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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 4/2

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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 4/2

US: Poll: Broad support for state control efforts

apnews.com

A new poll from the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research finds that a majority of Republicans and Democrats alike approve of how state and local governments are handling the coronavirus outbreak. Fewer than half of Americans say the same of the response by the federal government and President Donald Trump.

AL: Alabama governor: Shelter-in-place order not needed yet

apnews.com

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey, a Republican, is not ready to issue a shelter-in-place order as other governors have, arguing the state has already taken aggressive action. Other Republican governors in Florida, Mississippi and Georgia reversed course and issued stay-home directives.

OR: 'Strong evidence' that Oregon restrictions working

oregonlive.com

The unprecedented disruptions affecting millions of Oregonians appear to be reducing the transmission of the novel coronavirus between 50% and 70%, according to a new analysis by state health officials. “It appears that staying homes to save lives is working,” said Dean Sidelinger, Oregon’s state epidemiologist.

HI: Hawaii geography, testing offer advantages in COVID-19 fight

staradvertiser.com

Hawaii residents do have some unique advantages as public health officials fight to slow the local spread of the disease. As an island chain, the movement of visitors into Hawaii from the rest of the nation has been choked off in a way that is virtually impossible in other states, and Hawaii has conducted far more tests per capita than many other states.

CO: Colorado secures supplies

denverpost.com

Colorado has gone straight to China for millions of masks and gloves, hundreds of thousands of gowns, tens of thousands of face shields and hundreds of ventilators as the federal government works to increase domestic production, Democratic Gov. Jared Polis said.

NJ: New Jersey buys 10M pieces of protective gear for health care workers

nj.com

New Jersey has purchased and is preparing to distribute 10 million pieces of personal protective gear — including masks and gloves — for health care workers and others on the frontlines at a cost of “tens and tens of millions of dollars,” Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy said.

VT: As Vermont prepares for surge in cases, governor calls for volunteers

vpr.org

Vermont has also temporarily eased licensing requirements to make it easier for providers in other states or those with lapsed licenses to assist.

GA: In reversal, Georgia governor imposes tough limits

ajc.com

For weeks, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp stood firm. Repeatedly, the Republican said the coronavirus pandemic in Georgia didn’t warrant the extreme social-distancing measures that most other states were imposing. Kemp publicly supported a patchwork of shelter-at-home orders by cities and counties, even as his top aide chastised those local governments.

MS: Mississippi governor issues statewide shelter-in-place order

clarionledger.com

Republican Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves has issued a statewide shelter-in-place order, as cases surpassed 1,000 and the daily increase was its largest since the crisis began.

IL: Illinois governor extends school closures

wgntv.com

Democratic Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said he will extend the state’s stay-at-home order and keep schools closed through April 30. He also said he would extend the state's disaster declaration through the end of April.

PA: Governor extends stay-at-home order to all of Pennsylvania

spotlightpa.org

As the number of Pennsylvania coronavirus cases continues to rise, Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf extended his stay-at-home order to all 12.8 million people in the state.

FL: Florida governor issues belated statewide stay-at-home order

clickorlando.com

Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said the statewide stay-at-home order will go into effect Friday. More than 30 others states had already issued such orders, including other large states like California, New York and Illinois, all acting more than a week ago.

MI: Michigan governor declares disaster, legislature resists

freep.com

Democratic Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer declared a state of disaster and asked the legislature to extend the existing state of emergency and new state of disaster by 70 days. A Republican legislature leader said 70 days is too long.

ME: Essential Maine retailers prepare to follow new state mandates

pressherald.com

Maine supermarkets, grocery and convenience stores will stay open but must limit the number of customers allowed at a time and take other measures.

CT: Connecticut cities, universities to house first responders

courant.com

Local and state officials in Connecticut have looked to universities and their vast empty dorms as locations to supplement the expected occupancy demand on hospitals. Now, the mayors of New Haven and Hartford also have asked for space for their police officers and firefighters.

TN: Tennessee looks to convention centers, hotels for beds

tennessean.com

Republican Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee and members of his administration told lawmakers the state will see hospital bed shortages and need to utilize space in college dormitories, convention centers and hotels all while dealing with a "crush" of new patients.

LA: Officials 'can't accurately know' how many in Louisiana have coronavirus; blame lags in tests

theadvocate.com

Louisianians newly diagnosed with the novel coronavirus rose in number by 23% while those who died from it rose by 14%, state health officials said. The daily drumbeat of case and death totals doesn't reflect an instantaneous measure of the virus's spread but the completion of a long pipeline of testing.

NE: Governor: Nebraska lacks testing availability

omaha.com

Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts acknowledged that Nebraska does not have the testing availability that it needs.

