News from around our 50 states

Laveta Brigham

Alabama Elmore: A fourth inmate has died after testing positive for COVID-19 as the number of virus cases in the state prison system continues to rise. Robert Stewart, 80, died at a hospital Sunday, the Alabama Department of Corrections said in a statement. Stewart began exhibiting symptoms of the virus […]


Elmore: A fourth inmate has died after testing positive for COVID-19 as the number of virus cases in the state prison system continues to rise. Robert Stewart, 80, died at a hospital Sunday, the Alabama Department of Corrections said in a statement. Stewart began exhibiting symptoms of the virus June 8 and got treatment at the Staton Correctional Facility infirmary before being transferred to a local hospital, where he died. Officials decided Thursday to test all inmates in the infirmary for the coronavirus, and 13 tested positive, the Corrections Department said. They have been isolated, the statement said. The prison system says that since the pandemic began, a total of 41 inmates and 122 staff members and contract workers have tested positive. Inmate advocates and health experts have expressed concerns that the state’s overcrowded prisons would become a breeding ground for a deadly outbreak and urged the state to make additional changes.


Anchorage: A shortage of election workers amid coronavirus concerns has officials searching for solutions and warning the state could close some polling sites. The shortage is particularly severe in Anchorage and the Matanuska-Susitna Borough, The Anchorage Daily News reports. Alaska communities have up to three forthcoming elections. The statewide primary is set for Aug. 18, while municipal elections across much of the state, excluding Anchorage, will be Oct. 6. The national general election will be held Nov. 3. Two months before the statewide primary, none of the state’s House districts have enough election workers. The state needs between 2,500 and 3,000 temporary workers during the primary and during the general election, elections division Director Gail Fenumiai said. The state has asked nonprofit organizations for assistance through the Adopt-A-Precinct program.


Phoenix: The state has once again reported a daily number of new coronavirus cases above 1,000. The Department of Health Services posted on its website Monday another 1,104 cases of COVID-19 and eight additional deaths. That brings the statewide total number of coronavirus cases to 36,705 and deaths to 1,194. There were 1,449 patients hospitalized for positive or suspected instances of COVID-19 on Sunday. That marks two weeks straight of at least 1,000 hospitalizations. The state’s hospitals were at about 82% capacity. Eighty percent is the cutoff for suspending elective surgeries to save space for a potential surge in virus cases. Health department officials have said they’re not yet halting surgeries as they review the capacity numbers. Meanwhile, St. Vincent de Paul, in partnership with CVS Health, is offering rapid, free virus testing at the nonprofit’s Virginia G. Piper Medical & Dental Clinic for the uninsured in Phoenix.


Little Rock: Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Monday granted health care providers and businesses protections against coronavirus lawsuits as the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 keeps climbing. Hutchinson signed executive orders granting immunity to businesses and providers who don’t engage in willful or reckless conduct during the pandemic. The Republican governor also signed another order assuring workers’ compensation coverage for employees infected with the virus because of their job. The orders follow a push by Republican lawmakers who had called on the governor to convene a special session to take up the virus liability protections. Hutchinson said that now wasn’t the right time for a special session and that lawmakers can revisit the issue next year.


Sacramento: Following a weekend that saw California’s broadest reopening yet since the coronavirus pandemic shuttered businesses, Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday defended the state’s pace and said the economic harm from isolation can have negative health outcomes, too. “We have to recognize you can’t be in a permanent state where people are locked away for months and months and months and months on end,” he said. Newsom’s remarks came in his first news conference in 10 days, just days after most California counties began reopening bars, wineries, hotels and other services. Roughly three months after Newsom ordered residents statewide to stay home, most counties have now been cleared to open restaurants, shops, movie theaters, zoos, hotels, day camps and gyms. Nail salons, massage studios and other personal care services can reopen Friday in counties where they’re approved.


Denver: The state will soon enter a new phase with loosened coronavirus-related social and business restrictions, Gov. Jared Polis announced Monday. Under the next phase, which the Democratic governor calls “Protect our Neighbors,” individual counties will be able to make their own decisions to reopen businesses or social gatherings at the end of June or early July – if they have the adequate public health capabilities to respond to possible outbreaks. The new guidelines are subject to public feedback and will be formalized by the end of this week, Polis said. The new measures include allowing the resumption, with conditions to be determined, of indoor and outdoor events or venues like conferences, museums, fairs and concerts. He also announced residential summer camps can open with as many as 10 children in individual indoor settings and 25 outdoors. Bars can open at 25% capacity, or up to 50 people.


Hartford: The state is currently in good shape for the next round of business reopenings scheduled for this week, given the slowing COVID-19 infection and death rates, Gov. Ned Lamont said Monday. The Democrat said the state’s rate of infection, about 2%, is among the “best five or six states in the country,” and that “tells us we’re ready to do our next phase of the reopening on Wednesday.” That’s when indoor dining, lodging, outdoor amusement parks, libraries, tattoo parlors, nail salons, gyms, pools, bowling alleys, museums, zoos, aquariums and movie theaters will be allowed to open at limited capacities. Certain smaller outdoor events will also be allowed. A third reopening is planned in July. Lamont said that’s when bars may reopen, as well as indoor events. Businesses are required to “self-certify” online with the state before opening Wednesday, showing they understand and will comply with the state’s COVID-19 rules and regulations.


Lifeguards watch over a crowded Bethany Beach on a warm breezy Wednesday, June 10. They've been trained to work in teams for rescues, wearing masks and gloves when possible due to coronavirus.
Lifeguards watch over a crowded Bethany Beach on a warm breezy Wednesday, June 10. They’ve been trained to work in teams for rescues, wearing masks and gloves when possible due to coronavirus.

Bethany Beach: Lifeguards who are keeping a close eye on those who have shunned their face masks to feel the warm summer sun are keenly aware of the additional risks COVID-19 could place on top of their already dangerous job. “There’s a serious threat to not just losing one guard but 20-30% of your patrol, which would be pretty significant,” said Delaware State Parks Beach Patrol Capt. Kris Knutsen. Lifeguards not only train and work closely together but also often share housing for the summer season. Whether they get the virus from a beachgoer or someone else, a rapid spread of infections could have disastrous impacts on lifeguard staffing. On Delaware beaches, face masks are recommended but not required as they are on the boardwalks and other public places. People are expected to social distance and be respectful, but there’s only so much young lifeguards can do when there are thousands of people along the shoreline.

District of Columbia

Washington: The D.C. National Guard publicly promised to screen all members for COVID-19 before and after deployment, but one Guard member says that never happened, WUSA-TV reports. “I have a sore throat currently,” said the Guard member, who spoke on condition of anonymity. She said she is sick and awaiting coronavirus test results. She was among some of the more than 5,000 Guard members from D.C. and several states who were ordered to deploy in the district in response to protests tied to the death of George Floyd in police custody. “I myself have not had my temperature taken once,” she said. “No one was there to ask me a single question. … There are signs posted, but there was no screening.” She said it was more than 10 days into her deployment, after an Associated Press story, that commanders finally started pushing all troops to wear masks.


Fort Lauderdale: The state’s confirmed coronavirus cases rose sharply again Tuesday, weeks after the state began reopening its economy, setting a daily record with almost 2,800 new cases reported as the overall count eclipsed 80,000 and the death toll neared 3,000. The state Department of Health reported 2,783 new confirmed cases, breaking the record of 2,581 just set Friday. Both days are almost double the previous high of 1,601 set in mid-May. The state has reported 2,993 deaths, a one-day jump of 55. Gov. Ron DeSantis last week said the upward trend in confirmed cases is mostly a reflection of more testing being conducted combined with some spikes in some agriculture communities, but the number of tests conducted daily peaked three weeks ago, and the percentage of positive tests is now over 6%, more than double the rate of 2.3% in late May.


Atlanta: A state Senate committee wants to protect businesses, governments, property owners and emergency personnel from being sued if someone claims they contracted COVID-19 because of them. The Senate Public Safety Committee voted Monday to amend House Bill 216, which originally would have created a fundraising license plate for the Georgia Tennis Foundation, to include the protections. Three Democrats voted against the bill. The measure will move to the full Senate for more debate. Committee Chairman John Albers, a Roswell Republican, said the bill was the product of negotiations among business groups and plaintiffs’ lawyers, although the GOP leadership of the Senate has clearly said it wants to protect the interests of businesses with the measure. Gov. Brian Kemp already exempted hospitals and medical professionals from liability by executive order, but protections run out when Kemp’s emergency powers expire.


