Stateline

What We're Reading: Top State Stories 4/7

What We're Reading: Top State Stories 4/7

WI: Wisconsin court blocks governor’s order to postpone election, U.S. Supreme Court restricts absentee voting

jsonline.com

Democratic Gov. Tony Evers sought to shut down Tuesday's election in a historic move Monday that was swiftly rejected by the conservative majority of the Wisconsin Supreme Court. The U.S. Supreme Court delivered a second blow to the Democratic governor by tightening limits on which absentee ballots can be counted. Under that 5-4 order, voters will have to mail back their absentee ballots by Tuesday, go to the polls today or give up their opportunity to vote.

MS: State health official: Coronavirus is disproportionately affecting black Mississippians

clarionledger.com

A state health official told reporters that Mississippi appears to be following a trend emerging in states across the nation: African Americans are disproportionately affected by the coronavirus. While some states have been releasing demographic data, the Mississippi Department of Health has not. 

MN: On front lines, Minnesota women feel COVID-19's sting

startribune.com

Minnesota women hold most jobs on the front lines of the pandemic, and they are also bearing the brunt of its economic toll. Over the past three weeks, nearly 39,000 more women than men have applied for unemployment in Minnesota.

CA: Some California counties poised to ban sportfishing

sacbee.com

California is poised to close the spring sportfishing season in some counties in response to worries that anglers will spread COVID-19 to rural communities. The state’s Fish and Game Commission will meet via teleconference to decide whether to grant emergency powers to Charlton Bonham, the director of the Department of Fish and Wildlife, that would give him the authority to postpone sportfishing through May.

DE: Delaware shutters hotels, vacation rentals

wdel.com 

In his latest amendment to a declared state of emergency, Delaware Gov. John Carney, a Democrat, banned all short-term rentals – including vacation homes, hotels, motels and rental condos – through May 15. 

NC: North Carolina virus cases double in six days

newsobserver.com

At least 3,000 lab-confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus have been reported in North Carolina — a jump of 1,000 cases in just four days. To put it another way, North Carolina took four weeks to reach 1,500 confirmed cases and six days to double that by reaching 3,000 cases.

SC: South Carolina governor toughens ‘stay at home’ stance

thestate.com

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster, a Republican, issued a more pointed executive order, telling people to stay at home if they are not at work or tending to essential needs. The executive order allows South Carolinians to go to work, visit family or buy essential goods or services. The order also does not stop people from exercising outdoors or going for a walk.

MS: Two Mississippi doctors fired after speaking out about coronavirus safety

mississippitoday.org

An Oxford doctor is one of at least two Mississippi physicians claiming they were terminated for speaking out about their employers’ safety measures during the coronavirus pandemic.

ME: Maine lenders buried in applications as small businesses seek federal aid

pressherald.com

Financial institutions in Maine are hurriedly processing a flood of requests for emergency loans backed by the U.S. Small Business Administration.

IA: Governor warns of a ‘difficult’ week ahead for coronavirus deaths in Iowa

desmoinesregister.com

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, a Republican, closed more businesses and public spaces as she predicted an “equally, if not more difficult” week of the coronavirus taking its toll on the state.

FL: Florida adds staff, servers to overwhelmed jobless system

abcactionnews.com

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, said the state will add new staff and network servers as the state's unemployment system was stymied by a record 3 million calls last week. The state is hoping to clear a backlog as well as the 560,000 claims already submitted.

TX: Texas oil well shutting down in price crisis

texastribune.org

Oil producers have been gutted in the far north Texas Panhandle, a world away from Saudi Arabia and Russia where two leading oil-producing countries have been locked in an oil price dispute. Prices are also down because people have not been flying, commuting or traveling due to the pandemic

MI: Michigan police limit enforcement to avoid contact

mlive.com

Police in Michigan’s most-populated counties are relaxing enforcement of speeding and other minor traffic offenses to lower the risk of exposure for officers. Dispatchers are also asking callers about coronavirus symptoms before sending officers.

AK: Alaska’s North Slope Borough commandeers aviation company’s assets

alaskapublic.org

The North Slope Borough’s government in Alaska says it is taking possession of all RavnAir Group’s planes and other property within the borough’s boundaries to guarantee continued air service to the region. Ravn, the area’s sole air carrier, is shutting down all operations and filing for bankruptcy. 

