Montgomery: Now that flooding from the Alabama River is easing, Riverfront Park is on the verge of a soggy comeback Friday. The park has been off limits for a couple of months because of flooding and damage from a swollen Alabama River. When Riverfront Park reopens, it will join dozens of Montgomery’s other parks as an outdoor area for people enjoy while observing coronavirus safety restrictions. Several weeks of flooding had left the park's walkway, Riverwalk Amphitheater and a large chunk of the open grass area covered in sand, dirt and muck. One place that will remain high and dry is Riverfront Park’s splash pad. It's closed until further notice because of coronavirus restrictions. Montgomery remains under Gov. Kay Ivey's statewide stay-at-home order. One exception is that people are allowed to participate in an outdoor activity as long as there are fewer than 10 people and everyone can maintain a constant 6-foot distance from each other.
Juneau: Businesses in parts of Alaska cautiously began reopening Friday as part of Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s plan to restart segments of the economy affected by coronavirus concerns. Signs of the times were everywhere: barbers wore face masks, and notices warned of limits on customer numbers. In Juneau, whose downtown core typically hums this time of year, many storefronts remained dark. The city earlier Friday urged businesses to wait to commit to reopening until the Assembly on Monday considers whether to “moderate” Dunleavy’s reopening approach. In Alaska’s largest city, Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz outlined plans for reopening Monday largely consistent with Dunleavy’s approach. Alaska is among the first states in the West to begin reopening, allowing restaurants to resume dine-in service and retail shops, personal care services and other businesses that were classified as nonessential to operate, all with limitations. Dunleavy, a Republican, has said health considerations must come first and that officials feel good about Alaska’s numbers, health care capacity, equipment and ability to track cases. The state has reported fewer than 350 cases of COVID-19, which includes 208 recovered cases, and nine deaths.
Marana: Hundreds of airliners idled by the coronavirus pandemic’s impact on the travel industry and other circumstances crowd a southern Arizona airfield where workers are trying to make room for even more aircraft that might not take to the skies again soon. Pinal Airpark just off Interstate 10 between Casa Grande and Tucson as of last week was providing storage space for approximately 270 aircraft, and manager Jim Petty said most of them were there because of the pandemic. About 250 miles away in northwestern Arizona, officials at Kingman Municipal Airport hope to also attract some of the plane-storage business as airlines ground more aircraft and move others to longer-term storage locations. The region’s warm, dry climate is considered ideal for mothballing aircraft, the Arizona Daily Star reported. Airpark can probably accommodate an additional 100 planes, depending on how large they are, said Jim Petty, Pinal County’s airport economic development director. Workers recently have been clearing new areas to accommodate even more arrivals. The influx of aircraft began in March as travel restrictions and plummeting demand prompted carriers to slash service on many international routes.
Little Rock: No traditional in-person high school graduations can be held in Arkansas until at least July 1 because of the coronavirus pandemic, but schools that want to hold a ceremony earlier can explore virtual options, state officials said Saturday. “In some communities, they want to go ahead and do something in the normal time and in that case, we are going to allow them to create non-traditional, either by remote means, by digital means, by video,” state Education Secretary Johnny Key said. “There are a number of techniques that schools have already started exploring.” Key said that as they approach July 1, they will consult with health officials to see if the date needs to be modified. Gov. Asa Hutchinson said he has received many calls asking about high school graduations. “I’m very sympathetic because I have a granddaughter who is a senior in high school this year but it’s really a risk whenever you bring thousands of parents and students together in one assembly,” Hutchinson said.
San Francisco: Two women have been charged with stealing items from a Walgreens in San Francisco and escaping by coughing at employees and claiming to have the coronavirus. Carmelita Barela, 36, and Rosetta Shabazz, 32, were charged with robbery affecting interstate commerce, federal prosecutors announced Friday. The San Francisco women were arrested Thursday. It wasn’t immediately clear whether they had attorneys who could speak on their behalf. A federal complaint said the women entered the store near the Civic Center on April 6, carrying empty bags. “After the store manager offered assistance, Shabazz allegedly began to cough without covering her mouth,” according to a statement from the U.S. attorney’s office. The store manager asked Shabazz to leave if she was sick. “Instead, Shabazz walked over to Barela and both defendants began to cough audibly while taking merchandise off the shelves and placing it into their bags,” the statement said. “The manager told the defendants to leave the store, to which they responded by saying, “We have COVID.’ ” The manager and a security guard didn’t want to go near the women, who filled their bags with about $90 worth of goods and left without paying, authorities said. If convicted, the women could each face up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Greeley: There won’t be a Greeley Stampede this summer because of concerns about the spread of the new coronavirus, organizers said Saturday. The popular rodeo and accompanying musical performances have been “postponed” and are unlikely to take place in 2020, marketing coordinator Kevin McFarling said. Those who had purchased tickets will be offered the choice of receiving a refund or a credit toward 2021 performances. Information on claiming a refund or credit will be available soon at GreeleyStampede.org. The Greeley Stampede is generally regarded as one of the premier rodeos in the country, making USA TODAY’s top 10 list in 2018 and 2019. It ranks among the top 20 in prize money on the Pro Rodeo Cowboys Association circuit. Musical performances this year were scheduled to include Chris Young, 3 Doors Down, Brett Young, Jon Pardi, LOCASH, Phil Vassar and Lecrae.
