Stateline

What We're Reading: Top State Stories 5/22

What We're Reading: Top State Stories 5/22

WA: Washington lost ‘hundreds of millions of dollars’ to hackers

seattletimes.com

Washington state officials have acknowledged losing “hundreds of millions of dollars” to an international fraud scheme, likely based in Nigeria, that stung the state’s unemployment insurance system and could mean even longer delays for thousands of jobless workers.

IA: Iowa never ordered residents to stay home. It paid a price.

businessinsider.com

Iowa is one of the five states that never imposed a statewide stay-at-home order. A new study found that cases rose more quickly across eight counties in Iowa compared with the numbers in seven counties across the border in Illinois, where officials swiftly issued a lockdown.

NJ: New Jersey GOP, businessowners sue governor over stay-at-home order

northjersey.com

New Jersey Republicans and four small businesses are suing Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy in state Superior Court over his stay-at-home order as more and more businessowners and workers protest publicly over the forced closures during the coronavirus outbreak.

CA: Private companies donated $26M to California’s relief effort

sacbee.com

Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom solicited about $26 million in contributions from private organizations to help the state’s coronavirus relief efforts. Google and Facebook helped with public service announcements. Zoom gave money to connect students with remote schooling. Pharmaceutical company Pfizer donated to provide trailers for homeless people.

TX: Texas court holds first U.S. jury trial via videoconferencing

apnews.com

The potential Texan jurors popped onto the screen one by one. They confirmed their names and told the judge how they were connecting to the court: on laptops, tablets and smartphones. Eventually 26 of them swore the juror’s oath, beginning the experiment of conducting a civil jury trial entirely over Zoom.

SD: South Dakota governor says tribal checkpoints evidence turned over to feds

argusleader.com

Gov. Kristi Noem, a Republican, said the state has collected and turned over to federal authorities evidence of "unlawful checkpoints" set up by tribes in South Dakota.

MT: Judge blocks Montana law that prevented absentee ballot collection

apnews.com

With the state’s primary elections less than two weeks away, a Montana judge temporarily blocked a voter-approved law that restricts the collection of absentee ballots, the ACLU of Montana said.

HI: Hawaii braces for hurricanes amid pandemic

civilbeat.org

As hurricane season approaches, Hawaii's emergency-response leaders — as well as weary and cash-strapped local residents — face a unique, dual-threat scenario. Normally, Honolulu officials allow for about 10 square feet of space per evacuee, but with physical distancing, they say they’d need about 100 square feet per person.

GA: Georgia governor orders review after coronavirus data missteps

ajc.com

Republican Gov. Brian Kemp said he has ordered a review of how Georgia is reporting coronavirus figures, and he asked the public to have patience with health officials after a string of missteps raised questions about the accuracy of the latest data about the outbreak.

MS: Mississippi COVID-19 totals are skewed by antibody tests, experts say

sunherald.com

The Mississippi State Health Department is including tests for COVID-19 antibodies in its daily totals on testing and positive cases reported, a practice that overstates the number of tests being conducted and could skew results on infection rates, medical and data experts say.

PA: Pennsylvania health officials quietly alter erroneous nursing home counts

spotlightpa.org

Two days after the state released a long sought-after list of nursing homes with coronavirus cases, Pennsylvania’s top health official admitted there are errors in the data. Provider associations said publishing erroneous data has sown panic and anger among family members, distrust among nursing home staff and frustration for providers.

MD: Maryland has wide racial disparities in nursing home outbreaks

baltimoresun.com

The virus has struck more than 8 in 10 Maryland nursing homes with a high proportion of black and Latino residents, compared with 4 in 10 mostly white facilities.

WI: Federal lawsuit challenges Wisconsin local stay-at-home orders

jsonline.com

The organizer of a protest at the state Capitol and others have sued health officials around Wisconsin arguing they can’t impose local stay-at-home orders to fight the coronavirus pandemic. 

KS: Validity of Kansas governor’s disaster declaration ‘doubtful,’ AG says

kansas.com

Republican Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt is calling into question Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly’s statewide restrictions on businesses and activities during the coronavirus pandemic, saying the legality of the disaster declaration granting her broad emergency powers is “doubtful.”

MI: Judge affirms Michigan governor's right to lock down state

detroitnews.com

A judge ruled that Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, had the legal authority to extend Michigan's state of emergency. Republican leaders vowed to appeal.

DC: Gradual reopening in District of Columbia could begin next week

wamu.org

Democratic District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser announced that a phased reopening could begin with Stage 1 as soon as May 29. A full reopening will take place only after a vaccine or other cure is widely available.

IN: Indiana governor extends moratorium on evictions, utility shutoffs

indystar.com

A new executive order signed by Republican Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb extends the moratorium on penalties for those who cannot meet certain financial obligations. It also says these moratoriums will now expire at the end of June.

OK: Oklahoma governor vetoes key bill to fund his Medicaid expansion plan

oklahoman.com

GOP Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt vetoed legislation that would have funded a large chunk of his plan to expand Medicaid July 1 by increasing a hospital fee. He said the bill wouldn't fully fund his SoonerCare 2.0 plan for the upcoming budget year nor fund the plan beyond fiscal 2021.

TX: Texas food stamp applications double

texastribune.com

Texas received a staggering 417,468 applications for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program last month, a sharp increase from March’s already high number of requests. The boost is a combination of peak layoffs and a simplified application.