Honolulu: Twenty-one travelers arrested on suspicion of violating the state’s coronavirus quarantine order have agreed to leave Hawaii because of threats, a member of the group said Monday. Kendra Carter said some of the harassment involved death threats. “People started rolling up to our house calling us all types of names. Telling us to starve and a whole bunch of stuff. We’ve been getting death threats in our inboxes,” Carter said. “People telling us to get the (expletive) off the island.” Carter wasn’t arrested with the others last week because police decided to let her and another woman stay with their children. Arresting them would have meant calling child protective services, which would have meant exposing more people, Hawaii County police Lt. Rio Amon-Wilkins has said. The group’s members spent two years traveling Central America and are misunderstood, Carter said. “People like to call us a cult because we like to live a certain lifestyle,” she said about their vegan diet and a belief that “everybody is different shades of brown.”


Boise: A man charged with destroying evidence after police said the bodies of two missing kids were found on his property has pleaded not guilty. Chad Daybell’s attorney, John Prior, filed documents notifying the court of Daybell’s not-guilty plea late last week. He said Daybell requested a preliminary hearing and a jury trial. Police found the remains of 17-year-old Tylee Ryan and her brother, 7-year-old Joshua “JJ” Vallow, on June 9 after months of searching. They hadn’t been seen since September, and investigators said the children’s mother, Lori Vallow Daybell, and her husband, Chad, both lied to police about their whereabouts. Lori Daybell has been in jail since February, charged with child abandonment and obstructing the investigation. Her attorney has indicated she intends to defend herself against the charges.


Chicago: The city has again loosened restrictions created during the coronavirus pandemic, allowing bars, breweries and other businesses to resume outdoor service starting Wednesday. Mayor Lori Lightfoot also announced Monday that people can get back to the city’s popular lakefront path starting June 22. But nearby parks and beaches will remain closed, and city officials said patrons must follow the “keep it moving” motto by using the trail for exercise or personal travel, which includes walking, biking, running or rollerblading. Lightfoot shut down the lakefront and nearby parks in late March after residents crowded the area on an unseasonably warm day. Lightfoot said then that it was too difficult to keep distance from others, and for months she resisted calls to reopen the well-loved amenity. The Chicago Park District plans to install signs and station staff to act as “social distancing ambassadors” along the trail, reminding people to stay away from others.


Indianapolis: A northern Indiana health department is requiring everyone to wear a mask or face covering over the mouth and nose following a steep increase of cases since Memorial Day. LaGrange County’s cases have spiked, with 215 new cases since Memorial Day. In all, the number has almost quadrupled in 21 days. “Our county has witnessed a sharp rise in COVID-19 illnesses, and our best defense is hand washing, social distancing and wearing masks,” a press release from the LaGrange County Health Department said Monday. “Please do your part in stopping this disease.” LaGrange is one of the few counties in Indiana to mandate the wearing of face coverings, The Journal Gazette reports. State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box recently mentioned LaGrange and adjacent Elkhart County as having spikes. She also said LaGrange County was nearing capacity for hospital beds.


Des Moines: The director of the Iowa Department of Public Health said Tuesday that he is retiring as the agency continues to head the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. Gerd Clabaugh, 58, said he is leaving July 31 “to spend more time with family and seek new opportunities.” Former Gov. Terry Branstad appointed Clabaugh in 2014 to run the state’s health department, and he remained under Gov. Kim Reynolds. She appointed him to also run the Iowa Department of Human Services in June 2019 for about five months after she fired former DHS director Jerry Foxhoven.Reynolds said in a statement that Clabaugh strengthened the state’s infectious disease response and improved health data collection. While his department has been in the center of Iowa’s response to the coronavirus, others have been more in the spotlight, including Deputy Director Sarah Reisetter, who has usually appeared with Reynolds at the governor’s press conferences, and Dr. Caitlin Pedati, the agency’s medical director and state epidemiologist.


Topeka: The Shawnee County Health Department has seen an increase in COVID-19 cases linked to funerals and visitations. As of Monday, there have been 41 cases of the coronavirus and one death linked to funeral services in Shawnee County, the health department announced in a news release Tuesday. Those positive cases include residents from five different counties in Kansas, according to the health department. SCHD officials say they understand the importance of holding funeral arrangements and visitations for loved ones. They encourage those organizing services to follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and to work with funeral directors and religious leaders to conduct services safely. Safety tips include following funeral directors’ instructions on how to keep services safe, notifying people attending a funeral or visitation they will be expected to comply with safety protocols, using technology to connect with friends and family remotely during the grieving process, considering modified funeral arrangements with limited attendance, practicing social distancing, and wearing cloth face coverings.


