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Tuscaloosa: The University of Alabama reported Friday that an additional 481 students have tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total to more than 1,000 infections since students returned to campus for the fall. The University of Alabama System released new numbers on its dashboard of cases for all three campuses. The additional 481 cases on the Tuscaloosa campus were reported Aug. 25-27. The university system said no students are hospitalized. UA System Chancellor Finis St. John said in a statement that testing for the virus was a “key pillar” of the university’s health and safety plan. St. John said every student on the three campuses has the option of moving to fully online instruction at any time, either remaining on campus or returning home to continue their course work.
Anchorage: Restaurants and bars in the city will reopen Monday for dine-in service with multiple restrictions after officials announced an updated emergency order in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz made the announcement Friday, replacing an order considered to be a four-week reset for the city. It closed food establishments to indoor service and drew stark criticism from the industry. That order was set to expire Sunday. The updated regulation means businesses will be allowed to resume dine-in service at no more than 50% of each building’s capacity. Patrons will also be required to practice social distancing and are limited to table service only. Businesses must maintain visitor logs for 30 days to assist with potential contract tracing procedures, officials said. The updated restrictions also loosen gathering size requirements, nearly doubling the capacity allowed under the previous four-week reset.
Phoenix: The state reached a grim milestone of more than 5,000 known coronavirus deaths Saturday, just as the state’s largest public university announced a staggering number of cases. The state Department of Health Services reported 629 additional COVID-19 cases and 29 more deaths. With those figures, Arizona has now seen in total 201,287 cases and 5,007 fatalities. The number of hospitalizations and ventilators in use continued to make incremental decreases. Meanwhile, Arizona State University President Michael Crow announced in an online post Friday night that more than 450 students have tested positive for the coronavirus. According to Crow, there are 452 confirmed cases, and more than half involve students who live off campus in metro Phoenix. Crow said 205 students are in quarantine on the Tempe campus. He also disclosed 28 faculty members tested positive. University officials say contact tracing efforts have been underway.
Little Rock: The state reported at least 795 new cases Saturday of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, as well as 16 new deaths from the illness. Of those new cases, 108 were found in the state’s correctional system, according to the Department of Health. The new cases push the Arkansas total past 60,000 to at least 60,378 since tracking of the coronavirus outbreak began in March, with a death toll from the outbreak of 772. However, the true number of cases is likely higher because many people haven’t been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected and not feel sick. The department said 5,473 cases were active and not among those who have died or recovered, while 384 were hospitalized, 23 fewer than Friday. The testing positivity rate sits at 9%, compared to the 5% threshold set by the World Health Organization for a pandemic.
Sacramento: With the hope of preventing another virus surge, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a new process Friday for reopening businesses that’s more gradual than the first attempt that eventually led him to close many businesses soon after they reopened. The Democratic governor described the new rules, which take effect Monday, as “simple, also slow.” The four-tiered, color-coded system ranks counties based on the number of virus cases and infection rates. Businesses can add more customers or open more services as their county moves into lower tiers. For example, counties in the most restrictive tier – purple – can only allow restaurant dining outside. But in lower red, orange and yellow tiers, they can serve people in indoor dining rooms at reduced capacity. When the new system takes effect, 38 of the state’s 58 counties, including Los Angeles and nearly every other large county, will begin at purple. Only three rural counties will begin in the yellow phase.
Denver: The state Supreme Court has declined to hear a lawsuit challenging a mask-wearing order and other measures by Democratic Gov. Jared Polis intended to combat the coronavirus pandemic. The Colorado Sun reports the court refused to take on the case Friday. Republican Rep. Patrick Neville, the state House minority leader, and conservative activist Michelle Malkin argued that Polis violated the state Constitution’s separation-of-powers provisions and stripped the Legislature of its lawmaking role by declaring a public emergency that enabled him to issue executive orders to confront the pandemic. They sought to overturn several orders, including a state mandate requiring mask-wearing in certain public spaces. Federal and state health officials encourage the use of masks to slow the transmission of the virus. The lawsuit noted that the plaintiffs would refile in a lower court, federal court or both if the Supreme Court refused to hear it.
