Montgomery: States like Alabama with soaring coronavirus infection rates have a window of opportunity to bring it under control, the country’s top infectious diseases expert said Tuesday as he spoke in favor of state and local requirements to wear face coverings in public. There’s no such statewide mandate in place in Alabama. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Diseases, said the U.S. is in the midst of a resurgence of new COVID-19 cases, sometimes seeing daily cases almost double over the country’s previous baseline high. He said that differs from other countries. “We are facing a serious problem now,” Fauci said in a news conference with Alabama’s U.S. Sen. Doug Jones. “What is alarming is the slope of the curve,” Fauci said about the rise in cases in Alabama. He said the state isn’t yet at the point of exponential growth: “You have an opportunity, a window to get your arms around this and to prevent it from getting worse.”
Napaskiak: All residents in this small community who submitted to coronavirus testing have shown negative results, although not everyone agreed to testing, health officials said. The Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corp. found there were no new cases of the virus in the tests conducted in Napaskiak, KYUK-AM reports. The first Napaskiak resident tested positive for COVID-19 on June 15. After the positive test result, the health corporation screened 263 residents, accounting for 64% of the village’s population. The testing indicated a positive infection in a second person. The corporation sent a team to the village to conduct additional tests from June 26 to July 1, with 156 residents volunteering to be screened. The corporation announced July 6 that all the results from the second round of tests were negative. Napaskiak Tribal Administrator Sharon Williams said the village lifted its “hunker down” mandate July 5.
Phoenix: A judge on Tuesday rejected a request by a health club chain to stop enforcement of Gov. Doug Ducey’s shutdown of gyms, ruling the coronavirus provided “a rational basis” for the governor to take such emergency action. Mountainside Fitness, which disobeyed the governor’s order for a week by operating its 18 health clubs in metro Phoenix, had no immediate comment on the ruling. It previously said it would close its doors if the judge rejected its request. Mountainside argued the state had no rational basis for shutting down gyms that were following its protection guidelines, while other businesses that did a poor job at social distancing were allowed to remain open. The governor’s attorneys said gym closures are legally sound because there’s an increased likelihood of being infected with COVID-19 through respiratory droplets when people exercise vigorously indoors.
Little Rock: The state on Tuesday reported its largest one-day increase in hospitalizations due to the coronavirus, even as new virus cases decreased. The Department of Health reported 369 people hospitalized in the state because of COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus, an increase of 32 since Monday. The department said at least 24,512 people have tested positive for the virus, an increase of 259. It said 5,486 of those cases are active, meaning they don’t include people who have died or recovered. The true number of cases in Arkansas is likely higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected and not feel sick. Gov. Asa Hutchinson said the increase in hospitalizations is putting stress on health care workers, but the state’s hospital system still has capacity to handle the spike. “Not minimizing the stress on the system or the people, but there is the capacity to handle what we have, and we look at that every day,” he said.
San Francisco: Indoor restaurants and outdoor bars in the city will not open next week as planned, while in Santa Clara County, officials plan to reopen hair and nail salons but will also hold off on indoor dining because of rising coronavirus infection rates. Despite the variations in what’s open for business and what’s not, health officials from both San Francisco Bay Area counties on Tuesday stressed the continued need for people to stay home, wear a face covering when in public, and practice social distancing in order to coexist with a stubborn virus that’s “going to be with us for a long time.” “We flattened – and some would say we crushed – the curve once, and we can do it again,” said Dr. Grant Colfax, San Francisco’s public health director. “The virus is still out there, and there’s more of it out there than ever before.” The two Bay Area counties have been among the most aggressive in battling the pandemic.
Denver: Widespread testing for the coronavirus will be conducted at a prison after one inmate and a staff member tested positive for COVID-19, the state corrections department said Tuesday. The worker has not been in the Buena Vista Correctional Facility since June 30, and it has not been determined whether the new cases are connected, the department said. Across Colorado, 631 inmates have tested positive for COVID-19, 564 of them at the Sterling Correctional Facility, the state’s largest prison. Three Sterling inmates have died. No prison workers have died due to the virus. Buena Vista had another inmate who tested positive in April, a man who was returned to the prison system from community corrections and tested while still in quarantine, the department said previously. As a result of the new case, Buena Vista prisoners will be kept in their cells except to use restrooms and showers.