Hartford: The city is moving to increase testing for the new coronavirus, offer free transportation to testing appointments and launch a community education campaign to lessen the impact on black, Hispanic and low-income residents, who have been hit disproportionately hard in communities of color across the country. About 820 city residents have tested positive for the virus and about 72 have died as of Friday, but Mayor Luke Bronin said the true scope of the local outbreak is unknown because of the lack of widespread testing. The city will also be conducting outreach to families who have confirmed cases of the virus, as well as those with suspected cases and is putting together a public education campaign in English and Spanish that will promote social distancing, wearing masks and hand washing, as well as provide information on health services and other resources.
Wilmington: Delaware residents are now required to wear face coverings in public settings, according to Gov. John Carney’s latest modification to his state of emergency declaration. The order, which goes into effect at 8 a.m. Tuesday, deems settings like grocery stores, pharmacies, doctor’s offices and public transportation as mandatory places to wear face coverings. This also includes outdoor public spaces like parks and golf courses, “if maintaining social distancing of six (6) feet between individuals of different households is impracticable,” according to the order. The directive does not apply to children 12 or younger. It also requires businesses to follow a number of additional requirements starting May 1, including requiring employees to wear a face covering while working in areas open to the public or when coming within 6 feet of other staff. Additionally, it requires businesses to provide face coverings and hand sanitizer to their employees, as well as deny entry to people who do not have a face covering.
District of Columbia
Washington: The National Capital Poison Center said calls from people being exposed to hand sanitizer and disinfectants have seen a surge since March compared to the same time period last year. The report came as bogus home remedies for the new coronavirus continue to be discussed on areas of social media and following controversial comments President Donald Trump made during a news conference on Thursday. Information obtained from the National Capital Poison Center showed a dramatic rise in calls dealing with human exposure to hand sanitizer and disinfectants in areas around Washington, Northern Virginia, Prince George’s County and Montgomery County. According to the report, the center has dealt with 314 calls for disinfectant human exposure since March 1. The number marked an 111% increase compared to the same time period last year. The poison center also reported that the group has seen 112 calls dealing with human exposure to hand sanitizer since March 1, marking a 24% increase from a year ago.
Tampa: Two of the state’s largest police departments said they would delay buying body cameras because of financial concerns spawned by the coronavirus outbreak. Tampa police said that it would put on hold the purchase of more than 600 cameras that were supposed to have been acquired by the end of the year, the Tampa Bay Times reported. Across the bay, the St. Petersburg Police Department said that a body camera testing program has been delayed indefinitely, which in turn is postponing a decision by Police Chief to seek funding for hundreds of cameras. The city of Tampa had signed a five-year, $5 million contract to purchase more than 600 blue-tooth activated cameras that would have been distributed by the end of the year to every uniformed officer through the rank of corporal. Of that cost, about $1 million would have come from this year’s budget, Police Chief Brian Dugan said. However, the department is proceeding with a $500,000 purchase of Tasers.
Atlanta: Business owners who chose to reopen after Gov. Brian Kemp relaxed coronavirus-related restrictions gratefully welcomed back customers, while others remained satisfied in their decision to stay closed. Russ Anderson, who owns four Ink Addiction Tattoo Studio shops in south Georgia, said Saturday he was thrilled to finally reopen his doors a day earlier. “I felt like a little kid at Disney World,” he said. Gyms, tattoo shops, nail salons and barber shops were among the businesses that were allowed to open Friday after Kemp relaxed a monthlong shutdown despite of warnings from health experts and disapproval from President Donald Trump. Another round of reopenings is set for Monday, when limited in-restaurant dining can resume and movie theaters can reopen. All the businesses have to adhere to restrictions including separating workers and enhanced sanitation. Shawn Gingrich, CEO and founder of Lion’s Den Fitness, said he decided very soon after the governor’s announcement that he would not be reopening his gym in midtown Atlanta right away. As he listened to the news on the radio Friday about businesses that were reopening, he felt discouraged. “We’ve sacrificed so much already,” he said Saturday. “I feel like if we do this too soon, we’ll see a spike in cases and we’re back to square one.”
Honolulu: Gov. David Ige on Saturday extended the state’s stay-at-home order and the mandatory quarantine for visitors through May 31. “This was not an easy decision. I know this has been difficult for everyone. Businesses need to reopen. People want to end this self-isolation and we want to return to normal,” Ige said in a statement. “But this virus is potentially deadly, especially for the elderly and those with preexisting conditions.” Ige also announced that elective surgeries can now take place and beaches will be open for exercise. At a news conference to outline the moves, Ige pointed to alarming COVID-19 clusters on the Big Island and Maui, Hawaii News Now reported. “We still need to remain vigilant,” he said. In his statement, Ige warned of undoing Hawaii’s progress in containing the virus if public places open up too early. The governor also extended an eviction moratorium, which prevents any eviction from a residential dwelling for failure to pay rent, through May 31.
Boise: The head of an economic recovery committee formed by Gov. Brad Little to help the state reopen for business while also fighting the new coronavirus said Friday he’s optimistic Idaho will rebound, but there’s hard work ahead. Idaho Power CEO Darrel Anderson said the state can recover and even be poised to thrive when the pandemic passes, but businesses might have to adopt new practices. “What I would say is that the people of Idaho always seem to find a way,” Anderson said. “Idaho has always shown up when the chips are down.” The committee has about 30 members and is comprised of a cross-section of small and large business owners, including billionaire Frank Vandersloot, founder of wellness shopping club Melaleuca. Representatives from Micron and Simplot are also on the committee, as are several elected officials, including Republican House Speaker Scott Bedke, a rancher.
