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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 5/13

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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 5/13

TX: Texas AG warns cities to loosen restrictions

texastribune.org

Attorney General Ken Paxton threatened litigation if cities do not pull back coronavirus restrictions related to masks, sheltering in place and religious services. Paxton, a Republican, called restrictions in Austin, Dallas and San Antonio "unlawful."

MT: Montana faces child care crisis

mtpr.org

Child care is a critical part of Montana’s economic recovery from COVID-19 as more parents return to work. But some providers have closed permanently, and others are struggling, adding to an already dire shortage.

MD: Latinos disproportionately hurt by virus in Maryland

baltimoresun.com

Hispanic people have the highest rate of infection of any race or ethnic group in Maryland. Nearly a third of the newly confirmed cases are Hispanic.

NY: New York children have illness tied to virus

nytimes.com

New York state health officials are investigating about 100 cases of a dangerous inflammatory syndrome that afflicts children and appears to be connected to the coronavirus. So far, three deaths in the state have been linked to the illness.

AK: No high-fives: Alaska summer camps prepare new rules

alaskapublic.org

Summer camp directors across Alaska who are redoing their summer programs to prepare to welcome campers during the pandemic. As businesses reopen and more people are called back to their workplaces, some parents are anxiously waiting to find out their camps’ plans.

UT: Utah cities seek millions to cover plummeting taxes

sltrib.com              

Utah’s cities and towns plan to ask the Legislature for $60 million to $70 million to help make up for motor fuel taxes lost during coronavirus restrictions. They say it is needed to keep local road projects on schedule.

MI: Michigan schools brace for budget cuts

clickondetroit.com

A massive budget shortfall could mean as much as a 25% cut in Michigan classrooms. The state provides about $8,000 per student in funding, which in the worst case could drop below $6,000.

PA: In reversal, Pennsylvania will test nursing home residents, workers

spotlightpa.org

Pennsylvania Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration will begin universal testing of staff and residents in the state’s long-term care facilities. Attorney General Josh Shapiro, a Democrat, also announced that criminal investigations had been launched into several nursing homes.

WY: Wyoming gets shipment of promising coronavirus drug

trib.com

The state of Wyoming has received a limited shipment of remdesivir, the experimental drug that’s shown promise in fighting the novel coronavirus, according to a memo that’s been sent to health care providers across the state.

KS: Kansas county orders businesses to track customers; lawsuit follows

kansas.com

A rural eastern Kansas county has ordered businesses to keep track of their in-person customers by recording phone numbers and arrival and departure times during the pandemic — a move that has led to a federal lawsuit.

VA: Virginia restrictions to ease in part of state

richmond.com

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat, said public restrictions will ease in most of Virginia on Friday, but Northern Virginia might be excluded. Trends in Northern Virginia suggest that region is not ready for social restrictions to ease.

NC: Free testing sites open in North Carolina

newsobserver.com

Federally paid-for coronavirus tests are now available at retailers in two North Carolina counties with as many as eight other counties soon to join them. People who meet testing guidelines can sign up for an appointment online.

SC: South Carolina court weighs absentee voting

thestate.com

Whether COVID-19 concerns are enough to justify absentee ballots was discussed before the South Carolina Supreme Court. Democrats argued any voter who wants one should get an absentee ballot; Republicans said existing criteria should be maintained.

CT: Connecticut governor replaces health commissioner in midst of crisis

courant.com

Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont has fired the state’s public health commissioner, whose agency is at the center of Connecticut’s battle against COVID-19. Lamont declined to say why she was removed but said he wanted closer coordination with different departments.

DE: Delaware’s economy may never look the same

delawareonline.com

Some financial experts say that Delaware's recovery will be especially slow and painful for the hospitality industry, while others warn that Delaware will never look the same once the pandemic is over.

IN: Coronavirus could lead to rate increases for utility customers in Indiana

indystar.com

Citing the pandemic, Indiana's utility companies are seeking permission to recover costs and lost revenue. This move, critics contend, will push the burden of rate increases onto already-struggling customers.

NJ: New Jersey needs 1K more contact tracers, governor says

nj.com

New Jersey plans to more than double the number of contract tracers in the state as part of his reopening strategy to lift near-lockdown restrictions, Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy said. Currently 800 to 900 people do that work statewide. 

MO: Missouri child abuse hotline calls plummet as isolation weakens safety net

columbiamissourian.com

It’s the social isolation away from mandatory reporters — educators and child care providers, among them — to which the Missouri Department of Social Services attributed an alarming drop in calls to the child abuse hotline. In mid-March, calls had plummeted about 50%, from a typical 650 reports of child abuse per weekday to 335.

