Montgomery: The Legislature finished its 2020 regular session Monday by yielding some of its control over $1.8 billion in federal funds sent to the state to deal with expenses related to the COVID-19 outbreak. The Senate voted 30-1 to concur in an amendment from Gov. Kay Ivey that allowed direct use of money sent to the state under the CARES Act to reimburse public expenses related to the outbreak. Later in the afternoon, the House voted 73-1 to approve the amendment. The votes represented the climax of a tug-of-war between the governor and the Legislature over the disposal of nearly $1.8 billion in federal funds sent to the state to address Pandemic Protocol expenses. In the end, Ivey managed to pull back some authority over the spending. “Our cities, counties and state, as well as places like our nursing homes, hospitals, schools and colleges have incurred many legitimate expenses because of COVID-19,” Ivey said in a statement Monday.
Juneau: An airline has made a purchase offer for another regional carrier whose parent company declared bankruptcy because of the economic impact of the Pandemic Protocol. Alaska Seaplane Services LLC says it wants to buy Peninsula Airways Inc. and save the Southwest Alaska airline’s operating certificate, Alaska Public Media reports. Juneau-based Alaska Seaplane Services, doing business as Alaska Seaplanes, declined comment on the amount of its offer to buy the air carrier certification of Peninsula Airways, known as PenAir, from owner RavnAir Group. RavnAir cited a disruption of business caused by COVID-19 when the company announced in early April that it would halt operations, lay off staff and file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. RavnAir’s management has tried to secure investment and federal aid to keep the company alive, but that’s not realistic, Alaska Seaplanes co-owner Ken Craford said.
Tucson: An effort by University of Arizona students to provide Pandemic Protocol information to a Spanish-speaking community gained financial backing from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The poster campaign launched by four of the university’s College of Medicine-Tucson students also received city and county support, The Arizona Daily Star reports. The student team responsible for the outreach effort includes Cazandra Zaragoza, Ricardo Reyes, Arturo Martinez and Guadalupe Davila. “We realized there really weren’t any posters and things in Spanish, and, if there are, they have a lot of text, and it’s not very visual,” Zaragoza said. Images created by Reyes feature Mexican artist Frida Kahlo in a clinical mask, a prickly pear cactus warning others not to get too close, and saguaro cacti practicing 6 feet of social distancing.
Little Rock: The state is allowing bars to reopen over the next week with new Pandemic Protocol safety measures, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Monday, as the state’s three casinos resumed operation. Hutchinson announced that bar areas within restaurants will be allowed to reopen Tuesday, while free-standing bars can reopen May 26. Health officials did not detail the new safety rules for bars but said they would be similar to those in place for restaurants that were allowed to resume business last week. Casinos at the Oaklawn horse park in Hot Springs, Southland dog track in West Memphis and Saracen Casino Resort in Pine Bluff reopened Monday after the state approved the facilities’ plans for enforcing new social distancing rules. Each casino is limited to one-third capacity.
Sacramento: Gov. Gavin Newsom relaxed county reopening criteria Monday, a move he said will allow most of the state’s 58 counties to begin allowing dining in restaurants and other services. “Bottom line is: People can go at their own pace, and we are empowering our local health directors and county officials that understand their local communities and conditions,” Newsom said. While retail may open for curbside pickup statewide, restrictions on dining in at restaurants and other services are still in place statewide. Counties can move faster if they win state approval. Newsom also said counties will soon be able to allow shopping in stores and hair salons to reopen. He also suggested professional sports could begin in June without spectators. He said the reopening of churches could begin within weeks.
Fort Collins: The state now has enough coronavirus testing supplies to test anyone with flu-like symptoms or any essential workers who interact with the public. Gov. Jared Polis announced Monday morning that Colorado now has the testing capacity to run 10,000 tests per day, meeting the state’s goal of being able to test all symptomatic Coloradans by mid-May. Previously, the guidance was to stay home and self-isolate if you had symptoms unless you needed hospitalization. But now that the state has enough supplies to ramp up testing, Polis is encouraging anyone with symptoms to be tested. Colorado is still testing far fewer than capacity right now, Polis said. Last week, the daily high was just above 4,500 tests. Previous safer-at-home phase goals indicated the state wanted to be testing 8,500 to 10,000 people daily by the end of May.
