Montgomery: Public schools closed because of the coronavirus could bring some students back in June as part of a phased reopening before the next full school year, the state’s top official for K-12 schools said. Children 13 and older could return to campus in groups of 10 or fewer people for athletic practice and possibly summer school starting June 8, Alabama State Superintendent Eric Mackey told AL.com. Younger students could get the go-ahead to return for summer literacy camps as early as July 6, and band and athletic practices could start in early August, he said. But Mackey warned that the timeline was tentative and dependent on the impact of the virus. “We may move forward, and then we may have to retract,” he said.
Anchorage: An oil field contractor plans to lay off 304 workers as the coronavirus pandemic continues to hurt the state’s oil industry, the company said. Doyon Drilling, a subsidiary of Interior Alaska Native Regional Corporation Doyon Ltd., informed state regulators of the job losses last week. The company’s staff reductions will remain permanent until the industry recovers from the economic crisis sparked by the outbreak of COVID-19, Doyon Drilling General Manager Ron Wilson said in an April 30 letter. Doyon Drilling is demobilizing its rig fleet because of “the unforeseen business circumstances resulting from the sudden and dramatic effects of the coronavirus outbreak, the declaration of a national emergency and the drop in oil prices on our business and client’s operation,” Wilson wrote. Doyon Drilling provides rigs and services to ConocoPhillips Co. and other oil companies.
Phoenix: Two sheriffs are refusing to enforce Gov. Doug Ducey’s stay-at-home order as the state continues to deal with the coronavirus. Mohave County Sheriff Doug Schuster and Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb both said they aren’t going to hand out fines or citations or arrest people who disobey the governor’s mandate that has been extended through May 15. “I’m not going to make criminals out of law-abiding citizens,” Schuster told Phoenix TV station KTVK. “As a sheriff, I cannot in good conscience issue citations or arrest people for not social distancing.” “It’s unfortunate that we’re here, but I need to make a stand for the people and for freedom,” Lamb said. “I don’t want to cite, fine or arrest fine people.” Ducey already has laid out consequences for violating his stay-at-home order: a $2,500 fine and up to six months in jail. But Schuster and Lamb said they will not enforce the mandate.
Little Rock: The Arkansas Department of Corrections said Sunday that two more state prison inmates who were being treated for the coronavirus have died. Department spokesman Solomon Graves said medical officials would determine the cause of the deaths at the Cummins unit. The inmates died Sunday at separate hospitals. “Both inmates were undergoing treatment for COVID-related symptoms. Both inmates had preexisting conditions susceptible to COVID-19,” Solomon said. State health officials say at least two other Cummins inmates have died of COVID-19, and at least 860 prisoners there have tested positive. The state Health Department on Sunday reported at least 3,431 confirmed cases of coronavirus statewide and 76 deaths, an increase from 3,372 cases and 73 deaths reported Saturday. The number of cases is likely higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected and not feel sick.
Yuba City: Two more counties in Northern California allowed many businesses to reopen Monday in defiance of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s orders intended to slow the spread of coronavirus and prevent the health care system from being overwhelmed. Yuba County and adjacent Sutter County followed the lead that rural Modoc County took Friday amid pressures to restart California’s economy even as hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19 continue. While the governor has promised a cautious, phased reopening of the state, some people don’t want to wait. A recent heat wave brought thousands out to major beaches in Orange County, leading Newsom to order that county’s beaches closed, which sparked protests and efforts by some to head to the water anyway over the weekend. Newport Beach city spokesman John Pope said lifeguards and police officers asked more than 2,500 people to leave.
Denver: A retired paramedic who died from coronavirus after volunteering to help combat the pandemic in New York City was honored Sunday as his body was returned to Denver. Paul Cary, 66, who worked 32 years as a firefighter paramedic in the Denver suburbs, died April 30, a month after he began working in New York. He was part of a wave of out-of-state medical technicians, doctors and nurses who came to the city to help relieve a health care system being overwhelmed by the virus. Gov. Jared Polis said Cary had “heroically” served his community and country and traveled thousands of miles to help others. He had reportedly been planning to stay for a second, one-month tour before getting sick. A large procession of fire trucks, EMS and other emergency vehicles drove from the airport after Cary’s body was returned Sunday night.
