News from around our 50 states

News from around our 50 states


Montgomery: The state recorded its highest one-day death count from the new coronavirus Tuesday as the head of a state hospital group warned the state is on a dangerous path with intensive care beds filling up and schools about to reopen. A website that tracks COVID-19 deaths in the state reported 40 new deaths, the most in a single day since the pandemic took hold in March. The illness has killed more than 1,130 people statewide, and more than 56,400 cases have been confirmed. Dr. Karen Landers of the Alabama Department of Public Health said the one-day jump reflected deaths that were added to the state’s official count after a review of records and did not nessarily mean 40 people had died in one day. The head of the Alabama Hospital Association, Dr. Donald Williamson, said the state was headed for a “potential disaster” with increasing daily case counts and a shrinking number of empty beds in hospitals.


Seward: The Alaska SeaLife Center is in jeopardy of closing after concerns surrounding the coronavirus pandemic have drastically reduced visitation rates. A decision will be made Oct. 1 regarding the future of the aquarium, KTUU-TV reports. As revenue from visits has whittled, the center has seen the costs of caring for its more than 4,000 animals stay stagnant. The CEO of the Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward, Tara Reimer, said over half of the aquarium’s revenue comes from visitors. The SeaLife Center, Seward’s second-largest employer, has asked the city for half a million dollars to offset its losses. In the meantime, aquarium officials hope the public will come to the rescue. The SeaLife Center, which opened in 1998, is a private, nonprofit corporation. “The truth is that if every Alaskan contributed $5, we would be in wonderful shape right now,” Reimer said.


Phoenix: Health officials plan to boost the state’s coronavirus testing with free screenings in two low-income Phoenix neighborhoods as Arizona tries to tamp down on rapid growth in infections, state officials said Tuesday. Arizona has by far the nation’s highest rate of positive coronavirus tests, with more than 1 in 4 tests detecting the virus, an indication the state doesn’t have enough testing available. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will test up to 5,000 people per day beginning Friday in South Phoenix and in Maryvale on the city’s west side. Both are areas where people have reported hours­long waits in the scorching heat for tests. The surge in testing is scheduled to last 12 days. The Department of Health Services said test results will be available through an online portal within 48 hours after the specimen arrives at an out-of-state lab, where they’ll be shipped overnight for processing.


Little Rock: The state reported 794 more coronavirus cases Tuesday and eight more deaths. Gov. Asa Hutchinson said at a news conference that the number of reported Arkansas cases since the outbreak began to be tracked in March has reached 29,733 with a total death toll of 331. The true number of cases in Arkansas, though, is likely higher because many people have not been tested. Studies suggest people can be infected and not feel sick. Hutchinson has not enacted a statewide mandate to wear a mask, but he is encouraging Arkansans to do so and has allowed cities to enact their own mandates. On Saturday, the state reported a record 1,061 new cases. Arkansas’ virus cases have dramatically risen since May, when the state began allowing businesses to reopen.


Sacramento: The state revamped its guidelines for COVID-19 testing to focus on those in hospitals or considered at high risk of infection as the surging pandemic strains testing capacity. The state health department on Tuesday released a four-tier priority system for testing. Those hospitalized with COVID-19 symptoms top the list, along with “close contacts” of those with confirmed infections. Next in line are other people with symptoms; those living in high-risk facilities such as nursing homes, prisons and homeless shelters; and health care and emergency service workers. After that, the nonbinding guidelines recommend testing for a wide variety of employees who have “frequent interactions with the public.” They include employees in retail stores, manufacturing, restaurants, markets and convenience stores; teachers; agricultural jobs, including food processing plants and slaughterhouses; and public transport, including airports and rail services.


People gather near the shore of Horsetooth Reservoir in Fort Collins, Colo., on July 3.
People gather near the shore of Horsetooth Reservoir in Fort Collins, Colo., on July 3.

Fort Collins: Larimer County is “getting lax” about coronavirus, and the result has public health director Tom Gonzales concerned. Larimer County hit a single-day record with at least 35 new coronavirus cases Sunday, fueled largely by July Fourth gatherings, Gonzales said. The county has identified 15 or more new cases on seven of the past 14 days. Resident reports of face-covering compliance issues have nearly tripled in the past few weeks. And coronavirus cases among people ages 15 to 24 have accounted for more than one-third of the total in the past month as the start of the new school year approaches. Gonzales classified the current risk of coronavirus spread as “medium to medium-high,” an increase he attributed to reduced adherence to social distancing and mask-wearing as people spend more time outside their homes. Some residents may be growing weary after months of social distancing or getting complacent, he said.


