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Home US Politics Congress Jobbie Nooner, blowback at bars, fake mask exemptions: News from around our...

Jobbie Nooner, blowback at bars, fake mask exemptions: News from around our 50 states

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Jobbie Nooner, blowback at bars, fake mask exemptions: News from around our 50 states

Alabama

Montgomery: All public schools will reopen for traditional classes this fall, but they’ll also offer options for virtual learning for children whose parents aren’t comfortable sending them back, the state school superintendent said Friday. And even as Superintendent Eric Mackey announced plans for restarting the educational system, he warned at a news conference that the road map is subject to change “based on the spread of the virus.” Parents and children won’t see the exact same thing at any two schools, he said, but things like cleaning procedures and lunchtime will change everywhere. “Every school is going to look different,” Mackey said. Guarding against the Pandemic Protocol could be particularly challenging in classes for the youngest students, where Mackey said current “best practices” call for children to sit close together, often at small tables. While old-fashioned rows of individual desks might enable more social distancing, some schools don’t even have them anymore.

Alaska

Anchorage: Health officials have urged anyone who went to two Seward businesses to take a COVID-19 test after potentially being exposed to the Pandemic Protocol. The state Department of Health and Social Services has said visitors and employees who were at the Seward Alehouse and Yukon Bar last week should get tested, the Anchorage Daily News reports. “One of our staff members has unfortunately tested positive for COVID-19,” the Seward Alehouse said on Facebook. “They are currently quarantined, resting, and on track towards a healthy recovery.” People who visited the restaurant between Sunday and Tuesday from 7 p.m. to midnight should get tested, officials said. Anyone who visited the Yukon Bar at any time Tuesday should also get tested after the bar closed pending testing of all employees, the Yukon Bar said on Facebook. The Seward Community Health Center is hosting testing Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m.

Arizona

Phoenix: Some hospitals have begun activating surge plans to increase their capacity to treat Pandemic Protocol patients as confirmed cases in the state rise and more people seek treatment. Large hospitals activating plans to add capacity to treat COVID-19 patients included Banner Desert Medical Center in Mesa and Valleywise Health Medical Center in Phoenix, officials said. The Arizona Department of Health Services on Saturday reported 3,591 additional confirmed cases, increasing the state’s total to 70,051. There have been 1,579 known deaths, including 44 reported Saturday. Saturday’s increase in confirmed COVID-19 cases tied a record set Tuesday and was the sixth day over nine days in which the reported increase topped 3,000. Meanwhile, the number of positive or suspected COVID-19 patients seen in emergency rooms remained over 1,100 as of Friday. Arizona became a Pandemic Protocol hot spot after Gov. Doug Ducey lifted stay-home orders last month.

Arkansas

Little Rock: The state on Saturday reported 570 more cases of the Pandemic Protocol and 10 more deaths. The Arkansas Department of Health said there have now been 19,310 reported cases in the state. Arkansas’ total deaths from COVID-19, the illness the new Pandemic Protocol causes, now stand at 259. The true number of cases is likely higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected and not feel sick. Gov. Asa Hutchinson has said he’s not ready to further ease restrictions on businesses as Pandemic Protocol cases are surging. Arkansas’ virus numbers have dramatically risen since last month, when businesses began reopening. Earlier this month, Hutchinson allowed restaurants and other businesses to serve more customers.

California

Anaheim: Beachgoers packed Orange County’s shoreline Saturday, and not everybody wore masks, worrying public health and elected officials who say people were letting their guard down even as the Pandemic Protocol surges across the state. Data collected by health officials shows hundreds of people have been infected in densely populated neighborhoods in Anaheim and Santa Ana that are more likely home to low-income residents, the Orange County Register reports. The residents living in the identified hot spots are more likely to live in multigenerational or multifamily households, and many of them hold jobs in stores and restaurants, health officials told the newspaper. Cases and hospitalizations have grown significantly in the past couple of weeks, and “it’s not just around the hot zones – we’re seeing much more spread around the county,” said Bernadette Boden-Albala, dean of University of California, Irvine’s public health program.

Colorado

Denver: The Pandemic Protocol pandemic overshadowed a long list of other problems that suddenly seemed less urgent in the wake of a deadly virus and its economic destruction. Included at the top of that list: the opioid epidemic. That crisis is still raging in Colorado and predicted to get even worse thanks to the stress, isolation and financial devastation of the Pandemic Protocol, the Colorado Sun reports. Medical professionals, therapists and others are expecting a “wave,” or an aftershock, of substance abuse and overdose deaths because of the pandemic. And if it comes, Colorado will have fewer resources to handle it because the state stripped at least $26 million for substance-abuse prevention, awareness and treatment from next year’s budget, part of billions of dollars in cuts due to the economic shutdown and skyrocketing unemployment rate.

Connecticut

Hartford: A new survey from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates 4.94% of Connecticut’s population would test positive for COVID-19 antibodies, based on test results of samples collected between April 26 and May 3. The federal agency on Friday released the results of the first six sites involved in a large-scaled seroprevalence survey. The CDC partnered with commercial laboratories that tested blood specimens for the antibodies. The survey included people who had blood tested for COVID-19 and for other reasons. Samples from approximately 1,400 people were tested. Meanwhile, the Connecticut Health and Educational Facilities Authority has approved $3 million in grants to help health care, education, child care and cultural organizations during the pandemic.

Delaware

Wilmington: The state will not move into the next phase of its economic reopening plan as scheduled Monday, Gov. John Carney announced late Thursday. “I know many Delawareans expected us to move into phase three of economic reopening … and that had been my hope, as well,” Carney said. “But we are delaying that decision so we can get a better handle on what’s going on in Delaware and around the country.” Carney said the state intends to make a decision on the start of phase three early this week. “Too many Delawareans and visitors are not following basic public health precautions,” he said. “We’ve heard and seen concerns especially in our beach communities, in restaurants, in gyms and at sporting events. Now’s not the time to let up. You’re required to wear a mask in public settings. Keep your distance from those outside your household. These are common-sense steps that, frankly, are not that difficult to follow. And they’re a small price to pay for keeping our friends and relatives out of the hospital.”

District of Columbia

Washington: The nation’s capital saw 1,031 new cases of the Pandemic Protocol reported Saturday, making D.C.’s positivity rate 3%, according to WUSA-TV. It was the fourth day in a row that the positivity rate had been below 10%, a key metric in the district’s continued reopening. Metro stations began reopening Sunday, with 15 rail stations resuming service after drastic cutbacks in mid-March, and 14 Metro bus stops are slated to open back up Monday.

Florida

Fort Lauderdale: The state banned alcohol consumption at its bars Friday after its daily confirmed Pandemic Protocol cases neared 9,000, a new record that was almost double the previous mark set just two days prior. The Florida agency that governs bars announced the ban on Twitter just minutes after the Department of Health reported 8,942 new confirmed cases, topping the previous record of 5,500 set Wednesday. State officials have attributed much of the new outbreak to young adults flocking to bars after they reopened in most of the state about a month ago, with many of them ignoring social distancing restrictions aimed at lowering the virus’s spread. The state then set another record in daily confirmed Pandemic Protocol cases Saturday. Florida health officials reported more than 9,500 new COVID-19 cases, surpassing the previous day’s total by more than 600 confirmed cases.

Georgia

Atlanta: Health officials reported 1,990 additional COVID-19 cases Saturday, another record in newly confirmed Pandemic Protocol cases in the state. That brings Georgia’s total confirmed cases to about 75,000. The state’s previous record came Friday, when officials reported 1,900 new cases. Since the pandemic began, the state has seen more than 2,700 deaths from the virus. Gov. Brian Kemp said Friday that he doesn’t plan to implement any additional Pandemic Protocol restrictions, even as the state battles hot spots in several areas. “I’m certainly not considering imposing new restrictions right now. I think what we have on the books has done very well for us,” the Republican governor said during a news conference after touring a drive-thru testing site northeast of Atlanta. He specifically ruled out requiring people to wear masks in public.

Hawaii

Honolulu: The city has announced campgrounds will reopen for the first time in three months with limited permits to ensure social distancing amid the Pandemic Protocol pandemic. The city will now issue permits for just over 100 campsites across Oahu, Hawaii News Now reports. “There’s severely limited amount of campsites now. We went to about half of what’s available, simply because we wanted to physically distance the campsites,” Honolulu Department of Parks and Recreation Public Information Officer Nathan Serota said. Regular camp rules still apply. Social distancing is intended to help limit the spread of COVID-19. The Bellows Beach campground northeast of Honolulu will remain closed through Sept. 4 for turtle nesting. All the other campgrounds have reopened.

Idaho

Boise: Hospitals are preparing for a potential influx of older patients after a recent spike in Pandemic Protocol infections among young people visiting bars who are likely bringing the illness home to their parents and grandparents, a health expert said Friday. Barton Hill, vice president and chief quality officer of St. Luke’s Health System, said most of the people testing positive recently have been in their 20s and 30s. Most aren’t “sick enough to need hospitalization,” he said, but several people in their 20s did need to be hospitalized. “I think probably it’s going to be the family units where it’s going to spread to more at-risk populations,” Hill said Young adults working in senior living facilities also have the potential to bring the illness into that vulnerable population, he said. “The older patients are going to be the ones who are really going to put the pinch on our health care,” Hill said.

Illinois

Springfield: The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum plans to reopen for visitors Wednesday after shutting down as part of statewide efforts to limit spread of the Pandemic Protocol. Museum officials said the property has been cleaned, and protective barriers also are installed in some places. Tickets must be purchased in advance online or over the phone. The museum has cut down the number of theater performances and closed access to some exhibits. Visitors will have their temperatures checked before entering, must wear masks and will be asked to stay one “Lincoln” apart, a nod to the former president’s height of 6 feet, 4 inches. “In trying times, Abraham Lincoln’s example can be an inspiration and a comfort to all of us,” acting executive director Melissa Coultas said. “People deserve to be able to come to this special place, learn about one of our greatest presidents and explore some new features we’re proud to offer.”

Indiana

Indianapolis: The National FFA Organization will hold its national convention in October virtually instead of meeting in person because of the Pandemic Protocol outbreak, the group announced Friday. The decision to make the event virtual is due “to the many challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic,” the Indianapolis-based FFA said. The convention that features keynote speakers, concerts and workshops was slated to occur Oct. 28-31. Last year, the FFA brought more than 68,000 people, mostly high school students, to Indianapolis with an economic impact of $38 million, the Indianapolis Business Journal reports. FFA CEO Mark Poeschl said the organization’s board of directors decided last week to halt planning for an in-person event and instead focus on online programming.

Iowa

Iowa City: Some bars and other businesses are voluntarily closing their doors amid an increase in confirmed Pandemic Protocol cases. At the Artifacts antiques shop in Iowa City, owner Todd Thelen said the store has seen three of its mostly older customers die because of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, the Gazette reports. “The number of people who are not taking this seriously kind of frightens me,” he said, explaining that the store will remain closed at least through Monday, when he will reevaluate. “I think they’re being selfish.” Confirmed Pandemic Protocol cases in the state increased by an additional 380 on Saturday, bringing the total to 27,935. The state also reported three more deaths to bring the total to 704. The actual number of infections is thought to be far higher. Iowa businesses that closed or limited operations at the beginning of the pandemic had started expanding operations as Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds began easing restrictions.

Kansas

Kansas City: Another Kansas City-area community is making masks mandatory amid a surge of Pandemic Protocol cases. The Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas, announced Saturday in a tweet that a requirement that masks be worn in public will go into effect at 5 p.m. Tuesday. The community made the announcement one day after Kansas City, Missouri, Mayor Quinton Lucas said people must wear masks inside businesses and other public places there starting Monday. Masks also will be required in public outdoor spaces and public transportation with the exception of socially distanced exercise and when eating and drinking. Meanwhile, Shawnee Mission East High School halted summer conditioning Friday and Saturday after two student-athletes tested positive for the Pandemic Protocol.

Kentucky

Louisville: Gov. Andy Beshear’s administration reported Saturday that the state has 316 new cases of the novel coronavirus and one new death. The Bluegrass State is now up to 15,167 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 554 deaths, according to the latest data. Beshear said the new fatality reported Saturday was a 78-year-old woman from Fayette County. “Today, we are grieving with this woman’s family,” Beshear said in a statement. “This is another life gone too soon, after we’ve lost far too many already. We must continue to take the steps to protect each other.” The state said 386 patients are currently hospitalized, with 68 patients in intensive care units. As of Saturday, there have been at least 391,765 Pandemic Protocol tests performed in Kentucky, according to Beshear’s office. In better news, the state reported that 3,730 Kentuckians have now recovered from the virus.

Louisiana

Baton Rouge: Thousands of front-line employees who worked at grocery stores, drove buses and manned health care facilities in the early days of the Pandemic Protocol outbreak appear on track to receive a $250, one-time check from the state, under a proposal that won unanimous Senate support Friday. The 38-0 vote from senators sends the bill by House Democratic leader Sam Jenkins, of Shreveport, back to the House for one final vote before it can reach the governor’s desk. The House earlier in the special session agreed to the measure with a unanimous vote but needs to consider the Senate’s changes. Democratic lawmakers pushed the hazard pay proposal – paid out of $50 million in federal virus aid from Congress – in an ongoing special session focused largely on business recovery from the pandemic. Sen. Jay Luneau, an Alexandria Democrat, said the amount is far short of what the workers deserve but will immediately be poured back into the economy through spending.