Hartford: Workers at the state’s only nuclear power plant worry that managers are not taking enough precautions against the coronavirus after 750 temporary employees were brought in to help refuel one of the two active reactors. Ten employees at the Millstone Power Station in Waterford have tested positive for the virus, and the arrival of the temporary workers alarms some of the permanent employees, The Day newspaper reports. Millstone security officer Jim Foley, vice president of the local chapter of the United Government Security Officers of America, said security personnel have had to fight for personal protective equipment and for partitions at access points to separate staff from security. Foley also has filed a complaint with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration saying Millstone staff are using ineffective cleaning materials and citing a lack of cleaning and sanitizing.
Wilmington: Police are arresting and ticketing far fewer people during the coronavirus pandemic. In the month leading up to Gov. John Carney’s March 12 stay-at-home order, police recorded just under 8,600 felony and misdemeanor arrests statewide. In the month since, they’ve made about 4,650 such arrests through April 14, according to state statistics. Likewise, in the month prior to the emergency declaration, police recorded about 23,500 traffic violations and just under 7,000 in the month following. But exactly why the numbers have decreased isn’t entirely clear. Some police don’t want to talk about how the pandemic has changed the way they enforce the law. Some police chiefs say the sharp drop is due to fewer people being out and about during the emergency declaration. Other chiefs acknowledge that the times require a change in strategy, with orders to their officers to use more discretion deciding whether to make traffic stops.
District of Columbia
Washington: A high school senior in D.C. has spearheaded an effort to get thousands of critical face shields into local hospitals. Georgetown Day School senior Jonah Docter-Loeb, a self-professed “news junkie,” says he was transfixed by television footage of the “suffering on such a large scale” caused by the coronavirus pandemic. After learning that supplies of protective medical gear were being depleted, Docter-Loeb tapped into the online community of “makers” – 3D printer enthusiasts – and found an open-source design for a welder’s mask-style face shield he could print at home. In less than a month, that idea has mushroomed into Print to Protect, a network of about 100 3D printers, most in individual homes, producing face shields for distribution to Washington area hospitals. The group says it has printed 3,000 shields so far with a goal of completing 10,000 in April.
Daytona Beach: Seniors at two high schools won’t be taking the traditional walk across the stage to receive their diplomas because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Instead, they’ll be driving across the finish line at the Daytona International Speedway. The school district announced the ceremonies will take place May 31. Matanzas High School’s graduation will begin at 11 a.m., followed by Flagler-Palm Coast High School’s ceremony at 4 p.m. Each graduate will be allowed one car. The ceremonies will be simulcast via radio inside the facility and will be livestreamed on the FlaglerSchools.com website, school officials said. “This class has gone through school closures caused by three hurricanes and a global pandemic so they all envisioned a ‘historic ceremony’ to close out their high school careers,” according to a release from the district.
Atlanta: The region’s largest malls have begun reopening, though not all the stores inside are restarting business, as restrictions enacted in the state because of the coronavirus have been eased. The Outlet Shoppes in Woodstock opened for the weekend, but some individual stores in the complex stayed closed. John Rampsott was among the few shoppers. “It ended up just being kind of surreal where you just go, and no one’s there,” he told WSB-TV. At Lenox Square in Buckhead, which reopened Monday, the owners are requiring workers to take safety precautions, such as being symptom-free and wearing masks at the mall. Arbor Place Mall in Douglasville set up sanitizing stations as it opened its doors and kept the children’s play area and food court seating closed. Some shoppers think the openings are too soon and too risky. “I’m fearful of people not taking safety precautions, and (I’d) rather be safe than to shop right now,” Tanya Moor said.
Hilo: Tenants and landlords have been offered free mediation services by a Hawaii County program aimed at preventing a flood of evictions following an eviction ban during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Rapid Response Landlord Tenant Mediation Program intends to help residential and commercial tenants and landlords reach agreements about individual cases rather than resorting to legal action, The Hawaii Tribune-Herald reports. Democratic Gov. David Ige issued a moratorium last month outlawing eviction of residential tenants for failing to pay rent through May 31 as part of the state’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak, which has left many residents furloughed or unemployed. Once the moratorium ends, tenants who were unable to pay rent will have overdue payments due all at once, Hawaii County Councilwoman Ashley Kierkiewicz said. “We want to get ahead of this tsunami of evictions that’s coming,” she said.