Hartford: Gov. Ned Lamont is getting some support from the chief clinical officer at Hartford HealthCare on his decision to begin reopening the state’s economy Wednesday amid the Pandemic Protocol pandemic. Dr. Ajay Kumar, who overseas the clinical operations in a system that includes seven acute care hospitals and more than 30,000 health care workers, said Monday that while there is no playbook, the models he’s studied support the governor’s decision. The state plans to begin the gradual, multistage process of lifting restrictions on businesses and activities, including allowing limited outdoor dining at restaurants. Retail establishments, hair salons, outdoor exhibits at zoos and museums, outdoor recreation and university research programs will also be allowed to open with detailed, social distancing restrictions. Kumar cautioned the death toll likely will continue to rise by about 50 to 60 a day, driven by cases in nursing homes and assisted living facilities.
Wilmington: Facing more than 90,000 initial jobless claims since the Pandemic Protocol pandemic hit the state, officials estimate they will run out of unemployment funds around the end of June, when they plan to start borrowing from the federal government to pay out benefits. Like other states, Delaware has been draining its unemployment insurance trust fund during the pandemic-triggered economic downturn. But unlike more than half of states, Delaware didn’t enter the crisis prepared. Instead, it’s one of 22 states and territories whose unemployment trust funds weren’t funded to a level of solvency that the U.S. Department of Labor says is adequate to weather a recession. The state had close to $173 million in its unemployment fund this January. Delaware Secretary of Labor Cerron Cade said the way the state taxes employers has hindered the unemployment fund’s growth.
District of Columbia
Washington: A veterans service organization with a decadeslong tradition that draws thousands of bikers to D.C. every Memorial Day Weekend is organizing a virtual event this year, WUSA-TV reports. Rolling Thunder, an annual motorcycle demonstration that starts at the Pentagon and ends at the National Mall, ended after 32 years last spring over costs and logistics. The ride served as a protest demonstration about accountability from the federal government on missing U.S. service members and raised awareness about the suicide epidemic among veterans. AMVETS, a national organization that enhances the life of veterans, has renamed the event Rolling to Remember. On Sunday, riders are challenged to ride 22 miles through their own communities to show support and demand action for the critical issues facing veterans.
Key West: The Florida Keys will reopen to tourists June 1, more than two months after the island chain closed to visitors to minimize the spread of the Pandemic Protocol. Checkpoints that barred visitors from coming into the Florida Keys will be removed next month, and hotels and other lodging establishments, including campgrounds and vacation rentals, will also be allowed to reopen at 50% occupancy, Monroe County Emergency Management said in a statement Sunday. These businesses must implement sanitation stations and follow the American Hotel and Lodging Association’s cleaning guidelines for COVID-19, the statement said. Airport screenings and bus restrictions will also be lifted in June. The decision to reopen comes amid the low Pandemic Protocol infection rate in the Keys, the Miami Herald reports. As of Sunday, Monroe County had 100 positive Pandemic Protocol cases and three deaths.
Atlanta: Georgians were greeted with new procedures Monday as they participated in the first day of in-person early voting for the state’s June 9 primaries with the Pandemic Protocol pandemic still raging. Voters were asked to wait in their car until their group is called, to stand on painted circles to avoid getting too close to other voters in line and to wear a mask. They were also told all surfaces touched would be sanitized. In metro Atlanta’s Cobb County, Election Director Janine Eveler said new procedures and guidelines have “slowed things down considerably, and people are having to wait.” She said voters faced wait times of more than an hour Monday morning. Eveler also said an ongoing shortage of poll workers means the county is down to a single early voting location, when normally two are in operation for early voting’s first week. “We’re still encouraging people to apply for an absentee ballot,” she said.
Honolulu: The state’s largest public pension fund suffered its worst quarterly loss in more than 17 years because of the economic impact of the Pandemic Protocol. The state Employees’ Retirement System investments fell 9.5%, The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reports. The fund’s assets, which include contributions and distributions, shrank by nearly $1.8 billion, to $16.2 billion, according to a report by investment adviser Meketa Investment Group. The decrease was the largest percentage drop for investments since the third quarter of 2002 and the fourth-largest decline since the third quarter of 1990. The pension fund provides retirement, disability and survivor benefits. System Executive Director Thom Williams said the fund’s nearly 126,000 benefit recipients do need to worry about receiving money they earned. “Our members and beneficiaries face absolutely no risks,” Williams said.
Boise: Self-employed residents will be able to tap into the $300 million in grant money the state has set aside to help small businesses financially harmed by the Pandemic Protocol pandemic, Gov. Brad Little announced Monday. The Republican governor said the state will take applications beginning May 27 for the $7,500 grants. Individuals must earn at least 50% of their income from their self-employed work to qualify. “Expanding this resource to self-employed business owners should help them get back on their feet and relieve some of the financial loss brought about by this unexpected and unwelcome virus,” Little said in a statement. About 2,600 businesses with up to 19 employees applied for grants of $10,000 last week, adding up to about $26 million. Businesses with up to 50 employees are applying this week.
