Stateline

What We're Reading: Top State Stories 8/10

What We're Reading: Top State Stories 8/10

WA: Washington child care workers are becoming de facto teachers

seattletimes.com

Many Washington children will need to log on to remote school from child care operations. Staffers will have whole new responsibilities — making sure children “get” to class, helping them connect by video chat, and answering questions about schoolwork.

OR: Oregon unclear on whether it will pay Trump’s $400 unemployment bonus

oregonlive.com

Amid legal and logistical questions about President Donald Trump's order to extend bonus unemployment payments, it’s uncertain when, how or if Oregon will make those new payments. The state is still preparing a response.

FL: Many who died of COVID-19 in Florida prisons were eligible for parole

orlandosentinel.com

Currently, almost 4,000 men and women eligible for parole are serving time in Florida prisons. All have been behind bars at least since 1995, many for serious crimes like murder or rape. Advocates argue many could be safely released.

TX: Texas bars, breweries reinvent themselves

texastribune.org

Texas businesses that make up most of their sales with alcohol were closed down by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott's latest order, leaving them to maneuver through loopholes to reopen. To stay open they must keep alcohol revenue below 51%. 

NC: North Carolina anti-retaliation law shields few workers

newsobserver.com

The 1992 law designed to shield workers from reprisals if they point out workplace dangers has few cases, North Carolina officials say. After receipt of more than 10,000 complaints neither the Labor Department nor the state attorney general’s office had brought a single retaliation case.

RI: Appeals Court rejects GOP request for witnesses on Rhode Island mail ballots 

providencejournal.com 

A federal court has rejected a request from Republicans for a requirement that mail ballots in Rhode Island be signed by two witnesses. An earlier federal court decision paved the way for the signature requirement to be waived. 

PA: League Of Women Voters sues Pennsylvania over mail-in ballots

wesa.fm

The suit was filed in federal court for failing to notify Pennsylvanians who voted by mail that their ballots were rejected for signature-verification issues. The suit alleges that thousands of votes could be discarded if mail-in ballot procedures aren’t changed.

PA: Pennsylvania hotline fields more calls about student suicidal thoughts, report shows

triblive.com

Reports of suicidal thoughts by Pennsylvania students reported to the state’s tip line increased after schools shut down in March because of the coronavirus pandemic, according to an analysis by Attorney General Josh Shapiro, a Democrat.

VT: Vermont launches $12M child care relief grant program

vtdigger.org

Vermont launched a child care relief program that will provide $12 million in grants to help providers with coronavirus expenses. The Operational Relief Grant program is funded by federal relief dollars.

AL: Virus woes reshaping Alabama nonprofits

al.com

After four months of soft contributions, record demands on services and no end in sight from the coronavirus pandemic, Alabama nonprofits are settling in: Most will be forced to change their service models and operate under much tighter budgets. 

GA: Judge rules against switch to hand-marked paper ballots in Georgia

ajc.com

A federal judge denied an effort to convert Georgia elections to paper ballots filled out by hand, declining to throw out the state’s new voting system after its first statewide test in this spring’s primaries.

MS: Mississippi’s seven-day average of new COVID-19 cases falls to lowest since mid-July

sunherald.com

The Mississippi State Department of Health reported 527 new cases of COVID-19 and 22 deaths. The state’s seven-day average of new coronavirus cases continues to fall, and at 946 is the lowest since July 19.

MS: Districts scramble to understand, comply with Mississippi governor’s last-minute delayed schools order

mssissippitoday.org

Mississippi school leaders are forced to make last-minute adjustments to already complicated school reopening plans. Before Republican Gov. Tate Reeves’ announcement that schools in coronavirus hotspots must reopen later, schools were directed to decide for themselves.

VA: Virginia grapples with testing delays

richmond.com

As public activity steadily rises and the bustling fall season nears for schools and businesses, lengthy waits for COVID-19 testing continue to plague Virginia. Backlogs for COVID-19 test results have for weeks resulted in waits of 10 days or longer for many Virginians.

SC: South Carolina state doctor: Governor was misleading

thestate.com

The doctor who has overseen much of South Carolina’s response to the coronavirus pandemic says Republican Gov. Henry McMaster’s staff misled the public about her position on reopening restaurants to indoor dining, as well as barber shops and close contact businesses.