Hartford: Gov. Ned Lamont said Tuesday that the state’s COVID-19 infection rate is currently low enough for the General Assembly to return for a special legislative session to consider a limited number of bills, including one allowing more people to vote by absentee ballot in the November general election. The Democrat, who spoke with Democratic and Republican legislative leaders earlier in the day, said the tentative plan is to consider four bills. Besides expanding the eligibility for using absentee ballots, just for the upcoming election because of the pandemic, Lamont said they agreed to take up legislation concerning police accountability, insurance coverage for tele-health services and a cap on the price of insulin. He said it will be up to the House of Representatives and Senate to decide how they plan to hold hearings – tentatively virtually – and votes in a safe manner, given the continuing pandemic.


Wilmington: What back-to-school looks like in the state hangs in uncertainty and will likely vary from district to district. On Tuesday, Gov. John Carney and Secretary of Education Susan Bunting announced that the state hopes to have students in classrooms, but only if it is deemed safe by public health officials. The state plans to announce whether students may return to school buildings in early August, Carney said at a press briefing Tuesday. The Department of Education plans to release more detailed guidance for districts and charter schools in the coming days. But aside from a handful of public health requirements – such as masks and social distancing – planning for the upcoming semester will be left to district and charter leaders. Until Delaware releases its final decision regarding school buildings, districts are left planning for three different scenarios: in-person instruction, hybrid instruction or fully remote instruction.

District of Columbia

Washington: D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said at a news conference Wednesday that the district reported three new deaths, breaking its streak of no new deaths at five days. D.C. has been on a moderate upward trend in new cases for a week, WUSA-TV reports. Local health officials reported 80 new cases Wednesday. That’s D.C.’s highest single-day case count in more than a month and brings the overall case count over 11,000. “The virus is still in our community and still circulating,” Bowser said. She announced that D.C. Health is partnering with the Centers for Disease Control to learn more about the spread of COVID-19 in the area, and 850 randomly selected households will be contacted to participate in the invite-only antibody testing.


Fort Lauderdale: The state passed the 300,000 mark of confirmed coronavirus cases Wednesday and reported more than 100 daily deaths for the third time in a week. Health officials reported 10,181 new confirmed cases Wednesday, bringing the state’s total to 301,810 since the outbreak began in the state March 1. The state recorded 112 deaths, the third time in the past seven days it has reported more than 100 – a mark that had only been topped once before last week. The state has now recorded 4,626 COVID-19 deaths. Florida’s rolling seven-day average for deaths is now 92 per day, triple the 31 posted a month ago just before the toll began creeping up and then exploding last week. As of Tuesday, Florida had the No. 2 death rate in country, slightly behind Texas, which has 25{09c3c849cf64d23af04bfef51e68a1f749678453f0f72e4bb3c75fcb14e04d49} more residents. Still, Florida’s death toll is nowhere near the national record set by New York in April.


Atlanta: The coronavirus pandemic is no match for lottery players. The Georgia Lottery Corp. said profits delivered to the state hit a new record of $1.24 billion for the budget year ended June 30. That continued a rebound after sales had initially dropped in March at the onset of COVID-19 restrictions. It’s the ninth straight year the lottery has set sales and profit records. Proceeds from the lottery finance college aid called Hope Scholarships and preschool classes. Lawmakers had initially asked agencies to look at cuts in that spending but left it intact as lottery sales rebounded. Brad Bohannon, the Georgia Lottery Corp.’s Vice President Brad Bohannon told lawmakers in May that use of the lottery’s online options had jumped 50{09c3c849cf64d23af04bfef51e68a1f749678453f0f72e4bb3c75fcb14e04d49} in April and early May. The lottery said Tuesday that most of its retailers remained open, and it benefited because other forms of entertainment were limited.


Honolulu: A vacation rental association and four homeowners have filed a federal lawsuit against the county of Maui claiming their rights have been violated by restrictions placed on short-term vacation rentals on the Hawaiian island of Molokai. In a statement released Monday, the group said Maui County violated their rights to due process. Some of the homeowners, the lawsuit said, must cancel reservations and answer “potential claims” from customers as a result of the county’s action. Some owners had permits that would have allowed them to operate into 2021, the statement said. “Instead of grandfathering in existing permit holders, they told my clients – with no due process whatsoever,” said the group’s Honolulu-based lawyer Terrance Revere. He added their short-term rental housing permits “were being yanked away,” The lawsuit names the county, Mayor Michael Victorino and the head of the Maui County Planning Department.


Boise: Health care leaders pleaded for a statewide mask mandate Tuesday, saying it’s the best way to slow a rapid increase in coronavirus cases. The officials from the five largest medical care providers in southwestern Idaho also urged residents to push local and state leaders for mandates. Gov. Brad Little has so far been unswayed, though he has encouraged residents to wear masks. “Gov. Little has no plans for a state-wide mask mandate in Idaho at this time,” his spokeswoman, Marissa Morrison, said a statement Tuesday. She said he supports local municipalities that want to impose mask orders. The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the state has nearly doubled in the past two weeks, with more than 11,400 cases Tuesday, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University. The state has seen an average of nearly 453 new cases every day during the past two weeks, according to the COVID Tracking Project.


