Stateline

What We're Reading: Top State Stories 4/23

What We're Reading: Top State Stories 4/23

NY: New York governor plans ‘tracing army’

apnews.com

New York will coordinate a massive effort with neighboring New Jersey and Connecticut, accounting for the large number of people who commute into New York City for work. Wide-scale testing, tracing and isolation are considered crucial to taming the outbreak in the hard-hit region.

WI: Wisconsin GOP leaders limit protections for first responders in relief bill

jsonline.com

Top Republican Wisconsin lawmakers at the last minute scaled back workers' compensation protections for first responders in the state's coronavirus relief package after the state's chamber of commerce asked them to, according to state records.

IN: Indiana tracks cases weeks before 1st confirmed

apnews.com

Indiana’s first coronavirus infections occurred at least a couple of weeks before the first illness was confirmed in early March, the state health commissioner said. That would indicate the virus could have been spreading around Indiana for perhaps six weeks before the statewide stay-at-home order took effect March 25.

OK: Oklahoma governor announces some businesses can reopen this week

tulsaworld.com

GOP Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt said starting Friday, personal care businesses can open for appointments if they adhere to strict sanitation protocols: hair and nail salons, barber shops, spas and pet groomers. Starting May 1, all businesses statewide can reopen, he said.

MN: Minnesota to expand COVID-19 testing

startribune.com

A deal reached with the University of Minnesota and Mayo Clinic could mean up to 20,000 COVID-19 tests a day.

AR: Arkansas abortion ban upheld in court

4029tv.com

A federal appeals court is allowing Arkansas to ban most surgical abortions during the coronavirus pandemic. A three-judge panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals dissolved a judge's temporary restraining order against the abortion ban.

MD: Maryland officials reopen shuttered hospital

baltimoresun.com

Republican Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said reopening a hospital that closed several years ago, combined with the creation of a field hospital at the Baltimore Convention Center, the addition of more beds at several other hospitals and the installation of 22 “surge response tents” will give Maryland 6,700 more hospital beds.

UT: Utah unveils COVID-19 tracing app

deseret.com 

The app could cost Utah taxpayers up to $2.75 million in development costs but the state intends it to be a more efficient tool to monitor the spread of disease, particularly as things slowly get back to normal.

CT: Connecticut death rates ‘still disturbingly high’

courant.com

Democratic Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont said his state is “by no means out of the ditch" even as the rate of new hospitalizations continues to slow. Connecticut is among the top five states for cases and deaths per capita, something Lamont attributed in part to the state’s proximity to New York City.

NJ: New Jersey wants testing open to people without symptoms, but needs waiver

nj.com

Coronavirus testing sites briefly opened up to conduct testing on any New Jersey resident, regardless of whether they are exhibiting signs of COVID-19, authorities said. But Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy said they might have jumped the gun and would need permission from U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

MT: Montana bars, restaurants, retailers to reopen soon

billingsgazette.com

Montana will enter Phase 1 of a staggered reopening in the coming days, lifting some of the restrictions the state has been under for about a month, Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock said.

SD: Hundreds expected at South Dakota auto races despite virus

apnews.com

A pair of South Dakota speedways are forging ahead with plans to hold two auto races expected to draw hundreds of fans this weekend, even as the governor warns against attending them.

MO: Missouri governor says most businesses will be able to open May 4

stltoday.com

GOP Gov. Mike Parson said most Missouri businesses would be able to reopen their doors when the state begins to loosen restrictions on movement early next month. Until May 4, Parson said, the current state stay-at-home order remains in effect. 

WA: Inmates take fight to top Washington state court

seattletimes.com

Washington inmates, family members and advocates say the state's prison system is ripe for a wave of infections. Those concerns are laid out in an emergency petition to the state Supreme Court, which seeks to force Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat, and the Department of Corrections to release thousands of incarcerated, potentially vulnerable people from prisons.

OR: More than 80% of Oregon restaurant workers have been laid off or furloughed

oregonlive.com

An estimated 81% of Oregon restaurant workers have been laid off or furloughed and 4% of Oregon restaurants have permanently shut down, according to a national survey. Those layoffs and furloughs have impacted an estimated 127,000 restaurant workers in Oregon.

HI: Hawaii County police make 70 arrests and citations for stay-at-home violations

staradvertiser.com

Hawaii County police officers have made a total of 70 arrests and citations for violations under the “prohibited acts” offense from April 15 to 21. Hawaii Police Department’s three-week combined total enforcement is 232 individual offenses with 55 arrests, 168 citations issued and nine additional cases.

