Hoover: Alabama’s largest shopping mall reopened for the first time in weeks Tuesday, while demonstrators in the capital protested in favor of further accelerating the state’s economy, even as cases of the coronavirus continue to rise. Shoppers returning to the Riverchase Galleria in suburban Birmingham found most of its roughly 150 stores still closed and many people wearing face masks. Chairs were missing in the mostly empty food court because of state rules, but only a couple of restaurants were open for lunch anyway. Some stores were empty save for an employee or two, but there were lines at a jewelry kiosk and an athletic shoe store, where a worker raised and lowered a metal gate to let one customer enter at a time. Meanwhile, in Montgomery, about 60 people attended a rally outside the Capitol to express frustration with the continuing state-ordered closures of businesses that had previously been categorized as nonessential, such as hair salons and gyms. One woman carried a sign reading, “We don’t buy the lie,” and a man shouted “Freedom!” and “Read our Constitution.”
Bethel: The U.S. Census Bureau plans to restart its efforts to personally reach residents without a listed physical address. The agency was expected to renew its door-to-door canvassing Wednesday after hand delivery of census materials that began March 15 was postponed by the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, KYUK-AM reports. Teams delivering the materials have been trained to observe social distancing and will following federal health and safety guidelines, the Census Bureau said. Temporary field staff will also use protective equipment provided by the government while distributing census materials to households, the agency said. The bureau expects its field operation to deliver materials to 110,000 households in Alaska as part of the national census conducted every 10 years.
Phoenix: Nearly half of nonprofits in the state will be unable to serve the public within the next month because of the heavy toll brought by the coronavirus pandemic. Arizona State University released a survey Tuesday that found many nonprofits are facing bleak prospects due to losses in revenue and volunteering. While some programs like food banks and child care are seeing their demand balloon, other nonprofits such as performing arts groups continue to spiral. Those surveyed cited cancellations of major fundraisers and few donations because of rising unemployment. Stay-at-home orders also forced groups to cease regular in-person activities. The report found more than 40% of nonprofits believe they will stop offering services in the next four weeks. Furthermore, nearly 20% expect to be able to cover payroll for only another eight weeks.
Little Rock: Prison staff who test positive for the coronavirus have been allowed to work at a facility where at least 876 inmates have the virus, a correction official said in a court document filed Tuesday. Arkansas Division of Correction Director Dexter Payne said the agency has allowed staff who have tested positive to work at the Cummins Unit if they are asymptomatic. The staff are only allowed to work with inmates who have tested positive for the virus, he said. Payne’s comments detailing the policy were among documents filed in response to a lawsuit by inmates that accuses the prison system of not doing enough to prevent the virus’s spread. Payne said the agency is following recommendations by the Health Department that positive, asymptomatic staff be allowed to work only if there is a critical shortage of workers and as long as they follow other safeguards. Dr. Nathaniel Smith, the state health secretary, said the “ideal” would be for staff who test positive to stay home.
Los Angeles: A plan to temporarily move homeless people into a Ritz-Carlton hotel has gotten pushback from residents of multimillion-dollar apartments on the upper floors of the Los Angeles high-rise, according to a news report. City Councilman Mike Bonin said luxury hotels should not be exempt from Project Roomkey, a statewide effort to shelter some of the most vulnerable homeless people in empty hotel rooms during the coronavirus pandemic. KABC-TV obtained an email from the Homeowner’s Association for the Ritz-Carlton Residences that said it’s resisting Project Roomkey at the Ritz and the adjoining J.W. Marriott hotels. The email lists concerns about safety, security, property values and overall lifestyle. Bonin has asked city and county entities to report which hotels are not participating. Bonin’s motion also directs them to create a list of hotels that have received any sort of “public subsidy, tax breaks, or economic development incentives.”
Fort Collins: The Colorado Attorney General’s Office issued a cease-and-desist letter to Functional Medicine Center of Fort Collins for false or misleading marketing of coronavirus antibody tests, reflecting elevated scrutiny of a testing approach currently under review by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Antibody tests, also known as serology tests, analyze a person’s blood for the presence of antibodies that indicate they were previously infected with a disease. For some infections, the presence of antibodies indicates some level of immunity to the disease. But it’s still unclear whether that’s the case for coronavirus. That uncertainty, paired with limited regulatory oversight of the tests, has cast doubt on the idea that they could be used to determine who can safely return to work. Even high-quality tests are likely to yield some inaccurate results, experts say.
