Stateline

What We're Reading: Top State Stories 7/13

What We're Reading: Top State Stories 7/13

US: America’s governors get tested for a virus that is testing them

nytimes.com

Governors are judged on their disaster responses, but the coronavirus wreaking havoc across the country these days does not recede like floodwaters and cannot be tamed by calling out the National Guard.

FL: Florida sets national daily case record

miamiherald.com

Florida health officials reported 15,300 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 — more than any state has reported in a single day, prompting Democratic leaders to call for more action. The previous high was 12,274 in New York on April 4.

CA: California COVID-19 deaths top 7,000

latimes.com

The death toll from the coronavirus in California soared above 7,000 this weekend as the infection rate continued to worsen. The rate at which coronavirus test results came back positive in California over the previous seven days hit 7.97%, the highest rate since April.

LA: Louisiana governor shutters bars, issues mask mandate: 'Current restrictions are not enough'

theadvocate.com

Amid spiraling coronavirus infections and steadily increasing hospitalizations, Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards said he is issuing a statewide mask mandate and closing bars, making Louisiana the latest Southern state to ratchet restrictions back up after months of reopening.

WI: Wisconsin absentee ballots didn't get counted because of late delivery, misdelivery and bad postmarks, post office says

jsonline.com

The U.S. Postal Service has identified hundreds of absentee ballots for Wisconsin’s April election that never made it to voters or couldn't be counted because of postmark problems, a new report says.

MS: Mississippi limits elective surgeries amid COVID-19 surge

apnews.com

Mississippi’s top public health official has ordered a temporary halt to all elective surgeries to try to save hospital bed space as the state sees a rapid expansion in cases of the new coronavirus.

CO: Colorado governor extends COVID-19 relief orders

denverpost.com

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, a Democrat, extended COVID-19 pandemic relief orders for another month to ease pressure on residents struggling to pay rent and utility bills and receive unemployment insurance payments.

VA: Virginia searches for bilingual contract tracers

richmond.com

About half of the 2,361 people in Richmond who’ve tested positive for coronavirus are Hispanic, but only 14 workers hired recently to investigate cases and curb the spread of the virus in the city and surrounding county speak Spanish. Public health officials in the city and state say they are still working to ramp up hiring of Spanish-speaking contact tracers.

NV: Nevada unemployment fund close to empty

reviewjournal.com

Nevada’s pot of money for paying jobless benefits runs out in less than seven weeks. The unemployment trust fund has already plummeted by about 86% since March, when in response to the pandemic Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak mandated the closure of nonessential businesses.

NH: New Hampshire governor vetoes bills on paid family leave, absentee voting

nhpr.org

Republican New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu vetoed bills to create a paid family leave program, to expand absentee voting and to provide relief for people who have trouble making housing payments because of COVID-19, continuing a record string of vetoes.

WI: In a blow to governor, Wisconsin Supreme Court overturns three budget vetoes

jsonline.com

A divided Wisconsin Supreme Court scaled back Democratic Gov. Tony Evers' veto authority, throwing out three changes he made to the state budget last year. The ruling, written by conservatives who control the court, is a setback for Evers and future governors.

NM: New Mexico officials flout mask rules

santafenewmexican.com

As New Mexico struggles to enforce a face mask requirement during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, some of its elected leaders have been less than ideal role models. The individual challenges to the public health order — particularly from a few legislators — highlight the continuing challenges of enforcing compliance.

MN: With FEMA aid to rebuild from riots denied, Minnesota looks elsewhere

startribune.com

The Federal Emergency Management Agency denied Democratic Gov. Tim Walz’s request for nearly $16 million in aid to help rebuild and repair structures in Minnesota, many of them left in ruins by the riots and fires that erupted during protests of George Floyd’s May 25 death while in Minneapolis police custody.

MI: As virus surges in Michigan, so does rage over masks

freep.com

Face masks recommended to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus have become an unlikely focus of partisanship and racial division, leading to mass refusals to wear them or mandate their use. There have been mask burnings, protests and lawsuits against local officials voting to require them.

AZ: Did Arizona use its shutdown wisely?

azcentral.com

An Arizona Republic analysis reveals persistent gaps in testing, spotty contact tracing efforts and overwhelmed hospitals. It raises questions about whether enough Arizonans are committed to wearing masks and following social distancing guidelines and whether the state has been aggressive enough in its directives.

US: Tribes struggle to meet deadline to spend pandemic relief aid

apnews.com

Tribes are wrestling with competing needs, restrictive laws and inadequate staffing to deal with the financial windfalls on a tight deadline amid the debilitating pandemic. They must meet strict federal guidelines on the spending or risk having to send the money back.

IA: Black Lives Matter, Iowa politicians call for felon voting rights restoration executive order

desmoinesregister.com

Black Iowa politicians joined Des Moines Black Lives Matter protesters in a demonstration, calling for Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds to sign an executive order restoring felon voting rights.

ME: For thousands of unemployed Mainers, the system isn’t working

pressherald.com

A historic wave of unemployment claims in Maine and a flood of fraudulent filings conspired with technology problems and staffing woes to create delays and headaches for people seeking benefits.

TX: Texas private border wall got $1.7B in federal funding

texastribune.org

President Donald Trump criticized a faulty private border wall in Texas, saying it was "only done to make me look bad." But the builder also got $1.7 billion in wall contracts from the administration for other areas.

