Montgomery: The state on Wednesday reported its first coronavirus death as the total number of confirmed cases reached nearly 400, officials said. Gov. Kay Ivey and the Alabama Department of Public Health confirmed the Jackson County resident died from the COVID-19 disease. “I continue to urge everyone that this virus is real, it is deadly, and we should continue to maintain social distancing as much as possible,” Ivey said. The patient had underlying health problems and passed away in a facility outside the state, the Health Department said. The Jackson County Commission said the person was a part-time employee at the county courthouse, and the area is being cleaned before employees return to work. The death came as the number of confirmed cases in the state through limited testing jumped by more than 100 to 386 on Wednesday, with a third of those in Jefferson County, according to the Alabama Department of Public Health. Officials at the University of Alabama at Birmingham said UAB hospital on Wednesday morning was treating at least 90 people with confirmed cases of COVID-19, and more than half were on ventilators.
Anchorage: Some Alaska regional air carriers have cut services to communities and positions from their payrolls in response to the coronavirus outbreak. Alaska Public Media reports the cuts followed a March 20 appeal by Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy for residents to stop nonessential travel. Ravn Air, Alaska’s largest regional carrier that serves more than 100 communities, recently announced it would temporarily cut 146 of about 1,300 jobs. The reduction is “due to a dramatic reduction in passenger bookings resulting from the recent arrival of the COVID-19 coronavirus,” the company said in a statement. Tourism cancellations have hurt other small airlines that rely on spring travel revenue. “All tour charters have been canceled, so this time of year is typically fairly robust because now is peak season for Aurora viewing and particularly among international travelers, so those have gone away,” said Matt Atkinson, safety director for Warbelow’s Air. The Fairbanks carrier also provides essential services including transporting telecommunications repair workers, medical evacuations, and delivering fuel and mail.
Phoenix: Officials from the state’s health department and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers spent hours Wednesday scouring a shuttered hospital to see how quickly it could be running if an expected surge of coronavirus cases hits. The state is looking to reopen two closed Phoenix hospitals and convert a specialty hospital. The review of the closed St. Luke’s Medical Center is part of an effort to nearly double hospital capacity from the current 16,900 to the nearly 30,000 officials say might be needed by May. The quickest way to boost capacity is if existing hospitals convert other areas to patient care, something they are already planning to do. Hospitals are planning to convert recovery rooms, unused surgical suites and other areas to boost capacity. The number of coronavirus cases in the state has now risen to more than 500 with eight dead, health officials said Thursday. Meanwhile, the Navajo Nation has reported 20 more cases of the coronavirus on its sprawling reservation, for a total of 69.
Little Rock: A basketball arena was transformed into the state House chamber due to coronavirus concerns as lawmakers met Thursday to address a budget shortfall Arkansas faces because of the outbreak. The House and Senate were expected to move quickly on a plan to allow Gov. Asa Hutchinson to tap into the state’s surplus because of the $353 million shortfall. Legislative leaders say they hope to wrap up the session shortly after 12 a.m. Saturday. Arkansas has had at least 335 cases of COVID-19, the illness caused by coronavirus, and two deaths. The 100-member House moved to the Jack Stephens Center at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, with members sitting in the stands of the 5,600-seat arena. Members, staff and press were screened before they could enter the arena and were handed small bottles of hand sanitizer.
San Francisco: Homeless outreach workers are passing out hand sanitizer, checking temperatures and pleading with people not to crowd together. But a week after Gov. Gavin Newsom pledged thousands of hotel rooms to help the homeless survive the coronavirus pandemic, most of those rooms sit empty. For most of California’s estimated 150,000 homeless, the message they’re getting – if they get one at all – is to isolate themselves if they feel sick and call a doctor if symptoms worsen. “Obviously these are people who are writing recommendations who don’t have any direct experience with what a person goes through when they are homeless,” said Joe Smith, advocacy director for Loaves & Fishes, a Sacramento nonprofit group that provides meals and services to the homeless. Smith said he hasn’t seen any outreach from public officials to homeless people, many of whom live in tent encampments with dozens or hundreds of people at each site. Statewide, cities and counties said they are setting up hand-washing stations, portable toilets and arranging for trash pickup at larger encampments as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended.
Denver: A statewide stay-at-home order went into effect Thursday in an attempt to stem the rapid spread of the coronavirus. Gov. Jared Polis announced Wednesday that he was taking the “extreme measure” because the restrictions taken to date haven’t been enough to reduce the spread of the virus. “If we don’t take these actions that we are taking today, and, frankly, if you don’t stay home, this will create a much worse economic disaster with greater disruption, greater loss of jobs for a longer period of time,” the Democratic governor said. Under the order, which is in effect until April 11, people should only leave home for necessities like grocery shopping, seeking medical care or exercise, or taking care of a vulnerable person. People who work for a business considered essential can travel to work. As of Wednesday, 1,086 people in Colorado have tested positive, and 19 have died. The number of people hospitalized doubled between Tuesday and Wednesday.
