Legislature(2019 - 2020)Anch LIO Lg Conf Rm

09/09/2020 01:00 PM STATE AFFAIRS

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01:02:29 PM Start
01:03:10 PM Presentation(s): Covid-19 in Alaska on Local and State Pandemic Response
03:07:58 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
-- Teleconference <Invitation Only> --
Joint with House HSS
+ Presentation: COVID-19 in Alaska on local and TELECONFERENCED
state pandemic response
**Streamed live on AKL.tv**
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
                         JOINT MEETING                                                                                        
             HOUSE STATE AFFAIRS STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                           
      HOUSE HEALTH AND SOCIAL SERVICES STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                     
                       Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                        
                       September 9, 2020                                                                                        
                           1:02 p.m.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE STATE AFFAIRS STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
 Representative Zack Fields, Co-Chair                                                                                           
Representative    Jonathan    Kreiss-Tomkins,   Co-Chair    (via                                                                
 teleconference)                                                                                                                
 Representative Grier Hopkins (via teleconference)                                                                              
 Representative Andi Story (via teleconference)                                                                                 
 Representative Steve Thompson (via teleconference)                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE HEALTH AND SOCIAL SERVICES STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
 Representative Tiffany Zulkosky, Chair (via teleconference)                                                                    
 Representative Ivy Spohnholz, Vice Chair (via teleconference)                                                                  
 Representative Matt Claman (via teleconference)                                                                                
 Representative Harriet Drummond (via teleconference)                                                                           
 Representative Geran Tarr (via teleconference)                                                                                 
 Representative Sharon Jackson (via teleconference)                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE STATE AFFAIRS STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
 Representative Sarah Vance                                                                                                     
 Representative Laddie Shaw                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE HEALTH AND SOCIAL SERVICES STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
 Representative Lance Pruitt                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
PRESENTATION(S):  COVID-19 in Alaska on Local and State Pandemic                                                                
Response                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
     - HEARD                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
No previous action to record                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
KEVIN BERRY, PhD, Assistant Professor of Economics                                                                              
Department of Economics                                                                                                         
University of Alaska Anchorage                                                                                                  
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Provided a PowerPoint presentation,                                                                      
entitled "Economics of COVID-19," dated 9/9/20.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
NOLAN KLOUDA, Executive Director                                                                                                
Center for Economic Development                                                                                                 
University of Alaska Anchorage                                                                                                  
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Provided a PowerPoint presentation,                                                                      
entitled "The Economy and COVID-19," dated 9/9/20.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
CHRISTY LAWTON, Division Manager                                                                                                
Public Health Division                                                                                                          
Anchorage Health Department                                                                                                     
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified during the presentation on COVID-                                                              
19 in Alaska.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
JANET JOHNSTON, PhD, Epidemiologist                                                                                             
Anchorage Health Department                                                                                                     
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified during the presentation on COVID-                                                              
19 in Alaska.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
JAKE METCALFE, Executive Director                                                                                               
Alaska State Employees Association                                                                                              
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified during the presentation on COVID-                                                              
19 in Alaska.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
1:02:29 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR ZACK FIELDS called the  joint meeting of the House State                                                             
Affairs  Standing  Committee  and  the House  Health  and  Social                                                               
Services   Standing    Committee   to   order   at    1:02   p.m.                                                               
Representatives  Claman   (via  teleconference),   Drummond  (via                                                               
teleconference),  Hopkins  (via   teleconference),  Jackson  (via                                                               
teleconference), Kreiss-Tomkins (via  teleconference), Story (via                                                               
teleconference),  Thompson  (via teleconference),  Zulkosky  (via                                                               
teleconference), and  Fields were present  at the call  to order.                                                               
Representatives  Tarr  (via  teleconference) and  Spohnholz  (via                                                               
teleconference) arrived as the meeting was in progress.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
^PRESENTATION(S):    COVID-19  in  Alaska   on  Local  and  State                                                               
Pandemic Response                                                                                                               
PRESENTATION(S):  COVID-19 in Alaska on Local and State Pandemic                                                            
                            Response                                                                                        
                                                                                                                              
1:03:10 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR FIELDS announced  that the only order  of business would                                                               
be a  presentation on  state and local  response to  the COVID-19                                                               
pandemic.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
1:04:02 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
KEVIN BERRY,  PhD, Assistant  Professor of  Economics, Department                                                               
of  Economics,  University  of  Alaska  Anchorage,  informed  the                                                               
committee that he  has been studying the  economics of infectious                                                               
disease since 2011.  He said  today, he would provide an overview                                                               
of pandemics  economics and discuss  the impacts of  the COVID-19                                                               
pandemic  on  both a  state  and  national  level.   He  directed                                                               
attention to the PowerPoint  presentation, entitled "Economics of                                                               
COVID-19," and on  slide 2, explained that there  are three steps                                                               
in  virus  economics:  control the  virus,  provide  relief,  and                                                               
recover  after the  virus  ends.   He  said  there are  tradeoffs                                                               
within the three  steps, such as, considering  if controlling the                                                               
virus is  more costly  than simply reopening  and letting  it run                                                               
wild.   He  added that  there is  extensive recent  research that                                                               
attempts  to  better  understand the  tradeoffs  associated  with                                                               
policy.  Slide  3 highlighted a [2020] study by  Lin and Meissner                                                               
and  the  National Bureau  of  Economic  Research (NBER)  working                                                               
papers  series.   The  chart  on slide  3  showed  the impact  on                                                               
initial  jobless claims  of  stay-at-home orders  by  state.   He                                                               
indicated  that   it  is  unclear  whether   stay-at-home  orders                                                               
increase jobless claims.   Multiple studies have  shown that some                                                               
portion of  the shock to  both public  health and the  economy is                                                               
due to people staying at  home voluntarily to avoid getting sick,                                                               
which is  defined as  "avoidance behavior."   He said  it becomes                                                               
difficult to  determine whether these  impacts are  influenced by                                                               