Hartford: Data released Tuesday indicates there were no new COVID-19-associated deaths in the state since Monday, marking the first time since mid-March that Connecticut has not reported a death tied to the disease. To date, there have been a total of 4,338 deaths associated with COVID-19 in Connecticut. The state has recorded more than 47,000 cases, including 57 new ones since Monday, and currently has an infection rate of about 1%. “For the first time in months, there were zero COVID-related fatalities, zero COVID-related fatalities,” Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont said during a new conference in New Haven. He partially credited residents with continuing to wear face masks, noting that “it makes a difference.” Meanwhile, the state’s latest figures also show an uptick of 14 new hospitalizations, for a total of 83. Lamont called it “a little disturbing” but said he believes it likely stems from fewer discharges.
Dover: Delaware State University has announced it will hold a hybrid of in-person and online classes for the fall semester due to the coronavirus pandemic. The school unveiled its reopening plan for the fall semester Tuesday. The hybrid formula will limit those on the school’s campus to 3,000 people. Face coverings will be required, and students and staff will have to complete a daily questionnaire before coming to the school or leaving their residence halls when classes resume Aug. 25, the university said. Coronavirus testing kits will also be mailed to students and staff prior to the beginning of the semester, and on-campus testing will be conducted on a weekly and bi-weekly basis, according to the plan. Courses will transfer online after the school’s Thanksgiving break, similar to the University of Delaware. Wilmington University, meanwhile, has decided to hold online classes only during the fall.
District of Columbia
Washington: D.C. has hit a new peak of three days of sustained decrease in community spread of the coronavirus, WUSA-TV reports. The D.C. Health Department has the ability to contact-trace 99.3% of new cases within one day of reporting, officials said Wednesday. Local health officials are urging residents not to delay getting needed medical care. Hospitals are safe, ready and waiting to help, officials said. The city has not seen newly reported cases associated with mass gatherings or activities after weeks of protests and the Fourth of July weekend, officials said Monday. The city is, instead, seeing household contact and essential activities as a main source of exposure. Mayor Muriel Bowser tweeted Wednesday that if residents have an idea to fight the coronavirus and would like to share their ideas with city officials, they can submit details in an online form.
Fort Lauderdale: The state’s Democratic congressional delegation blasted Gov. Ron DeSantis’ response to the coronavirus outbreak Tuesday, saying his refusal to issue statewide orders requiring masks or to impose tougher restrictions on businesses has caused unneeded deaths and spread the disease. The representatives called on the Republican governor to close beaches and again close gyms and ban inside dining at restaurants statewide as the state hit a new record for daily hospital admissions. They said DeSantis has never met with a bipartisan congressional delegation to discuss the virus, and his administration’s order Monday requiring school districts to reopen classrooms this fall usurps local authority and endangers families. “The failure of leadership at the national and state level has put us in the position we are in now,” said Rep. Lois Frankel of Palm Beach County.
Atlanta: More than 100,000 Georgians have been confirmed to have coronavirus infections, as the number of people currently sick enough with COVID-19 to be hospitalized pushed past 2,000 on Tuesday. The milestones came as Gov. Brian Kemp urged local officials to join in his push for voluntary mask-wearing in public, even while acknowledging that some local officials want him to go further. “We don’t need a mandate to have Georgians do the right thing, but we do need to build strong, public support,” Kemp told mayors and county commissioners on a conference call Tuesday, according to a statement released by the Republican’s office. Georgia has averaged more than 20,000 tests a day over the past week, the highest level on record since the pandemic began. That high level of testing could account for some of the increase in new confirmed infections. But the number of cases is thought to be far higher.
Honolulu: The state’s largest food distribution charity is working with private partners to support families facing food insecurity resulting from the pandemic. The Hawaii Foodbank has teamed with companies from the construction and development industries to bring resources to communities beyond central Honolulu, Hawaii News Now reports. The nonprofit agency that distributes food on Oahu and Kauai received $250,000 in donations from several construction and development companies. “We know that the pandemic and its negative impacts will continue to have an effect on our community for a while,” said Randy Hiraki, president of Commercial Plumbing Inc. The Hawaii Farm Bureau, Hawaii Foodservice Alliance, H&W Foodservice and Sysco Hawaii also partnered with the agency to provide food to more than 3,000 households in Windward and Leeward Oahu and the North Shore. Hawaii Foodbank plans to provide food at rural sites the next three Saturdays.