Hartford: Businesses and nonprofits harmed by the coronavirus pandemic can begin applying for short-term, no-interest loans under a new program administered by the state’s Department of Economic and Community Development, details of which were released Thursday. Small businesses and nonprofits with 100 or fewer employees that are in good standing with the Department of Revenue Services and have been profitable prior to March 10 can apply for one-year, no-interest loans of as much as $75,000 to help with cash flow. Businesses and nonprofits eligible for the $25 million Connecticut Recovery Bridge Loan Program may apply online and request a six-month extension. Companies involved in real estate, multilevel marketing, adult entertainment, cannabis and firearms are not eligible. New Haven on Thursday announced its own “economic resiliency program,” dubbed Together New Haven.
Dover: A 66-year-old man from southern Delaware is the state’s first coronavirus death, public health officials said Thursday. Officials said the Sussex County man had underlying health conditions and died while hospitalized out of state. As of Thursday, 130 coronavirus cases have been reported in Delaware, including 86 in New Castle County, 27 from Sussex County and 17 in Kent County. The individuals range in age from 1 to 90. Thirteen are hospitalized in Delaware, with seven reported to be critically ill. Two other Delaware residents are hospitalized out of state. Meanwhile, some of the state’s homeless shelters are limiting their beds to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The Salvation Army’s shelter for women and children in Wilmington, for instance, is no longer taking in new clients. It has 42 women and children, which is 10 fewer than capacity, said Capt. Timothy Sheehan, Delaware coordinator for the Salvation Army.
District of Columbia
Washington: Mayor Muriel Bowser on Thursday expressed her outrage and demanded action after the district was given only $500 million – $725 million less than individual states – in the Senate-approved $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief package, WUSA-TV reports. The 50 states in the nation are set to receive a direct payment of $1.25 billion, and some larger cities within those states get additional funding, officials said. With the exception of voting representation in Congress, D.C. is treated like a state in essentially every other aspect, such as tax revenue. “We just need to be treated fairly. We just want what every taxpaying American is getting out of this bill,” Bowser said. “Everybody who lives and works here has a stake in that.” Bowser said federal leaders are treating D.C. like a territory, and she wants lawmakers to treat D.C. fairly. Bowser said not only does the district have a larger population than several states, but residents also pay more taxes than some states.
Fort Lauderdale: The state’s diagnosed coronavirus cases jumped sharply Thursday, at least partly because testing has become more widespread, and Miami-area hospitals were treating about a dozen crew members from two cruise ships that remained offshore. The state health department said more than 2,350 people had tested positive for the new coronavirus, a 35% increase from Wednesday’s total. The number of deaths jumped from 21 to 27. Gov. Ron DeSantis has said he expects the number of diagnosed cases will continue to rise as testing sites open around the state for people suspected of having the disease and others who are at high risk of contracting it, such as health care workers. The disease is also taking a tough toll on the state’s economy, with 74,000 residents applying for unemployment benefits last week, a tenfold increase over the week before. Since then, the state’s tourism industry has essentially shut down, and restaurants have been restricted to takeout and delivery.
Atlanta: The governor on Thursday extended an order to keep the state’s public schools closed in the wake of the new coronavirus, as the death toll in the state rose to 48. As of noon Thursday, 473 people were hospitalized because of the virus, according to data from the Georgia Department of Public Health. The state is reporting 1,525 confirmed cases, though testing has been limited, and results can sometimes take days to receive. Republican Gov. Brian Kemp’s order keeps K-12 public schools across the state closed through April 24 and closes public colleges and universities for the rest of the semester. Many school districts had already decided to extend closures on their own. With infections spreading rapidly, some hospitals are struggling to keep up. Dougherty County in southwest Georgia has been particularly hard-hit. With 156 confirmed cases, the county has an infection rate many times higher than the rest of the state. A large influx of coronavirus patients has stretched resources thin at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital in Albany as officials scramble to find more bed space.
Wailuku: Maui residents have been using signs and checkpoints to help enforce a government order to keep visitors off Hana Highway during the ongoing coronavirus outbreak. Democratic Gov. David Ige instructed the state Department of Transportation on March 18 to limit access along the highway on Maui’s eastern coast to residents, first responders and delivery trucks until further notice, The Maui News reports. Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino also closed the Piilani Highway to nonresidents from Hana to Ulupalakua and the Kahekili Highway from Waihee to Kahakuloa Village. There was no significant decrease in visitors on Hana Highway for recreational purposes since the restriction was announced, said Napua Hueu, director of the Hana Highway Regulation committee. Residents have painted their own signs to discourage recreational travel along Hana Highway, Hueu said. “It is imperative we reduce nonessential, recreational visitor travel along the Hana Highway to safeguard the health of our rural communities,” Hueu said.