Hartford: Gov. Ned Lamont on Tuesday canceled in-person classes at all of the state’s K-12 public schools for the rest of this school year amid the coronavirus pandemic, requiring districts to continue distance learning for the final weeks. “It breaks my heart,” Lamont said during his afternoon news briefing. “I wanted to do everything I could to find some way to keep the school year at least partially open, just for a couple of weeks, some sense of conclusion for our students.” But Lamont said he and his education commissioner heard concerns from school superintendents, parents and teachers about a continuing increase in COVID-19 infections in some parts of Connecticut and determined that “this was no time to take that risk” of reopening schools. Lamont’s reopening committee is expected to make recommendations in the coming weeks about summer school, which could open in July.
Dover: Some small businesses will be allowed to resume limited operations starting Friday, Gov. John Carney said Tuesday. The announcement is aimed at gradually starting to lift restrictions the Democratic governor imposed more than seven weeks ago in an effort to stem the spread of the coronavirus. “I’ve heard the anguish in the small-business owners’ voices about just the economic carnage that has visited on them and their employees and their businesses in every corner of our state,” Carney said, describing the change as a “baby step” toward a broader reopening of the economy while carefully monitoring the number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. Under the new state guidelines effective Friday morning, retailers such as department stores, tobacco shops, bookstores and thrift stores will be allowed to do business using curbside pickup. Hair salons can resume operations by appointment, but only for people who work at businesses deemed “essential.”
District of Columbia
Washington: The district has released neighborhood coronavirus data that shows the number of positive COVID-19 cases in specific areas of the city, WUSA-TV reports. Data from DC Health shows that the 16th Street Heights and Columbia Heights neighborhoods in Wards 4 and 5 have the largest numbers of cases, followed by Chinatown, Brightwood and Logan Circle/Shaw. Wards 2 and 3 continue to have the lowest rates of infection in the city, according to the neighborhood-specific data, which the city released in an effort to monitor key areas in the district that may be disproportionately affected by the coronavirus, Mayor Muriel Bowser said.
Tallahassee: As the state slowly reopens, officials are now contemplating what they should do if the coronavirus outbreak lingers into hurricane season, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis said Tuesday. Hurricane season begins June 1 and usually peaks from late August through September. Florida is often a target for storms, forcing thousands of people to evacuate, with many fleeing to shelters. “This virus really thrives and transmits when you have close sustained contact with people inside an enclosed environment,” DeSantis said. “As you’re looking at sheltering for a hurricane, you have to keep that in mind.” Florida emergency management Director Jared Moskowitz is working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency on potential changes to how the state handles evacuations and sheltering. Moskowitz said that might include shelters that only accept people infected with the virus, or orders for people to shelter in place depending on the strength of the building and the power of the storm.
Atlanta: Gov. Brian Kemp warned Tuesday that a growing coronavirus outbreak is stressing resources in northeast Georgia. Kemp has moved aggressively to allow businesses to reopen even though infections are on the rise in some areas of the state. He made his remarks about northeast Georgia while touring a temporary medical pod in the southwestern city of Albany, one of the state’s earliest and worst hot spots for COVID-19. The state Department of Public Health reports nearly 30,000 Georgians have had coronavirus infections confirmed by a test. About 1,300 in the state of 10.6 million people have died. Gainesville, a city about 50 miles northeast of Atlanta that is synonymous with Georgia’s large poultry industry, is quickly becoming one of the state’s most affected areas.
Honolulu: A streak of more than two weeks of single-digit daily new cases of coronavirus is allowing the state to take the next step in reopening its economy, Gov. David Ige said Tuesday in announcing more businesses that will be allowed to operate. Starting Thursday, businesses including some shopping malls, astronomical observatories, car washes and pet groomers may reopen, Ige said. Shopping malls will be limited to retail and repair services, according to a supplementary emergency proclamation. Retail businesses won’t open in Honolulu until May 15, and Maui County won’t allow its shopping malls to reopen yet, according to the proclamation. Patrons must practice social distancing and wear cloth masks, Ige said. The governor previously allowed businesses such as golf courses, some real estate services and car dealerships to reopen. Ige’s stay-at-home order that allowed for activities such as outdoor exercise will now be called a “safer-at-home” order, he said.
Boise: The state will give coronavirus economic relief grants up to $10,000 to small businesses, and no other state in the country is putting up more money in direct cash support for small businesses. Gov. Brad Little announced the Idaho Rebound Grant program at a press conference last week. Idaho will use $300 million of the $1.25 billion it received from the federal government through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act. “Small businesses will be eligible to receive the Idaho Rebound Grants if they haven’t already received a Small Business Administration grant (through the Paycheck Protection Program) or received less than $10,000,” Little said. The state will open up the application process May 11 for the rebound grants, which will be run by the State Tax Commission.
