Stateline

What We're Reading: Top State Stories 4/13

What We're Reading: Top State Stories 4/13

MI: Michigan bans travel between homes

freep.com

Michigan residents will no longer be able to jump in the car — or cross the street — to visit friends and relatives inside the state, or to go to the cottage Up North, with limited exceptions. That is one of the major changes in Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's "stay home" order.

NY: New York fields 7,100 complaints of workplace noncompliance

timesunion.com

Many New York businesses, ranging from bars to construction and excavation companies, have ignored precautionary directives and are at risk of being shut down, state officials said.

US: Maryland, New York governors call for $500B in federal aid for states

baltimoresun.com

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, who chairs the National Governors Association, is seeking $500 billion in federal aid to help states facing looming budget shortfalls amid the coronavirus pandemic. Hogan, a Republican, issued a joint statement with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat who serves as the association’s vice chairman.

MN: Coronavirus fears push more Minnesota homeless to live in tents

startribune.com

As the virus tightens its grip, clusters of tents and sleeping bags are appearing in public spaces — in parks, under bridges and along transit lines — throughout Minnesota's Twin Cities metro area. Many say they feel safer in the open air than they would in crowded shelters.

GA: Georgia governor urged to suspend anti-mask law

ajc.com

GOP Gov. Brian Kemp is facing calls to suspend a little-known state law adopted nearly 70 years ago to combat the Ku Klux Klan to clear the way for more Georgians to wear protective masks to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

WI: Many Wisconsin absentee ballots have returned without postmarks and may not be counted because of it

jsonline.com

The problem is emerging in communities across Wisconsin as election officials prepare to tally the results of an election conducted during the pandemic. Results for the state Supreme Court and other races are to be released Monday.

WA: Farmworkers worry about becoming Washington's new epicenter

seattletimes.com

By summer, some 80,000 workers find jobs in Washington agriculture, including more than 20,000 recruited from Mexico and other nations under temporary visas.

VA: Virginia governor proposes delay in skill games ban

richmond.com

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat, will propose to delay a ban on electronic skill games for a year, tax their profits and use the money for a COVID-19 response fund to help small businesses, protect people's housing and support nursing homes and other health care providers.

CA: New signs coronavirus was in California earlier than anyone knew

latimes.com

A California man found dead in his house in early March. A woman who fell sick in mid-February and later died. These early COVID-19 deaths in the San Francisco Bay Area suggest that the novel coronavirus had established itself in the community long before health officials started looking for it.

TX: Local testing purchases go awry in Texas

texastribune.org

It would soon become a bitter example of what can go wrong when local Texas governments and private medical firms try to buy supplies on the open market from unknown manufacturers. Thousands of rapid COVID-19 tests were delivered to a South Texas city, but the tests turned out to be unusable.

OH: Ohio hospitals won’t say how many workers are sick

dispatch.com

More than 1,300 health care workers in Ohio have tested positive for the novel coronavirus since the pandemic began, accounting for about 1 of every 5 positive tests in the state.

KY: Easter churchgoers defiant after Kentucky troopers write down plate numbers

courier-journal.com

As hymns sang out Easter Sunday from a large outdoor speaker overlooking the Maryville Baptist Church parking lot, two Kentucky State troopers placed quarantine notices on parishioners' cars and wrote down their license numbers.

TN: Poor and jailed in Tennessee face uneven justice amid pandemic, review shows

tennessean.com

Since the Tennessee Supreme Court allowed each judicial district to draft its own pandemic response, a review of plans submitted to the high court reveals disparities statewide in the handling of nonviolent offenders serving short jail sentences.

LA: Testing for immunity 'critically important' for Louisiana recovery

nola.com

With testing for coronavirus infections ramping up across Louisiana, political leaders and hospital officials are starting to look ahead to a new type of test that will let patients know if they've developed immunity to the deadly virus.

FL: The costly toll of Florida spring break

nytimes.com

Weeks before Florida ordered people to stay at home, the coronavirus was well into its insidious spread in the state, infecting residents and visitors who days earlier had danced at beach parties. Only now has the toll of keeping Florida open during the spring break season become apparent.

NY: Coronavirus ravages nursing homes in New York region

nytimes.com

More than half of New York’s 613 licensed nursing homes had reported coronavirus infections, with 4,630 total positive cases and 1,439 deaths, officials said.

MD: Fear and frustration mount at Maryland nursing homes as supplies remain scarce

baltimoresun.com

Maryland officials won’t name the facilities with infections or say what they are doing to ensure that staff members who work at multiple facilities aren’t carrying the virus around with them.

AZ: Arizona data shows Native Americans, older people and men dying more

azcentral.com

Native Americans make up 16% of Arizonans who have died from COVID-19, among the cases for which race and ethnicity are known, according to the state health department. About 4.6% of Arizonans are American Indian or Alaska Native.

NV: Nevada unemployment insurance system has long struggled to handle workload

thenevadaindependent.com

Nevada’s unemployment insurance system has record high $2 billion in its reserve fund. But with 39 positions eliminated last spring and after years of successive budget cuts driven by dwindling federal dollars for administration, it headed into the pandemic with near-record low staffing and funding to help get the money out the door.

OR: Oregon unemployment system breaks down again

oregonlive.com

Newly unemployed Oregonians encountered further trouble with the state’s system for filing jobless claims, reporting that the state told them to start over with their applications – even if they had already been receiving benefits.

