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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 4/16

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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 4/16

NY: New York governor orders residents to wear masks

timesunion.com

Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he would sign an order mandating that all New Yorkers wear masks or cloth coverings on their faces in situations where social distancing is not possible.

OH: Ohio looks to doctors for plan to allow elective surgeries again

dispatch.com

Ohio’s doctors and surgeons have one week to tell the governor what steps they would take to protect patients and conserve personal protective equipment if he were to lift the ban on elective surgeries.

NJ: New law protects New Jersey workers caring for family member

northjersey.com

Employees forced to care for family members in New Jersey during the coronavirus outbreak may take up to 12 weeks of family leave in a two-year period without losing their jobs, thanks to a bill signed into law by Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy.

CO: Colorado governor recruited private engineers to analyze cellphone data

denverpost.com

Colorado cellphone data from a variety of sources is being gathered and filtered for the governor by a team led by at least seven people, several of them high-level corporate executives, The Denver Post has learned. 

HI: Researchers in Hawaii use human absence to study wildlife

civilbeat.org

Researchers are taking advantage of an unprecedented absence of visitors to Hawaii's Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve to study the impact of humans on marine life, such as coral reefs and the hundreds of species of fluorescent-colored fish that depend on them.

LA: New Orleans homeless at risk, need 700 quarantine rooms

nola.com

Homeless people may be twice as likely to be hospitalized and up to three times more likely to die if infected by coronavirus, according to a new report that recommends New Orleans acquire hundreds of rooms to quarantine its growing homeless population.

WA: Washington young adults getting slammed financially

seattletimes.com

When it comes to financial survival, Washington's most vulnerable population is young adults. Among those 18 to 29 years old, 37% say that they have, or someone in their household has, lost a job or been laid off because of the coronavirus outbreak, and 48% have taken a pay cut or had their hours reduced.

UT: Utah bill would clear the way for experimental drugs to treat COVID-19

sltrib.com

A "right to try" bill in the state legislature would shield Utah physicians from legal liability when prescribing off-label or even experimental medications for coronavirus patients. While the bill doesn’t mention specific medications, it would apply to off-label use of hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malaria drug touted by President Donald Trump as a potential treatment.

WY: Emails show Wyoming hesitated on request from county health officials

jhnewsandguide.com

Emails obtained by the Jackson Hole News & Guide through the Wyoming Public Records Act show a back and forth that became heated as Teton County District Health Officer Dr. Travis Riddell pushed state officials to allow him to enact a stay-at-home order. 

KY: Inmates say Kentucky prison ‘like a death trap’

kentucky.com

Kentucky inmates at the Green River Correctional Complex in Muhlenberg County say they’ve been forgotten as the novel coronavirus has ripped through their prison over the past two weeks, sickening at least 18 inmates and 13 staff members.

AL: Why hasn’t Alabama expanded Medicaid during the pandemic?

al.com

As Alabama’s struggling hospitals and uninsured residents face the unknowns of the coronavirus, political leaders say the state can’t afford to grant health care through Medicaid expansion to some of the state’s most vulnerable and uninsured residents.

GA: Faulty data obscures virus impact in Georgia

ajc.com

Georgia’s public health agency counts just one confirmed diagnosis of the novel coronavirus — and only one death — at a nursing home. The nursing home, however, acknowledges a much grimmer toll. These discrepancies reflect the out-of-date data that guides Georgia’s official response.

MS: Mississippi governor announces two programs to help families affected by coronavirus

clarionledger.com

Republican Gov. Tate Reeves announced two new initiatives to help Mississippi families impacted by the coronavirus. The first program will provide short-term help with mortgage payments. The second program will provide child care services to essential workers. 

MD: Maryland governor mandates masks in stores, on public transit

baltimoresun.com

Marylanders can wear cloth masks, homemade masks or bandannas under the order issued by Republican Gov. Larry Hogan. The order also requires stores and carryout restaurants that remain open to mark 6-foot distances for people to stand in line, sanitize the handles of shopping carts and baskets, and allow workers to wash their hands every 30 minutes.

LA: Louisiana governor: Masks may be mandated for some workers

theadvocate.com

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, said while he has no immediate plans to require the use of masks in public to combat the coronavirus, restaurant and other workers may be directed to do so.

MO: Missouri restaurants get a temporary green light to sell to-go cocktails

stltoday.com

The Missouri Division of Alcohol and Tobacco Control announced it will temporarily allow the to-go sale of alcohol beverages packaged by retailers. Usually, to-go alcohol must be in its original package.