Frankfort: Mass testing for the coronavirus is underway at a women’s prison after at least 14 people contracted the virus, Gov. Andy Beshear’s administration said Monday. The state is trying to avoid a repeat of the major COVID-19 outbreak that occurred this spring at a prison in western Kentucky where the virus cases numbered in the hundreds. Applying lessons learned from that situation, the state stepped up mitigation efforts that include mass testing at the Kentucky Correctional Institution for Women, said J. Michael Brown, secretary of Beshear’s executive Cabinet. “We are confident that using the methods we’ve learned … that we will also bring KCIW under control,” Brown said during the governor’s coronavirus briefing. Brown reported that three staff members and 11 inmates at the women’s prison have tested positive for the virus. No one is hospitalized, he said. Testing at the facility is expected to be completed by the week’s end, he said.


Baton Rouge: Gov. John Bel Edwards has signed a Republican-crafted plan to spend $300 million in federal coronavirus aid to help small businesses recover from the outbreak, agreeing to a grant program that peeled off dollars he initially planned to use elsewhere. The dollars come from direct federal aid allocated to Louisiana by Congress to respond to the COVID-19 disease caused by the coronavirus. Edwards intended to steer about $811 million of the federal assistance to local government agencies – such as city councils, parish police juries, sheriffs’ offices and more – to reimburse them for virus-related expenses. Republican state lawmakers chose to divvy that money up differently, carving out $300 million for small-business grants and using the remaining $511 million to reimburse municipalities for their virus spending.


Portland: Restaurants in three remaining counties can reopen for indoor dining Wednesday because new coronavirus cases and hospitalizations have stabilized in Cumberland, Androscoggin and York counties, Gov. Janet Mills’ administration said. The administration is also allowing bars, breweries and tasting rooms to open for outdoor seated service, while gyms, nail salons and tattoo parlors may also reopen in those counties, officials said Monday. Attorney Stephen Smith, who brought a class-action lawsuit over “overbroad and unnecessary” restrictions imposed on Maine businesses during the pandemic, praised the governor’s action. “We are pleased that the governor has recognized the injustice of forcing restaurants in southern Maine to remain closed even as their competitors were able to open just a few miles away,” Smith said, noting that his clients “are happy and anxious to get their employees back to work.”


Rockville: The state’s most populous jurisdiction is moving into Phase 2 of reopening from the coronavirus Friday. Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich said Monday that the county will officially enter Phase 2 on Friday at 5 p.m. Most of Maryland entered Phase 2 last week; Prince George’s County, which borders Montgomery, began Phase 2 on Monday. The looser restrictions allow limited indoor dining and retail, and they raise the limit on private gatherings to 50 people. Car washes and swimming pools will also be allowed to open. Libraries, senior centers and theaters will remain closed. Montgomery and Prince George’s counties, which border the District of Columbia, have had a disproportionate share of the state’s coronavirus cases.


Boston: The state has changed some of the rules for reopening child care centers and summer camps after operators complained that the guidelines would be too onerous. State officials will not require the use of masks for children older than 2 but will only encourage the face coverings, The Boston Globe reports. The state is also dropping the requirement that all children have their temperate checked before entering. The Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care has also decided not to require an extra preschool teacher in each room. “Clearly the department is signaling that they are listening, but they continue to try to balance the reality of the situation,” Amy O’Leary, director of Early Education for All, told the newspaper. Staff must still wear a mask when they cannot remain 6 feet apart, officials say.


Lansing: The state’s health department on Monday mandated coronavirus testing of all nursing home residents and staff after reporting the deaths of nearly 2,000 residents tied to the facilities – about a third of all COVID-19 deaths across the state. Director Robert Gordon’s order requires initial universal testing. Also, all new or returning residents have to be tested, and there must be weekly testing of all residents and staff in a home with any cases until 14 days after the last positive result. The state for the first time released a firm overall death count for nursing home residents – 1,947, which is more than 400 more than previously estimated – and listed them by facility. Places with the deadliest outbreaks are largely located in the Detroit area, Michigan’s epicenter of the virus.


St. Cloud: The state saw an increase of 197 positive COVID-19 cases Tuesday, marking a fourth day of declines in cases statewide, according to numbers released Tuesday by the Minnesota Department of Health. A total of 30,882 Minnesotans have tested positive, and 1,313 people have died in the state – an increase of nine deaths since Monday’s numbers were reported. Two inmates and one staff member at St. Cloud’s prison have tested positive for the virus; 437 inmates at the prison have been tested for the virus, according to the Minnesota Department of Corrections.


Jackson: The Mississippi Department of Employment Security is seeing an influx of fraudulent unemployment claims, mirroring a concerning trend across the country, Gov. Tate Reeves said Monday. “These are all through sophisticated networks of criminals who will take your information, apply for unemployment and then reap your benefits,” Reeves said at a news briefing. “It can have serious consequences for you, and obviously, it can have serious consequences for the system.” Executive Director Jackie Turner of the Mississippi Department of Employment Security said her office is investigating “numerous” cases of suspected unemployment fraud, some stemming from “rings” and “large-scale schemes” and some from “smaller situations” where family members or acquaintances have stolen personal information and filed for unemployment. Turner wouldn’t say how many cases of unemployment fraud the state has seen, citing pending investigations.


In St. Louis, a movie theater is shuttered due to the coronavirus outbreak.
In St. Louis, a movie theater is shuttered due to the coronavirus outbreak.

St. Louis: The coronavirus is spreading beyond the state’s largest cities, fueled in part by outbreaks in meatpacking plants and nursing homes. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports the share of cases coming from rural areas now accounts for about 30% of the state’s new cases – a greater portion than ever before. The seven-day average of daily new cases in areas of the state beyond the St. Louis and Kansas City metro regions has generally been under 50. But since the middle of May, a gradual climb has pushed the pace to about 65 new cases a day. “There’s been this long-running perception that coronavirus is an urban phenomenon,” said Chris Prener, a sociologist at St. Louis University who closely tracks Missouri coronavirus trends. “It’s definitely an ongoing issue for rural areas.” Meanwhile, the St. Louis area – the state’s coronavirus epicenter for much of the outbreak – has seen new cases fall as the Kansas City region is getting hit significantly harder than ever.


Great Falls: Five new cases of COVID-19 were reported Tuesday, bringing the state’s total to 614. The new cases involved a woman in her 70s and a man in his 60s in Custer County, two men in their 40s in Missoula County and a man in his 20s in Yellowstone County, according to the state’s coronavirus website. Of the 614 cases, 535 have recovered, state officials said. There have been 19 deaths statewide attributed to the respiratory illness. Sixty cases are active, and eight hospitalizations remain out of 79 hospitalizations overall. The state has performed 63,577 tests so far, which is 2,640 more than were reported Monday. Gov. Steve Bullock has said he doesn’t expect the state will meet the guidelines to fully reopen any time soon, especially because other states are seeing rising case numbers and hospitalizations.


Omaha: Eight firefighters at one fire station have tested positive for COVID-19, the Omaha Fire Department said Monday. All personnel assigned to Station 31 will be offered testing for the coronavirus, the Omaha World-Herald reports. Responses to calls for fire and medical emergencies will not be affected, the department said. The station and all fire apparatuses have been professionally cleaned. Fire officials said the firefighters all are doing well. No information was immediately available about how they were exposed to the virus.


Carson City: Gov. Steve Sisolak announced Monday that current limits on businesses and gatherings would remain in place while health officials evaluate whether the state’s uptick in cases is cause for concern. “Recently we’ve experienced some trends that require additional evaluation and analysis,” Sisolak said at a press conference, mentioning the upward trend in the number of new daily cases reported in the past three weeks and the percent of individual tests that come back positive. Sisolak said he and state health officials anticipated an increase in new cases after reopening and expanding testing capacity throughout June. He emphasized that the increase hadn’t significantly affected the number of COVID-19 patients in Nevada hospitals, which continue to have excess bed capacity, with 217 patients and 129 suspected to have coronavirus occupying beds.

New Hampshire

Concord: The state’s 14.5% unemployment rate for May reflects the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, officials say. The rate was a decrease of 2.6% from the April rate, which increased to 17.1% after revision. The May 2019 seasonally adjusted rate was 2.5%. The number of employed residents for May was 620,630, an increase of 24,320 from the previous month and a decrease of 132,220 from May 2019. The number of unemployed residents decreased by 17,540 over the month to 105,590. That was 85,990 more unemployed than in May 2019. From April to May this year, the total labor force increased by 6,780 to 726,220, a decrease of 46,230 from May 2019.

New Jersey

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy listens during his May 29 press conference in Trenton on the state's response to the coronavirus pandemic.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy listens during his May 29 press conference in Trenton on the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Trenton: Officials have said publicly that the state didn’t have enough protective gear for the workers in hospitals and nursing homes who led the battle against coronavirus. Yet they refuse to give the public details about which facilities lacked critical safety gear, saying that releasing such information could tip off terrorists to vulnerabilities. If the state’s position holds, New Jersey residents who want to know whether their local hospital or nursing home is ready if the virus comes roaring back are out of luck. Personal protective equipment reports are not all that New Jersey is keeping secret while blaming the virus. Several state agencies have delayed or denied access to records that would help the public judge New Jersey’s response to the virus and how it has spent nearly $200 million in taxpayer dollars.

