Stateline

What We're Reading: Top State Stories 9/16

What We're Reading: Top State Stories 9/16

WA: Wildfire smoke and COVID-19 combine into big threat for Washington patients

spokesman.com

Experts from public health officials to pulmonologists agree that Washington's wildfire smoke, especially in the midst of a respiratory disease pandemic, is bad for people’s health. Even before the pandemic, researchers found an increase in hospitalized patients seeking treatment for respiratory-related outcomes on days when there was an increase of smoke or decreased air quality.

OR: Oregon governor to veto parts of budget to preserve wildfire funds

opb.org

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, a Democrat, will veto a number of budget adjustments passed by legislators last month, restoring planned cuts to a handful of state agencies while scrapping $100 million lawmakers had earmarked for emergency spending. Brown touted the move as a way to keep more money in state coffers while funding a response to dozens of wildfires burning in the western part of the state.

MS: Mississippi braces for Hurricane Sally

sunherald.com

Hurricane Sally is bringing significant risk of flash flooding and river flooding on the Mississippi Coast. Rainfall of 12 inches is possible across portions of southeastern Mississippi.

FL: Child cases in Florida grow

clickorlando.com

Data released by school districts around Central Florida shows that a majority of the COVID-19 cases connected to school campuses are in students versus teachers and other staff. Around the state coronavirus cases in people under 18 years old have increased since the fall semester started.

CT: About a dozen Connecticut schools have closed so far over coronavirus

courant.com 

Two weeks into the school year, more than a dozen public schools across Connecticut have temporarily shut down in-person learning because of COVID-19 cases among students and staff, as administrators ask for consistency in recommendations from the state. Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont said schools should not shut down because of a single case. 

LA: At $1.6B, Hurricane Laura did more agriculture damage in Louisiana than Katrina and Rita combined

theadvocate.com

Hurricane Laura caused $1.6 billion in damage to Louisiana agriculture, according to preliminary estimates from the LSU AgCenter. In comparison, agricultural losses — including forestry, crops and fisheries — from hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005 totaled $1.5 billion.

LA: Louisiana's Black Caucus seeks probe into state hospital's hospice practices for New Orleans coronavirus patients

nola.com

Louisiana's Legislative Black Caucus has called on Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards and the Louisiana Department of Health to investigate how the state's largest hospital system handled coronavirus surges this spring.

ME: Seven COVID-19 deaths now linked to rural Maine wedding

pressherald.com

Seven deaths related to COVID-19 have now been linked to an Aug. 7 wedding and reception in the rural area near Millinocket in Northern Maine. The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention said the deaths were all related to secondary spread of the disease. The super-spreading event has now sickened 176 people across the state.

NY: New York loosens nursing home visitation rules

timesunion.com

New York nursing homes that have gone 14 days without a coronavirus case can reopen for limited visitation, the state Department of Health announced. The new standard, down from a 28-day threshold that had been in place since July, should clear the way for approximately 500 of the state's 613 nursing homes to resume visitation.

TX: Texas officials walk back $15M proposed cuts to women’s and children's health services

texastribune.org

State health officials walked back a plan to cut $15 million in funding from health and safety net programs, including services that offer low-income Texans access to birth control and cancer screenings, and support families of young children with disabilities or developmental delays.

PA: Mail-in ballot signatures shouldn't disqualify voters, Pennsylvania officials say

nbcphiladelphia.com

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf's Democratic administration has told county election offices not to discard a mail-in ballot in the Nov. 3 presidential election based solely on what a signature looks like on the ballot's outer envelope.

WY: Wyoming governor to allow close-contact indoor sports

wyomingnews.com

Wyoming’s public health orders in response to the COVID-19 pandemic have been extended through Sept. 30, with a restriction lifted to allow for indoor contact sports, GOP Gov. Mark Gordon announced.

MI: Michigan governor calls out Trump rallies

mlive.com

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, said large political rallies held by President Donald Trump in recent weeks violate her executive orders limiting public gatherings. The president held an outdoor rally in Freeland last week and his son held a rally in Harrison Township this week.

VT: Fauci says Vermont is national model, but tells Vermonters to remain vigilant

vtdigger.org

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, had two main messages for Vermonters on Tuesday: great work so far, and don’t let up. Fauci, the country’s foremost infectious disease expert, said Vermont was an example of what he has been preaching for months: The first step in reopening the economy and school is getting the virus under control.