Springfield: Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Tuesday outlined a five-phase plan for reopening the state as the threat from COVID-19 subsides, but there were no surprises – the speed with which people may resume former activities remains dependent on vigilance against the coronavirus. Under pressure to show signs of a return to normalcy, the Democrat unveiled “Restore Illinois,” which indicates the state has already entered the plan’s second phase. It’s defined by loosened restrictions on the governor’s stay-at-home order, allowing more social interaction while wearing face coverings. “We all have a passionate desire to return to the sense of normalcy that we felt before the world knew of COVID-19,” Pritzker said in Chicago. “Here’s the truth, and I don’t like it any more than you do: Until we have a vaccine, or an effective treatment or enough widespread immunity that new cases fail to materialize, the option of returning to normalcy doesn’t exist.”
Indianapolis: Hoosiers should be wary of false or misleading claims some companies are making about their ability to combat the spread of the coronavirus with disinfectants or cleaning services, state officials said. The Office of the Indiana State Chemist said cleaning services and cleaning product manufacturers have claimed they can disinfect homes, workplaces, hospitals, cars and other spaces with products that will specifically kill the coronavirus, which causes the respiratory disease COVID-19. “Companies are using a variety of marketing opportunities to advertise these claims – websites, TV, radio, flyers, mailers and social media,” said Sarah Caffery, a pesticide product registration specialist with the State Chemist’s office. Consumers are urged to visit the Office of the Indiana State Chemist website to find a list of products that are effective against the virus, according to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency criteria.
Des Moines: Des Moines Public Schools has opened the door to in-person graduation ceremonies after previously saying ceremonies would be held online to reduce the potential spread of novel coronavirus. “I very much want us to have an in-person, live graduation where our students can walk across the stage and be recognized for their accomplishments,” Superintendent Tom Ahart said at a Tuesday night school board meeting. A final decision on live graduations has not yet been made, “but we’re trying,” Ahart said. The city school district announced last week that it would hold virtual graduation ceremonies in June – a decision that prompted parent Uniz Ceballos to start a Change.com petition calling for live graduations that has garnered more than 1,600 signatures. Several districts in the Des Moines metro, including Ankeny and West Des Moines, have announced plans to hold in-person graduations over the summer.
Mission: Taiwan is donating 100,000 surgical masks to Kansas to help medical and meatpacking workers amid the coronavirus outbreak. U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran, a Kansas Republican, announced Wednesday that the shipment of masks is expected to arrive next week. The move comes as Taiwan seeks to be included in the upcoming World Health Assembly. Moran, who requested the masks, has been supportive of including Taiwan. He thanked the country’s President Tsai Ing-wen in a statement, saying it is “another great reminder that we are all in this together.” Four counties with meatpacking plants – Seward, Ford, Finney and Lyon – have a combined 2,258 confirmed cases, 41% of the state’s total. And an outbreak at the state’s largest prison in Lansing has now infected 551 inmates and 88 staff members. Most of the infected inmates don’t have symptoms.
Frankfort: A prison has been hit by hundreds of coronavirus cases, prompting action to separate inmates into housing units based on their health conditions to try to contain the outbreak. Testing of inmates and staff at the Green River Correctional Complex in Central City revealed more than 300 additional virus cases, Gov. Andy Beshear said Tuesday. The prison accounted for nearly half the statewide total number of cases reported Tuesday, resulting in a one-day high for the state. Beshear called it a “concerning situation” as his administration takes steps to contain the virus’s spread at the western Kentucky prison. When factoring in previous coronavirus cases, the infection rate has reached about 40% at Green River, he said. J. Michael Brown, secretary of Beshear’s executive Cabinet, said at least least two people at the prison have died from COVID-19. A third death last weekend is potentially virus-related, he said.
Baton Rouge: With fewer cars on the road because of the coronavirus outbreak, the state’s transportation department is taking the opportunity to clean up those areas that are normally filled with traffic. The agency said its maintenance crews will spend the next two weeks launching an extensive cleanup effort of usually high-traffic state roadways. The crews will be picking up litter, removing debris, trimming overhanging trees and removing overgrown vegetation. The Department of Transportation and Development is urging those who are driving to use caution when traveling through the work zone areas with crews and equipment.
