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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 3/20

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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 3/20

Top State Coronavirus Action

CA: California governor orders all state residents to stay at home

latimes.com

Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered all Californians to stay at home, marking the first mandatory restrictions placed on the lives of all 40 million residents. Officials hope telling people to remain in their homes and restrict social interactions will slow the spread of the virus.

MT:  Northern border closure has Montana farmers nervous about trade

billingsgazette.com

As the United States and Canada agreed Wednesday to close their border to all nonessential travel, there weren’t many answers about what those restrictions would mean for Montana agriculture.

US: River towns prepare for floods amid uncertainty

wsj.com

Still reeling from last year’s historic floods, river cities in the Great Plains and central U.S. are preparing for another active flood season in the middle of the pandemic. Last year’s flood season was one of the wettest on record, and NOAA’s spring flood forecast predicts moderate to major flooding this year in 23 states from the Northern Plains to the Gulf Coast.

MA: Massachusetts governor says he’s being outbid by feds for coronavirus supplies

newsweek.com

During a conference call between state officials and President Donald Trump, Massachusetts Republican Gov. Charlie Baker said the state had been outbid by the federal government while attempting to purchase personal protective equipment during the coronavirus pandemic.

MI: Michigan alcohol distillers cleared to make hand sanitizer

mlive.com

From booze to hygiene products, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, is allowing the state’s alcohol distilleries to begin manufacturing hand sanitizer. Distillers are not normally allowed to make such products without an industrial manufacturing permit.

AL: Governor closes all Alabama beaches, both public and private

al.com

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey, a Republican, announced she is closing the state’s public beaches, both public and private. The term “beach” means the sandy shoreline area abutting the Gulf of Mexico, including beach access points.

NY: New York governor will suspend mortgage payments for unemployed

timesunion.com

Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo said New York state will suspend mortgage payments for 90 days for people under financial distress, a move that will not affect credit ratings or result in any penalties. Fees at ATM machines and overdraft and credit card late fees also are being suspended.

LA: Louisiana could exceed health care capacity in a week and needs help, governor says

theadvocate.com

Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, said illnesses could start to exceed the state’s ability to deliver health care in as soon as a week without help from the federal government. He asked President Donald Trump for assistance meeting a growing demand for hospital beds and other resources.

MN: Minnesota Senate Republicans question governor's executive orders

startribune.com

Republicans who control the Minnesota Senate pushed back against some of Democratic Gov. Tim Walz’s recent executive orders, among them his decision to change unemployment rules without the legislature’s approval.

NH: New Hampshire ban on large gatherings challenged in court

apnews.com

Three people who planned to attend political and religious events in the next few weeks are challenging New Hampshire’s statewide emergency ban on gatherings of 50 people or more.

MD: Maryland governor announces new restrictions, allows home delivery of alcohol

marylandmatters.org  

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said he has amended an executive order he issued last week that banned social gatherings of 50 or more people to bar gatherings of 10 or more. The Republican also ordered all shopping malls to close and lifted regulations to allow for the home delivery of alcohol.

UT: Utah man denied test allegedly threatened to bomb hospital

sltrib.com

A man who allegedly threatened to bomb a Utah hospital after learning he couldn’t receive a coronavirus test was arrested. He was booked into Salt Lake County jail on suspicion of making a terrorism threat, a third-degree felony. 

OH: With price gouging including $13 toilet paper, Ohio attorney general wants tough consumer-protection law

dispatch.com

With some items held hostage at high prices amid the coronavirus epidemic, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost, a Republican, wants lawmakers to enact an anti-price gouging law. Ohio does not have a law that deals directly with price gouging, but it bans “unconscionable sales practices.”

CO: Colorado governor suspends nonessential medical procedures

denverpost.com

Democratic Gov. Jared Polis has ordered the suspension of “nonessential” surgeries and medical procedures in Colorado in order to free up equipment, including ventilators and personal protection items for staff. His executive order requires this suspension to run from March 23 to April 14 for all facilities other than rural and critical-access hospitals, for which the order’s timeline is indefinite.

