

At the end of week that saw a protest at the Capitol and an anti-Whitmer tweet from Trump, the governor said April 17: “There’s no one I think is more eager to start reengaging sectors of our economy than I am. But the last thing I want to do is to have a second wave here and so we’ve got to be really smart.”

She said the first businesses to reopen will be in low-risk sectors.


Gov. Tim Walz extended the state’s stay-at-home order through May 3.

He also signed an executive order extending the peacetime emergency for an additional 30 days until May 13.

Walz emphasized the importance of expanding testing and tracing the spread of the virus before opening the state.

The governor’s plan to open up the economy is to “test, we have to do contact tracing, and we have to isolate the people who need to be isolated, and this has to be on a massive scale,” Walz said.


Gov. Tate Reeves has extended a shelter-in-place order to April 27.

Reeves said April 17 the state will begin relaxing some of the restrictions on nonessential businesses by allowing them to offer services via drive-thru, curbside or delivery.

Reeves has said the state needed to open things back up as quickly and as responsibly as possible.

“We know that we will not be able to return to our typical lives right away,” Reeves said during a media briefing on April 13.

“There are still more sacrifices to be made. We do want to look ahead to opening things up, I know that there are many Mississippians whose lives and livelihoods rely on our ability to get them back to work in a responsible way.”


Gov. Mike Parson on April 16 extended the stay-at-home order through May 3.

The governor’s office said they will work with hospitals, healthcare providers, health officials, and business leaders to develop a reopening plan.

“Our reopening efforts will be careful, deliberate, and done in phases,” he said.


Gov. Steve Bullock extended the state’s stay-at-home order through April 24.

Bullock held a governor’s coronavirus task force tele-town hall for Montanans on Monday in which he said following the state’s guidelines will allow the state to reopen sooner rather than later.

Bullock said he does not know when the stay at home order will be lifted and that while he doesn’t “want to have it in place any longer than what’s necessary,” he is more concerned about completely reopening the state and jeopardizing the work that has been done.


Gov. Pete Ricketts issued the “21 Days to Stay Home and Stay Healthy” campaign on April 10. Ricketts ordered that all hair salons, tattoo parlors and strip clubs be closed through April 30 and all organized group sports canceled until May 31.

Nebraska is one of the states that has not issued a stay-at-home order to limit the spread of coronavirus nationwide. Ricketts has not made any plans to reopen the state.

The state’s campaign is based on six rules: staying home, socially distancing at work, shopping alone and only once a week, helping kids social distance, helping seniors stay at home and exercising at home.


Gov. Steve Sisolak issued a stay-at-home order that expires April 30.

When asked about how he’d make his decision to reopen the economy, Sisolak said “positive testing is important but it’s not my number one parameter.”

“The things that I look at on a daily basis are hospitalizations, intensive care unit hospitalizations, ventilator usage, and people who pass,” Sisolak added.

He said April 16 that reopening would happen with gradual steps. “I cannot take the chance of overwhelming our healthcare system,” he said.

New Hampshire

Gov. Chris Sununu issued a stay-at-home order until May 4.

Sununu told reporters on April 16 that he’ll decide on whether to extend the order before May 4.

“We want to give people some flexibility and be able to plan,” Sununu said. He said that applies to restrictions on nonessential businesses and public gatherings.

All public and private schools will remain closed for the rest of the school year, and students will continue remote learning, he said.

New Jersey

Gov. Phil Murphy issued a stay-at-home order on March 21 that has no specific end date.
New Jersey has joined a coalition with the Northeastern states of New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Rhode Island and Massachusetts to coordinate the reopening of the economy, according to a news release from New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office.
“No one has given more thought or is more eager to restart our economy than I am, but if we don’t get the sequencing right, we put more lives at risk. The only path to a sustainable economic recovery is through a strong healthcare recovery,” Murphy said in a news release.

“A coordinated, regional approach, informed by a multi-state council of experts, will help us avoid a major setback with potentially disastrous consequences.”

New Mexico

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham extended the state’s emergency order to April 30.

She said Thursday her state is evaluating the federal guidelines but authorities cannot put the “cart before the horse.”

“Please know that my administration is working doggedly to develop robust economic recovery plans alongside a plan for a thoughtful, staged and flexible reopening of our state — and the moment we can safely implement those plans, they will be implemented with the same dedication and focus that we are using to contain this pandemic,” the governor said.