Waukegan: A biochemical research company has opened a new site in Illinois to sterilize used N95 medical masks with hydrogen peroxide gas as the need for them has increased because of the coronavirus pandemic. Columbus, Ohio-based Battelle started the cleaning process at the Waukegan sterilization facility earlier this month, the Chicago Tribune reported. Company officials said the site can clean up to 80,000 masks daily. Health care workers use the N95 masks to prevent the spread of the virus. But supplies have plummeted amid the outbreak. The facility is intended to serve hospitals and first responders for free, said Lewis Von Thaer, CEO of Battelle, a nonprofit with a long history of government contracting. The Illinois site has been sterilizing masks for Advocate Aurora Health’s Illinois and Wisconsin hospitals, according to Battelle. Battelle has six pilot sterilization facilities. The federal government has awarded the company a $400 million contract to build 60 more facilities across the country. It will hire more than 1,000 people. The masks are not soggy after the cleaning process because the hydrogen peroxide is in gas form. The chemical is odorless and leaves behind no toxic residue, the company said. Company officials said the fabric of the mask does not break down, but the elastic bands will after about 20 cleanings.
Indianapolis: The cancellation of conventions, conferences and trade shows because of the coronavirus pandemic has had a devastating impact on tourism in Indianapolis, a tourism official said. Indianapolis attracted a record-breaking 30 million visitors last year, according to Chris Gahl, the senior vice president of marketing and communications for Visit Indy. Gahl said his nonprofit, which promotes Indianapolis, is doing its best to salvage the 2020 events that have been called off. Typically around 70% of Indianapolis hotel rooms are occupied but hotels are currently at around 7% occupancy. More than 80,000 residents depend on tourism for a paycheck, according to Visit Indy statistics, which showed that visitors spend $5.6 billion in Indianapolis and generate $725 million in state and local taxes. Gov. Eric Holcomb on April 17 extended Indiana’s stay-at-home order to May 1. He has said he hopes to reopen parts of Indiana’s economy starting in May, though organizers of conventions, sporting events, concerts and other events that attract large crowds might have to wait longer.
Des Moines: The state’s three major public universities are planning to resume in-person classes in the fall, but they are still working out the details of what that would look like during the coronavirus pandemic. Iowa Board of Regents President Mike Richards said the schools will follow state and federal health guidelines as they develop plans to bring thousands of students back to the campuses of the University of Iowa, Iowa State University and Northern Iowa University. Board of Regents spokesman Josh Lehman told the Des Moines Register that specific plans for the fall semester will be shared as they are developed. Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds is beginning to ease some coronavirus restrictions even though COVID-19 is still spreading in Iowa. University of Iowa President Bruce Harreld said the school is taking a cautious approach to planning for the fall. Iowa State President Wendy Wintersteen said in a letter to faculty and staff last week that the school is facing more than $80 million in losses and additional expenses since April 3 because of the pandemic. That total includes nearly $17 million in refunds to students and families for housing, dining and other fees. Wintersteen said she will continue to prioritize the health of students, faculty and staff as plans for the fall are developed.
Belle Plaine: Gov. Laura Kelly said she has reached a deal that could resolve a lawsuit brought by two churches challenging her order banning religious gatherings of more than 10 people to help slow the spread of the new coronavirus. Under the deal, the two churches and the Democratic governor agreed to the extension of a temporary restraining order that allows the churches to disregard the 10-person limit. The court’s initial order let the two churches to gather in-person until May 2 as long as they complied with social-distancing measures, including keeping worshippers a safe distance from each other. The new proposal would extend that court order to May 16. The agreement, which a judge must still approve, essentially allows the churches to continue in-person services while the governor finalizes plans for her less restrictive statewide reopening orders that would take effect on May 4. The churches and their pastors filed a federal lawsuit earlier this month against Kelly, arguing that the directive violates their religious and free-speech rights, as well as their right to assembly. A religious freedom advocacy group, Alliance Defending Freedom, said in a news release that it reserved the right to continue litigating the matter if the governor does not follow through with “appropriately amending her mass gathering ban.”
Louisville: Nearly four dozen rural hospitals in Kentucky will receive help in fighting the coronavirus pandemic after they received a total of $3.8 million from the federal CARES Act, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced Saturday. The University of Kentucky Center of Excellence in Rural Health is getting $3,878,582 through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, and the funds will go to 46 rural hospitals to support their efforts in fighting COVID-19, McConnell said in a news release. The emergency relief package aims to support American workers, families and industries facing health and economic challenges under the pandemic. The UK Center of Excellence in Rural Health, based in Hazard, was established by state legislation in 1990 to study and help fix health disparities in rural Kentucky. The CARES Act funding gives hospitals “maximum flexibility” in how they respond to COVID-19 within their communities, according to the release. The money could support testing and lab services, for example, and also purchase personal protective equipment for hospital staff working to treat COVID-19 patients. The Kentucky Office for Rural Health will oversee the disbursement of the federal funds to 46 rural hospitals across the state.
Reserve: A nursing home for veterans has one of the state’s deadliest coronavirus clusters, data showed. In the last month, there have been 43 deaths at the Southeast Louisiana Veterans Home in Reserve, though just more than half were attributed to the virus, said Brandee Patrick, a spokeswoman for the facility’s operator, the state Department of Veterans Affair. The home, which held around 150 veterans when the outbreak began, now has just 96 left, The New Orleans Advocate reported. Five of them are hospitalized. Of the rest, 47 have tested negative for the virus, 34 have tested positive and six had inconclusive results, Patrick said. St. John the Baptist Parish Coroner Christy Montegut has said it’s possible that some of those nursing home residents who died early in the outbreak could have had the virus. That comes after new evidence showed the virus was infecting Americans earlier than previously thought. The facility has been on lockdown for more than a month. Contact has been limited to phone calls and videoconferencing.
