Stateline

What We're Reading: Top State Stories 9/14

What We're Reading: Top State Stories 9/14

NJ: Many in New Jersey refusing to cooperate with contact tracers, governor says

apnews.com

Almost three-fifths of people who respond to New Jersey’s COVID-19 contact tracers are refusing to cooperate, Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy said. Murphy called on people to cooperate with the state’s roughly 1,800 contact tracers, whose ranks he built up with the aim of smothering any new outbreaks.

NY: As unemployment exploded, New York loosened its rules

timesunion.com

As New York scrambled to distribute more than $41 billion in unemployment benefits and federal pandemic assistance, the state labor department sought to speed up the process by waiving security protocols. The result: an untold number of claims were overpaid or approved for people not entitled to receive them.

OK: Hundreds of Oklahoma college students self-isolate after exposures to COVID-19

tulsaworld.com

Hundreds of Oklahoma college students — a small fraction of the student population — have been in self-isolation because of COVID-19 exposure, higher education officials told the Tulsa World roughly a month into the fall semester.

MN: Minnesota's broad COVID-19 testing under microscope

startribune.com

Minnesota lab directors are defending their COVID-19 diagnostic tests amid criticism that they are too broad and find insignificant viral material in nasal and saliva samples from some people who aren’t infectious.

NC: Some more relief for unemployed in North Carolina

newsobserver.com

North Carolina legislators passed a new law this month giving an additional $50 a week to everyone receiving state unemployment benefits.

ME: Pandemic worsens hunger in Maine

pressherald.com

Hunger relief programs across Maine have seen a surge in the number of Mainers who need food assistance as they struggle with the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

WI: Wisconsin court action on ballots raises questions

apnews.com

The Wisconsin Supreme Court’s decision to halt the mailing of absentee ballots raised concerns of delays and confusion in the presidential battleground state. It’s unclear when the court, controlled 4-3 by conservatives, will make a final ruling that will restart the process of sending ballots.

MO: Missouri substitute teacher requirements relaxed temporarily

newstribune.com

In anticipation of a potential substitute teacher shortage as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the Missouri State Board of Education has temporarily made it easier for people to qualify for substitute positions.

MS: Sally may make landfall on Mississippi coast

sunherald.com

The National Hurricane Center shows Tropical Storm Sally making landfall on the Mississippi Gulf Coast as a strong Category 1 hurricane. The three Mississippi Coast Counties are under a hurricane warning, storm surge warning and flash flood watch.

MD: Preakness will not play Maryland’s state song

washingtonpost.com

Maryland’s state song, “Maryland, My Maryland,” a ballad with lyrics that celebrate the Confederacy and that many consider to be racist, will not be played in Baltimore next month for the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course.

AK: Many Alaskans sent absentee ballots in later than recommended in primary

adn.com

Despite worries over slow mail delivery, absentee ballots in Alaska’s primary did not arrive unusually late at the Division of Elections, according to an analysis of statewide primaries. But the same analysis indicates many Alaskans are mailing their ballots later than a one-week deadline recommended by the U.S. Postal Service.

WY: Pandemic fallout hit Wyoming’s women, single moms especially hard

wyomingnews.com

The social and economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have hit Wyoming women especially hard, according to a recent survey by the Wyoming Survey and Analysis Center. According to survey respondents, 17% worried their food would run out before they could afford to buy more, more often than prior to the pandemic.

WA: Washington election officials scrambling after USPS sends confusing postcards to voters

spokesman.com

Washington election officials are scrambling to avoid panic ahead of November’s election after state voters started getting postcards from the U.S. Postal Service with potentially misleading information on mail-in voting.

OH: Reporting of child abuse fell in Ohio as COVID-19 kept kids from school

dispatch.com

There have been 20,597 fewer reports of child abuse and neglect in Ohio during the coronavirus pandemic than during the same period last year, but experts say that does not mean incidents are going down.

