Montgomery: COVID-19 infections continue to climb in the state as residents are now under an emergency order to stay home as much as possible. More than 40 deaths have been reported as of Sunday among more than 1,600 cases in the state. Gov. Kay Ivey’s order took effect at 5 p.m. Saturday and is scheduled to last until at least April 30. Ivey said she felt compelled to require people across Alabama to shelter at home as cases of the new virus continued to rise and as too many people ignored calls to isolate voluntarily. The emergency order allows people to leave home to get medicine, health care, food and other essentials. It also allows church services, weddings and funerals as long as long as fewer than 10 people are present, and they stay at least 6 feet apart.
Anchorage: Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s administration has launched a new virtual school for Alaska students in partnership with a Florida program, garnering some criticism from educators adjusting their lessons to online teaching amid the coronavirus pandemic. The state of Alaska signed a $525,000 contract through February 2021 with the Florida Virtual School, which had enrolled about 80 Alaska students by Friday, Alaska’s Energy Desk reports. “The ‘fourth-quarter solution’ that is suggested through the purchase of this Florida version of distance delivery is seen as an insult to most, if not all, teachers in the state who have been supporting their students,” Juneau Schools Superintendent Bridget Weiss said. The Florida Virtual School was recommended to Dunleavy’s education commissioner by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. The Florida program has previously worked with Alaska schools, Alaska Education Commissioner Michael Johnson said.
Phoenix: Amid the coronavirus pandemic that has forced the closure of many businesses and other tourism destinations, some Lake Havasu City residents are pushing for a closure of the popular lake that’s a spring break mecca for many college students. A petition, started by a local physician, to close the lake in northwestern Arizona to help slow the spread of COVID-19 had gathered more than 2,200 signatures as of late Saturday night. A counter-petition was started by Lake Havasu City firefighter Tony Rivello, asking Gov. Doug Ducey to keep the lake and Arizona waterways accessible. More than 1,400 people had signed that petition by Saturday night. Lake Havasu City Mayor Cal Sheehy wants visitors to stay home “to protect the safety of our citizens and you during the COVID-19 pandemic.” The Arizona Department of Health Services on Sunday reported 2,269 coronavirus cases statewide with 64 known deaths – an increase of 250 cases and 12 deaths since Saturday.
Little Rock: A church that officials had accused of disregarding restrictions on large group gatherings amid the coronavirus pandemic has agreed to comply with the rules, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Saturday. Officials had threatened to issue a directive ordering Awaken Church in Jonesboro to comply with the rules. While Arkansas has restricted gatherings of 10 or more people, churches have been exempted as long as they “limit person-to-person contact and maintain appropriate social distancing of at least 6 feet to prevent the spread of this virus.” Arkansas officials have been discouraging large church gatherings since an outbreak at one church in Greers Ferry last month that infected more than three dozen members and resulted in at least three deaths. Hutchinson said officials believed the pastor of Awaken Church, Chad Gonzales, intended to continue holding large services. But Hutchinson said the church has been persuaded to comply with the state’s restrictions.
Sacramento: Federal judges on Saturday refused on procedural grounds to order the state to free thousands of prisoners to ease crowded conditions that attorneys representing inmates likened to a “tinderbox” ready to ignite with the rapid spread of the coronavirus. But the three judges invited inmates’ attorneys to file a new motion with either or both of two individual judges who oversee major class action lawsuits over inmate medical and mental health care. Both judges are members of the three-judge panel, which also includes a federal appellate judge. The judges virtually laid out a pathway for the inmates’ attorneys to seek help from the individual judges and perhaps come back to the special panel after they lay the proper groundwork. The special panel said it had no authority to address the coronavirus because it was convened 13 years ago to consider a different issue: whether general overcrowding was causing inhumane conditions.
Centennial: A member of Colorado’s Unified Command Group at the State Emergency Operations Center in Centennial just outside Denver has tested positive for the coronavirus, officials say. The Colorado Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management said the worker tested positive Saturday. Spokeswoman Micki Trost said staffers who determine they worked in the same area in the prior 48 hours were being told to self-quarantine. Trost said medical screenings of staff were being increased from once daily to twice a day. A decontamination service cleans the facility daily. Colorado has 4,565 confirmed cases and 126 deaths because of the virus, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally Sunday morning.
Hartford: Gov. Ned Lamont on Friday publicly announced financial incentives for nursing homes that agree to house only COVID-19 positive residents, a move aimed at preventing the system from being overwhelmed by the outbreak. The details of the additional funds – $600 per day for each person served, which is more than double the average daily Medicaid payment rate – come after the initial plan and a list of proposed facilities released earlier this week drew sharp criticism from a nursing home executive and family members who said it took some by surprise, creating an “uproar.” Besides the extra funds for the planned COVID-19 homes, the Democratic governor announced that all 213 nursing homes in Connecticut would be receiving a 10% increase in Medicaid funding, from April 1 through June 30, to cover expenses related to the outbreak. The three-month increase is expected to cost $35.5 million.