WY: Wyoming makes it easier for retired medical professionals to re-enter field

trib.com

Retired Wyoming providers will be able to begin practicing again after passing a routine medical background check, an effort to help boost the state’s health care workforce as the coronavirus caseload here surpasses 200 people.

NM: New Mexico governor tightens business rules

santafenewmexican.com

New Mexico grocery stores will not be able to admit more than 20 percent of allowed capacity, Democratic Gov, Michell Lujan Grisham ordered. Also, liquor stores, car dealerships and payday loan offices were declared nonessential and will have to close until at least April 30.

OK: Oklahoma legislature gives governor unprecedented power

oklahoman.com

Under the declaration, Oklahoma GOP Gov. Kevin Stitt will be able to waive statutory and regulatory requirements and redirect state agency or state employee efforts to respond to the COVID-19 crisis. Stitt also will be able to activate the Oklahoma National Guard and transfer up to $50 million in state funds.

NJ: New Jersey orders nursing homes to take COVID-19 patients

northjersey.com

New Jersey nursing homes cannot bar coronavirus patients from being admitted into their facilities under a new state policy designed to make room at hospitals already stressed from a surge of critically ill patients.  

MO: Notaries can sign documents remotely in Missouri during outbreak

stltoday.com

Missouri GOP Gov. Michael Parson issued an executive order waiving the requirement that people appear in-person before a notary public for the notary to sign official documents.

AL: Coronavirus website tells where to get help, give help in Alabama

al.com

Alabamians have a new resource for information about how to receive help or give help during the coronavirus pandemic, such as how to apply for a small business loan or where to go to donate blood. Republican Gov. Kay Ivey announced the new website as the state’s official guide to relief efforts.

GA: Help delayed for Georgia’s contract and gig workers

ajc.com

Despite a rising urgency, the wait for government help likely will continue into next week for laid-off contractors, gig workers and the self-employed. Although expansion of unemployment benefits to those workers became law March 27, state systems in Georgia still are not ready.

LA: Louisiana could be seeing start of ‘flattening the curve,’ governor says

theadvocate.com

Two weeks after instituting a stay-at-home order for Louisiana’s 4.6 million residents, Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards said the New Orleans area was no longer on track to run out of ventilators and hospital beds as the state sees what officials hope are the first measurable signs of the outbreak slowing.

MS: Mississippi working to expand hospital capacity for virus

apnews.com 

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves, a Republican, said hospitals in the state have about 3,000 beds, and projections show that almost 100 more beds will be needed when the state reaches its peak of the coronavirus outbreak in the next few weeks.

MN: Minnesota to ensure workers comp to responders with virus

apnews.com

The Minnesota Legislature will reconvene to pass a bill that would ensure first responders and health care workers who are infected with the virus qualify for workers compensation without having to prove they were sickened on the job.

WA: Washington schools to remain closed through end of school year

seattletimes.com

The next time more than a million kids in Washington state attend classes with their peers, it will be a new school year. Washington K-12 public, private and charter schools will remain closed through the end of the academic year, though distance learning is expected to continue, and schools are expected to resume on a normal schedule this fall.

OR: Oregon surpasses 1,000 cases

wweek.com

Oregon now has more than 1,000 cases, as the number of people tested continues to climb. The Oregon Health Authority said that 1,068 Oregonians have tested positive for the coronavirus, as state officials have predicted a rise in identified cases as more tests become available.

ID: Idaho agriculture industry grapples with COVID-19 concerns

idahostatesman.com

Farmers, farmworkers and ag industry leaders in Idaho have to balance the struggle to keep workers safe and healthy while meeting the demands of a food system increasingly overburdened by coronavirus concerns. 

HI: Closed courts could create issues in Hawaii

civilbeat.org

State and federal court facilities in Hawaii have shut their doors to the general public to mitigate risks. 

CO: Colorado city asks for state help caring for homeless people

denverpost.com

Many of Denver’s elected officials are calling on Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, a Democrat, to provide extra care for the city’s homeless population which is in dire need as the coronavirus pandemic surges throughout Colorado.

AZ: Arizona governor halts evictions of small businesses

azcentral.com

Commercial landlords must stop evicting Arizona small businesses that can't pay rent during the coronavirus pandemic, Republican Gov. Doug Ducey ordered, a move entrepreneurs around the state have petitioned for since shutdowns were ordered.

NV: Two Nevada tribes order mandatory curfews, fines

apnews.com

Two northern Nevada tribes have become the first governmental entities in the state to order mandatory curfews punishable by fines and potential jail time for repeat offenders in response to the spread of the coronavirus. 

