What We're Reading: Top State Stories 3/24
Top State Coronavirus News
NY: New York governor orders hospitals to add beds
As New York's number of confirmed coronavirus cases reached 20,875 on Monday, Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered hospitals to increase their capacity of beds by at least 50% — and up to 100% if possible — as the health care system braces for what may be a critical need to treat tens of thousands of people.
FL: Travelers flying to Florida from New York, New Jersey must quarantine
Florida Gov. Rick DeSantis, a Republican, said travelers from New York and New Jersey will have to self-quarantine for 14 days after arrival. When New York started shelter-in-place provisions, which DeSantis has resisted, he said many New Yorkers traveled to Florida to escape them.
CA: Coronavirus will make California’s affordable housing problem worse, experts say
California already faced a shortage of more than 1 million homes for low-income families before the novel coronavirus hit. And now many advocates, economists and politicians say the pandemic is only going to make the situation worse.
TN: Tennessee colleges mass producing face shields using 3D printers
In days, colleges throughout Tennessee have used 3D printers to produce more than 1,500 pieces of personal protective equipment, with plans to create thousands more.
CO: Colorado receives protective masks from national stockpile, though supplies only cover state’s needs for 1 day.
The supplies aren’t going to fix the shortage of personal protective equipment that’s straining hospitals in Colorado and across the country.
TX: Texas halts abortion services during outbreak
Opening a new battleground in a long legal and political fight, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said all clinics in the state must stop providing abortions unless a woman’s life or health are in danger. Paxton said abortions were included in Republican Gov. Greg Abbott's earlier order prohibiting medically unnecessary surgery to conserve supplies.
VA: Virginia governor orders schools closed for the rest of the year
Virginia schools will stay closed for the rest of the academic year, Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam ordered. Northam’s announcement came four days before his first round of mandated school closures was set to expire. His decision applies to all K-12 public and private schools.
LA: New Orleans begins baiting for rats as rodent population fans out due to coronavirus
New Orleans has begun putting poisoned rat bait into sewers throughout the French Quarter and will fan out from there as more rodents take to the streets to find food that has now become scarce because of the coronavirus response.
MN: Minnesota governor in self-quarantine after contact with someone who has COVID-19
Democratic Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz said he will be quarantined at home for the next two weeks after contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19.
NJ: New Jersey freezes nearly $1B in state programs to deal with coronavirus
Close to $1 billion in state spending was frozen as an effort to keep New Jersey afloat, including $142 million for a property tax credit program, according to a disclosure statement to bond holders.
OH: Ohio National Guard and Military Reserve take on new mission: feeding the needy
As many as 400 members of the Ohio National Guard and the Ohio Military Reserve, activated last week at the call of Republican Gov. Mike DeWine, fanned out across the state to help get food to those in need.
ID: Idaho will have more patients than it has ICU beds
Harvard researchers project that between 11,016 and 33,049 Idahoans will need ICU care at some point for COVID-19, and the state doesn’t have enough ICU beds for them. In the worst-case scenario, there would be one bed for every 14 patients.
MO: Missouri Capitol to close for two weeks
Missouri’s Capitol building is shutting down for two weeks, meaning there will be no legislative action under the dome until sometime after April 6.
WI: Wisconsin mental health providers expecting more patients; working toward online solutions
Mental health care providers across Wisconsin are expecting a vast increase in the number of patients struggling with anxiety and depression because of the outbreak, but those patients are not likely to be able to talk to a therapist in person.
PA: Pennsylvania legislature pledges transparency as it prepares to vote remotely
When the Pennsylvania House meets this week, its 203 members won’t pack into the ornate Capitol chamber where they usually gather. Instead, most lawmakers will tune in remotely to consider a bill that moves the state’s primary election to June 2.
AK: Alaska will require all travelers into the state to self-quarantine
People arriving in Alaska must proceed directly from the airport to a quarantine location, such as a residence or a hotel room. They must complete a declaration form identifying where they are going to self-quarantine.
WY: Wyoming governor says low testing has undercounted cases
Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon, a Republican, acknowledged that testing limitations are likely contributing to an undercount.
DE: Delaware barbers, salons wonder about future with statewide shutdown
"How neglectful and irresponsible," one barber said of Delaware’s initial move to shutter restaurants but not salons.