Dover: State officials are warning of an impending spike in coronavirus cases over the next two weeks and urging residents and businesses to heed restrictions on travel and gatherings. The number of deaths had more than doubled over the prior week to 14 as of Friday. The number of cases also had more than doubled and stood at 450 as of Friday afternoon, with more than 60 people hospitalized. Eight of the deaths were related to long-term care facilities. “The situation in Delaware is getting worse, and we expected it to,” Gov. John Carney said, adding that officials are particularly concerned about an expected surge in hospitalizations. Emergency management director A.J. Schall said hospitals are preparing for the surge, and officials are monitoring the integrity of the supply chain. CEO Wayne Smith of the Delaware Healthcare Association, a trade group representing the state’s hospitals, said he believes they will have adequate resources and staffing when the surge hits.
District of Columbia
Washington: In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, the D.C. Humane Rescue Alliance is hosting several events this month giving away free pet food to those in need, WUSA-TV reports. The Pet Pantry program supplies D.C. pet owners in need with approximately half the food they need for their dogs and cats each month, determined by species and weight. Any pet owner who wishes to receive food for their pet through HRA’s Pet Pantry will be asked to complete an enrollment form the first time they come to pick up food. After enrolling the first time, pet owners will be given an identification card that must be provided during each subsequent visit. Food may be picked up once per month via any of the Pet Pantry’s distribution events for each animal who is enrolled in the program. The events will be held outdoors, and social distancing rules will be enforced, HRA says.
Tallahassee: The coronavirus death toll in the state has now reached 218 people, and total cases have topped 12,000, according to statistics released by the state Department of Health on Sunday morning. The deaths have been heaviest in South Florida, where three counties have totaled 120 fatalities. That includes the death of Sgt. Jose Diaz Ayala of the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office on Saturday and Deputy Shannon Bennett of the Broward Sheriff’s Office on Friday. Palm Beach County has had 49 deaths, followed by Broward County with 40 and Miami-Dade with 31. The Department of Corrections also reported Sunday that two inmates and five staff members at a Santa Rosa County private prison have tested positive for the virus. Statewide, 26 state and private prison employees have tested positive, but the Blackwater River Correctional Facility is the only prison with inmates who have tested positive.
Atlanta: Coronavirus deaths exceeded 200 on Saturday as people statewide spent their first full day under the governor’s emergency order to stay home. Gov. Brian Kemp’s order that took effect Friday evening allows residents to get outside for exercise, shop for groceries, seek medical help and work at jobs deemed “essential.” Businesses including bars, gyms and theaters remain closed, and restaurants can only serve takeout or delivery orders. Gatherings of more than 10 people are prohibited. The Republican governor’s action also reversed some tougher restrictions that had been imposed by city and county officials. Parks and beaches that had been closed by local emergency orders, for example, were reopened under Kemp’s statewide order. Angry that Kemp had overridden a local decision to close Georgia’s largest public beach, Tybee Island Mayor Shirley Sessions struck a defiant tone Saturday, saying beach parking lots remained closed, and no lifeguards were on duty.
Honolulu: Gov. David Ige said he will ask the U.S. military to postpone the world’s largest maritime exercises because of the coronavirus pandemic. Ige said at a news conference Friday that he would send a letter to Adm. Phil Davidson, the commander of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, requesting that the Rim of the Pacific drills be postponed “until the COVID-19 situation here in the islands subsides.” The drills were scheduled to be held in Hawaii during the summer. The U.S. has more cases of the coronavirus than any other country. South Korea and Japan, major participants in the exercise, are also among the countries that have been hard hit by the pandemic. The Rim of the Pacific – or RIMPAC – exercises are held in Hawaii every two years. They brought 46 surface ships and 25,000 personnel from 25 nations to the islands in 2018. The exercises began in 1971.
Boise: Gravity Payments, the tech company founded by an Idahoan that gained worldwide attention after offering employees a minimum salary of $70,000, has taken a huge financial hit from the coronavirus pandemic. The company, based in Seattle with a branch office in Boise, has seen its $4 million in monthly revenues plummet, the Idaho Statesman reports. With small businesses across the nation struggling because of virus that causes COVID-19, fewer transactions are taking place that require credit card processing from Gravity. “In a one-week internal from March 10 to March 17, we lost about 50% of our revenue,” founder and CEO Dan Price said by phone. “It was gut-wrenching.” Without a change in strategy or layoffs, Gravity would have four to six months before it went out of business, Price said. In response, Price cut his salary to zero. Ten employees volunteered to work for free temporarily. Two dozen others were willing to give up half their paychecks to ensure no one lost their job.
