Stateline

What We're Reading: Top State Stories 7/9

What We're Reading: Top State Stories 7/9

MA: Contact tracing for coronavirus in Massachusetts significantly downscaled as leaders report chronic problems

bostonglobe.com

Hundreds of contact tracers hired since the program was launched in April were recently laid off, and leaders in several cities and towns that collaborate with the Boston-based global health organization Partners in Health have expressed frustrations about problems with the initiative.

NY: Schools in New York City will not fully reopen in the fall

nytimes.com

Classroom attendance in New York City, which has the nation’s largest school district, will be limited to only one to three days a week to continue to curb the outbreak, Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

OH: Ohio legislator urges residents not to get tested for coronavirus

cleveland.com

Republican state Rep. Nino Vitale is encouraging Ohio residents to stop getting tested for COVID-19, even as the number of infections have surged to near record highs.

MS: Outbreak at Mississippi Capitol: Number of infected lawmakers grows to 26

clarionledger.com

Republican Gov. Tate Reeves is warning the public to get tested for the coronavirus if they have been in contact with a Mississippi state lawmaker.

IA: Iowa governor says her driver who struck Black Lives Matter protester ‘acted appropriately’

desmoinesregister.com

Iowa Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds said a state trooper who was driving her from an event last week “acted appropriately” when he hit a Black Lives Matter protester who was blocking the driveway of the business she was leaving.

DC: District of Columbia on the brink of allowing inmates to vote from prison

washingtonpost.com

The District of Columbia is on the verge of allowing felons to vote while they are still incarcerated and proactively mailing absentee ballots to residents held at the local jail and in federal prisons across the country. It would join Maine and Vermont in permitting incarcerated felons to vote, under a provision passed by the District of Columbia Council.

CA: California church choirs push back against mask, no singing orders

sacbee.com

Days after Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered churches across California to discontinue singing and chanting, citing concerns amid the worsening coronavirus pandemic that these activities increase the likelihood of spreading the contagious disease, services at some Sacramento-area places of worship pressed on with unmasked singing anyway.

MD: Maryland governor orders in-person election for November

baltimoresun.com

Republican Gov. Larry Hogan ordered Maryland and local election officials to run a regular, in-person election with every precinct open to its voters on Election Day. To accommodate anyone who feels unsafe casting a ballot in person, Hogan also ordered the State Board of Elections to mail each voter an application for an absentee ballot.

NY: Some New York malls can reopen

timesunion.com

Indoor shopping malls in New York state that are outside New York City can reopen Friday if they install new air filters that remove coronavirus particles from the air, Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.

OH: Ohio lifts moratorium on water shut-offs

dispatch.com

Beginning Friday, Ohio will revoke its moratorium on water shut-offs and resume allowing water companies to disconnect delinquent customers. Hundreds of southeastern Ohio families are at risk of having their water shut off amid the coronavirus pandemic, and community leaders are expressing deep concern over the potentially devastating consequences.

TN: Tennessee governor calls for bust of Confederate general and KKK leader to be relocated to museum

tennessean.com

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee says the bust of a Confederate general and early Ku Klux Klan leader should be relocated to the state museum, marking the first time the Republican governor has explicitly called for the removal of the monument of Nathan Bedford Forrest inside Tennessee's Capitol.

MD: Maryland drops below 400 hospitalizations for the first time since March

baltimoresun.com

At 398, Maryland’s tally of current hospitalizations is at its lowest since there were 308 reported March 31. The next day that number jumped to 402, reaching a peak of 1,711 by the end of April. 

FL: Florida hospitals, hotels grapple with new virus surge

palmbeachpost.com

With coronavirus cases continuing to spiral to record levels, hospitals are again rescheduling elective surgery and hotels are making a new round of layoffs. An additional 9,989 people were diagnosed in Florida, raising the state’s total number of known infections to 223,783.