NV: Nevada officials detail increased demand for public assistance

thenevadaindependent.com

Officials project that nearly 1 in 4 Nevadans will be enrolled in Medicaid, the public health insurance program, by the end of May. Enrollments in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program are following the state’s worst-case projection, which anticipates about 490,000 people enrolled by the end of May.

CT: A decade of employment growth in Connecticut has been erased

courant.com

A decade of employment growth in Connecticut was wiped out in April as businesses cut a staggering 266,300 jobs in response to the coronavirus, the state Department of Labor reported.

OR: More than 1 in 5 Oregonians are unemployed

oregonlive.com

The number of new jobless claims in Oregon climbed last week for the first time since March. The state fielded nearly 16,000 new jobless claims, bringing the total during the pandemic to 412,000 — more than 1 in 5 Oregon workers altogether.

IA: Governor says Iowa is opening coronavirus testing to all

desmoinesregister.com

Soon, any Iowan who wants to be tested for the novel coronavirus will be able to get one, Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds announced.

MD: Maryland expands contact tracing as hospitalizations fall

baltimoresun.com

Marylanders may begin receiving phone calls from contact tracers as soon as next week, as the state announced it is beefing up its case investigator network more than fivefold. Meanwhile, Maryland’s hospitalization tally has dropped in 13 of the past 15 days.

SC: A third of South Carolina’s coronavirus deaths came from nursing homes

thestate.com

Nursing home residents make up more than a third of the lives claimed by the coronavirus in South Carolina, and over half of those 141 deaths can be traced back to a small handful of facilities that did not contain infections, according to a review of case data.

WY: 265 people to be quarantined after positive case at Wyoming care home

trib.com

Roughly 265 staff members and residents at a Casper, Wyoming, long-term care facility will be tested and quarantined after a case of the coronavirus was confirmed there. The Wyoming Health Department has permitted asymptomatic staff members to continue working. But those workers would be allowed to leave their homes only to go to work.

DE: Delaware may require tests in long-term care after few volunteer for tests

wdel.com

Universal testing for COVID-19 in Delaware's long-term care centers isn't going so well, despite the centers being home to 65% of the state's deaths from the novel coronavirus. The state is strongly considering mandatory testing, especially for staff, at the centers.

WI: Wisconsin governor to give $100M in federal money to nursing homes

jsonline.com

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat, said he would give $100 million to nursing homes and other care facilities as he continued a whirlwind round of announcements to dispense about $2 billion in federal coronavirus aid.

AK: Alaska’s platform for publicly tracking state budget is broken

alaskapublic.org

As GOP Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s administration contends with a huge budget deficit and a big windfall of federal coronavirus relief money, it has no timeline for fixing the broken portal that Alaskans once used to examine how state cash is spent.

AL: Alabama reopening continues amid shaky coronavirus progress

apnews.com

Alabama will revive more of its economy by letting entertainment venues, athletics and schools reopen despite shaky progress in taming the coronavirus pandemic.

NC: One North Carolina speedway plans to race with fans in the stands

newsobserver.com

A North Carolina race track plans to hold a season-opening night of auto racing Saturday with fans in the stands even though such mass gatherings are prohibited.

AR: Arkansas to allow summer camps, team sports

4029tv.com

Arkansas will allow overnight summer camps and team sports with restrictions, GOP Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced. Camp counselors will be allowed to arrive as soon as May 24. Campers will be allowed starting May 31. Limited-contact team sports will be allowed effective June 1.

NE: Nebraska bars, gatherings set to resume with restrictions June 1

omaha.com

Republican Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts announced a further easing of restrictions on public gatherings in 89 counties, including the Omaha area, effective June 1.

RI: Rhode Island governor lays out rules for summer camp

providencejournal.com

Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo reiterated her desire to open Rhode Island summer camps June 29. She said campers would be limited to stable groups of no more than 15 and will have to be screened for illness at the start of each day.

UT: Road deaths in Utah rose amid shutdown

sltrib.com

Fatal accidents increased in Utah even as traffic thinned during stay-at-home orders. Overall traffic accidents were down by about 50%, but fatalities rose because of serious accidents caused by such things as extreme speeding and reckless driving.

OK: Oklahoma governor signs bills allowing alcohol delivery

tulsaworld.com

GOP Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt signed a bill that allows for curbside pickup and delivery of alcohol in sealed original containers and a bill to provide a cost-of-living adjustment to first responders, teachers and state employees.

FL: Florida unemployment breach exposed information

orlandosentinel.com

The state has notified 98 applicants for Florida unemployment insurances whose names and Social Security numbers were accidentally sent to a contractor working on the site. It's unlikely any third parties saw the information when the breach occurred in April, the state said.

AL: Alabama strip clubs open, not revealing pandemic lap dance policy

al.com

For Alabama businesses, let’s say, built around the absence of social distancing, the coronavirus pandemic creates quite a conundrum. The lifeblood of the adult establishments doesn’t exactly come with 6 feet of separation.

OH: Ohio State Fair to go ‘on hiatus’ for 2020

dispatch.com 

It was a tradition dating back 170 years, and only World War II has ever stopped it. The Ohio State Fair is the latest victim of the coronavirus pandemic.

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