Springfield: The governor and the mayor of Chicago on Friday re-christened North America’s largest convention center as a pandemic-battling field hospital and publicly hoped it would never see a single patient. Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Mayor Lori Lightfoot toured a section of Chicago’s McCormick Place with the first 500 of what will be a 3,000-bed “alternative care facility” designed to relieve pressure on city hospitals from rapidly mounting COVID-19 cases. As for the transformed showroom floor, a vast honeycomb of steel wall-enclosed patient areas already fitted with a bed apiece, Pritzker hopes his statewide stay-at-home order, crippling business closures and the social-distancing guidelines will be enough to reverse the steeply rising curve of infections from the potentially deadly coronavirus. “That is honestly what we are praying for. If no patient ends up at McCormick Place, then we will have done our job,” Pritzker said.
Indianapolis: State health officials reported 11 more deaths from COVID-19 on Sunday, bringing the statewide total to 127. The Indiana State Department of Health announced 464 additional cases. Overall, there have been more than 4,400 cases. Officials in a Wells County community offered “isolation packets” for elderly residents who fear leaving home during the pandemic and need help. The packets that Ossian officials and police made available contained a color-coded paper system residents can hang on windows to communicate. Green signals the person is fine, yellow means help is needed for everyday errands like shopping, and red means urgent errands like prescription pickup, according to WANE-TV. “We know a lot of our residents are just worried about leaving their homes at all, and so we completely understand that,” said Ossian Sgt. Stephanie Tucker.
Iowa City: Two of the largest banks in the state did not take applications for the $349 billion small-business aid program that launched Friday. MidwestOne Bank and Bankers Trust announced they did not have enough information from the Small Business Administration to proceed. Bankers Trust said Friday that it expected to begin processing applications for the Paycheck Protection Program at noon Monday, starting with existing customers. Bankers Trust, which calls itself Iowa’s largest privately owned bank, said earlier that it was unable to accept applications until more guidance was available. “We are disappointed in this delay, as are other banks around the country,” the company said. MidwestOne is an SBA-preferred lender based in Iowa City that has dozens of branches in Iowa and four other states. “Banks in the U.S. do not yet have critical program details, or even a final format or place, to send requests to make loans to the federal government,” Vice President Kyle Long told customers in an email.
Kansas City: More than 50 University of Kansas medical students are graduating early to participate in a program that will deploy them throughout the state to respond to the coronavirus pandemic. The University of Kansas Medical Center said in a news release that the program will allow seniors to serve in areas of “critical need” before their residencies start in July at various locations throughout the country. Students from all three of the medical school’s campuses, in Kansas City, Salina and Wichita, have volunteered. Dr. Mike Kennedy, the medical school’s associate dean of Rural Health Education, said there are 34 counties in Kansas that have only one or two physicians. “Many rural physicians are already overworked, and the addition of a surge in health care utilization could overburden these physicians to the breaking point,” he said.
Louisville: About 50 people gathered at Maryville Baptist Church on Sunday for its 11 a.m. service despite Gov. Andy Beshear’s repeated warnings against in-person services during the coronavirus pandemic. “If you’re still holding mass gatherings, church or otherwise, you are spreading the coronavirus. And you are likely causing the death of Kentuckians,” Beshear said in his Saturday briefing. “It’s that clear.” Maryville Baptist’s pastor, the Rev. Jack Roberts, previously said he planned to hold Sunday services in violation of the state’s ban on public gatherings unless the authorities intervene. He also said he would go to jail and to court rather than pay a fine for violating the March 19 order of Kentucky’s Department of Public Health. At its Sunday morning service, the church announced it would also hold services on Easter as planned.
New Orleans: A food pantry in the city has received nearly 2,500 pounds of shrimp to help families in need during the COVID-19 pandemic. Second Harvest Food Bank is the recipient of the donation, announced Friday by Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser and the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board. The donation, which will cover a few pounds each for families, was given by Ronnie Anderson and David and Kim Chauvin, owners of Bluewater Shrimp Company, based in Dulac, Louisiana. “I’ve always told people outside Louisiana that when they are here, we will treat them like family,” Nungesser said. Second Harvest supports more than 700 community partners and programs across 23 parishes, distributing more than 32 million meals to more than 210,000 people annually, according to its website. Nungesser said he will encourage state government to also purchase all excess inventories of Louisiana shrimp to send to the Second Harvest Food Bank.