RI: Rhode Island state workers likely to see furloughs

providencejournal.com

With Rhode Island now facing an $800-million projected budget deficit, Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo said it is likely state workers, whom she had been trying to protect from unemployment, will face unpaid leaves from their jobs.

AL: High school graduations to test virus rules in Alabama

apnews.com

The high school graduation season will present a test of Alabama’s ability to reopen society without hastening the spread of the coronavirus as thousands gather for ceremonies next week at some of the state’s largest schools.

GA: Georgia governor extends restrictions on bars, nightclubs

ajc.com

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican, extended some coronavirus restrictions as he eased other limits, setting the stage for summer camps to reopen and for some state employees to return to offices within a week.

MN: Minnesota considers mail-in voting

startribune.com

Gov. Tim Walz, a Democrat, said he favors conducting Minnesota’s elections primarily by mail after a proposal to expand mail-in voting during the pandemic was struck from a $17 million elections package  lawmakers passed this week.

MS: Mississippi governor urges residents to wear masks, but doesn’t wear one

sunherald.com

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves, a Republican, has racked up more than a million Facebook views for his weekday virus updates, but he hasn’t used the opportunity to wear a face mask. 

MN: Minnesota lawmakers plan new emergency order

startribune.com

Legislative leaders in Minnesota are readying for an expected extension of emergency powers that have enabled Gov. Tim Walz, a Democrat, to temporarily close schools, shutter businesses and order residents to stay home unless necessary.

WA: Washington has nearly 1,400 workers trained for contact tracing

seattletimes.com

Washington has nearly 1,400 contact tracers ready to contact each new person who tests positive for the novel coronavirus, in an effort to track down other infected people. The newly trained brigade is part of a three-pronged approach to locking down the virus: broad-based testing, isolation and contact tracing.

ID: Idaho's state parks have seen historic traffic, but little social distancing

idahostatesman.com

Many visitors to Idaho’s state parks no longer feel the need to follow pandemic guidelines. The historic levels of visitors have prompted some Boise-area parks to implement temporary entry restrictions to prevent overcrowding.

HI: Hawaii's struggling farms want the state to become a bigger customer

civilbeat.org

Hawaii farms want the state to buy more local food to supply schools, prisons and hospitals, calling for more agriculture contracts with state institutions.  

GA: Ahmaud Arbery slaying becomes part of political debate in Georgia

ajc.com

Ahmaud Arbery’s shooting death has shifted Georgia’s political conversation and renewed a push to impose stiffer penalties on crimes rooted in racial bias at a time when voters are ready to cast ballots in primary races and lawmakers prepare to return to the state Capitol.

AZ: Arizona stay-at-home order expires Friday

azcentral.com

Gyms and community swimming pools will be allowed to open mid-week, and professional sports leagues will be allowed to begin practicing in Arizona after the stay-at-home order expires, Republican Gov. Doug Ducey said.

CO: Coronavirus blasts $3.3. billion hole in Colorado budget

denverpost.com

The projected loss will eat about 10% of Colorado’s overall budget and 25% of the state’s general fund, which covers core services such as education and transportation. The legislature is expected to pass a budget when it returns May 26 from a recess forced by the coronavirus.

FL: Florida's unemployment pay drama continues

cnbc.com

Florida has paid just 28% of the total 1.9 million unemployment applicants since March 15. A moratorium on evictions is set to expire next week and the state has yet to implement a federal increase in unemployment pay.

MD: Maryland will allow hard-hit areas to opt out of reopening

washingtonpost.com

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, told leaders of the Washington, D.C., suburbs and other places hit hard by the virus that they will be able to opt out of a gradual reopening he plans to announce and maintain a stay-at-home order as they see fit.

NY: Judge orders New York governor to use sign language interpreter

timesunion.com

The preliminary injunction granted by a federal judge followed months of advocacy from New York disability and deaf rights advocates, who argued in a lawsuit filed last month that Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo was the only governor who did not offer some form of live ASL interpretation at his daily coronavirus task force briefings.

ME: Maine dentists criticize governor for not letting routine care resume

pressherald.com

Maine is one of the few states that haven’t allowed dentists to reopen for routine visits, and some patients are suffering infections and other problems because they have not been treated.

OH: Ohio governor warns of risk as state reopens

dispatch.com

Ohioans should brace for a rebound of infections as stores reopen and residents are freed from stay-at-home orders, warned Republican Gov. Mike DeWine and state Health Director Dr. Amy Acton.

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