Augusta: State lawmakers held an “emergency meeting” Wednesday to delve into delays in the processing of unemployment claims. More than $200 million has been distributed to more than 70,000 Mainers since the global pandemic forced the governor to declare an emergency and impose a stay-at-home order, according to the labor department. Since March 15, more than 100,000 claims have been filed, compared with 35,000 for all of last year. The agency is trying to keep up with demand, said Jessica Picard, spokeswoman for the department, which enlisted a private call center to help handle the massive volume of calls. Meanwhile, a high school in Norway, Maine, has come up with a novel way to hold graduation despite the pandemic. Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School will hold its ceremony next month at a drive-in movie theater. Families will be able to bring one vehicle, and the school will mail home caps, gowns, sashes, cords and tickets, school officials announced.
Baltimore: The state has missed out on more than $60 million in revenue from its casinos being closed last month due to the coronavirus, compared to how much the state generated last April. The state lottery said in a news release Tuesday that the state’s six casinos generated no revenue in April. In April 2019, total revenue was about $145.2 million. Contributions to the state in that month were about $60.2 million. That includes $45.2 million set aside for the state’s Education Trust Fund. Casino revenues also support jurisdictions where the casinos are located and Maryland’s horse racing industry. The casinos were closed March 16. “These are truly unprecedented times,” Maryland Lottery and Gaming Director Gordon Medenica said. “The casinos generate vital revenue for the state, but we remain focused on the health and safety of the casinos’ patrons and employees as we plan for reopening.”
Boston: The Boston Pops Orchestra has released a musical tribute to health care workers, first responders, supermarket clerks and other critical personnel on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic. The performance of “Summon the Heroes” released Tuesday was composed by John Williams for the 1996 Olympic Games and includes an introduction from conductor Keith Lockhart, as well Williams himself, recorded at his home studio in Los Angeles. The virtual performance includes 78 musicians playing from their living rooms, kitchens, basements and bedrooms. A recording engineer and a video engineer edited the piece from their homes. Williams compared workers on the front lines of the pandemic to the athletes for whom the piece was composed. “Like our wonderful athletes, they are performing Olympic feats of their own, tending to our health and wellbeing, and by doing so lifting all our spirits through the care and compassion they show the world each and every day,” he said in a statement released by the Pops.
Lansing: The Republican-led Legislature sued Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Wednesday, asking a judge to declare invalid and unenforceable her stay-at-home order and other measures issued to combat the coronavirus pandemic. The lawsuit, filed in the state Court of Claims, says a 1945 law that gives the governor broad emergency powers to order such restrictions governs local, not statewide, declarations like one that has been in place since March. A 1976 law gives Whitmer emergency authority only for a limited period that expired when the House and Senate did not extend her emergency and disaster declarations last week, according to the suit that alleges a “patent disregard for the law.” Whitmer spokeswoman Tiffany Brown called the suit a “partisan game.” Whitmer’s “No. 1 priority is saving lives,” Brown said. “She’s making decisions based on science and data, not political or legal pressure.”
Minneapolis: A coalition of hospitality organizations is urging state legislators to provide an economic relief package to help save the industry’s businesses. The coalition includes Hospitality Minnesota, the Minnesota Licensed Beverage Association, the Community of Minnesota Resorts and the Craft Brewers Guild. A recent survey by Hospitality Minnesota says more than half of hospitality businesses may be forced to close permanently in the next two months because of the effects of the coronavirus and the state’s stay-at-home order. Minnesota Hospitality says federal relief so far is not tailored to work for hospitality businesses. The coalition said that in addition to reopening businesses safely and swiftly, many will also need additional financial support. “Hospitality businesses and jobs are teetering on an economic cliff,” said Liz Rammer, President and CEO of Hospitality Minnesota.
Jackson: State legislators will be back at work Thursday to consider proposals to help businesses that have been hurt by the coronavirus outbreak, House and Senate leaders said Tuesday. It will be the second time in less than a week for legislators to return to the Capitol after putting their session on hold in mid-March because of the pandemic. They passed a bill Friday to give the Legislature control over spending $1.25 billion that Mississippi is receiving from the federal government in a massive coronavirus relief package. Republican Gov. Tate Reeves has called that bill a power grab by the Republican-majority Legislature, saying he’s best positioned to spend the federal money as needs arise. During a news conference Tuesday, Reeves mentioned the possibility that he would veto the bill, setting up further confrontation with lawmakers.
