Stateline

What We're Reading: Top State Stories 1/15

What We're Reading: Top State Stories 1/15

US: Overwhelmed, more states turn to National Guard for vaccine help

nytimes.com

At least 16 states and territories are using the National Guard to give shots, drawing on doctors, nurses, medics and other troops trained to administer injections. Many more states are using thousands more Guard personnel for logistical tasks, like putting together vaccine kits and moving them around, logging in patients and controlling lines at state vaccination sites. 

VT: Vermont gun dealers say sales have spiked following US Capitol riots

vtdigger.org

Firearm sales have soared in Vermont since last week’s riots at the U.S. Capitol, according to local gun dealers. The uptick comes as President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration approaches and as Democrats are poised to take control of the U.S. Senate.

OK: Oklahoma doctors prepare to ration COVID-19 care

oklahoman.com

As COVID-19 cases surge across Oklahoma, hospital leaders throughout the state remain in talks with ethicists and lawyers over how to handle the allocation of critical resources for patients on the brink of death.

PA: Head of Pennsylvania’s public university system to examine historic roots of racism in state schools

spotlightpa.org

The head of Pennsylvania’s public university system said he is committed to combating racism on campus, but conceded that he has not studied how the system itself has historically perpetuated inequity, and how that could inform possible solutions.

MN: Soldier urges Minnesota National Guard to take strong stand against extremism

startribune.com

A Minnesota National Guard soldier, after being nudged to remove a Facebook post that criticized the Guard for a tepid public response to last week's insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, is raising questions with leadership about how the organization will root out right-wing extremism within its own ranks.

US: Trump allegiance remains steadfast among many state, local politicians

nytimes.com

Interviews with more than 40 Republican state and local leaders conducted after the siege at the U.S. Capitol show that a vocal wing of the party remains devoted to President Donald Trump, and that these supporters don’t hold him responsible for the mob violence last week. The opposition to him emerging among some Republicans has only bolstered their support of him.

AK: Tribes, Trump administration combine to get vaccine to rural Alaska

alaskapublic.org

After a year of pleading for access to COVID-19 testing, treatments and protective equipment, tribal health care leaders in Alaska say a vaccine partnership with the Trump administration has brought hope of reducing those disparities, and a measure of relief amid an unrelenting public health crisis.

CO: Colorado reports jump in mysterious syndrome linked to COVID-19 in children

denverpost.com

Colorado saw an increase in cases of an inflammatory syndrome linked to COVID-19 in children at the end of the year, and the state health department advised parents to be vigilant as their kids return to school. State officials reported an increase in MIS-C cases in December, with nine confirmed cases and 16 others under review. 

AZ: Arizona hospital officials warn care may be rationed

azcentral.com

Clinical leaders of five major Arizona hospital systems, who are putting plans in place in case they have to ration care, say they would like to meet with Republican Gov. Doug Ducey to discuss their coronavirus concerns. 

NV: Study: 35% of Nevada residents say they are unlikely to take a coronavirus vaccine

apnews.com

A new study found about one-third of Nevada residents say they are unlikely to get vaccinated for COVID-19, but their explanations of their reasoning suggests it’s possible to persuade many to change their minds, one of the lead researchers said.

TX: Texas attorney general opposes whistleblower lawsuit

texastribune.org

The Texas attorney general’s office is fighting a lawsuit by former aides claiming they were fired for reporting lawbreaking by Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican. The agency argues that Paxton cannot be sued under the Texas Whistleblower Act.

MI: More charges in Michigan probe of Flint water scandal

detroitnews.com

Michigan revealed 41 charges against nine former state and city officials resulting from the Flint water crisis. The state and Flint officials were in power when the water crisis unfolded.

NH: New Hampshire includes ski patrollers in its first tier of vaccine distribution

nhpr.org

New Hampshire ski patrollers are now eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccinations, alongside frontline health care workers. The state’s original vaccine plan didn’t prioritize the 500-plus paid and volunteer patrollers who work at New Hampshire ski areas.