Boise: A plan to reopen Idaho during the coronavirus pandemic hinges on understanding what the state and individuals have to do to defeat the illness, the co-chair of Gov. Brad Little’s COVID-19 Testing Task Force said. “The long-term success for all of us in this pandemic, which is going to be a long game here, absolutely hinges on our people understanding the enemy better,” said Jim Souza, chief medical officer for St. Luke’s Health System. The Republican governor’s four-stage plan to reopen the state by incrementally lifting restrictions spaced by roughly two-week intervals started Friday. It will conclude in June if there isn’t a second wave of infections that forces a reversal. The virus “is not that tough; it’s actually kind of wimpy,” Souza said. “Simple soap and water will dissolve it. Alcohol wipes will dissolve it. It doesn’t have a brain. We can totally outsmart it.” However, he said, the virus does a good job of hiding in the population.
Lena: A small northern Illinois church defied crowd restrictions in the state’s latest stay-at-home order, holding a Sunday service with dozens of people. Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s extension of the order, which took effect Friday and lifts May 30, allows for worship limited to groups of 10, along with other social distancing measures. Roughly 100 people attended The Beloved Church in Lena, according to WREX-TV, which was denied entrance but interviewed attendees and neighbors who counted congregants. Officials with the evangelical church sued in federal court arguing Pritzker’s order violates the First Amendment right to free religious practice. However, U.S. District Judge John Z. Lee on Sunday rejected the church’s request for a temporary restraining order because such large gatherings could “magnify the risk of contagion even when participants practice preventative measures.”
Crown Point: A helpline has been set up to provide services for front-line workers and families in need in northwestern Indiana and the Chicago area during the coronavirus pandemic. Dr. Kalyani Gopal – a clinical psychologist and the president and founder of SAFE Coalition for Human Rights, a nonprofit that aims to protect the human dignity of trafficked personsed – said she thought about the need for the helpline one day while she was leaving work, The (Northwest Indiana) Times reports. The Rapid Outreach Amplified Response Helpline Team includes SAFE Coalition, Greenleaf Consultants, Marram Healthcare, Continuum of Care, local food banks, Mid-America Psychological and Counseling Services, Mid-America Mental Health, seniors and volunteers. The main number for the helpline is 219-200-0003.
Woodward: Six residents at a facility for people with intellectual disabilities have tested positive for the new coronavirus, although none have shown symptoms of COVID-19, officials said. The Iowa Department of Human Services announced April 27 that a resident at the Woodward Resource Center tested positive for the virus after seeking treatment for an unrelated medical issue. By Saturday, five more residents – all tied to one home on campus – had tested positive for the virus. Three employees at the multi-building campus have also tested positive. Diane Stout, assistant superintendent at the center, said in a letter to guardians and families that the department has begun contact tracing staff members. The state is working to get more COVID-19 testing on the campus, DHS spokesman Matt Highland said. Residents who tested positive have been moved to separate on-campus housing.
Topeka: Shuttered retailers, dine-in restaurants and offices in some parts of the state reopened Monday as Gov. Laura Kelly gradually begins lifting a stay-at-home order amid the coronavirus outbreak. Social distancing still must be observed, and masks are strongly encouraged under the first reopening phase. Many businesses – including bars, gyms, theaters, barbershops, hair and nail salons, or state-owned casinos – must remain closed until the second phase, expected to begin May 18. That’s when the 10-person mass gathering limit will begin to gradually increase, rising to 30 until June 1 and 90 until June 15. Churches, however, will be exempted from the mass-gathering rules, although worshippers must spread out and not pass collection plates. There will be no immediate change in some counties, including hard-hit Johnson and Wyandotte in the Kansas City area.
Lexington: A history museum in central Kentucky is asking for submissions to document how the coronavirus has affected lives. The Lexington History Museum told WKYT-TV that the Lexington Pandemic History Project seeks to build a historical record. Residents are encouraged to send stories and photos by email or traditional mail to the museum. Officials say the length and content of submissions are up to senders. The submissions will be reviewed by a historian when the virus has passed, the museum said. The collection can help future leaders make informed decisions when there’s another crisis, chief historian Foster Ockerman Jr. said.
Baton Rouge: With some in masks and others uncovered, state lawmakers on Monday resumed the final four weeks of a legislative session stalled by the coronavirus, trying to get their arms around the scale of the budget problems caused by the outbreak. The return to the Capitol has caused a new rift between Republicans, who hold the majority and pushed for a restart of work, and Democrats, who said it was too risky to have hundreds of people in the building in a state that is one of the nation’s hot spots for the COVID-19 disease. Seventy-eight of 104 House members returned for work, with attendance from Democrats lighter than Republicans. Democrats who showed up were wearing masks, while Republicans were mixed in whether they donned a face covering. Masks are “encouraged,” but no one is required to wear one in the building – even as Gov. John Bel Edwards repeatedly calls on state residents to do so when encountering people outside their households.