Maine

Portland: Those cards that claim to exempt the holder from the need to wear a face mask are fake, Maine’s U.S. attorney said Friday. U.S. Attorney Halsey Frank said members of the public are finding cards and other documents that bear the U.S. Department of Justice seal and claim to exempt individuals from face mask requirements. Those cards are fraudulent, Frank said. The documents weren’t issued by the federal government, and the misuse of the DOJ seal is a federal crime, he said. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maine said the public should rely on the Americans with Disabilities Act website for ADA information issued by the Justice Department.

Maryland

Annapolis: The positivity rate of COVID-19 in people under the age of 35 in the state is now 34% higher than the rate in people 35 and older, Gov. Larry Hogan said Friday. While Hogan said key health metrics continue to trend in a positive direction in Maryland, he noted the positivity rate in younger residents to emphasize that “the fight against this virus is far from over.” “We simply cannot afford to stop being vigilant and cautious,” said Hogan, a Republican. “Our long-term recovery can only be effective if all Marylanders continue exercising personal responsibility.” Statewide, the seven-day average positivity rate has dropped to a new low of 4.92%, the governor said, and hospitalizations have fallen below 500 for the first time in 12 weeks, with 297 acute care beds and 190 intensive care unit beds in use.

Massachusetts

Boston: There won’t be massive crowds on the banks of the Charles River for the annual Boston Pops July Fourth concert this year because of the Pandemic Protocol pandemic, but organizers are promising a mix of old and new material for this year’s show. This year’s broadcast-only show entitled “A Boston Pops Salute to Our Heroes” will honor front-line and essential workers as well as those who have died during the ongoing pandemic, according to the Boston Symphony Orchestra. The newer material includes virtual performances recorded from Pops players’ homes, a virtual performance by gospel singer Renese King with conductor Keith Lockhart at the piano, and the Boston Pops recent virtual performance of “Summon the Heroes” with an introduction by composer John Williams. The show will also include rebroadcast highlights from previous July Fourth shows, including performances by Queen Latifah, Melissa Etheridge and Arlo Guthrie.

Michigan

Gull Island: Hundreds of boats congregated Friday around a small island in Lake St. Clair in an annual celebration of water and sun that was expected to place thousands of people at odds with Michigan’s rules intended to curb the spread of the Pandemic Protocol. No people or groups organized the event known as the Jobbie Nooner, which attracts boaters from across the state to Gull Island, about 35 miles northeast of Detroit. Once at the island, many people leave their boats to wade in the shallow water or congregate on shore. Police monitor the event each year, enforcing local alcohol and safe boating laws. “We’re not going to be able to enforce social distancing due to the fact of a large amount of people,” St. Clair County sheriff’s office Marine Division Sgt. Marty Stoyan said. “I for sure see that this is a very big possibility of spreading the COVID.”

Minnesota

St. Paul: A second state prison inmate has died after testing positive for COVID-19, state corrections officials said Saturday. Leroy Wallace Bergstrom, 71, died at a hospital Saturday, according to the Minnesota Department of Corrections. Bergstrom tested positive for COVID-19 on June 10, the department said. An autopsy to determine the cause of death is pending. Bergstrom was an inmate at the Minnesota Correctional Facility in Faribault. Another Faribault inmate, Adrian Raymaar Keys, 43, died Tuesday after testing positive for COVID-19. The Corrections Department said one incarcerated person in Minnesota remains hospitalized. The first case of COVID-19 in the Faribault prison was reported June 3. The department has been testing all inmates and staff at the facility. As of Friday, 4,892 tests of inmates had been conducted at the Faribault facility, with 206 tests positive. Most who tested positive are experiencing no symptoms.

Mississippi

Jackson: Legislation in the Mississippi House proposes using $50 million of the state’s federal Pandemic Protocol relief funding to improve broadband access for students in underserved areas during the pandemic. “These kids have been out of school since the middle of March, and some of them have had zero, if little instruction since because of broadband accessibility,” Republican Rep. C. Scott Bounds, sponsor of House Bill 1788, said on the House floor Friday. Mississippi ranked 49th in broadband coverage in 2018, according to data from BroadbandNow. A 2017 report by the Census Bureau showed only 61% of Mississippians had access to broadband in 2015. The Legislature intends to finish work on spending plans before the new budget year begins Wednesday. The state is spending $300 million on grants for small businesses, and officials still need to decide how to spend most of the rest of the $1.25 billion received from the federal government.