IL: Stay-at-home order set for extension in Illinois

nbcchicago.com

Illinois remains under a statewide stay-at-home order until April 30, but Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker has indicated changes are coming. Illinois reported a new daily high for coronavirus cases, with state officials saying a peak still has not been reached.

CA: California surgeries set to resume

sacbee.com

California Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, says it’s too soon to talk about opening up the California economy, but said elective and other non-coronavirus surgeries can resume. Despite progress, California still doesn’t have enough testing capacity to lift his stay-at-home order, Newsom said.

FL: More Florida beaches open

miamiherald.com

Following Jacksonville's lead, five Florida counties are reopening beaches to a mix of cheers and jeers. Social distancing rules apply, and some beaches are closing parking lots to avoid crowding.

TX: Texas abortions, elective surgeries resume

statesman.com

Abortions resumed in Texas, a month after Republican Gov. Greg Abbott banned elective surgeries to open up bed space and medical equipment. Abbott gave the go-ahead for surgeries in facilities where the procedures would not deplete hospital capacity or medical resources.

MI: Michigan governor defends layoffs

mlive.com

Of all the measures Democratic Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has taken, laying off thousands of state employees was one of the toughest decisions yet, she said. At least 2,900 employees got temporary two-week layoff notices to conserve funds.

OH: Elective surgeries in Ohio may depend on availability of testing, protective gear

dispatch.com

The Ohio Hospital Association submitted a plan to Gov. Mike DeWine about how to begin allowing elective procedures again during the coronavirus crisis. The proposal outlines a phased approach.

OH: Ohio works to improve overburdened unemployment system

dispatch.com

The state hopes changes to the unemployment claims system will provide faster service for frustrated Ohioans who have lost their jobs because of coronavirus outbreak.

ID: Testing issues leave Idahoans frustrated

idahostatesman.com

People from across Idaho have experienced delays in receiving the outcome of their COVID-19 testing or were not able to get tested at all. Lower-risk patients have had their tests sent to private labs, many of which have been delayed by significant backups.

VA: Two Virginia senators represent gym in suit against governor

richmond.com

Two Republican state senators are representing the owner of Gold's Gym facilities in Virginia in a lawsuit that challenges Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam's authority to close private fitness centers as nonessential businesses to slow the spread of the coronavirus.  

SC: South Carolina state parks to reopen in May, with restrictions

thestate.com

A tentative plan is in place to open state parks across South Carolina, which have been off limits to the public for more than a month during the coronavirus pandemic. The 47 parks are set to reopen May 1 — but only on a limited basis, South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism spokeswoman Dawn Dawson-House said.

PA: A key Democratic group is suing to ease Pennsylvania’s vote-by-mail laws

inquirer.com

A major Democratic political group is backing a new lawsuit aiming to make it easier to vote by mail in Pennsylvania because of the coronavirus crisis. The suit was filed by the Pennsylvania Alliance for Retired Americans and funded by Priorities USA, the main Super PAC supporting likely presidential nominee Joe Biden.

GA: Trump opposes Georgia plan to reopen

ajc.com

President Donald Trump said he told Republican Gov. Brian Kemp he "totally” disagreed with his decision to roll back coronavirus restrictions and allow shuttered businesses such as nail salons and barber shops to reopen in Georgia. 

GA: Governor’s new rules put some jobless Georgians in bind

ajc.com

Despite the governor’s decision to lift some restrictions on businesses, the right to receive unemployment benefits for most jobless Georgians has not changed, according to the state Department of Labor. However, the move did change the calculation for employers – and that could put some workers in a tough spot.

MS: Governor: Mississippi economy to reopen slowly. Full shelter order unlikely past Monday

clarionledger.com

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves said it's unlikely that the full statewide shelter-in-place order that's been in effect for nearly three weeks will continue past Monday. The Republican said he anticipates over the next two to four weeks, Mississippi's economy will reopen slowly in a piecemeal fashion — possibly by industry or geographic region.

RI: Rhode Island pension losses mount as coronavirus hits markets

providencejournal.com

Rhode Island’s state pension investments lost nearly 10% of their value in the first quarter of the year as the global economy was knocked back by the pandemic, according to the state’s general treasurer.

CO: Sharp rise of domestic violence cases in Colorado county

gazette.com

A sharp rise in domestic violence cases in Colorado’s El Paso County suggests that not everyone is safer at home. In the last two weeks, there have been 50 more felony domestic violence cases compared with the same time last year.

CO: Some Colorado transportation projects may be doomed by coronavirus

denverpost.com

In the near term, the Colorado Department of Transportation said, uncertainty about state borrowing plans will pause dozens of projects that haven’t been advertised for bid yet. The agency also might pull the plug on several more that are finishing the bid process.

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