TX: Texas resumes executions after virus delay

apnews.com

A Texas inmate received a lethal injection for fatally shooting an 82-year-old man nearly three decades ago, ending a five-month delay of executions in the nation’s busiest death penalty state because of the coronavirus pandemic.

MI: Michigan offers hazard pay for first responders in crisis

mlive.com

Michigan announced two new grant programs offering a total of $300 million in hazard pay to first responders for working during the coronavirus pandemic.

NM: New Mexico governor signs body camera bill

santafenewmexican.com

Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed legislation that requires all law enforcement officers in New Mexico to wear body cameras. It applies to city police, New Mexico State Police and county sheriff's offices.

NJ: New Jersey now requires face masks to be worn outdoors

northjersey.com

All individuals in New Jersey must now wear face masks while outside and unable to maintain a six-foot distance from other people, under an executive order signed by Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy.

GA: Atlanta to mandate face masks to contain coronavirus

ajc.com

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, a Democrat, said she would sign an order requiring the use of masks in the city, joining other local governments in Georgia who are going beyond Republican Gov. Brian Kemp’s order that encourages but does not mandate face coverings. 

LA: Where are the biggest coronavirus outbreaks in Louisiana? Food processing plants, bars top the list

theadvocate.com

As Louisiana continues to see weeks-long increases in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations, health officials have tracked hundreds of cases related to food processing facilities, bars, industrial sites and a host of other settings.

MS: Mississippi governor won’t rule out mask mandates. ‘The situation we have feared is upon us.’

sunherald.com

As Mississippi posts record COVID-19 case counts and, in the last couple of days, an increased number of deaths, Republican Gov. Tate Reeves said new orders on social distancing and mask wearing are imminent.

PA: Pennsylvania governor will officially veto GOP effort to end coronavirus emergency

papost.org

Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf will veto a concurrent resolution to terminate the disaster declaration he has used to manage Pennsylvania’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, his spokesperson said. 

WI: Masks now required for Wisconsin prison staff and all state workers as Capitol stays closed to the public

jsonline.com

All state employees, including staff at state-run correctional facilities, will be required to wear masks at all times inside state buildings starting Monday, Wisconsin officials announced.

MN: Testing delays possible despite stable COVID-19 phase in Minnesota

startribune.com

Minnesotans seeking COVID-19 testing should be prepared for delays in results amid a national surge in cases of the infectious disease that is stretching testing supplies and laboratory capacities again.

VT: After COVID-19 outbreaks, Vermont’s elder care facilities seek a new normal

vtdigger.org

Vermont’s senior living facilities faced challenges with staffing, lower revenue, and in some cases deep loss, during the pandemic. The uncertainty is anything but over.

WA: Washington state coronavirus hospitalizations on the rise, but still far below peak

seattletimes.com

Washington’s weekly COVID-19 hospital admissions rose in June but remain less than half the level of the pandemic’s spring peak, according to an analysis of Department of Health data.

OR: Oregon grocery stores reluctant to enforce mask rules

wweek.com

Increasingly, workplace safety complaints in Oregon center on one allegation: grocery chains not making their customers wear masks.

WI: Wisconsin Republican Assembly members propose forgivable loan program to help those waiting on unemployment

jsonline.com

Wisconsin Assembly Republicans are calling on Democratic Gov. Tony Evers to set up a forgivable loan program to help a portion of those who have yet to receive unemployment insurance during the coronavirus pandemic.

ID: It looks like Idaho flunked Stage 4 again as coronavirus caseload soars

idahostatesman.com

Idaho has doubled its testing since the last week of May, while case counts have increased tenfold.

HI: Hawaii's testing ability cut in half after mainland company cuts off supplies

staradvertiser.com

One of Hawaii’s largest COVID-19 testing laboratories has been cut off from its mainland supplier of chemicals needed to continue to run tests locally after a surge in coronavirus cases across the country.