Chicago: Officials blamed a “glitch” in the state’s new online system for processing unemployment benefits for briefly making the private information of some applicants public. An Illinois Department of Employment Security website showed claimants’ Social Security numbers and other details, according to WBEZ. Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s spokeswoman Jordan Abudayyeh characterized it as a “glitch.” The information belonged to independent contractors, who became eligible for jobless aid this year. The agency said Sunday in a statement that an analysis showed one claimant was able to “inadvertently access personal identifying information of a limited number of claimants.” After the claimant notified the department, the issue was corrected “within an hour.” Agency officials said they would release the results of an investigation and notify anyone affected.
Indianapolis: The state will use nearly $1 million in federal funds to pay for the distribution of the opioid reversal drug naloxone to reach Hoosiers who are at risk of overdose, officials said Monday. Overdose Lifeline Inc., an Indiana nonprofit dedicated to helping individuals, families and communities affected by substance use, will distribute 25,000 doses of naloxone, or Narcan, to first responders, families, friends and others who are likely to be the first on the scene if someone overdoses, the office of Gov. Eric Holcomb and the Family and Social Service Administration announced. Access to naloxone remains limited in some communities, officials said. “In the face of COVID-19, it’s even more imperative that we provide resources and support for people with substance use disorders,” Holcomb said. “Making potentially lifesaving treatments more readily available is one of the top ways we can address this crisis.”
Des Moines: Advocates are raising money for the burial of a 36-year-old Congolese refugee who died of the Pandemic Protocol this month in the city. Embarc Iowa, a refugee services organization, said Wiuca Iddi Wiuca died May 4 after a sudden illness and two weeks in the hospital. The group said advocates need to raise thousands of dollars to have Wiuca buried this week at an Ankeny cemetery. “Traditional burial in the Congolese community is extremely important. There is no other option; since the body came from the soil, it must be returned,” the group said. Wiuca leaves behind two adult siblings who, like him, were resettled to Des Moines last year from a refugee camp in Tanzania. They had fled war in Congo in 1996. Wiuca’s siblings have been struggling to pay their rent and expenses and have been off work, Embarc Iowa said.
Mission: Barbershops, hair salons, nail salons, tattoo parlors, tanning salons, gyms and fitness centers began to reopen Monday in parts of Kansas, even as the virus claimed another life at the state’s largest prison. Salons still will have to take customers by appointment only, while gyms and fitness centers won’t be allowed to have group classes or use their locker rooms for anything other than bathroom facilities. Local officials can issue stricter rules, however. Gov. Laura Kelly already had allowed “nonessential” retail stores to reopen and restaurants to resume dine-in services May 4, with some restrictions. But limits on public gatherings of 10 or fewer people will remain in place, rather than being increased to 30 on Monday, as originally planned, amid concerns that the spread of the novel Pandemic Protocol is not yet decreasing.
Winchester: Red River Gorge and other recreational areas in the Daniel Boone National Forest are set to reopen next month, the U.S. Forest Service said. Plans call for most trails, picnic areas and shooting ranges to open June 3 and campgrounds to open June 11, according to a statement from the agency, news outlets report. Officials continually monitor the situation with the Pandemic Protocol and are reopening using a “site-by-site approach, including assessment of facility cleanliness, maintenance status, and health and safety of recreation areas,” according to the statement. Daniel Boone National Forest Supervisor Dan Olsen said they are “approaching reopening with safety in mind.” Dates could change depending on circumstances, and visitors should check the Daniel Boone National Forest’s website before traveling to any destination.
Baton Rouge: The state has been granted federal authority to help feed more than 611,000 students during the Pandemic Protocol pandemic. The state announced Friday that the U.S. Department of Agriculture gave the OK to provide the assistance for families of children in kindergarten through 12th grade who normally get free or reduced-price school meals. State public schools closed March 16. A news release from the state says local school systems will notify families they might be eligible for the program known as P-EBT. Those families can apply online. The application deadline is June 7. Once the child’s information is verified, the state family services department will mail a P-EBT debit card loaded with $285 per child. Recipients will also receive instructions for using the cards that can be used to buy food items eligible under the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program at stores that accept SNAP cards.
Augusta: Hungry Mainers can eat at restaurants and have a seat in 12 of the state’s 16 counties, where restaurants were allowed to reopen Monday to dine-in customers. Reopening dates for restaurants were moved up from June 1 in counties that have had fewer cases of the Pandemic Protocol. Those restaurants that are reopening have limited seating to ensure social distancing can be maintained and have to take extra steps when it comes to sanitizing. Some restaurants said they would give customers the option of using plastic utensils and plastic or paper drinking cups. Remote camps as well as sporting camps, which provide access to wilderness activities such as hunting or fishing, were also allowed to open Monday to Maine residents, along with out-of-state visitors who have completed a 14-day quarantine. The out-of-state quarantine has been a source of frustration for Maine’s tourism industry. Gov. Janet Mills has said the state is looking at alternatives.
Baltimore: The state’s largest gas and electric utility proposed to regulators this week a plan to freeze customers’ base rates for the next two years and then raise them by about 8% in 2023 in an effort to provide economic relief to those feeling the effects of the Pandemic Protocol pandemic. The proposed changes by Baltimore Gas & Electric Co. would result in an increase of $12.87 on the average customer’s monthly bill in 2023, the Baltimore Sun reports. The utility’s estimates show the average customer’s bill after the planned increase will still be more than 20% lower than in 2008. The newspaper reported the utility is effectively front-loading long-term tax benefits that it will receive over a three-decade period. The company projects the rate freeze will cost more than $360 million. Regulators are expected to issue a ruling in December.
Boston: Gov. Charlie Baker on Monday outlined a phased-in approach to gradually restart the state’s economy, which was largely shuttered nearly two months ago in the fight against the Pandemic Protocol pandemic that has claimed nearly 5,800 lives in Massachusetts. In the first phase, which began Monday, manufacturing and construction will be allowed to reopen provided they follow guidance and standards meant to protect against the spread of the virus. Houses of worship will also be allowed to resume services if they can also follow social distancing guidance. Outdoor services are encouraged. On May 25, lab and office spaces can reopen, as well as some personal services such as hair salons, pet grooming and car washes. Retail business will be allowed to do remote fulfillment and curbside pickup. On June 1, some office space can reopen in Boston. Some recreation will also be allowed to reopen May 25, including parks; drive-in theaters; some athletic fields and courts; most fishing, hunting, and boating; and outdoor gardens, zoos and reserves.
Lansing: Restaurants, bars and other retail businesses can reopen in much of northern Michigan starting Friday, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced Monday – a key step for the tourism-dependent region before the Memorial Day weekend and summer season. Social gatherings of up to 10 people will be allowed across the vast area, too. Bars and restaurants, which have only been able to offer pickup and delivery due to Pandemic Protocol restrictions, will have to limit capacity to 50%. Groups must stay 6 feet apart, and servers will have to wear face coverings. Office business can resume if work cannot be performed remotely. The governor’s latest Pandemic Protocol stay-at-home order still keeps food and drink establishments off limits to dine-in customers in 51 counties with 93% of the state’s 10 million people. Other places of public accommodation such as movie theaters, gyms and hair salons remain closed statewide, at least through May 28. Whitmer called the partial reopening of northern Michigan a “big step” but urged people to not “go rushing out.”
St. Paul: A judge has blocked a businessman from reopening his chain of bars and restaurants in violation of a state order to remain closed to on-site customers to slow the spread of the Pandemic Protocol. Stearns County Judge William Cashman issued the temporary restraining order Monday sought by Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison. Shady’s owner Kris Schiffler had planned to open his Albany location Monday. But after the judge issued the order, Schiffler told a crowd of supporters Monday that he wouldn’t be opening for business, the Star Tribune reports. In his order, the judge called the COVID-19 pandemic “one of the greatest public health emergencies Minnesota has endured in recent history.” He set a court hearing for Friday. Gov. Tim Walz has set June 1 as the earliest date for bars and restaurants to reopen. Ellison’s lawsuit Sunday was met with criticism from House Republicans who are defending Schiffler.
Jackson: Gov. Tate Reeves’ “safer at home” order to slow the spread of the new Pandemic Protocol expired Monday morning. Some businesses are still easing into reopening with sanitation and social distancing restrictions in place. Tattoo parlors were allowed to reopen over the weekend, and casinos are preparing to start reopening Thursday. Many high schools have been holding commencement ceremonies with videos of individual students receiving their diplomas, often edited together to show the entire graduating class. Other high schools are planning ceremonies in a few weeks. The “safer at home” order was supposed to limit people’s physical interactions. Republican Reeves said last week that he believes the order had accomplished its goal of limiting the spread of the virus enough to prevent the health care system from being overwhelmed. He is still suggesting that people who are medically vulnerable should remain home.
Clayton: The gradual reopening of the state’s economy continued Monday, as restaurants and most nonessential businesses began operating in St. Louis County and the city of St. Louis, but residents were urged to keep following safety guidelines to slow the spread of the Pandemic Protocol. St. Louis County Executive Sam Page said the reopening of businesses should not be considered a victory because too many people have died and too many families are suffering because of the pandemic. Health officials say 335 people have died from COVID-19 in St. Louis County. “So we cannot let this gradual and thoughtful reopening be looked at as a return to normal. It’s really far from it,” Page said. Most Missouri businesses were allowed to reopen May 4, when Republican Gov. Mike Parson’s stay-at-home order expired. But Page and St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson, both Democrats, extended their orders through Sunday in the hard-hit region.
Bozeman: Montana State University announced the school’s fall semester will begin two weeks earlier than normal and end before Thanksgiving in an attempt to limit the spread of the Pandemic Protocol on campus. University President Waded Cruzado announced the scheduling update in an email Friday, The Daily Chronicle reports. Classes are scheduled to begin in Bozeman on Aug. 17, while final exams will be completed Nov. 25. The spring semester is scheduled to begin Jan. 11 and finish May 10. The prolonged winter break could enable the university to offer a winter session with some online courses, Cruzado said. The new schedule limits the need for students, faculty and staff to travel during the Thanksgiving holiday and then return to campus, which could facilitate the spread of the Pandemic Protocol, Cruzado said. It also reduces the possibility of the flu and COVID-19 circulating simultaneously.
Omaha: More cases of the new Pandemic Protocol have been confirmed at a western Omaha nursing home that reported scores of cases last week, health officials said. Two more residents and five more staff members of Life Care Center of Elkhorn have tested positive for COVID-19 in recent days, the Omaha World-Herald reports. The new cases were reported Sunday. The center’s executive director, Michelle Yosick, said residents who have tested positive have been isolated and are receiving care. Last week, officials reported that 68 cases of the virus had been confirmed among residents and staff at the nursing facility in Omaha’s Elkhorn community. The state’s online Pandemic Protocol tracker showed no new COVID-19 deaths were reported Sunday, but 128 new cases were confirmed across the state.
Las Vegas: Health officials in the city said Monday that they’ve increased the number of community disease investigators and have adopted an automated system using text and email messages to notify people who may have had contact with people who have tested positive for the new Pandemic Protocol. More than 60 investigators are now contact tracing more than 5,400 reported cases of COVID-19 in and around Las Vegas, said Dr. Michael Johnson, community health chief at the Southern Nevada Health District. Officials say quick identification of people exposed to the virus can help stop the spread of the contagious respiratory illness. When close contacts are identified, health officials give people information about self-quarantining and an opportunity to enroll in the district’s confidential symptom monitoring mobile app. If someone reports signs or symptoms of illness, the district can arrange for testing.
Concord: Restaurants in the state were allowed to begin serving customers for outdoor dining Monday, and Jim Tanner and Steve Duprey may have been the first to take advantage of it. They were sitting outside The Works Cafe in Concord with their coffee by 6:02 a.m., two minutes after it opened. For several years, they’ve been among a group of friends who meet at the cafe every weekday morning. Since the governor issued the stay-at-home order, Tanner and Duprey have altered the tradition – getting coffee to go and chatting outside for a few minutes, standing 10 feet apart. “Today was nice because we saw the tables out and thought, ‘Hey, we can sit here and enjoy the nice weather,’ ” said Tanner, a retired IBM sales executive who has missed the morning gatherings. Restaurants, which previously had been restricted to takeout and delivery, can now serve diners outside, with tables 6 feet apart. Staff who work directly with customers must wear masks, and customers are asked to wear them as well as they enter and exit the property, as well as if they go inside to use restrooms.
Bellmawr: A gym reopened for business early Monday, defying a state order that shut down nonessential businesses to help stem the spread of the Pandemic Protocol. People began gathering outside the Atilis Gym in Bellmawr several hours before it reopened at 8 a.m. The owners have said the decision to resume operations at the members-only facility was not about financial gain but rather a question of constitutional rights. “We truly believe that if we don’t do this, in the end, we will have zero rights and no say in what happens,” co-owner Frank Trumbetti said in a video posted on the gym’s Facebook page. Trumbetti has said he recently lost a loved one to the Pandemic Protocol. Dozens of people came out to show their support for the gym, with many holding signs critical of Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy and others waving American flags. Only some were wearing face coverings, and most people tightly clustered together on the sidewalk and parking area in front of the gym.