Storrs: Officials at the University of Connecticut say 57 students who have tested positive for COVID-19 are in isolation as university officials welcome back its 5,000 residential students. The university’s latest figures as of Saturday showed 1.14% of residential students positive for the virus. So far, 69 students have tested positive, while 10 have recovered. Students began returning to campus Aug. 14. All were tested for the virus, and all were supposed to limit their contact with others during their first 14 days back on campus. By Aug. 18, university officials announced they had evicted several students from on-campus housing after learning of a crowded dormitory room party with no mask-wearing or social distancing in violation of the school’s coronavirus rules. At that point, eight students had tested positive and were being isolated. Contact tracers are investigating the latest new cases at the university.
Dover: About a hundred people, including about two dozen athletes, gathered on Legislative Mall on Saturday for a “Let Them Play” rally organized by the Delaware HS Athletes Parents Group, a Facebook group that disagrees with the Delaware Interscholastic Athletic Association’s 15-0 vote to postpone fall high school sports until 2021. The group is waging an email campaign to DIAA board members, legislators, Gov. John Carney, the Delaware State Board of Education and the Delaware Division of Public Health. “I’m given a voice, and I need to use it for something I believe in,” said Gabi Ziegler, a senior who plays field hockey and soccer at Delaware Military Academy. “I want to have my senior fall season, so I had to be here today.” Citing safety and logistical concerns due to the coronavirus, the DIAA board voted Aug. 6 to push the fall season into the winter, likely condensing the three traditional high school seasons.
District of Columbia
Washington: Nurses from across the country marched from Black Lives Matter Plaza to the MLK Memorial at the National Mall on Saturday, calling out health care disparities within the Black community, WUSA-TV reports. “A lot of Black nurses don’t necessarily go into critical care positions as much as the white nurses,” said Denise Cabell, a registered nurse who took part in the march organized by the nonprofit Black Nurses Matter. “They’re being held back and told to go into med search positions for a year or so.” The medical professionals noted that in the middle of a pandemic, health data shows people of color in the United States are being disproportionately affected. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has attributed the disparity to long-standing health and social inequalities that have put racial and ethnic minority groups at an increased risk of getting sick and dying from COVID-19.
Fort Lauderdale: Gov. Ron DeSantis made the case Friday that tourists could safely take commercial flights to visit the state. Speaking with industry executives at an airline travel forum, DeSantis said he hadn’t heard of any airline passenger catching the virus on a plane. “When this industry thrives, it provides this economic security for so many people in the state of Florida,” the governor said. Airlines and airport executives told DeSantis the virus was having the biggest impact on international travel to Florida because many countries had implemented travel restrictions and quarantines on people traveling to and from the United States. DeSantis said 8.8 million people traveled from March to June in Florida, down from 24 million during the same period a year earlier. Travel in Florida accounts for 934,000 jobs and $102 billion in spending, second in the nation behind California, according to the U.S. Travel Association.
Atlanta: A 1-year-old boy is now the state’s youngest victim to die from COVID-19. The state Department of Public Health included the Cobb County boy in a table of deaths released Friday. The department said the boy had a chronic underlying condition that might have contributed to his death. The boy is one of 5,471 people to die in Georgia so far from the respiratory illness. Deaths from Georgia’s summer spike remain elevated, having averaged 68 over the seven days ending Friday. The seven-day rolling average of new infections in Georgia has fallen by about 40% since hitting a high July 24 but remains high compared to other states. Georgia has recorded the fourth-highest cases per capita in the past 14 days according to figures kept by the Associated Press. The state’s share of positive tests had drifted down to 9.5% as of Thursday but remained above the national average of 5.9%.
