Stateline

What We're Reading: Top State Stories 3/31

What We're Reading: Top State Stories 3/31

Top Coronavirus News

TX, OH, AL: Judges slow abortion bans in Texas, Ohio, Alabama

apnews.com

Federal judges temporarily blocked efforts in Texas and Alabama to ban abortions, handing Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers a victory as clinics across the U.S. filed lawsuits to stop states from trying to shutter them during the outbreak. A new Ohio order is also unconstitutional.

OK: Abortion rights groups sue Oklahoma governor

oklahoman.com

Reproductive rights groups are suing Oklahoma officials over Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt's order prohibiting most abortions. Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the Center for Reproductive Rights and Dechert LLP asked a federal judge to immediately block Stitt's order.

OR: Oregon to inspect workplaces

oregonlive.com

Oregon plans to begin inspecting workplaces this week to evaluate employees’ complaints that their businesses are not doing enough to protect people. After more than 1,000 complaints were filed to the state's Occupational Safety and Health division, the state will begin conducting surprise inspections.

ID: Despite giant Idaho toilet paper factory, residents face shortages

idahostatesman.com

Idaho has one of the largest toilet-paper factories in the world. But that hasn’t made Idahoans’ access to toilet paper any easier, as Clearwater Paper Corp. does not sell directly to the public.

IL: Illinois governor says feds sent wrong masks

chicagosuntimes.com

Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker said the White House sent Illinois a shipment of hundreds of thousands of the wrong type of masks.

OH: Why hasn’t Trump OK’d disaster aid for Ohio?

dispatch.com

Republican President Donald Trump has declared numerous states disaster areas. Why not Ohio?

MN: Minnesota governor directs strategy from quarantine

mprnews.org

Democratic Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz entered his second week of self-quarantine after encountering someone who had tested positive.

MD: Lawmakers push for racial breakdown in Maryland’s public data

baltimoresun.com

Some Maryland lawmakers say publishing this information while the pandemic is ongoing is vital so that state officials can monitor any disparities as they arise.

MI: Michigan bans nonessential vet visits

mlive.com

Add routine pet checkups to the list of things that will have to wait until the pandemic subsides in Michigan. Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s order also encouraged more telemedicine for pets.

OH: Voting rights groups sue state over extended Ohio primary

dispatch.com

The League of Women Voters, A. Philip Randolph Institute and four individual voters filed a federal lawsuit Monday alleging the plan violates the National Voter Registration Act and the First and Fourteenth amendments of the U.S. Constitution.

CA: California needs ‘thousands and thousands’ more health workers

sacbee.com

California needs “thousands and thousands” more health care workers to treat the incoming wave of patients, Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom said. To meet that need, he signed an executive order that gives state officials power to let medical professionals do a wider range of work and allow nurses to oversee more patients at a time.

MA: Massachusetts hunting for 1K nursing home beds

bostonglobe.com

Massachusetts officials were scrambling to find about 1,000 skilled nursing beds, raising the possibility of relocating hundreds of nursing home residents in a first-in-the-nation plan to relieve pressure on hospitals bracing for a surge of new patients.

NM: New Mexico governor ‘very worried’ for Navajo Nation

abcnews.go.com

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, a Democrat, raised alarms about “incredible spikes" in coronavirus cases in Navajo Nation, warning that the virus could "wipe out" some tribal nations. New Mexico’s portion of Navajo Nation has seen younger patients and higher hospitalization and intubation rates than other areas in the state.

NJ: New Jersey gun shops, car dealers allowed to reopen

northjersey.com

New Jersey car dealerships, real estate agents and breweries are getting a partial reprieve from Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy’s order that shuttered a host of businesses statewide. Gun shops also can reopen after the Trump administration deemed firearms retailers essential.

NC: Why North Carolina gun shops can now stay open

newsobserver.com

North Carolina’s Wake County is reversing its stance on whether gun stores can remain open. But Wake County Commissioner Chair Greg Ford said the county is not changing its stay-at-home order because gun advocacy groups complained about it. “These are routine updates as circumstances change,” he said.

UT: Utah health system to cut worker pay amid pandemic

sltrib.com

The largest medical provider in Utah — Intermountain Healthcare — will cut pay for physicians, nurse practitioners and physician assistants, which an administrator said in a message sent to staff last week is financially necessary amid “the changing needs.”

NV: Nevada response fund raises $4M in 48 hours

lasvegassun.com

Nevada’s emergency fund will make grants to help the state react to the crisis, provide assistance and supplies to first responders and health care providers, aid nonprofit groups, and help Nevadans impacted by the pandemic, officials said.