New York

Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued a “New York State on PAUSE” executive order which took effect on March 22. Schools and nonessential businesses are ordered to stay closed until April 29.
New York has joined a coalition with the Northeastern states of New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Rhode Island and Massachusetts to coordinate the reopening of the economy, according to a press release from Cuomo’s office.

The governor has not come to any decision on when businesses will reopen and said he rejected “any elected official or any expert who says I can tell you what’s going to happen four weeks from today.”

The governor said April 16 there are factors for when a business can reopen, including how essential it is and what is the risk of catching the virus.

North Carolina

Gov. Roy Cooper issued a stay-at-home order for the state effective until April 29.

The governor said that the more people adhere to social distancing requirements in April, the sooner the state will loosen restrictions.

“We have a team examining how North Carolina can emerge with the right practices in place to keep us healthy and strong and ready to jump start our economy,” Cooper said in Monday’s press briefing.

“We’re considering the most effective ways to modify executive orders to help boost the economy while continuing to prevent our hospitals from being overwhelmed with Covid-19 patients.”

North Dakota

Gov. Doug Burgum has only shut down schools, restaurants, fitness centers, movie theaters and salons. Burgum declared a state of emergency on March 13.

North Dakota is one of the states that has not issued a stay-at-home order.

Burgum has said he hopes some businesses can start to reopen May 1.


Gov. Mike DeWine issued a statewide stay-at-home order that will remain in place until May 1.

He said April 16 that on that date the state will begin the first phase of reopening.

“We are working on (specifics) and will be talking about this in the days ahead. We will be dealing with the schools shortly, probably early next week,” he said.

As for events with big crowds, he said, “We need to take this a few weeks at a time to see where we are.”


Gov. Kevin Stitt said April 15 that he is working on a plan to reopen the state’s economy, possibly as early as April 30.

At the same time, Stitt extended Oklahoma’s “Safer at Home” order for adults over the age of 65 and other vulnerable residents until May 6. Elective surgeries will be allowed to resume April 24.

Stitt has said the state would have to ease into reopening its economy.

“We’re doing this with the guidance of the experts, being data driven… based on what’s happening in Oklahoma, not what’s going on in a different state or different city,” Stitt said.


Gov. Kate Brown issued an executive order directing Oregonians to stay at home that “remains in effect until ended by the governor.”
Brown announced a joint Western States Pact with California Gov. Gavin Newsom and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee on April 13.

“This is not a light switch going on or off,” Brown told CNN’s Anderson Cooper on April 14. “This is going to be making a change, testing it, modeling it, seeing whether it works, and then if it does, you can make another change.”

Brown said she would not ease restrictions before seeing five components in place: declining growth rate of active cases, sufficient personal protective equipment, surge capacity in hospitals, increased test capacity, contact tracing and isolating positive cases, and strategies to protect vulnerable communities.


Gov. Tom Wolf issued stay-at-home orders across the state until April 30.
Pennsylvania has joined a coalition with the Northeastern states of New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Delaware, Rhode Island and Massachusetts to coordinate the reopening of the economy, according to a press release from New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office.

Wolf said April 17 there is “no magic wand to wave to get us back to where we want to be.”

He said no one can flip a switch on the economy and the state shouldn’t rush.

“We can’t be impulsive. We can’t be emotional,” he said.

Rhode Island

Gov. Gina Raimondo issued an emergency declaration extending the state’s stay-at-home order to last until May 8.
Rhode Island has joined a coalition with the Northeastern states of New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts to coordinate the reopening of the economy, according to a press release from NY Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office.
To reopen the state, Raimondo said there would need to be advanced testing and contact tracing put in place.
“It is clear that what you’re doing is working,” Raimondo said, referring to residents staying at home. “It’s keeping you safer. It’s keeping Rhode Islanders safer. And quite frankly it’s making it so I can really start thinking about reopening this economy sooner rather than later.”

South Carolina

Gov. Henry McMaster extended his previous “State of Emergency” executive order through at least April 27.

“We want to get all these businesses going back as soon as we can,” McMaster said during a news conference April 13.

“And to that end, we will be announcing before long, a plan, a rejuvenation plan, a revitalization plan in order to get our economy started again.”

South Dakota

Gov. Kristi L. Noem has not issued a stay-at-home order.