Portland: The governor’s phased reopening plan that includes an extended stay-at-home order through the end of the month will cost thousands of jobs and spur economic turmoil, Republican members of the state Senate said Monday. The charge from the GOP came after some Republican members of the Maine House of Representatives called on Democratic leaders to call the Legislature back into session to end the state of civil emergency declared by Democratic Gov. Janet Mills. Republicans have been signaling growing buyer’s remorse since the Legislature gave Mills more powers with a March vote that passed unanimously without a roll call. Mills placed the state under a stay-at-home order until May 31 and has announced a phased plan of reopening that began Friday. The Senate Republicans said Mills’ decision “could devastate families in our districts” because of the loss of businesses and jobs.
Annapolis: Maryland is opening the first state-run drive-thru testing site for the coronavirus in western Maryland, Gov. Larry Hogan announced Monday. The governor said the testing site in Hagerstown will open Tuesday at a Vehicle Emissions Inspection Program station. “With the tests we recently acquired from South Korea, Maryland continues to implement an expanded testing strategy,” Hogan said in a news release. Last week, the governor announced expanded testing to address poultry plant outbreaks in Wicomico and Caroline counties on the Eastern Shore. Meanwhile, Maryland Senate President Bill Ferguson and House Speaker Adrienne Jones joined a group of bipartisan leaders of state legislatures around the country in a letter to U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi urging Congress to help state governments facing big budget shortfalls due to the virus.
Boston: Gov. Charlie Baker said Monday that the state is seeing hopeful data about its effort to limit the spread of the coronavirus. “In the course of the past few days, we have seen some positive downward trends,” Baker said, pointing in part to a general decline in new hospitalizations for COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus. The state processed nearly 16,000 COVID-19 tests Sunday, the highest daily tally since the start of the pandemic. About 12% came back positive, lower than previous daily highs that had exceeded 20%, Baker said. But the Republican warned that the extension of Massachusetts’ state-of-emergency and stay-at-home advisory until May 18 doesn’t mean the economy will be “off to the races” on that date.
Flint: A woman, her adult son and her husband have been charged in the fatal shooting of a security guard who refused to let her daughter enter a Family Dollar because she wasn’t wearing a face mask to protect against transmission of the coronavirus. Calvin Munerlyn was shot Friday at the store just north of downtown Flint a short time after telling Sharmel Teague’s daughter she had to leave because she lacked a mask, according to Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton. Teague, 45, argued with Munerlyn, 43, before leaving. Two men later came to the store. Teague; her husband, Larry Teague, 44; and Ramonyea Bishop, 23, are charged with first-degree premeditated murder and gun charges. Larry Teague also is charged with violating Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s executive order mandating that all customers and employees must wear face coverings inside grocery stores, Leyton said. About 150 people attended a candlelight vigil Sunday night. On Monday, a makeshift memorial was started outside the Family Dollar.
Minneapolis: The number of people in the state hospitalized in intensive care with COVID-19 has jumped for three straight days to the highest levels yet, health officials said Monday. The Minnesota Department of Health reported 166 patients in intensive care units as of Monday, up 11 from a one-day high of 155 set Sunday and a high of 135 set Saturday. A total of 396 patients were hospitalized, up 23 from Sunday. The state’s count of confirmed cases rose by 571 to 7,234 . Health officials say the confirmed case counts are substantially lower than the actual number of coronavirus infections because many patients don’t get tested, and many don’t show symptoms. Minnesota’s death toll rose by nine to 428. Out of that total, 345 deaths have been in residents of long-term care or assisted living facilities.
Jackson: Commencement ceremonies in the state are looking a bit different from usual as graduates began to receive their degrees via virtual celebrations. Alcorn State University awarded degrees to 466 students, including 73 graduate degrees, in ceremonies Saturday. The university encouraged the students’ friends and relatives to gather online at the university’s website to mark the occasion. Graduates also will be given a chance to walk at a commencement in the future. Mississippi State held its graduation ceremony Friday and livestreamed the event to comply with social distancing restrictions in place because of the coronavirus pandemic. The occasion marked just the third time in the university’s 142-year history that a traditional graduation ceremony was not possible, the university said. The Spanish flu and World War II stopped earlier ceremonies.
