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Sep 15

September 15, 2020 TML Coronavirus Update #120

Posted on September 15, 2020 at 2:31 PM by TML Staff

Urgent Updates


What is the Texas Department of State Health Services doing with its positivity rate calculations?


According to a DSHS press release, “The Texas Department of State Health Services today will begin reporting two additional measures of the COVID-19 positivity rate, the percentage of tests that are positive in a given period. The update is the result of DSHS’s work to enhance the state’s COVID-19 data in partnership with the Governor’s Strike Force.


While DSHS will continue to post the data in the form Texans are used to, DSHS will primarily rely on the positivity rate calculated according to when people were tested, the specimen collection date, which provides the most accurate view of the pandemic’s effect over time. Because all test results received will be counted by when the test occurred, the rate for previous days will change as that information becomes more complete, and it will not be skewed by delays in reporting test results to the state.


‘These enhancements are part of our continuous effort to improve the information we present,’ said Dr. John Hellerstedt, DSHS commissioner. ‘As the COVID-19 pandemic evolves, so must the data we share. Our information must provide the clearest possible picture of what is happening now and what has occurred in the past. The trends in this and other data shape our understanding of what to expect in the future.’”


To that end, here are the new positivity rates as of September 13:


-Specimen Collection Date = 6.71 percent

-Lab Test Reported Date = 9.25 percent

-Case Reported Date (this is the “legacy method” DSHS has been using all along) = 6.85 percent


Apparently, the new calculation method will give a more accurate representation of viral transmission in Texas on a given day, but it will also result in large fluctuations from day-to-day.


What is the latest on the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)?


In response to an August 3, 2020, federal district court ruling out of New York that invalidated four parts of the Department of Labor’s rule implementing the FFCRA (we reported on this case here), the Department has issued a temporary rule reaffirming and revising its regulations, and further clarifying its position. Specifically, the Department:


-Reaffirms that an employee is not eligible for paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave if the employer does not have work available for the employee (this means that employees who are on furlough or unable to temporarily work because of, for example, a site closure may not qualify for paid FFCRA);

-Reaffirms that where intermittent leave is permitted, employer consent is required before an employee can take emergency paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave intermittently;

-Revises the definition of “health care provider” to include only employees who meet the definition of that term under the Family and Medical Leave Act regulations or who are employed to provide diagnostic services, preventative services, treatment services or other services that are integrated with and necessary to the provision of patient care which, if not provided, would adversely impact patient care;

-Revises to clarify that the information that the employee must provide the employer to support the need for leave need not be given prior to taking leave, but should be provided to the employer as soon as practicable; and

-Corrects an inconsistency on when employees may be required to provide employers notice of their need to take expanded family and medical leave.


The temporary rule will be effective on September 16, 2020.


How can we help our local hotels keep their doors open and rebound?


Hotels are fighting their way out of a halt in travel that has caused large-scale layoffs and temporary closures, and industry leaders don’t expect a turnaround until a proven COVID-19 vaccine is developed. Scott Joslove, President and CEO of the Texas Hotel & Lodging Association, said that in his 20 years in the business, he has never seen such dire impacts. Listen in on Joslove’s session “Hotels Are Your Partners in Economic Recovery” at the virtual TML Annual Conference and Exhibition on October 14 at 3:00 p.m. to hear what your city can do now to make a difference for your hospitality community and local economy.


Register here to hear Joslove’s presentation, and to view more than 30 other TML Annual Conference sessions related to disaster recovery and resilience.


Further Updates


What’s the latest regarding future federal stimulus legislation?


A very interesting, maybe even uplifting, development in these strange times. According to CNN, “A bipartisan group of House members is unveiling a sweeping proposal to inject up to $2 trillion in aid to the economy amid the coronavirus pandemic, a move aimed at jump-starting talks that have devolved into bitter acrimony and finger-pointing between the White House and Democratic leaders in the heat of this election year.


The proposal touches on many of the elements under discussion – aid to small businesses and schools, a new round of checks to Americans, more jobless benefits and funding to help with the November elections – while achieving bipartisan consensus on issues that have left the two sides bickering for the past several months, such as money for cash-strapped states and cities.


While the proposal stands little chance of becoming law, and just specifies overall numbers while leaving out many policy details, it represents a rare bipartisan breakthrough given Congress has been locked in a partisan impasse for months after Washington poured $3 trillion in the spring to help an economy ravaged by the pandemic.


The plan, pushed in part by vulnerable lawmakers in both parties, is also a clear recognition that many on Capitol Hill are anxious about Congress' failure as millions are of out of work and want to ratchet up pressure on congressional leaders to restart talks with the White House.”


Other media outlets, including the New York Times and Politico, reported on the effort as well.


Where can I find archived issues of the TML Coronavirus Updates?


TML Coronavirus Updates are archived by date here and by subject here.