UT: Utah House conference call was apparent violation of open meetings law

sltrib.com

Utah House leaders seem to have violated the state’s open meetings law by hosting a March conference call to update members of the chamber on the state’s unfolding coronavirus emergency. 

NY: New York outbreak could be slowing

nytimes.com

New York state’s staggering death and hospitalization rates have started to stabilize, according to figures released by Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo. But Cuomo warned that further progress depends on New Yorkers suppressing their natural impulse to gather in the parks or on the streets.

MD: With little federal help, Maryland officials have spent millions on supplies

baltimoresun.com

With few supplies coming from a federal stockpile, Maryland officials say they’ve spent more than $200 million to purchase masks, protective equipment, ventilators and other supplies off the private market as infections from the novel coronavirus rise. 

CT: Connecticut has one of the nation’s largest outbreaks but lags in testing

courant.com

Connecticut lags in testing, numbers show, as supply shortages and delayed results complicate what experts describe as a critical part of the state’s response.

IN: Indiana extends travel restrictions, creates enforcement team

indystar.com

Indiana Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb pleaded with residents to comply with travel and health precautions as the state braces for an expected surge, enacting a new enforcement team that could shutter businesses failing to comply with the state's latest orders. 

RI: Rhode Island considers moving nursing home patients with coronavirus to one site

providencejournal.com

With two Rhode Island nursing homes emerging as hot spots, state health officials confirmed that they have been working on a plan to “group nursing home residents who are COVID-19 positive at one site.” 

MN: Minnesota bracing for possible budget deficit

mprnews.org

Minnesota’s finance agency is bracing for a steep drop in tax revenues, increases in state expenses and an overall budget shortfall.

VT: Governor to Vermonters: The worst is yet to come, but measures are working

vpr.org

Republican Gov. Phil Scott warned Vermonters that the toll from the pandemic will worsen in the coming weeks, but he began to express cautious optimism that various measures may be helping to prevent worst-case scenarios forecast by the state's modeling.

PA: Less risk, less reward in Pennsylvania governor’s choice to wait on prisoner releases

spotlightpa.org

By forgoing unilateral action, Pennsylvania's Democratic Governor Tom Wolf insulates himself should something go wrong, but he will probably have to accept a more limited plan than some of his supporters want to see.

MT: Montana concerned with decline in child abuse hotline calls

apnews.com

Montana’s health department is concerned with a sharp decline in the number of calls to the child abuse and neglect hotline since schools were closed to decrease the spread of the coronavirus, the agency said.

MD: Maryland governor directs health department to close ‘unsafe facilities’

baltimoresun.com

Republican Gov. Larry Hogan gave explicit authority to Maryland health officials to shut down businesses that are not complying with the governor’s previous orders to protect “public health, welfare, and safety" and prevent transmission of the virus.

SD: South Dakota schools to remain closed rest of school year amid coronavirus pandemic

argusleader.com

Republican South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem announced she's recommending schools to be closed and that online learning be continued through the rest of the year.

NE: Nebraska inmates are making hand sanitizer and masks. 'I can give back to others'

omaha.com

With supplies of hand sanitizer, gowns and masks scarce, inmates at Nebraska prisons are helping out by producing the in-demand items.

VA: Virginia governor to call ‘timeout’ on budget, suspend new spending

richmond.com

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat, will suspend all new spending in the pending two-year, $135 billion state budget and divert planned deposits in the state’s reserves to pay for essential services in the public health and economic crises caused by the coronavirus pandemic. 

NH: New Hampshire lawmakers will meet remotely this week

nhpr.org

State lawmakers will be back in action for the first time in close to a month this week. A key committee will meet electronically to discuss how to quickly accept federal coronavirus aid.

GA: Rapid virus tests come to Atlanta as testing slowly ramps up

ajc.com 

Cases of COVID-19 climb and Georgia continues to rank near the bottom nationally in testing on a per capita basis. The state has pledged to ramp up testing capacity and announced a partnership among the University System of Georgia, Emory University and state agencies.

LA: Louisiana coronavirus spending balloons to $573 million -- more than double in a week

theadvocate.com

The amount of money Louisiana has spent responding to the coronavirus has ballooned to $573 million, as the state races to stand up a temporary hospital and other facilities to house patients that have tested positive for the virus.

Coronavirus and the States: Large Southern States Likely to Lead New Unemployment Claims; More Testing Woes Rural Economies
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