New Mexico

Santa Fe: State health officials have teamed with Native American cartoonist Ricardo Cate to increase awareness about the coronavirus pandemic as part of a new campaign. One of the most prominent Native American cartoonists working today, Cate, who is from Santo Domingo Pueblo, is known for using humor to bring attention to serious topics affecting tribal communities. The Behavioral Health Services Division of the state Human Services Department and the New Mexico Indian Affairs Department partnered to create the campaign. Officials say the goal is to use culturally relevant messaging on how tribal members can take precautions to protect their communities, families and elders. “Laughter has always been a part of being Indian, and Native humor is culturally unique and at the heart of our resilience and survivability,” Cate said in a statement. Public service announcements will air on Native American radio stations and banners will be put up at water and food pick-up stations and testing areas. Fliers also will be distributed at each pueblo, tribe or nation in New Mexico, and posts will be made on social media. The latest statewide data shows Native Americans account for more than 54% of all positive cases.

New York

Albany: Hospitals can now allow visitors at their discretion, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday. The facilities must follow state guidelines, which include time limits on visits and requiring visitors to wear protective gear, Cuomo said. Visitors also will be subject to symptom and temperature checks. “Obviously we need to be careful,” the governor said. Cuomo pointed to signs that the coronavirus is no longer spreading at an overwhelming pace in New York, which saw a peak of more than 700 deaths a day in mid-April of people who tested positive for COVID-19. Cuomo said 25 individuals who tested positive for COVID-19 died Monday in hospitals and nursing homes. The number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients continued to decline to roughly 1,500 Monday, and fewer than 2% of people who are getting tested for COVID-19 each day are testing positive. “You want to talk about congratulations and something to celebrate, that is something to celebrate,” Cuomo said.

North Carolina

Charlotte: The jobs of more than 700 people who work at hotels in the city have been affected by the economic devastation wrought by the coronavirus. The Charlotte Observer reports the jobs are at several major hotels that include the Westin, Ritz-Carlton and Renaissance Hotel. Marriott International owns those brands. Spokeswoman Casey Kennett said in a statement that the company has seen a significant drop in consumer demand because of travel and social distancing restrictions. She said the firm has adjusted operations with measures that include staff reductions, implementing temporary leave and terminating some employees. Leisure and hospitality has been among the hardest-hit industries during the coronavirus pandemic. About 21% of unemployment claims filed statewide in March and April came from workers in that sector.

North Dakota

Bismarck: State health officials on Monday confirmed 22 new cases of the coronavirus, including 15 in North Dakota’s most populous county. The state has recorded a total of 3,101 cases of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic. There have been 2,058 cases in Cass County, which includes the Fargo metropolitan area. The death toll from the virus has remained unchanged for four straight days and stands at 74. There are 31 people hospitalized, down from 35 on Sunday. The number of active COVID-19 cases also fell by four, from 348 to 344.


Columbus: Every registered voter in the state will receive an absentee ballot request form in the mail through the use of federal funding, in a move some officials say could help mail-in voting in the critical battleground state go more smoothly in November than it went during the coronavirus-upended primary. All 7.8 million registered Ohioans now have the option to mail in their ballot for the November election, Republican Secretary of State Frank LaRose said. “Sending the request – not the ballot – helps voters participate in the election and means each registered voter in Ohio can continue to choose one of three options available to them – early voting, absentee voting by mail, or voting in person on Election Day,” the elections chief said in a release. Absentee ballot requests have been sent out in every general election in Ohio since 2012. The only difference this year is the use of federal coronavirus aid funds to send the ballots, which was authorized Monday by the state’s Controlling Board.


Oklahoma City: State health officials reported 186 new coronavirus cases Monday, with no new deaths due to COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus. There are now 8,417 confirmed cases, with the total death toll unchanged at 359. The Oklahoma State Health Department said 6,578 people have recovered. The actual number of people who have contracted the virus is likely higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected and not feel sick.