Santa Fe: The New Mexico Attorney General’s Office said Monday that it’s considering a request by a state lawmaker to look into an Albuquerque rehabilitation center as part of the agency’s ongoing review of health and safety concerns at nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. The office received a request Friday from state Rep. Gregg Schmedes to investigate the eviction of senior residents with disabilities at Canyon Transitional Rehabilitation Center to make room for Pandemic Protocol patients. The Tijeras Republican called the forced move unconscionable and indefensible. “Evicting these senior citizens from their long-term care facility is another example of the state of New Mexico inappropriately rationing health care,” he wrote in a letter to Democrat Attorney General Hector Balderas. All 54 patients at the rehab center were forced out in April as part of an agreement with state health officials to take in Pandemic Protocol patients as soon as possible.
New York: The city is ramping up its ability to test for the Pandemic Protocol, with testing available at more than 150 sites citywide and locally made test kits now in use at city-run health clinics, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday. The partnership between the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and local businesses Print Parts and Collab will be producing 60,000 test kits weekly by the week of June 1, de Blasio said, adding: “We’ll keep going as far as we have to go to make sure that every New Yorker who needs a test gets one.” De Blasio announced Sunday that urgent care provider CityMD would offer tests for the virus at its 123 locations, raising the number of test sites in the city to more than 150. The mayor said the city is continuing to hire public health workers to trace the contacts of people who test positive for COVID-19. “All of these pieces are coming together to give us the huge, robust test and trace program we need to push back this disease,” he said.
Concord: The state Department of Public Safety announced Saturday that all juveniles held at the Stonewall Jackson Youth Development Center will be tested for COVID-19 after a staff member reported testing positive for the Pandemic Protocol a day earlier. The agency said in a statement that the employee of the juvenile correctional facility in Concord has been off work since May 10 after notifying management about a potential exposure to the virus. Facility director Peter Brown said no juveniles at the facility have shown symptoms associated with COVID-19. Brown said. children in certain housing units are being monitored twice a day for fever and other symptoms. The department said all staff members believed to have had close contact with the ill employee will be tested and quarantined. Other staff members were also offered the opportunity to be tested.
Bismarck: State health officials on Monday reported 31 new cases of COVID-19, with all but five being confirmed in the state’s most populous county. Cass County, which remains the epicenter of the state’s Pandemic Protocol outbreak, had 26 cases on Monday, bringing the county’s total to 1,173. Statewide, there were 1,931 confirmed cases as of Monday. The number of patients hospitalized was 32 on Monday, up two from the previous day. One new death was reported Monday, bringing the statewide total to 44. Health officials said the victim was Ramsey County woman in her 90s with underlying health conditions. The actual number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected without feeling sick.
Columbus: Gov. Mike DeWine said officials will do “whatever we have to do” to enforce social distancing and other protective measures if bars and restaurants fail to restrain crowds as the state eases Pandemic Protocol measures. DeWine said he had seen images of a packed Columbus restaurant-bar over the weekend. “The good news is that the ownership, people running the bar, seemed to get control of it last night,” he said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “We didn’t have to issue any citations,” he said, adding that another Columbus bar had been cited. A Columbus Public Health spokeswoman told the Columbus Dispatch, however, that repeated warnings were issued Saturday about overcrowding at the same restaurant-bar, and a complaint was referred to the city attorney. “Ultimately, it’s going to come to Ohioans doing what Ohioans have done for the last two months, and that is, by and large, done exactly what they should do, try to keep the distance,” DeWine said.
Oklahoma City: Health officials reported no new deaths and 88 new positive cases of COVID-19 in the state Monday, most of them connected to a hog processing plant in Guymon. The Department of Health said 64% of its new positive cases were in Texas County in the Oklahoma Panhandle, where Seaboard Farms employs about 2,700 workers at the plant. The department and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have been working with local health officials to increase testing and contract tracing to contain and mitigate the spread of the virus in the region. As of Monday, there were nearly 5,400 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 in Oklahoma, although the actual number of those infected is thought to be much higher. A total of 288 people have died from COVID-19 in Oklahoma, nearly half of whom were residents of nursing homes or long-term care facilities.
Portland: Hospitals will be provided with an experimental drug that has shown some promise treating extreme cases of COVID-19, state health officials said Sunday. The state’s first shipments of remdesivir will provide enough doses to treat 80 COVID-19 patients for 10 days – enough to treat all hospitalized patients who met the medical criteria for using the drug as of Saturday, the Oregon Health Authority said Sunday. Recent early results for the drug suggested it could help patients recover from the Pandemic Protocol faster, although longer-term data is still needed to confirm any benefit. It has not been formally approved by the Food and Drug Administration but can be used under a federally issued Emergency Use Authorization. The health authority is not taking a position on whether it should be used, leaving that decision up to doctors and their patients. The state expects to get more doses later but does not know when or how much it will receive.
