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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 4/15

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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 4/15

NY: New York City death toll soars past 10,000 in revised count

nytimes.com

New York City added more than 3,700 additional people who were presumed to have died of the coronavirus but had never tested positive. The new figures appeared to increase the overall United States death count by 17 percent to more than 26,000.

VA: Twice as many blacks as whites have coronavirus in Virginia capital city

richmond.com

Demographic information for Richmond’s confirmed cases released shows that although black people comprise less than half of the city’s population, they account for more than 60% — 102 — of the 164 diagnoses to date.

NY: New York got $12,000 per virus case; Nebraska got $379,000

nytimes.com

Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo is complaining that the $2 trillion economic stabilization package Congress passed last month shortchanges New York, noting that states such as Nebraska, Minnesota and Montana are receiving far more money per coronavirus case than New York, which has been the epicenter of the pandemic.

AR: Arkansas to install signs at state borders

nwahomepage.com

The Arkansas Department of Transportation will install signs at entry points around the state advising travelers that out-of-state recreational lodging is prohibited. The move is part of GOP Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s targeted effort to limit out-of-state travelers from visiting Arkansas for recreational purposes.

WI: Window visits at nursing homes are allowed again after Wisconsin quickly retracts rule that barred them

jsonline.com

A Wisconsin state board guiding vulnerable long-term care facilities through the coronavirus outbreak quickly reversed course on barring family and friends from visiting the windows of loved ones in nursing homes and care centers.

MI: Michigan governor allows bars to sell back unused liquor

wwmt.com

Democratic Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's order will allow the state Liquor Control Commission to buy back unused inventory. The measure is designed to help bars struggling to stay afloat with few customers, though some are still open for food delivery.

NE: Owner of Nebraska mall plans to reopen this month amid pandemic

omaha.com

Nebraska Crossing Outlets may be the first large shopping center to reopen amid the pandemic, its owner said, noting it could serve as a case study for best practices. The outdoor mall plans to have a “soft opening” on April 24 — only 15 days into Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts’ plea from earlier this month for Nebraskans to stay home for 21 days, a time period that would end April 30.

OK: Appeals court blocks Oklahoma COVID-19-related abortion ban

apnews.com

A federal appeals court upheld a lower-court order that overturned the Oklahoma governor’s ban on abortions during the coronavirus outbreak emergency. The unanimous ruling by a three-judge panel of the Denver-based 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals allows abortions to continue in Oklahoma. 

MA: Amid coronavirus pandemic, Massachusetts nursing home workers will get extra pay

bostonglobe.com

After pressure from desperately understaffed nursing homes, Massachusetts officials said they will soon grant the facilities permission to boost some workers’ pay by 25 percent amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

NJ: New Jersey has barred 123 long-term care facilities from taking new patients

nj.com

New Jersey has stopped 123 nursing homes from taking new residents because those nursing homes lack the ability to isolate patients with the coronavirus as the number of facilities with infected people continues to rise, the state’s top health official said.  

LA: As coronavirus cases increase, this Louisiana hospital system has begun offering immunity tests

nola.com

Catholic health care system CHRISTUS Health is one of the first health care systems in Louisiana to begin offering coronavirus immunity testing to its staffers and some patients. 

TX: Texas Republicans on the defensive

politico.com

Texas Republicans see "bitter pills" in the twin crises of the coronavirus and slumping oil prices. Their fealty to limited government is under threat as massive stimulus spending forces them to choose between more spending and slashing core state services.

NM: New Mexico church sues state over Easter shutdown

krqe.com

A New Mexico megachurch is now suing the state, claiming a last-minute state order prevented it from having enough people in the church to put on Easter services for Internet streaming to the congregation. A state order banned gatherings of more than five people.

NC: Group protests North Carolina shutdown; wants reopening by month’s end

newsobserver.com

A North Carolina group opposing the pandemic restrictions, called ReOpenNC, rallied in downtown Raleigh, with more than 100 protesters carrying signs and honking car horns. The group, which had more than 28,000 Facebook followers, says Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s stay-at-home order is an unconstitutional overreach that will kill the state’s small businesses.