Honolulu: The Hawaii Department of Public Safety announced Friday that three inmates and one staff member at the Oahu Community Correction Center tested positive for COVID-19. More than 300 people have tested positive at the Honolulu facility, including 256 inmates and 53 employees, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reports. Department officials said 181 inmates and two employees were tested. Only four results came back positive. Early in the pandemic, several advocacy groups raised concerns about the safety of those crowded in jails and prisons statewide. Since then, the Hawaii Supreme Court has had ongoing orders to release defendants incarcerated for misdemeanor and petty misdemeanor crimes to relieve space in the facilities. Some inmates released from the Oahu Community Correctional Center by the order have been isolated or quarantined at Honolulu hotels, officials said.
Boise: Boise State University has suspended three fraternities for reportedly having large gatherings that officials fear could contribute to the spread of coronavirus. Classes at BSU started last Monday. The university announced Friday that Pi Kappa Alpha, Delta Sigma Phi and Kappa Sigma fraternities as well as 18 students have been placed on interim suspensions. University of Idaho President C. Scott Green recently sent students a stern memo saying he was disappointed after hearing of several on- and off-campus parties. The memo warned that students could be disciplined and Greek student chapters closed for violating the rules. “Your behavior diminishes the hard work conducted all summer to prepare for your arrival,” Green wrote in the Aug. 21 missive. Last week University of Idaho Director of Communications Jodi Walker said the entire freshman class of Beta Theta Pi fraternity had been moved to on-campus housing for allegedly violating the school’s coronavirus protocols.
Chicago: Freshmen and sophomores at Northwestern University cannot return to campus after all and will take classes remotely, the school announced late Friday. The Chicago Tribune reports that until Friday’s announcement, Northwestern University officials planned for undergraduate students to return to campus. The university also is keeping fraternity and sorority houses shuttered during the fall semester. “This is not a letter we wanted to write, but we are compelled to make several adjustments to our plans for undergraduate students this fall after consulting with Northwestern Medicine experts as well as state and local public health officials,” officials told students in an email. Northwestern students in their third and fourth years or in graduate and professional programs will be allowed on campus and can take classes remotely, in person or a mix of both.
Bloomington: Members of eight Greek houses and students living in two other houses off campus have been ordered to quarantine because of positive COVID-19 tests, Indiana University said. IU has directed all of the affected houses, including the Evans Scholars and Christian Student Fellowship houses, to suspend in-person organizational activities until at least Sept. 14, the university said in a news release that did not specify numbers but described “an alarming increase of positive tests.” Meanwhile, at Purdue University in West Lafayette, 10 members of Sigma Alpha Epsilon have tested positive and were living in campus housing set aside for isolation, while another 55 members at the off-campus fraternity house were in quarantine and locked down for the first two weeks of the semester, a fraternity official said. Across campus, more than 40 members of a housing cooperative were in quarantine after two members tested positive, an adviser said.
Iowa City: One of the largest school districts in the state is starting the school year with online-only instruction. KRCG reports the Iowa City school board voted Saturday to conduct all classes virtually for the first two weeks. Classes in the 12,000-student district begin Sept. 8. The move comes after the state granted the district a waiver earlier in the week allowing for the virtual instruction. The 14-day average positivity rate in Johnson County, where the district is located, was 13.9% on Wednesday but had risen to 21.1% by Saturday. The positivity threshold Gov. Kim Reynolds has established for schools to seek online learning instead of required classroom lessons is 15%. Extracurricular activities, like sports, must be suspended for the duration of the two-week waiver.
Hays: Fueled in part by college students returning to classes, the state set another pandemic record for the seven-day increase in coronavirus cases Friday, with the surge prompting the Lawrence school district to put the brakes on some fall sports and Hays to extend its mask ordinance. Statewide, the number of new reported cases rose by 1,111 from Wednesday to Friday, bringing the total to 41,048. The state Department of Health and Environment also reported an additional six COVID-19-related deaths, to put the pandemic total at 443. The average for the seven days ending Friday was 599, 3.6% more than the previous record of 578 for the seven days ending Wednesday. Gov. Laura Kelly called the most recent spike in coronavirus cases “horrendous” and said her administration is looking into why it occurred. But she said outbreaks on college campuses and fraternities and sororities are a factor.