Augusta: More than a dozen Maine health care industry groups representing hospitals, nursing homes, doctors and others are asking Gov. Janet Mills for civil and criminal immunity during the civil state of emergency caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The request asked Mills to suspend the laws holding health care providers and their employees responsible for death or injury during the state of emergency, the Bangor Daily News reported Saturday. Harm due to gross negligence would be an exception. Because Maine’s Legislature has adjourned, the action would need to come through an executive order from the governor. The governor’s office is still reviewing the request, Mills spokeswoman Lindsay Crete said. Jeff Austin, a spokesman for the Maine Hospital Association, said its members were particularly concerned about having to reallocate resources in the event of a surge in cases
Annapolis: Gov. Larry Hogan said Maryland could be ready by early May to begin phase one of its recovery process if residents continue to stay home and abide by social distancing guidelines. Maryland isn’t ready to lift restrictions right away, but the governor said he’s optimistic in which he introduced the state’s recovery plan. The two key metrics officials are watching are the rate of hospitalizations and the number of patients being admitted to ICUs. The Maryland Strong: Roadmap to Recovery takes into consideration the guidelines recently issued by the White House and the principles of the National Governors’ Association recovery plan, as well as input from experts. Recovery will be gradually rolled out in three phases. Hogan said the first phase will involve lifting the stay-at-home order, reopening many small businesses and restarting low-risk community activities. Certain counties with lower case concentrations will be allowed to reopen retail shops, golf courses, playgrounds and libraries, as well as begin recreational boating and fishing, tennis, outdoor fitness and religious activities. But social distancing would need to continue. As long as there’s no spike in deaths or admissions to intensive care units, Hogan said the state would then move on to phase two, which would allow for a larger number of businesses to reopen, including restaurants and bars, with significant safety precautions in place.
Boston: A Massachusetts factory that usually makes some of the nation’s most beloved board games, including Monopoly, Risk and Candyland, has pivoted to making personal protective equipment for heath care workers on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Charlie Baker said Saturday. The Cartamundi-owned Hasbro factory is making 50,000 face shields per week for hospitals in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, the Republican said after a tour of the East Longmeadow facility. Making games and making personal protective equipment have the same goal, President and COO John Frascotti said. “It is our job to make the world a better place for children and their families,” he said. Baker also said an investigation into the high number of COVID-19-related deaths at the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home is progressing, but there is no timetable for completion. Former federal prosecutor Mark Pearlstein has “free reign” to conduct his investigation, Baker said.
Detroit: Foster child placement agencies are facing new challenges because the governor’s stay-at-home order has blocked most birth parents from visiting their children in wake of coronavirus outbreak. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s decision has prompted worries that families providing foster care or completing certification may stop because of health concerns or job losses. Janet Reynolds Snyder, executive director of the Michigan Federation for Children and Families, a Lansing-based association that has about 60 family support and child welfare service agencies in the state, said the directive supports good health, but it is important for foster children to have access to their biological parents. JooYeun Chang, executive director of Michigan’s Children’s Services Agency with the state’s Department of Health and Human Services, said discontinuing contact was a “painful” decision for the administration. Cynthia Johnson, an Oakland County resident who is caring for children ages 1, 5 and 6, is helping the two oldest with their school curriculum because the governor’s order has closed school districts. Johnson and her husband, Michael, keep contact with the children’s relatives frequently. “My job is to make sure that these kids are safe,” Johnson said. “We have to look out for ourselves, and we both have to look out for the kids.”
Minneapolis: City officials are putting an end to pickup basketball games and other outdoor recreation because people continue to gather in city parks and fields as the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths continues to rise. The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board announced Friday it will close courts, athletic fields, playgrounds and skate parks by May 1, the Star Tribune reported. The decision includes removing or blocking basketball rims, removing tennis and volleyball nets, and posting signs notifying park visitors that soccer fields, playgrounds and skate parks are closed. The city has received more than 125 complaints of large groups at parks, many playing sports such as soccer and basketball, officials said.
Greenwood: A school district in the Mississippi Delta should wait to try to borrow money because voters might be reluctant to support a bond issue during the coronavirus pandemic, said a retired educator who serves in two elected offices. David Jordan spoke last week at a board meeting for the Greenwood Leflore Consolidated School District, the Greenwood Commonwealth reported He is a Democrat who serves in the Mississippi Senate and on the Greenwood City Council. The Greenwood Leflore district is considering a bond issue but has not specified how large it will be. It also has not set an election date. At least 60% of local voters must approve before a school district can borrow money through a bond issue. Jordan said reaching that margin can be difficult even without the financial uncertainty of the pandemic. Jordan mentioned a failed attempt to pass a 1998 bond issue that would have built a new Greenwood High School and a new elementary school. A less ambitious attempt by the Greenwood district four years later also failed. The Greenwood and Leflore County school districts have merged in the past two years. Jordan said the board should wait a couple of years for a bond vote. “I don’t think now is the time to do it because of what we have before us, the epidemic,” he said.