Boise: The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the state jumped by more than 50% Thursday morning, less than 24 hours after Gov. Brad Little announced a statewide stay-at-home order. There are now more than 138 people in 17 counties confirmed to have COVID-19 in Idaho, according to a running count kept by Johns Hopkins University. The university’s tally updates more frequently than the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare’s online count. The areas with the highest concentration of cases include Blaine County, which has been Idaho’s epicenter of COVID-19 infection with more than 63 cases, and Ada County, with more than 39 confirmed cases. Little’s stay-at-home order requires Idaho’s 1.75 million residents to self-isolate at home unless they are health care workers, public safety employees or other “essential workers” such as grocery store employees.
Springfield: Hundreds of health care facilities in the state that largely serve low-income and minority communities are facing financial chaos because they’ve canceled most routine doctor visits in an attempt to stymie the coronavirus pandemic, according to an industry organization’s report. The internal financial review completed Wednesday for the Illinois Primary Health Care Association found that, without help, the state’s federally established community health centers face losses of $181 million and 4,350 layoffs in the next three months. Meanwhile Thursday morning, Chicago police began turning joggers and others away from the city’s lakefront trails, hours after Mayor Lori Lightfoot threatened to shut them down if people would not stop crowding the areas. Illinois’ stay-at-home order that took effect Saturday allows people to exercise outdoors, but officials in Chicago said people were getting too close to one another on the trails and in lakefront parks Wednesday as temperatures warmed.
Indianapolis: A new light show at Monument Circle in downtown Indianapolis is aimed at inspiring hope during the coronavirus pandemic. A heart projected on one building pulsates and changes size and color, while images of the globe and various countries are projected on another as a recording plays of Simon and Garfunkel’s “Bridge over Troubled Water” being performed by two Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra musicians. Bob Schultz, senior vice president of marketing and events for the business group Downtown Indy, said the display was prepared in a few days and debuted Tuesday night. “This is a message of love to the world and united we stand,” Schultz told the Indianapolis Business Journal. “We wanted to keep it simple and connect as many people as possible to that message.” The two-minute production plays multiple times nightly from 9 p.m. to midnight. Downtown Indy isn’t encouraging people to visit the Circle to watch it unless they are already out for a walk. It has posted a video of it on the group’s website for at-home viewing.
Iowa City: Unemployment claims rose nearly nineteenfold in the state last week as the coronavirus pandemic that inflicted economic pain across the country left entire sectors of the job market in tatters, officials reported Thursday as the state recorded its biggest daily increase in cases. The U.S. Department of Labor reported that initial claims for jobless benefits in the state surged to 41,890 in the week that ended March 21. That was up from 2,229 the week prior, a historic spike that laid bare the virus’s sudden economic impact. The number of confirmed Iowa cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, jumped Thursday to 179, which was an increase of 34 over Wednesday’s figure and the the biggest daily jump yet for the state. One Iowa patient has died. Like many counterparts in other states, Gov. Kim Reynolds has ordered the temporary closure of schools, bars, dine-in restaurants, theaters, casinos and barbershops in an attempt to stop the spread of the virus.
Topeka: Gov. Laura Kelly and the state’s top health official are expressing growing frustration as Kansas grapples with an continuing increase in coronavirus cases. Kelly, a Democrat, on Wednesday said President Donald Trump’s suggestion that restrictions on people’s movements could be loosened by Easter to help the economy is “wishful thinking,” and she argued that the federal government should invoke the national Defense Production Act to address shortages of ventilators, protective masks and testing kits, a move Trump has said isn’t necessary. “We, along with all of the other states, are really kind of begging the federal government to get their act together,” Kelly said in an interview. Meanwhile, Dr. Lee Norman, the state’s secretary of health and environment, said people should stay home as much as possible, even if they don’t live in a county that has issued a stay-at-home order. He said some residents are trying to exploit exceptions in the orders.
Frankfort: Reconvening after a weeklong break, state lawmakers worked on a coronavirus-relief measure Thursday to help cushion workers and employers from economic damage caused by the pandemic. The relief bill comes amid a dramatically shrinking economy as businesses statewide close or scale back operations and tens of thousands more Kentucky residents file for unemployment benefits. Finishing work on a new state budget and the virus-relief measure top the priority list, but lawmakers took up other bills Thursday, including expanding the attorney general’s authority to regulate abortion and allowing Kentucky consumers to have spirits, wine or beer shipped directly to them. Lawmakers are hoping to vote on the budget next week. The virus-relief bill has several layers to it, but much of its focus is shoring up unemployment insurance relief, House Speaker David Osborne said.