Boise: For a time in the state, it seemed like the worst of the coronavirus pandemic could be over. After an initial onslaught of confirmed cases in the spring, by June numbers had dropped to a point that state leaders felt comfortable allowing businesses to reopen and life to get back to nearly normal. A new spike of COVID-19 occurrences has prompted some concern, however. The number of daily confirmed new cases has quadrupled over the past two weeks to roughly 345 – nearly double what the numbers were during the state’s first outbreak. “It’s alarming,” Gov. Brad Little said Monday. Despite his concern, Little doesn’t anticipate shutting the state back down. He said hospitals have sufficient capacity and stocks of personal protective equipment. But the heads of two major hospital systems in southwestern Idaho told regional public health officials Tuesday that testing systems are overwhelmed, and stocks of protective equipment soon could see shortages as well.
Urbana: Students and staff at the University of Illinois can be tested for the coronavirus with a saliva sample instead of an uncomfortable nasal swab. “We think this is breakthrough technology,” said Tim Killeen, university president. “It’s low-cost. It’s rapid. We’re going to be able to do this for many, many people coming in.” A tent opened Tuesday near the Alice Campbell Alumni Center, the Chicago Tribune reports. Results from the free tests should be available within 24 hours. The university believes it can perform 10,000 tests a day at various sites at the Champaign-Urbana campus. Saliva tests will also be offered at campuses in Chicago and Springfield. “Our goal, of course, is to have everything as safe as possible. … The idea is by not spitting – you just dribble into the tube – then you don’t create aerosols,” said Martin Burke, a chemistry professor who is leading the effort.
Indianapolis: The state’s coronavirus-related death toll has topped 2,700 people since the first ones were recorded less than four months ago, according to new state health statistics. The Indiana State Health Department on Tuesday added 19 COVID-19 deaths to the total, with most of those fatalities happening between Thursday and Monday and others dating back to June 26. While state statistics show coronavirus-related deaths and hospitalizations are far below peak levels in late April and early May, Gov. Eric Holcomb last week delayed further easing of statewide business and gathering-size restrictions until at least July 18 because of worries about increased infection rates in some parts of Indiana and neighboring states. A mask-wearing mandate takes effect Thursday in Indianapolis, while St. Joseph, Elkhart and LaGrange counties in northern Indiana have similar requirements in place.
Muscatine: Local officials don’t have the authority to require that residents use masks to halt spread of the coronavirus, Gov. Kim Reynolds said Tuesday, a day after the mayor of Muscatine issued such an order. Asked at a news conference about Mayor Diana Broderson’s order, which took effect Monday, Reynolds said local officials need the governor’s approval to implement such rules. Because Reynolds has a public health proclamation in effect, a local official can’t implement requirements that conflict with the state rules, the governor said. “If it’s not consistent with that, then it’s not appropriate, and it’s not in effect,” Reynolds said. Reynolds began relaxing restrictions in late May and gradually lifted most of them. Since bars and restaurants reopened fully in early June, spikes in cases among young adults have been occurring, particularly in college towns with active bar districts. She never mandated a shelter-in-place order, nor required face coverings to be worn.
Topeka: The state is among the top 14 states in the country for the most rapid spread of coronavirus, as well as in the top 14 states for having the least restrictions on activities, the state’s top health official said Tuesday. Lee Norman, secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, tweeted: “Do you think those two things are related? We were a shining example of success, only to squander it.” Kansas set a new record Monday for its worst two-week spike in reported coronavirus cases since the pandemic began. The state Department of Health and Environment reported 982 more confirmed coronavirus cases since Friday, an increase of 6% that brought the total to 16,901. It also reported another three COVID-19-related deaths to bring the total for the pandemic to 280.
Frankfort: Two separate lawsuits naming Gov. Andy Beshear have been filed that seek rulings over orders made during the coronavirus pandemic. One lawsuit was filed in state court Tuesday in an effort to force Kentucky to continue offering vote-by-mail to all eligible voters to “ensure a safe election in November.” Another lawsuit was filed in federal court by a group of northern Kentucky landlords who are trying to resume evicting tenants. The election lawsuit says the move is needed because “the best available science shows that concerns regarding COVID-19 transmission will be at least as serious in November 2020 as they are today.” Beshear supports continuing to allow early voting and voting by mail, his spokeswoman, Crystal Staley, said in a statement. Meanwhile, the other lawsuit seeks to resume evictions in Boone, Kenton and Campbell counties.