Salem: Gov. Kate Brown said Tuesday that she will convene a special legislative session next week to address the state’s COVID-19 pandemic and to improve police accountability following weeks of protests over the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Brown said the session would start June 24. Brown said she will likely call for a second special session later in the summer to address the huge budget hit from coronavirus and limitations on businesses and spending. “In the meantime, I am finalizing a list of $150 million General Fund savings for this biennium, to be released by the end of this week as part of my efforts to put Oregon’s budget on better footing,” Brown said in a statement. Last month state economists said Oregon faces an 11% drop in revenue from the previous biennium after the coronavirus pandemic triggered a shutdown order and a consequent drop in tax payments.


Harrisburg: The state has recorded a third straight day of fewer than 400 new positive coronavirus tests, according to Department of Health data released Tuesday, marking the longest such stretch since new cases began regularly exceeding that level in late March. Still, the number of people dying from COVID-19 daily remains in the dozens. Officials reported 33 additional deaths and 362 new positive cases of the coronavirus Tuesday. That brings the state’s totals to nearly 80,000 cases and 6,276 deaths since early March. Of those, 75% have recovered, the department said. The number of infections is thought to be far higher than the state’s confirmed case count because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected without feeling sick.

Rhode Island

Providence: Rhode Islanders may be allowed to make drive-up visits to nursing homes for the upcoming Father’s Day weekend. State Department of Health Director Nicole Alexander-Scott said Monday that her agency is working on possibly easing restrictions at nursing homes, where the majority of the state’s fatal cases of COVID-19 have occurred. She said visitors would have to stay in their car with masks on, while the nursing home resident would be kept several feet away and also have to wear a mask. She also warned that visits may not be possible at all long-term care facilities and that they would be by appointment only. Visits have been banned at long-term care facilities since the pandemic started in March.

South Carolina

Greenville: A surgical eye clinic has notified 25 patients who were seen last week by an employee who has tested positive for COVID-19. “We did have an employee test positive,” said Courtney Mitchell, director of marketing for Clemson Eye. “She had been in contact with patients.” All staff members at the clinic also have been notified, and several of them are being tested for COVID-19. Three of the positive employee’s co-workers will remain home until they receive negative tests, Mitchell said. The clinic was thoroughly cleaned Sunday, and it was sanitized again before opening Monday morning, said Holly Wildman, Clemson Eye’s director of quality operations. The employee was not displaying any symptoms while at work last week, Wildman said. Mitchell said many of the patients who were contacted Monday expressed concern for the employee’s well-being. She said the employee is “doing fine.”

South Dakota

Sioux Falls: Hundreds of workers are still absent from the Smithfield meatpacking plant in the city because of the coronavirus pandemic, according to union leaders. AFL-CIO secretary treasurer BJ Motley said between 800 and 1,200 of the plant’s 3,700 employees either are quarantined, have tested positive for the virus or fall into a high-risk category. Those in the high-risk category were previously going to be asked to return to work June 15, but after discussions with the union, that date was extended to June 29. High-risk individuals would be those over age 60 who have a medical condition like diabetes that would make them susceptible to the disease. Motley said Smithfield will continue to pay workers who were quarantined or had the disease while they stay home until July 31.


Memphis: The number of COVID-19 patients in the state’s hospitals has hit a grim new record at more than 400, and more than twice that number could need beds in the weeks ahead as Tennessee grapples with a new spike in its coronavirus caseload, Vanderbilt University researchers reported Tuesday. The rolling weekly caseload of hospitalizations jumped nearly 30% between June 7 and June 13, researchers said, with more people in their 20s and 30s who lack pre-existing medical conditions needing treatment. More 31,000 have now been infected in the state. Rises in new coronavirus cases and hospitalizations in recent days have led Memphis and Nashville to delay plans to reopen more businesses and increase capacities for restaurants and retail stores. Health experts also stressed that people should keep wearing face masks in public to reduce the spread of infection.


Austin: The state continued an upward trend in hospitalizations of coronavirus patients, setting a new one-day high Monday for the seventh time in eight days. That trend has local officials in some of the state’s largest cities urging residents to be diligent about social distancing and other measures such as wearing masks. Texas health officials reported 2,326 patients hospitalized for COVID-19 and 1,254 new cases, the most ever reported for a Monday, which is typically the lowest day of the week for new virus cases. The actual number of people who have contracted the virus is likely higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected and not feel sick.


Cedar City: Southern Utah University student-athletes are finally able to get back to work after the coronavirus pandemic complicated matters. SUU is reopening its athletic facilities in phases for in-person, voluntary workouts this week, bringing student athletes back in batches, according to a release from the university Friday. These phases will allow SUU to implement a number of precautions, as the coronavirus pandemic still remains in effect. The phased approach begins with keeping a very close eye upon athletes who are already in Cedar City. According to the release, student-athletes in Cedar City who returned to workouts Monday will be placed in a quarantine period with symptom monitoring each day.