OR: Oregon governor denies mass release of inmates

oregonlive.com

State corrections officials told Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, a Democrat, that 5,800 inmates — an estimated 40% of the prison population — would have to be released to allow for social distancing. Brown has already ruled out such a mass release, but 3,000 inmates fall into categories she may consider for early release.

ID: Idaho governor extends stay-home order

idahostatesman.com

Idaho Gov. Brad Little, a Republican, extended the state's stay-home order through April 30. Some businesses that enact curbside, delivery or other services may open between now and April 30.

CA: California city cops warning: congregate and you could be arrested

sacbee.com

Sacramento County law enforcement agencies jointly announced they would step up enforcement of California orders to stay at home and begin charging “blatant” violators with misdemeanors that carry a penalty of a fine or possible jail time.

VA: Virginia House speaker exploring remote voting

richmond.com

Virginia House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn, a Democrat, is exploring remote, online voting for the chamber’s veto session and any special sessions that follow this year, in what would be an unprecedented set up for the 400-year-old chamber amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

NC: Restart economy or extend restrictions? North Carolina officials want more data.

newsobserver.com

North Carolina’s stay-at-home order expires in two weeks. Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper has not yet said if he will extend the order into May.

SC: Possible lost football revenue could be ‘game changer’ for University of South Carolina

thestate.com

The financial future of South Carolina’s athletics department — and perhaps all of college sports — will likely rest on if and how college football can be played this fall.

DC: District of Columbia's state of emergency extended

wamu.org

Democratic Mayor Muriel Bowser announced that the District of Columbia is extending its state of emergency order until at least May 15. 

RI: Calls to Rhode Island domestic-violence helplines up

providencejournal.com

The Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence has seen a 29% increase in calls to helplines during March compared with the same month last year.

NV: Nevada mayor says virus deaths don’t warrant economic shutdown

lasvegassun.com

Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman, an independent, again implored Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak, a Democrat, to allow businesses to reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic, saying today the shutdown is “killing” the economy. 

AZ: Arizona governor eyes reopening economy

apnews.com

Republican Gov. Doug Ducey said he’s beginning discussions about how to ease up on the social distancing requirements that have left Arizona businesses closed and a record number of workers jobless. 

MN: Minnesota state officials expect virus to take greater toll on racial minorities

mprnews.org

Minnesota has not detected racial differences in deaths from the novel coronavirus. But given the state’s well-documented disparities in health and access to health care, experts suspect the pandemic will hurt people of color the most.

WI: Wisconsin governor signs relief bill amid criticism of its treatment of first responders

jsonline.com

The overall measure was championed by both parties in the Wisconsin legislature despite a cloud of criticism over a last-minute amendment from Republicans that scaled back their original plan to offer more worker's compensation protection for first responders.

CO: Colorado wants FEMA to pay for field hospitals

cpr.org

Temporary field hospitals under construction in two Colorado cities will cost an estimated $71 million, according to the office of Democratic Gov. Jared Polis. The state is currently responsible for a quarter of that sum — about $18 million — but Polis and other governors are asking the federal government to cover the full cost.

PA: Legislature sends bill to reopen more Pennsylvania businesses to governor

spotlightpa.org

The Pennsylvania state legislature sent a bill to Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf that could reopen a significant number of businesses across the state, with Republicans disregarding the warnings of the state’s top health official that the move would put “more lives at risk.”

AK: Alaska wants businesses’ pandemic plans but won’t release them

alaskapublic.org

GOP Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s administration has required hundreds of essential businesses to draft formal plans detailing how they’ll keep operating during the COVID-19 pandemic without jeopardizing public health. So far, though, the state is refusing to release those plans publicly, even as municipal leaders press for access.

WY: CDC team arrives to help Wyoming’s response

trib.com

A team of five staffers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been sent to Wyoming to help health officials slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. The state’s response has drawn the praise of federal officials, though GOP Gov. Mark Gordon’s decision not to issue a shelter-in-place order has placed him at odds with many in the broader medical community.

DE: Delaware governor orders new rules for nursing homes

delawareonline.com

Delaware Gov. John Carney, a Democrat, required nursing homes to establish a group of staff members to care for residents with COVID-19. These facilities also are required to create separate areas for those with confirmed or suspected cases of coronavirus as well as an area for some residents to be observed for 14 days.

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