CA: California studying how to open schools in the fall

sacbee.com

One thing seems clear: the experience of attending school in California will be vastly different when life in the state begins a return to normalcy. State officials are discussing several different scenarios for opening schools up this fall, including how to physically distance students from one another. Scenarios include possibly staggering students and class schedules.

AK: There’s disagreement on whether Alaska’s budget is legal

adn.com

Members of the Alaska legislature are questioning the legality of GOP Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s plan to replace vetoed state money with federal coronavirus aid.

WY: Wyoming employers face questions about worker safety

wyofile.com

A Wyoming agency has received a blitz of questions about new federal rules on keeping employees safe during the coronavirus pandemic, officials with the Department of Workforce Services said. Wyoming is one of 29 states that enforce federal and state standards, but there are none that are specific to COVID-19 protection.

DE: Eventual reopening of Delaware to be gradual

delawarestatenews.net

Most research is pointing to four criteria for recovery in Delaware: two weeks with a decline in the number of cases being reported, rapid testing capability, personal protective equipment when additional cases occur and public health capacity to trace positive individuals to prevent further community spread.

MN: Minnesota businesses push for exemptions in stay-at-home order

startribune.com

Minnesota businesses are clamoring for exemptions to Democratic Gov. Tim Walz’s stay-at-home order, which is in place until at least May 4.

PA: Bill allowing for remote public meetings, e-notarization headed to Pennsylvania governor’s desk

papost.org

The Pennsylvania House passed a measure that would allow remote notarization of documents, remote public meetings, and give municipalities flexibility to postpone property tax deadlines.

FL: Florida's small business loans are gone

miamiherald.com

Florida has given away all of its emergency loans to more than 1,000 small businesses, but roughly 37,000 others who applied for the relief program will lose out. Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis activated the $50 million program, usually used after hurricanes, to help companies survive the pandemic.

NY:Two percent of New York small businesses approved for federal coronavirus loans

timesunion.com

Roughly 2% of small businesses in New York have been approved for loans through the Small Business Administration's new Paycheck Protection Program, which has been overwhelmed by demand and peppered with glitches.

MA: Coronavirus-induced Massachusetts budget crisis could cause ‘human suffering’ without federal bail out

bostonherald.com

Economists delivered a “sobering” wake-up call to Massachusetts budget writers, painting a bleak picture of revenues in free fall paired with an acute need for a social safety net as the coronavirus crisis rages on, warning it could lead to “human suffering” without a federal bailout.

MD: Maryland’s chief judge encourages release of at-risk prisoners

baltimoresun.com

Maryland’s chief judge ordered trial courts to identify and release prisoners statewide who are at-risk for the coronavirus and pose no threat to public safety. The order opens the door for prisoners to be released on a case-by-case basis.

KY: House Republicans planning measure to let ‘safe’ Kentucky businesses reopen

kentucky.com

Republican members of the Kentucky House of Representatives are working on a coronavirus relief bill that is intended to reopen some of the “non-essential” businesses Gov. Andy Beshear has shut down to slow the spread of COVID-19.

WV: West Virginia governor hopes to avoid layoffs, service cuts

wvgazette.com

Republican Gov. Jim Justice said he is confident that, with the pending arrival of federal stimulus funds, West Virginia will not need to furlough government employees or cut state programs or services because of the coronavirus.

WA: Washington's largest psychiatric hospital warns of potential outbreak

seattletimes.com

Western State Hospital, Washington's largest psychiatric facility and a long-troubled institution, has 27 staff members and six patients who have tested positive for COVID-19, with one patient death.

OR: Oregon governor announces framework, but not dates, of easing restrictions

oregonlive.com

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, a Democrat, said the state would take a slow approach in easing restrictions, without specifying when it would happen.