the stay-at-home  orders or avoidance  behavior.  In  Alaska, for                                                               
example, one  of the conflating  factors is that the  first cases                                                               
arrived in the  state at roughly the same time  that the stay-at-                                                               
home orders were  issued, which complicates the  estimation.  The                                                               
research generally concludes  that it is unclear  that a tradeoff                                                               
exists between health  and wealth; further, that  by fighting the                                                               
virus, avoidance behavior is reduced,  and it becomes more likely                                                               
that  people are  going  to  return to  both  work and  spending.                                                               
Slide  4 reviewed  a study  by Dave  et al.  on whether  shutdown                                                               
orders  reduce spread.    One  of the  key  questions is  whether                                                               
costly  policy measures  intended  to reduce  the  spread of  the                                                               
virus,  like shelter-in-place  orders,  flatten the  curve.   The                                                               
research  suggests that  shelter-in-place  orders are  associated                                                               
with a  5-10 percent increase in  the amount of time  people stay                                                               
at  home;  additionally,  three weeks  after  a  shelter-in-place                                                               
order  is issued,  cumulative cases  are reduced  by 44  percent,                                                               
indicating that  stay-at-home orders are incredibly  effective in                                                               
reducing spread.  Dr. Berry  explained that these policy measures                                                               
potentially  cause increased  jobless claims,  but they  are also                                                               
reducing the long-term risk of the virus.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
1:09:30 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
DR. BERRY turned attention to  slide 5, which highlighted work by                                                               
Chetty  et  al.   at  Harvard  University  on   case  studies  of                                                               
reopenings  in  different  states.    Graph  B,  he  said,  shows                                                               
consumer  spending  in  re-opened   states  compared  to  control                                                               
states,  indicating that  there's  not  a significant  difference                                                               
between states that  stay closed and those that reopen.   He said                                                               
to keep in mind that re-opened  states are often responding to an                                                               
improved situation regarding  the virus.  He  explained that it's                                                               
not clear whether the increase  in consumer spending is caused by                                                               
the  relaxed  restrictions or  by  an  improvement in  caseloads,                                                               
which  results  in people  feeling  safer  and more  comfortable.                                                               
Graphs  C   and  D  performed   similar  experiments;   C,  using                                                               
employment data;  and D,  using data on  the number  of merchants                                                               
open.   The research suggests that  post-reopening, employment is                                                               
not increasing rapidly relative to  control states.  The evidence                                                               
suggests that reopening does not  cause rapid economic recovery -                                                               
people are more  likely responding to the risk  of becoming sick.                                                               
He noted that there are  many other costs of lockdowns, including                                                               
lost  education, domestic  violence,  drugs,  and alcohol,  which                                                               
must be  balanced against  the additional risk  of the  virus and                                                               
avoidance behavior  in response to  higher caseloads.   He stated                                                               
that while lockdowns might be  blunt, evidence suggests that they                                                               
are effective  and that they are  not the sole cause  of economic                                                               
pain  mostly likely due to avoidance behavior.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
DR.  BERRY continued  to  slide  6, which  examined  the cost  of                                                               
reopening in  Alaska.   The graph shows  that as  Alaska reopens,                                                               
there is  an associated  rapid increase in  new cases.   Evidence                                                               
suggests that  reducing restrictions on mobility  increases virus                                                               
spread.   He noted that  outbreaks have long-term impacts  on the                                                               
economy,  such   as  potential  loss   of  elders   or  high-risk                                                               
individuals,  as well  as possible  long-term  health effects  of                                                               
COVID-19.   He  added that  the cost  of reopening  in regard  to                                                               
additional  infections  indicates  fatalities, which  means  less                                                               
productive  workers as  people deal  with long-term  consequences                                                               
and fewer people  in the economy.  He stated  that the additional                                                               
cases from  reopening can be  considered an additional cost.   He                                                               
directed  attention to  slide 7,  which highlighted  the cost  of                                                               
remaining closed.   Research by  Dr. Guettabi from  the Institute                                                               
of  Social  and  Economic  Research  (ISER)  indicates  that  the                                                               
tourism and hospitality industry  bear a disproportionate burden.                                                               
The  economy in  Alaska has  been significantly  impacted by  the                                                               
outbreak.   Monthly  employment has  declined dramatically  since                                                               
2019 and  a recovery  isn't predicted  until 2022.   Furthermore,                                                               
certain industries are facing a much larger cost than others.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
DR. BERRY  directed attention to  slide 8, which read  as follows                                                               
[original punctuation provided]:                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     ?  It  is unclear  that  there  is a  tradeoff  between                                                                    
     health and wealth                                                                                                          
     ?  People want  to avoid  getting sick,  and stay  home                                                                    
     voluntarily                                                                                                                
     ? Estimates  of the  impact of  government intervention                                                                    
     range from 12%  decline in consumer mobility  to 60% of                                                                    
     lost employment                                                                                                            
     ?  The  benefits  were  in  lives  saved  and  consumer                                                                    
     willingness to return to normal                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
     ? Ending  lockdowns and restrictions is  not a panacea,                                                                    
     and makes some problems worse                                                                                              
     ? Alaskans need help now, and some more than others                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
     ?  There is  room  for more  targeted interventions  to                                                                    
     avoid   the   blunt   instruments  of   lockdowns   and                                                                    
     uncoordinated avoidance behavior                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
1:17:57 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
DR.  BERRY reiterated  that  Alaskans  need help  now.   He  said                                                               
implementing policies,  such as  the AK  CARES grant  program, as                                                               
quickly as  possible is ideal.   He explained that  mask mandates                                                               
are only as  effective as people are willing to  respond to them.                                                               
He  stressed the  importance  of making  policies  targeted.   He                                                               
continued to  slide 9, which  demonstrated impact on  the leisure                                                               
and hospitality industry.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
1:19:51 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
NOLAN   KLOUDA,   Executive   Director,   Center   for   Economic                                                               
Development,   University  of   Alaska   Anchorage,  provided   a                                                               
PowerPoint  presentation, entitled  "The  Economy and  COVID-19."                                                               
He directed attention  to slide 2 and noted that  Alaska was in a                                                               
recession from  2015 to 2018.   The chart  on slide 2  showed the                                                               
year-over-year employment change for  Alaska, indicating the loss                                                               