O’Fallon: State health officials are hoping that a new testing strategy will help quickly identify people infected with the new coronavirus at meatpacking and food plants throughout the state. Outbreaks of COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, have occurred at several U.S. meatpacking plants, where hundreds of people work next to each other on production lines and often share space in locker rooms and cafeterias. Several plants have been forced to temporarily close. In Missouri, at least 21 employees tested positive at Burgers Smokehouse, a smoked and cured meats plant in the small city of California. Forty-two of the 700 employees at a Conagra frozen meals plant in Marshall have also contracted COVID-19. And in St. Joseph, 16 workers at a Triumph Foods pork plant tested positive. Dr. Randall Williams, Missouri’s health director, said the state is deploying a new strategy to quickly test workers, including those who are asymptomatic, at plants where confirmed cases have occurred. The goal is to more quickly identify those who have the virus in the hopes of preventing it from spreading. Triumph Foods spokesman Chris Clark said all 2,800 employees of the St. Joseph plant will be tested, even those showing no symptoms.
Billings: The state took its first, halting step toward reopening on Sunday as churches were able to resume services and a general stay-at-home order expired. Although other states have been extending restrictions amid the continuing spread of the new coronavirus, Montana is among those that are beginning to loosen rules in hopes of restoring battered economies and regaining some normalcy. At Christ the King Lutheran Church in Billings, Pastor Ryan Wendt said the church was mixing faith with common sense precautions. Every other pew was being kept empty to comply with social distancing guidelines and elderly and medically vulnerable members of the congregation were advised to stay home. “This is God’s house. We are not doing frivolous, needless things. Not in a weird way, we simply trust that God is going to protect us and provide for us,” Wendt said. But some religious houses stayed shuttered as their leaders expressed worry that returning too soon could put people at risk. “We’ve been keeping our building clean and open and sanitized, but we’re not ready now. We just want to do a little more,” said Beth Rager with the Open Bible Christian Center in Billings, which plans to reopen in May. During the first phase of Montana’s reopening, which has no set timeline, people over age 65 and those with underlying health conditions are asked to continue to stay at home. Gyms, pools, movie theaters and bowling alleys will remain closed. Residents are still asked to minimize non-essential travel and to self-quarantine for 14 days after returning to the state.
Omaha: Business owners are starting to plan their comeback now that Gov. Pete Ricketts has unveiled his plan to ease coronavirus restrictions. Ricketts said Friday that he will relax restrictions in 59 counties, including those in the Omaha area. The new orders, effective until May 31, allow restaurants to reopen their dining rooms but require them to keep crowds at or below half of their capacity. Dining parties will be limited to six people, buffets will remain closed and bars will have to keep their dining areas closed. Ricketts’ plan also allows barbershops, tattoo parlors, salons and massage therapists to reopen, though they must adhere to social distancing precautions. Paul McCrae, owner of the Corner Kick Street Tacos and Tequila Cantina in Omaha, called the easing of restrictions a “life-saver,” especially with Cinco de Mayo the day after the reopening date. “That’s a big day for us,” McCrae told the Omaha World-Herald. But co-owners Kelsey Poulsen and Sarah Root of The Copper Pin Salon & Spa haven’t decided whether to open on May 4. About half of the 14-person staff don’t yet feel safe to return, they told the newspaper. “We’re thinking about taking the hit financially and keeping it closed until we can figure out how to safely operate,” Poulsen said. Ricketts, a Republican, didn’t order similar changes in the Lincoln area because that region’s public health restrictions don’t expire until May 6. The restrictions in the Omaha area were set to expire April 30.
Reno: Hundreds of people gathered in Reno on Saturday for a second straight week of protests against Gov. Steve Sisolak’s sweeping efforts to contain the ongoing coronavirus outbreak. The latest “Reopen Nevada” rally, like last week’s march to the Capitol in Carson City, was held in open defiance of statewide executive orders meant to encourage social distancing and prevent public gatherings of 10 or more people. Police estimated about 250 people showed up for the event. It also underscored the widening political divide over elected officials’ approach to fighting the pandemic, efforts protest organizers framed in starkly partisan terms. Monica Jaye – a conservative, Reno-based radio talk show host who headlined Saturday’s rally at Rancho San Rafael park – said officials had willfully inflated the virus’ death toll to push a leftist political agenda. She found plenty of sympathetic ears in a crowd dominated by supporters of President Donald Trump and organized by a group that has launched a bid to recall Nevada’s first-term Democratic governor. Jaye later said she had a better chance of being struck by lightning than dying of the coronavirus, a claim that won loud applause from the crowd.
Concord: Officials have shut down more than 100 trail heads, shelters, picnic areas and other sites in New Hampshire’s White Mountain National Forest. The U.S. Forest Service said Friday said the decision was based on federal, state and local guidance for physical distancing and to ensure the health and safety of employees, visitors and volunteers. It comes after officials reported an unseasonably high number of visitors who were “not able or willing” to follow social distancing recommendations. Trails remain open to those who can get to them on foot, but the state is under a stay-at-home order and officials have urged people to stay local for outdoor recreation.
Carteret: Mayor David Reimen is calling for the temporary closure of an Amazon warehouse following a report of a number of employees infected with the new coronavirus. NJ.com reported that after Business Insider quoted an employee as saying there were more than 30 cases of COVID19 at the Carteret Amazon fulfillment center, Reimen called on Middlesex County and state health officials to shutter the facility until all workers can be tested and the facility can be sanitized. An Amazon representative confirmed that there were cases but declined to tell NJ Advance Media how many employees at the Carteret facility tested positive for the virus. Spokeswoman Rachael Lighty said the company is “supporting the individuals who are recovering” and taking “extreme measures” to ensure the safety of workers. Reiman also called on the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration to make sure there were proper protective supplies at the million-square-foot facility that employs 1,600 people. An advocacy group, Make The Road New Jersey, called on the governor to use his executive authority to shut down the warehouse, alleging that “it’s clear this outbreak is beyond Amazon’s control.”
Las Cruces: The City Council has extended Mayor Ken Miyagishima’s citywide emergency declaration order over the coronavirus pandemic. At a special Friday meeting, the City Council voted unanimously to extend the declaration, which was first proclaimed April 7, extended by council vote on April 10 and ran until April 24. The city plans to run the emergency proclamation concurrent with Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s stay-at-home public health order, which lasts until May 15. The city council could, however, vote to rescind it before that order expires. The council approved an emergency powers provision for the mayor last month because the city previously had no mechanism for the mayor to declare an emergency. Miyagishima declared the citywide emergency April 7 to make it easier for the city to receive federal aid reimbursements for expenses incurred by the city as it fights the effects of the pandemic.
New York City: Mayor Bill de Blasio said Sunday he hopes to have a road map by June 1 on how to rebuild the city after the coronavirus threat subsides. The mayor, a Democrat, said at a news conference that city leaders he has invited to help plan the city’s recovery should give him the road map by then. He said a full rebuild will take about 20 months. He also said the latest statistics on people being treated for COVID-19 continued to be stable or decline. The number of people in the city’s hospital intensive care units had dropped from 785 to 768. De Blasio said the city can’t begin reopening until decreases continue for 10 to 14 days. He said such a fall would signal it was time for the first steps in opening up. “The health indicators have to give us the all clear,” de Blasio said. “We restart when we have evidence. There’s no on-off switch here. It’s a series of careful, smart moves.”
Welcome: NASCAR team owner Richard Childress is auctioning one of the cars driven by the late Dale Earnhardt to raise money for coronavirus relief efforts. The Charlotte Observer reported that this is the first time Childress has sold or given away an original Earnhardt car from his personal collection. A news release Thursday from Richard Childress Racing officials doesn’t specify which of Earnhardt’s trademark No. 3 race cars is up for auction. Childress tweeted Friday that parting with one of his cars is “a small sacrifice” for him to make. Earnhardt died in a crash during the last lap of the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway in 2001. The eBay site for the auction doesn’t list a deadline for bidding on items.
Bismarck: The state’s largest manufacturer, Doosan Bobcat, has resumed operations after daylong shutdown to clean the factory after an employee reported symptoms of the new coronavirus. Doosan Bobcat public affairs director Stacey Breuer said in a statement the factory in Gwinner reopened Saturday night. The employee has tested positive for COVID-19, she said.
Cincinnati: Parkers Blue Ash Tavern is closing permanently, according to a recent announcement on its website. Although the message is no longer on its site, an employee confirmed the business was closing because of the coronavirus pandemic. “It is with heavy hearts that we must announce the permanent closure of Parkers Blue Ash Tavern,” read a statement on the restaurant’s website. “The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the restaurant industry and Parkers, in particular, has proven insurmountable for us to reopen.” The company said it will give refunds for issued gift cards. Gift card reimburses will be given once the corporate office is reopened. Email your contact information, gift card number and return mailing address to firstname.lastname@example.org. “We will always value the relationships we’ve formed over the years and will forever cherish our times together with you, the Blue Ash community.”
Oklahoma City: Some businesses are reopening in parts of Oklahoma after Gov. Kevin Stitt eased restrictions put in place because of the coronavirus pandemic. On Friday, salons, spas and barbershops were allowed to reopen in much of the state, despite concerns from medical professionals. Those businesses have been told to adhere to social distancing standards, have employees wear masks and frequently sanitize equipment. Some of the state’s largest cities, including Norman, Oklahoma City and Tulsa, decided to keep their bans in place until at least the end of the month, but other municipalities that had bans in place lifted them to align with the governor’s authorization. The mayors of Tulsa and Oklahoma City announced they would lift their stay-at-home orders next Friday, when Stitt, a Republican, has said that restaurants, movie theaters, gyms and places of worship can reopen. Teri Stevens, owner of The Barber Shop in the Tulsa suburb of Broken Arrow, told the Tulsa World that she was back at work cutting hair. She said her face was hot from wearing a mask and the atmosphere was “a little weird” because there’s usually “a little more camaraderie and people being out in the waiting area and everybody talking and socializing.” But Stevens said it was good to be back to work.
Albany: The National Frozen Foods plant in Albany has shut down production because of an outbreak of COVID-19 that has sickened 10 people, Linn County Public Health announced Friday. Of the illnesses linked to the plant, eight are workers and two are associated with those employees, The Albany Democrat-Herald reported. The county worked with the plant to temporarily close the facility, said Linn County Sheriff’s Capt. Michelle Duncan, the county’s coronavirus pandemic spokeswoman. Steve Schossberger, general counsel and vice president of National Frozen Foods, said the shutdown started Friday and will continue at least through the weekend. A deep cleaning of the Albany plant will be done with the oversight of Linn County Public Health, he added. “We’ll look at opening back up on Monday, but only on automated lines. … That’s still yet to be determined,” Schossberger said. On the automated lines, workers would be at least 20 feet apart, he said. Employees will be notified by National Frozen Foods about how to receive testing and the next steps of the process. National Frozen Foods opened its Albany plant in 1982 and puts out millions of pounds of frozen produce each year. The plant processes beans, cut corn, squash, vegetable purees and cream-style corn, according to the company’s website.