UT: Utah lawmakers advised to self-isolate
Utah lawmakers are being advised to self-isolate after Senate Minority Whip Luz Escamilla, a Democrat, announced she has tested positive for the new coronavirus, just over a week after the end of the legislature’s 2020 session.
RI: Rhode Island governor to order primary postponement
Democratic Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo plans to sign an executive order moving the presidential primary from April 28 to June 2, as requested by the state Board of Elections.
MS: Hard-to-count areas, coronavirus raise stakes on Mississippi investment to avoid census undercount
With billions of dollars on the line, some worry Mississippi’s investment may not be enough to counter citizens’ fears or to reach hard-to-count communities to ensure an accurate count, and now as the state ramps up efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19, census workers must delay field work.
SD: 30% of South Dakotans could become infected, governor says
Gov. Kristi Noem said that 30% of South Dakotans could get sick during the pandemic, according to projections. "That is literally tens of thousands of people in our state,” the Republican said.
NE: Governor encourages Nebraskans to file taxes by April 15 despite federal extension
Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts encouraged Nebraskans to file their taxes by April 15 even though the federal tax deadline has been extended until July 15. If everyone waits to file, Ricketts said at a news conference, that could affect state revenue.
SC: South Carolina governor says ‘shelter in place’ not under consideration at this time
South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster, a Republican, said at this time he is not considering a shelter-in-place order for South Carolina residents as some other states have implemented. He did, however, give law enforcement more discretion to break up groups of three or more people who pose a risk to public health.
LA: During coronavirus closures, just over half of Louisiana school districts offering online classes
Just 39 of 69 public school districts in Louisiana are offering "distance learning" during the closure of classrooms because of the coronavirus, according to a survey done by the state Department of Education. The trend is significant because schools already shuttered until April 13 by order of Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards.
MS: Mississippi governor is not ordering residents to stay in their homes
A statewide lockdown would be unnecessary, unenforceable, relatively ineffective and economically harmful for Mississippi, Republican Gov. Tate Reeves said — though he might order one anyway, just not now.
OK: Oklahoma officials propose distance learning to keep school buildings closed
Oklahoma public schools could remain closed for the rest of the school year. State schools Superintendent Joy Hofmeister announced she would recommend a Continuous Learning Plan for public schools to finish the school year without in-person instruction.
IL: Illinois manufacturers mobilize medical equipment
Democratic Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker says state agencies and local manufacturers are mobilizing to get much-needed medical equipment to hospitals and workers responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.
HI: Hawaiian Airlines to cease most flights
As the state’s visitor industry moves quickly toward protective hibernation, Hawaiian Airlines announced that it will suspend most of its long-haul passenger service and reduce its schedule of flights to the neighbor islands.
KY: Kentucky National Guard deployed
Members of the Kentucky National Guard are monitoring supplies and personnel. Officials said this does not include preparing to institute martial law or to establish a security force to keep people in their homes.
OH: Fate of Ohio abortion clinics unclear under nonessential surgery ban
Nearly a week after Ohio Health Director Dr. Amy Acton banned nonessential surgeries and medical procedures, it remains unclear whether abortion procedures are permissible.
TN: Tennessee governor signs order canceling non-emergency surgeries, asks those providers to donate supplies
Republican Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee signed an executive order calling upon non-emergency medical providers to cancel dental procedures and most surgeries and donate their remaining medical supplies to the state.
AZ: Arizona lawmakers debate emergency budget
The Arizona House was back in session to debate an emergency budget package that is likely to include $50 million in funding passed by the state Senate, which includes money to prevent evictions and foreclosures, provide services for the homeless, assist small businesses and pay for food bank operations. It also includes longer welfare payments and a waiver from work requirements.
More Coronavirus News
MD: Maryland governor orders closure of nonessential businesses
To help Maryland businesses and nonprofits through the economic shock caused by the pandemic, Republican Gov. Larry Hogan also announced the state is providing two new emergency relief funds through the state’s commerce and labor departments, one that offers loans and one that offers grants.
WV: West Virginia governor issues stay-at-home order, closes nonessential businesses
Republican Gov. Jim Justice said he had planned to announce only the closure of nonessential businesses in West Virginia but decided to impose broader restrictions after seeing neighboring states do so and after learning of the first case of community spread of the virus, to a nursing home resident.