New Orleans: The number of known coronavirus cases in the state jumped by more than 500 Thursday, surpassing 2,300, with 86 deaths, the state health department said. A 17-year-old was among the latest deaths, the first in the state of someone under 18. New Orleans continued to be a major center of COVID-19 worries. But cases also were up significantly in the opposite corner of the state. Northwest Louisiana’s Caddo Parish cases increased by 22, to 115; neighboring Bossier Parish was up to 32, an increase of 25 from the day before. The higher infection numbers reflect the increase in testing. In Thursday’s figures, the number tested rose nearly 6,600, to 18,000. “We won’t see the impact of the distancing and the closing of schools and people staying home for a couple of weeks. … We are not near the peak of this yet,” said Dr. Catherine O’Neal, an infectious disease expert and chief medical officer at Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center in Baton Rouge.
Portland: The state announced Thursday that it would provide additional payments to support nursing facilities that are working on infection control and visitor screening amid the rise in coronavirus cases. Democratic Gov. Janet Mills said the move is important because of the threat coronavirus presents to older residents. Meanwhile, Acadia National Park is effectively shutting down in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Park officials announced the closing of the carriage trails, Park Loop Road, campgrounds, visitor centers, visitor services and all restrooms until further notice. The only remaining park services will be those that support protection of the natural resources. Park officials said the move complies with state and local orders aimed at preventing gatherings and promoting social distancing. David MacDonald, president of Friends of Acadia, called it “prudent action.”
Annapolis: The Maryland Board of Elections is planning to do away with polling stations for the state’s already delayed primary. Voters would instead be required to mail in or drop off their ballots in an effort to limit coronavirus infections. If approved, the move would eliminate any need for Maryland’s more than 4 million registered voters to cast their ballots in person June 2, according to a draft presented by elections officials at their Wednesday meeting, held by teleconference. The board, citing advice from health officials, said it could not guarantee poll workers the gear necessary to protect them against exposure to this coronavirus, The Baltimore Sun reports. The state’s primary was originally scheduled for April 28. Gov. Larry Hogan postponed it by executive order March 17.
Boston: The state’s highest court will hear arguments over the telephone next Tuesday in a case seeking the release of inmates amid the coronavirus pandemic. An emergency petition filed by public defenders and defense attorneys in the Supreme Judicial Court this week asks the justices to reduce the number of people entering jails and prisons, order the release of certain pretrial detainees, and free those serving sentences who are nearing the end of their term, who are vulnerable to COVID-19 or who don’t pose a threat to the public. Several district attorneys in Massachusetts have already agreed to release certain inmates in an attempt to limit the spread of the virus behind bars. Meanwhile, a second member of the Massachusetts congressional delegation has experienced symptoms of COVID-19. U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley sought medical treatment after experiencing flu-like symptoms and has been tested for the virus, according to a statement from her spokesperson. U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton said Wednesday he decided to self-quarantine after experiencing symptoms.
Detroit: Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Thursday again pleaded with Michigan residents to stay at home to rein in the coronavirus, while the state’s chief medical executive said hospitals with empty beds were stepping up to ease the burden on overwhelmed medical centers. Dr. Joneigh Khaldun said hospitals in southeastern Michigan, where the coronavirus cases are most numerous, are “at or near capacity.” She said some hospitals outside the region were willing to set aside 10% of their bed capacity to help out. The head of Beaumont Health, which has been swamped, raised the issue with Whitmer this week. Khaldun said Michigan is “probably a few weeks out” from hitting a peak in coronavirus cases. The state reported nearly 2,900 cases by Thursday and 60 deaths. Henry Ford Health System said it had nearly 400 coronavirus-related patients at five hospitals Thursday morning, although the numbers can swiftly change.
Minneapolis: The Legislature passed a $330 million financial aid package Thursday to help soften the economic impact and help public agencies and the state’s health system kick into high gear to fight the coronavirus pandemic that has sickened more than 300 people and killed two in the state. The Minnesota Department of Health said Thursday that the state’s second COVID-19 death was a patient from Ramsey County who, like the first fatal case, was in their 80s. The state’s count of confirmed cases jumped Thursday to 346, up 59 from a day earlier, with 44 patients hospitalized and 18 in intensive care. Their ages range from 5 months to 104 years. The House passed the bill 99-4 and sent it to the Senate, which approved it 67-0 and sent it to Gov, Tim Walz for his signature. The bill was assembled via private conference calls to keep lawmakers from risking catching the disease, and the various proposals were rolled into one big bill to limit the number of votes that must be taken.
Jackson: Gov. Tate Reeves said Wednesday that he is rejecting “dictator models like China” to strictly control people’s movements to curb the spread of the new coronavirus. “We’re following our experts and I’ve spent many sleepless nights praying for wisdom in this unprecedented time,” Republican Reeves said on his Facebook and Twitter accounts. His comments came a day after he issued an executive order that seeks to limit people’s physical interactions. Reeves told restaurants and bars statewide to close their dining rooms and limit service to carry-out or deliver meals. He has encouraged people to remain home but has not issued a stay-at-home order, as many other governors have done. Also Wednesday, a day after Reeves said he wants Mississippi’s only abortion clinic to stop doing elective surgeries, the clinic was still seeing patients. Protesters and clinic escorts sometimes stood close to each other on the sidewalk outside, ignoring suggestions by medical professionals that people keep a 6-foot distance between themselves and others.