of 12,600 jobs  in that three-year timespan, which  was an effect                                                               
of  low oil  prices  and state  budget  complications.   Alaska's                                                               
economy  slowly started  to recover  at the  end of  2018 with  a                                                               
projected  return  to  2015  employment   levels  in  7-8  years.                                                               
However, the scale of job losses  in 2020 dwarfs the magnitude of                                                               
the prior recession.  He reported  that July 2020 was down 39,900                                                               
jobs compared to  July 2019, which was a faster  pace of job loss                                                               
than  the Great  Depression.   Slide  3 highlighted  unemployment                                                               
claims in  Alaska.  Before  COVID-19, there were  typically 1,000                                                               
new  unemployment  claims  per   week;  in  early  2020,  initial                                                               
unemployment  claims increased  to  12,000-14,000 per  week.   He                                                               
noted that  the number  of new  unemployment claims  is dropping,                                                               
but the rate  is still 4-5 times higher than  the normal baseline                                                               
in 2019.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
1:23:13 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR. KLOUDA  continued to slide  4, which demonstrated  job losses                                                               
by  sector between  July  2019  and July  2020.    At 14,300  job                                                               
losses,  the leisure  and Hospitality  industry is  suffering the                                                               
most because  it has  the most exposure  to the  visitor industry                                                               
and locals  are exhibiting avoidance behavior.   Other industries                                                               
that    took    a   hit    are    trade/transportation/utilities,                                                               
manufacturing,  and  local  government.   Slide  5  examined  the                                                               
number of small businesses that are  open in Alaska.  He reported                                                               
that as of August 9,  2020, about one-third of Alaskan businesses                                                               
are closed.   He pointed out that it's difficult  when a business                                                               
is  closed   with  certainty  and   whether  it's   permanent  or                                                               
temporary.   He further  noted that  stay-at-home orders  are not                                                               
the only factor in the decrease  in business closures, as many of                                                               
them closed before  those orders were issued.   He indicated that                                                               
there's not a clear relationship  between stay-at-home orders and                                                               
[economic]  downturn.   He  turned attention  to  slide 7,  which                                                               
addressed consumer  spending.  In  Alaska, consumer  spending was                                                               
down 14.7  percent on August  20, 2020 compared  to pre-COVID-19.                                                               
He noted that  consumer spending started to increase  on April 1;                                                               
however, the  rate of recovery  is slower in Alaska  compared the                                                               
U.S. as a  whole.  He expressed concern  that Alaska's underlying                                                               
economic  weakness  from  the  prior  recession  could  slow  the                                                               
state's recovery from COVID-19.   Additionally, research suggests                                                               
that  the expiration  of the  supplemental unemployment  benefits                                                               
caused a  contraction, or slower recovery,  in consumer spending,                                                               
as  much of  that  money  was being  spent  at local  businesses.                                                               
Furthermore,  there was  no evidence  to suggest  that the  extra                                                               
unemployment benefits were inhibiting people's return to work.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
1:28:18 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR.  KLOUDA directed  attention to  slide 7,  which provided  the                                                               
annual average unemployment in Alaska  from 2011-2022, as well as                                                               
a  forecast.   He  explained  that  Alaska  reached its  peak  in                                                               
unemployment in 2015; after which  it subsequently declined until                                                               
experiencing  a  small  post-recession  recovery  in  2018.    He                                                               
indicated that  2020 would experience  an overall loss  of 25,000                                                               
jobs compared to 2019.  He  emphasized the long and slow recovery                                                               
that  lies ahead  for  Alaska, which  is  further complicated  by                                                               
relatively low oil and gas prices and ongoing fiscal issues.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
1:30:08 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  ZULKOSKY   pointed  out   that  a   patchwork  of                                                               
protective  health measures  is not  effective in  preventing the                                                               
spread  of infection.    She  asked if  there  has been  economic                                                               
research  on  states that  have  taken  a statewide  approach  to                                                               
protective   measures  compared   to  states   that  passed   the                                                               
responsibility to municipalities.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
1:32:05 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
DR. BERRY  said there is a  small amount of research  from NBER's                                                               
working  paper  series  that   focuses  on  coordination  between                                                               
different locales and  their policy responses.  He  said there is                                                               
suggestive  evidence  that  there  are  proficiency  losses  from                                                               
prevention  and  control  measures when  they  are  uncoordinated                                                               
across  municipalities.     He  noted  that   the  aforementioned                                                               
research  is focused  on  the  Lower 48,  which  has a  different                                                               
transportation network than Alaska.   He opined that it might not                                                               
translate because Alaska has communities  off the road system and                                                               
different  movement  around  the  state.    He  stated  that  the                                                               
suggestive  evidence  indicates  that  coordinated  policies  are                                                               
going  to  outperform  uncoordinated policies;  however,  whether                                                               
that is  statewide policy or  policy that is  otherwise developed                                                               
is unclear in the existing literature thus far.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
1:33:16 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE ZULKOSKY returned attention to  slides 5 and 6 and                                                               
asked  if   there  has   been  an   analysis  of   the  symbiotic                                                               
relationship between  economic impact  and rates of  infection in                                                               
Alaska.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
1:34:18 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR. KLOUDA explained  that there is a  consensus among economists                                                               
that long-term economic health depends  on good public health and                                                               
that it's  hard to have  one without the  other.  He  stated that                                                               
people are afraid  to leave their houses and spend  money as long                                                               
as the  virus is dangerous,  adding that it's hard  to understand                                                               
whether  the  stay-at-home  orders  have  more  impact  than  the                                                               
general  fear of  the  virus.   He  said  in  general, a  healthy                                                               
economy will depend on the control of the virus.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
DR.  BERRY  agreed  that  a healthy  economy  depends  on  having                                                               
healthy  workers  and consumers.    He  added  that some  of  the                                                               
unexpected  costs  of the  pandemic  are  in lost  education  and                                                               
potentially long-term  health impacts, which suggests  that there                                                               
could  be long-term  health impacts  from an  uncontrolled public                                                               
health crisis.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  ZULKOSKY expressed  interest in  further analysis                                                               
of the relationship  between the health impacts  and the economic                                                               
impact in Alaska.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
1:38:14 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE FIELDS  surmised that a health  mandate would have                                                               
zero negative economic effects.  He asked if that is correct.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
