Stateline

What We're Reading: Top State Stories 8/11

What We're Reading: Top State Stories 8/11

TN: Tennessee lawmakers seek COVID-19 liability bill

tennessean.com

With Tennessee lawmakers back in Nashville this week for a special session, among their highest priorities is a COVID-19 liability bill that left the House and Senate bitterly divided two months ago.

FL: Florida lawmakers urge governor to take Trump deal

tampabay.com

Florida's unemployment benefits are so pitiful that Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis doesn't have a choice, lawmakers said. Trump’s executive order comes with a sizable match, requiring Florida to pay $100 a week for nearly 800,000 claimants.

US: ICE expelling youths after COVID-19 test

texastribune.org

Since March, the Trump administration has pushed thousands of migrant children back to their home countries without legal screenings or protection, citing the risk that they could be carrying COVID-19 into the United States. But by the time the children are boarded on planes home, they’ve already tested negative.

CA: Archaic systems  contributed to California's COVID-19, unemployment woes

latimes.com

California has fixed a public health computer database failure that distorted test results across the state. Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom blamed it on the state’s archaic technology systems, also criticized for failing to process unemployment insurance applications.

NH: Black entrepreneurs in New Hampshire face racism, isolation

nhpr.org

A list of Black-owned businesses circulating in New Hampshire contains more than 70 companies: from restaurants and salons, to building contractors and consultants. Occasionally, white customers won’t do business with them. Occasionally, they’ve been hostile.

OH: Ohio will take Trump’s $300 jobless pay boost

dispatch.com

Ohio will accept a deal to boost jobless assistance payments by $300 a week, but can’t afford to add another $100 on top of that. Republican Gov. Mike DeWine says Ohio’s budget can’t take more spending, but the state’s regular unemployment insurance payments will fulfill that requirement.

TN: More than 80 students quarantined in Tennessee after school exposure

tennessean.com

More than 80 students, seven Tennessee teachers and staff, and a bus driver are at home because of a positive test or coming into close contact with someone who tested positive. 

NY: Judge rejects New York rule on size of wedding crowds

timesunion.com

A federal judge overturned New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's limit of 50 guests at wedding receptions, a measure the Democrat put in place earlier this year to slow the spread of the coronavirus. The judge issued the ruling in a case that involved a couple that wanted to have 200 people at a wedding at a golf club.

CA: California governor: Trump’s unemployment plan unworkable

sacbee.com

Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom said it will be extremely difficult — and likely impossible — for the state to provide funding needed to give California’s unemployment workers the entire $400 additional benefit President Donald Trump has announced. That benefit would cost the state an estimated $700 million each week, Newsom said.

MD: Some say Maryland officials should restrict large weddings

baltimoresun.com

Concerned Marylanders — some of them in the wedding business — worry that current rules do little to keep weddings in check. Maryland encourages outdoor weddings and receptions and places no blanket restrictions on them, while indoor weddings face capacity restrictions based on where they’re held.

NC: North Carolina shows fewest new COVID-19 cases in two months

newsobserver.com

North Carolina added just 626 coronavirus cases to its running total Monday, the smallest daily increase of new cases in more than two months. Daily increases have typically topped 1,000 statewide, and the total rose by more than 2,000 cases several times in late July.

SC: South Carolina governor asks for COVID-19 stats by school district

thestate.com

As some students head back to school this month, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster, a Republican, wants the state’s public health agency to publicly release daily statistics on how many students and staff members are testing positive for COVID-19.

AL: Agency in Alabama city segregated public housing, report finds

decaturdaily.com

A federal review found that a public housing authority in Alabama let white people live in riverfront towers with scenic views and other amenities while segregating Black people in another apartment development without the frills.

GA: Online absentee ballot applications approved for Georgia voters

ajc.com

Georgia voters will soon be able to go online to order an absentee ballot for the November presidential election. The state election board approved the change.

GA: Georgia governor rules out statewide order requiring masks at school

ajc.com

Republican Gov. Brian Kemp ruled out ordering Georgia public school systems to impose mask mandates for returning students and teachers. Kemp said local education officials should decide whether to require face coverings.

MS: Mississippi COVID-19 numbers drop

sunherald.com

Following a July of soaring COVID-19 cases, Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves, a Republican, is relieved to see gradual improvement in August. “Your efforts are working,” the first-term governor said. 

MS: Mississippi flag commission announces 147 finalists of nearly 3,000 submissions

mississippitoday.org

The nine-member commission tasked with choosing one design for the new Mississippi state flag announced 147 finalists. The state legislature earlier voted to remove the 1894 state flag with its divisive Confederate battle emblem.

MN: Local officials hustle to spend Minnesota CARES Act money

minnpost.com

Local officials around Minnesota are hustling to spend their share of an $841 million COVID-19 aid package from the federal CARES Act, planning to use the money on everything from child care operations and business grants to city hall remodeling projects and technology upgrades for remote work.

MN: Minnesota allows more visitors in long-term care

mprnews.org

The Minnesota Department of Health rolled out new guidance that gives long-term care residences — which include assisted living facilities, nursing homes and memory care units — a framework for setting up policies to allow visitors more broadly than at any other time during the coronavirus pandemic.

CO: Colorado scrambles to interpret Trump’s unemployment order

denverpost.com

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, a Democrat, said the state has enough money to pay the $100 a week match under the order only for a couple of weeks. Trump’s executive order extends enhanced federal unemployment payments at $400 a week — down from a previous $600 — but only if states cover 25% of those costs.

AZ: Arizona reports lower COVID-19 numbers as hospitalizations continue decline

azcentral.com

Arizona reported just 600 new COVID-19 cases, as hospitalizations for the disease continue four weeks of steady declines. Inpatient hospitalizations, intensive care unit beds in use and ventilators in use all dropped.

UT: Utah’s new coronavirus cases below 300 for the first time since early June

sltrib.com

For the first time since June 9, Utah reported fewer than 300 new cases of the coronavirus, along with nine new deaths. Republican Gov. Gary Herbert has said he wants the seven-day average to be below 400 new cases a day by Sept. 1.

NJ: Reopening indoor dining in New Jersey too risky, governor says

nj.com

Though New Jersey’s coronavirus numbers continue to improve five months into the state’s outbreak, Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy said it remains too risky to permit indoor dining at bars and restaurants, citing a study of a restaurant outbreak in China as evidence.

MO: As a virtual start approaches, some Missouri schools face laptop backlogs

stltoday.com

As the fall draws near, and school districts race to prepare for virtual learning, a national shortage of easy-to-use, inexpensive laptop computers is leaving some Missouri districts with waylaid shipments and delayed orders.

WA: Watchdog says change needed to stop spread in Washington prisons

seattletimes.com

An independent office that oversees Washington’s prisons is recommending action to ease the situation for inmates subject to pandemic restrictions. The guidelines include more face masks and showers, expanded coronavirus testing, outdoor visits for prisoners and the potential release of more prisoners.

OR: Oregon sees modest fall in new cases

oregonlive.com

Oregon reported the smallest jump in coronavirus cases in a month, with state officials announcing 227 confirmed or likely new cases and one new death. It’s unclear what, if anything, the modest decline means, given that ups and downs in the numbers are normal.

ID: Outbreaks continue in Idaho agriculture

idahostatesman.com

Idaho has seen at least 11 outbreaks at food processing and meatpacking facilities. Health officials have speculated the outbreaks are driving a disproportionate rate of coronavirus infection among Latinos in Idaho.

MA: Infection rates below 1% in most Massachusetts towns

bostonglobe.com

The rate of residents testing positive for COVID-19 over the past two weeks was less than 1% in more than half of Massachusetts cities and towns. Yet very few districts have indicated they will reopen schools to all students full time, five days a week.

KY: Kentucky governor asks schools not to reopen yet

kentucky.com

Kentucky schools shut down to in-person learning in March. At least 30 districts in the state already have announced that they would start virtually only; other districts were planning to return in mid-to-late August or around Sept. 8.

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