Baton Rouge: A federal judge has refused to order release of medically vulnerable prisoners from a jail to prevent them from getting ill with the new coronavirus. The Advocate reports the judge was acting in an ongoing lawsuit over conditions at the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison. U.S. District Judge Brian Jackson last week rejected the call for immediate release. And he disagreed with claims that no steps are being taken to prevent the spread of coronavirus in the lockup. Among the steps Jackson cited were new screening and hygiene procedures, distribution of masks and cleaning supplies, and efforts by police and prosecutors to reduce the jail population by reducing arrests and resolving cases. The federal lawsuit will proceed over issues of whether the jail’s conditions and its health care program are constitutional.
Portland: Hospitals and small businesses will receive more than $2 million in federal aid to help with the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. The Maine Department of Health and Human Services has been awarded more than $1.1 million to support the hospitals, Republican Sen. Susan Collins and independent Sen. Angus King said Tuesday. The senators said the money will provide support for front-line medical professionals. The money will be used to train workforce, expand telemedicine and buy supplies, the senators said. The senators also announced that four councils of governments and development commissions will receive a total of $1.6 million in federal support. The money is intended to help with revitalization of small businesses, the senators said. Maine officials have reported more than 3,400 cases of the virus. The state has also reported 110 deaths due to the virus.
College Park: The University of Maryland has announced it will hold some in-person classes during the fall semester amid the coronavirus pandemic. Nearly 20% of undergraduate classes will be held partially in person when the school’s fall semester kicks off Aug. 31, school officials announced in an email to students Tuesday. Priority for in-person classes will be given to some courses, including labs and senior capstone projects, according to the email obtained by The Baltimore Sun. Courses with more than 50 students will be held online, and all courses are also expected to be moved online if there is a spike in coronavirus cases, Mary Ann Rankin, the university’s senior vice president and provost, said in the email. The school is also planning to reduce the number of students sharing dorm rooms and convert floor lounges into bedrooms to minimize social gatherings.
Boston: The state has received almost 59,000 known fraudulent unemployment claims since the start of the coronavirus pandemic through June 20 and recovered $158 million in fraudulent claims, the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development said Tuesday. The fraudulent claims, part of a national criminal scheme, were made using personal information stolen during earlier commercial data breaches, the agency said in a statement. The state has received more than 1.6 million filings for benefits from March 8 through June 30, the statement said. The Department of Unemployment Assistance has hired Ernst & Young to conduct a forensic accounting investigation into the fraud scheme.
Lansing: The state’s confirmed COVID-19 deaths have surpassed 6,000, the state health department said Tuesday. The state said there have been 6,005 deaths, and another 246 are likely linked to the coronavirus. Michigan reported 30 new deaths Tuesday, although 20 were confirmed through a records review and could have occurred weeks ago. Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties and Detroit account for 75% of Michigan’s deaths. The state reported 454 new confirmed virus cases, one of the highest daily totals in recent weeks. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer warned that she could order new restrictions. She stopped indoor service at bars in parts of the Lower Peninsula last week. “We’re going to continue to monitor the numbers,” Whitmer told CNN. “If they keep moving up, we’re going to dial back if we have to. And it’s the last thing any of us wants.”
Minneapolis: The University of Minnesota is reviewing its fall semester plans to make sure international students aren’t forced to leave the country under new guidance from federal immigration authorities. The guidelines Monday from the U.S. Immigration and Customers Enforcement say international students must leave the U.S. or transfer to another college if their schools plan to offer classes entirely online this fall. Minnesota was already planning to offer a mix of online and in-person classes. President Joan Gabel said in a note to students and faculty Tuesday that the school is reviewing its fall semester hybrid instruction so that in-person classes can be offered where needed to make sure international students comply with the new guidance. The university’s Twin Cities campus had about 6,100 international students this spring, or about 12% of its more than 49,000 students.
Jackson: State health officials on Tuesday again gave dire warnings over the state’s health care system and updated the public on the total number of coronavirus cases among Mississippi lawmakers. State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs confirmed eight legislators have tested positive for COVID-19, while another 11 are suspected of having the virus. A total 270 legislators and staff at the Capitol have been tested so far, he said. House Speaker Philip Gunn, R-Clinton, announced Sunday in a Facebook video that he tested positive for the coronavirus. On Saturday, Rep. Bo Brown, D-Jackson, confirmed he received a positive test result Thursday, a day after legislators departed the Capitol. And on Tuesday, Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann tested positive for coronavirus, according to his spokesperson.
Branson: Leaders knew the risk of convening thousands of kids at summer camps across the state during a pandemic, the state’s top health official said, and insisted that camp organizers have plans in place to keep an outbreak from happening. The outbreak happened anyway. An overnight summer camp in rural southwestern Missouri has seen scores of campers, counselors and staff infected, the local health department revealed this week, raising questions about the ability to keep kids safe at what is a rite of childhood for many. The Kanakuk camp near Branson ended up sending its teenage campers home. On Friday, the local health department announced 49 positive cases at the camp. By Monday, the number had jumped to 82. Dr. Randall Williams, director of the Missouri Department of Health, said Monday that his agency had no plans to shut down summer camps in the wake of the outbreak. In fact, the camp plans to reopen later this summer, he said.
Great Falls: The state reported its highest daily number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday – 80 – with the majority of those occurring in Yellowstone County, where 55 cases were reported. The latest number brings the state’s total to 1,327. Of those, 716 have recovered, and 588 remain active, according to the state’s coronavirus-tracking website. In Yellowstone County, RiverStone Health said in a news release that it and Montana public health officials are tracing contacts of 58 people who tested positive for COVID-19 in one Billings senior care facility. Gov. Steve Bullock during a news conference later in the day called it the “most solemn news” the state has received in months. Those testing positive include 15 employees and 43 residents of Canyon Creek Memory Care Community, a licensed facility on the West End. Two residents have been hospitalized.
Omaha: Nebraskans who lost their jobs will once again have to actively look for new employment to maintain their benefits, state officials said as they announced plans to resume Gov. Pete Ricketts’ signature reemployment program. The Nebraska Department of Labor said it will impose job-search requirements for recipients starting July 12. In an executive order issued Monday, the governor said Nebraska is well into its gradual reopening of the state economy, and employers are now listing more than 30,000 available jobs. Nebraska has seen a slowdown in new coronavirus cases, and the state’s hospitals still have a large amount of space to treat new patients, according to the state’s online tracking portal. “These conditions will facilitate the prosperity of Nebraskans and the economy,” Ricketts said in the order.
Reno: The known number of Nevadans who have tested positive for COVID-19 reached 24,301 on Wednesday morning, according to the Nevada Health Alliance dashboard. That’s an increase of 516 new cases over Tuesday, when the state hit an all-time high in testing, with 12,776 tests administered. Five more deaths were reported – one in Carson City and four in Clark County – bringing the total number of coronavirus-related deaths in Nevada to 553. Hospitalizations were up Tuesday, with the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases at 607, an increase of 10 hospitalizations from Monday’s data. An additional 269 hospitalized patients are suspected of having the coronavirus. The combined total of 876 confirmed and suspected cases in Nevada hospitals is an all-time high since the outbreak began. Of those, 233 are in intensive care units, down from 236 the previous day.
Concord: The state’s absentee ballot system will force blind voters and those with other disabilities to sacrifice their privacy, safety or potentially both during the coronavirus pandemic, according to a lawsuit filed against the state. Disabilities Rights Center-New Hampshire sued Secretary of State William Gardner on behalf of the National Federation of the Blind and its New Hampshire chapter, Granite State Independent Living, and three voters with disabilities. The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court, seeks to force the state to implement an accessible, electronic absentee voting system. Absentee ballots typically are only available in limited circumstances, but the state is allowing anyone to use them for the Sept. 8 state primary and Nov. 3 general election if they have concerns about the virus. Special voting machines for people with disabilities will be available for those who vote in person, but both scenarios are problematic, according to the lawsuit.
Trenton: The state’s furloughs of public-sector workers amid the COVID-19 pandemic that has decimated its tax revenue will immediately affect summer activities across the state. Almost 40 boat ramps, rifle and archery ranges, and other outdoor venues at the state’s Wildlife Management Areas will be off-limits through July 27, state officials announced Wednesday. That covers everything from Split Rock Reservoir, a popular lake for kayaking in Morris County, to the parking lots at Higbee Beach, which attracts plenty of free spirits to Cape May. Gov. Phil Murphy signed a bill last week to cut the hours of up to 100,000 public workers. Division of Fish and Wildlife officials said Wednesday that they have to restrict access to these areas in order to protect public health, safety and the environment due to a lack of employees.
