Stateline

What We're Reading: Top State Stories 6/26

What We're Reading: Top State Stories 6/26

CO: Colorado governor appoints attorney general to investigate Elijah McClain’s death

denverpost.com

Amid a growing national outcry, Colorado Democratic Gov. Jared Polis designated Democratic Attorney General Phil Weiser as a special prosecutor to investigate the death of 23-year-old Elijah McClain following a violent encounter with Aurora police last year.

US: U.S. virus cases near an all-time high as governors backtrack

apnews.com

The coronavirus crisis deepened in Arizona, and the governor of Texas began to backtrack after making one of the most aggressive pushes in the nation to reopen, as the daily number of confirmed cases across the U.S. closed in on the peak reached during the dark days of late April.

NC, VA, KY: Only three states in the South require masks

newsobserver.com

The coronavirus is spreading at an alarming rate across the South as some states see record numbers of hospitalizations. Yet only three states in the South — North Carolina, Virginia and Kentucky — have issued a mask mandate. An analysis of 16 states where face coverings are not mandatory showed coronavirus cases rising by 84% over the last two weeks, McClatchy News reported, citing a study by the Philadelphia Inquirer.

UT: Utah’s governor alarmed by coronavirus infection rate among the Hispanic community

sltrib.com

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, a Republican, called the COVID-19 infection rate in the state’s Hispanic and Latino community “alarming” during a news conference aimed specifically toward that ethnic group, which has been disproportionately affected by the pandemic.

AZ: How Arizona lost control of the epidemic

washingtonpost.com

Arizona state leaders did not take the necessary precautions or model safe behavior, observers maintain, even in the face of compelling evidence and repeated pleas from authoritative voices. The state has emerged as an epicenter of the early summer coronavirus crisis as the outbreak has expanded.

OK: Oklahoma lawmaker wants to preserve downed US statues in his district

oklahoman.com

Republican state Sen. Casey Murdock is offering a home in his northwest Oklahoma district for displaced statues. Murdock said he hopes statues being torn down across the country can be preserved for “educational and historical purposes.” He hopes to make his district a “sanctuary for historic artwork.”

NJ: New Jersey says nearly 1,900 additional residents likely died of coronavirus

northjersey.com

Another 1,854 New Jerseyans will be counted as victims of the coronavirus following a state review of death certificates and prior outbreaks, bringing the actual toll to 14,872 residents, officials said.

TX: Texas pauses the lifting of restrictions, clears city hospitals

texastribune.org

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, announced a pause on lifting coronavirus restrictions on businesses and banned elective procedures to make more room in some urban hospitals facing bed shortages. The action does not reverse what action has been taken — bars, restaurants, malls and other businesses will remain open with restrictions.

MS: Mississippi lawmakers again delay vote to change state flag

mississippitoday.org

Mississippi legislative leaders opted to delay a vote to change the state flag, which contains the Confederate battle emblem, but told lawmakers they would continue working through the weekend, which is longer than initially anticipated.

MI: Pro sports to open in Michigan, without fans

freep.com

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, signed an executive order that will allow for the return of professional sports events, without a live audience, and for training to begin in July. Baseball's Detroit Tigers will start a shortened season July 24 and football's Detroit Lions can prepare for an August preseason game.

NV: Nevada residential evictions to resume in September

thenevadaindependent.com

Nevada is taking its first steps to lift a moratorium on evictions that has been in place since the end of March, though landlords will not be able to kick out tenants solely for non-payment of rent until September. The latest directive allows evictions to resume earlier for causes such as violations of lease conditions or nuisance issues.

NM: New Mexico to pause lifting restrictions after increases

santafenewmexican.com

New Mexico officials and Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said there has been an uptick in illnesses. The state wants to avoid the level of surges seen in neighboring Texas and Arizona and will postpone a second phase of reopening.

WA: Washington continues work to clear unemployment benefit backlog

apnews.com

Over the past two weeks Washington state has been able to clear identity issues on the claims of 100,000 people seeking unemployment benefits, and officials continue to work on resolving other issues on the claims of those still awaiting payments.