St. Louis: Business began reopening in the state Monday, although some cities hit hard by the coronavirus are keeping restrictions in place a little longer. In lifting the statewide stay-at-home order, Gov. Mike Parson placed no limit on the size of social gatherings if people maintain the current 6-foot social distancing efforts. But some businesses – such as retail stores – will be required to take extra steps, such as limiting occupancy. Among the businesses that can resume operations are restaurants, manufacturing plants, gyms and hair salons, along with churches and sporting events. But nursing homes, long-term care facilities, retirement homes and assisted living homes must continue stronger guidance to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19. Stay-at-home orders will remain in effect through mid-May in St. Louis County and the city of St. Louis. In Kansas City, Mayor Quinton Lucas is allowing the reopening of some “nonessential” businesses starting Wednesday.
Billings: Restaurants, bars, brewpubs and casinos began reopening Monday with limits on crowds and servers donning masks and gloves, as the state lifts more closures imposed to fight the coronavirus. Not all restaurants were reopening immediately, and some industry workers have expressed concern that interacting with customers could put them at risk. But with confirmed virus infections down sharply since peaking in late March, Montana officials have moved methodically in recent days to reopen sectors of the state’s economy even as other states extended closure orders. Churches and retail shops opened last week, and a stay-at-home order was lifted except for vulnerable populations including the elderly. Schools can reopen May 7 under the latest directive from Gov. Steve Bullock, but many districts already have canceled in-person classes through the end of the year.
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Lincoln: State officials are struggling to keep up with the flood of unemployment claims that have been filed since the coronavirus pandemic began. Nebraska Labor Commissioner John Albin said the state has been adding workers and streamlining its processes, but there have still been unacceptable delays that left workers waiting for their checks. “I apologize if anyone’s been out there waiting a long time,” Albin told the Omaha World-Herald. “I don’t know that it’s any comfort, but we’re not meeting our own standards on this.” Since March 8, the state has received 129,309 new unemployment claims, which is more than the total claims filed during the three previous years combined. The state has processed 96,024 of those claims, but that leaves 33,000 requiring a response. Albin said the state normally tries to process all new jobless claims within 21 days.
Las Vegas: A task force of business leaders trying use to their global contacts to bolster the state’s coronavirus response has expanded its initial focus from obtaining protective equipment to ramping up testing and helping businesses figure out how to reopen. Former MGM Resorts International CEO Jim Murren said the task force he’s running began in recent weeks working to get test kits and machines, allowing Nevada to test more people and get results faster. Weeks ago, the state was able to process less than 1,000 tests a day, but the task force is hoping to help the state grow to a point where it can processes 30,000 a day by June 1. Murren said members of the Nevada COVID-19 Response, Relief and Recovery Task Force use their contacts and business expertise to find equipment that can be donated to the state or purchased with donated money, moving faster than governments limited by regulatory rules about purchasing.
Concord: Housing agencies throughout the state will get nearly $3.6 million in coronavirus aid, the state’s congressional delegation said Monday. The funding was distributed through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Public Housing Operation Fund, used to support housing authorities for the operating and maintenance expenses of their buildings, and its Housing Choice Voucher Program, used to help low-income, disabled and elderly poor people afford housing. Meanwhile, though many libraries are closed during the coronavirus pandemic, one in Laconia is among those providing “take-out” service. The Laconia Daily Sun reports patrons pick up books and other items in shopping bags outside the front door. When returned, the books are quarantined for a week and sanitized. Patrons are asked to wipe down any items they pick up and return them.
Trenton: Schools will remain closed for the rest of the academic year due to the coronavirus outbreak, Gov. Phil Murphy said Monday. Teachers will be required to continue conducting online instruction, which schools have been doing since they shuttered in mid-March. “I had hoped we could get back to a sense of normal by allowing our children to return to the schools they love and to be with their friends and classmates,” Murphy said. “But the reality is we cannot safely reopen our schools to provide students and families, or faculty and staff, the confidence needed to allow for a return to in-person instruction.” Private schools with later academic years are closed until at least June 30, Murphy said. State officials will meet with parents and other stakeholders to consider summer courses, as well as to discuss the 2020-2021 school year, he said.
Eunice: Another small city is vowing to reopen despite a statewide health order to keep nonessential businesses closed to stop the spread of COVID-19. Officials with Eunice say the southeastern New Mexico city will open its library, youth center and activity center two weeks ahead of a plan outlined by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, the Hobbs News-Sun reports. Eunice City Manager Jordan Yutzy said the city sent Lujan Grisham a letter outlining plans to reopen and asked for a response by April 30. The letter covered a City Council-approved resolution that proposed three phases to gradually reopen businesses. Yutzy said the city never got a response, so officials will begin their own plan for a phased-in reopening. Lujan Grisham has said cities that reopen early face fines. The city of Grants allowed businesses to reopen last week, and state police have issued warnings and fines and warnings to businesses and the city.
