States Form Task Forces to Consider Short- and Long-Term Impacts of Coronavirus

By: CSG Policy Team

As the spread of COVID-19 continues to uncover new challenges for state governments each day, many state leaders have turned to task forces and advisory committees to help them better understand these issues. While many of these panels focus on the immediate needs related to the state’s public health response and agency coordination, others are also tasked with looking ahead to consider the long-term strategies that may be needed to repair state economies and decimated support systems in the years ahead. Here’s a look at some of these task forces including their makeup and focuses:

Alabama: Cabinet and state agency officials, legislative leaders and disease specialists from state universities make up the Coronavirus Task Force formed by Gov. Kay Ivey. The task force is charged with discussing the latest developments and precautions and making recommendations to the governor as necessary.

Alaska: Former Gov. Sean Parnell and former U.S. Sen. Mark Begich lead the Alaska Economic Stabilization Team created by Gov. Mike Dunleavy. The panel, made up of state business and economic leaders and former elected officials, is working with the Dunleavy administration on a comprehensive plan to protect the state’s economy from the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. The team also plans to provide regular updates to legislative leaders and engage with Alaska’s Congressional delegation, other state and local governments and businesses representing industries with activities in the state. The team issued its first information sheet last week, which identifies a number of developing economic themes, strategic approaches, stimulus ideas and potential options for short-term financing.

Colorado: Gov. Jared Polis issued an executive order creating an emergency economic council to take short- and long-term steps to weather fallout from the coronavirus pandemic and promote economic recovery. The Governor’s Economic Stabilization and Growth Council is chaired by former Denver Mayor and Clinton-era U.S. Secretary of Transportation and Secretary of Energy Federico Pena and made up of community leaders from a variety of backgrounds. According to press reports, Pena said the panel will address every sector of the state’s diversified economy, from agriculture to energy.

Georgia: Gov. Brian Kemp’s Coronavirus task force, originally formed with 18 state and local officials and now expanded to 66 members, has four subcommittees:

Montana: Gov. Steve Bullock’s multi-agency Coronavirus Task Force is coordinating the public health response, continuity of government and communication between state, federal and local partners. It’s led by Adjutant General Matthew Quinn, who directs the department of military affairs, including the disaster and emergency services division. The panel includes state public health and emergency response officials.

New Jersey: Gov. Phil Murphy’s executive order created the Coronavirus Task Force chaired by the commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Health and made up of other agency heads from the departments of human services, law & public safety, state police, education and homeland security & preparedness. The task force is charged with “coordinating all state efforts to appropriately prepare for and respond to the public health hazard posed by the virus” and can call upon a variety of other departments and agencies as deemed necessary. The task force can also create other special advisory panels to develop and deploy preparation and response strategies. In addition, the panel is coordinating the state’s partnership with the federal government, working with hospitals and health care facilities to manage preparations for treatment of patients, and coordinating with local health departments to assess readiness. The task force will make specific recommendations and advise the governor about courses of action.

North Carolina: Gov. Roy Cooper formed a task force in February to monitor, prepare for and respond to the coronavirus in his state. The task force, which is co-chaired by the North Carolina State Health Director Dr. Elizabeth Cuervo Tilson and the Director of North Carolina Emergency Management Mike Sprayberry, has been working with the CDC and coordinating across state agencies. While the governor and other state leaders are engaged on more immediate strategies to meet the challenges of the coronavirus, the North Carolina House of Representatives has established a task force that will look at its lasting impact and lay the groundwork for potential quick action by the General Assembly when they convene at the end of April. The task force is focused on four areas:

  • Education, including issues like childcare and virtual learning;
  • Healthcare, including whether the state’s medical system will have enough supplies (ventilators, masks, gloves);
  • Economy, including how to best take advantage of stimulus funds in bills passed by Congress; and
  • Government Operation.

Wyoming: Gov. Mark Gordon created five coronavirus task forces, each charged with issuing recommendations on best practices to address the multifaceted challenges the state will face:

  • Health: Coordinated by the governor’s office
  • State Services & Operations: Chaired by Secretary of State Ed Buchanan
  • Business & the Financial Sector: Chaired by state Auditor Kristi Racines
  • Transportation & Infrastructure: Chaired by Treasurer Curt Meier.
  • Education: Chaired by Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow