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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 8/17

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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 8/17

WI: Skepticism urged as disinformation, voter suppression wash over Wisconsin

wisconsinwatch.org

In Wisconsin, a top swing state, actors seek to misinform voters to gain advantage and sow chaos; the pandemic has fueled even more "information disorder."

US: State officials rush to shore up confidence in Nov. 3 election

washingtonpost.com

Attorneys general from at least six states are huddling to discuss possible lawsuits against the administration to block it from reducing mail service between now and the election, several told The Washington Post. State leaders are scrambling to see whether they can change rules to give voters more options.

VA: Virginia lawmakers convene for special session on COVID-19, policing

richmond.com

Virginia lawmakers will convene this week for a high-pressure special session dedicated to confronting the impact of COVID-19 on the state, and reacting to calls for police and criminal justice changes.

US: Politics slows flow of U.S. virus money to local public health

apnews.com

Congress has set aside trillions of dollars to ease the crisis. A joint Kaiser Health News and Associated Press investigation finds that many communities with big outbreaks have spent little of that federal money on local public health departments for work such as testing and contact tracing.

CA: California experiencing rolling blackouts in severe heat

sacbee.com

California’s power grid faltered again over the weekend, prompting rolling blackouts as the state buckled under the weight of a scorching heat wave.

SD: South Dakota governor declines Trump's $400 unemployment payments

argusleader.com

South Dakotans won't be receiving the $400 weekly unemployment payments authorized by President Donald Trump, Republican Gov. Kristi Noem announced. The state didn't need it, she said, because it has recovered nearly 80% of the job losses caused by the pandemic.

IA: Iowa requests $3.9B in federal aid after storm

desmoinesregister.com

Iowa GOP Gov. Kim Reynolds announced that she formally requested an expedited Presidential Major Disaster Declaration after the Aug. 10 derecho storm.

MO: Missouri governor's 'political malpractice' halts special session, critics charge

stltoday.com

Republicans and Democrats alike agreed that last week’s walkout by the Missouri House wasn’t a good look for an appointed governor in the middle of a campaign for a full, four-year term. Republican Gov. Mike Parson called the special session in an effort to appear tough on crime.

NE: Nebraska governor vetoes natural hair discrimination bill, signs abortion bill

omaha.com

Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts during a rally signed into law a bill banning a method of second-trimester abortion in Nebraska. He also announced that he vetoed a bill that would ban discrimination against Black people based on their naturally curly hair.

VT: New emergency order allows Vermont towns to close bars, restrict public gatherings

vpr.org

Vermont Gov. Phil Scott, a Republican, said he's concerned about a spike in COVID-19 cases when college students return, so he's given cities and towns strengthened authority to close bars and restrict public gatherings.

ID: Idaho falling far short of testing goals

idahostatesman.com

Idaho's testing task force recommended in late May that 151,000 tests a week should be performed. Since the guidelines were introduced, Idaho has only once reached over 17% of that weekly number.

LA: 25% of Louisiana students lack internet access needed for virtual learning

theadvocate.com

A new report released last week for the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education shows that 86% of Louisiana school districts are starting the school year with a combination of virtual and in-person classes.

KY: Kentucky schools scramble to reach students on the losing end of the digital divide

kentucky.com

Many schools had planned to begin offering in-person instruction this month, but Democratic Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear asked schools to hold off on bringing students into classrooms until at least Sept. 28 to avoid risking a spike in COVID-19 cases.

AL: Why it’s almost impossible to sue Alabama K-12 schools over the coronavirus

al.com

Absolute immunity protects public schools in Alabama from legal liability if they are sued for a coronavirus-related infection during school or a school-related function like a sports game, lawyers say.

NC: University of North Carolina faculty call meeting over COVID-19 clusters

newsobserver.com

The Faculty Executive Committee at University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill will discuss the growing number of coronavirus cases among students after the first week of classes. The university reported its fourth cluster of coronavirus cases on Sunday, according to a campus alert.

CO: Colorado courts catapulted online amid pandemic

denverpost.com

Judges, attorneys, witnesses, defendants and members of the public are logging into virtual courtrooms across Colorado, appearing via live online video streams, or calling in on phones from their cars, homes — or wherever they happen to be.

UT: Utahns catching COVID-19 at home, data shows

deseret.com

As of Sunday, 17,931 of Utah’s 46,652 confirmed cases since the pandemic began were transmitted between family members or roommates, according to data from the Utah Department of Health. State officials and others have warned that large households are especially at risk of outbreaks.

LA: How housing patterns may partly explain coronavirus's outsized impact on Black Louisianans

nola.com

Louisiana’s Black households are more likely to be larger, with multiple generations under one roof, and they are more likely to include “essential workers.” They also are more likely to be located in segregated, working-class neighborhoods.

GA: Some Georgia cities race to adopt mask mandates after Kemp’s about-face

ajc.com

Almost as soon as Republican Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp let it be known he would reverse course and allow local governments to impose mask mandates, Sandy Springs Mayor Rusty Paul announced the Atlanta suburb would draft an order to comply with the new guidance. It won’t be the only one.

KS: ‘The data is solid': Kansas virus cases dropped after mask requirement

kansas.com

An analysis of Kansas COVID-19 cases by The Kansas City Star and The Wichita Eagle shows an overall downward trend since last month in 16 counties with a mask order early on while 89 counties without one trended up.

RI: Day care not driving Rhode Island virus cases

providencejournal.com

Rhode Island day care centers have not been significant centers of COVID-19 transmission since they reopened in June, state health officials say, offering it as a positive sign that young children can return to classrooms safely this fall.

NY: New York has a 14-day quarantine. Many New Yorkers are ignoring it.

nytimes.com

New Yorkers returning from states with high infection rates say they are following the rules, but their social media posts say otherwise.

HI: Hawaii governor makes more money available to nursing homes

civilbeat.org

Hawaii Gov. David Ige, a Democrat, quietly signed into law a bill that could help nursing homes in the fight against COVID-19. It eliminates the spending cap on a special fund the federal government deposits money into from penalties paid by nursing homes, making available $1 million from a fund that had been capped at $30,000 a year.

OH: Rural Ohio depends on mail carriers

dispatch.com

Mail carriers in rural Ohio and elsewhere don’t just deliver letters and magazines, but also lifesaving medicines and packages from Amazon and FedEx that otherwise wouldn’t make it. Restructuring and other possible changes at the U.S. Postal Service, however, could severely affect rural carriers.

MT: Montana officials drop proposed flavored vaping product ban

apnews.com

The Montana health department decision came after 13 state senators and seven representatives, all Republicans, signed letters last month opposing the rule and stating that the health department does not have the authority to implement such a ban.

NY: New York budget officials anticipate $14.5B shortfall

timesunion.com

Budget officials anticipate New York will face a $14.5 billion shortfall in revenue this fiscal year, most of that deficit a result of responding to the coronavirus pandemic. The estimate is more than $1 billion more than was projected in April.

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