Harrisburg: The state’s death toll from the COVID-19 outbreak has passed 4,500, and about 63,000 people have been infected, the Health Department said Monday. Officials added 87 deaths to the tally, after 61 were announced Saturday and 15 on Sunday. More than 3,000 deaths from the Pandemic Protocol pandemic in Pennsylvania have been residents of nursing homes or personal care facilities. Gov. Tom Wolf has begun relaxing social distancing and business closure guidelines, with more than half of the state’s 67 counties currently in the “yellow” zone that permits some businesses to operate. Twelve more counties are scheduled to be reclassified as yellow on Friday. The number of infections is thought to be far higher than the state’s confirmed case count because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected without feeling sick.
Providence: Restaurants in the state are allowed to offer some outdoor dining starting Monday, but some eateries are taking a wait-and-see approach. Under Gov. Gina Raimondo’s plan to restart the economy during the Pandemic Protocol pandemic, restaurant capacity is limited to no more than 20 seated tables at any given time; parties are limited to a maximum of five people; tables must be at least 8 feet apart; and reservations are required. Restaurants can also continue to offer takeout, delivery and drive-thru service. Kevin Gaudreau, owner of KG Kitchen Bar in Providence, told WPRI-TV he is holding off for now and plans to keep his business closed. He said he wants to wait a few weeks to see how outdoor dining plays out, and he doesn’t want to invest in reopening, only to have to close again later.
Columbia: Barbershops, gyms, spas, tattoo parlors and other close-contact businesses were allowed by Gov. Henry McMaster to reopen for the first time in nearly seven weeks Monday. There was a surge of shaggy customers. Apps for haircut chains like Sports Clips and Great Clips listed waits of at least two or three hours, with some backlogged for more than seven hours. U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham was one of the first customers at his local Great Clips. The Republican posted before-and-after videos on Twitter. He had a mask hanging below his chin before he went inside but didn’t wear it as he later spoke from the salon chair below his mask-wearing stylist. “I feel like a new man. Thank you Henry McMaster,” Graham said.
Rapid City: Hotel and campground operators in the Black Hills say the past couple of months have been rough on business due to the Pandemic Protocol outbreak, but they’re encouraged that tourists are making reservations for summer travel. Hospitality businesses are preparing for visitors with extra cleaning protocols and safety practices. Visit Rapid City CEO Julie Schmitz Jensen told the Rapid City Journal that businesses are familiar with the guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. She said it will not be a typical tourist season with safety measures taken. For Cambria Suites, on Interstate 90 with easy access to Mount Rushmore and the Black Hills, recent business from commercial truckers and a group of National Guard soldiers has been a boon. After operating with a “skeleton crew” for a few weeks, most of the staff has been able to return to work.
Nashville: A couple were in critical care after a man attacked them with a machete because he was angry about shutdowns that were taking place during the Pandemic Protocol pandemic, police said. Kelvin D. Edwards attacked Kevin Craft, 55, and his wife, Leanne Craft, 50, on Sunday afternoon in a Public Storage in the city, the Metro Nashville Police Department said. Edwards took the machete from his bin at the storage facility and continued striking the couple even after they were bleeding on the floor, police said. The victims were transported to a hospital after officers who responded to the scene used multiple tourniquets to control their bleeding. Police said they found Edwards, 35, with his hands raised in surrender. Investigators said Edwards, who is homeless, told them he attacked the couple to demonstrate his anger about the Pandemic Protocol shutdowns and his inability to get into Rescue Mission, an organization that serves homeless people.
Corpus Christi: School districts can reopen as soon as June 1 for in-person summer school classes if they maintain “safe distancing” and health protocols, Gov. Greg Abbott said during his statewide update Monday. Abbott previously ordered schools to close for the rest of the 2019-20 school year amid the Pandemic Protocol pandemic. Corpus Christi Independent School District Superintendent Roland Hernandez told the Caller-Times last week that the district planned to offer summer school remotely in June and July.