OR: Oregon governor approves early release of 57 inmates

oregonlive.com

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, a Democrat, approved the early release of 57 state prisoners deemed medically vulnerable to the novel coronavirus, which has spread throughout correctional facilities in Oregon and the country. The decision comes two weeks after Brown said she would consider commuting some sentences to help limit the spread of the deadly disease in the state prison system.

ID: With cases climbing, Idaho won't advance business reopening stages

idahostatesman.com

Idaho Gov. Brad Little, a Republican, announced that the state must stay in Stage 4 of its plan as some counties see big spikes in new coronavirus cases and the state’s count climbs. Little announced that the state did not meet the metrics needed to move out of the final stage of the plan, leaving the state in Stage 4 for at least another two weeks.

HI: Hawaii to lift quarantine for those with negative test results

civilbeat.org

All incoming trans-Pacific travelers who wish to opt out of Hawaii’s 14-day quarantine will need to show proof that they had a negative molecular-based COVID-19 test result within 72 hours of their travel, Gov. David Ige, a Democrat, announced. The option for travelers to avoid quarantine goes into effect Aug. 1.

AL: Hundreds wait outdoors for hours seeking Alabama unemployment benefits

al.com

Hundreds of out-of-work Alabamians waited for hours in a Montgomery parking lot for the chance to meet with a representative of the Alabama Department of Labor. Many sat outdoors through the night in intermittent rain in hopes of speaking face-to-face with someone about administrative issues.

OK: Oklahoma governor dismisses idea of closing businesses as cases surge

oklahoman.com

Despite a relentless surge in COVID-19 cases and rising hospitalizations in Oklahoma, GOP Gov. Kevin Stitt dismissed the possibility of closing businesses again and said it wasn’t under discussion. “We’re so far away from talking about this,” the governor said at a news conference.

LA: Louisiana sets guidelines for reopening schools during pandemic

apnews.com

Students will be wearing face masks and washing their hands many times a day when Louisiana schools reopen for the 2020-21 school year in order to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

MS: More than 1,000 new coronavirus cases reported in Mississippi sets a one-day record.

sunherald.com

Mississippi’s one-day total for new coronavirus cases is over 1,000 — smashing the previous record set just days ago. The totals statewide have reached 24,516 with 1,016 deaths and 17,242 presumed recoveries.

AK: Alaska records highest daily caseload yet

alaskapublic.org

Alaska health officials reported 44 new COVID-19 cases in a single day. That’s the highest single-day total of new infections in the state yet. It includes 25 Alaskans and 19 nonresidents. It’s the fourth time in the past month that the state has a new daily high.

GA: Georgia House gives final OK to home delivery of beer, wine and liquor

ajc.com

Grocery and liquor stores and some restaurants would be able to deliver beer, wine and booze to the front doors of their customers under legislation that won final approval in the Georgia House.

NY: New York governor promises random checks, but quarantine details murky

timesunion.com

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, said there would be random checks to ensure compliance with this week’s order, also adopted by Connecticut and New Jersey, requiring travelers from states with high rates of coronavirus infections to self-quarantine for 14 days. Health care and other essential workers are exempt.

MD: Unions say Maryland governor is seeking layoffs, pay cuts for state workers

baltimoresun.com

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, is considering layoffs and pay cuts for state employees as a way of balancing a state budget that’s been hit by slow tax collections due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to a memo the administration sent to the Maryland Professional Employees Council earlier this month.

AL: Alabama sets daily record for new coronavirus cases

montgomeryadvertiser.com

Alabama reported an all-time high in new coronavirus cases as the COVID-19 outbreak continued to intensify through the South. The state reported 1,129 new cases, according to Bama Tracker, which keeps track of COVID-19 cases.