Kansas City: The state will waive some requirements for receiving unemployment benefits as it tries to respond to a steep increase in claims during the coronavirus pandemic, state officials said. In the past week, the number of claims was about 30% of the total the state received in all of last year, said Anna Hui, director of the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations. “That’s an incredible number,” Hui said. Missouri will temporarily waive its one-week waiting period and a requirement that people seeking unemployment make at least three attempts to find work each week, the state said. The announcement came as Missouri health officials said Wednesday that the state has confirmed 356 cases of the coronavirus, an increase of 101 since Tuesday. Eight people have died from the virus.
Helena: Counties and school districts will be able to conduct elections by mail and expand early voting for the June 2 primary elections and school elections this spring, Gov. Steve Bullock said Wednesday. Bullock signed a directive that aims to allow the elections to proceed without risking the health and safety of voters and poll workers amid the coronavirus outbreak. The governor’s order allows – but doesn’t require – counties to conduct primary elections by mail. Ballots would be available starting May 4. A postage stamp would not be required to mail a ballot. The governor’s order gives school districts additional time to plan for all-mail elections on school issues. In-person voting would still be allowed, and polling places would be required to enforce at least 6 feet of separation between two people. Counties also are encouraged to explore drive-up options for registration and voting, according to the order.
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Lincoln: The state’s initial claims for unemployment benefits skyrocketed with the nation’s last week amid the coronavirus pandemic, rising to nearly 16,000 from a little less than 800 the week before, according to a federal report released Thursday. The dire financial news came as two more COVID-19 cases were confirmed in Nebraska, bringing the state total to 68, state officials said. The announcement Wednesday night follows the Legislature’s approval of an $83.6 million emergency relief package. Gov. Pete Ricketts signed the bill that will provide money for additional medical and cleaning supplies, tests and overtime for state health care workers. The governor also added Lancaster, Dodge and Saunders counties to the list of places where restaurants and bars will have to close their dining rooms because of the health risk. Similar restrictions were already in place for Douglas, Sarpy, Cass and Washington counties. Combined, all of those counties account for more than 1.1 million people and well over half of the state’s population.
Reno: The coronavirus has now claimed 10 lives in the state, including the first death of a person under the age of 50. The four deaths the state confirmed Thursday are the most in a single day since the first was reported March 16. The toll now includes a man from Clark County in his 30s with underlying medical conditions, according to the Southern Nevada Health District. The new deaths also include the first in Nevada of a victim who had no known underlying medical conditions – a man in his 60s. The Nevada Department of Health and Human Services has now confirmed 420 positive cases of coronavirus statewide. All 10 deaths have occurred in the Las Vegas area. The four new deaths equal the most in a two-day stretch since two each were reported on consecutive days on Monday and Tuesday of this week. None was reported Wednesday. The states says it has now tested more than 5,100 individuals in Nevada for the coronavirus.
Concord: Congressional Democrats from the state are criticizing delays in getting medical supplies. The delegation called out federal health and emergency management agencies for delays in receiving medical supplies – some of which had already expired – to help the state deal with the coronavirus. Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan and Reps. Annie Kuster and Chris Pappas said it is their understanding that one supervisory error at the Federal Emergency Management Agency resulted in a request sitting unprocessed for four days. When New Hampshire received supplies, some of it was expired, and the 16,000-plus gloves that were sent were latex, “which are unusable in the medical setting due to latex allergies,” according to the letter sent Wednesday to the heads of FEMA and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The delegation said between this shipment and a prior one this month, the agencies have provided only 28% of respirator masks requested, one-third of nasal swabs needed, about 26% of surgical masks and no ventilators. “Health care providers from across New Hampshire are exasperated by this piecemeal approach, which has not afforded them the supplies they need,” the delegation wrote.
Trenton: New claims for unemployment soared last week, an indication of how deeply shutdowns related to the coronavirus are cutting into the workforce and the economy. And the Catholic Archdiocese of Newark has issued new guidelines banning weddings, funerals and most baptisms. The New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development said Thursday that it received 155,815 new claims for unemployment insurance for the week ending March 21. That’s a 1,546% increase over the prior week. State officials said it is the largest spike they can recall. Initial claims exceeded 46,000 in a single week after Superstorm Sandy in November 2012 and shot up to 25,385 for a week in July 2010, the low point of the last recession. New Jersey has temporarily suspended a requirement that applicants look for other jobs. It also created a jobs portal – jobs.covid19.nj.gov – to match those who are looking for work with immediate openings in industries fighting the pandemic.
