What We're Reading: Top State Stories 3/17
Top State Coronavirus Action
OH/AZ/FL/IL: Ohio cancels primary; Arizona, Florida, Illinois hold them
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, a Republican, ordered primary polling places closed. He also promised to push for a remedy through the courts “to extend voting options so that every voter who wants to vote will be granted that opportunity.” But officials in Arizona, Florida and Illinois said their primaries would proceed.
CA: Six San Francisco Bay area counties issue ‘shelter-in-place’ order
Officials in six San Francisco Bay area counties issued a sweeping shelter-in-place mandate affecting nearly 7 million people, ordering residents to avoid any unnecessary travel by any method and only leave their homes for food, medicine and exercise.
NY: Rush for jobless benefits crashes New York state website
After Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo waived the usual seven-day waiting period to apply, New York workers immediately tried to replace some of their lost income. Within hours, applicants were complaining on social media about not being able to apply online, with some saying the system was crashing throughout the day.
CT/NJ/NY: Connecticut, New Jersey, New York governors close restaurants, bars, gyms, movie theaters
The governors of Connecticut, New York and New Jersey have ordered a mass shutdown of bars, restaurants, gyms and movie theaters in the three states. Connecticut Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont also encouraged the state's tribal casinos, which are governed by sovereign nations, to follow the state's lead.
RI: Rhode Island orders halt to collections of unpaid utility bills
Rhode Island state regulators ordered a temporary halt to all collection activities for unpaid utility bills. The Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission adopted the emergency order that covers all electric, natural gas, water and sewer utilities that are regulated by the state.
PA: Pennsylvania governor orders statewide shutdown
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, extended his shutdown order to the entire state. The shutdown directive, which applies to nonessential businesses in all 67 counties, began at midnight and will be in place for two weeks.
ME: Maine state employees’ union wants governor to send many workers home
The union representing more than 12,000 Maine employees called on Democratic Gov. Janet Mills to end nonessential government services, while the state has told workers it is still “considering all options.”
VA: Virginia prison system won’t accept new inmates from local jails
The Virginia Department of Corrections has suspended taking new inmates from local jails for 30 days as part of the declaration by Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam of a state of emergency.
CO: Coronavirus could cost Colorado budget $800M, analysts say
Colorado officials were briefed on the state’s economic forecast, and it isn’t pretty: a slowdown that at best will last several months, and that will, at least in the short term, severely hamper the legislature’s ability to pay for any new programs next year.
MA: Massachusetts moves to help small businesses
Aiming to give relief to the state's small businesses, Republican Gov. Charlie Baker announced that Massachusetts is creating a $10 million relief fund.
CA: Recession could hit harder in California: report
The U.S. economy has entered its first recession in 11 years, and it’s likely to be slightly more severe in California than the rest of the nation, a new forecast from the UCLA Anderson School of Management said. By the first quarter of 2021, California is expected to lose more than 280,000 payroll jobs, the report said.
AK: Firefighters called to Alaska’s first case were quarantined; won’t happen again
Alaska firefighters have adequate protective equipment to handle future coronavirus cases, which includes masks, gowns, eye protection and gloves. And the department has adopted a new policy where, except for urgent cases like heart attacks and serious trauma, just one responder will initially contact a patient or patient’s family.
NC: North Carolina could see 4K cases by April, officials predict
North Carolina could see 110 people testing positive or presumptive positive for coronavirus by the end of the week, with cases reaching 4,000 by April 2, an epidemiologist at UNC-Chapel Hill. Such an increase could put tremendous pressure on hospitals.
AZ: Arizona governor takes less-aggressive approach
Arizona's strategies remain less aggressive than those adopted by several other states, even after Republican Gov. Doug Ducey changed his tune on school closures and public gatherings in rapid succession Sunday.
WY: Wyoming governor announces task forces
Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon, a Republican, has set up task forces that will focus on education, health care, state services, banking and infrastructure. All will be led by statewide elected officials.
DC, MD: District of Columbia, Maryland restaurants, bars must shut down
The District of Columbia and Maryland ordered the closure of all bars and restaurants except for delivery service. Maryland's ban also includes health clubs and gyms.
IN: Indiana governor orders restaurants, bars closed
All restaurants and bars in Indiana are being closed to in-person customers in another step ordered by Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb.
LA: Louisiana bars closed, restaurants limited to takeout, delivery
Louisiana is closing bars and limiting restaurants to takeout, delivery or drive-through service only. Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards' office announced the news.