PA: 4 more states added to Pennsylvania travel quarantine list

apnews.com

State health officials in Pennsylvania have added four states — including neighboring Delaware — to the travel quarantine recommendation aimed at stemming the spread of COVID-19 in the commonwealth.

VT: Vermont Supreme Court upholds school consolidation

wcax.com

The Vermont Supreme Court in a seismic ruling upheld Act 46, the state law designed to consolidate school districts, reduce costs and streamline educational offerings.

AL: Reopening Alabama’s K-12 schools: Here are the plans so far

al.com

With fewer than 30 days before some Alabama schools will open for students, plans are still trickling out for what parents and students should expect for this school year.

GA: Behind the rift between Atlanta's mayor and Georgia's governor

ajc.com

Not long ago, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, a Democrat, and Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican, seemed on a path toward a solid bipartisan relationship.

GA: Georgia ends fiscal year with $1B drop in tax collections

ajc.com

Georgia ended fiscal 2020 last week about $1 billion in the hole as the coronavirus recession held down income and retail sales that produce tax revenue.

MS: What's next for Mississippi’s coronavirus-infected legislature?

clarionledger.com

Mississippi lawmakers need to return to the Capitol as soon as possible to deal with two pressing budget issues. But they can't, considering at least 26 of them have the coronavirus. Among those sickened are top leaders Republican House Speaker Philip Gunn and Republican Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann.

CT: Childhood immunizations in Connecticut dropped sharply during pandemic

ctmirror.org

At the height of the pandemic this spring, many families fearful of setting foot inside a doctor’s office avoided pediatric checkups. That fueled a sharp downturn in Connecticut’s immunization levels for vaccine-preventable diseases, according to state Department of Public Health data.

RI: Rhode Island governor launches rental assistance program with United Way

providencejournal.com

Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo unveiled a $7 million initiative with the United Way of Rhode Island to provide tenants with help paying back rent and securing legal representation, with a goal of reaching resolutions out of court and keeping people in their homes.

OK: American Indian group protests at Oklahoma land run monument

oklahoman.com

More than 200 people peacefully assembled to protest a historical monument that members of Native American tribes say doesn’t give an accurate depiction of history. A group of armed counter-protesters peacefully disagreed.

NJ: New Jersey could borrow up to $9.9B under deal between governor, lawmakers

northjersey.com

New Jersey may borrow up to $9.9 billion to shore up the state's budget under a deal between Senate President Stephen Sweeney and Gov. Phil Murphy, both Democrats, moving the borrowing plan closer to reality.

MO: Hospitalizations, new cases continue worrisome trend in Missouri

stltoday.com

Missouri continued to see dangerous trends of new coronavirus cases as well as increasing numbers of people hospitalized. Rural and urban areas are all seeing cases added to their tallies at the highest rates since the pandemic began, data shows.

MT: Montana adds 127 COVID-19 cases, another record

billingsgazette.com

Montana reported 127 new cases of COVID-19, again setting a record for daily increase in cases.

IL: Illinois adds more than 4K new cases in 4 days

chicagotribune.com

Illinois announced 954 new coronavirus cases Sunday, following three straight days with numbers in the 1,000s. This comes as the number of cases across the country continues to surge.

AK: Alaska new daily COVID-19 cases top 100 for the first time

newsminer.com

The state Department of Health and Social Services reported Sunday that 93 Alaskans and 23 nonresidents had contracted the virus, a sharp increase from the combined 78 cases of the previous 24-hour period. "We are moving in the wrong direction," wrote the state's public health director.

WA: Washington prisoners blame 'disgusting' conditions as case counts skyrocket

spokesman.com

In recent weeks, COVID-19 cases have skyrocketed at Washington's Coyote Ridge Corrections Center, reaching 229 confirmed cases. To quell the disease, the facility has put prisoners in isolation, leaving them with only 30 minutes a day to call lawyers or loved ones, fill water pitchers, clean clothes, use the microwave or walk outside.

HI: Hawaii launches COVID-19 forecasting tool

civilbeat.org

A new forecasting tool estimates Hawaii could see between 248 and 285 new COVID-19 cases confirmed within the next two weeks. The state-launched model offers a two-week forecast to better inform policymaking, such as travel restrictions or shelter-in-place mandates.

NC: Black-owned businesses in North Carolina face discrimination in loans

newsobserver.com

Rochelle Sparko, the director of North Carolina policy at the Durham-based Center for Responsible Lending, said making banks “gatekeepers” of the loans led to unbalanced results because when you look at “who is accessing credit, the outcomes are disparate.” She noted the country’s history of lending discrimination.

SC: South Carolina sees first cases of rare health condition affecting children with COVID-19

thestate.com

South Carolina’s first confirmed cases of Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children associated with COVID-19 was announced by state officials. Health officials said two children are the first in the state with confirmed diagnoses of the rare health condition recently recognized to occur in some children and teenagers who have contracted COVID-19.

MA: As woods give way to solar farms, Massachusetts to issue rules that could harm solar industry

bostonglobe.com

Massachusetts has been a national leader in solar power and now boasts more of the renewable energy than most other states. But it has come at a cost to forests and woodlands, and environmental advocates — not a group ordinarily prone to voicing doubts about renewable sources — say misguided state incentives have encouraged building solar farms on undeveloped land.

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