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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 8/5

What We're Reading: Top State Stories 8/5

MO: Missouri voters narrowly approve Medicaid expansion

stltoday.com

Ignoring pleas from Republican leaders, Missouri voters approved a plan to expand Medicaid coverage to more than 230,000 low-income people in the state, as 53% of voters supported the measure. Missouri now joins 37 other states that have expanded the federally subsidized health insurance program.

NY: New York City health commissioner resigns after clashing with mayor

nytimes.com

The resignation of Dr. Oxiris Barbot, New York City’s health commissioner since 2018, came after Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio stripped her agency of a key virus-tracing program.

US: States band together for testing

washingtonpost.com

Seven governors have formed a first-of-its-kind purchasing compact to pressure companies that make rapid-detection tests to quickly ramp up production. Each state — Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio and Virginia — would request 500,000 rapid tests, for a total of 3.5 million that could be deployed to address outbreaks.

IA: Iowa governor escalates stakes for defiant schools in showdown over mandate on in-person learning

desmoinesregister.com

Iowa Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds pushed back at school districts threatening to ignore a state mandate on in-person learning, saying they would not receive credit for those days of instruction. Her statement came a day after two Iowa school districts said they plan to defy the mandate that at least 50% of classes be held in person this fall.

AK: When Alaska police use deadly force, who holds them accountable?

adn.com

Alaska state prosecutors have ruled all the dozens of killings by police and troopers since 2015 to be justifiable homicide.

CT: A week before Connecticut’s primary, thousands of voters still haven’t gotten absentee ballots

courant.com 

Only one week before the Aug. 11 presidential primary, town clerks say that more than 20,000 Connecticut voters who requested absentee ballots haven’t received them yet due to a mix-up by the state, leaving local officials racing to get them in the hands of voters in time for the election. 

MN: Lawsuit aims to block mask mandate at Minnesota polling places

startribune.com

The lawsuit, backed by Minnesota Republican legislators, is the 11th legal challenge to Democratic Gov. Tim Walz’s COVID-19 restrictions.

SC: South Carolina can’t guarantee every school will have a full-time nurse

thestate.com

As students and parents prepare to return to school amid the coronavirus pandemic in South Carolina, it is unclear whether each school will have a full-time nurse, a top official said. A school official said she could not guarantee it.

GA: Images of student crowds raise questions in Georgia schools

apnews.com

Two suburban Atlanta school districts that began in-person classes with mask-optional policies face more questions about Georgia COVID-19 safety protocols after on-campus pictures showed students packed shoulder to shoulder.

WI: Governor has ‘no secret plan’ to mandate virtual instruction for Wisconsin schools

jsonline.com

Democratic Gov. Tony Evers says he is leaving it to school districts in Wisconsin whether they should have in-person classes this fall as Republican legislators continue to press him on the issue.

OH: Ohio introduces mask mandate for children returning to K-12 schools

cleveland.com

In the midst of a heated nationwide debate on sending children back to school during the coronavirus pandemic, Republican Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced a statewide mask mandate for students headed to in-person school this fall.

TN: In their first week back, East Tennessee schools already seeing COVID-19 cases

knoxnews.com

Three Tennessee school districts that started school last week with extra safety precautions reported positive COVID-19 cases. All three districts are using a staggered schedule.

DE: Delaware governor approves hybrid start to school year

doverpost.com

Delaware will provide free COVID-19 testing for teachers and staff before the school year begins, and monthly throughout the school year using an at-home testing option. Schools across the state also will host community testing sites for students wishing to get tested before school starts.

AL: First schools reopen in Alabama, many more scrambling, changing plans

al.com

As the opening date for Alabama schools creeps ever closer, school districts across the state are shifting plans, some to virtual learning, others to a model bringing smaller groups of students back on alternate days of the week.

MS: Mississippi governor delays start of school only in hotspots, orders statewide mask mandate

mississippitoday.org

Going against the advice of the state’s top health officer and other Mississippi medical experts, Republican Gov. Tate Reeves announced admittedly “piecemeal” orders that allow most schools to reopen now even as the state sees record numbers of COVID-19 cases.

CA: California undercounting COVID-19 cases due to technical issue, counties say

sacbee.com

Health officials in multiple California counties say the electronic system used by most local health departments statewide to report data on infectious diseases is experiencing “serious” technical issues, resulting in coronavirus cases being significantly undercounted.

VA: Virginia waives accreditation ratings for new school year

richmond.com

Virginia schools won't receive normal accreditation ratings from the state Department of Education again in 2021-22. Instead, schools will be assigned a rating of "Accreditation Waived," the same as last school year.

CO: Colorado AG sends more cease-and-desist letters cracking down on coronavirus spread

coloradosun.com

Democratic Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser fired off two more coronavirus-related cease-and-desist letters this week, this time aiming to stomp out plans for upcoming concerts at a horse-racing center. The letters are the 33th and 34th sent during the pandemic to enforce Democratic Gov. Jared Polis’ executive orders.

NV: Contentious COVID-19 business liability, worker protection bill advances in Nevada

thenevadaindependent.com

The Nevada bill would create an outline of enhanced cleaning policies for large casinos and hotels in Las Vegas and Reno; enhanced protections for workers at those casinos and hotels; and, most contentiously, broad immunity from COVID-19 related litigation for businesses, government agencies including schools and nonprofits, but not hospitals or health care facilities.

WA: Nearly 87,000 bogus unemployment claims filed in Washington

seattletimes.com

Emergency actions taken last May to halt a massive fraud in Washington’s unemployment system prevented at least $200 million in additional losses on top of the more than half-a-billion dollars taken by scammers, officials said.

OK: Oklahoma AG says he will fight inmates’ attempts at release

apnews.com

Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter, a Republican, said he will fight challenges by inmates to gain freedom after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Oklahoma prosecutors lack the authority to pursue criminal cases against American Indian defendants in parts of the state.

NH: New Hampshire governor says costs of new training for local police will be covered by state

nhpr.org

Republican Gov. Chris Sununu said New Hampshire will cover any costs associated with new de-escalation and bias training for police officers, rather than leave that to local police departments.

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