AR: Arkansas restaurants can stay open, governor says
During a news conference, Gov. Asa Hutchinson, a Republican, said Arkansas restaurants can remain open at this time.
OR: Oregon shuts down bars, restaurants
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, a Democrat, ordered restaurants and bars to stop all on-site dining and limit sales to takeout and delivery. Brown said she plans to ban gatherings of more than 25 people for at least a month, while urging Oregonians to avoid being around more than 10 people at a time.
NH: New Hampshire bans all large gatherings, orders restaurants to end on-site dining
Republican Gov. Chris Sununu is banning public gatherings of groups larger than 50 people through the state and forcing restaurants to go take-out, delivery or drive-thru only starting tomorrow.
CO: Colorado governor orders bars, restaurants to halt dine-in service statewide
Democratic Colorado Gov. Jared Polis ordered bars and restaurants to cease dine-in service and for large gathering spaces such as theaters, casinos and gyms to close statewide for the next 30 days.
KY: Child care centers in Kentucky must close; primary election delayed
Democratic Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear announced a series of restrictions, including ordering the closure of child care centers, mandating the end of in-person dining at restaurants and bars, closing all government offices to in-person services and pushing the state’s primary election back to June 23.
UT: Utah’s in-person caucus-convention system is casualty of the coronavirus
Republicans and Democrats canceled or postponed their March 24 caucuses in Utah. They announced that delegates elected two years ago will simply continue to serve. They are deciding how to replace a few who moved or do not want to stay on. They also canceled in-person state and county conventions in April.
WI: Wisconsin officials push absentee voting
Candidates and political parties aren’t pushing to postpone Wisconsin’s presidential primary next month, instead urging voters to cast absentee ballots rather than line up at the polls.
PA: Pennsylvania may delay primary
Pennsylvania officials are still considering moving the date of the April 28 presidential primary election, Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf said.
SC: South Carolina postpones local elections
Several South Carolina local elections have been postponed after an order from Gov. Henry McMaster, a Republican. In all, 32 local elections were postponed, to be rescheduled for some time after May 1.
MD: Maryland working on ‘contingencies’ for April 28 primary
Officials in Maryland have not confirmed whether a postponement of the state’s April 28 primary is on the table, but there have been talks about a mail-only election. The directors of local election boards across Maryland last week urged state election officials to move to mail-only voting.
IL: Illinois closes parks, historic sites
The Illinois Department of Natural Resources announced that it would immediately close all state parks, fish and wildlife areas, recreational areas and historic sites.
MS: Mississippi casinos closing
The Mississippi Gaming Commission has ordered all casinos in the state to close.
OH: Ohio governor closes gyms, recreation centers
Republican Gov. Mike DeWine closed more gathering places across Ohio.
MD: Maryland school leaders, health experts say shut down could last months
School leaders and health experts say a long-term shutdown of Maryland schools — perhaps through the end of the school year — seems increasingly likely.
ND: North Dakota governor closes schools for week
Republican North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum issued an executive order closing public and private K-12 schools for one week.
MT: Montana governor closes public K-12 schools for two weeks
Democratic Montana Gov. Steve Bullock ordered public K-12 schools statewide to close for two weeks, encouraged limits on gatherings of more than 50 people and limitated visiting at nursing homes.
OK: Oklahoma to close all public schools
The Oklahoma State Board of Education has voted to close all Oklahoma public schools, as well as all school-related extracurricular activities, until April 6.
HI: Hawaii legislators recess
Hawaii leaders announced that the legislative session is going into a recess for an expected eight weeks.
NJ: New Jersey Assembly passes bills to help workers, school kids
The New Jersey Assembly passed a wide-ranging package of bipartisan bills to assist the people, schools, businesses and local governments grappling with the medical and financial impacts of the public health crisis.
GA: Georgia lawmakers grant governor vast new powers
Georgia lawmakers voted to grant Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican, broad new powers, ratifying his declaration of a public health emergency. The vote gives his administration the ability to suspend state laws, take “direct” control of civil staffers, restrict travel and limit public gatherings through mid-April.
NE: Nebraska legislature suspends session
The Nebraska legislature went on recess because of the coronavirus, and no date was set to reconvene. Speaker Jim Scheer made the call.
MD: Maryland Senate passes emergency legislation to extend unemployment benefits
Maryland’s Senate passed emergency legislation to extend temporary unemployment benefits.
VT: Vermont EMS crews face resupply challenges for gear as precautions step up
Vermont is tapping “strategic” stockpiles to keep responders, others, outfitted with protective equipment, as usual vendors run short.