New York: The mayor rejected calls Monday to stop having police officers enforce social distancing during the coronavirus crisis after one was caught on video pulling a stun gun on a man and violently taking him to the ground. Mayor Bill de Blasio called Saturday’s confrontation in Manhattan’s East Village “very troubling” and “absolutely unacceptable” but contended it was an outlier among “tens of thousands of interactions between police officers and civilians over the last weeks that went very well.” The officer was stripped of his gun and badge and placed on desk duty pending an internal investigation. The police department assigned 1,000 officers to social distancing patrols over the weekend as New Yorkers ventured outside to enjoy warm weather. They’ll also be part of a new effort to distribute 7.5 million protective masks over the next few weeks.
Charlotte: A judge has ordered public officials to turn over detailed information and what steps they are taking to prevent coronavirus outbreaks in state prisons. The ruling issued late last week by Superior Court Judge Vinston Rozier comes in connection with a lawsuit filed by the state conference of the NAACP and other advocacy groups as prison officials grapple with two major outbreaks of the virus. At Neuse Correctional Institution in Goldsboro, more than 460 inmates have tested positive, and two have died. At the North Carolina Correctional Institution for Women in Raleigh, 90 inmates have been diagnosed with the virus. The judge’s order gives the state prisons until Friday to provide information about whether each prison provides face masks for inmates equivalent to those provided to prison staff, unrestricted access to soap and hand sanitizer, and bunks arranged to allow for 6 feet or more between inmates.
Fargo: A widespread outbreak of the coronavirus that has shuttered a wind turbine plant in northeastern North Dakota and initiated a massive contact tracing effort has led many of the state’s largest manufacturers to review and relay their safety measures. No company wants to be the next LM Wind Power. Officials with two of the state’s largest plants, window and door maker Marvin and agriculture and construction components producer John Deere Electronic Solutions, say there are new rules of the road. And they’re doing more than the standard protocol of proper hygiene, high-tech protective gear, social distancing and stickers that say, “IF YOU CAN READ THIS YOU ARE TOO CLOSE.” Hallways, entrances and exits are strictly one-way. Other changes have included temperature checks, unique equipment like “no touch” door openers, liberal leave policies and pay provisions, and an added emphasis on communication between management and workers.
Columbus: Gov. Mike DeWine lit into protesters Monday, saying some had crossed the line when it came to how they treated the media and state health director Dr. Amy Acton. “It’s not fair game to disrespect the news media, to be obnoxious to the news media,” he said. “They’re informing the public about what you think, what you’re saying. To treat them with disrespect, to not observe social distancing with them, to be just obnoxious, I just find that very very sad.” DeWine didn’t reference a specific event, but a viral video from a Friday protest showed a maskless protester refusing to distance from a masked TV reporter and accosting that reporter, who was trying to cover the protest. “Come after me. I’m fair game. They’re not,” DeWine said. DeWine also said it was out of bounds to protest outside the home of his health director, Dr. Amy Acton, as some did over the weekend.
Oklahoma City: The Oklahoma Capitol reopened to the public on a limited basis this week as the Legislature prepares to return and residents began returning to businesses amid the coronavirus pandemic. State Senate President Pro Tem Greg Treat and House Speaker Charles McCall said the public can enter the building starting 10 a.m. Monday after being screened and under social distancing and health safety protocols. “Capitol access is being phased in cautiously just like Oklahoma’s reopening is being phased in cautiously,” McCall, an Atoka Republican, said in their joint statement released late Saturday. Treat, an Oklahoma City Republican, said lawmakers are following the guidance of health officials at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center. Lawmakers have met just twice since closing the Legislature in mid-March.
Portland: State officials reported the number of Oregonians sick enough to be hospitalized with coronavirus hit a new low Sunday. The Oregonian/OregonLive reports there were 92 active hospitalizations May 3. That number represents a drop of more than 40% from the 156 reported hospitalizations on April 8, the first day state officials disclosed active hospitalizations for confirmed cases of COVID-19. And on Sunday, the Oregon Health Authority reported no new coronavirus deaths and disclosed 45 additional infections, raising the statewide total of confirmed infections to 2,680. At least 109 people have died.