DR. BERRY said he would expect  a mask mandate to have a positive                                                               
impact because it would help  people feel safer to participate in                                                               
the  economy.    He  noted   that  there  are  always  unexpected                                                               
behavioral responses that cannot be accounted for.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
MR. KLOUDA  added that  economists at  Goldman Sachs  looked into                                                               
how  a national  mask mandate  would affect  the economy.   Their                                                               
research  suggested that  a nationwide  mandate  would prevent  a                                                               
loss of around 5 percent  GDP because it would forestall closures                                                               
and stay-at-home orders.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  FIELDS  speculated that  targeted  interventions,                                                               
like a mask mandate or  workplace safety standards, could protect                                                               
jobs by preventing the necessity of lockdowns.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
DR. BERRY answered  yes.  He explained that  the blunt instrument                                                               
of a lockdown  is probably the most economically  damaging way to                                                               
control the  virus; nonetheless, it's  the most likely to  have a                                                               
positive  cost benefit  ratio.   He  said,  "it's the  difference                                                               
between  cutting  off an  entire  leg  to  stop an  infection  or                                                               
treating it with antibiotics."                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE FIELDS questioned  whether either testifier wished                                                               
to  elaborate on  targeted  measures beyond  a  mask mandate  and                                                               
workplace safety measures  or if those are two  key measures that                                                               
the state should be working on.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
1:41:01 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
DR. BERRY deferred  to his public health colleagues.   He said as                                                               
an economist, he  is most aware of  the mask mandate as  a way of                                                               
reducing transmission,  as well as restrictions  on spending time                                                               
in poorly ventilated areas.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR. KLOUDA deferred to public health officials.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
1:42:07 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHRISTY  LAWTON,   Division  Manager,  Public   Health  Division,                                                               
Anchorage Health  Department (AHD),  explained that  she oversees                                                               
the Public Health Division, which  comprises the clinical nursing                                                               
team that was activated in January  2020 to prepare to respond to                                                               
the virus.   Now, nine months later, 50 percent  of the AHD staff                                                               
has been activated in either  part-time or full-time capacity for                                                               
that  response, whether  it's at  the department  or part  of the                                                               
emergency operations center.  She  noted that since the beginning                                                               
of the  pandemic, resources have been  a challenge; consequently,                                                               
the department activated and trained  all the nurses and shutdown                                                               
most of the  essential health services to respond  in a dedicated                                                               
fashion.    She applauded  the  public  health nursing  team  for                                                               
providing an  optimal level  of response  by helping  people with                                                               
everything from  food assistance to  contact tracing, as  well as                                                               
providing emotional  support at  a time  when information  on the                                                               
impact  of  the  virus  was  inconsistent.    She  commended  the                                                               
division's partnership with the  Anchorage School District, which                                                               
provided  15  additional  nurses.    She  said  that  partnership                                                               
enabled the  nurses to provide individual  attention and thorough                                                               
contact tracing for every case.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
1:47:15 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS. LAWTON explained that initially,  people needed a lot of time                                                               
and education; however, with enough  time and proper counsel, the                                                               
public health  nurses were able to  keep many of those  people in                                                               
isolation,  which helped  slow the  spread.   When the  number of                                                               
cases started to increase in June,  she said things started to go                                                               
"haywire."   She  recalled  that the  department  was behind  and                                                               
unable to  respond to cases  in a timely  manner.  She  said they                                                               
hit  critical levels  as  the  state and  UAA  were developing  a                                                               
sizeable  collaboration to  allow  for the  staffing capacity  to                                                               
respond to any  number of cases, which the  municipality, as well                                                               
as  any  community,  could benefit  from  when  numbers  exceeded                                                               
capacity.   She opined  that the  partnership was  innovative and                                                               
helped the municipality  avoid a dangerous tipping  point that it                                                               
came close to  exceeding.  She reported that  there are currently                                                               
several  hundred  statewide  contract  tracers  between  combined                                                               
resources   from  AHD,   the  state,   the  UAA   workforce,  and                                                               
volunteers, which  ensures that  each new  case is  contacted and                                                               
outreached  within  24  hours.    She  opined  that  the  various                                                               
emergency orders have  been very effective in  helping AHD reduce                                                               
the spread that was transpiring  from large gatherings.  She said                                                               
although the  mitigation efforts  have been painful  for business                                                               
owners,  they  helped prevent  worse  outcomes  in terms  of  the                                                               
number  of exposures  that ultimately  required hospitalizations.                                                               
She conveyed  that the  AHD team is  currently recruiting  11 new                                                               
permanent fulltime  staff who would  be dedicated to  COVID-19 to                                                               
help  replace  the  school  nurses who  have  returned  to  their                                                               
regular duties.  She further  noted that the municipality added a                                                               
contractor who  built five additional  large scale  testing sites                                                               
and  has  been the  "go-to"  person  for establishing  a  testing                                                               
schedule  for  large  congregate  care  settings,  like  homeless                                                               
shelters.   To  conclude,  she  opined that  the  state has  been                                                               
successful  in  its  proactiveness  and  responsiveness  to  [the                                                               
pandemic].                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
1:53:12 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SPOHNHOLZ asked  if there  is information  on how                                                               
the CARES  ACT pandemic unemployment  assistance program  and its                                                               
subsequent expiration  at the end  of July  specifically impacted                                                               
individual Alaskans and the state economy.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
1:54:00 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR. KLOUDA said  there is a working paper by  NBER that shows how                                                               
that  supplemental benefit  was  spent by  its  recipients.   The                                                               
paper suggests  that the loss of  that extra $600 per  week would                                                               
lead to  a 44 percent  decline in  local spending.   The research                                                               
indicated  that the  supplemental payments  were supporting  more                                                               
employment because  more money was circulating  instead of acting                                                               
as  a disincentive.    He  pointed out  that  in  terms of  local                                                               
spending,  households   that  were  receiving   the  supplemental                                                               
unemployment  insurance   are  disproportionately   below  median                                                               
income,  which   means  they  must   spend  what  they   earn  on                                                               
essentials, like gas,  food, and rent.  He noted  that it's exact                                                               