ME: Outdoor pursuits perfect for social distancing, but Maine guides fear lost business

bangordailynews.com

Registered Maine guides are among those in industries in which face-to-face service is essential. But as spring and early summer fishing seasons near, some guides have already begun seeing a dropoff in reservations.

OR: Oregon governor won't issue shelter-in-place order for now

oregonlive.com

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, a Democrat, does not currently plan to issue a statewide order for people to shelter in place. But Brown is planning that the state might need to take that step.

AZ: Arizona governor intensifies response under pressure to take harder line

apnews.com

Under increasing pressure to take a harder line, Republican Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey stayed the course, recommending people avoid crowds but stopping short of a statewide mandate for businesses to close or people to stay home.

OK: Oklahoma corrections department stops accepting inmates from jails

oklahoman.com

The Oklahoma Department of Corrections has notified sheriffs that it temporarily will not accept any new inmates from county jails during the crisis. The change, which puts an extra burden on sheriffs, affects all 77 counties.

NJ: Cops will be told if a New Jersey residence has a patient

nj.com

New Jersey health officials must tell cops where people who’ve tested positive live, but names will be excluded and the information will be closely protected, according to a directive released by state Attorney General Gurbir Grewal, a Democrat.

CO: Colorado state lawmaker tests positive

coloradosun.com

Colorado state Rep. Dafna Michaelson Jenet, a Democrat, says her test results came back positive. Michaelson Jenet is the first state lawmaker in Colorado to announce  they have the coronavirus.

AZ: Many golf courses planning to remain open in Arizona

azcentral.com 

Arizona golf courses, for the most part, remain open for business. March is one of the prime times for golf in the state, which typically draws countless out-of-towners willing to pay upwards of $200 to enjoy the courses.  

MO: Missouri waives food stamp work requirement, expands Medicaid to patients

kansascity.com

Missouri has waived work requirements for food stamps for 90 days and extended Medicaid coverage to eligible Missourians who test positive. The state also temporarily will not terminate eligibility for any Medicaid participant and will ease requirements for telehealth services.

MA: National Guard activated in Massachusetts to add manpower for growing crisis

masslive.com

The Massachusetts National Guard is activating up to 2,000 members to assist the state in its response to the coronavirus.  

HI: Hawaii state senator tests positive 

civilbeat.org

Hawaii state Sen. Clarence Nishihara, a Democrat, learned that he has tested positive.  The positive test triggers an immediate closure of the Capitol and indefinite suspension of the legislative session.

GA: Georgia governor rejects statewide shutdown

ajc.com

Faced with looming shortages, Republican Gov. Brian Kemp urged Georgia hospitals to cancel elective procedures to conserve lifesaving supplies essential to combating the pandemic. And he echoed an approach he’s emphasized all week by repeating that he has no immediate plans to mandate a statewide quarantine.

NE: Fears cause surge in gun purchases in Nebraska county

omaha.com

A surge in gun purchases has led to standing-room-only crowds in the Sheriff’s Office lobby in Nebraska’s Douglas County, forcing the department to change how it issues permits.

CT: Connecticut governor moves primary

apnews.com

Connecticut Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont said he has decided to move the state’s presidential primary from April 28 to June 2. Maryland, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana and Ohio also have postponed their primaries.

IN: All Indiana schools will remain closed until May 1

indystar.com

Indiana Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb announced the prolonged closure of schools. He also announced the cancellation of all state testing set to be given later this spring.

MS: Mississippi public schools closed until April 17

clarionledger.com

Republican Gov. Tate Reeves announced public schools throughout Mississippi would remain closed until at least April 17. Reeves, who is currently in self-quarantine following a trip to Spain, made the announcement in a live video on Facebook.