Harrisburg: The state has passed 50,000 confirmed coronavirus infections, health officials reported Monday. About 825 additional people tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19, according to the Health Department. There were 14 new deaths, raising the statewide total to 2,458. The numbers of new infections and deaths have been trending down, prompting Gov. Tom Wolf to allow construction work statewide to resume and golf courses, marinas, guided fishing trips and privately owned campgrounds to reopen. On Friday, he plans to lift his stay-at-home order and allow some retail shops to reopen in the least impacted parts of the state. The number of infections is thought to be far higher than the state’s confirmed case count because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.
Providence: Lawmakers face some tough decisions as the state emerges from the coronavirus crisis and tries to plug a budget gap of at least $400 million, but higher taxes appear to be off the table, several legislators told The Providence Journal. “Those most impacted by the pandemic should not bear the costs of rebuilding Rhode Island, so I am vehemently opposed to tolling cars and raising taxes on our working families and small businesses,” Democratic Senate Majority Leader Michael McCaffrey said. Republican Sen. Elaine Morgan said she is opposed to any sales or income tax hikes or toll expansion and against legalizing marijuana, but she suggested furloughs or layoffs of “nonessential” state workers. Democratic House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello said his team is looking for creative ways to use the $1.7 billion the state has received from Washington for COVID-related expenses.
Columbia: The state has officially begun loosening restrictions on travel, commerce and recreation implemented during the initial spread of the coronavirus, as the Palmetto State tries to regain its economic footing ahead of the summertime tourist season. Monday marked the end of Gov. Henry McMaster’s stay-at-home order, which placed a $100 fine on anyone outside their home for a reason other than work, visiting family, exercising alone or going to an essential business such as a grocery store. Dine-in restaurants and close-contact businesses such as barbershops and gyms remain closed, along with playgrounds and nightclubs. But restaurants were being allowed to begin serving people in outdoor dining areas Monday, as long as tables were at least 8 feet apart, parties were limited to eight people and strict sanitation guidelines were followed.
Sioux Falls: A pop-up testing site at a high school parking lot will test Smithfield Foods meatpacking plant employees and their families over the next week, officials say. The Washington High School site is specifically for the plant’s employees and their families to be tested, Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken said Monday. The testing is part of the Virginia-based company’s plan to slowly reopen the Sioux Falls plant after a coronavirus outbreak infected more than 850 employees and several hundred more “close contacts” and family members. The plant partially reopened the facility starting Monday with a limited number of department employees returning to work, TenHaken said. Several Smithfield employees said while the plant was closed that they wanted to see required testing among employees before the plant opened.
Nashville: Vanderbilt University Medical Center had to scramble for personal protective equipment even before the coronavirus hit, after a deadly March 3 tornado tore through the state and took out its distribution center. “Our supply chain is great at crisis management,” said Robin Adkins, a nurse who consults with Vanderbilt on sterile processing and logistics. N95 masks have been the most difficult to come by, Adkins said. In normal times, they are discarded after a single use, but faced with a nationwide shortage of PPE, Vanderbilt at first began sterilizing masks using ultraviolet light, allowing them to be reused up to three times. More recently, it has started using hydrogen peroxide vapor for sterilization and can now reuse a single mask up to 10 times, according to the hospital. Vanderbilt also found a way to “reuse” its valets. Faced with the prospect of laying off about 100 people, the hospital instead retrained them to screen people entering the hospital for symptoms of COVID-19.
Austin: State health authorities reported 17 new coronavirus-related deaths Monday, the lowest daily increase in seven days. The latest numbers from the Department of State Health Services show 884 people have died from the coronavirus in Texas. The health agency also reported 784 new daily cases, bringing the total number of known COVID-19 cases statewide to 32,332. For the first time over the weekend, Texas reached more than 25,000 tests in a single day – a goal that Gov. Greg Abbott set for the state as he announced loosening restrictions for certain businesses last week. The health agency reported more than 28,000 COVID-19 tests Saturday. But tests dropped to 9,912 on Sunday – the same day Texas reported its fourth straight day of more than 1,000 new cases. The Department of State Health Services has noted it receives fewer lab reports on Sundays and Mondays, which could explain the decrease in tests.
St. George: Government officials from southwestern Utah are asking the state if the region could skip ahead to a “yellow” designation and loosen some of the restrictions put in place to fight the coronavirus pandemic. St. George Mayor Jon Pike confirmed Saturday that the city and other local governments have put in the request, with the support of the Southwest Utah Public Health Department, after the state moved from a high-risk “red level” to a moderate-risk “orange level.” Pike said the request has already been sent to Gov. Gary Herbert’s office, and the hope is that southern Utah will receive a response from the governor’s office in 10 to 14 days. SWUPHD Public Information Officer Dave Heaton said the department is basing its recommendation for a yellow level on ample hospital and testing resources, along with a relatively low case count.