effect on the state is unclear.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
DR. BERRY added that there is  some work on how quickly the CARES                                                               
Act  supplemental unemployment  supported  consumer spending  and                                                               
kept  the  economy  from  collapse.    He  said  the  opportunity                                                               
insights  data suggests  that consumer  spending has  stayed flat                                                               
since the expiration of  the supplemental unemployment insurance.                                                               
He   noted   that   particularly  for   low-income   homes,   the                                                               
supplemental benefits kept people in their homes.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
1:57:14 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
JANET   JOHNSTON,    PhD,   Epidemiologist,    Anchorage   Health                                                               
Department,  reported  on  metrics  pertaining  to  epidemiology,                                                               
health care  capacity, and public  health capacity.  She  said in                                                               
terms  of  epidemiology, AHD  is  tracking  the total  number  of                                                               
cases,  number of  new cases,  and the  case rate,  which is  the                                                               
number of  new cases per 100,000  residents.  She noted  that the                                                               
key  number is  the 14-day  rolling average  because numbers  can                                                               
increase  or  decrease  for  various  reasons,  but  the  average                                                               
provides a sense  of where things are going.   She explained that                                                               
currently, cases  are plateauing  at a  level that  is considered                                                               
the  high-alert level  for the  state, which  is keeping  schools                                                               
from opening in  person.  Regarding health care  capacity, AHD is                                                               
focusing  on hospitals'  ability  to handle  surgeon patients  if                                                               
cases were  to increase dramatically, meaning  available hospital                                                               
beds,  ICU beds,  and ventilators.   She  acknowledged that  [the                                                               
municipality]  has helped  AHD's facilities  serve as  the backup                                                               
for  most of  the state  in terms  of extra  capacity in  case of                                                               
surgeon  cases  from  other  parts   of  the  state  as  well  as                                                               
Anchorage.   Additionally,  health  care  capacity considers  PPE                                                               
availability for  health care providers and  first responders, as                                                               
well  as  testing capacity.    The  third metric,  public  health                                                               
capacity, focuses on  the ability to interview  cases quickly and                                                               
contact  and monitor  the case's  contacts  quickly.   Currently,                                                               
AHD's public  health nurses are  conducting the  first interviews                                                               
with  major  clusters  within  the city,  such  as  the  homeless                                                               
outbreak.  They  are also working with  statewide contact tracing                                                               
in  terms of  monitoring contacts  and ensuring  that people  get                                                               
tested, particularly those displaying  symptoms.  She relayed her                                                               
focus on the science of how  the disease spreads.  She emphasized                                                               
the   importance   of   masking   in   decreasing   the   spread;                                                               
additionally,  reducing the  size  of  close, indoor  gatherings.                                                               
She said AHD is trying to  get the public to internalize the need                                                               
for masking, social distancing, and frequent hand washing.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
2:02:20 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  ZULKOSKY  acknowledged  the leadership  that  was                                                               
taken by  AHD.   She pointed out  that the  interconnectedness of                                                               
Alaskan communities  and community health was  highlighted as the                                                               
surge of  COVID-19 cases  in Anchorage began  to seep  into rural                                                               
communities in  the absence of  statewide leadership.   She asked                                                               
for  further information  on the  existing  capacity for  contact                                                               
tracing and how well it's working on the local level.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
2:04:12 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS. LAWTON  said [AHD] has  been in  a better position  since the                                                               
Municipality  of  Anchorage,  in collaboration  with  the  state,                                                               
implemented  the   CommCare  database,  which   manages  COVID-19                                                               
information and  allows any trained  contact tracer to take  on a                                                               
case regardless  of his or her  location.  She said  the CommCare                                                               
application  helped   manage  the   backlog  in  July   when  the                                                               
municipality was overwhelmed with new  cases.  She explained that                                                               
CommCare ensures that  every new case is  immediately assigned in                                                               
real  time.   She  noted  that the  municipality  has nine  staff                                                               
members dedicated to contact tracing  on a day-to-day basis.  She                                                               
said  the only  disadvantage  is that,  aside  from the  clinical                                                               
team, many  of the AHD  staff transitioned to telework,  which is                                                               
not conducive for ensuring patients'  privacy and compliance with                                                               
Health  Insurance  Portability  and Accountability  Act  (HIPPA).                                                               
She continued to explain that AHD  has the autonomy to manage all                                                               
the cases associated with a  particular hotspot to allow the team                                                               
to  focus  on the  high-risk  outbreaks.    She opined  that  the                                                               
process  has  been  successful,  adding  that  the  AHD  team  is                                                               
continuing  to provide  high-quality and  timely contact  tracing                                                               
services both locally and statewide.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
2:09:50 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  ZULKOSKY pointed  out that  there is  a challenge                                                               
for  different classes  of cities  and municipalities  across the                                                               
state,  which   makes  the  implementation  of   a  patchwork  of                                                               
statewide protective measures tenuous  for second-class cities or                                                               
communities in  unorganized boroughs.   She asked for  insight on                                                               
how  the Municipality  of Anchorage  is using  metrics to  govern                                                               
public policy decisions.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
2:12:06 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
DR.  JOHNSTON offered  her belief  that interpreting  metrics and                                                               
acting on  the data  is a  combination of art  and science.   She                                                               
said a lot  of time is dedicated to analyzing  metrics related to                                                               
case counts,  rate of new  cases, and healthcare  capacity, which                                                               
is all channeled to  the mayor daily.  She added  that there is a                                                               
meeting held once  or twice each week to discuss  metrics and the                                                               
mayor is concerned  about weighing both the  public health aspect                                                               
with  the economic  aspect of  every decision.   She  offered her                                                               
understanding  that  the municipality  has  taken  the stance  to                                                               
protect  the  public health  in  order  to protect  the  economy.                                                               
Furthermore,  Anchorage's population  size provides  numbers that                                                               
are  relatively  stable  and  can simulate  trends,  which  is  a                                                               
challenge for  smaller communities  in Alaska.   She  stated that                                                               
the municipality  is considering CDC guidance,  state alerts, and                                                               
metric forecasts,  all while  bearing in mind  the life  cycle of                                                               
the virus.  She noted that  UAA is conducting surge modeling with                                                               
a  focus on  the  conditions that  could lead  to  strain on  ICU                                                               
capacity.   She opined that changes  would be made if  a surge in                                                               
