Stateline

What We're Reading: Top State Stories 5/12

What We're Reading: Top State Stories 5/12

NM: New Mexico opens testing for all workers

krqe.com

The New Mexico Department of Health announced testing will be available to all workers in the state. The state hopes more widespread testing will slow the spread of the virus.

MI: Michigan expands contact tracing

freep.com

Michigan has approved new contracts to expand the state’s contact tracing efforts, making way for what state health officials have called “a critical next step” in fighting coronavirus. It will rely on hired and volunteer health professionals.

VA: Virginia to send $650M in federal aid to local governments

richmond.com

­­­Virginia plans to send the aid to local governments to pay the costs of responding to the pandemic that has crippled the economy and tax revenues. The state got $1.8 billion total in federal aid under the CARES Act.

NY: Some regions of upstate New York to begin reopening this week

timesunion.com

At least three regions of upstate New York will begin a phased reopening on Friday, resuming construction, manufacturing and agricultural activities, Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced. Retailers will also be able to reopen in those areas for curbside and in-store pickup.

NC: North Carolina dismantles triage tents, but the epidemic’s not over

newsobserver.com

The coronavirus triage tents erected in North Carolina as the illness began to spread in late March have been taken down, but hospital officials say it doesn’t mean the outbreak is over. The tents allowed the state’s hospitals to modify their procedures to prevent the spread of the virus.

SC: South Carolina identifies 1,800 contact tracers

thestate.com

South Carolina’s public health agency has met a major goal by identifying more than 1,800 contact tracers. The state will increase staff tracers from 20 to 400 and contracted with another 1,400.

CT: Gun rights group sues Connecticut governor, police chiefs

courant.com

Gun rights supporters have filed a lawsuit against Connecticut Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont and several local police chiefs over the coronavirus-related suspension of fingerprinting services needed to obtain gun and ammunition permits.

FL: Floridians slowed virus by staying home before they were told

tampabay.com

To a nation in the grips of coronavirus panic, Florida in mid-March looked destined to be the next hot zone. After the state shut down, the predicted tsunami did not arrive.

IN: Indiana state revenues plunge $1B in April amid shutdown

indystar.com

The pandemic’s toll on Indiana's budget continued with another sour monthly revenue report. State income plunged 46%, or more than $1 billion, in April year over year as Hoosiers continued to stay home and many businesses were partially or completely closed.

AK: Two weeks after Alaska inmate tested positive, it’s not clear how virus got in

alaskapublic.org

Immediately after the positive test, Alaska state epidemiologists tested all inmates in one wing of the prison facility, as well as staff identified in contact tracing, but all of those results have come back negative. 

WY: Community banks dominate small-business loans in Wyoming

wyomingnews.com

As soon as the Paycheck Protection Program became available through the federal CARES Act to help businesses pay their employees, lenders across Wyoming mobilized to get the much-needed relief funding into the hands of small business owners.

DE: Delaware to allow gig workers to file for unemployment this week

delawareonline.com

Self-employed workers and independent contractors have had to wait several weeks longer than other unemployed Delawareans, who have been able to apply for benefits due to coronavirus since mid-March. 

RI: Rhode Island Supreme Court to hold first tele-hearings

providencejournal.com

Just a week after the U.S. Supreme Court held its first hearings via teleconference due to health threats posed by the pandemic, the Rhode Island Supreme Court will mark a first in its history this week by holding virtual arguments.

NH: New Hampshire is limiting out-of-state tourists

concordmonitor.com

As part of his Stay at Home 2.0 guidelines, New Hampshire Republican Gov. Chris Sununu said that golf courses and campgrounds cannot serve out-of-staters unless they are members.

VT: Governor announces ‘gradual reopening’ of Vermont retail will begin on May 18

vtdigger.org

Gov. Phil Scott, a Republican, announced a “gradual reopening” of Vermont retail starting May 18. All retail employees will need to wear face covering and maintain a distance of 6 feet. 

PA: Governor denounces Pennsylvania counties reopening without his approval as ‘cowardly,’ ‘selfish’

spotlightpa.org

Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, issued a stern rebuke against Pennsylvania counties and businesses that plan to reopen without state approval, calling it a “cowardly act” that could cost those areas not only lives but federal stimulus money, too.

WI: Wisconsin retailers to reopen with no more than 5 customers at a time

madison.com

Wisconsin retailers can reopen, as long as such businesses only allow up to five customers at a time, under new COVID-19 restrictions announced by Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat. However, the restriction a time will likely limit the feasibility of such operations to the state's smaller retailers.

IL: Peak for Illinois seen in June

chicagotribune.com

Models now indicate Illinois won’t start coming down from the peak of the coronavirus pandemic until mid-June, Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker said. Pritzker spoke from his home after self-isolating when a staff member tested positive.

MT: Montana state parks see attendance increase

apnews.com

 Montana state parks and fishing sites have experienced a major increase in visitors as residents spend time outdoors amid health restrictions related to the coronavirus.

CO: Colorado rent and mortgage freeze off the table

denverpost.com

Those advocating for a rent and mortgage freeze in Colorado will not get their way. But a group of Democratic state lawmakers say they’re intent on introducing a bill to bring relief in other ways to people whose housing status is threatened by unemployment or lost wages.

US: In close-knit Navajo Nation communities, virus takes hold

apnews.com

 If Navajo Nation were its own state, it would have the highest per-capita rate of confirmed positive coronavirus cases. In the states it spans – Arizona, New Mexico, and a small corner of Utah -- the number of cases and deaths among Native Americans, on and off the reservations, is disproportionately high.