Winooski: After months of having some of the fewest coronavirus cases in the country, the state is now trying to contain an outbreak that has hit an immigrant community in this small but densely populated city. What health officials described as a small cluster in Winooski that they first noticed on Memorial Day has jumped to 83 cases and expanded into neighboring Burlington and other surrounding communities. No hospitalizations or deaths have been reported. “It is kind of spreading pretty badly,” said Kamal Pradhan, a Bhutanese American, who said last week he knew of roughly 40 in the Bhutanese community who have been infected with COVID-19. About 40% of the cases have been in children. As of Monday, only 17% of those who tested positive showed any symptoms of COVID-19, Vermont Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine said.


Staunton: The Virginia Department of Health reported 445 new coronavirus cases Tuesday, bringing the state’s total to 55,331 cases. The VDH also reported 5,643 hospitalizations and 1,570 deaths, up 18 from Monday. The state reported 6,451 new diagnostic or PCR tests Tuesday, bringing the state’s total to 483,024. Eventually, the governor hopes to have the capacity to complete 10,000 tests per day consistently. The current seven-day average percent positivity rate for coronavirus tests is 7.4%. This continues a downward trend. There was a significant decrease in percent positivity Thursday because backlogged negative tests were added to the system.


Seattle: The state’s most populous county has applied to move into Phase 2 of reopening from coronavirus restrictions. King County, which has about 2.2 million residents, wants to relax rules for businesses like restaurants, barbers and retail operations. The Seattle Times reports the King County Board of Health voted unanimously late Monday afternoon to send its application to the state. There is always risk when moving from one phase to another, said Dr. Jeff Duchin, Public Health, Seattle & King County’s public health officer, who cautioned that King County residents should continue to stay at least 6 feet apart, wash their hands and wear masks. Gov. Jay Inslee’s stay-home order began March 23 and is now being relaxed – gradually, piecemeal – across the state. All but six of Washington’s 39 counties have advanced at least to Phase 2. King County has been in a “modified Phase 1” since June 5.

West Virginia

Morgantown: A football player at West Virginia has tested positive for the coronavirus, the school said Monday on the first day of voluntary workouts. The university’s athletic department said in a statement that contact tracing identified other football players who could have been exposed to the athlete. Both the player who tested positive and the others with whom he may have been in contact will isolate themselves for 14 days, the statement said. Voluntary workouts will continue for players who have tested negative for the virus, the statement said. When West Virginia begins its fall semester Aug. 19, students must wear masks on campus, including in class. Students, faculty and staff must be tested for the virus before they return to campus and complete a coronavirus education course.


Riley Knox, from left, makes sure Tate Hayes, 5, and his brother Tripp, 8, have all their activity materials for their trip on the Lake Express ferry on Monday. The Lake Express launched its 2020 season.
Riley Knox, from left, makes sure Tate Hayes, 5, and his brother Tripp, 8, have all their activity materials for their trip on the Lake Express ferry on Monday. The Lake Express launched its 2020 season.

Milwaukee: After delaying trips across Lake Michigan because of the pandemic, the Lake Express ferry has launched its 2020 travel season. The ferry began making trips between Milwaukee and Muskegon, Michigan, last week as a soft opening. The ferry is now making two daily round trips, which will continue through July 1. After that, additional crossings will be added. The high-speed ferry trip is about 21/hours between Milwaukee and Muskegon. The ferry can carry cars, motorcycles, bicycles and pets. To reduce the risk of coronavirus transmission, the Lake Express is requiring passengers to wear face coverings and complete a self-assessment and temperature checks. New social distancing measures limit the number of passengers allowed on each trip. Some sections of seating are closed.


Jackson Hole: Grand Teton National Park will open three visitor centers for the first time this year, about a month after the park reopened to the public following closures caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center in Moose, the Colter Bay Visitor Center on Jackson Lake, and the ranger station and welcome center at Jenny Lake were opening Tuesday, park officials announced Monday. These visitor centers are the first large visitor centers to open in Teton County, Jackson Hole News & Guide reports. They will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week. Park spokeswoman Denise Germann has urged travelers to have patience when visiting as operations have changed. The visitor centers now have plastic glass barriers at help desks, exhibits that are stanchioned off, and park employees wearing face coverings when social distancing is not an option.

From USA TODAY Network and wire reports

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Spiking numbers, opening venues: News from around our 50 states

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