Montpelier: The state is allowing some elective health care procedures to resume as the state emerges from its COVID-19 shutdown, Gov. Phil Scott announced Monday. Outpatient clinics and surgeries may resume if the providers and the patients comply with measures designed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. Elective surgeries that require a hospital stay are not yet allowed, the governor said at his weekly news conference. The resumption of some medical care and other aspects of the state’s reopening are made possible by Vermont’s expanded program to test for new cases of the virus and try to stop its spread. “As we find an outbreak, like a brush fire, we are able to put it out before an out-of-control forest fire erupts,” Scott said. Separately Monday, more construction and manufacturing workers returned to their jobs after Scott loosened some restrictions.
Richmond: Gov. Ralph Northam said he anticipates nonessential businesses in the state reopening May 15, saying more time is still needed to help contain the coronavirus pandemic. Northam announced Monday that he is extending by another week an executive order mandating that some nonessential businesses close and banning large gatherings. “The message today is that we will reopen Virginia next Friday,” Northam said. The governor said while the state has made improvements in flattening the curve, it needs to ensure positive trends continue related to testing, hospital capacity and the state’s supply of medical equipment. “I want to make it very clear: This virus is still here,” Northam said. “We must not relax our vigilance.” His executive order, which forces closing some businesses and severely restricting how others operate, was set to expire May 8. His order also bans gatherings of 10 or more in public or private.
Seattle: Hundreds of health care workers and dozens of first responders in the state have become sick with the coronavirus while on the job, according to workers’ compensation claims. The new data provides some insight into how the coronavirus has affected the health care community, but it underestimates how many doctors and nurses have tested positive for the disease. That number is not known because state and federal health officials have failed to collect the information, and they’ve made no improvements since the Associated Press first reported the problem in April. “Our data on occupations are not complete, so we do not report the information since it would not be reliable,” said Annie Johnson, a spokesperson for the Washington health department’s Joint Information Center. Experts say knowing how COVID-19 is affecting front-line workers in the health care system is vital in handling the crisis.
Charleston: Some restaurants are balking at the chance to reopen as Gov. Jim Justice’s plan to get the state economy moving again in response to the coronavirus enters its second week. Despite the chance to recoup lost revenues, Super Weenie hot dog shop owner Jason Myer told the Charleston-Gazette Mail he won’t reopen, closed since March, “until it makes sense.” Starting Monday, Justice’s reopening plan includes small businesses with fewer than 10 employees, restaurants with outdoor seating, barbershops and dog groomers. The risk of reopening during the pandemic isn’t worth a potential boost in sales, said Keeley Steele, who operates three businesses on Charleston’s East End, including the Tricky Fish restaurant and Starlings Coffee & Provisions. Steele said she’s not convinced reopening would be profitable due to limited seating and buying personal protective equipment for employees.
Madison: Gov. Tony Evers on Monday announced that every nursing home resident and worker in the state will be tested for free for the coronavirus. The expanded testing is part of the state’s plan to ramp up testing to 85,000 per week. Evers said Wisconsin has the capacity to provide that many tests. Expanding testing to all residents and workers at all 373 nursing homes in Wisconsin is part of the plan to make more tests available to targeted high-risk populations. Evers said state health officials started contacting nursing homes Monday to coordinate supplies in advance of testing more than 10,000 residents and staff each week. Other steps to increase testing include using the National Guard and local health agencies to test workers and families associated with outbreaks at businesses; increasing from 10 to 25 National Guard units to help with setting up testing sites to respond to outbreaks; and increasing free drive-thru testing sites.
Cheyenne: A round of intensive testing for the coronavirus among patients and staff at the state’s primary psychiatric hospital turned up no new cases. The Wyoming Department of Health, working with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, sampled 46 patients and 172 staff members Friday at the Wyoming State Hospital in Evanston, department officials said Monday. Testing was voluntary, and those tested accounted for 61% of the hospital’s patients and staff. Such studies can help provide a better understanding of how a disease affects people and circulates in a given location, State Health Officer Dr. Alexia Harrist said in a release. Two of the hospital’s patients have tested positive for the coronavirus, both after transferring there from another facility in mid-April. Wyoming as of Monday had recorded 435 lab-confirmed cases and 151 probable cases of COVID-19; 191 people had recovered.
From USA TODAY Network and wire reports
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