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

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

TX: Texas becomes first state to pass 1M COVID-19 cases

chron.com

Texas counted its millionth COVID-19 case, making it the first state to cross that mark, despite being less populous than California, which currently has 986,000 cases. More than 20 thousand new Texas cases were reported over the weekend.

FL: Florida governor wants to expand ‘stand your ground’ law

tampabay.com

Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis has drafted “anti-mob” legislation that would expand Florida’s “stand your ground” law — a move that critics say will allow armed citizens to shoot suspected looters. He also wants to offer immunity for drivers who claim to have unintentionally killed or injured protesters in traffic.

OR: Oregon elections director fired after sharing security concerns

apnews.com

Oregon’s elections director was abruptly fired in a text message by the secretary of state after he pointed out serious issues with the state’s aging and vulnerable technology for running elections. Election officials in the state were stunned.

MN: Minnesota governor orders early bar closures, reduced gatherings

startribune.com

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz, a Democrat, announced measures that close bars and restaurants at 10 p.m. and restrict the sizes of wedding and funeral receptions, as well as indoor and outdoor gatherings. He also advised people to stay home as the coronavirus surges.

DE: Delaware virus spread through school has been rare, state officials say

wdel.com

So far, 40 staff and 78 students in private schools and 110 staff and 63 students in public schools have tested positive for the virus in Delaware, but the most surprising aspect, the state public health director said, is that the schools don't seem to be the culprits. 

ND: Judge rules North Dakota anti-spoofing law is unconstitutional

apnews.com

A federal judge has struck down North Dakota’s law targeting the practice of disguising caller ID numbers. The state legislature passed the law last year because of complaints about harassing and scam phone calls.

PA: Pennsylvania GOP lawmakers to probe unverified fraud claims in election they largely won

spotlightpa.org

Pennsylvania Republicans are once again seeking greater powers to investigate the voting process. Roughly two dozen House and Senate lawmakers called for the creation of an investigatory committee with subpoena power to conduct an immediate audit.

NY: New York governor signs bill designed to fight frivolous lawsuits

timesunion.com

New York Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a law designed to eliminate frivolous lawsuits intended to silence or impose economic pain on whistleblowers, journalists and activists. They were a frequent tactic of President Donald Trump during his years as a high-profile Manhattan developer.

AZ: Arizona county to dismiss all pending marijuana possession charges

azcentral.com

The Maricopa County Attorney's Office in Arizona is dismissing all pending and unfiled cases involving marijuana possession and paraphernalia charges. Arizona voters last week passed Proposition 207, which legalized the possession of as much as an ounce of marijuana for adults 21 and older and set up a licensing system for retail sales of the drug.

NE: Nebraska governor quarantining after contact with someone positive for COVID-19

journalstar.com

Nebraska Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts and first lady Susanne Shore are quarantining for 14 days after close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, the governor's office said.

WY: Wyoming lawmaker who opposed pandemic restrictions died of COVID-19

gillettenewsrecord.com

Wyoming state Rep. Roy Edwards’ son Mitch confirmed during a memorial service that his late father was positive for COVID-19 when he died last week. Edwards, a Republican who opposed many pandemic restrictions, died Nov. 2, a day before he was reelected.

VT: Vermont orders universal quarantine for travelers

vtdigger.org

Vermont is requiring a 14-day quarantine for every person coming to Vermont, or back to Vermont, for nonessential travel. The quarantine can be cut in half, to seven days, if the person tests negative for COVID-19.

MS: Mississippi governor in isolation after daughter tests positive for COVID-19

sunherald.com

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves, a Republican, says his youngest daughter has tested positive for COVID-19 but is feeling “OK.” Reeves said his family will be getting tested again and isolating.

VA: Virginia to increase testing as COVID-19 cases rise

richmond.com

With a growing number of reported coronavirus cases and a projected holiday surge, Virginia signed contracts with three companies to boost the state's testing capacity. Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat, meanwhile stressed the need for people follow the public health guidance throughout the holidays.

WI: Wisconsin governor asks state residents to stay home

jsonline.com

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat, is urging but not requiring limits on public interaction on a day of record COVID-19 infections and deaths. Evers delivered a statewide address and issued an executive order to make his case to the public: Stay home.

KS: Kansas counties, biggest school district set new COVID-19 rules

apnews.com

Kansas’ largest public school district has scrapped plans to allow its middle and high school students to attend some in-person classes, and three counties have imposed new restrictions inspired by the coronavirus pandemic.

MD: Maryland begins reporting coronavirus cases in schools

baltimoresun.com

Maryland has begun reporting coronavirus cases at individual schools, bowing to pressure from advocates and legislators who said the data was essential to successfully reopening schools statewide. There have been about 50 cases in schools, most in small counties on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.