Rio Rancho: More than 17,000 state residents have applied for unemployment benefits – more than 19 times the amount filed the previous week – amid the widespread economic shutdown caused by the coronavirus, officials said Thursday. The surge in applications in one of the poorest states in the U.S. was a striking indication of the economic damage the COVID-19 outbreak is inflicting. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, New Mexico saw 17,187 people apply for unemployment benefits last week, compared to 869 people the week before. The latest numbers come as oil and gas prices continue to fall – hurting one of New Mexico’s most robust industries – and as state officials imposed new restrictions on nonessential businesses to stop the spread of the coronavirus. Across the state with the highest percentage of Hispanic residents in the country, historic plazas sit empty, restaurants have closed, popular breweries have shuttered, and movie productions have halted. Tourism, one of the state’s strong points in recent years, also has taken a hit. “We’ve never seen anything like this before,” state Workforce Solutions Secretary Bill McCamley said. “But these efforts are being made to save people’s lives.”
New York: Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the economic toll of the coronavirus outbreak will be dramatic in New York and castigated federal officials for what he called a failure to address lost revenue in their $2.2 trillion relief package. “The congressional action, in my opinion, simply failed to address the governmental need,” he said Thursday. “I find it irresponsible. I find it reckless.” Cuomo said the outbreak creates a “double whammy” of increased state costs and lost revenue as businesses shutter and workers are laid off. Meanwhile, the state’s death toll from the coronavirus jumped by 100 in one day, pushing the number to 385, Cuomo said Thursday. He added that experts expect the number to increase as critically ill patients who have been on ventilators for several days succumb to the virus. “That is a situation where people just deteriorate over time,” Cuomo said. He said at least 122,000 people in the state have been tested for the virus, and there have been more than 37,200 confirmed cases. He said more than 5,300 COVID-19 patients were hospitalized statewide as of Thursday, with nearly 1,300 of them in intensive care.
Raleigh: The state can now receive additional emergency assistance after Gov. Roy Cooper’s request for a major disaster area declaration due to COVID-19 has been approved by the federal government. The White House announced President Donald Trump’s decision late Wednesday on the declaration, which commonly has been sought by North Carolina after hurricanes. Cooper issued a state of emergency in North Carolina on March 10, and Trump followed with a national emergency declaration a few days later. The state now counts more than 630 positive COVID-cases as of Thursday morning, or about 130 more than Wednesday. Health officials announced two deaths – one a person from Cabarrus County and another person from Virginia who contracted the virus while in North Carolina. Nearly 13,000 tests have been completed statewide.
Fargo: State health officials on Thursday reported seven new confirmed cases of the coronavirus, including one boy from McIntosh County under the age of 10. The other cases include three people in their 20s, one in their 30s and two in their 80s. Two of the patients were hospitalized, raising the total number of people in medical facilities to 10. It’s not clear how the child contracted the virus. The state has tested 2,091 people, 52 of whom were confirmed to have COVID-19. There have been 136 people tested since Wednesday afternoon. Gov. Doug Burgum said Wednesday that he has formed a testing task force that includes private entities, with hopes of doubling the number of daily assessments. Burgum said the numbers “are still climbing” and will increase with the amount of testing.
Columbus: Republican Gov. Mike DeWine is poised to sign a sweeping relief package passed by lawmakers to address impacts of the coronavirus, while new figures on jobless claims show those numbers skyrocketing. Ohio has more than 700 cases of the virus, including three confirmed at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, which has set up a coronavirus command center. The state’s 700-plus coronavirus cases include 116 health care workers and 10 deaths. A handful of long-term care centers are being called hot spots for cases. Wright-Patterson Air Force Base declared a public health emergency and set up a command center. Three cases have been confirmed there. Unit commanders have been given latitude to let employees work from home if they’re able, the Dayton Daily News reports. The state is limiting testing to those who are hospitalized and to health care workers.
Oklahoma City: The number of coronavirus deaths in the state rose from five to seven Thursday as the number of cases increased from 164 to at least 248, including a member of Gov. Kevin Stitt’s Cabinet. The State Department of Health reported two additional deaths in Cleveland County, a woman in her 90s and a man in his 60s, bringing to three the number who have died there. Two previous deaths were reported in Oklahoma County and one each in Tulsa and Pawnee counties. State Secretary of Digital Transformation and Administration David Ostrowe is among the cases and is quarantined and recovering at home, said Baylee Lakey, a spokeswoman for the governor. Ostrowe has not had contact with Stitt in more than two weeks, Lakey said, and Stitt hasn’t been tested and has no plans to do so at this time. Any staff that may have had contact with Ostrowe were asked to quarantine themselves for 14 days, Lakey said.