O’Fallon: St. Louis and St. Louis County will both begin easing stay-at-home orders starting later this month, but officials caution that the process will be slow for the area of Missouri most ravaged by the coronavirus. St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson and St. Louis County Executive Sam Page both announced late Tuesday that public health restrictions would be reduced starting May 18. Page said Wednesday that the reopening process will be driven by metrics like hospitalizations, ventilator usage, and rises or falls in confirmed cases. The city and county are coordinating their plans, and Page and Krewson said details will be released soon. But Page said the plan will include a recommendation that workers wear masks “and we will request everyone out in public wear masks, especially when social distancing measures, being at least 6 feet away from someone else, can’t be easily followed.” The mayors of 25 St. Louis County municipalities want those details immediately.
Helena: Gov. Steve Bullock on Tuesday announced $123 million in grants for small businesses, nonprofits and state residents affected by the coronavirus pandemic. The spending is the first phase of distributions of the state’s $1.25 billion in federal coronavirus relief funding. Applications can be submitted starting Thursday via covidrelief.mt.gov. “I want to be clear that this is just an initial round of funding based on the immediate needs identified by Montanans, small businesses,” Bullock said. The governor is creating a $50 million grant fund for small businesses who have lost revenue due to the coronavirus and another $50 million in rent or mortgage assistance for people who have lost jobs or substantial income. Other funding includes $10 million for nonprofit social service agencies and $2 million for food banks.
Real Life. Real News. Real Voices
Help us tell more of the stories that matterBecome a founding member
Lincoln: The state has opened a new lab to analyze the results of about 3,000 coronavirus tests per day and will launch more testing sites beyond those operating in Omaha and hard-hit Grand Island, officials said Tuesday. CHI Health St. Elizabeth in Lincoln will serve as the state’s lab under the TestNebraska program, which state officials launched through a contract with a Utah startup. “This is going to allow us to greatly expand our testing,” Gov. Pete Ricketts said. Nebraska officials have sought to increase the state’s testing capacity to get a better sense of where the coronavirus is and how quickly it’s spreading. Under the $27 million, no-bid contract with Nomi Health and other firms, Nebraska received 540,000 tests, plus equipment needed to analyze them and website support to help people enroll. Ricketts said about 122,000 Nebraska residents have signed up so far.
Las Vegas: MGM Resorts International has announced that the furloughs of more than 60,000 employees caused by the coronavirus pandemic could turn into layoffs. Acting company CEO Bill Hornbuckle sent a legal notice Tuesday to employees saying a tourism forecast predicts some furloughed workers might not be back for more than six months and some not at all. “When we first furloughed our employees, we hoped the spread of the virus could be contained or that an effective treatment would emerge quickly,” Hornbuckle said. “Based on the current situation, we now believe that some of our colleagues may not return to work this year.” Employees will remain on furlough status until Aug. 31, then the company is allowed to begin layoffs. The notice complies with the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, which is intended to ensure employees have advance notice before significant layoffs.
Concord: Drive-thru ceremonies with no handshakes, hugs or high-fives may mark the end of high school for some of the state’s graduates. The Department of Education has released guidance to school districts about how to plan graduation ceremonies in light of the state’s prohibition on gatherings of more than 10 people. Officials said schools should consider limiting audience size to a maximum of two guests per student, depending on the ability to practice safe social distancing. The department said one option could be to have people stay in their cars, parked in every other spot, and graduates would exit in small, appropriately spaced groups, to get their diplomas. Diplomas also could be distributed “drive-up” style, or participants could be spread out among classrooms within a school.
Trenton: Gov. Phil Murphy on Wednesday extended the public health emergency declaration stemming from the coronavirus outbreak for another month. He first signed the declaration in March and renewed it in April. The declaration allows the Democrat to invoke emergency powers, like ordering businesses to close. Murphy said he decided to extend the declaration because it automatically expires after 30 days, and the underlying conditions making it necessary haven’t changed. He also announced about 1,500 new positive cases, putting the total at about 132,000, along with 308 new deaths, for a death toll of 8,549. Despite the climbing death toll and increase in positive cases, Murphy said the number of people in hospitals with the virus continued to decline, as did the number of patients on ventilators.
Albuquerque: A rural sheriff has deputized about 20 church members at an in-person church service, working around Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s public health order designed to combat the spread of the coronavirus. Sierra County Sheriff Glenn Hamilton said the effort is about recruiting help and preparing for the worst, but he also noted that law enforcement is exempt from the governor’s stay-at-home order, meaning people can now attend future services, KOB-TV reports. Sierra County, about 140 miles south of Albuquerque, is one of many rural counties that often use law enforcement volunteers because there are not enough deputies to cover the territory. “Should riot conditions start existing, should civil disobedience, it could be everything from crowd control measures to as simple as administrative staff duties,” Hamilton said. Hamilton has extended the deputization offer to all churches in Sierra County and expects more to sign up.