AK: Alaska’s COVID-19 reporting system overwhelmed by numbers

ktoo.org

Alaska’s COVID-19 case counts have spiked in recent weeks, according to data reported by the state. But the true number of positive tests is significantly higher than the figures reported by Alaska’s coronavirus dashboard, officials say, because the state health department can’t keep up with entering hundreds of new cases into its system each day.

SD: 1st South Dakota prisoner dies due to COVID-19 complications

apnews.com

South Dakota has reported its first case of a prison inmate dying due to complications from COVID-19, according to Department of Corrections data.

CA: Amid coronavirus surge in California, 11 counties fall backward in reopening plans

latimes.com

Eleven counties moved back to more restrictive tiers in California’s coronavirus reopening system, an unprecedented regression as the state contends with an increasingly worrying surge in infections.

IA: Masks now required at indoor gatherings over 25, outdoor gatherings over 100 in Iowa

desmoinesregister.com

Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds announced that she will require masks at many public gatherings in Iowa as the coronavirus continues to spread.

HI: Hawaii lawmakers press governor for stronger mask mandate

staradvertiser.com

Key Hawaii legislators of both parties are pressing Gov. David Ige, a Democrat, to emphatically state that wearing masks is required statewide to help slow the rising spread of COVID-19 and prevent a third surge of cases.

CT: Nearly every state now on Connecticut travel advisory list

courant.com

Connecticut’s COVID-19 travel advisory now applies to nearly every eligible state, after the additions of Maine and New Hampshire. The advisory now includes 44 states plus Puerto Rico and Guam. 

MD: Maryland governor tightens coronavirus restrictions

baltimoresun.com

With coronavirus cases rising in Maryland, Republican Gov. Larry Hogan ordered restaurants to scale back from 75% capacity to 50% for indoor dining, “strongly” discouraged indoor gatherings of more than 25 people and advised Marylanders against traveling to any state with a positivity rate of more than 10% or a new case rate greater than 20 cases per 100,000 people. 

CO: Local health officials in Colorado implore governor to issue lockdowns if needed

cpr.org

Colorado’s local public health directors have implored Democratic Gov. Jared Polis to enact tougher measures to deal with COVID-19, including requiring county-by-county lockdowns where warranted. The county directors say they appreciate that the state’s caution in delaying strict public health orders, but they fear it is doing more harm than good. 

UT: Utah county sheriff says he won’t enforce statewide COVID-19 mandates

sltrib.com

At least one county won’t be helping Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, a Republican, enforce his emergency order mandating masks and limiting gatherings. Iron County Sheriff Ken Carpenter, also a Republican, said the coronavirus will only be conquered once Utah achieves herd immunity.  

MO: Thousands of Missouri students have dropped out during pandemic

stltoday.com

The historic 3.2% statewide drop in Missouri, to 872,470 students in public preschool through 12th grade, follows annual rate decreases of less than 1% since 2007. Most of the decrease came from preschool and kindergarten classes.

DC: District of Columbia mayor defends trip to Delaware to celebrate Biden win

washingtonpost.com 

District of Columbia Democratic Mayor Muriel Bowser defended her decision to travel to Delaware, a state with significantly higher coronavirus risk than the District, to celebrate President-elect Joe Biden’s victory. The trip comes as the mayor attempts to discourage interstate travel because of the pandemic.

IL: Black women in Illinois are 6 times more at risk during pregnancy 

chicagotribune.com

Black women are more likely to die from pregnancy-related conditions, and with hospitals closing in Illinois, it’s a “very dire” situation, the state’s public health director said. Illinois has maternal death statistics higher than the national average. 

MI: Michigan plans to ease professional licensing for veterans

mlive.com

Military personnel, veterans and their families with occupational licenses in other states could have an easier time getting approved to practice in Michigan under bipartisan legislation. It would allow more license reciprocity with other states.

NM: New Mexico lawmakers weigh action on climate change

lcsun-news.com

New Mexico lawmakers made plans to meet the state's goals in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. A sticking point, however, will be emissions from the oil and gas sector that provides the state with much of its revenue.

WA: Parents challenge emergency rule on school time in Washington

seattletimes.com

The Washington education board voted unanimously last week to extend an emergency rule that allows school districts flexibility in what they count as an hour of teaching. But a group of special education parents is challenging that rule in court, saying it is shortchanging students of their educations.

OH: Ohioans falling behind on mortgages during pandemic as foreclosures loom

dispatch.com

In Ohio, 3.8% of homeowners were at least 90 days behind on their loans, more than double the 1.6% from the previous August, according to the mortgage and real-estate service CoreLogic.

SC: South Carolina customers say don’t increase electric rates in pandemic

thestate.com

Energy customers who called into the virtual hearing by the South Carolina Public Service Commission said the economic fallout of the ongoing pandemic is already putting enough stress on their wallets without dealing with the 7.7% rate increase proposed by Dominion Energy that would go into effect next March.

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