Las Cruces: Patrons of businesses within city limits will now be required to wear face masks if they cannot maintain 6 feet of distance from other people – or the business owner may face fines. The City Council unanimously voted Monday evening to extend Mayor Ken Miyagishima’s emergency proclamation requiring businesses in city limits to enforce mask-wearing by patrons as well as employees. Miyagishima issued the proclamation Friday to go into effect Saturday morning for 72 hours. Under the emergency proclamation ordinance passed in March, councilors needed to vote up or down on extending the mayor’s emergency order. Once approved, the order runs concurrently with Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s public health emergency declaration unless canceled by a vote of the council.
New York: Most students will return to their physical schools two or three days a week and learn online the rest of the time under a plan announced Wednesday by Mayor Bill de Blasio, who said schools can’t accommodate all their students at any one time and maintain safe social distancing. “Most schools will not be able to have all their kids in school at the same time,” de Blasio said. De Blasio said parents will have the option of online-only instruction for their children, but he said 75% of parents who answered a survey want their children in school in September. Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has clashed with de Blasio repeatedly over control of the city’s schools and other issues, said all school districts statewide must submit plans for reopening by July 31, and state officials will decide in the first week of August whether to accept the plans and whether schools will reopen at all.
Raleigh: The state announced Tuesday that residents will no longer need a doctor’s referral to get a coronavirus test. The order, lasting until Gov. Roy Cooper’s current state of emergency is rescinded, aims to encourage more Black, Hispanic and Native American residents to get tested. Mandy Cohen, state secretary of Health and Human Services, also announced the creation of up to 300 free temporary testing sites throughout July. The expansion comes even as Cohen said the state needs more testing supplies from the federal government. Cohen said she and Cooper discussed the need for more chemical reagents Monday with U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar. While test results previously took two to three days to get back results in June, Cohen said supply issues have increased current waits to a week in some cases.
Bismarck: State health officials say they’ve confirmed 73 new cases of the coronavirus. The state health department said Wednesday that it had recorded 3,971 cases. One additional death was reported Wednesday, bringing the statewide total to 85. Health officials identified the victim as a Cass County woman in her 90s with underlying health conditions. The actual number of infections is thought to be far higher than the state’s totals because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected without feeling sick.
Cincinnati: Criminal cases in Hamilton County involving city prosecutors have been put on hold, after an assistant city prosecutor tested positive for the coronavirus, officials said. Andy Gillen, assistant court administrator for Hamilton County Municipal Court, said he received messages late Monday about the positive test. The city prosecutor’s office, according to Gillen, is suspending operations until its employees are tested. “We are hopeful that they will have results back later in the week,” he said, “and they can advise us when they can return.”
Oklahoma City: The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported 673 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday. That brings the total number of cases since the pandemic began in the state to 17,893. The Health Department also reported three new coronavirus-related deaths Wednesday.
Salem: For the first time since World War II, the Oregon Symphony has canceled all of its live concerts and programs through the end of the year, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The cancellation of dozens of live shows in Portland and Salem through Dec. 31 comes after evaluating guidance by Gov. Kate Brown and state health officials on limiting large gatherings. The symphony, which typically operates on a $22 million budget, already has lost millions of dollars in revenue due to the pandemic and expects to lose more by the year’s end. The 76 full-time musicians and additional staff were placed on furlough through the end of the year. The multiple Grammy Award-nominated symphony led by 18-season Music Director Carlos Kalmar serves more than 235,000 people annually through concerts, education and community engagement programs.
Pittsburgh: The city and the rest of Allegheny County reported a near-record number of new coronavirus infections Wednesday as state health officials expressed concern about the situation in southwestern Pennsylvania but made no move to reimpose pandemic restrictions in border counties that are also seeing increased spread. Infections are rising sharply in border counties like Beaver, Butler, Washington and Westmoreland, and Pennsylvania’s health secretary, Dr. Rachel Levine, had signaled that mitigation measures were on the way, according to local officials who spoke with her. But Levine’s spokesperson said nothing was imminent. Several GOP-controlled counties ringing Allegheny, including Butler and Washington, are challenging the legal authority of Levine’s boss, Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf, to order businesses to close. “They told us an order was coming today,” Leslie Osche, Republican chairperson of the Butler County Board of Commissioners, said Wednesday, a day after she said she spoke with Levine. “We have no authority to close anything, nor would we.” April Hutcheson, a Health Department spokesperson, said later Wednesday that Levine would not take action Wednesday. She did not explain the apparent change in plans.
Providence: A Block Island restaurant has temporarily closed at the height of the tourist season so it can undergo a thorough cleaning and its staff can be tested for the coronavirus after a seasonal worker tested positive for the disease last weekend. Finn’s said in a statement posted on its website that it plans to reopen sometime later this month, although the exact date has yet to be determined. The worker’s test result came back late Sunday, according to a posting on the town of New Shoreham’s website Monday. The worker was not publicly identified but had previously tested negative, restaurant management said. Staff members who had direct contact with the worker are quarantining, and contact tracing by the state Department of Health has started. It was the first confirmed case of the disease on the resort island since late March, when a resident who had visited New York tested positive.
Greenville: One day before Gov. Henry McMaster announced beaches and some retail stores in the state could reopen, health officials told his office the moves posed serious risks related to the coronavirus pandemic. Those risks included the likelihood that the state’s oceanfront communities could see an influx of visitors who would ignore social-distancing guidelines as well as a “perception that loosened restrictions may lead to a false sense of security,” according to an April 19 memo obtained by the Greenville News through a Freedom of Information Act request. Earlier that same day, an aide to McMaster was copied on an email stating that an independent global research center had recommended social-distancing rules in South Carolina should not be relaxed until “around June 1.” Although McMaster was unswayed, the memo and email were correct. Cases in South Carolina’s urban areas and coastal counties have increased dramatically.
Pine Ridge: The Oglala Sioux Tribe has locked down its reservation for three days to stop the potential spread of COVID-19. Tribal President Julian Bear Runner ordered the 72-hour lockdown prohibiting nonessential travel to or from the reservation through Thursday. The Rapid City Journal reports all tribal employees have been placed on administrative leave except for emergency personnel. The Oglala and Cheyenne River Sioux have been at odds with Republican Gov. Kristi Noem over highway checkpoints on their reservations. Noem demanded that the tribes remove the checkpoints from federal and state highways, calling them illegal. The tribes began monitoring their borders several months ago in an effort to stop unnecessary visitors who could be carrying the coronavirus.
Nashville: Some bar owners are seeking a temporary restraining order against city officials in an effort to push back against coronavirus restrictions. Bar owners Timothy Stephen Smith and Geoffrey Reid filed the lawsuit Monday, according to the filing. Smith owns Kid Rock’s Big Ass Honky Tonk and Steakhouse; Reid owns The Local Spot. The bar owners are seeking the restraining order against Mayor John Cooper, Metro Public Health Department Director Michael C. Caldwell and the Metro Beer Permit Board. The board had voted to temporarily suspend Kid Rock’s beer licenses last month after they were found in violation of coronavirus health orders. The suit says the bar owners have suffered harm because of closures amid the pandemic and requests an exemption from an order announced last week by the mayor that requires bars in Nashville to close for two weeks.
Austin: The state surpassed 10,000 new coronavirus cases in a single day Tuesday for the first time, crossing a sobering milestone rarely seen since the pandemic first hit the U.S. in March. The record high of 10,028 new cases in Texas served as another alarming new measure of the swift resurgence of COVID-19 nationwide and the failures of the country’s response. Republican Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas aggressively began one of America’s fastest reopenings in May but has begun reversing course in recent weeks, ordering bars closed and mandating face coverings. The record mark in Texas partly reflects a lag in testing results from the Fourth of July weekend, when newly reported cases were far below what Texas has seen in recent weeks. But Abbott said the numbers should still be “an alarm bell for everybody” who is skeptical about whether the virus is a threat. “We have rapid spread of COVID-19 in the state of Texas right now,” he told San Antonio television station KENS.