ND, SD: Dakotas lead U.S. in virus growth as both reject mask rules

apnews.com

Coronavirus infections in the Dakotas are growing faster than anywhere else in the nation, fueling impassioned debates over masks and personal freedom after months in which the two states avoided the worst of the pandemic.

MA: Why Massachusetts has the highest unemployment rate in the country

bostonglobe.com

COVID-19, which hit Massachusetts early and hard, has disrupted the state’s economic equilibrium in ways other recessions didn’t.

LA: Phase 3 in Louisiana: Some bars can reopen as other businesses expand capacity to 75%

theadvocate.com

Democratic Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said restaurants, businesses and churches can operate at 75% of capacity under Phase 3 of the reopening of the state’s economy but bars will only reopen under tight restrictions.

TX: Texas AG seeks quick appeal on mail-in ballots as applications are set to go out

houstonchronicle.com

A day after a court ruled against him, Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton appealed an order that allowed mail-in ballot applications to be sent to all of Harris County’s 2.4 million registered voters.

TX: Texas lawmakers call on governor to plan to expand broadband access as pandemic worsens disparities

texastribune.org

As the COVID-19 pandemic has "exacerbated existing disparities" related to high-speed internet access in Texas, a bipartisan group of 88 state lawmakers asked Republican Gov. Greg Abbott to develop a plan to expand broadband access.

VT: Vermont governor hopes to ease restrictions on lodging industry

vpr.org

Republican Gov. Phil Scott said that low COVID-19 case counts on Vermont college campuses and in public schools could enable a more robust reopening of the lodging sector in advance of the fall foliage season.

CT: Connecticut officials say ‘high-risk’ designation unlikely to change for high school football

courant.com 

The Connecticut Department of Public Health is unlikely to sign off on a fall high school football season, Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont’s chief of staff said, following a meeting in which the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference presented mitigation strategies it believes could make the sport feasible.

OR: Oregon fire marshal resigned under investigation for entering active wildfire zone without authorization

oregonlive.com

Oregon’s former fire marshal Jim Walker resigned Saturday and was under investigation for misleading Oregon State Police leaders about whether he had authorization to enter a high-risk wildfire zone one night last week to search for human remains.

RI: Rhode Island leaders call for special election to decide on state borrowing 

providencejournal.com 

Rhode Island’s Democratic leaders said they plan to approve a state budget and call a special election to green-light state borrowing sometime after they face voters in the November general election. 

VA: Virginia special legislative session on the budget hasn’t addressed it yet

richmond.com

Almost four weeks into a special session called initially to deal with a $2.7 billion projected hole in the state budget, the Virginia General Assembly is still looking for a road map to an agreement on how to fill the gap. The House and Senate haven’t agreed on a process for adopting their budgets much less the spending.

SC: South Carolina governor criticizes Democrats in other states who shut businesses

thestate.com

Republican South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster dinged Democratic governors in states that shut down businesses and restricted “people’s rights” in a speech to the South Carolina Republican Party’s Silver Elephant Dinner.

DE: Delaware school board gets final say in whether high school athletes play

wdel.com

The Delaware Interscholastic Athletics Association's decision to move fall sports back to the fall instead of three condensed seasons starting in December was a big step, but not the finish line, for those wanting to get their athletes on the field soon.

HI: Hawaii lieutenant governor tests positive for COVID-19

hawaiinewsnow.com

Democratic Hawaii Lt. Gov. Josh Green — who has helped lead the state’s fight against COVID-19 — has tested positive for the coronavirus. After receiving the positive results, Green said he would quarantine in his downtown Honolulu condominium separate from his family.

ID: Despite a mild wildfire season, Idaho expects a big burn soon

idahostatesman.com

Idaho has had a relatively mild wildfire season for the second year in a row, a stark contrast to the fires now raging across the West. Whether future Idaho wildfires will prove to be as destructive and fatal as those in neighboring states remains to be seen.

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