“We have seen such an outstanding call to action among the people of South Dakota that we actually have more people staying home than many of the other states that have put in shelter in place orders and have put together directives to tell people they can’t leave their homes,” she said at a town hall hosted by South Dakota Public Broadcasting on April 15.


Gov. Bill Lee extended the state’s stay-at-home order until April 30.

Lee said the state would begin reopening the economy in May.

“It’ll be smart, it’ll be safe, it’ll be measured but we do not have a definitive decision on what those steps will be yet,” Lee said during a news conference April 13.


Gov. Greg Abbott ordered all Texans to stay home through April 30.

Instead of kicking off a full restart, the Texas governor announced April 17 that a group of medical and economic experts will guide him through a series of incremental steps aimed at slowly reopening the state’s economy.

“Opening in Texas must occur in stages,” Abbott said during his briefing Friday. “Obviously, not all businesses can open all at once on May 1.” A premature opening of private businesses, he said, would risk further outbreaks and “be more likely to set us back, rather than to propel us forward.”


Gov. Gary Herbert extended the state’s “Stay Safe, Stay Home” directive through May 1. Schools will be closed for the remainder of the year.

Utah has not issued a stay-at-home mandate.

People have been asked to stay home as much as possible and maintain 6 feet from others when out. Restaurants are not allowed to have dining rooms open. School are closed.

Herbert said the state is making plans for how and when restrictions will be lifted, but continued to urge citizens to stay home.


Gov. Phil Scott issued a “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order that has been extended until May 15.

Scott on April 17 outlined a five-point plan to reopen the state while continuing to fight the spread of the coronavirus during a news conference.

Part of that plan includes certain businesses such as construction, home appraisers, property management and municipal clerks to return to work on April 20, with social distancing measures in place. These businesses will be allowed a maximum of two workers.

On May 1, farmers markets will be able to operate with strict social distancing guidelines in place, Scott said.


Gov. Ralph Northam issued a stay-at-home order effective until June 10.
“We are in a public health crisis, and we need everyone to take this seriously and act responsibly,” Northam said in a news release. “Our message to Virginians is clear: stay home.”
Northam has made it clear that the state must make decisions based on “science, public health expertise, and data,” Secretary of Health and Human Resources Daniel Carey said.


Gov. Jay Inslee extended Washignton’s stay-at-home order until May 4, saying “We are yet to see the full toll of this virus in our state and the modeling we’ve seen could be much worse if we don’t continue what we’re doing to slow the spread.”

Inslee announced a joint Western States Pact with California Gov. Gavin Newsom and Oregon Gov. Kate Brown on April 13.

Before deciding on when to reopen the state, Inslee said during an interview with Katy Tur on MSNBC that there would need to be an “enormous expansions” of coronavirus testing capabilities, a way to trace the spread in communities, and “for the president to recognize that these decisions really are going to be made by governors.”

West Virginia

Gov. Jim Justice issued a stay-at-home order until further notice.

“That curve is the curve we’re looking for to be able to look at the possibility of backing things off and going forward. We’re not there yet,” Justice said during a news conference April 13.

Despite numbers suggesting that the state is starting to do better, Justice said it wasn’t time to relax social distancing measures or asking people to stop staying home.

“I’m proud of each and every one of you so keep following the guidelines, stay at home, social distance, practice good hygiene and when the time comes, and it will, we’ll cross the finish line together as West Virginians,” Justice said in a news release.


Gov. Tony Evers has extended his state’s stay-at-home order to expire May 26, according to a statement from the governor’s office.

The extension also loosens some restrictions on businesses. Golf courses are allowed to reopen, and public libraries and arts and crafts stores may offer curbside pickup, the April 16 announcement said.


Gov. Mark Gordon submitted a request asking for a federal disaster declaration for Wyoming on April 9. Wyoming is one of the states without a stay-at-home order.

“Though Wyoming has not reached the dire situations of some states, this declaration will help us to prepare and mobilize resources when we need them,” Governor Gordon said in a news release. “I look forward to a swift response to our request from the federal government.”
Gordon extended statewide public health orders through April 30 and issued a directive requiring travelers to quarantine for 14 days.

Correction: This story has been updated to correct details about what businesses in Nebraska will be closed and the duration of those closings.

CNN’s Janine Mack, Dylan Wells, Angie Trindade, Cat Gloria, Ganesh Setty, Yahya Abou-Ghazala, Chris Boyette, Christina Maxouris and Theresa Waldrop contributed to this report.