New York: The great majority of people being newly hospitalized with the coronavirus in New York either are retired or are unemployed and were avoiding public transit, according to a new state survey, the first such look at people still getting seriously ill despite six weeks of severe social distancing. The survey of 1,269 patients admitted to 113 hospitals over three recent days confounded expectations that new cases would be dominated by essential workers, especially those traveling on public transportation. Retirees accounted for 37% of hospitalizations during the survey period. Another 46% were unemployed. Almost three-quarters were 51 years or older. Only 4% used public transportation in their daily life, according to the survey. “It reinforces what we’ve been saying, which is much of this comes down to what you do to protect yourself,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said at his daily briefing. “Are you wearing a mask? Are you doing the hand sanitizer?”
Charlotte: The North Carolina Air National Guard will conduct flyover salutes to food bank workers, medical staffs and other front-line workers in the fight against COVID-19. The flyover Thursday will be performed by a C-17 plane, according to a release by the Guard. The planned route will start over Asheville in the western part of the state before heading to Wilmington and circling back to Charlotte. Along the way, the route will include medical facilities in Morganton, Winston-Salem, Chapel Hill and Greenville. It will fly over food banks in Asheville, Raleigh and Charlotte, among other cities and facilities. The North Carolina flyover is part of a project called Operation: American Resolve, and the Guard says it will cost no additional taxpayer money.
Bismarck: Backers of paid family leave will again push legislation to establish a program in the state, saying the COVID-19 pandemic has heightened awareness of its need. “The coronavirus, or a health crisis of any type, can put a family in extreme financial difficulty,” said Kristie Wolff, executive director of the North Dakota Women’s Network. The nonprofit and the North Dakota AFL-CIO on Wednesday launched their renewed effort for a paid family leave law, saying the state “must do more to protect workers during critical life-changing circumstances.” Paid family leave legislation in North Dakota has been largely backed by Democrats but has failed in the Republican-controlled Legislature over the years. That includes in 2019 with a bill to use $5 million of earnings from the state’s voter-approved oil tax savings account to start the program, to be paid off by contributions from employees and employers after 20 years.
Columbus: Republican lawmakers frustrated with Ohio’s aggressive stay-at-home orders voted Wednesday in the GOP-controlled House to limit the authority of the state’s health director. The move seeks to restrict mandatory closure and stay-at-home orders issued by the health department to 14 days. After that, the orders would need approval from a legislative rule-making body. Gov. Mike DeWine blasted the move, saying his fellow Republicans should be focused on increasing coronavirus testing, dealing with a $775 million budget deficit and reopening the economy. Republican backers said the measure was an appropriate legislative check on the power of DeWine and his health director, Dr. Amy Acton, who issued Ohio’s orders. Acton has won praise for her aggressive decisions to combat the coronavirus’ spread, but those who think the state is moving too slowly in reopening its economy have directed their anger toward her in recent weeks.
Oklahoma City: The state is reopening businesses that were closed due to the coronavirus pandemic at the right time, U.S. Sen. James Lankford said Tuesday. “I don’t think it’s soon. We’ve already got about 15 states in the same process,” and even hard-hit New York is considering how to follow suit, Lankford said. “There will always be second-guessing on the timing … it’s still the right time.” Gov. Kevin Stitt in April announced plans to allow a phased reopening, first of businesses such as barbershops and hair and nail salons, followed by restaurants, malls, gyms and churches. Stitt said the state has met White House criteria for reopening, including fewer new coronavirus cases and deaths, and a decline in hospitalizations. Oklahoma’s official count of people who have contracted the coronavirus has topped 4,200, and the number of deaths due to COVID-19 has surpassed 250, the state State Department of Health reported Wednesday.
Portland: The first person in the state to be diagnosed with the new coronavirus has been discharged from the hospital more than two months after being admitted, the hospital said Tuesday. Hector Calderon spent many days in the intensive care unit, where he was sedated and intubated, before he recovered enough to be transferred to a skilled nursing facility Monday, Kaiser Permanente Northwest said in a statement Tuesday. Calderon, who is a janitor at an elementary school in Lake Oswego, tested positive for COVID-19 in late February. He was listed as the state’s first confirmed coronavirus case Feb. 28, prompting the school where he worked to close for several days. In addition to being the state’s first confirmed case, he was the second patient in the U.S. determined to have contracted the virus through community spread and not from direct contact with another infected person or from travel to a country with an outbreak.