Chicago: People traveling from Iowa and Oklahoma to Chicago will have to quarantine for two weeks upon arrival or face possible fines starting Friday. The city first issued a quarantine order early this month for 15 other states based on increasing numbers of confirmed cases of the coronavirus. It updated the order Tuesday, bringing the total number of affected states to 17. States are included based on the rate of new confirmed cases per 100,000 residents. To comply, travelers must stay at a single home or other dwelling for 14 days except to seek medical care or be tested for COVID-19. The order also applies to city residents returning from a visit to a designated state. Chicago officials acknowledge there’s little way of enforcing the order. Mayor Lori Lightfoot said the order can raise travelers’ awareness of “what their obligations are when they travel.”


Indianapolis: Thirteen more residents have died from COVID-19, while another 662 Hoosiers have been diagnosed with the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus, state health officials said Tuesday. The additional deaths raise Indiana’s confirmed death toll during the pandemic to 2,582 deaths, the Indiana State Department of Health said. The state agency has also recorded 193 fatalities considered coronavirus-related by doctors but without confirmation of the illness from test results. Those deaths give Indiana 2,775 confirmed or presumed deaths from COVID-19. The state’s 662 newly diagnosed cases of COVID-19 bring the total number of Indiana residents known to have the illness to 52,685. To date, 578,409 coronavirus test results have been reported to the state agency, and 9.1{09c3c849cf64d23af04bfef51e68a1f749678453f0f72e4bb3c75fcb14e04d49} have tested positive. Indiana’s weekly update of pandemic deaths at the state’s nursing homes shows that deaths at those homes increased by 25 in a week to 1,245.


Des Moines: The state’s auditor said Tuesday that a coronavirus testing program brought to Iowa under a $28 million no-bid contract by Gov. Kim Reynolds on recommendation from actor Ashton Kutcher is violating state law in the indirect way it handles test-result data. Auditor Rob Sand said his office reviewed the process and found that Test Iowa results first go to two Utah companies contracted to provide testing before heading to the state’s chief information officer and then to the Iowa Department of Public Health. This four-step route violates a section of Iowa law that requires laboratories dealing with a reportable infectious disease to immediately report the case to the IDPH, Sand said. Test Iowa was brought to the state after Kutcher, an Iowa native and investor familiar with technology companies, recommended Reynolds look at the Test Utah program.


Wichita: Officials in the area worry that a continued resurgence of novel coronavirus cases will force hospitals in the state’s largest city to scramble for new intensive care unit beds to treat the seriously sick. County Manager Tom Stolz told Sedgwick County Commissioners on Tuesday that if current hospitalization trends and use of ICU beds for coronavirus patients continue into next week, it’s likely the situation will be deemed “critical.” The county health department reported that eight of the 35 ICU beds available for coronavirus patients were open as of Monday. Stolz’s comments came after Wichita Mayor Brandon Whipple tweeted Monday that Wichita hospitals could reach capacity within three weeks. The county manager said area hospitals can add new intensive care unit beds “on the fly,” but staffing is under pressure because employees have tested positive for the virus. “It’s stressing their staff to the point that they are concerned,” Stolz said. “It’s all bad news this week.”


Frankfort: Coronavirus cases rose to the second-highest daily total in Kentucky, a surge that should “create a knot in your stomach” and puts the state at a crossroads, Gov. Andy Beshear said Tuesday. The Democratic governor bluntly warned that people need to wear masks and follow social distancing guidelines to mitigate the threats posed by the spike in virus cases. Beshear recently issued an order requiring most Kentuckians to wear face coverings in public places. The new caseload increase is “one more wake-up call,” he said, adding that the trend in coming weeks “depends on our willingness to come together and do the right thing.” Beshear reported 576 more coronavirus cases statewide, prompting him to declare that COVID-19 “is attacking us, and we are at war with this virus.” The one-day surge sent the total statewide number of cases surging to at least 20,223 since the pandemic began.


Baton Rouge: Louisiana began accepting applications Wednesday for a $250, one-time payment offered to front-line employees who checked out grocery customers, worked at nursing homes and performed other essential tasks in the earliest days of the coronavirus pandemic. The Department of Revenue announced the application website and process Monday, after Gov. John Bel Edwards signed the legislation creating the hazard pay program with federal coronavirus aid. Applicants can visit for eligibility details and to submit a payment request. The revenue department encouraged people to apply quickly for the first-come, first-served program because lawmakers only earmarked $50 million in congressional aid for the program – not enough to cover everyone who may be eligible.