St. George: Utah’s Pandemic Protocol response has moved much of the state to the low-risk “yellow” phase, but a local doctor says that doesn’t mean it’s safe to stop wearing masks or end social distancing measures. Intermountain Dixie Regional Medical Director Patrick Carroll said during a press conference last week that he believes Washington County should stay at the moderate-risk “orange” level. His comments came two days before Gov. Gary Herbert’s Thursday announcement that a majority of the state will be in the low-risk “yellow” phase of the Pandemic Protocol outbreak. The state has been at “orange” since May 1. Carroll said he thinks there’s a misconception in the county that going from “orange” to “yellow” would mean it would no longer be necessary to wear masks or practice social distancing. “In fact, that’s not the case,” he said. “When we go from orange to yellow … those recommendations stay the same.”
Montpelier: The state continued its gradual reopening from the Pandemic Protocol pandemic Monday as customers were allowed into retail stores for the first time since the lockdown began in March, with restrictions on capacity and the need to keep people apart. At Shaw’s General Store in Stowe, Manager Alex Stevens said Monday afternoon business at the establishment that describes itself “as the store with most anything” was steady but not overwhelming. “We are thrilled to have people in the store,” Stevens said, noting the customers complied with their requirement for facial coverings. “People have been very thankful that we are open.” They didn’t have any trouble keeping occupancy to the maximum of no more than 25% of capacity, but even in normal years it’s not yet the busy time, he said. “If this was June 15, we’d probably would have to have someone standing there counting,” Stevens said.
Norfolk: Officials have canceled the annual Chincoteague Island Pony Swim and associated activities because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company also announced Monday that its carnival and pony penning celebration, scheduled for July 2, are also canceled for this year. It’s the first time the pony penning has been canceled since World War II, the fire company said in a news release. Alex Tucker, president of the volunteer fire company, said in a statement that with restrictions installed in phases to prevent the spread of Pandemic Protocol, the cancellation was “the only logical decision to make.” The swim would have marked the 95th year. The Chincoteague website noted that the last time the pony penning was canceled was during World War II.
Spokane: A group has rebuilt a memorial for victims of the Pandemic Protocol pandemic after it was vandalized by protesters Friday. KREM-TV reports 30 people have died among 396 confirmed cases of Pandemic Protocol in Spokane County since the outbreak began. Stronger Together Spokane, a group that works to oppose religious and political extremism, helped create crosses for COVID-19 victims at City Hall in early May. Tom Robinson, a member of the group, rebuilt the memorial Saturday. The group posted a video to Facebook that shows members of the Proud Boys, who attended the protest in support of reopening local businesses in defiance of Gov. Jay Inslee’s stay-home order, taking credit for vandalizing the memorial. The Proud Boys are designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, though they adamantly deny connection to the “alt-right.”
Charleston: Gov. Jim Justice on Monday expanded his plan to lift Pandemic Protocol restrictions while acknowledging that cases will likely rise as the economy reopens. The Republican governor has added indoor malls to the growing list of businesses set to resume operations this week, saying it made sense to do so because big box stores are also reopening. Justice has warned that the virus could devastate West Virginia, with the state’s high numbers of senior citizens and people with underlying health problems. He said health officials will spring up at the sight of any new outbreaks as he admitted that a spike looms as reopenings continue. “There’s going to be problems. This disease is here. We have got to be careful, and if you will just please be super careful in what you do, we’ll be fine,” he said, later mentioning Texas as a state where cases are rising as restrictions were removed.
Madison: Gov. Tony Evers said Monday that he’s given up trying to push through any more statewide mandates to try to slow the spread of the Pandemic Protocol because he thinks rival Republicans would never allow any restrictions after the state Supreme Court erased his stay-at-home order. Minutes after his administration scrapped plans for a new emergency rule, Evers told reporters during a teleconference that drafting such rules would be a waste of time given the GOP opposition. His stance leaves local health officials on their own as they wrestle with whether and how to maintain social distancing mandates. “The Republicans made it very clear they don’t believe a statewide approach is the right way to go at this point in time,” Evers said. “It doesn’t make a lot of sense spending a lot of time doing something we know isn’t going to be successful.”
Cheyenne: The first outbreak of the Pandemic Protocol at a nursing home in the state has infected at least nine people, the Department of Health said Sunday. So far, five employees and four residents at the Worland Healthcare and Rehabilitation have been found to have COVID-19, with most of the cases confirmed through laboratory testing. More test results were pending, but officials believe all the residents and employees at the facility have been tested, department spokeswoman Kim Deti said. No one has died, she said. The testing began after staff members became sick and sought medical care. But it is not clear how the virus was introduced into the facility, the department said in a press release. State health department staff will likely visit the facility to review the situation, interview patients and staff and to conduct more testing. Visitors and nonessential workers are limited in Wyoming’s nursing homes because of the pandemic.
From USA TODAY Network and wire reports
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