Harrisburg: The state reported another 554 deaths from the coronavirus to pass 3,000 total, while Gov. Tom Wolf said Tuesday that he is not committing to a particular schedule to lift stay-at-home pandemic restrictions in the state’s counties or regions. The large number of new deaths reported Tuesday by the state Department of Health was spread out over the previous two weeks, the agency said, as it reconciles its data with deaths being reported by local agencies or hospitals. Still, it was as stark a figure as the state has reported since the first case of the new coronavirus was detected in Pennsylvania in early March. It comes as the growth in cases appears to slow down in many parts of Pennsylvania and as Wolf’s administration moves to lighten its restrictions on movement and business activity.
Providence: An investigation into possible unemployment benefits fraud related to the coronavirus pandemic is expanding with as many as 2,000 cases in the state, authorities said. State and federal law enforcement agencies are investigating fraudulent unemployment insurance claims submitted to the state Department of Labor and Training. The department has received roughly 2,000 reports to date from people who say they have been the victims of “imposter fraud,” agency spokeswoman Angelika Pellegrino said in an email. Anyone who believes their personal information has been used to file or secure a false claim is being asked to call the FBI’s Providence office or the state Department of Labor and Training. Ellen Martin told WPRI-TV she received a letter last week informing her that her jobless benefits had been approved even though she was still working.
Columbia: The University of South Carolina plans to return to on-campus classes in the fall, although with plenty of changes to protect students, professors and employees from the coronavirus. The college announced its intention Wednesday, the same day a group of education leaders met remotely to talk broadly about what public schools for children may look like next fall – teachers changing classes instead of students, children not going to the cafeteria for lunch, and maybe fewer class periods and semester courses in high school. The key from both groups of educators was flexibility. While plans are to be back in the classrooms in August, a lot could change in three months. The University of South Carolina is the first major college in the state to announce a plan to reopen. President Bob Caslen said that depends on the ability to test any student or worker and, if they test positive, to trace everyone with whom they were in contact.
Sioux Falls: State health officials on Wednesday reported five more deaths from COVID-19, along with 58 new confirmed cases. All five deaths were in Minnehaha County, which has seen most of the infections in South Dakota. A total of 2,779 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed statewide, but the actual number of infections is thought to be far higher than the number of confirmed. Health officials reported that most people who have tested positive have recovered, but 29 people have died in South Dakota from COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus. A Smithfield pork processing plant in Sioux Falls, where over 800 employees became infected with COVID-19, is reopening this week. The state has tested nearly 2,500 people as part of a mass testing event set up for Smithfield employees and their family members, which health officials said will likely result in another spike in testing.
Nashville: Officials have reported the first death of a state inmate who tested positive for the coronavirus: a man who was among the nearly 1,300 inmates who tested positive at one prison. The state Department of Correction said Tuesday that the 67-year-old man was an inmate at Trousdale Turner Correctional Center, run by the Tennessee-based private company CoreCivic. The inmate was taken to the hospital April 25, tested positive there and died Monday, the department said. The inmate had underlying health conditions, said state Health Commissioner Lisa Piercey. Officials say six inmates who tested positive in Tennessee’s prison system are hospitalized, including one in serious condition. In recent mass testing, nearly 1,300 inmates – about 50% of all prisoners – and 50 staffers tested positive at the facility, while 583 – or about 25% – of the Bledsoe County Correctional Complex’s 2,322 inmates tested positive. Most had no symptoms.
West Odessa: A bar owner and armed protesters were arrested in western Texas after the bar reopened despite the governor’s orders to remain closed amid the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. Ector County Sheriff Mike Griffis told the Odessa American that authorities on Monday apprehended Gabrielle Ellison, the 47-year-old owner of Big Daddy Zane’s Bar, in West Odessa for violating Gov. Greg Abbott’s order that prohibits drinking establishments from opening until mid-May. Six men who had loaded “AR-15-type weapons” were also arrested for possessing firearms on a licensed property, Griffis said, adding that one observer was detained for interfering with a peace officer’s duties. More than 20 people participated in the protest with help from Open Texas, an armed group that travels around the state trying to help reopen the doors of businesses that Abbott deemed “nonessential.”
Provo: Dozens of workers tested positive for the coronavirus after two Utah County businesses instructed employees not to follow quarantine guidelines and required people who tested positive to continue reporting to work, leaders said. Nearly half the employees at one business were infected, authorities said. One establishment was temporarily closed, and both have been required to follow strict cleaning and inspection requirements, the Daily Herald reports. “This is completely unacceptable,” Utah County commissioners wrote in a Monday letter also signed by the mayors of all the cities in the county. A total of 68 people tested positive, the letter says. Health department officials made the connections through contact tracing. Neither business was named due to privacy concerns, said Carrie Bennett, chronic disease prevention program manager for the Utah County Health Department. She also declined to say what services they provide.