SC: University of South Carolina cancels in-person classes, postpones graduation

 thestate.com

The University of South Carolina canceled all in-person classes for the rest of the semester and postponed commencement for all campuses, officials said. Classes will be converted to online-only, and those set to graduate will still receive a degree.

AR: Arkansas extends school closure, bans dine-in

katv.com

Republican Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson extended the statewide closure of public schools by three weeks to April 17 and banned dine-in at restaurants and bars.

UT: Year-end testing at Utah schools suspended

sltrib.com

The Utah Board of Education voted unanimously to cancel the annual exams, calling it “the responsible way” to move forward as health officials say Utah is still in the early stages of the pandemic. The year-end tests typically take place between mid-March and May.

AL: Alabama judge orders jail inmates released, then leaves it up to sheriffs

al.com

An Alabama judge ordered jails in his district to release inmates with bonds of $5,000 or less to relieve crowding because but revised the order to leave that up to the discretion of sheriffs and wardens.

LA: Louisiana doctors, nurses grow desperate for protective gear, fear they're infecting patients

theadvocate.com

Emergency room physician John Gavin can’t identify the exact patient from whom he contracted the virus, but he’s confident he picked up the illness working one of his 12-hour shifts in Amite, Louisiana’s small, rural emergency room.

IL: Illinois gun sales spike

pjstar.com

Illinois firearms retailers say sales of guns and ammunition have substantially increased over the past two weeks and especially in recent days.

KS: Kansas bars, restaurants allowed to sell bottled beer, wine to-go during pandemic

kansas.com

Kansas bars, breweries and restaurants with liquor licenses are temporarily allowed to sell beer and wine for carry out as severe restrictions on gatherings has effectively ended dine-in service at most establishments.

NC: Thieves stealing hand sanitizer, masks from North Carolina hospitals

newsobserver.com

North Carolina hospitals say thieves are stealing masks, gloves and hand sanitizer by the box due to anxiety over the nationwide shortage of medical supplies. At UNC Health in Raleigh and Chapel Hill, the problem goes beyond grabbing supplies off a shelf. Some patients and visitors have brought in empty containers and filled them from sanitizer dispensers mounted on the walls.

PA:  Pennsylvania governor orders businesses that aren’t 'life-sustaining' to close

spotlightpa.org

Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf announced that all but “life-sustaining” businesses in Pennsylvania were to close by Thursday at 8 p.m.

WI: Unemployment claims skyrocket to more than 29,000 as business halts across Wisconsin 

madison.com

"Every day this week our claims have gone up," said Amy Banicki, deputy administrator of unemployment with the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development. "They keep going up incrementally, almost doubling every day."

MN: Minnesota bans elective surgeries

apnews.com

Minnesota health care providers must postpone elective surgeries and other medical procedures so they can focus their resources on responding to the anticipated surge of virus cases, Democratic Gov. Tim Walz ordered. 

TN: Tennessee governor extends expired driver's licenses, closes parole board meetings

tennessean.com

Gov. Bill Lee, a Republican, signed a wide-ranging executive order that extends Tennesseans' ability to use expired driver's licenses, bolsters consumer protections, relaxes some regulatory oversight and temporarily allows the Board of Parole to close its meetings to the public. 

KY: ‘All gatherings’ in Kentucky ordered closed by governor

kentucky.com

Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear signed an order banning all in-person gatherings in Kentucky, including church services, festivals and government meetings.

Other State News

TX: Texas regulators consider rare oil production cut

wsj.com

Texas regulators are considering curtailing oil production in America’s largest oil-producing state, something they haven’t done in decades. Oil executives have reached out to members of the Texas Railroad Commission, which regulates the industry, requesting relief following an oil price crash.

ME: New Maine law expected to make medical visits less expensive

apnews.com

A new law in Maine will make common medical visits more affordable, said Democratic Gov. Janet Mills. The proposal is also designed to simplify shopping for a plan and make premiums more affordable for small businesses

Coronavirus and the States: NY Ramps Up Testing; Idaho Patients Wait for Days Governors Step Up
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