Harrisburg: The state said 160 companies in 43 counties are getting help from a second round of state loan funding to help firms during the coronavirus pandemic. The state Department of Community and Economic Development said the companies have received a total of $13.5 million in loans as part of the COVID19 Working Capital Access Program. More than $23 million total has been awarded so far to businesses such as restaurants, wellness centers, wineries and breweries, consulting firms, salons and spas, officials said. Officials said the loans will help businesses quickly access capital to address critical needs while they follow shutdown and closure orders from the state.
Providence: Even in the midst of the fight against the new coronavirus, Gov. Gina Raimondo is thinking about the budget process. Much depends on aid coming from Congress, she said Saturday. “Everything is on the table,” she said. “It’s going to be a brutal budget to balance.” She said layoffs and furloughs are inevitable. The state is “redeploying as many people as possible” to jobs where they are most needed now, such as contact tracing, she said. Department of Administration Director Brett Smiley said the Moody’s ratings service might have significantly underestimated Rhode Island’s revenue losses this year and next, The Providence Journal reported.
Columbia: In accepting delivery of 1.5 million surgical masks from China, officials in South Carolina took an opportunity Sunday to express appreciation for the supplies needed to stem the coronavirus outbreak but to also call for a lessening of U.S. reliance on the foreign country. “We want the masks made in the United States,” U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham said during an availability on the tarmac of the Greenville-Spartanburg Airport after watching the unloading of the masks from a Boeing aircraft. “We don’t want to ever have to rely on China or anyone else for our basic health care needs.” Throughout the outbreak, Graham has repeatedly called for a draw-down of U.S. reliance on China, tweeting earlier this month he wanted the U.S. response to COVID-19 to be “so overwhelming China will change its behavior.” The Republican also told Fox News he felt the U.S. “should send China a bill for the pandemic.” Noting he expected a resurgence of the virus in the fall, Graham said Sunday he wanted the U.S. to be “much better prepared” in terms of needed supplies by the time that happens. U.S. Rep. William Timmons echoed Graham’s comments, saying of the necessity of a mask shipment from China: “This will not happen again.” The 1.5 million masks delivered Sunday are enough to equip PRISMA hospitals in South Carolina for one month, according to CEO Mark O’Halla. Of the shipment, 100,000 are being sent to the Medical University of South Carolina, he said.
Rapid City: Bars and restaurants are among the city businesses that could reopen under a plan that would require social distancing precautions to guard against spreading the new coronavirus. The City Council is scheduled to vote Monday on Mayor Steve Allender’s proposal, the Rapid City Journal reported. It would require bars and restaurants to maintain a minimum of 6 feet between tables, chairs and bar stools. Establishments would be allowed to have a maximum of 10 people, or for larger buildings, one customer for every 125 square feet of space. Food service employees would also be required to wear masks. Tony Demaro, owner of Murphy’s Pub & Grill and Kol, said he has been working with his staff to practice social distancing at the pub and is excited about the possibility of reopening next week. Takeout and delivery at his two businesses haven’t generated enough revenue to sustain being closed much longer, Demaro said. Justin Henrichsen, owner of Independent Ale House, said it would be difficult to make money under the proposed capacity restrictions.
Nashville: A federal appeals court has ruled that Tennessee must continue allowing abortions amid a temporary ban on nonessential medical procedures during the COVID-19 outbreak. The ruling followed a U.S. District judge’s order last week that abortions could proceed during the pandemic. The Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, based in Cincinnati, issued its opinion Friday. The justices wrote that courts must give governments flexibility to respond to a crisis. “Affording flexibility, however, is not the same as abdicating responsibility, especially when well-established constitutional rights are at stake, as the right to an abortion most assuredly is,” the court wrote in the 33-page opinion. Tennessee’s attorney general had argued that abortions are not being singled out but treated like any other procedure that is not necessary to prevent death or serious bodily injury. Gov. Bill Lee issued an emergency order April 8 banning nonessential procedures for three weeks.
Dallas: As Texas eases restrictions put in place to fight the coronavirus pandemic, one clothing store owner said Saturday that most of her customers so far are sticking to having orders shipped even though retail “to go” is now allowed. Allison Scott, who along with her parents owns a franchise of the clothing store Apricot Lane in Dallas, said though that she thinks the “to go” offering does provide some happiness to those “who are just itching to go somewhere.” As of Friday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, allowed retailers to sell items for curbside pickup. Also last week, he reopened state parks and is allowing doctors to perform nonessential surgeries. But appointments at salons and dine-in restaurant service, for instance, are still not yet allowed. At Galleria Dallas, the shopping mall where Scott’s Apricot Lane store is located, shoppers can now pull up and their purchases are placed in their vehicle. Scott said that on Friday they took five orders down to customers, and none on Saturday. She said that as much as she would like to see things return to the way they were and people be allowed to shop in person again, she said she thinks it’s too risky health-wise right now.