Portland: People concerned about a cough or fever can soon call an Oregon Health & Science University COVID-19 hotline that doctors hope will help people figure out what’s going on and reduce the burden on health care workers. A $1.6 million donation will help launch the COVID-19 hotline by covering the costs of dedicated phone lines and computers, as well as training for hotline staff, OHSU spokeswoman Amanda Gibbs told the Oregonian/OregonLive. The donation came from the Andrew and Corey Morris-Singer Foundation. Gibbs said patients who call the hospital will have the option to be routed directly to the new hotline, which will be staffed by medical professionals who will triage the concerns of callers who think they may be sick with the virus. Gibbs said hospital administrators don’t yet know exactly when the service will start, but it will eventually be made available to most of OHSU’s clinics for at least the next three months. She said OHSU is looking into extending the service to text and email.
Bethlehem: No more Peeps are being hatched for at least a couple of weeks – but it shouldn’t affect Easter baskets. The Bethlehem, Pennsylvania-based Just Born confections company said its production facilities there and in Philadelphia closed Wednesday through April 7. But the company says it had already produced and shipped the Easter supply of its signature marshmallow confection to outlets. Just Born says the popular Peeps & Company retail store in Center Valley, Pennsylvania, is also closed for now. The store is billed as a Peeps “experience” and features light displays, historical videos and merchandise. The company also makes other candies, including Mike and Ikes and Goldenberg’s Peanut Chews. Just Born officials say that inventories of those candies had been shipped prior to the production stoppage, but they might be in short supply at some retailers.
Providence: Lawmakers on Thursday approved as much as $300 million in emergency borrowing to help the state pay its bills with the economy virtually shut down by the COVID-19 pandemic. Gov. Gina Raimondo told House and Senate leaders the extraordinary measure is needed because the Internal Revenue Service has pushed back the federal income tax filing deadline to July 15, obligating the state to delay its tax collections as well. Other state officials said Rhode Island could run out of money by next week. They also stressed the cash infusion will not be used to create new programs and services that haven’t been approved by lawmakers. “We’re facing a liquidity problem. We don’t have what we need,” Raimondo said in a rare meeting of the Disaster Emergency Funding Board, composed of the House speaker, Senate president and the finance committee chairs in each chamber. “We have to keep the lights on to help keep Rhode Islanders alive.”
Columbia: In the first week of economic disruption from the coronavirus, more than 31,000 people said they lost their jobs in the state. South Carolina on Thursday released unemployment claims for the week ending March 21, and the 31,054 claims were almost the same number of jobless claims filed over the first 11 weeks of 2020 combined, including a big spike after the temporary jobs created around Christmas. The sharpest increases in claims last week came from Horry County and Charleston County, where the closing of bars and restaurants and the sharp decline in tourism hurt the most. More than 420 COVID-19 cases have been reported in South Carolina with seven deaths, the state Department of Health and Environmental Control said in its daily update Wednesday. Health officials also released their first predictions on the virus’s spread Wednesday, suggesting the state could have more than 2,650 cases by April 2 and more than 8,050 cases by May 2, DHEC said.
Huron: As the state grappled with the reality of COVID-19’s spread, the city of Huron emerged as the state’s early hotbed of the pandemic, prompting fear and a resolve to preserve scarce medical resources. Huron, known for its meat-packing plant and as the site of the state fair, could not feel more distant from early epicenters of COVID-19 elsewhere in the United States, such as New York City or Seattle. But as Gov. Kristi Noem warns that up to 30% of people in the state could become infected, the community has revealed what many are about to face – anxiety prompted by an invisible foe and the makeshift response required to endure the pandemic. Huron was one of the first places in South Dakota with community spread – when it’s unclear how an infected person contracted the virus.
Nashville: The state is producing a series of public service announcements designed to encourage social distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The campaign has the tagline “Do your part, stay apart,” and features Gov. Bill Lee and first lady Maria Lee plus other prominent Tennesseans. Brad Paisley, University of Memphis basketball coach Penny Hardaway, former NFL Titan Eddie George, University of Tennessee athletics director Phil Fulmer, Steven Curtis Chapman, Michael W. Smith and Cece Winans are among the dozens of music artists, athletes and sports organizations participating in the campaign via social media, according to a news release. Collectively, they reach millions of Tennesseans through their social media platforms. The campaign will begin on social media and then be broadcast by Charter Communications and Comcast and promoted on billboards through Outdoor Advertising Association Tennessee.
Dallas: Dallas County officials say five jail inmates have tested positive for the coronavirus. Dallas County Sheriff Marian Brown announced Wednesday that an inmate in his 40s tested positive and that four others who were in his pod had symptoms. Later Wednesday, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said those four inmates also tested positive. The initial positive test on the first inmate came back early Wednesday morning. Brown said he’d been housed in a shared pod with about 50 other inmates and had been in the jail since December. She said health officials were working to determine how he contracted the virus. Brown had said that the four inmates who showed symptoms had been quarantined, as had those in the pod who weren’t showing symptoms. Across Texas, about 1,400 cases of COVID-19 have been reported, along with 18 deaths.
Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is suspending all temple activity due to concerns about the coronavirus. The Utah-based faith said Wednesday that the temporary suspension would start at the end of the day, said Irene Caso, a church spokeswoman. The church said the decision was made after careful consideration and “with a desire to be responsible global citizens.” Meanwhile, hard-hit Summit County is telling residents to stay home except for essential errands and asking visitors to the ski-resort community of Park City to stay away. The shelter-in-place order issued Wednesday is the first such declaration in the state. The county has been a hotspot for cases statewide and now has a similar number of cases per capita as hard-hit New York City and parts of Italy, said Summit County Health Director Rich Bullough. The order starts Friday and will be in place at least until May 1. Visitors planning new trips to Park City are being asked not to come, as well as those with second homes in the area.
Montpelier: Vermont is poised to receive almost $2 billion in support from the nearly $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief package that is making its way through Congress, U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy said. The legislation, which passed the Senate on Wednesday and is expected to pass the House on Friday, includes $1.25 billion to support the state and counties that are addressing the economic devastation caused by the virus. Among other appropriations for Vermont, the bill will provide $20 million to support public transportation, $5.4 million to support public health preparedness and $4.7 million in community development block grants. “Vermont is already reeling from the impacts of the spread of the coronavirus,” Leahy said in a news release late Wednesday. “I have heard from hundreds of small businesses and entities across the state, struggling to support their employees and maintain their businesses.”
Virginia Beach: Some churches and nonprofits in Virginia are donating their supplies to hospitals and emergency medical services to help battle the coronavirus. The Virginian-Pilot reports the supplies had been intended to provide relief in other countries but are now being donated locally. For instance, Rock Church in Virginia Beach dipped into its reserve for mission trips and gave 1,000 masks to four Sentara hospitals. Operation Smile, which focuses on cleft lip and palate surgeries across the globe, gave 1,800 masks and 4,500 gloves to Sentara Princess Anne Hospital. Meanwhile, Gov. Ralph Northam has made a plea for businesses to step up and help out as well. He said the Virginia Department of Emergency Management shipped a major supply of protective equipment to local health departments and hospitals over the weekend. But much more is needed. The state is expected to get a second shipment from the national stockpile next week.
Seattle: Two detainees with health conditions that make them vulnerable to COVID-19 have been released from an immigration jail in Tacoma, their attorneys said Thursday. The Northwest Immigrant Rights Project and the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington sued March 16 on behalf of nine detainees with underlying conditions, saying they’d face special danger if the coronavirus spreads in the jail. A federal judge last week declined to immediately order their release, but after the attorneys filed another request Tuesday, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement released two of the seven from its Northwest detention center. Matt Adams, legal director of the Immigrant Rights Project, said it’s not clear why those two were released while the others remain in custody. ICE did not immediately return an email seeking comment.
Charleston: The nursing home described as the epicenter of the state’s coronavirus caseload now has 28 positive cases as containment measures continue, officials said Thursday. Sundale nursing home medical director Carl Shrader said 20 residents and eight staffers at the Morgantown facility have the virus, with four tests pending after an aggressive effort to screen nearly everyone at the center. “What’s on all our minds is containing it where we have it and not letting it rage on if possible,” he said. Shrader has described Sundale as “ground zero” for the virus in West Virginia. State officials reported at least 51 positive cases as of Wednesday night, with the largest number in Monongalia County, where the nursing home is located. Testing remains limited, meaning most people now spreading the highly contagious virus may not know they have been infected, and state health officials have admitted their count lags behind the actual total as results pour in from counties around the state.
Madison: The Republican National Committee and the state Republican Party have asked a federal judge to let them officially oppose a lawsuit brought by Democrats who want to ease voting regulations for Wisconsin’s spring election because of the coronavirus. The Republicans’ motion argues that they should be allowed to intervene in the lawsuit to protect their constituents from last-minute changes in voting laws and procedures. They argue that they would be forced to spend substantial resources informing Republican voters of the changes and combating “inevitable confusion.” “While all political parties want what’s best for the public, the reality is that they have very different ideas of what that looks like and how best to accomplish it,” the motion said. The lawsuit asks Conley to give people until April 3, the Friday before the election, to register online or by mail. The window for remote registration closed March 18.
Cheyenne: Restrictions on public gathering and businesses to try to limit the spread of the coronavirus will be in effect longer than planned, the governor suggested Wednesday. Through April 3, Gov. Mark Gordon has prohibited gatherings of more than 10 people at a time and shut down a range of businesses, from museums to tattoo shops. “This isn’t a situation that will run its course by the first week of April. We all know that,” Gordon said at a news conference. Protecting the health of medical professionals and other front-line emergency workers will be especially important to help keep Wyoming’s medical system from becoming overwhelmed by the COVID-19 virus, Gordon said. Residents should work from home if at all possible, Gordon said, and avoid making 911 calls and trips to hospital emergency rooms if they are not truly necessary. Wyoming has become one of a minority of states without a statewide or local stay-at-home order. Gordon said he hoped to avoid one.
From USA TODAY Network and wire reports
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