OH: One in 10 Ohio restaurants could close permanently due to coronavirus, legislators told

dispatch.com

Industry groups for hotels, salons and restaurants shared their business concerns with the Ohio House’s Ohio Economic Recovery Task Force on Tuesday. They say they will need government help to move forward.

HI: Reopening Hawaii's economy will be slow and painful

civilbeat.org

When Hawaii’s largely shuttered economy reopens, it is likely to do so in phases, and tourism will be the last industry to rebound.

TN: Tennessee rental hosts offer reduced-cost stays to medical workers

tennessean.com

Dozens of Tennessee short-term rental hosts facing a wave of canceled reservations due to the COVID-19 pandemic are banding together to offer reduced-cost housing to medical professionals on the front lines.

UT: Utah gubernatorial candidate sues state over signature gathering rules

sltrib.com

Republican gubernatorial hopeful Jan Garbett filed a lawsuit against Utah leaders after she was rejected from a spot on the June primary election ballot. Garbett argues that if not for the “unprecedented limitations” the state imposed in response to the coronavirus, she would have met the required signature threshold.

MO: University of Missouri System announces budget cut across all 4 campuses

columbiamissourian.com

The University of Missouri System could see up to 15% in budget cuts as part of the system's response to the financial toll of COVID-19, system officials announced. 

NV: Nevada Democrats threaten legal action over state’s primary election plan

thenevadaindependent.com

Attorneys representing the Nevada State Democratic Party are threatening litigation if the state doesn’t amend its plan to hold an all-mail primary election in June. “Voting by mail is a sound system only when paired with meaningful opportunities to vote safely in person,” the attorneys wrote in a letter to Republican Secretary of State Barbra Cegavske.

IN: Indiana's unemployment funds will likely run out, experts say

indystar.com

Thousands of Indiana residents are applying for unemployment benefits with every passing week. That's a significant strain on the state's pool of money reserved for unemployment payments, and experts say it's likely, if not certain, that such money will run out.  

RI: Rhode Island GOP objects to rule change in presidential primary

providencejournal.com

Rhode Island's Republican Party sounded alarm bells about the potential for mail ballot fraud as a result of the suspension of laws requiring two people — or a notary — to witness the signing by voters of mail ballots cast in the state's June 2 presidential primary.

GA: Desperate for supplies, some Georgia hospitals turn to ‘grey market’

ajc.com

It seemed like an offer that couldn’t be refused. Georgia would be able to get a million medical masks from Shanghai. “I have a businessman,’’ the sender wrote, “that can get an airplane full of medical mask (sic) every other day.” Amid the pandemic, fraudsters are having a heyday, experts warn. 

LA: Review panel to consider medical furlough for select group of Louisiana state prison inmates

theadvocate.com

The Louisiana Department of Corrections has created a review panel to consider a select group of state prison inmates for temporary medical release — focusing on nonviolent offenders nearing the end of their sentences — in hopes of limiting the spread of coronavirus behind bars. 

NH: Coronavirus threatens the future of a small town in New Hampshire

nytimes.com

Once the coronavirus reached rural Bristol, New Hampshire, the effect on the local economy was devastating.

OH: Ohio Supreme Court overturns state ballot board’s four-way split of voting measure

dispatch.com

The Republican-controlled Ohio Supreme Court overturned the GOP-controlled state ballot board’s ruling on a matter concerning the rights of disabled and overseas military voters and others.

MA: Massachusetts compiles list of current hospitalizations

bostonglobe.com

Republican Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker indicated the state has roughly 8,000 beds occupied by COVID-19 patients and those with other serious medical conditions, and another 8,000 that remain vacant for future patients. State officials expect the number of new cases to peak within the next week.

PA: Mail-in, absentee ballot applications surge for June primary in Pennsylvania

apnews.com

Pennsylvania counties have processed about 283,000 absentee and mail-in ballots for the June primary, and requests from Democrats are three times more common than from Republicans, state elections officials said.

GOP Legislators Push Back Motel Evictions
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