NY: New York prisons to provide masks for guards, some inmates

timesunion.com

Facing mounting pressure, New York state prison officials said they will allow corrections officers, parole officers and prison workers to wear masks on duty to protect themselves. Prison officials also will allow inmates subject to quarantine to wear surgical-type masks.

MT: Montana governor suspends inmate transfers

billingsgazette.com

Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock issued a directive to the Montana Department of Corrections suspending new transfers into state correctional facilities. The directive still allows the DOC Director to authorize new transfers to correctional facilities, although those transfers will be quarantined for 14 days.

CO: Colorado’s biggest jails drop population by a third

denverpost.com

Some Colorado jail populations have dipped to lows not seen for more than a decade as county sheriffs continue mitigating the risk of coronavirus spreading inside their facilities.

WI: Federal judge refuses to delay Wisconsin election

jsonline.com

A federal judge declined to postpone the Wisconsin presidential primary and slammed Democratic Gov. Tony Evers and Republican legislative leaders for not doing so themselves.

CO: Colorado high court: Legislature can extend its term

denverpost.com

The Colorado Supreme Court ruled that the state legislature may extend its lawmaking term after taking a pause, breathing new life into Democrats’ policy plans and ending ambiguity swirling around the Capitol for weeks.

TX: Texas jobless surge jams phone lines, web

texastribune.org

As tens of thousands of Texans try to file unemployment insurance claims, they're finding the Texas Workforce Commission's phone lines jammed and website servers overloaded. A system that normally gets less than 20,000 calls a day got 1.5 million.

MO: Missouri governor freezes $180M

stltoday.com

GOP Missouri Gov. Mike Parson said the state would freeze about $180 million in planned spending. Parson said the state faces a $500 million budget shortfall for the current fiscal year, which ends June 30.

RI: Rhode Island secures $150M line of credit to pay bills

providencejournal.com

Rhode Island has secured an initial $150 million line of credit from the Bank of America to help keep state government operating — and its bills paid — through the next few months as the pandemic inevitably cuts into state tax revenue.

PA: Pennsylvania state finances not pretty

spotlightpa.org

Pennsylvania tax revenue fell 6% short of official estimates in March, according to new Department of Revenue figures, a glimpse at the fiscal challenge the state will face in the coming months.

PA: Pennsylvania high court extends eviction moratorium

spotlightpa.org

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has extended a moratorium on evictions, providing much-needed — if temporary — relief for tenants, many of whom owe rent for the first time since the state reported its first coronavirus cases.

UT: Utah governor announces freeze on evictions

deseret.com

Republican Utah Gov. Gary Herbert announced a 45-day freeze on new evictions in the Beehive State, an executive order that will also allow Utahns to defer rent until May 15. Herbert said he is focused primarily on residential renters, but the order was still being drafted.

AK: Judge says Alaska can keep workers in offices despite pandemic

adn.com

An Alaska Superior Court judge sided with Gov. Mike Dunleavy, a Republican, against a union complaint that state employees who can’t work from home should be provided personal protective equipment and have their workplace modified for social distancing. State workers have complained publicly and privately that they are being put at higher risk.

MD: Maryland hospitals allowed to raise rates to deal with surge

baltimoresun.com

Hospitals in Maryland will be allowed to temporarily raise rates charged to all patients to help pay for care for coronavirus patients, state regulators said. They also will be able to bypass normal regulatory steps needed to make changes such as adding extra beds.

OH: Ohio struggles to handle crush of jobless claims online, by phone

dispatch.com

As Ohio applications for unemployment benefits soared, laid-off workers complained that it has been difficult to reach the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services through its website or phone lines for help.

KY: Kentucky lawmakers pass budget with no new spending

kentucky.com

With Kentucky’s economy thrown into chaos and the shutdown of normal life, the General Assembly approved a quickly written one-year state budget that will maintain most government spending at current levels while allowing for cuts as necessary.

ID: Despite scant testing, Idaho infection rates still high

idahostatesman.com

Idaho has one of the West’s highest coronavirus infection rates per capita despite one of the region’s worst testing rates. Idaho is fourth in confirmed cases per capita, despite being third-worst in the West in tests per capita.

CA: One third of California county’s coronavirus cases connected to churches

sacbee.com

One-third of Sacramento County, California, coronavirus cases are connected to churches, officials said, a discovery this week that has prompted alarmed county officials to issue a special plea for congregations to stop holding services and prayer groups. The county health chief asked congregations to hold services and fellowship meetings via a virtual platform.

MN: Minnesota health officials continue to conceal names of senior care facilities with coronavirus

startribune.com

Despite the mounting death toll from the coronavirus, Minnesota state health officials continue to conceal vital information that could affect thousands of state residents: the names and locations of the growing number of long-term care facilities where residents and staff have tested positive.

Coronavirus and the States: Joblessness Slams the States that Responded Early; Testing Backlog Deprives States of Data Falling Revenue
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