Missouri

Branson: A jump in Pandemic Protocol cases after many area businesses reopened to tourists has health officials concerned. The Taney County Health Department urged people to wear masks in public after reporting 11 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, according to the Kansas City Star. The county’s virus cases jumped to 54 from 15 over the past two weeks, and that total doesn’t include visitors to the area who test positive but are counted in their home counties. The case numbers remain small compared to urban areas of the state, but Branson is a community of fewer than 12,000 residents. Many businesses have reopened for tourism, including miniature golf courses, shops and restaurants. Many entertainers have returned to their stages around Branson as well. On Friday evening, dozens gathered for an outdoor concert at the Branson Landing. That outdoor mall along Lake Taneycomo will also host an Independence Day celebration this week complete with a beer garden, musical acts and fireworks.

Montana

Kalispell: The Blackfeet Tribal Business Council has voted to close the eastern boundary of Glacier National Park for the rest of the tourist season after a recent spike of COVID-19 cases in the state. At the same time, Big Horn County officials issued a mandate Friday requiring all people in the county to wear a mask when outside their homes to limit the spread of the virus. Big Horn County, covered mostly by the Crow Indian Reservation, has had 13 reported cases since Monday. Montana has reported 164 cases of the respiratory virus in the past seven days, including 29 cases reported Friday. There has also been another death, the state’s 22nd. Montana has confirmed 829 cases of COVID-19, including 218 people who are still infected and 14 who are hospitalized. The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.

Nebraska

Omaha: The latest state health figures show the number of hospital beds available in Nebraska has dropped below 40% as the state continues to see more COVID-19 cases confirmed. As of Thursday, 2,330 of the state’s total 3,834 hospital beds were occupied, according to the state’s online Pandemic Protocol tracker. That left 1,504, or 39%, of hospital beds available. The site also shows that 43% of intensive care unit beds and 78% of ventilators in the state were available. The state saw another 125 cases of the virus reported Thursday, to take the state’s total to 18,346. There also were three new COVID-19 deaths, bringing the state’s total to 260 deaths from the virus since the outbreak began. The new numbers came as Gov. Pete Ricketts warned Thursday that the state could see a spike in new cases if residents don’t continue to take safety precautions like wearing masks in public places and keeping a distance of at least 6 feet from other people.

Nevada

Carson City: The state on Saturday reported a record daily increase of additional confirmed COVID-19 cases. But health officials later said the bulge largely resulted from laboratory data entry errors that delayed the posting of hundreds of cases from two previous days. The state Department of Health and Human Services reported an additional confirmed 1,099 cases, mostly from metro Las Vegas. The number of additional cases reported Saturday was more than double the previous record of 507 reported Thursday. Bur the Southern Nevada Health Agency said the reported daily increase included more than 600 cases that should have been reported earlier in the week but were not. The additional 1,099 cases reported Saturday raised the state’s total to 16,339 with 500 deaths, including two newly reported Saturday.

New Hampshire

Concord: As families deal with disruption caused by the Pandemic Protocol pandemic, several state agencies are teaming up to distribute 25,000 health and wellness kits to families that include dental supplies, medication disposal pouches, and flyers on monitoring emotional and mental well-being. The New Hampshire National Guard is packing the kits. It will deliver them to participating schools and regional pickup sites over the next two weeks. The kits also have a family well-being guide. There’s also information on the “Choose Love” social-emotional learning program and on pre-kindergarten readiness. The project is coordinated by the departments of education, health and human services, in addition to the guard. “While we are all working hard to protect the physical health of our children, social and emotional well-being remains of the utmost importance,” Gov. Chris Sununu said in a statement Thursday.

New Jersey

Trenton: The state’s schools will be open for in-person instruction in the fall, as long as COVID-19 trends don’t worsen, Gov. Phil Murphy announced Friday. Murphy, a Democrat, unveiled his administration’s guidelines for restarting in-person education during his daily news briefing. The 104-page guidance document lays out a number of requirements, but during a briefing with reporters, Education Commissioner Lamont Repollet stressed that districts will have flexibility to tailor the reopening to fit their needs. “I understand that this will be no easy feat,” Repollet said. “Our guide will begin to fill in the picture of what a safe education system will look like in the fall.” The guidelines require in-person instruction, Repollet said. That means districts could not opt for only-online learning if they wanted. However, the number of days schools require students to report in person, as well as whether they also use online learning, is up to the districts.

New Mexico

Albuquerque: Hospitals in the state have started to loosen restrictions that kept family and friends from visiting patients. “It’s all about the safety for the patients. Safe for the patient, safe for the staff at the hospital,” said Robert Underwood, chief medical officer at San Juan Regional Medical Center. Underwood said the move could help patients in the healing process. San Juan Regional Medical Center has announced that patients who have not tested positive for COVID-19 will be allowed one visitor. Visitations are still prohibited for patients who have tested positive. Visitation hours start as early as Monday at the hospital in Farmington, San Juan Regional Medical Center, KOAT-TV reports. Lovelace Medical Center, Presbyterian Hospital and the University of New Mexico Hospital, all in Albuquerque, have also announced similar visitation policies with only one visit each day with facial covering requirements, the Albuquerque Journal reports.