Anchorage   or   across   the    state   would   compromise   the                                                               
municipality's ability to provide  sufficient ventilators and ICU                                                               
beds.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
2:15:00 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  ZULKOSKY  opined  that  Ms.  Johnston's  response                                                               
underscores  the  complexity of  the  COVID-19  response and  the                                                               
importance  of   having  statewide  measures  to   protect  small                                                               
communities that don't have sufficient capacity.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
2:16:13 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SPOHNHOLZ asked for an  update on the recent surge                                                               
of COVID-19  cases in Anchorage  and its homeless  population and                                                               
questioned whether it's under control.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
2:16:45 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
DR.  JOHNSTON  said it's  difficult  to  say whether  it's  under                                                               
control.  She reported that  progress has been made regarding the                                                               
implementation  of testing  to ensure  that cases  are identified                                                               
quickly.   She added that  capacity for isolation  and quarantine                                                               
has  also  been fulfilled.    She  said  the challenge  with  the                                                               
homeless  outbreak  is  that  it's   a  migratory  and  amorphous                                                               
population, which  makes it  difficult to  identify who  is truly                                                               
homeless and  who is at risk  of being homeless.   She added that                                                               
the population difficult to track;  nonetheless, testing is being                                                               
expanded beyond the shelters to  identify cases at the next level                                                               
out.  She  said she is mildly optimistic that  it's getting under                                                               
control, but it's not totally controlled at this point.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MS.  LAWTON   added  that  the   homeless  providers   have  been                                                               
incredibly  responsive.    She conveyed  that  they  already  had                                                               
mitigation  strategies   in  place  and  have   added  additional                                                               
precautions to  prevent the spread.   She said AHD  is consulting                                                               
with the CDC to determine  additional recommendations, as well as                                                               
with the Division  of Behavioral Health, DHSS, for  input on this                                                               
unique population,  many of whom  have substance issues  that can                                                               
be  a  disincentive to  isolate.    She  further noted  that  the                                                               
Municipality  of Anchorage  has  provided a  hotel  that has  the                                                               
capacity to  house all of  them for safe  shelter.  She  said AHD                                                               
would continue  to work  with the  CDC and the  state to  work on                                                               
improvements and to keep this population safe.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
2:20:47 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SPOHNHOLZ deduced that  [the homeless outbreak] is                                                               
not under  control right now,  but there  is a building  that has                                                               
the capacity to  provide people with safe shelter.   She asked if                                                               
that is correct.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MS.  LAWTON  answered  yes,  there   is  a  dedicated  place  for                                                               
isolation and quarantine  that is sufficient to  meet the current                                                               
needs.   She  noted  that it  will continue  to  be evaluated  as                                                               
weekly numbers  are analyzed.   She observed  that the  number of                                                               
new  additional  positives  is   slowing;  however,  it  will  be                                                               
continuing issue for the next  several months that will require a                                                               
high-level effort to maintain and respond to.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SPOHNHOLZ  encouraged AHD to keep  the legislature                                                               
informed if the building reaches  capacity.  She pointed out that                                                               
if community  spread is not  managed, it jeopardizes  the economy                                                               
and the ability to keep the community healthy.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
2:22:26 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE JACKSON  asked if mass antigen  testing could help                                                               
manage COVID-19  in Alaska.   She  underscored the  importance of                                                               
economic recovery  and opined  that fear of  the virus  would not                                                               
disappear if a mandate is lifted.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
2:23:44 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
DR. JOHNSTON opined that there  are additional testing strategies                                                               
that could be  implemented depending on the  processing speed and                                                               
the cost.   She said Dr. McLaughlin conveyed that  if the testing                                                               
could  be frequent  and affordable  for  a large  portion of  the                                                               
population, it would be a  "gamechanger."  She offered her belief                                                               
that cheaper and  more frequent testing is a  possibility, but it                                                               
depends on the  cost.  She said, for  example, noninvasive saliva                                                               
testing that  costs $1  each could be  implemented in  schools to                                                               
students as they  enter the building.  She pointed  out that even                                                               
if  they weren't  as accurate  as  PCR tests,  the testing  would                                                               
still be  administered to a  large number of people,  which could                                                               
control the  virus and  make people  more comfortable.   However,                                                               
she opined that both the  municipality and the state aren't quite                                                               
ready for that.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
2:25:35 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  THOMPSON   offered  his  understanding   that  it                                                               
currently takes 3-5  days to receive test results.   He asked for                                                               
further clarification on the rapid test machines.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
DR. JOHNSTON  explained that rapid test  machines produce results                                                               
in  15 minutes,  which  works  for some  situations.   For  other                                                               
situations, like the  homeless outbreak, test samples  need to be                                                               
collected from every  person in a homeless  facility, which would                                                               
take  hours  for one  rapid  testing  machine  to process.    She                                                               
reiterated  that   there  are  many  different   testing  options                                                               
available.   She agreed  that it would  be beneficial  to acquire                                                               
the  high throughput  PCR testing.    Additionally, she  reported                                                               
that  depending on  the facility,  the municipality  is averaging                                                               
under three days [for test results].                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   THOMPSON   sought   to   clarify   whether   the                                                               
municipality is in the process  of acquiring rapid test machines.                                                               
He offered  his understanding that  the university  is processing                                                               
test results in a couple hours.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
DR.  JOHNSTON said  she is  unsure of  whether the  university is                                                               
using rapid  testing.  She  noted that  PCR tests can  be "turned                                                               
around" in  under 24 hours  with access to  a lab.   She reported                                                               
that rapid  PCR testing was  done in  the public health  lab when                                                               
the case count was low.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MS. LAWTON added that AHD  acquired several ID NOW COVID-19 rapid                                                               
test machines.   She said AHD is considering how  to employ those                                                               
as strategies in the  high-risk congregate settings, particularly                                                               
as the weather  gets colder.  She noted that  the national supply                                                               
of  required cartridges  for the  rapid test  machines have  been                                                               
intermittently unavailable,  which without the  proper equipment,                                                               
makes it difficult to produce test results quickly.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