Salt Lake City: Gov. Gary Herbert is considering issuing a statewide mask mandate after discussing the issue with state legislators this week. The Republican governor raised the possibility of a statewide order last week as the state has continued experiencing a spike in COVID-19 cases. He held a virtual meeting with House Speaker Brad Wilson and Senate President J. Stuart Adams on Tuesday to discuss a potential state measure. “We’re trying to maintain and protect people’s health and maintain and protect the economy,” Adams told The Salt Lake Tribune on Tuesday. “We can do both, and we are going to do both.” Herbert is also facing mounting pressure from the Utah Hospital Association, which sent a letter Tuesday urging the legislative leadership to require residents to wear masks. The letter called the recent spike’s impact on hospitals and health care professionals “unsustainable.”
Burlington: A new resident under quarantine at a nursing home has tested positive for COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus. Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine said Tuesday that the person was under a quarantine for new admissions at Elderwood. “We should actually record this positive case as a success story,” Levine said. “And the reasons I say that is because this case involved an individual who was actually under quarantine already at the facility.” The senior care facility said family members of residents have been notified, and limited outdoor visitation has been suspended for 28 days. “Elderwood has implemented established isolation and infection control protocols as well as those protocols consistent with recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Vermont State Department of Health for persons suspected of having the virus,” the facility said in a statement.
Staunton: The city has announced the reopening of City Hall and the Irene Givens Administration Building to the public next Monday, according to a news release. The city is ready to cautiously resume in-person services in these two city facilities with safety restrictions and limitations in place, consistent with guidance issued by the federal and state governments, the release said. The public is encouraged to continue use of the city drop box, pay-by-phone option and electronic methods to conduct business to the greatest degree possible. Those citizens who must visit City Hall or the administration building in person will be encouraged to wear a face covering and to follow instructions posted on signs to help maintain physical distancing for the safety of the public and of city employees, the release said. Additional details concerning building operations will be released to the public Friday.
Mount Vernon: A nursing home is experiencing an outbreak of COVID-19 among residents and employees, Skagit County health officials said. So far, 21 residents and employees at Mira Vista Care Center have tested positive for the coronavirus, the Skagit Valley Herald reports. The first case was confirmed June 19, and others were confirmed with follow-up testing, officials said Monday. Most cases have been mild or asymptomatic. “In congregate living situations, COVID-19 can be very challenging to contain,” Polly Dubbel, communicable disease and environmental health manager with Skagit County Public Health, said in a news release. “It’s so important that the community at large works together to slow the spread of COVID-19 and help stop the virus from entering these vulnerable facilities.”
Charleston: Gov. Jim Justice on Wednesday said officials are working on plans to reopen schools across the state in early September as coronavirus cases rise to record highs. The Republican governor said he is targeting Sept. 8 as a tentative date to reopen schools but stressed the timing could change depending on the state’s caseload. He did not immediately detail the safety precautions schools would be required to implement. “Absolutely if we were to rush this and go back to school in two or three weeks, in my opinion it’s the wrong decision because we don’t know, we just don’t know what’s going to happen,” he said. Fred Albert, president of the West Virginia chapter of the American Federation of Teachers, said the governor’s decision “is the right move for now.” The announcement comes after health officials reported the state’s highest single-day tally of new virus infections Tuesday with 147 cases.
Madison: The president of the state’s chamber of commerce on Wednesday repeated his call for the Department of Health Services not to publish the names of businesses traced to two or more positive cases of COVID-19. Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce President Kurt Bauer last week asked that DHS back off its plans to make the names public. A department spokeswoman said Tuesday that there were no plans to publish them, but agency Secretary Andrea Palm appeared to hedge during a news conference when she said there were no plans to do that “this week.” Bauer said releasing the names was “potentially defamatory.” “Publishing the names of businesses with employees who have tested positive for COVID-19 would likely cause even more economic damage to employers on the list while doing nothing to improve public health,” he said.
Casper: Coal production in the state has fallen dramatically as the coronavirus exacerbates a long-term trend of diminishing demand for the fossil fuel to generate electricity. Wyoming’s 16 coal mines produced 34% less coal in April, May and June compared with the same period in 2019, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration preliminary data. As it is, coal production in the U.S. including Wyoming’s Powder River Basin, the nation’s top coal-producing region, has fallen steadily for more than a decade because of competition from renewable energy and inexpensive natural gas. The coronavirus has further sapped demand for coal. More people working from home, and public health orders closing bars, restaurants, movie theaters and other public places have meant less electricity use, prompting utilities to order less coal to burn.
From USA TODAY Network and wire reports
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