NJ: Within hours of a major vaccine announcement in New Jersey, many sites were fully booked

nj.com

After Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy announced that New Jersey was opening up coronavirus vaccines to vast groups of people, thousands went online to score an appointment at hospitals, pharmacies and clinics, calling local health departments and using apps to try to schedule a date. Within hours, most facilities were booked.

MO: COVID-19 spread in Missouri Capitol halts session

stltoday.com

Missouri lawmakers made it just one full week into their annual four-month legislative grind before the rapid spread of COVID-19 forced the cancellation of next week’s session.

AR: Arkansas National Guard to deploy 500 soldiers to District of Columbia

arkansasonline.com

GOP Gov. Asa Hutchinson has authorized the deployment of 500 Arkansas National Guard members for next week’s presidential inauguration, he said. Hutchinson said he plans to attend the inauguration as a member of the opposition party, and added it’s important to have a peaceful transition.

CA: 6-foot-high fencing added at California Capitol

sacbee.com

With officials bracing for the possibility of civil unrest and armed conflicts at state capitols nationwide following last week’s siege at the U.S. Capitol, California Highway Patrol officials have denied a permit for a rally in Sacramento that had been set for Sunday and cleared its calendar of permitted events for the weekend.

IA: Iowa won’t immediately offer COVID-19 shots to all seniors, despite federal recommendation

desmoinesregister.com

Iowa does not plan to immediately offer coronavirus vaccinations to all people older than 65, as the federal government recommended, the Iowa Department of Public Health said.

VA: Virginia moves to expand COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to those over 65

richmond.com

While most of Virginia is still working to vaccinate health care workers and long-term care residents prioritized in the first phase, Virginia is widening eligibility to include people age 65 and up and those with certain pre-existing health conditions.

NC: North Carolina announces clinics, providers will hold large-scale vaccination events

newsobserver.com

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services provided details about the locations of mass COVID-19 vaccination events, an effort to speed up the state’s distribution. The state health department anticipates that about 45,000 doses of vaccine will be administered across 23 counties. Anyone who is eligible for vaccine in North Carolina will be able to attend one of the events and receive a free shot.

NY: New York attorney general sues NYPD for ‘egregious use of police power’

timesunion.com

New York state Attorney General Letitia James, a Democrat, filed a lawsuit against the New York Police Department and its leadership seeking to end what James described as a pattern of excessive use of force and false arrests during peaceful protests. The suit follows a months-long investigation into the department’s actions during mostly peaceful protests prompted by the killing of George Floyd.

FL: Florida seeks snowbird vaccines

miamiherald.com

Florida’s congressional delegation asked for more vaccines to account for thousands of seasonal residents in the winter months. The annual influx of "snowbirds" is straining the state's initial allotment.

WA: Washington state will move to next vaccination phase sooner than expected

seattletimes.com

The Washington Department of Health will move into its next phase of coronavirus vaccination sooner than expected, moving up the timeline to begin inoculating people aged 70 years and older, among others. Health Secretary Dr. Umair Shah also acknowledged the state’s rollout had been uneven, that the public expected more and that the department needed to hasten the pace of vaccination.

OR: Oregon has almost 200,000 unused vaccines

oregonlive.com

Oregon’s tracking system for COVID-19 vaccines is riddled with errors, new data shows, raising questions about the state’s ability to efficiently get shots into arms. The confusion has left state health officials scrambling to call hospitals and vaccine providers across Oregon to determine who has given shots and prioritize which locations should get more.

HI: Hawaii lags other states in administering vaccines

civilbeat.org

Hawaii’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout is sluggish. The Aloha State has fallen to 44th nationwide as health officials struggle with capacity and uncertainty surrounding the federal delivery of more doses. Data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows more than 154,000 doses have been shipped to Hawaii, but just over 36,000 have been administered.

TN: Tennessee governor backs legislation focusing on learning loss

tennessean.com

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, a Republican, announced a series of bills his administration is backing in next week's special session on education—including legislation focusing on student learning loss due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the state's stagnant literacy rates. 

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