OK: Hundreds staff Oklahoma call center tracing spreading of coronavirus

oklahoman.com

In a cubicle farm in nondescript office space about four miles from the state Capitol, the Oklahoma State Health Department calls thousands of Oklahomans a day, with many getting some unwelcome news. The call center has been up and running since June 8.

NJ: Pressure on New Jersey schools to start remote-only

nj.com

The mayor of Newark, the Jersey City school board, a South Jersey teachers’ union and the New Jersey association of principals joined the growing chorus of people and organizations calling on the state to keep public schools closed as the coronavirus crisis continues.

MO: Missouri a 'red zone' for the coronavirus, but officials resist statewide orders

stlpublicradio.org

The head of the Missouri Health Department says he stands by his decision not to recommend masks or social distancing policies statewide, even as the federal government has designated the state a “red zone” for new coronavirus cases.

WY: Wyoming unemployment lines sometimes strained as calls continue

wyomingnews.com

Despite Wyoming’s unemployment rate ticking down slightly in recent months, ongoing steep demand for assistance has kept the phone lines busy, and sometimes unreachable, at the state’s Department of Workforce Services.

DE: Delaware colleges weigh impact of virus as fall nears

delawarestatenews.net

Some Delaware colleges announced plans to remain remote for the fall semester; others have intentions of bringing students back to campus with hybrid courses that mix remote and in-person instruction.

ID: More than 1,000 cases of COVID-19 reported in Idaho nursing homes

idahostatesman.com

COVID-19 has infected staff and residents at 78% of Idaho’s 82 nursing homes. The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare’s records don’t include 13 nursing homes that have been reporting active COVID-19 outbreaks.

HI: More voters are casting ballots in Hawaii's all-mail election

civilbeat.org

Even before the polls officially close, more voters are casting ballots in Hawaii’s first all-mail election than they have in decades. This year turnout for the state was at about 51.1%, the highest turnout in Hawaii since 1996, when about 51% of registered voters cast ballots.

CO: COVID-19 has Colorado teachers thinking of quitting

denverpost.com 

Colorado educators do not want to leave teaching. But the risks associated with interacting with dozens of students indoors each day has only compounded broader issues within the education system. 

AZ: Arizona religious communities return to in-person worship

azcentral.com

As hospital metrics continue stabilizing in Arizona, some religious leaders have reassessed their largely virtual offerings and are beginning to move forward with reopening their physical facilities.

NH: New Hampshire Republican voter registration mailer goes out with wrong addresses

nhpr.org

The New Hampshire Republican Party sent mailers out last week with incorrect information on where to send absentee voter registration forms after what it says was a “printing mistake.”

IN: Indiana officials pressured to set school shutdown benchmarks

apnews.com 

With at least 31 positive cases of the coronavirus reported in Indiana schools since buildings began reopening in late July, district leaders, teachers and parents are pressuring state officials to identify benchmarks for what would require schools to go back online as confirmed cases of the virus increase. 

AL: Most Alabama child care facilities are open amid pandemic

apnews.com

The Alabama Department of Human Resources says 63% of the state’s 2,410 child care facilities are now open after most closed in the spring because of COVID-19. The department said reopening is a positive sign for parents.

GA: Georgia school with large crowds reports positive cases

apnews.com

Nine students and staff members at a Georgia high school have tested positive for the coronavirus, the principal said after the school made headlines for online photos showing hallways packed with teens — many of them not wearing masks.

SD: Bikers descend on South Dakota town with few signs of pandemic

apnews.com

The coronavirus may be changing the world, but there aren’t many signs of the pandemic at the massive annual motorcycle rally being held this week at a small city along Interstate 90 in western South Dakota.

LA: Auditor debunks claims of duplicates in Louisiana cases

apnews.com

Louisiana’s legislative auditor found claims that the state was double-counting positive coronavirus tests in the official tally of cases was unfounded, upending theories pushed in conservative circles that the data is being skewed to make the outbreak appear worse than it is.

NV: Nevada regents approve Title IX change

apnews.com

After a heated meeting, the Nevada Board of Regents voted to change the sexual harassment policy to comply with new federal Title IX regulations, which critics say make it harder for sexual assault victims to obtain justice.

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