2:29:31 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  FIELDS  noted  that  the  state  was  invited  to                                                               
participate  in this  hearing, but  they declined.   He  inquired                                                               
about  the long-term  health impacts  that medical  professionals                                                               
are observing in COVID-19 survivors.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
DR. JOHNSTON  related that recovering  from a ventilator  takes a                                                               
long  time  and  is  often   accompanied  by  long-term  [health]                                                               
effects.  She also recalled  seeing people with micro blood clots                                                               
that affect  the entire  body.   She said  as she  is not  an MD,                                                               
there  is a  lot  that  she does  not  know  about the  long-term                                                               
effects; however,  she indicated that  they can be serious.   She                                                               
expressed  concern that  the large  number of  asymptomatic cases                                                               
makes people forget about the serious ones.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
2:31:14 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE FIELDS  asked if  unmasked co-workers who  are six                                                               
feet apart in an office environment  for eight hours are still at                                                               
risk of transmitting the virus.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
DR.  JOHNSTON emphasized  that six  feet  of distance  is just  a                                                               
general  rule.    She  added  that  significant  factors  include                                                               
activity  level,  duration of  exposure,  and  ventilation.   She                                                               
stressed the importance of increasing  fresh air in buildings and                                                               
improving  the ventilation.   She  recommended masking  if people                                                               
are in  an environment  all day  with just  six feet  of distance                                                               
between  them,  adding  that  masking   doesn't  cause  harm  and                                                               
benefits  the individual  wearing  it as  well  as others  around                                                               
them.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
2:32:54 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  FIELDS  expressed  concern   about  the  lack  of                                                               
statewide standards  and emphasized the importance  of the public                                                               
recognizing  that six  feet is  not adequate  distance in  indoor                                                               
environments.  He recalled an  op-ed by Alaska State Hospital and                                                               
Nursing Home  Association (ASHNA)  that reported Alaska  being on                                                               
the  verge of  overwhelming  its ICU  capacity,  after which  the                                                               
Municipality  of  Anchorage  issued  public  health  mandates  in                                                               
attempt to suppress  the spread.  He asked for  the case rates at                                                               
that time and how effective the municipal health mandates were.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MS.  LAWTON  reported  that  the   spread  was  occurring  around                                                               
clusters associated  with people socializing and  gathering.  She                                                               
anecdotally  recounted that  AHD was  escalating concerns  to the                                                               
administration and  had many conversations  about how  to respond                                                               
knowing that none  of the decisions would be popular.   She noted                                                               
that it  can be  difficult to pinpoint  one particular  moment or                                                               
decision due to the latent nature of the virus.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
DR. JOHNSTON reported  that cases began increasing  in early July                                                               
and  spiked  at 75  new  cases  per  day.   She  said  currently,                                                               
Anchorage is averaging at 34 new cases daily.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE FIELDS  surmised that  the public  health measures                                                               
cut the statewide infection rate by approximately half.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
DR.  JOHNSTON said  she is  unsure of  the statewide  rate.   She                                                               
pointed  out  that  Anchorage's  numbers  are  important  because                                                               
Anchorage   accounts  for   a   large   percentage  of   Alaska's                                                               
population; therefore,  when the municipality's  numbers decrease                                                               
it drives the  statewide number down with it.   Additionally, the                                                               
ripple effect  can occur when  the high number of  cases interact                                                               
with  the  rest  of  the  state,  spreading  the  virus  in  both                                                               
directions.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
2:36:47 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  FIELDS turned  attention  to a  dataset from  the                                                               
European  CDC  [included in  the  committee  packet] that  showed                                                               
cumulative  confirmed COVID-19  cases  per million  people.   The                                                               
data table  indicated that the  infection rate in Brazil  and the                                                               
United  States was  magnitudes higher  than  any other  developed                                                               
country  in  the  world.    He directed  attention  to  a  second                                                               
dataset, dated 9/9/20,  from The New York Times  [included in the                                                               
committee packet] that displayed U.S.  states with the most cases                                                               
per  100,000  residents  in  the  last  seven  days.    The  data                                                               
indicated  that  Alaska's infection  rate  was  higher than  many                                                               
states, both  rural and urban.   He asked  how the lack  of state                                                               
policies limits  Alaska and whether effective  state policies are                                                               
necessary to achieve lower infection rates.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
DR.  JOHNSTON  said  there  are  many  factors  that  affect  the                                                               
infection  rate in  a  specific location.    She maintained  that                                                               
lowering  the  infection  rate would  require  everyone  to  wear                                                               
masks, social distance, and quality  ventilation.  She added that                                                               
getting to  that point  would entail  a combination  of education                                                               
and policy.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
2:39:33 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE JACKSON  inquired as  to the  average cost  of PCR                                                               
testing.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
DR. JOHNSTON said she is unsure  of the cost.  She explained that                                                               
between the  supplies and  manpower it  requires, PCR  testing is                                                               
not an affordable option for Alaska right now.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE JACKSON  asked who would  know how much  the state                                                               
is paying to perform PCR tests.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
DR. JOHNSTON surmised that someone at the state lab might know.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MS. LAWTON offered to follow up with requested information.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
2:41:57 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE FIELDS  echoed Representative  Zulkosky's comments                                                               
and  thanked  the  municipality for  implementing  public  health                                                               
measures that significantly reduced the  spread of the virus.  He                                                               
expressed his  continued concern that infection  rates are higher                                                               
than they should be due to  a lack of effective state and federal                                                               
policies.  He introduced Mr. Metcalfe  and asked for un update on                                                               
whether  the  state  has  taken  action  on  any  of  the  expert                                                               
recommendations   to  implement   universal   masking  in   state                                                               
facilities  and  upgrade  HVAC  filters to  reduce  the  risk  of                                                               
spreading   COVID-19  through   ventilation   systems  in   state                                                               
facilities.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
2:42:57 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
JAKE  METCALFE,   Executive  Director,  Alaska   State  Employees                                                               
Association, stated  that ASEA is  not aware of any  action being                                                               
taken on those items.  Recently,  he said, ASEA requested a labor                                                               
management  meeting,   which  refers   to  a  clause   in  ASEA's                                                               
collective  bargaining agreement  with the  state.   He explained                                                               