Augusta: The governor issued an executive order Friday requiring travelers to the state to self-quarantine for 14 days to lessen the chance of transmitting coronavirus. Gov. Janet Mills, a Democrat, said the order applies to all travelers to Maine regardless of their state of residency. The order also calls on visitors not to come to the state if they are experiencing symptoms of the virus. The order suspended lodging operations such as hotels and motels starting at noon Sunday. It also says lodging can be provided for vulnerable populations, such as people who are at risk of domestic violence, Mills’ office said. The order lasts until at least April 30. “We are facing one of the greatest public health crises of the world in more than a century. But if we pull together, we can and will defeat this virus,” Mills said.
Annapolis: Four additional residents at a nursing home beleaguered by more than 100 positive cases of COVID-19 have died, local health officials announced. The Carroll County Health Department said nine people living at Pleasant View Nursing Home in Mount Airy and diagnosed with the new coronavirus had died as of late Saturday. Gov. Larry Hogan said late last week that the new coronavirus has been confirmed in 60 different nursing homes in the state, with Pleasant View cases marking the most intense cluster. Maryland health officials reported Sunday more than 65 deaths overall related to COVID-19, or a 25% increase compared to Saturday. There were over 3,600 positive cases in the state. Seventy-seven of Pleasant View’s 95 residents and 24 staff members have tested positive, according to the Carroll County department’s own tally. Eighteen staff members had tested positive as of late last week. One Carroll County resident who also has died lived at the Carroll Lutheran Village retirement county in Westminster, the county health department said.
Boston: Gov. Charlie Baker announced a new contact tracing program Friday that he said will help the state limit the further spread of COVID-19. The program will focus on alerting individuals who may have come in contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19 so they can self-quarantine or be tested themselves. Massachusetts will be the first state to launch such an initiative, Baker said. The program will deploy nearly 1,000 workers to connect with COVID-19 patients and their contacts. Baker said it was time to start going on offense against the disease. Dr. Joia Mukherjee, chief medical officer of Partners In Health, acknowledged the task will be difficult. “We are daunted by the challenge, but we are undaunted by the moral need to stop the epidemic,” she said. “Is it too late? It cannot be too late. We need to mitigate the suffering now.”
Lansing: State officials have issued an emergency order designed to speed up the reporting of COVID-19 deaths. The Department of Health and Human Services issued a directive late Saturday for funeral directors and medical professionals. It took effect immediately. Under the order, funeral directors have 24 hours to initiate a death record and submit it to the attending physician. Doctors have to attempt to certify the record within 24 hours of receipt, among other things. Michigan had reported more than 14,000 cases of COVID-19 with 540 deaths as of Saturday. The idea is to let public health officials more accurately understand the impact and inform plans for public health measures. “To inform sound decision-making and protect Michiganders, public health officials need accurate information about COVID-19 deaths as quickly as possible,” Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Robert Gordon said in statement.
Minneapolis: The state government rolled out a new COVID-19 dashboard as a one-stop shop for residents to see the latest data on the state’s response to the pandemic as well as information on how to protect themselves. The website, which will be updated daily, includes detailed data on available ventilators and intensive care beds, personal protective equipment such as N95 respirators, and testing numbers. The information is critical for planners as the state prepares for a surge in cases in the coming weeks. The dashboard also includes the latest statistics on the spread of COVID-19 across Minnesota, jobless claims, the availability of child care for critical workers, and how well Minnesotans are practicing social distancing as measured by the decrease in freeway traffic, illustrated with graphics and charts.
Jackson: Some houses of worship in the state are offering online services during the coronavirus pandemic. Others are inviting people to sit in vehicles outside the sanctuary to have socially distant prayer and maybe to hear a pastor’s message over the radio. Gov. Tate Reeves has said he does not believe government has the power to shut down churches, but he strongly prefers that people not gather in parking lots for worship. “It’s just hard to overcome our natural tendency to get out and say hello,” Reeves said Friday. Mississippi is under the Republican governor’s statewide stay-at-home order that began Friday evening and extends until the morning of April 20. People are being told to minimize their errands to essentials like grocery shopping. Many people moving around their communities may not know they have contracted the virus until well after they’ve infected others.
Jefferson City: The state is asking medical professionals who are not working to join a specialized state team that responds to critical health emergencies. “We are calling on all available medical professionals to support the effort to fight the virus by joining a critical reserve unit now focusing on providing care in high need areas across the state,” Gov. Mike Parson said Saturday. “Their efforts can help save the lives of their fellow Missourians.” Selected medical workers would become part of the Missouri Disaster Medical Assistance Team. The state is asking health care students, retired health care workers and those whose professional registration recently expired to apply online for the team. Parson issued a statewide stay-at-home order Friday, meaning Missouri has joined about 40 other states requiring residents to avoid going out except for essential purposes. The statewide order takes effect Monday and expires April 24.
Helena: The state’s June 2 primary will be conducted by mail in an effort to limit the spread of the coronavirus. Same-day registration and voting will still be allowed, while a new law could mean election results will be available earlier than usual, officials said. Counties asked to be able to hold all-mail ballots to eliminate the need to staff hundreds of polling places and allow people to vote without being exposed to large groups in close quarters. In addition, many election judges are senior citizens, a group that is particularly at risk for a more severe illness and possibly death if they contract the coronavirus, elections officials said. The ballots will be mailed May 8 to active voters and will include return postage under a directive issued by Gov. Steve Bullock allowing counties to choose to hold all-mail elections.
Omaha: Gov. Pete Ricketts has expanded to all 93 counties an enforceable order that limits gatherings to fewer than 10 and closes many nonessential businesses and services. The expanded order Friday night was followed Saturday by news that a Nebraska State Penitentiary staff member tested positive for COVID-19 – the first confirmed case within the state’s prison system. The Douglas County Health Department also confirmed two additional deaths Saturday from the virus: a man in his 80s who was a resident of the Douglas County Health Center, a long-term care facility, and a woman older than 70. Both had multiple underlying medical conditions. That brought Nebraska’s total COVID-19 deaths to eight. Ricketts had earlier resisted expanding the order statewide, preferring a regional approach.
Carson City: The U.S. government has approved a request to declare a major disaster declaration for the state, a move that will unlock additional federal assistance for residents affected by the coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Steve Sisolak said Saturday. Sisolak said he was grateful to President Donald Trump and other federal officials “for their help, which will aid Nevada in responding and recovering effectively and efficiently from this disaster.” The governor’s announcement said the Federal Emergency Management Agency notified him of the approval of the request he submitted Tuesday. On March 12, Sisolak signed a state declaration of emergency, a required step to request a federal major disaster declaration. Sisolak’s request asked for help under a variety of programs, including assistance for unemployment, legal services, crisis counseling and mass care and emergency assistance. Federal help is needed because the public health crisis “is beyond the capabilities of the state, local and tribal governments,” Sisolak said.
Concord: The state has set up 14 “flex facilities” to handle hospital overflow if it sees a surge in COVID-19 cases. The facilities include 1,600 beds, bringing the state’s total bed capacity to more than 5,000. They will not be used unless absolutely necessary, Gov. Chris Sununu said, and the communities hosting them will not face any costs. “While we hope the day never comes, we do have to be prepared,” he said. “We will be ready.” Meanwhile, the nonprofit trust that operates Lakes Region General Hospital in Laconia and Franklin Regional Hospital is the first beneficiary of a new $50 million emergency fund for health care facilities. LRGHealth will get a $5.2 million, zero-interest loan that will help it limit the number of staff facing furloughs, Sununu said. Those furloughed workers also could find temporary jobs through a new Department of Employment Security system to redeploy health care workers.
Trenton: New powers for the state’s local and county governments to restrict short-term rentals took effect Sunday night, part of the effort to slow the spread of COVID-19. The state’s emergency management director, state police Col. Patrick Callahan, issued an administrative order aimed at hotels, motels, guest houses and private residences. The additional local authority does not extend to people housed under a state-led shelter effort, to those in temporary residence under emergency or other housing assistance, or to health care workers staying somewhere on a temporary basis. Gov. Phil Murphy said shore communities have reported people trying to temporarily relocate there from areas hard-hit by the coronavirus spread, but those communities can lack the health care infrastructure that a surge in patients would require. Murphy urged state residents to remain in their primary residences during the COVID-19 crisis.
Albuquerque: With the state’s schools shut down for the rest of the school year because of the coronavirus outbreak, three public television stations on Monday will begin broadcasting class lessons for home learning for students in grades K-5. The participating Public Broadcasting Service stations are KENW-TV at Eastern New Mexico University’s Portales campus, KNME-TV at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque and KRWG-TV at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces. The Albuquerque school district will provide four hours of instruction each weekday morning, which KENW called “an ambitious and vital new broadcast initiative.” The daily lesson plans will be broadcast each day, and they will then be available later for individual “on-demand lessons,” KNME said. Academic subjects include English, math and science, according to the Albuquerque district’s website.
New York: New Yorkers hunkered down Sunday as the city entered a critical phase in the coronavirus crisis – a period authorities warned would bring soaring death tolls and even more challenges for an overburdened health care system. Those venturing outdoors for groceries or exercise largely heeded the city’s new guidance to wear face coverings such as scarves or bandanas – a sight far less common a week ago. Signs of quarantine were becoming ubiquitous as many New Yorkers faced their fourth week of isolation. In Brooklyn’s Boerum Hill neighborhood, even a Little Free Library had been emptied to avoid spreading germs, the books replaced by a handwritten note. The city canceled all of spring break for its public schools and, in a controversial reversal, called for classes to be held on the start of Passover and Good Friday. School officials announced the decision Friday, saying it was important to keep remote learning uninterrupted, though the announcement roiled the city’s teachers union.