New York

New York: A federal judge on Friday blocked the state from enforcing Pandemic Protocol restrictions limiting indoor religious gatherings to 25% capacity when other types of gatherings are limited to 50%. Judge Gary Sharpe enjoined Gov. Andrew Cuomo, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Attorney General Letitia James from enforcing some of the capacity restrictions put in place by executive order to contain the spread of the virus. The plaintiffs’ religious activities “will be burdened and continue to be treated less favorably than comparable secular activities,” Sharpe said in his 38-page ruling from Albany. The plaintiffs, two Catholic priests from upstate New York and three Orthodox Jewish congregants from Brooklyn, argued that the restrictions violated their First Amendment rights to practice their religion.

North Carolina

Raleigh: State lawmakers finished most of their work for the year early Friday, setting another Medicaid overhaul date, funding a monument to honor African Americans and attempting to reopen businesses shuttered by Gov. Roy Cooper due to COVID-19. House and Senate members negotiated and voted on scores of bills over a roughly 18-hour period before finishing up shortly after 3 a.m. After any veto override attempts or other activity next month, the General Assembly won’t return until early September, when Republican leaders have agreed to a limited, two-day agenda that includes distributing any additional federal Pandemic Protocol relief funds. Before going home, legislators overwhelmingly approved a Medicaid package that increases next year’s funding by over $460 million and directs the program begin its long-delayed shift from traditional payments to managed care by July 2021.

North Dakota

Bismarck: Outdoor visitation and limited indoor communal activities for residents in long-term care facilities are rapidly being allowed at most facilities in the state. Advocates are still pushing for some changes regarding North Dakota’s reopening plan to allow for more indoor family visitation, according to the Bismarck Tribune. Visitation for family members has been restricted by state order since April 6. Republican Gov. Doug Burgum on June 5 announced a three-phase reopening plan that aims to find a balance between creating more visitation opportunities and keeping residents safe from COVID-19. The state’s total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases rose to nearly 4,000 as of Thursday, state health officials said. Of the state’s 218 long-term care facilities, 212 have been approved to move into Phase 1, and 35 facilities have entered Phase 2, Burgum said.

Ohio

Belvidere: Republican officials in a southwestern Ohio county have accused the state’s Republican governor of having “grossly mishandled” this year’s primary election and not having “reacted appropriately” to the coronavirus pandemic. The Warren County GOP, in a resolution signed last Monday, called on Gov. Mike DeWine to open the state to “all commerce” and allow residents “to make lawful decisions regarding their own well-being and safety.” The resolution argues that closing polls hours before the March primary was a decision for the General Assembly, not the governor. It accuses DeWine of having “improperly outsourced” decisions to the former health director, “arbitrary” enforcement of COVID-19 restrictions and not lifting restrictions fast enough when cases declined. DeWine’s spokesman Dan Tierney defended the governor’s response to the pandemic, pointing to the situation in other states and saying that “Ohio has been lauded for its response.”

Oklahoma

Oklahoma City: The number of confirmed Pandemic Protocol cases in the state is nearing 13,000, the Oklahoma State Department of Health said Sunday. The department said there have been 12,944 confirmed cases, an increase of 302 from Saturday, and one more death due to COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus. The true number of cases is likely higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected and not feel sick. The death toll in Oklahoma now stands at 385, with 9,397 people reported to have recovered from the illness.

Oregon

Portland: Authorities have released new modeling that shows increased transmission of the Pandemic Protocol since the state began reopening in mid-May. The modeling from the Oregon Health Authority and the Institute for Disease Modeling – based on data collected through June 18 – found that the virus transmission rate increased 15% after May 15 and another 10% after May 22, the start of the Memorial Day weekend. There was another increase in confirmed cases around June 11, but health officials aren’t sure yet if those numbers are the result of changes in virus testing or the result of increased virus transmission. Because of that uncertainty, based on the new data, the OHA and the Institute prepared three potential scenarios. The researchers warned of the possibility of “exponential growth in new infections” by July 16 under a worst-case scenario.

Pennsylvania

Harrisburg: The state’s health secretary, Dr. Rachel Levine, on Friday defended her agency’s handling of the COVID-19 outbreak inside the nursing homes and personal care facilities that account for almost 70% of the state’s nearly 6,600 fatalities. Criticism from Republicans has been focused on the state’s policy that sent recovering patients back to nursing homes after being treated in hospitals. The policy was described as “deadly” in a letter sent Thursday to the state’s attorney general, signed by most of Pennsylvania’s Republican members of Congress. Levine’s agency has said it was following a March directive from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Center for Medicare Services that nursing homes “should admit any individuals that they would normally admit to their facility, including individuals from hospitals where a case of COVID-19 was/is present.”