Portland: Officials said Tuesday that health organizations in the state will launch 18 “swab and send” testing sites to help make coronavirus testing more accessible to residents. The new collection sites are designed to send samples to the Maine State Lab for testing, the Maine Department of Health and Human Services said in a statement. The sites will use a “drive-thru, drive-up and mobile specimen collection” model, the department said. Some of the sites are up and running, and others will open within two weeks, officials said. “Creating Maine-based testing capacity is especially important as national laboratories struggle to handle other states’ surge of COVID-19 cases,” health and human services commissioner Jeanne Lambrew said. The sites will be available all over the state, with locations planned for Portland, Fort Kent, Bar Harbor, and many other cities and towns, officials said.


Annapolis: Gov. Larry Hogan urged county officials to rigorously enforce his executive order aimed at controlling the spread of the coronavirus in bars and restaurants as infections surge among Maryland’s young people. “An increasing number of COVID-19 cases have been connected to non-compliance with public health requirements particularly in bars and restaurants,” Hogan wrote in a letter to county officials Tuesday. “We cannot allow a small segment of willful violators to squander the collective efforts of the overwhelming majority of Maryland citizens and businesses.” Hogan’s executive order last month prohibits standing and congregating at a bar. The directive also says social distancing must be practiced, and all staff must wear face masks. An analysis by The Baltimore Sun found more than 100 new coronavirus infections have been confirmed per day among people in their 20s in Maryland during the past week.


Boston: Brewer Sam Adams is shutting down the roof deck patio of its Boston Tap Room to protect guests and employees because of what it describes as an s“influx of out-of-state visitors from COVID-19 hot spots.” The taproom opened in February but was closed because of the pandemic. It reopened about three weeks ago. “While we love welcoming visitors to the taproom, we also know we need to do our part to keep everyone as safe as possible,” the company said in a Facebook post Tuesday. Beer aficionados can still sample the brewer’s offerings. The taproom is offering contactless pickup for online orders of Sam Adams merchandise and beers, including varieties exclusive to the taproom. “We’ll continue to monitor trends and will reopen our rooftop patio when we believe it is in the best interest of our drinkers and coworkers,” the company said.


Lansing: Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Tuesday extended the state’s coronavirus emergency declaration through Aug. 11, five months after she first issued it, pointing to an uptick in new cases over the past three weeks. The move, which was expected, allows the Democratic governor to keep in place various orders designed to curb the virus, including certain business closures, limits on gatherings, a mask requirement and longer unemployment benefits. She pointed to the state’s death toll – at least 6,236 confirmed and probable deaths related to COVID-19. “That’s more than 6,000 of our parents, grandparents, friends and neighbors. And the rising numbers we’ve seen over the past few weeks prove that this virus is still a very real threat in our state,” Whitmer said in a statement in which she again urged residents to wear a face covering and practice physical distancing while out in public.


Minneapolis: Gov. Tim Walz and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan on Tuesday announced a $100 million housing assistance program to help Minnesotans hit by the coronavirus pandemic. The program is aimed at helping to prevent evictions and homelessness and maintaining housing stability for individuals and families. The investment will be funded with federal money through the Coronavirus Relief Fund, authorized by the coronavirus relief bill. Walz said he hopes the program will bring some relief to Minnesotans who are struggling to pay their bills because of the pandemic. “The COVID-19 pandemic has hit families across the state hard. I’ve said throughout this fight that my top priority is Minnesotans’ safety, health, and well-being. And we know that stable housing is key to safety, health, and well-being,” Walz said in a statement.


Jackson: Doctors are calling for a statewide mask mandate after an increase in coronavirus cases that they say is hampering the ability of hospitals to provide emergency care for patients. “We strongly believe that without a statewide mask mandate, our state’s healthcare system cannot sustain the trajectory of this outbreak, which could ultimately result in the loss of the lives of many Mississippians,” members of the Mississippi State Medical Association, representing more than 5,000 physicians, residents and medical students, wrote in a statement Tuesday. Gov. Tate Reeves said he is still not planning a statewide mask requirement. Reeves said Tuesday that he has the same goal as the doctors – to get people to wear masks – but believes in a different approach. “Every dentist I know wants 100{09c3c849cf64d23af04bfef51e68a1f749678453f0f72e4bb3c75fcb14e04d49} compliance for every kid to brush their teeth every single night. Some kids, if you tell them to brush their teeth, they just won’t do it,” Reeves said.


Columbia: Prisoners are raising health concerns because guards are not always required to wear face masks during the coronavirus pandemic. Inmates across the state told the Kansas City Star that many guards choose not to wear face coverings that can help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Rhonda Smith, 42, an inmate at Chillicothe Correctional Center, said the agency’s handling of the pandemic feels “uncaring.” “It could have been avoided, but hey, this is prison right?” she told the newspaper. So far at least 67 staffers at 12 prisons have tested positive for COVID-19, and more than 200 inmates have contracted the virus. Department of Corrections spokeswoman Karen Pojmann said guards must wear N95 masks and other protective gear around prisoners showing symptoms of coronavirus or those who have tested positive for COVID-19. Pojmann said the agency handed out face masks to all prisoners and guards, but they’re not required to wear them.


Great Falls: The number of COVID-19 cases in the state crossed the 2,000 mark Wednesday, with a new daily high of 145 reports. The total for the pandemic has reached 2,096 confirmed cases, according to the state’s website. Of those, 915 people have recovered, 1,147 cases remain active, and there have been 34 deaths attributed to the respiratory illness. The state reported that 37 people remain hospitalized out of 145 hospitalizations. There have been 123,758 tests, an increase of 2,362 from Tuesday. Officials have attributed the increases to more testing and have said residents have not been as vigilant about warding off COVID-19 as they were earlier. Nearly half of the new cases were in Gallatin County, which had 72 reports. They were followed by Yellowstone County with 27, and Flathead and Garfield counties each reported eight new cases. Big Horn County reported seven new cases. Six new cases were reported in Cascade County.


Omaha: State health statistics show more than 400 people have been diagnosed with coronavirus so far this week – including more than 200 on Monday. The state’s online virus tracker shows 174 cases were reported Sunday, and another 227 cases were reported Monday, bringing the state total to nearly 20,400. Of those, 16,025 have recovered from the virus, according to the site. The total number of deaths attributed to COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, had reached 288 by the end of Monday. State figures showed Nebraska still has a large amount of space in hospitals to treat new patients, with 41{09c3c849cf64d23af04bfef51e68a1f749678453f0f72e4bb3c75fcb14e04d49} of Nebraska’s hospital beds, 45{09c3c849cf64d23af04bfef51e68a1f749678453f0f72e4bb3c75fcb14e04d49} of intensive care beds and 80{09c3c849cf64d23af04bfef51e68a1f749678453f0f72e4bb3c75fcb14e04d49} of ventilators in the state available Tuesday morning.


Las Vegas: A record high on Tuesday in the daily number of positive coronavirus tests in the state may be the result of lax mask-wearing and a lack of social distancing during the Independence Day holiday, officials said. “Nevada continues to see a resurgence in COVID-19 hospitalizations,” Caleb Cage, state pandemic response chief, said less than a week after Gov. Steve Sisolak responded to a spike in reported cases by again closing bars and restaurants in the Las Vegas and Reno areas and in five other counties. “We believe that many of the new cases in this recent surge are coming from the Fourth of July weekend,” Cage said. He called the finding concerning. In response to the governor’s order, 37 bars and taverns filed a lawsuit Sunday against the state and Sisolak. The governor earlier imposed a mandate for people to wear masks in public, including patrons at casinos, spurring protests and the creation of a political opposition group called “No Mask Nevada.”

New Hampshire

Concord: The state’s guidelines for reopening schools “do very little to keep students and staff safe” from the coronavirus, the president of the state’s largest teachers’ union said Wednesday. The state is leaving it up to each school district to decide whether to fully return to the classroom, continue with remote learning or develop hybrid models that combine elements of both. Guidance released Tuesday by Republican Gov. Chris Sununu outlines recommendations for screening, social distancing, hygiene and other safety measures aimed at preventing further spread of the coronavirus, but it includes very few mandates. For example, masks will be required for all outside visitors, including parents, but only encouraged for staff and students. While Sununu emphasized the need to provide flexibility, Megan Tuttle, president of NEA-NH, said the state’s impressive results in containing the virus so far have been achieved by putting safety first, not via flexible restrictions.

New Jersey

Trenton: A federal judge has denied a request by several national theater chains to issue an order allowing them to reopen in New Jersey. AMC, Cinemark and others sued Gov. Phil Murphy seeking a temporary restraining order to invalidate the Democrat’s executive order keeping theaters closed due to concerns over COVID-19. In the suit filed last week, they had argued that they were being treated unfairly because Murphy has allowed other large gatherings, such as religious ceremonies, to resume. The failure to allow theaters to reopen while houses of worship and other public entities are allowed to constitutes a violation of the theaters’ rights to free speech, equal protection and due process, the suit alleged. The suit was the first of its kind brought against a state challenging COVID-19 restrictions. The plaintiffs didn’t satisfy “the stringent standards for granting this extraordinary relief,” U.S. District Judge Brian Martinotti wrote.

New Mexico

Farmington: A riot at a northwestern New Mexico jail sparked by demands for more COVID-19 testing and hot meals left one inmate injured and damage to the jail, officials said. The disturbance at the San Juan County Adult Detention in Farmington began Monday after 35 inmates – armed with shards of porcelain from broken toilets – barricaded themselves and started a fire, according to authorities. Investigators said inmates also wrapped books and magazines around their torsos as makeshift body armor and used a bunk as a battering ram before the riot was put down by multiple agencies called to the scene. One injured inmate was taken to a nearby hospital, authorities said. According to San Juan County authorities, inmates started demanding Sunday afternoon to speak to an administrator about their concerns for more hot meals and more coronavirus tests. County spokesman Devin Neeley said inmates have been receiving only one hot meal a day.