ID: Coronavirus could create fiscal crunch for Idaho colleges

idahostatesman.com

Colleges and universities in Idaho are incurring some unexpected expenses as they move classes online and deep-clean empty buildings, all the while losing revenue as they refund room and board payments to students and cancel lucrative campus events.

HI: Pandemic scrambles Hawaii budget priorities

civilbeat.org

The dip in Hawaii's tax collections could lead to a revenue shortfall of $1.85 billion, in a state with a rainy day fund of only $400 million.   

NC: New North Carolina retail shopping rules take effect

newsobserver.com

North Carolina Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s new shopping restrictions are set to take effect Monday. They allow stores to be occupied by only 20% of their code capacity, or by five people per 1,000 square feet.

SC: Battle over whether vape shops are essential roils South Carolina city

thestate.com

Columbia, South Carolina, police and Mayor Steve Benjamin thought they should close the city’s vape shops, which sell electronic cigarettes, during the coronavirus epidemic because the business is not “essential.” But one vape shop, Beyond Vapes, got a ruling from the state commerce dept. that it and the city’s other vape shops could stay open.

AK: Alaska hotels transform into quarantine sites

alaskapublic.org

Housekeepers at some Alaska hotels are leaving fresh sheets and towels outside of hotel rooms, instead of going inside. They’re wearing face masks and gloves. Some hotels are also locking their lobby doors, so the public can’t just walk in.

DE: Delaware nursing homes face uncertain future

delawareonline.com

Delaware Gov. John Carney, a Democrat, said he has "quite a bit of concern" that nursing homes and assisted living facilities haven't been doing enough to prepare for the coronavirus and protect patients and workers. He said the state is stepping up its guidance for these facilities. 

OK: Oklahoma agencies struggle as fees, fines, ticket sales crater

tulsaworld.com

The coronavirus is taking a toll on some Oklahoma state agencies that rely on fees and ticket sales, such as the lottery, which pays for education, the turnpike authority and the public safety department.

MO: Some Missouri renters still being evicted

news.stlpublicradio.org

St. Louis has temporarily halted evictions, but in other parts of Missouri, landlords are still allowed to evict their tenants. Despite statewide orders to remain at home, some recently evicted residents are now living on the streets or in their cars, unsure how to stay safe in the midst of a pandemic.

AL: Alabama governor activates National Guard

al.com

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey, a Republican, has issued a state of emergency during a tornado watch in the state. The proclamation suspends portions of Ivey’s statewide COVID-19 order and allows Alabamians to seek shelter during the storms. 

GA: Georgia to convert Atlanta convention center to temporary hospital

ajc.com

The state will convert a part of the Georgia World Congress Center into a 200-bed hospital to handle an influx of coronavirus patients, Republican Gov. Brian Kemp said. The sprawling complex will be used to treat coronavirus patients experiencing mild to moderate symptoms of the disease. 

LA: New Orleans, Louisiana, serious crime stats have dropped

nola.com

New Orleans, Louisiana, residents are calling 911 a hundred fewer times each day since the city shut down to halt the novel coronavirus, with crime reports falling in major categories like homicides, robberies, car jackings, auto burglaries and thefts.

CT: Connecticut legislature: ‘All bills are probably dead’

courant.com

Connecticut lawmakers say they expect the current legislative session will expire May 6 without major legislation passed on some of the most controversial issues facing the state, such as legalizing sports betting and recreational marijuana.

IN: Black Indiana residents getting infected and dying at a disproportionate rate

indystar.com

African Americans account for more than 18% of Indiana’s coronavirus cases and over 19% of deaths during the pandemic, the state’s health commissioner said, rates that are roughly twice as high as the state’s black population.

PA: Pennsylvania legislature making few cuts, no promises to tap hefty reserves

spotlightpa.org

The outbreak in Pennsylvania could cost the state budget upwards of $4 billion, and Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf has acted to cut spending, laying off more than 2,500 employees, halting paychecks for another 14,000 workers, and freezing all but essential hiring and department purchases.

AL: Construction still going in pandemic as Alabama workers balance safety and jobs

al.com

Construction workers are on job sites across Alabama in the middle of a pandemic. They’re risking their health to work, just like grocery employees and mail carriers, but stopping has special risks for their industry, especially if a national recession is ahead, as many believe.

PA, NJ: Thousands of inmates in Pennsylvania and New Jersey eligible for temporary release

inquirer.com

The governors of Pennsylvania and New Jersey authorized the early release of potentially thousands of state prison inmates, in measures aimed at fending off a major outbreak behind bars like those seen in other parts of the country.

WI: University of Wisconsin campuses anticipate $170M loss this semester

madison.com

The University of Wisconsin System forecasts a $170 million financial hit for the spring semester alone, an estimate that will likely grow as campuses grapple with the broader economic fallout associated with the pandemic.

VT: Vermont governor extends state of emergency, stay-at-home order, until May 15

vpr.org

Republican Gov. Phil Scott has extended the state of emergency in Vermont through at least May 15, which means businesses ordered to close last month to prevent the spread of the virus will have to remain so for another five weeks.

AR: Arkansas inmate tests positive

arkansasonline.com

The Arkansas Department of Corrections reported its first positive coronavirus diagnosis of an inmate. The diagnosed inmate was transported to an area hospital and diagnosed there.

SD: Smithfield Foods to close South Dakota plant indefinitely

argusleader.com

The closure comes after the South Dakota Department of Health said 238 of Minnehaha's 438 COVID-19 cases involve "individuals who work at Smithfield Foods." The plant was identified as the largest hot spot in the state with about 38% of the state's cases.

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