MI: Michigan issues stay-at-home order
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, issued the statewide stay-at-home order, effective for at least three weeks. There are exceptions for work "necessary to sustain or protect life" like health care, law enforcement and grocery stores, and restaurants can continue with delivery and take-out service.
NM: New Mexico governor issues stay-at-home order
New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, a Democrat, said residents can leave to jog or walk dogs but not gather in groups of more than five, and should return home quickly. All nonessential workers are required to work from home until at least April 10, and businesses deemed nonessential will close.
CO: Colorado mayor orders residents to stay home
Democratic Denver Mayor Michael Hancock issued an order requiring residents of the Colorado city to stay at home through April 10. People in Denver won’t be able to go out except to the grocery store, doctor or for exercise, Hancock said. Parks are currently crowded with gatherings of people playing games and picnicking, and these activities will be prohibited.
KS: Kansas stricter on gatherings; 1M people told to stay home
Shelter-in-place orders are about to take effect for about a third of Kansans, and Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly announced that she will tighten restrictions on public gatherings.
DC, MD, VA: District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia urge residents to stay home
Republican Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan ordered all nonessential businesses to close, Democratic District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser urged people to remain home as much as possible and Democratic Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam ordered restaurants to close their dining rooms and announced schools would be closed the rest of the academic year.
CT: Connecticut schools to remain closed through April 20
Connecticut public schools must remain closed through at least April 20, Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont announced.
IN: Indiana governor shutting down nonessential businesses
Indiana joined a handful of states, including several of its neighbors, by shutting down nonessential travel and businesses. Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb issued a handful of executive orders, including one requiring Hoosiers to "stay at home" until April 7.
NC: North Carolina governor closes schools until May 15
A new order from North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, banned gatherings of more than 50 people and ordered businesses such as gyms, movie theaters and nail salons to close. Cooper also said that public schools in the state will remain closed until May 15.
AL: Alabama governor delays state income tax deadline to July 15
Republican Gov. Kay Ivey and the Alabama Department of Revenue moved the due date for filing state income taxes from April 15 to July 15, following a similar move by the Internal Revenue Service. The governor’s office said taxpayers can also defer state income tax payments.
GA: Georgia, like feds, moves Tax Day from April 15 to July 15
Despite likely short-term financial damage to the state budget, Republican Gov. Brian Kemp said Georgia will move its deadline for filing income tax returns from April 15 to July 15 amid the coronavirus pandemic.
WI: Wisconsin governor to order Wisconsinites to stay at home, will close nonessential businesses
Democratic Gov. Tony Evers prepared to order Wisconsinites to stay in their homes starting this week.
PA: Pennsylvania governor extends school closures until early April, issues stay-at-home order for 7 counties
Democratic Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf ordered that schools remain closed until early April and issued a stay-at-home order for the seven counties that have been hit hardest.
VT: Vermont governor pushes back income tax deadline; waives penalties on sales, rooms and meals payment
Republican Gov. Phil Scott announced that Vermont has pushed back tax deadlines for businesses and individual Vermonters, to provide economic relief.
GA: Governor bans many gatherings, orders shelter in place for ‘medically fragile’ in Georgia
Republican Gov. Brian Kemp announced a series of measures, including the shutdown of bars and nightclubs across the state.
AR: Arkansas closes barbershops, tattoo shops, salons
The Arkansas Department of Health has ordered salons, barbershops and tattoo shops to close their doors.
WA: Washington governor orders residents to stay at home
Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat, is ordering all Washington residents to stay at home, except for crucial activities like buying groceries, seeking medical care or going to work at essential businesses. The new order also requires closure of nonessential businesses.
OR: Oregon governor issues stay-at-home order
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, a Democrat, instructed people to stay home except when traveling for essential work, buying food and similar critical supplies or returning to their own homes. The restrictions are legally enforceable restrictions.
MA: Massachusetts issues stay-at-home advisory, closes nonessential businesses
In the sharpest restriction on daily life yet, GOP Gov. Charlie Baker ordered all nonessential businesses in Massachusetts to close their doors and urged the state’s nearly 7 million people to stay home.