New York

New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art will reopen five days a week starting Aug. 29 after being shuttered since March 13 to curb the spread of the coronavirus, museum officials announced Wednesday. The Met’s Fifth Avenue building will be open Thursday through Monday with safety protocols including frequent cleaning and visitors limited to 25{09c3c849cf64d23af04bfef51e68a1f749678453f0f72e4bb3c75fcb14e04d49} of the museum’s capacity, the officials said. Face coverings and social distancing will be required. “Perhaps now more than ever the Museum can serve as a reminder of the power of the human spirit and the capacity of art to bring comfort, inspire resilience, and help us better understand each other and the world around us,” museum president Daniel H. Weiss said in a statement. The Met’s Cloisters facility in upper Manhattan will open at a later date, officials said. The Met Breuer on Madison Avenue, which the Met took over in 2016, will not reopen. It is being turned over to the Frick Collection as a temporary home.

North Carolina

Raleigh: Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper announced guidelines Tuesday that will allow the state’s K-12 schools to reopen at reduced in-classroom capacity but give parents and school districts the choice to have classes entirely online. The guidelines from Cooper and the Department of Health and Human Services allow in-person instruction if students and teachers wear face coverings and people remain 6 feet apart at school. The plan also gives families the choice to opt-in for remote learning. Districts were previously directed to draft three plans. Plan A called for entirely in-person classes, Plan B included a hybrid of online and in-person learning, and Plan C promoted fully remote instruction. Cooper decided to go with Plan B statewide, though districts could elect to implement Plan C. In many cases, students are expected to rotate between in-person and online instruction in a given week.

North Dakota

Bismarck: Schools may reopen this fall for face-to-face learning amid the continuing coronavirus pandemic if districts approve and consult with local health officials, Gov. Doug Burgum announced Tuesday. School districts also must prepare online learning plans in addition to classroom instruction and a “hybrid” of the two, Burgum said. The first-term Republican cited “low positivity rates” and a “committed, vigilant population” for the move to open schools. Burgum closed all public and private K-12 schools indefinitely in March by executive order but amended it later to allow ceremonies on school property and summer classes with proper social distancing and other safety precautions. Decisions ultimately were left to local school officials. Summer classes did not prohibit schools from offering instruction by distance learning, instead of face-to-face instruction in buildings. The new guidance applies both to public and nonpublic schools.


Columbus: States once hard-hit by the coronavirus have now ordered a quarantine mandate for visitors from Ohio as the number of reported daily cases in the state continues to push over 1,000. Visitors traveling from Ohio to New York, New Jersey or Connecticut must quarantine for 14 days to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, according to a regional agreement announced Tuesday. The mandate comes months after Republican Gov. Mike DeWine won nationwide praise for his aggressive approach to the coronavirus pandemic, closing aspects of the states even when no cases had been reported. Now, as Ohio continues to push forward in its reopening, it joins a list of other states that have seen an explosive number of reported cases in the past few weeks. The quarantine mandate was issued because Ohio’s rate of positive virus tests had reached 10{09c3c849cf64d23af04bfef51e68a1f749678453f0f72e4bb3c75fcb14e04d49} or higher over a seven-day rolling average or exceeded 10 people per 100,000 residents over seven days.


Oklahoma City: The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the state has increased by a record 993 with four additional deaths due to COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, the Oklahoma State Department of Health reported Tuesday. The previous daily record for reported cases was 858 on July 7. The state reported a total 21,738 cases of the virus and 428 deaths, up from 21,745 cases and 424 deaths reported Monday. The actual number of positive cases is likely much higher because many people haven’t been tested, and some who get the disease don’t show symptoms. The health department reported 546 people have been hospitalized either with the virus or under investigation, and 16,635 have recovered.


Portland: State lawmakers have voted to distribute $50 million in federal relief funds to arts and culture organizations still struggling amid the coronavirus pandemic. Legislators voted Tuesday to direct $24 million to individual organizations including the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and Oregon Symphony among others and another $26 million to county coalitions who can distribute funds to other local arts and culture organizations in need, The Oregonian/OregonLive reports. “This is a really welcome gift,” said Dana Whitelaw, executive director of the High Desert Museum in Bend, which received $700,000 from the bill. The museum is projecting a revenue loss of close to $1.5 million through the end of the year, she said. “This starts to cover a significant portion of that.” More than $9.6 million will also be split up among 78 arts venues around the state, from Revolution Hall in Portland to the Elgin Opera House in northeast Oregon.


Philadelphia: The city’s famed – and often inflammatory – New Year’s Day parade was canceled Tuesday, along with every other large event on public property in the city through February 2021, as officials try to keep a lid on the coronavirus pandemic. The Mummers Parade had been called off only twice before in its 119-year history, the last time in 1934 during the Great Depression. The parade is a colorful celebration that features string bands, comic brigades, elaborate floats, and plenty of feathers and sequins, but it has also attracted persistent criticism over its long history of racist blackface displays and other inappropriate or offensive behavior by some participants. The Philadelphia health commissioner, Dr. Thomas Farley, said the decision to cancel large, public events until 2021 was tied to when a vaccine might be available. He also referenced the city’s infamous decision to hold a parade at the close of World War I, in the midst of an influenza pandemic. Thousands of people caught the flu and died.

Rhode Island

Providence: The average age of people in the state with the coronavirus continues to drop, a number that concerns state health officials. The average age of confirmed Rhode Island cases fell from 47.5 years old the week of June 14 to 39.2 years old the week of June 21, according to state Department of Health statistics. For the week of July 5, the average age fell to a low of 37.9 years. “This is something that we have been watching for a few weeks,” Health Department spokesperson Joseph Wendelken said in a statement. “Factors that could be involved are the weather getting nicer and younger people being out more, and less compliance with mask wearing and social distancing directives among younger people.” The department is now looking at ways to reach residents in their 20s and 30s. “Younger people are a focus of some new communications we are going to be rolling out about mask wearing,” he said.

South Carolina

Columbia: Hospitals in the state are short-staffed and low on testing supplies in their fight against the coronavirus pandemic, administrators told U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham on Tuesday, as the state saw its second-highest daily number of new confirmed cases. After a briefing with the South Carolina Hospital Association, Graham told reporters he would push to speed up testing, secure money for hospitals to replace lost revenue and ensure schools have the means to reopen safely this fall as Congress works on its next phase of federal pandemic relief. Graham also called for tax credits for U.S. production of personal protective equipment and liability reform to protect hospitals caring for COVID-19 patients from litigation. Cases in the state have spiked since Memorial Day weekend. Health officials reported 2,205 new confirmed COVID-19 cases and 23 additional deaths Tuesday, totaling 60,220 cases and 984 deaths since the pandemic began.

South Dakota

Sioux Falls: Two more people have died of the coronavirus in the state, and the number of confirmed coronavirus cases increased by 80 on Wednesday. South Dakota has a total of 111 COVID-19 deaths, according to the South Dakota Department of Health. The two people who died were men in their 70s. The state has recorded a total of 7,652 COVID-19 cases as of Wednesday, according to the state health department. That doesn’t include people who show symptoms or are asymptomatic but are not tested. A total of 1,379 test results were reported Wednesday, and the positive rate for coronavirus tests was 5.8{09c3c849cf64d23af04bfef51e68a1f749678453f0f72e4bb3c75fcb14e04d49}. The state health department says 752 total people have been hospitalized during the pandemic, and 59 are currently hospitalized. Coronavirus patients are occupying 2{09c3c849cf64d23af04bfef51e68a1f749678453f0f72e4bb3c75fcb14e04d49} of staffed hospital beds in the state, while 54{09c3c849cf64d23af04bfef51e68a1f749678453f0f72e4bb3c75fcb14e04d49} of hospital beds are available, according to the department.


Pigeon Forge: Dollywood has lifted a requirement put in place due to the coronavirus pandemic that requires its guests to make reservations before coming to the theme park. The park announced the change Tuesday, saying it’s based on positive guest satisfaction scores and reviews about its operating environment. Dollywood Theme Park and Dollywood’s Splash Country Water Park reopened in mid-June. To promote social distancing, season passholders have been required to reserve the date and time they will visit, while general admission guests have bought date-based tickets. Now, one-day tickets and multiday tickets are valid for a five-day window after the selected date. Passholder reservations are still required at Splash Country. Guests are required to wear masks at Dollywood, but not on water attractions at Splash Country or Dollywood and on select roller coasters.


Austin: A record number of people with the coronavirus were in hospitals Tuesday as the state also set a record for the number of new cases reported. The number of people in Texas hospitals has continued to climb after topping 10,000 for the first time Friday, and the state recorded 10,569 people hospitalized Tuesday. Texas surpassed 10,000 new coronavirus cases in a single day for the first time last week and set a record Tuesday with 10,745 new cases. Those new cases bring the state’s confirmed total to 275,058. State health officials said there were also 87 more deaths, putting the total so far at 3,322. The record number of coronavirus cases and hospitalizations came as Texas voters went to the polls Tuesday for the U.S. Senate primary runoff between two Democrats, a congressional primary and other party runoffs. The runoff was originally slated for May, but Abbott pushed back the date in March as the virus began to take hold in the U.S., saying it would help keep people safe.