CT: Connecticut state troopers union says governor is playing politics with policing policies

courant.com

Connecticut’s state police troopers union is sharply questioning Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont’s recent executive order banning chokeholds — saying that they are already banned and Lamont is politicizing the issue for his “own political benefit.”

PA: Lawmakers will rule again over redrawing of Pennsylvania political boundaries, but critics aren’t giving up

spotlightpa.org

While an effort to create an independent commission to draw Pennsylvania’s congressional and legislative maps has run out of time, a new bill would increase transparency and ban the most egregious practices.

IN: Lawsuit alleges Indiana election law on polling hours strips Hoosiers of their constitutional rights

indystar.com

An Indiana political watchdog group has filed a lawsuit to overturn a 2019 election law prohibiting voters, political parties and candidates from asking a court to keep polling locations open past the 6 p.m. closing time if they encounter voting problems.

RI: Rhode Island governor says state will crack down on businesses that flout rules

providencejournal.com

Restaurants and other businesses that continue to blatantly disregard social distancing, mask-wearing and other coronavirus-control measures will be fined and could be shut down under an aggressive new policy announced by Rhode Island Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo.

NV: Crush of unemployment claims takes toll on Nevada officials

thenevadaindependent.com

“More than one person in DETR has had a breakdown,” said a veteran employee at the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation.

AZ: Arizona hospitals want state to waive some patient protections

azcentral.com

The president of the Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association wants immediate state action on waiving what she says are burdensome regulations on hospitals, including removing some patient protections against abuse, neglect and discrimination.

UT: Two Utah lawmakers seek switch to ranked-choice voting

sltrib.com

Utah state Rep. Mike Winder and state Sen. Curt Bramble, both Republicans, are about to push legislation that they figure will ensure that a candidate with the broadest party support wins — and does so with a majority in the final count.

VA: Virginia Republicans push for full in-person school; Democratic administration says they are playing politics

richmond.com

Virginia Republicans said Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat, should prioritize in-person learning for all students in the state, wading into a debate over when and how to return students to school buildings that shuttered in March in response to the coronavirus pandemic. 

NC: North Carolina legislature fails to override governor’s vetoes of bills to open gyms, skating rinks

newsobserver.com

In yet another attempt to scale back Democratic North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper’s coronavirus executive order that has kept some businesses shuttered, the legislature voted on two bills to open gyms and skating rinks in the state.

SC: Dueling rallies planned for anniversary of removal of Confederate flag from South Carolina Statehouse

thestate.com

On Friday, five years to the day after the Confederate battle flag was removed from the Statehouse grounds after a two-thirds vote by the legislature, the grounds will be split between supporters and opponents of the banner.

ME: Maine governor issues mask executive order for businesses

pressherald.com

Democratic Gov. Janet Mills unveiled an executive order, effective immediately, that requires businesses in Maine’s most populous cities to enforce wearing masks inside their premises.

KS: City mask ordinances are constitutional, Kansas attorney general says

kansas.com

As cities across Kansas pass ordinances requiring masks in public, Republican Attorney General Derek Schmidt confirmed that cities have the constitutional authority to enforce those measures.

IA: Iowa governor says cities, counties can’t require masks

iowapublicradio.org

Iowa Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds said local governments cannot implement mask requirements because they are not consistent with her public health disaster proclamation.

NH: New Hampshire outlines plans for polling place protective equipment

nhpr.org

New Hampshire’s poll workers will be outfitted with masks, face shields, gloves and gowns for the September primary and November general election — but local officials will need to reuse some of those items, including face masks, in both elections.

MT: Montana care facilities must test staff, residents if they allow visitors

billingsgazette.com

Montana Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock announced a new emergency rule saying that to allow visitors, nursing homes and assisted living facilities must participate in surveillance testing programs for employees and residents.

PA: Evictions loom large as Pennsylvania renter relief program stumbles, lacks Spanish-language application

spotlightpa.org

Pressure is mounting on Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, to extend his moratorium on evictions as advocates fear the relief effort is coming too late.

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