Raleigh: Three residents of a central North Carolina nursing home have tested positive for COVID-19, public health officials announced Saturday as overall cases statewide exceeded 2,400. The three cases occurred within the population of the Springbrook Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in Clayton, the Johnston County Health Department said in a news release. Information released Saturday morning from the state Department of Health and Human Services showed six COVID-19 outbreaks at nursing homes or skilled nursing facilities statewide. It wasn’t immediately clear if the six included the Clayton cases. An outbreak is defined as two or more laboratory confirmed cases. Nearly 30 cases have been linked to an adult care home in Northampton County, the county health department said. One resident at the adult care home who tested positive died in a Virginia hospital late last month, his daughter said.
Willow City: A small-town bar owner who was cited five times in four days for violating Gov. Doug Burgum’s order to close downplayed risks from the coronavirus and said he prefers “a dangerous freedom to a peaceful slavery.” David Corum, owner of Gunslinger’s in Willow City, said he understands there’s “a face, there’s stories, there’s loved ones” associated with the virus, but “you also have to be realistic and pragmatic” about the scope of the problem. “Three dead out of 760,000 people? 5,000 dead out of 330 million people?” Corum said. “You’re just not going to convince me this pandemic is the threat they claim it is.” Corum said he and certain county officials “go way back,” and he believes some of the motivation behind the citations is political. He also noted that President Donald Trump and Burgum can be seen standing closer than 6 feet to others in the rooms at recent meetings. “The hypocrisy is outrageous,” he said.
Cleveland: Gov. Mike DeWine said Saturday that he won’t require people to wear cloth masks in public but is strongly encouraging their use. He also said he has signed an executive order removing training requirements for mental health and marriage counselors to make remote “telehealth” visits more accessible. DeWine said at his daily briefing in Columbus that he will be wearing cloth masks sewn by his wife, Fran, when he is out in public. “They’re not a substitute for social distancing, but it’s something we can do and should be accepted,” he said. The state is working to procure more N95 masks for medical workers and people working on the “front lines,” DeWine said. He noted that the state has heard from doctors and nurses who have been wearing the same mask throughout the day. Without providing details about where it is coming from, DeWine said a plane is due to arrive Tuesday with the state’s first shipment of personal protection equipment.
Oklahoma City: Battered oil prices and the state’s economic shutdown in response to the coronavirus are expected to punch a $416 million hole in this year’s state budget, Gov. Kevin Stitt announced Friday. A panel led by Stitt will meet Monday to declare a revenue failure, and lawmakers will return to the state Capitol to help shore up the budget for the fiscal year that ends June 30. Lawmakers have about $1 billion in savings, and the state is expected to receive about $844 million as part of the $2 trillion federal aid package. The shortfall is even larger than budget officials projected last week. The Legislature is returning for a special session that was automatically triggered Thursday when Stitt declared a statewide health emergency that gives the governor sweeping new powers to help battle the COVID-19 outbreak.
Salem: Hospital workers in the state are astounded at the community response to an effort to provide those on the front lines of the coronavirus fight with protective masks. Oregon officials have been disappointed in the response by the federal government to its requests for protective gear. They requested 1 million N95 masks and received about 70,000. Of 1 million surgical masks requested, 287,000 have been received, according a state report. Much of the gear is faulty or past expiration dates. Faced with shortages, Salem Health, which runs two hospitals and several clinics, announced March 26 that it would hand out kits for people to make masks. So many cars lined up to receive the kits that a traffic jam ensued, and some had to be turned away. The people returned home and began assembling the blue masks using cutting boards and sewing machines. Then they began dropping them off last week. By Friday, the last day for dropoff, 10,942 assembled masks had been delivered, said Elijah Tanner, a Salem Health spokesman.
Harrisburg: The state’s health secretary issued new standards Sunday for cleaning large buildings that remain open during the COVID-19 shutdown. Dr. Rachel Levine’s order, which applies to building that are at least 50,000 square feet, requires building owners to maintain usual cleaning and follow U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines to routinely clean and disinfect areas that are often touched. The types of buildings covered by Levine’s order include warehouses, factories, offices, airports, grocery stores, government facilities, hotels, colleges and universities, and residential buildings that have 50 units or more. Building owners also must make sure that there are enough workers to perform the cleaning properly and, if they have security, that they are sufficient to control access, keep order and enforce social distancing. The order takes effect early Monday.
Richmond: Three men are facing misdemeanor charges for driving to the state to play a round of golf in violation of an order that requires out-of-state visitors to self-quarantine for 14 days during the coronavirus pandemic, police said. The Massachusetts men parked at a McDonald’s restaurant in Richmond on Wednesday and loaded their gear into a car with Rhode Island plates, which drove them just down the street to Meadow Brook Golf Course, Richmond Chief Elwood Johnson said. Golf courses in Rhode Island remain open, but only for residents. McDonald’s employees tipped off police. Police caught up with them when they returned to their cars. Gregory Corbett, 51, of Attleboro, Tyler Pietrzyk, 22, of Taunton, and Nye Cameron, 22, of Taunton, were charged with a petty misdemeanor, Johnson said. “It’s not the most heinous offense, but the reality is that we’re living in a whole different world this month, and it’s important we all follow the rules to keep one anther safe,” Johnson said.
Columbia: The state’s death toll from the coronavirus has risen to at least 40, health officials said Saturday. The state Department of Health and Environmental Control reported that confirmed infections statewide have exceeded 1,900. Charleston County had more than 270 confirmed cases and one death, while Richland County had more than 240 cases and six deaths. Two sheriff’s offices in the state said they each have an employee who tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus. Lexington County Sheriff Jay Koon said one of his deputies was recovering in isolation at home and “in good spirits” after getting his positive test results Friday. The York County Sheriff’s Office said one of its employees also had a confirmed case of the virus, and four additional staffers were in home isolation as an extra precaution.
Sioux Falls: A state lawmaker who was among several family members to contract the coronavirus has died. State Rep. Bob Glanzer died about 8 p.m. Friday at Avera McKennan Hospital & University Health Center, his son Tom said in a Facebook post. Tom Glanzer and Senate Majority Leader Lee Qualm both confirmed Bob Glanzer’s death to the Associated Press. The 74-year-old lawmaker had fallen ill almost two weeks ago, part of a cluster of COVID-19 cases around Huron, South Dakota. Glanzer’s wife, brother-in-law and sister-in-law all had the virus, and Glanzer’s 51-year-old niece, Mari Hofer, died of it, according to Hofer’s husband, Quint Hofer. Glanzer was a retired agriculture loan officer and a past manager of the South Dakota State Fair.
Nashville: A fifth person has died from a coronavirus outbreak at a nursing home that saw more than 100 people test positive. Sumner Regional Medical Center spokesman Kyle Brogdon confirmed the death from the Gallatin Center for Rehabilitation and Healing. State health officials have said more than 70 residents and more than 30 staffers tested positive at the facility, which was temporarily evacuated but has since allowed some residents to return. The state contracted out a deep cleaning and disinfecting of the facility March 29, and state Health Department nurses surveyed it starting Wednesday to ensure it was safe for residents to reenter, Department of Health spokeswoman Shelley Walker said. Residents who tested negative or tested positive and recovered have since been allowed to reenter the facility, while residents who tested positive and are recovering remain at hospitals, Walker said. A Cookeville nursing home has also seen an outbreak, saying Thursday that 44 people there had tested positive for COVID-19 – 28 patients and 16 staff.
Orange: State troopers started stopping and screening travelers entering Southeast Texas from Louisiana on Sunday, in accordance with an executive order from Gov. Greg Abbott. Troopers stopped vehicles at a visitors center on Interstate 10 near Orange, about 100 miles east of Houston, and required travelers to complete a travel form, said Texas Department of Public Safety Sgt. Stephanie Davis, who told KFDM-TV no one was being turned back. “The established screening stations will take place on major roadways … including interstate highways and other high-volume routes,” Davis said in a statement. Sunday was the first day troopers conducted the screenings, a week after Abbott’s order was issued, Davis said. The order also calls for travelers to self-quarantine for 14 days after arriving in the state. State health officials on Sunday reported at least 6,669 cases and 118 COVID-19 deaths in Texas, up from 6,100 cases and at least 105 fatalities Saturday.
Salt Lake City: Leaders from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints sat 6 feet apart inside an empty room as the faith carried out its signature conference Saturday by adhering to social distancing guidelines that offered a stark reminder of how the global coronavirus pandemic is affecting religious practices. Speeches that largely commemorated the 200th anniversary of events that led to the creation of the church by founder Joseph Smith were made in a small auditorium in Salt Lake City and livestreamed to members around the world. It was the faith’s first crowd-free conference since World War II, when wartime travel restrictions were in place. Church President Russell M. Nelson acknowledged the unusual circumstances and the major impact COVID-19 is having on the world during his opening speech. The faith known widely as Mormon church has closed its temples and churches and brought home thousands of missionaries. He said the empty auditorium and seating arrangements were done to be good “global citizens” and prevent the spread of the virus.