AZ: Arizona governor issues stay-at-home order

azcentral.com

Republican Gov. Doug Ducey issued a statewide stay-at-home order, preventing Arizonans from leaving their residences except for food, medicine and other "essential activities." Ducey's order defines "essential" more broadly than similar directives issued in other states and largely relies on self-enforcement.

VA: Virginia issues stay-at-home order

richmond.com

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat, ordered state residents to remain at home except for certain necessities, stepping up the state’s restrictions on public activity. The order — which will remain in place until June 10 — allows people to leave their homes if they “must go out for food, supplies, medical care, or to get fresh air or exercise,“ Northam said.

DC: District of Columbia mayor issues stay-at-home order

wamu.org

Democratic District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser ordered residents to stay at home. Anyone who willingly violates the order could face up to 90 days in jail and a $5,000 fine.

LA: Louisiana stay-at-home order to remain through end of month

theadvocate.com

Life in Louisiana will not begin to return to normal for at least another month, as Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards said he is extending the state’s stay-at-home order involving harsh restrictions to limit face-to-face contact until at least April 30, in line with similar guidance from the White House.

SC: South Carolina beaches, waterways closed

thestate.com

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster, a Republican, ordered the state’s beaches and waterways closed to the public, amid concerns of crowds enjoying the warm weather.

VT: Vermont orders incoming travelers to self-quarantine for 14 days

vtdigger.org

Republican Gov. Phil Scott said Vermont “strongly discourages” incoming travel from hotspots in the Northeast, directing nonessential travelers from outside the state to self-quarantine for 14 days.

TX, LA: Texas begins patrols near Louisiana, but enforcement unclear

apnews.com

Texas extending a mandatory self-quarantine to drivers crossing over from neighboring Louisiana, one of the hot spots, began with few clear signs of how the order was being enforced as traffic moved freely across state lines.

MS: Social distancing ignored in some Mississippi clubs, beaches

apnews.com

Some Mississippi cities are taking steps to break up parties in nightclubs and on beaches as people ignore Republican Gov. Tate Reeves’s order to avoid gatherings.

GA: Georgia mayors up the pressure on governor for stricter measures

ajc.com

With Georgia’s Republican Gov. Brian Kemp balking at more stringent restrictions, top city leaders are set to intensify the pressure on him to take more drastic action.

AL: Alabama’s one of the worst states for unemployment benefits. Consequences may be devastating.

al.com

Last April, Alabama’s economy was roaring: the 3.8% unemployment rate was a near-record low and wages were up in several sectors. It was under this climate of economic prosperity that the Alabama Legislature considered a bill to cut the length of unemployment benefits from 26 weeks to as little as 14 weeks.

GA: Georgians who lose jobs, health insurance can sign up for ACA coverage

ajc.com

Affordable health insurance may be available for some Georgians who were laid off. As the economy has ground to a halt, unemployment claims have soared and many feel in danger of layoffs.

NH: New Hampshire governor announces additional expansion of unemployment benefits

wmur.com

Republican New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu announced an increase in the minimum unemployment benefits from $32 a week to $168 a week. Plus, an additional $600 a week will be given to unemployed workers through federal funds.

MS: Mississippi welfare agency offering emergency SNAP benefits to families

clarionledger.com

As thousands of Mississippians face layoffs or income cuts, the state's welfare agency is taking action to support families on food assistance programs. Recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, will begin receiving the maximum amount of SNAP funds allowable.

RI: Rhode Island public defender seeks ‘extraordinary’ order to free inmates

providencejournal.com

The Rhode Island Public Defender’s office has filed an emergency petition for an “extraordinary” order from the state Supreme Court to release all inmates whose sentences are set to expire in the next 90 days.

WI: Wisconsin prepares field hospitals

apnews.com

Wisconsin is preparing to open field hospitals and voluntary isolation centers in anticipation of a surge in patients, with cases expected to peak in another week or more, Democratic Gov. Tony Evers and state health leaders said.

PA: Syringe exchanges deemed ‘life-sustaining’ during Pennsylvania shutdown, raising hopes for eventual legalization

spotlightpa.org

Although technically illegal in Pennsylvania, about 20 syringe exchange programs operate across the state, according to the Pennsylvania Harm Reduction Coalition. They allow people to access free sterile syringes and dispose of used ones in an effort to stop the spread of disease.

Coronavirus and the States: Judges Block Abortion Bans; Governors Push Back on Trump Testing Claims Medical Rationing
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