SD: Outside investigators look at South Dakota AG’s fatal crash

apnews.com

Republican South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem said that she was bringing in outside investigators to look into how the state’s top prosecutor struck and killed a man with his car, but did not give a timeline on when information on the crash would be released.

WI: Wisconsin clerks work to mail 1M ballots

madison.com

After the Wisconsin Supreme Court allowed absentee ballot mailings to resume, municipal clerks raced to meet Thursday's state-imposed deadline for sending them to voters. Clerks  also face a Saturday federal deadline to send absentee ballots to military and overseas voters. 

VA: Virginia governor says mail voting is safe and secure

richmond.com

Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat, is trying to reassure Virginians that voting by mail is safe and that election security is a top priority. The governor made the comments while highlighting steps the state is taking to protect absentee voting during the coronavirus pandemic.

SC: Expansion of absentee voting bill headed to South Carolina governor

thestate.com

A bill that would expand absentee voting to all registered South Carolina voters in the Nov. 3 general election as a pandemic-related safety measure is headed to the governor’s desk after clearing the House and Senate. The bill allows “no-excuse” absentee voting.

AK: Late change to Alaska ballots sparks outcry from Democrats

adn.com

A quiet change to Alaska’s 2020 general election ballot has drawn the ire of the Alaska Democratic Party, which says the move is biased, lacks transparency and was disclosed days before ballots are mailed to overseas voters. Candidates no longer have their party registrations listed on the ballot.

DE: Big turnout for Democratic primary despite bumpy start

delawareonline.com

Delaware voters in the typically low-turnout event cast ballots in numbers not seen since at least 2008, the year Joe Biden first sought a job alongside Barack Obama in the White House. The turnout by mid-day Tuesday had already surpassed the total for the contentious 2016 Delaware primary. 

ID: Idaho governor is using federal relief money to help schools

idahostatesman.com

Idaho could spend more than $264 million in federal money to backfill its K-12 budget this year. Higher education will receive more than $49 million from the CARES Act, under GOP Gov. Brad Little's plan to push education-related CARES Act spending past the $300 million mark. 

HI: Could military spending prop up Hawaiian economy?

civilbeat.org

As Hawaii looks for ways to rebuild an economy ravaged by the global pandemic, military spending is taking on a more important role as other streams of income run dry. Defense spending in Hawaii has remained steady and could grow as tensions between the Chinese military and American allies and trade partners have prompted a renewed focus on the Pacific at the Pentagon.

NM: Navajo Nation included in New Mexico vaccine trials

abqjournal.com

Navajo Nation officials said they will participate in the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine trials amid a steady decline in coronavirus cases. The tribe’s territory, spanning Arizona, New Mexico and Utah, once had the highest coronavirus infection rate in the country.

MO: University of Missouri expels 2, suspends 3 for COVID-19 rule violations

apnews.com

With more than 1,300 of its students infected with the coronavirus, the University of Missouri in Columbia said that two students were expelled and three others suspended for violating rules meant to slow the viral spread.

MA: Massachusetts to head up contact tracing at Boston College amid COVID-19 outbreak

boston.com

Massachusetts said that it will take the lead in contact tracing at Boston College amid growing skepticism on campus about the school’s testing regimen, which is less rigorous than at some other local universities, and concern that the school is not equipped to control the spread of COVID-19.

CA: Is California serious about environmental justice? This water fight is a test.

latimes.com

On a barren stretch of Monterey Bay, in a region desperate for fresh water, an oft-overlooked California town has little say in whether a big water company can build a desalination operation right on its shore.

MD: DraftKings, FanDuel push to legalize sports betting in Maryland

baltimoresun.com

An organization funded with $500,000 from FanDuel and $250,000 from DraftKings — the fantasy sports and betting sites — says it is launching a media campaign urging Maryland voters to support a November ballot question legalizing sports betting. Several neighboring states have launched sports wagering since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a congressional ban in 2018.

ND: North Dakota’s coronavirus education campaign delayed

apnews.com

An education campaign aimed at persuading North Dakotans to wear masks and practice social distancing still has not begun more than a month after $1.8 million in federal coronavirus aid was approved for the effort.

KY: Kentucky governor pushes back bar, restaurant curfews so guests can watch sports

courier-journal.com

Democratic Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear adjusted the curfew he set on Aug. 11 for bars and restaurants, pushing the 10 p.m. last call for items served to 11 p.m.

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