Montpelier: State officials said they are so desperate to find medical professionals to help with the COVID-19 response that they’re even willing to use veterinarians to help with care for people. Vermont is in the process of preparing almost 1,000 hospital beds in “medical surge facilities” statewide to help relieve pressure on existing hospitals when the COVID-19 peak arrives, which is currently expected later this month. While officials are capable of setting up the extra beds, they don’t know who will staff them, so they are asking for help from a Medical Reserve Corps of retirees, students and others with some sort of medical experience, including veterinarians. They posted a volunteer sign-up location online. “We need to build our reserves,” Gov. Phil Scott said Friday. Erin Forbes, a small animal veterinarian in Essex Junction and the spokeswoman for the Vermont Veterinary Medical Association, said part of their oaths as veterinarians was to protect the public, and she felt some of Vermont’s vets would probably be willing to help.
Richmond: Gov. Ralph Northam is instituting a hiring freeze of state employees and telling agency heads to look for ways to cut budgets in response to the coronavirus. Northam chief of staff Clark Mercer told agency heads in a Thursday memo obtained by the Associated Press that a recession is coming and that state revenues will be far below “even our most pessimistic forecast” from last year. On top of that, Mercer said, the state is having to spend heavily on fighting the virus, including buying medical supplies and efforts to help vulnerable populations. “All of this will cost the commonwealth extraordinary sums,” Mercer wrote. Northam’s administration has not directed agency heads to come up with a specific figure, saying the total financial impact of the virus is not clear. Mercer also warned that the recently passed federal stimulus, which directs billions to state governments, will not be a cure-all.
Olympia: Gov. Jay Inslee on Friday vetoed hundreds of millions of dollars of spending in hopes of making a dent in the loss of state revenues as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to keep the state’s economy largely shut down. Inslee vetoed nearly two dozen bills in their entirety, as well as more than 140 separate budget items in the $53.4 billion state supplemental budget passed by the Legislature last month that will save the state $445 million over the next three years. The vetoes include a bill that created a pilot program to review and vacate criminal convictions based on current statutory eligibility requirements and another bill that established recycled content requirements for plastic beverage containers. Also vetoed was a bill creating a prescription drug affordability board. Areas of the budget that did not see reductions were those that dealt with public health, homelessness and child care, Inslee’s budget office said. Inslee called the savings “a substantial step to try to right our fiscal ship that we know will be in very, very troubled waters.”
Charleston: A nursing home patient with underlying health conditions became the third person in the state to die from the new coronavirus, health officials said Sunday. The Department of Health and Human Resources said the 76-year-old man was a resident of the Sundale nursing home in Morgantown, where 21 residents and eight staff members tested positive for the virus. Gov. Jim Justice has tightened restrictions on people in Monongalia County and five other counties to try to curb coronavirus hotspots. Three of those counties are in the eastern panhandle. Meanwhile, a hearing is scheduled in federal court on a bid by lawyers to have several convicted felons released from prison due to the virus. The move is opposed by the state Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation, law enforcement groups and emergency responders.
Madison: Democrats and liberal groups on Sunday asked the U.S. Supreme Court to let stand an extended absentee voting period for the state’s spring primary, an election unfolding amid public health fears due to the coronavirus. The groups argue that a federal judge’s order last week extending absentee voting from Tuesday to April 13 is critical for a fair election and to protect public health. They said the crush of absentee ballot requests – more than 1.1 million, far more than any previous election – has made it impossible for clerks to get them out to voters and get them back in time to beat what had been an 8 p.m. election night deadline. Separately, a group of Wisconsin mayors on Sunday urged acting Health Secretary Andrea Palm “to step up and stop the State of Wisconsin from putting hundreds of thousands of citizens at risk” through in-person voting. Wisconsin is scheduled to conduct in-person voting Tuesday despite health concerns.
Cheyenne: Gov. Mark Gordon expressed frustration Friday about growing public focus on his reluctance to issue a statewide stay-at-home order rather than on his call for personal action to control the spread of the coronavirus. Gordon also announced an extension of his order shutting down schools and a range of business – including bars, dine-in restaurants and theaters – from April 17 until April 30. Wyoming Medical Society President Dr. David Wheeler and others have called for a stay-at-home order similar to ones issued in other states, including Colorado, Idaho and Montana. But Gordon criticized state and local stay-at-home orders in Colorado as loaded with too many exceptions to be more effective than his plea for personal action. “I’m telling you to stay home,” Gordon said. “What are you waiting for? Are you waiting for ‘mother may I?’ Or are you taking care of yourselves and practicing the common sense that we expect?”
From USA TODAY Network and wire reports
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