Rhode Island

Providence: Rhode Island has recorded its first case of a rare but serious inflammatory condition in children that has been linked to the Pandemic Protocol, state Department of Health Director Nicole Alexander-Scott said Friday. The child was diagnosed with multisystem inflammatory syndrome Thursday and tested positive for COVID-19, she said. The child, a school-age girl, is in the hospital. The arrival of the syndrome in Rhode Island was expected, Alexander-Scott said, stressing that the condition, although potentially fatal, is rare and not contagious in and of itself. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a warning about the condition in mid-May. The agency’s case definition includes a fever of at least 100.4 for at least 24 hours, inflammatory markers in blood tests, and evidence of problems affecting at least two organs that could include the heart, kidneys, lungs or skin.

South Carolina

Columbia: The state continues to see a surge of Pandemic Protocol cases, with health officials reporting more than 1,300 new cases Sunday. The Department of Health and Environmental Control on Sunday has confirmed 1,366 new cases, the second-highest number reported in a single day since the pandemic began. The state reported five additional deaths from the virus, bringing the state’s death toll from COVID-19 to 712. The number of people hospitalized for a confirmed or suspected infection neared 1,000, health officials said. The state on Saturday reached a record for the highest number of cases reported in a single day with nearly 1,600 new cases. Gov. Henry McMaster has warned residents to take precautions to curb the spread of the virus. “Wear a mask. Wear a mask. Wear a mask,” the governor’s office tweeted. McMaster has said he will not issue a statewide order mandating the use of face masks, arguing there is no way to enforce it, but the cities of Columbia, Charleston and Greenville have moved in that direction.

South Dakota

Sioux Falls: The state is launching a program to provide counseling and support for people affected by the Pandemic Protocol pandemic, the Department of Social Services announced Friday. The program is encouraging people to call 211, a state crisis hotline, if they feel the stress or financial burden from the pandemic. Department of Social Services Secretary Laurie Gill said the program can connect people with counseling or financial assistance. “Many individuals have been isolated from their families, have lost jobs or their businesses – the pandemic has impacted so many and we want to find a way to support them,” she said in a statement. The state received a grant of $210,723 from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to start the program.

Tennessee

Nashville: State health officials on Friday again reported the biggest one-day jump in people testing positive for COVID-19, the second time that’s happened within a week. The record was reported not long before Nashville joined Memphis in moving last week to require people to wear face masks in many public settings. Nashville’s health board voted to have staffers draw up the details of an order by Sunday evening. “I think this policy needs to be written and executed in the next 24 to 48 hours,” said Alex Jahangir, Nashville health board chairman and leader of the city’s COVID-19 task force. “Every day we wait, people die. I’m just being honest. Masks save lives.” In Chattanooga, meanwhile, Mayor Andy Berke said his team is looking into whether his city has authority to mandate masks. Statewide, Republican Gov. Bill Lee has not called for a mandate for mask-wearing in public.

Texas

Austin: Confirmed cases of the Pandemic Protocol continued to surge Saturday with the state reporting 5,747 new cases. A day earlier, Gov. Greg Abbott shut down bars again and scaled back restaurant dining as cases climbed to record levels after the state embarked on one of America’s fastest reopenings. The Texas Department of State Health Services said the new number of cases reported Saturday brought the state’s total to 143,371 confirmed cases. Also Saturday, health officials said 42 more deaths were reported from the virus, bringing the state’s total to 2,366. Texas is scrambling to contain what is now one of the nation’s biggest hot spots. Abbott, a Republican, began lifting lockdown orders in May and has since accelerated his own timelines on some openings amid protests from conservatives.

Utah

Salt Lake City: A rural county commissioner apologized after comparing Gov. Gary Herbert to Hitler in a social media post after the Republican governor gave approval to two counties to mandate masks in an effort to slow the spread of the Pandemic Protocol. Piute County Commissioner Darin Bushman tweeted Thursday night: “Hang on friends, it won’t be long before you are required to do a Sieg Heil Salute to Herbert. Welcome to Utah now extend your right arm straight at 45 degrees keeping your hand parallel to your arm and offer your ‘Heil Herbert.’ ” He added the hashtags “Nazi” and “Masks” above a picture of Nazi followers saluting leaders. Bushman later deleted the post and tweeted: “Sorry if you found my tweet offensive. I have removed it so as not to further offend. My apologies.” He rejected calls by critics who tweeted that he should resign.