NV: Nevada governor declares fiscal emergency

lasvegassun.com

Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak has declared a state of fiscal emergency for Nevada. The state’s estimated budget shortfall for fiscal 2020 is between $741 million and $911 million.

NJ: What has New Jersey coronavirus task force done? Nobody will say

northjersey.com

Nearly two months into the New Jersey outbreak linked to the second-most deaths in the country, questions remain about what exactly the governor's task force did before the coronavirus arrived and in its early stages. Details are being kept from the public.  

MO: Missouri business owners seek injunction blocking health director's orders

columbiamissourian.com

An attorney filed a motion in circuit court that seeks to block Missouri's April 30 orders that allow only a slow reopening of local businesses. A group of business owners argue that Browning's orders are too restrictive. 

OK: Hundreds line up at Oklahoma casino opening

oklahoman.com

The line to get inside Thunderbird Casino in Oklahoma stretched nearly 250 people long. Inside, guests' temperatures were taken at the door, masks were handed out and guests were told they had to wear them while they sat at slot machines at least six feet away from the nearest fellow gambler. 

WA: Five Washington counties get green light for next phase of reopening

spokesman.com

Five counties in Eastern Washington with a combined total of six confirmed COVID-19 cases got the go-ahead to move more quickly than other parts of the state to reopen. The counties have all been approved to open more businesses and allow small gatherings of up to five people.

OR: Salon and spa workers fear for safety as Oregon begins to reopen

oregonlive.com

Some personal service providers in Oregon — including salon and spa workers — are surprised that jobs requiring hands-on contact will be allowed to start reopening in certain Oregon counties on May 15. They're concerned that they will be asked to reopen before they feel safe to return to work and are worried they will lose unemployment benefits if they choose to stay shut.

ID: Idaho governor to announce further reopening plans

idahostatesman.com

Idaho Gov. Brad Little, a Republican, will announce whether the state has met the criteria to progress into the second stage of the government’s plan to reopen the state. In Stage 2, restaurants, hair salons and gyms could allow customers inside, as long as they follow health guidelines.

HI: Hawaii missed an opportunity to fix its benefits system before the pandemic

civilbeat.org
Nearly a decade ago, as Hawaii climbed out of the Great Recession, some state officials sought to create an online portal for those who needed food and financial assistance. That plan never materialized, and now the state faces a massive backlog of unemployment claims on its outdated system.

AL: Alabama hair salons confront multiple bookings, new procedures

al.com

A few hair salons and barber shops around Alabama reopened after more than a month of inactivity. But other salons and barber shops stayed closed, as owners try to navigate cleaning and equipment needs before reopening.

GA: Virus concerns close churches, other voting sites for Georgia primary

ajc.com

Some churches, senior centers and fire stations are shutting their doors because of the coronavirus pandemic, leaving Georgia voters with fewer places to cast their ballots in the June 9 primary. The loss of precincts leaves fewer options for voters, increasing the danger of groups gathering to vote.

LA: Louisiana to reopen, but 'It’s not mission accomplished'

theadvocate.com

Louisiana will begin the first phase of reopening its economy, nearly two months after Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards issued a stay-at-home order in one of the nation’s hardest-hit states. 

LA: A 'Katrina-sized' $1B hit from coronavirus for Louisiana's budget

theadvocate.com

Louisiana budget revenues are projected to take a $1 billion hit as the coronavirus hammers the state's businesses and workers, according to economists who took their first stab at forecasting the financial toll.

MS: Mississippi governor extends coronavirus unemployment benefits with urgent reminder for MS workers

sunherald.com

While urging Mississippians to return to work if they have the opportunity, Republican Gov. Tate Reeves signed a new executive order that extends unemployment benefits for workers still feeling the impact of the pandemic. The governor is waiving the one-week waiting period.

MS: COVID-19 could force Mississippi governor, legislators to turn to rainy day fund this fiscal year

mississippitoday.org

The decision to extend Mississippians’ tax deadline until July 15 will likely force Republican Gov. Tate Reeves and the Legislature to dip into the rainy day fund to balance the budget for the current fiscal year that ends on June 30.

NY: Dozens of COVID-19 bills languish as New York lawmakers ponder return

timesunion.com

Bills that would cancel rent, designate restaurant and other food-service employees as essential workers and ensure that workers' compensation covers COVID-19-related ailments or death are among nearly 100 bills that have been submitted in the New York Legislature.

MD: Maryland sees another decline in hospitalizations

baltimoresun.com

Virus-related hospitalizations in Maryland declined for the fourth straight day on Monday. Republican Gov. Larry Hogan said a decline in hospitalizations would be a key measurement for determining when to lift social distancing guidelines and executive orders closing businesses.

WV: West Virginia governor announces next phase of reopening

wvgazettemail.com

Republican Gov. Jim Justice announced that beginning May 21, West Virginia will authorize the reopening of dine-in restaurants with limited seating, big-box and specialty retail stores, and state park campgrounds.

TX: Two months in, Texas still struggle with unemployment system

dallasnews.com

Out of work Texans remain unable to apply for and correct issues with their unemployment benefits due to an overwhelmed system. The state is struggling to handle a million calls a day or more.

CA: California budget meant state worker furloughs in Great Recession; now what?

sacbee.com

The last time California faced a massive budget deficit, the governor soon started talking about furloughs. Now, the state Department of Finance projects a $54 billion deficit, raising questions about where the state will look to reduce spending this time around.

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