CA: California coronavirus cases spiking; governor considers reopening pause

sacbee.com

Hospitalizations and new cases of the coronavirus continue their rapid resurgence in California, where public health data show a spike that has now lasted over a week. Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom said hospitals are at 8% of capacity, but ICUs are at 30%, and those numbers will figure greatly into whether to pause or reverse economic reopening.

VA: Virginia to use federal money to stave off evictions

richmond.com

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat, said the state will use $50 million in federal money to help Virginia residents pay their rent and mortgage as they deal with the economic fallout of COVID-19. A statewide moratorium on evictions lifts Monday, the same day the program will go into effect.

SC: South Carolina fall high school sports season in doubt

thestate.com

South Carolina High School League Commissioner Jerome Singleton isn’t optimistic about playing sports in the fall unless things change with the trajectory of COVID-19 cases in the state. “I’m very concerned,” Singleton said. “We thought those originally were affecting those 60 years or older. Now, the indication, the people that are most affected are ages 15 to 25, and those are our students.”

DE: Delaware state senator brokers mask donation to prisons

delawarestatenews.net

State Sen. Darius Brown, a Wilmington Democrat, announced the donation of 5,000 surgical masks to the Delaware Department of Correction. The masks will be used to help restart in-person visitation and in-person programming, which have been suspended since March.

MN: Minnesota disability service providers on brink of collapse from COVID-19

startribune.com

The coronavirus is inflicting a heavy toll on Minnesota’s sprawling network of government-supported centers that provide jobs training, mental health therapy and other services for more than 30,000 adults with disabilities. Dozens of centers have been forced to close temporarily since March because of severe restrictions meant to slow the spread of the virus.

WI: Wisconsin reports 464 more cases as state is added to a list of those 'trending poorly'

jsonline.com

Wisconsin's health department reported 464 more positive coronavirus tests, as confirmed cases continue to tick slightly upward despite leveled-off testing. Thursday's positivity rate — 4.1% of all tests — still pales in comparison to early May's double-digit totals.

WY: Wyoming sets new high marks for COVID-19 cases

trib.com

Wyoming topped its single-day high mark for confirmed COVID-19 cases, with 36 new identified cases. Previously, no more than 27 confirmed cases had been announced in one day, a number last reached Monday.

PA: Pennsylvania grand jury report on fracking: Agency failed to protect public health

stateimpact.npr.org

A Pennsylvania grand jury report slammed the Department of Environmental Protection for failing to protect the public from the health effects of fracking. The grand jury said the risk of fracking should fall on the industry and on regulators but DEP “did not take sufficient action in response to the fracking boom.”

MN: Minnesota governor to release $841M in COVID-19 aid to local governments

startribune.com

Democratic Gov. Tim Walz is moving to send out $841 million in federal aid to Minnesota counties, cities and townships hit hard by COVID-19 after legislators failed to strike a deal to distribute the funds during a recent special session. Walz announced the plan nearly a week after lawmakers adjourned the session while at a partisan impasse over police accountability measures, a bonding bill and the federal aid. Without action, local governments were unable to tap into the funding to boost services during the coronavirus pandemic.

FL: Florida lawmakers shut out of budget fixes

miamiherald.com

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, said he will use his veto power to slash the state's $93.2 billion state budget in the next five days to reduce deficits and shore up spending for coronavirus response. Democrats accused the governor of disenfranchising the legislature, which will not have a role.

GA: Georgia legislature votes to cut salary of members, lieutenant governor

ajc.com

The Georgia legislature approved to cut the salary of its members and the lieutenant governor for the 2021 fiscal year. Citing the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic, lawmakers voted to trim their salaries by 10% beginning July 1.

MO: Missouri’s lone abortion provider receives operating license after yearlong fight

stltoday.com

GOP Gov. Mike Parson’s administration issued a license to Planned Parenthood, allowing Missouri’s lone abortion provider to operate through 2021. The new license was issued nearly a month after a state administrative hearing judge ruled against the Republican administration’s attempt to shutter the facility.

Florida, Texas Close Bars Amid COVID-19 Surge 'Sin Taxes' in a Pandemic
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