Vermont

Montpelier: The state is expanding the area from where people can visit Vermont without quarantining to dozens of more low-COVID-19 counties as far away as Ohio and West Virginia, Gov. Phil Scott said Friday. The goal of the expanded program that begins July 1 is to make it possible for more people to visit Vermont easily and help revive the state’s tourism industry, which has been hit hard by the pandemic’s closures. The new counties, which have COVID-19 infection rates of less than 400 active cases per million residents, exclude the major metropolitan areas of the Northeast. People from those areas are still required to quarantine for two weeks if they arrive in Vermont. And people must drive. People who fly to Vermont are still bound by the quarantine requirements, the Republican governor said. “By welcoming people from low-risk counties we can help support our hospitality sector and the thousands of jobs it provides Vermonters,” Scott said.

Virginia

Richmond: As the state prepares to enter Phase Three of the Forward Virginia reopening plan Wednesday, Gov. Ralph Northam announced he will no longer hold regular COVID-19 press briefings. Northam began giving regular press briefings in March to update Virginians on the state’s Pandemic Protocol response efforts. Originally, the governor gave daily briefings and eventually transitioned to a Tuesday-Thursday schedule. Going forward, he will only hold press briefings on an as-needed basis. The Virginia Department of Health will still update data daily. Since March, there were a total of 47 Pandemic Protocol briefings, Northam said. During the final briefing, the governor reviewed the state’s progress throughout the pandemic and shared important next steps. Although other states are seeing a surge in cases, Northam said Virginia’s trends continue to look positive. “In fact, our numbers are very good,” he said, though he reminded residents the virus is still around.

Washington

Olympia: Gov. Jay Inslee announced Saturday that a recent increase in Pandemic Protocol numbers means counties won’t be able to move to the fourth phase of his reopening plan for now. Inslee and state Secretary of Health John Weisman made the announcement Saturday. “Rising cases across the state and concerns about the spread of the COVID virus have made Phase 4, which would essentially mean no restrictions, impossible at this time,” the governor’s office wrote in a statement. Before Saturday, eight counties were eligible to move from the third to the fourth phase of the reopening plan. To qualify, counties had to show that they had declining infection levels; enough personal protective equipment, testing and hospital capacity; and a contact tracing system. Washington had more than 30,800 confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University. More than 480 new cases were reported Friday.

West Virginia

Charleston: Gov. Jim Justice unveiled his plans for a $1.25 billion Pandemic Protocol aid package Friday after months of questions about how he would spend the money. The Republican governor’s strategy for the federal CARES Act relief fund was disclosed after local, state and federal officials urged him to distribute the cash as widespread business shutdowns hammered the economy. He has dismissed the demands as politically driven. Justice said he will use roughly half the $1.25 billion to pad the state unemployment fund to ensure that jobless claims would continue to be paid. Local governments would get $200 million, and small businesses would receive $150 million. Another $100 million would go to “COVID-19 related highway projects.” Justice had long said he wanted to use the package to fill holes in the state budget, though federal rules limited spending to costs incurred due to the pandemic. He said attorneys have determined his plans for the federal aid are legal.

Wisconsin

Madison: The state Department of Natural Resources will resume in-person hunter safety courses next month after a hunter advocacy group sued the department alleging it had no authority to cancel them and was denying people their constitutional right to hunt. The DNR issued a statement Friday saying classes would resume July 13 with no more than 50 participants per class. The agency recommends all participants wear face masks and stand 6 feet apart. Under Wisconsin law, anyone born after Jan. 1, 1973, who wants a hunting license so they can hunt alone must complete a hunter education course. DNR officials canceled department-sponsored in-person courses in mid-March as the Pandemic Protocol pandemic seized the country, and they have refused to recognize completion certificates as part of a push to slow the virus’s spread through social distancing.

Wyoming

Sheridan: Two community colleges plan to cut nearly all athletics in response to a funding crisis. Northern Wyoming Community College District trustees plan to consider a budget Wednesday with an almost $4 million cut that includes $2.8 million in cuts to athletics at Sheridan and Gillette colleges. College district officials also plan to cut two academic programs, culinary arts and hospitality management, and campus police spending, the Sheridan Press reports. College officials cited the Pandemic Protocol pandemic and expected steep cuts to state funding for colleges in announcing the cuts Thursday. Wyoming faces sharply reduced state revenue from fossil-fuel extraction and tourism. School officials said they planned to eventually bring back athletics. For now, only rodeo will remain and with a drastically reduced budget. All athletes will be released from commitments and all scholarships honored, school officials said.

From USA TODAY Network and wire reports

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