that  the labor  management committee  is  when a  group of  ASEA                                                               
members meets  with management from various  state departments to                                                               
discuss   labor   management   issues   with   the   purpose   of                                                               
"[facilitating] communication  between the parties and  promote a                                                               
climate conducive to constructive  employee relations."  He noted                                                               
that there are  certain state departments, such as  DHSS, where a                                                               
majority  of  ASEA's members  work.    He added  that  facilities                                                               
governed  by   DHSS,  including  the  Pioneer   Home,  Office  of                                                               
Children's  Services,  and the  McLaughlin  Youth  Center, are  a                                                               
major concern of ASEA, which  is why the labor management meeting                                                               
was  requested.    He  explained   that  per  the  Department  of                                                               
Administration's (DOA's)  request, ASEA created a  list of issues                                                               
to  be  discussed  with  the state,  including  test  results  in                                                               
facilities,  consistent  communication   with  employees  in  the                                                               
bargaining  unit, access  to testing,  the return  to work  after                                                               
testing,  PPE   availability/standards,  safe   work  conditions,                                                               
travel  quarantine,   and  leave  limitations.     He  said  ASEA                                                               
submitted  the  list two  weeks  ago  and  no response  has  been                                                               
received.   He noted that ASEA  has been reaching out  and asking                                                               
to partner with  the state for six months.   He added that during                                                               
that  time,   the  biggest  issue   has  been  both  a   lack  of                                                               
communication  and  inconsistent   communication.    He  stressed                                                               
ASEA's  interest in  working  in partnership  with  the state  to                                                               
ensure  members  are  safe.    He  opined  that  the  failure  of                                                               
leadership in the current  administration has created unnecessary                                                               
stress and anxiety among the  workforce, which could be solved by                                                               
a  simple   "labor  management   relationship."     He  expressed                                                               
frustration and  confusion as to  why there is not  more interest                                                               
in working  together on  the existing issues.   He  conveyed that                                                               
ASEA would have to file an unfair labor practice.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
2:54:02 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR.  METCALFE reminded  state employees  that state  law protects                                                               
those   that   have   concerns  about   workplace   safety   from                                                               
retaliation;  additionally,   federal  Occupational   Safety  and                                                               
Health  Administration   (OSHA)  laws  protects   employees  from                                                               
retaliation regardless  of the  context.   He asserted  that ASEA                                                               
will continue  to do everything  in its power to  represent them.                                                               
He urged  members to work  with their supervisors if  they aren't                                                               
receiving  the health  or  assistance they  need.   He  continued                                                               
explained that  ASEA educates its  members to contact  their shop                                                               
stewards or  business agents.   He conveyed concerns from  a shop                                                               
steward at McLaughlin Youth Center  concerning the need for masks                                                               
and PPE,  as well  as hazard  pay given  the increased  risk that                                                               
employees are  facing at  work.   Furthermore, her  reported that                                                               
morale is low, and employees don't  feel supported.  He urged the                                                               
committee to  consider implementing a universal  mask mandate and                                                               
adequate ventilation  systems in  state facilities.   He stressed                                                               
the  importance of  equipping employees  and  residents of  state                                                               
facilities to prepare for future outbreaks that may come.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
2:56:57 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE ZULKOSKY  asked Mr.  Metcalfe to  share additional                                                               
information on the  outbreak at McLaughlin Youth  Center, such as                                                               
their mitigation policy when a positive case is identified.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR.  METCALFE explained  that ASEA  has  not been  informed of  a                                                               
mitigation plan from  McLaughlin Youth Center.   He reported that                                                               
a  coalition   from  the  public   employee  union   presented  a                                                               
mitigation plan that  they wished to discuss with  the state, but                                                               
they have not  received a response.  He noted  that DHSS has been                                                               
good  about  contacting  ASEA  when   an  outbreak  occurs  at  a                                                               
facility.   He offered his understanding  that McLaughlin ordered                                                               
mandatory  testing  and  required  employees to  return  to  work                                                               
afterwards.   He  recalled that  employees  were concerned  about                                                               
returning to  work before they  received their test results.   He                                                               
said ASEA would like to know why that is happening.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
3:01:47 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  ZULKOSKY said  physicians have  communicated that                                                               
quarantine is  the best widely  available treatment  for COVID-19                                                               
and  the only  tool to  prevent  transmission.   She agreed  that                                                               
although   testing  is   helpful   for   detection,  it   doesn't                                                               
necessarily prevent spread.   She asked how  many state employees                                                               
ASEA represents and what the morale has been among that group.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MR. METCALFE  stated that  the lowest employee  morale is  in 24-                                                               
hour  facilities.   He  opined  that  inconsistent messaging  and                                                               
confusing   policies  are   contributing  to   the  low   morale.                                                               
Additionally,  he reported  that  morale is  low among  essential                                                               
workers who are scared, stressed, and anxious.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
3:04:57 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  FIELDS noted  that the  committee held  a hearing                                                               
where representatives  from both the McLaughlin  Youth Center and                                                               
the  Pioneer  Home  participated  in   and  urged  the  state  to                                                               
implement protective measures.  He  said the state boycotted that                                                               
hearing,  failed  to  implement  the  measures,  and  there  were                                                               
outbreaks in those very facilities.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
3:05:32 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE STORY recommended that  the committee ask DOA when                                                               
they plan on  meeting with ASEA to address the  list of questions                                                               
that was sent  to them.  Additionally, she  requested a facility-                                                               
wide update  on masks, hand  washing, social distancing,  and air                                                               
filtration systems.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
3:07:33 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  FIELDS  expressed  his  disappointment  that  the                                                               
state is  not taking steps  towards preventing the  likelihood of                                                               
state facilities becoming vectors for COVID-19.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
3:07:58 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ADJOURNMENT                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
There being no  further business before the  committee, the House                                                               
State Affairs Standing Committee  meeting was adjourned at [3:07]                                                               
p.m.                                                                                                                            

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HSS-HSTA Kevin Berry Slides 9.9.20.pdf HSTA 9/9/2020 1:00:00 PM
HSS-HSTA Nolan Klouda Slides 9.9.20.pdf HSTA 9/9/2020 1:00:00 PM
COVIDcomparsisonGlobal.JPG HSTA 9/9/2020 1:00:00 PM
HSS-HSTA NYT Graphics 9.9.20.pdf HSTA 9/9/2020 1:00:00 PM