What We're Reading: Top State Stories 9/24
AZ: Hand count in Arizona’s Maricopa County audit confirms Biden beat Trump
An early version of a report prepared for the Arizona Senate confirmed that President Joe Biden won the election in Maricopa County, where supporters of former President Donald Trump paid millions to research and audit the 2020 election results.
NY: New York health commissioner resigns
New York Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul announced that state health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker is resigning. Zucker's leadership of the health department during the pandemic faced intense scrutiny, as well as criticism, for issues that included a March 2020 memorandum ordering nursing homes to admit residents who had tested positive for COVID-19.
CA: California plans dramatic push on COVID booster shots, vaccinations
With millions of California residents slated to be eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine booster, the state is preparing to dramatically ramp up its inoculation rate to keep pace with the expected demand.
LA: Louisiana abortion clinics see influx of patients after Texas ban
Louisiana's abortion clinics are struggling to keep up with an influx of patients coming across the state line in the wake of a new, controversial abortion ban in Texas.
OR: Oregon health officials say vaccinated people can kiss on dates againoregonlive.com
The Oregon Health Authority has a new message: If you’re vaccinated, and your date is vaccinated, and you both are generally being safe otherwise, get intimate! The main thing? Get vaccinated so you don’t die of a preventable illness.
TX: Texas says it's begun 2020 election audit in 4 counties, including Harris, after Trump letter
The Texas secretary of state’s office began an audit of the 2020 election in Dallas, Harris, Tarrant and Collin counties soon after former President Donald Trump wrote an open letter to Republican Gov. Greg Abbott urging him to investigate voter fraud in the state.
CO: Colorado schools without mask mandates have higher COVID transmission rates
Students in Colorado school districts that declined to institute mask mandates are infected with COVID-19 at higher rates than in districts that have face-covering requirements, according to data presented by the state’s top epidemiologist. Data also shows that cases among schoolchildren are significantly higher in counties that have lower vaccination rates.
SC: South Carolina Supreme Court keeps part of monument law intact, strikes supermajority requirement
The South Carolina legislature continues to have sole authority over any changes to war memorials on public property, but it will no longer take a supermajority vote to alter or remove them, the state Supreme Court ruled.
PA: Pennsylvania governor sues state GOP over bid to collect voter info
Pennsylvania Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration is suing Senate Republicans who are trying to access personal information on all registered voters in Pennsylvania as part of their controversial review of last year’s presidential election.
KY: The delta variant is wreaking havoc in Appalachian Kentucky
While the vulnerable section of Kentucky saw mostly deaths of older residents last year, this time the virus is hitting younger people and far more residents overall, despite vaccine availability.
TN: Tennessee COVID infection rates are finally falling
Tennessee saw its first significant drop in COVID-19 infections this week after months of near-constant rise. This drop, plus a continued decline of hospitalizations, offers a fragile hope that the worst days of the delta surge may be ending.
AR: Arkansas sees plunge in personal income
Personal income in Arkansas fell 29.8% in the second quarter, with increases in earnings more than offset by the declines in pandemic-related government aid, the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis said.
ND: North Dakota health board denies mask mandate request for schools
The Bismarck Board of Health in North Dakota voted unanimously to deny the request from parents and community members to mandate masks in Bismarck public schools.
MS: A Mississippi school board requires employees to get a COVID vaccine or be tested
Mississippi’s Jackson Public School District board voted to require staff and teachers to get a COVID-19 vaccination or test weekly. The employees of the district must show proof by Oct. 1.
LA: Despite governor's order, Louisiana evictions have continued
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, signed an executive order to suspend court deadlines by Sept. 24, but some justices of peace are ignoring the order.
WA: Washington's Native American population has grown by more than half
Washington state is No. 10 in the nation for the percent of the population identifying as American Indian/Alaska Native alone or in combination with another race, according to U.S. Census Bureau data aggregated by the National Congress of American Indians. The data shows the state’s population of Native Americans has grown by more than half since the 2010 census.
MI: Michigan elections panel approves petition summary aimed at overhauling voting rulesfreep.com
Michigan's Board of State Canvassers cleared a path for a Republican-led effort to circumvent Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's expected veto of GOP election bills blasted by voting rights advocates as disenfranchisement.
AK: Alaska reports new record for COVID casesalaskapublic.org
Alaska reported another daily record for new coronavirus cases, and it also recorded seven new deaths and a nearly 5% jump in hospitalizations as the state contends with its worst COVID-19 surge so far.
IA: Iowa school districts pare back COVID reporting to parents
Several central Iowa school districts have changed how they report COVID-19 information this school year, giving parents less detailed information about positive cases as the delta variant spreads.
MO: Missouri lawmakers have a new plan to boot Planned Parenthood from Medicaid
A Missouri Senate committee approved a report that recommends giving Republican Gov. Mike Parson’s administration the power to cancel Planned Parenthood’s contracts based on unethical or illegal behavior in other states.
DC: Counting cats in DC is a less than ‘purrfect’ operation
Trying to count cats is a bit like trying to herd them, but a group of wildlife supporters and animal advocates in Washington, D.C., worked on a three-year project to do just that. They say there are roughly 200,000 cats in the District of Columbia, a total that includes domestic and feral cats.