Friday Facts: May 22, 2020

It’s Friday!

This is Week 10 of the Friday Facts’ focus on the coronavirus pandemic across the nation and in Georgia. View previous editions here. View the Foundation’s near-term proposals here. Share your ideas: Email us at info@georgiapolicy.org.

Quotes of Note

“I often wonder whether we do not rest our hopes too much upon constitutions, upon laws, and upon courts. These are false hopes; believe me, these are false hopes. Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women; when it dies there, no constitution, no law, no court can save it; no constitution, no law, no court can even do much to help it. While it lies there, it needs no constitution, no law, no court to save it.” – Judge Learned Hand, 1944

“It is the policy of the United States to combat the economic consequences of COVID-19 with the same vigor and resourcefulness with which the fight against COVID-19 itself has been waged. Agencies should address this economic emergency by rescinding, modifying, waiving, or providing exemptions from regulations and other requirements that may inhibit economic recovery, consistent with applicable law and with protection of the public health and safety, with national and homeland security, and with budgetary priorities and operational feasibility.” – President Trump, Executive Order, May 19, 2020 

“The economic news is unprecedented, with 36.5 million Americans having filed for unemployment benefits in eight weeks. Deregulation will help the country get back on its feet.” – Wall Street Journal

“We have long interpreted the Georgia Constitution as protecting a right to work in one’s chosen profession free from unreasonable government interference.” – Supreme Court of Georgia

Government

Grading the governor: Georgia earned a grade of “A” for how its economic reopening is proceeding under Gov. Brian Kemp’s leadership in the wake of the pandemic. An analysis by the Committee to Unleash Prosperity and FreedomWorks assessed the potential damage state actions are doing to the economic well-being of residents and in particular how late reopening dates may cause more severe economic downturns. Source: The Center Square

Policy proposals: The Foundation proposed a series of policies for near-term relief during the pandemic, as well as principles to guide and oversee policy reforms and an Issue Analysis tackling fiscal policy considerations for Georgia.

Shutdowns: About a month ago, (April 20), Gov. Brian Kemp announced Georgia would begin reopening businesses April 24. Kemp came under fire from some, including President Trump, for the move. He announced this week Georgia reached its lowest number of COVID-19 positive patients hospitalized since hospitals started reporting data to the state on April 8. Bars, night clubs and live concert venues remain closed through the end of May and the public health emergency lasts until June 12.

Drive-through test sites: Gov. Brian Kemp announced CVS Health opens 23 new COVID-19 test sites today at pharmacy drive-through locations across the state. More test sites across the state and country will be announced by the end of the month. Find the locations here. Source: Georgia.gov

Transportation

Honk for truckers: Medical professionals deserve credit for their hard work and perseverance through COVID-19. So do the nation’s truckers, many of whom make long hauls, far from home, to deliver and collect freight and are responsible for the items we take for granted on our grocery shelves. As The Wall Street Journal noted in a recent editorial, “Finding decent sustenance and relief is no easy thing for truckers on the nation’s highways, particularly when so many facilities have been forced to close. Public officials owe it to the people delivering food and medical supplies to make their jobs easier.” 

Healthcare

Needs improvement: Georgia ranks 25th overall in the Mercatus Center’s 2020 edition of the Healthcare Openness and Access Project, prereleased as a working paper “in hopes of giving policymakers ideas on how to stretch their healthcare resources” amid the pandemic. (The final version is scheduled for release in the summer.) The paper measures the flexibility and discretion patients and providers have in managing health and healthcare. Georgia’s worst rank – 46th – is for professional regulation, measuring licensure requirements and flexibility with regard to employment.

Reopening nursing homes: The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services released guidelines for reopening nursing homes, a multiphase regimen that could eventually allow visitors to return to facilities that have been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

Status updates: The Georgia Department of Public Health’s COVID-19 status reports are updated three times a day: 9 a.m., 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. The Georgia map provides reports on county-level cases and deaths. Visit the website here.

Regulation

Lactation consultants: In the midst of Georgia’s record-breaking job losses because of the pandemic, the Georgia Supreme Court ruled this week that that a constitutional challenge to the state’s 2018 lactation consultant license will go forward. Reversing a 2019 trial court decision dismissing the case, the court unanimously affirmed it has “long interpreted the Georgia Constitution as protecting a right to work in one’s chosen profession free from unreasonable government interference.” The licensing law would have forced some 800 professionals to quit their jobs and spend several years and thousands of dollars earning a state-issued license or face fines. The Institute for Justice represented the plaintiffs; the case returns to the Fulton County Superior Court to reconsider the state’s motion to dismiss. 

Spirits to sanitizer: Long Road Distillers (Michigan) co-owner Isaac Lagrand notes how, in the midst of the pandemic, the Food and Drug Administration streamlined the process so distilleries could register online as producers of hand sanitizer. At the same time, the federal government waived the alcohol excise tax for hand sanitizer, ending the mandate to denature the sanitizer with toxic material to keep it from being taxed as a beverage. “Given their prior experience with rigid regulatory structures, the Long Road managers were surprised at this new federal flexibility. They never expected that the rules would be changed within a month,” he writes. Source: Mercatus Center

Media

Social media: Follow the Foundation on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

YouTube: Did you miss Wednesday’s Zoom Policy Briefing event? Watch “Brexit: The Good, The Bad and The Messy,” on the Foundation’s YouTube channel.

Friday Flashback

This month in the archives: In May 10 years ago, the Foundation published, “Transportation Solutions that Fit to a ‘T.’” It noted, “[T]he future is upon us: Technology, tolls and timing signals are just some of the tools improving travel, safety and choice for Americans, while ensuring the flexibility to accommodate the vast terrain, pressing schedules and varied needs.”

Visit georgiapolicy.org to read the Foundation’s latest commentary, “Federal Fix Can Help States and Encourage Work,” by Frank Stephenson.

This Memorial Day, pause a moment to honor those in our armed services who gave their lives to preserve and protect our nation.

“For love of country, they accepted death.” – President James A. Garfield

Have a great weekend!

Kyle Wingfield and Benita Dodd

FRIDAY FACTS is made possible by the generosity of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation’s donors. If you enjoy the FRIDAY FACTS, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to help advance our important mission by clicking here. Visit our website at georgiapolicy.org.

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