Stateline

What We're Reading: Top State Stories 6/22

What We're Reading: Top State Stories 6/22

ME: Maine has nation’s worst COVID-19 racial disparity

pressherald.com

No other state has such a wide gap — more than 25 percentage points — between the size of the Black population and that community’s share of infections than Maine.

OK: Distribution of $1.9B in tribal coronavirus relief sparks federal lawsuit, protest

oklahoman.com

Controversy is stirring in Oklahoma Indian Country over decisions made regarding the distribution of about $1.9 billion in federal coronavirus relief funds designated for 38 Oklahoma tribes. The Shawnee Tribe filed a federal lawsuit, alleging the tribe was short-changed about $6 million in CARES ACT relief funds.

SC: In South Carolina, a look at COVID-19 elections

publicintegrity.org

During this coronavirus-plagued primary season, some of the sharpest reductions in numbers of polling places — and longest lines — have come in cities that, like Columbia, South Carolina, are home to many voters of color, prompting warnings about potential disenfranchisement, even as states move to increase the availability of mail ballots.

MN: Fired Minnesota officers have a proven career saver: arbitration

startribune.com

More than 80 police officers across Minnesota were fired and fought their discharge in arbitration over the past 20 years. About half got their jobs back, according to a Star Tribune analysis.

WV: West Virginia governor calls for masks, testing as outbreaks emerge

apnews.com

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice, a Republican, called for face masks, social distancing and testing as local health officials reported several coronavirus outbreaks linked to churches and travel. Dozens of new cases have been connected to church services, including at least 33 at the Graystone Baptist Church in Lewisburg.

WA: Police killing of Washington man highlights failures of new policing law

seattletimes.com

Washington voters resoundingly said in 2018 that they wanted law enforcement officers to be held more accountable when they kill. But even as the investigation of the March killing of a Tacoma man continues, an examination of the case shows troubling weaknesses in the new police accountability law, undermining its objectives as Washington state and some of its municipalities push for more changes.

FL: Florida governor: Spike in cases can't be blamed on testing

politico.com

Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis acknowledged that the rising number of new cases in Florida cannot be explained away by an increase in testing. He announced plans to step up enforcement of social distancing practices in bars and nightclubs.

TX: Face mask restrictions popping up again in Texas

texastribune.org

Counties and cities across Texas swiftly followed Bexar County's lead and ordered businesses to require that employees and customers wear face masks when social distancing is not possible. Republican Gov. Greg Abbott opened the door by allowing local governments to take that action.

NJ: Amazon, pizza and PPE: What New Jersey spent $300M on during coronavirus response

northjersey.com

New Jersey spent more than $1 million for a refrigerated warehouse as a temporary morgue; $91,000 at a pizzeria and another $91,000 at a deli to feed troops, staff and patients. But many spending details are unknown because the state has declined to release copies of contracts, saying it would cause “severe disruption” to agencies.

MN: New Minnesota data shows even wider racial gap in COVID-19 hospitalizations, deaths

startribune.com

The new analysis shows that Black Minnesotans have the highest age-adjusted death rate among all racial and ethnic groups at 70 per 100,000 residents. The rate for whites is about 20. Beyond differences in death rates, the report found even larger gaps in the rate at which COVID-19 patients from different groups are being hospitalized or placed in intensive care.

WI: Thousands still waiting on Wisconsin unemployment pay

jsonline.com

Despite the hiring of hundreds of new employees, the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development is still struggling to tackle hundreds of thousands of unpaid claims for those who lost their jobs because of the COVID-19 pandemic and warns backlogs may persist into mid-August.

PA: County officials seeing red over staying yellow in Pennsylvania’s reopening plan

pennlive.com

Lebanon County officials were sputtering mad at Gov. Tom Wolf's Democratic administration for leaving it as the only one of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties that is not taking at least a partial step toward the green, or least restrictive, phase of the state’s coronavirus reopening plan this week.

MO: Missouri Farm Bureau survey finds broad COVID-19 impacts

ozarkradionews.com

A Missouri Farm Bureau survey spotlights many of the hidden effects of COVID-19 on farmers and rural communities. While the on-farm impacts have been dramatic, the personal effects are even more painful.

PA: Does Pennsylvania proposal for confidential police hiring database go far enough?

spotlightpa.org

While Pennsylvania is taking its first steps on police changes, other states are far ahead in making misconduct data and records available to the public.

VT: Overdoses rise at ‘alarming’ rate in Burlington and Vermont amid pandemic

vtdigger.org

The number of drug overdoses is rapidly increasing in Burlington and across Vermont as COVID-19 continues to force Vermonters to remain isolated. In Burlington, nonfatal overdoses have increased by 76% since February. Monthly data from the state shows nearly double the amount of emergency room visits for nonfatal overdoses compared with March 2019.

AK: Contact tracing demand rises with case numbers in Alaska

adn.com

As COVID-19 cases rise in Alaska, the state’s contact tracers are busy and public health officials are trying to bring on a crop of new epidemiology detectives.

MN: Minnesota legislature ends special session without deal on policing changes

minnpost.com

The failure to agree was in part a result of genuine policy differences, yet Minnesota Republicans and Democrats also accused each other of negotiating with an eye toward the 2020 elections.