Logan: An elementary school principal is recovering from COVID-19 as the school’s district is preparing to reopen for fall classes, officials said. Nibley Elementary Principal Kelly Rindlisbacher is doing well, and the district does not believe he was exposed at the school, Cache County School District spokesperson Tim Smith told The Herald Journal. The district did not release further information. The Cache County School District’s reopening plan came after Republican Gov. Gary Herbert ordered all students and teachers to wear masks. The district is preparing its plans for reopening, and a school board vote is planned for July 21. “We are hopeful, as the governor is, that as a state that we can get those numbers to go the other direction into a more manageable realm,” Smith said.


Montpelier: The state of Vermont is extending the state of emergency needed to maintain special rules to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Phil Scott said. He made the announcement about extending the state of emergency, which he first declared in March and has extended every month, during his regular virus briefing Tuesday. “It’s the vehicle we need to keep certain protections in place, control outbreaks as they come up so we can keep the economy open and manage the ongoing crisis,” he said. As long as the data shows the state is managing the virus, the process of reopening will continue. “It may be awhile before life truly returns to normal, but we’ve shown we can reopen in a measured way and keep Vermonters safe,” he said. Meanwhile, state officials are continuing to monitor a possible outbreak in Manchester and Londonderry. At least 30 people tested positive for the virus using an antigen test.


Richmond: A congressman is raising an alarm about the state’s delays in delivering unemployment benefits, saying he’s received two months of “continuous complaints” from his constituents. Democratic Rep. A. Donald McEachin wrote in a letter to Virginia Employment Commissioner Ellen Marie Hess on Tuesday that many Virginians are telling him they can’t even get a response from the state agency handling jobless benefits. McEachin, whose 4th Congressional District stretches south and east from Richmond, said he is deeply concerned about the reported problems and whether enough is being done to resolve them. Gov. Ralph Northam said at a news conference Tuesday that the agency has increased its staff by 550{09c3c849cf64d23af04bfef51e68a1f749678453f0f72e4bb3c75fcb14e04d49} and handled applications from nearly 939,000 Virginians since March 15, when pandemic-related closures began impacting the economy.


Olympia: Gov. Jay Inslee announced Tuesday that the statewide pause for counties looking to advance from their current stage of economic reopening will continue through at least July 28, and he warned there is a “significant risk” that parts of the economy may have to be closed again if coronavirus activity continues to climb. The pause – implemented earlier this month – was originally intended to be in place for two weeks for the state’s 39 counties, which are in various phases of a four-stage economic reopening plan. But Inslee said the number of confirmed cases and hospitalization rate are troubling. “We’re not in as bad of shape as some other states. But we have to look where we’re going to be, not just where we are,” Inslee said at a news conference. “And we are heading to big trouble if we do not figure out a way to knock this pandemic down.”

West Virginia

Charleston: State Attorney General Patrick Morrisey filed suit Tuesday against an egg supplier for alleged price gouging during the coronavirus pandemic. Morrisey said Green Valley Poultry Farms owner Dutt & Wagner of Virginia Inc. charged grocery stores more than 200{09c3c849cf64d23af04bfef51e68a1f749678453f0f72e4bb3c75fcb14e04d49} above normal prices for wholesale eggs earlier this year. In some cases, prices were raised nearly 300{09c3c849cf64d23af04bfef51e68a1f749678453f0f72e4bb3c75fcb14e04d49}, according to the attorney general. The civil case accuses the company of violating the state’s consumer protection act and seeks restitution for consumers, civil penalties for violations of a price gouging statute and an injunction to prevent such conduct. Dutt & Wagner of Virginia Inc. declined to comment on the suit.


Hermansville: A popular four-day music festival in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula has been canceled due to the coronavirus. The Woodtick Music Festival in Hermansville, west of Escanaba, had planned to have 30 bands on two stages, starting July 30. It would have been the 27th annual event, with rock, country, blues and folk music. “We’ve been shut down. … It has been made clear that non-compliance with the face mask rule to any extent or lack of social distancing would constitute negative action by government authorities,” the festival’s website said. “All local entities have been a pleasure to work with. But all to no avail as we have been overruled by non-local entities.” The festival began in 1994 with a group of people cooking hot dogs, playing music and watching a Green Bay Packers game.


Casper: A school board member apologized Monday for his “stupid” comments about people from the state who have died from the coronavirus pandemic. At a meeting with health officials last week, board member Kevin Christopherson said that the majority of the 21 Wyomingites who have died from the coronavirus “were going to die. They just died sooner,” the Casper Star-Tribune reports. Christopherson made the comments as the board walked through its plan to reopen schools in the fall, which call for face coverings to be worn whenever students and staff can’t stay 6 feet away from each other. Christopherson said at the meeting that the need for face coverings is “overblown.” On Monday, Christopherson told the Star-Tribune he’d “be pissed at me, too” for his comments. “It sounds horrible, and I didn’t mean it that way,” he said. “I need to apologize to anyone that I offended. That’s not who I am.”

From USA TODAY Network and wire reports

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Ashton Kutcher, Met reopening: News from around our 50 states

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