Montpelier: The Vermont Department of Public Service is proposing a plan to provide broadband internet service to everyone in the state. About 23% of the state, or 70,000 homes and businesses, doesn’t have access to high-speed internet service. That’s defined as speeds of 25 megabits per second for download and 3 megabits per second for upload. “The internet is necessary infrastructure that is essential for Vermonters to stay safe when they shelter at home during a crisis, such as the COVID-19 emergency,” June Tierney, the commissioner of the Department of Public Service, said in a statement announcing the plan. The cost estimate is approximately $300 million. The plan assumes that Vermont will receive an additional infusion of federal aid to support recovery from the pandemic.
Virginia Beach: Mental health experts say military families and veterans are reaching out more for assistance during the coronavirus pandemic. The Virginian-Pilot reports clinicians providing help online have seen requests skyrocket. Sarah Pitzen, the lead clinician at the Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic at The Up Center in Virginia Beach, said staff have had to provide additional support to current clients because their “preexisting conditions had worsened.” Pitzen said they’re also seeing a rise in risks associated with domestic violence, suicide, child abuse, and drug and alcohol addiction. They’re also seeing more stress, anxiety and depression. “There’s just an increased need for connection, to be quite honest,” she said.
Walla Walla: Some people are intentionally flouting health recommendations by exposing themselves and others to COVID-19 in Walla Walla County, officials said. Meghan DeBolt, director of the county’s Department of Community Health, told the Union-Bulletin this week that contact tracing has revealed some are attending parties with the idea that it is better to get sick with the virus and get it over with. New positive test results in the county have resulted from such gatherings, she said. “We ask about contacts, and there are 25 people because: ‘We were at a COVID party,’ ” DeBolt said. She called the parties irresponsible and unacceptable. Walla Walla Police Chief Scott Bieber noted that disobeying Gov. Jay Inslee’s March 23 “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order is illegal.
Huntington: Two cities are giving some employees a one-time extra payment for continuing to work with the public during the coronavirus pandemic. Huntington City Mayor Steve Williams announced $900 will be awarded to all the members of unions representing city police, firefighters and administrative employees who did not work remotely during the virus outbreak. Nearly 285 employees will receive the extra-duty pay in May. Administrative staff who changed their schedule for remote work will receive 50% of the payment, the city said in a statement. The more than $200,000 needed for the extra payments will come from the city’s budget. In Charleston, the City Council on Monday approved Mayor Amy Shuler Goodwin’s request for $100,000 to match a $100,000 grant from the Kanawha County Commission to go toward police officers, firefighters, and members of the refuse and recycling department.
Madison: Nearly all hospitals must affirm they can treat all patients without crisis care in order for the first phase of Gov. Tony Evers’ coronavirus reopening plan to be met, state health officials said Tuesday. Ninety-five percent of the state’s hospitals would also have to arrange for testing for all symptomatic clinical staff treating patients to meet the first phase under Evers’ plan. A third criteria – a downward trend in COVID-19 cases among health care workers calculated weekly – has currently been met, but it could be reversed if cases start to increase, said Wisconsin Department of Health Services Deputy Secretary Julie Willems Van Dijk. Other previously announced criteria for entering the first phase of the reopening plan include fewer new diagnoses of coronavirus, fewer new reports of flu-like symptoms, and a downward percentage of positive coronavirus tests over 14 days.
Jackson: Frustration and displeasure with changes in the rules governing Wyoming antler hunting was nearly unanimous in recent days among the many hundreds of people who flocked to the forest adjacent to the National Elk Refuge, the Jackson Hole News & Guide reports. Most came from out of state, and their presence and inkling to continue an annual Jackson Hole tradition was an act of defiance and disregard for requests to stay home while the novel coronavirus was keeping the community largely closed. Gov. Mark Gordon had issued an unenforceable directive that instructed people crossing state lines before May 8 to quarantine themselves for 14 days. Teton County law enforcement officers, who corral the shed hunters every spring, echoed that request over social media and in advertisements for weeks leading up to the hunt. Driving the concern was COVID-19, which has hit Teton County worse on a per-capita basis than anywhere else in Wyoming.
From USA TODAY Network and wire reports
Read or Share this story: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/50-states/2020/05/07/early-patient-discharged-putting-ritz-deputized-churchgoers-news-around-states/111670702/
Subscribe to the newsletter news
We hate SPAM and promise to keep your email address safe