DE: Police in Delaware’s state capital will get body cameras

wdel.com

With an authorized force of 101 officers in Dover, Delaware, the cost of implementing a body camera program would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. It’s been a part of capital budget requests for years, but never came to fruition. But the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis has renewed discussions on the state level to implement body cameras.

NY: New York City’s contact tracing effort off to slow start

nytimes.com

Only 35% of the 5,347 New York City residents who tested positive or were presumed positive for the coronavirus in the program’s first two weeks gave information about close contacts to tracers, the city said in releasing the first statistics.

NH: Pandemic parking rules draw ‘aggression’ from New Hampshire beachgoers

nhpr.org

Seacoast beaches have been crowded this weekend with people trying to beat the heat, though some coronavirus restrictions remain in effect. Parts of the shoulders of Route 1A have reopened for parking, but the state beach lots are only accepting 50% of their normal capacity to encourage physical distancing.

SC: South Carolina governor backs law that says legislatures have final word on Confederate name changes

thestate.com

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster, a Republican, says colleges and universities have the right to ask for names of Confederates to be taken off monuments and landmarks, but the state legislature has the final word.

MD: University System of Maryland will freeze tuition, room and board

baltimoresun.com

The University System of Maryland will freeze tuition, room and board for students for the coming year, despite the economic impact of the pandemic on university finances. Undergraduate tuition at the university’s flagship College Park campus is $8,824 for students who live in Maryland and $34,936 for those who live outside the state.

NC: North Carolina road tests for driver’s licenses temporarily waived

newsobserver.com

North Carolina teenagers are now able to get a provisional driver’s license without taking a road test under a bill signed into law by Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper, but they still need to visit a DMV office to get it. The Division of Motor Vehicles stopped offering road tests in March to prevent drivers and DMV employees from passing the coronavirus.

OR: More Oregonians catching virus because of more aggressive spreading

oregonlive.com

As record numbers of Oregonians have tested positive for coronavirus over the past two weeks, many wondered if that’s caused by increased testing — or if the virus also is spreading more rampantly. A report from the Oregon Health Authority confirmed the latter: COVID-19 is transmitting at higher rates statewide.

IA: If students don't return, Iowa universities face more severe budget cuts, leaders say

thegazette.com

Campus leaders across Iowa’s public universities have said, essentially, they can’t afford not to bring students back this fall.

ID: Idaho reports more than 100 new cases for second day in a row

idahostatesman.com

New confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Idaho surpassed 100 for the second day in a row, with 111 cases following a day of 102 cases. Idaho had not seen back-to-back days of more than 100 cases since a stretch of three in a row April 1-3.

NM: New Mexico infection rate falls as hot spot cools

santafenewmexican.com

New Mexico’s cooling northwestern hotspot is pushing the state’s overall COVID-19 infection rate down, a welcome reversal. The state considered reinstating restrictions two weeks ago when critical care beds reached capacity.

CO: Colorado law enforcement begin to implement sweeping police laws

denverpost.com

Colorado law enforcement spent the last week figuring out new training procedures, data collection tools and, for some departments, how to afford the hundreds of body cameras required by the state’s new laws. The vast majority of Colorado’s law enforcement leaders applaud the changes.

UT: COVID-19 cases on the rise in Utah

sltrib.com

Utah has seen a steady and unsustainable increase in cases in recent weeks, health officials say, including two consecutive days of record-high case counts this week: 586 Friday and 643 Saturday.

NV: Nevada domestic violence services expect to lose millions because of drop in marriages

thenevadaindependent.com

In Clark County, Nevada — home to Las Vegas — there was a 95% decrease in revenue for domestic violence programs from marriage licenses in April and a 69% drop in May compared with numbers from 2019. The drops in marriages directly translate into funding shortfalls for domestic violence programs.

AZ: Some Arizona restaurants close voluntarily as COVID-19 cases soar

azcentral.com

Some of Arizona’s restaurants closed as a precautionary measure because employees tested positive for the coronavirus even though they are not required to do so. Other restaurants did not have any employees test positive, but decided to close proactively to curb the spread of the disease.

MO: As other states cancel fairs, new coronavirus numbers aren’t derailing Missouri plans

stltoday.com

On a day that saw a hefty spike in coronavirus cases and deaths, GOP Gov. Mike Parson and his top farm aide said Missouri will not cancel the state fair in August.

OK: Angry exchanges on streets while Trump holds Oklahoma rally; police deploy pepper balls

tulsaworld.com

At the height of the tension, the Tulsa Police Department deployed pepper balls, hours after the agency received condemnation from Oklahoma protesters and national media when it confirmed that officers had arrested a nonviolent protester at the behest of Trump campaign staff.

MT: Marijuana legalization ballot committee turns in Montana signatures

apnews.com

A group seeking to legalize recreational marijuana in Montana said it has gathered enough signatures to put the question to voters in November.

HI: Hawaii lawmakers get back to work as critical issues collide

civilbeat.org

Hawaii lawmakers will reconvene for the third time this year with the goal of keeping the state running. Hawaii faces a budget crisis not seen in modern history, and on top of that, the state still needs to find ways to deal with issues like homelessness, access to child care and climate change that have gone unresolved even before the pandemic hit.

Community Health Centers Excluded From Federal Coronavirus Aid Black Unemployment
EXPLORE MORE FROM STATELINE
Places
Topics