St. George: To raise the spirit of residents and rekindle the importance of community bonding during the coronavirus pandemic, the City of St. George’s Leisure Services department has invited all residents to participate in the no-cost Stay Brighter Campaign from April 30 through May 30. The campaign is a 60-minute daily challenge that encourages citizens to stay active, stay kind and stay smart every day with 20 minutes allotted for each of the three disciplines. Examples include staying active by going for a walk or bike ride in the neighborhood, staying kind by doing things such as mailing a card to a grandparent or donating to a local food bank and staying smart by reading a book or learning something new. “We want to continue to spread joy and to work together — though we are physically apart — to show love, concern and support for others,” Michelle Graves, St. George Deputy Director of Arts and Events, said. “This time is a gift to stay sharp, creative, giving and healthy. We encourage St. George citizens to be a positive change in our city.” All residents are urged to participate and the daily challenge log, as well as more examples of each of the three disciplines, can be found online at www.sgcity.org/staybrighter.
Barre Town: City officials plan to hold a “drive-thru” election rather than have voters cast ballots by mail in its annual election in June. The town pushed the election back from May to at least June 2 amid Gov. Phil Scott’s stay-home order in response to the coronavirus outbreak. Last week, the Select Board unanimously approved the drive-thru voting system and sending voters postcards about the election, The Times Argus reported. Town Clerk Donna Kelty had recommended that the election be held by mail but some select board members had concerns with that. Voters can still request a ballot and vote by mail
Richmond: Dozens of students from a Virginia medical school are doing their part in the fight against the new coronavirus by volunteering to care for the children of health care workers. The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported that nearly 100 students from Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of Medicine have joined a new student organization called the VCU Childcare Co-op. Co-founder Annie Yang, a first-year medical student, said the student volunteers already have donated more than 250 hours to help more than 20 families, including those with a parent caring for COVID-19 patients. The students are caring for children, as well as pets. “Even as students, we can step up and make a small difference in our community,” Yang said. The COVID-19 pandemic has closed down many child care centers across Virginia. Gov. Ralph Northam announced earlier this month that Virginia is using $70 million in federal aid to help health care workers and others with child care.
East Wenatchee: Dozens of farm workers at a Central Washington orchard have tested positive for COVID-19, though they weren’t experiencing symptoms, according to a newspaper reported published Saturday. Stemilt Ag Services, which operates the orchard, and local health officials tested the farm workers in East Wenatchee after some fruit packaging warehouse workers tested positive, The Spokesman-Review reported. The company said it decided to expand testing to orchard workers as a precaution. Of the 71 agricultural workers who were tested, 36 were positive for COVID-19, Stemilt reported this week. Despite social distancing measures in place at the orchards, there were a high number of positive cases, said Barry Kling, administrator at Chelan-Douglas Health District. Some people who have COVID-19 showed no symptoms. Stemilt was one of the first companies in the region to test a group of workers that was asymptomatic, but the company is still evaluating its next steps, said Roger Pepperl, Stemilt marketing director, in an email. Stemilt has been following Centers for Disease Controls and Prevention recommendations for social distancing. Workers who tested negative will be retested and are in isolation, according to a Stemilt press release. All workers who were tested are work visa holders and arrived around February. United Farm Workers and other advocates filed a lawsuit about a week ago against Washington state, arguing that farm workers do not have adequate protections. The groups called on the state departments of Health and of Labor & Industries to update safety guidelines. United Farm Workers is a union but does not represent the Stemilt workers who were tested.
Huntington: Fire Capt. Scott Leep said he had prepared for the last day of his 22-year career at the department to be a quiet affair. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, there would be no way the 42-year-old could have a retirement party with his friends, family and co-workers. He had loaded his gear onto the fire truck for the last time before he heard honking and cheering. Leep’s friends at the department, along with coordination from his wife, held a surprise retirement parade for him as they drove by Fire Station 4 on April 22. Leep said he doesn’t plan to stay retired for long. This week, he will begin a new career as a power line worker for American Electric Power.
Madison: Gov. Tony Evers’ office was flooded with hundreds of emails in the hours surrounding his decision to extend Wisconsin’s stay-at-home order, accusing him of destroying the state’s economy, begging him to let business reopen and warning that voters will punish him, an Associated Press review found. One woman pleaded with Evers to let her visit her husband in hospice before he dies of brain cancer. Other people demanded he let youth baseball resume and allow hair salons to reopen. A hairdresser wrote that Evers’ hair looks so good on TV he must be using a stylist in violation of his own order. Asked about the messages during a video conference, Evers acknowledged people and businesses are struggling but said the best way forward is to attack the virus. He said his order isn’t as restrictive as other states’ stay-at-home mandates. Evers issued a stay-at-home order in March that closed schools and nonessential businesses and mandated social distancing in an effort to slow the coronavirus. The order was supposed to lift Friday, but Evers on April 17 extended it until May 26, the day after Memorial Day.
Cheyenne: Legislative leaders began crafting two bills Friday morning that grant some abilities to Gov. Mark Gordon and state agencies to respond to Wyoming’s numerous needs that have emerged in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. The Legislature’s Management Council, which consists of leaders from both chambers and parties, met virtually Friday in preparation for a special session that could come as soon as late next month, the Wyoming Tribune Eagle reported. The council did not vote on the two pieces of legislation, which touch on everything from hospital funding to low-income housing. Instead, legislators prepared the bills for a final vote at their next meeting on May 1. The first bill worked by lawmakers would set up a COVID-19 relief fund for a preliminary, partial distribution of the $1.25 billion Wyoming has received through the federal coronavirus relief bill. Gordon has the ultimate authority on how to use those funds, but through the legislation, the pot would be divided into a few separate sections to address various needs. Federal rules also prohibit the relief funds from being used to replace lost state revenues, forcing state officials to get slightly more creative with how they use the money.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 50 States