Frankfort: Gov. Andy Beshear and Attorney General Daniel Cameron have filed opposing briefs ahead of an upcoming legal showdown focused on the governor’s COVID-19 emergency orders. The briefs were submitted to the Kentucky Supreme Court on Friday. The state’s highest court has scheduled arguments for Sept. 17 in the case pitting the Democratic governor against the Republican attorney general, who contends the governor overstepped his constitutional authority with the orders. In July, the state Supreme Court stepped into the dispute by halting attempts to block Beshear’s executive actions pending its own review. According to Beshear’s legal team, the governor’s emergency orders are not only legal but also have “saved thousands of lives” during the pandemic. Beshear has ordered that most Kentuckians wear masks in public for another 30 days. That order and others by Beshear are being challenged by Cameron.
New Orleans: The city’s youngest public school students will begin returning to classrooms as early as Sept. 14, the superintendent said Friday as he announced a phased reopening plan tied to the control of COVID-19. Henderson Lewis said the plan is for students from prekindergarten through 4th grade to begin returning to schools in phases beginning Sept. 14. Older students will begin returning in October. “We know that our youngest students have the most to gain from in-person learning,” Lewis said. All of the plans are contingent on current trends indicating the spread of the virus has been successfully limited in the city, said Lewis and Dr. Jennifer Avegno, the city’s health officer. The benchmarks include a continued new-case rate of less than 50 per day in the city.
Millinocket: The owner of an inn that hosted a wedding reception that led to an outbreak of more than 100 coronavirus cases said Friday that the staff “worked hard to follow all of the rules” put into place during the pandemic. Laura Cormier, owner of the Big Moose Inn in Millinocket, issued her first public comment as the number of infections tied to the Aug. 7 wedding and reception grew to 123 on Friday. The figure includes 54 cases at the York County Jail and nine at a rehabilitation center in Madison. One person died. “Our hearts go out to the family, those affected by the virus who were at the wedding, and those who have been impacted since then,” Cormier said in a statement. A state health inspector’s report indicates the staff at the Big Moose Inn wore masks, and signs told guests to wear them, too. But most guests did not wear masks or socially distance themselves, and the number of people exceeded the 50-person cap for indoor events, the report said.
Rockville: Leaders in the state’s largest county are defending the decision to open schools virtually after Gov. Larry Hogan prodded school systems to implement in-person learning. Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich and the County Council issued a joint statement Saturday saying the decision to begin the year with all classes online “was made to keep our children, teachers and education professionals safe.” They also said they were “dismayed and perplexed” that Hogan, a Republican, said Thursday that all 24 jurisdictions in the state could begin in-person instruction if they choose because the state’s coronavirus numbers are dropping. Hogan acknowledged he can’t force school systems open for in-person learning but urged local school boards to quickly develop plans that take advantage of the reduced coronavirus caseload and resume some level of in-person instruction.
Boston: Gov. Charlie Baker signed an executive order Friday that gives working parents more child care options for children engaged in remote learning when school resumes this fall. The order allows the Department of Early Education and Care to authorize currently licensed after-school and out-of-school programs to operate during the school day. Current law prohibits such programs for school-age children from offering care during regular school hours. It will allow YMCAs, Boys and Girls Clubs, family child care homes, and other facilities to care for school-age children who are learning remotely. The state will also exempt informal remote learning parent cooperative arrangements organized by families, if the groups are supervised by unpaid parents. The programs will be subject to background record checks, health and safety standards, facilities checks and child-to-staff ratios.
Detroit: The city’s school district has reached a deal to start the new year, capping classroom size at 20 students, offering extra pay to teachers, and checking daily temperatures, officials said Friday. The deal occurred a week after members of the Detroit Federation of Teachers authorized a strike over coronavirus safety. Classes start Sept. 8. The Detroit Public Schools Community District is the largest in Michigan with roughly 50,000 students. Despite the agreement with the union, some teachers don’t want to return to face-to-face instruction, citing the virus risk. “Schools that open will become vectors of disease spread, and the spread won’t be limited to the schools. It will affect the entire community,” teacher Ben Royal said. The district said teachers will have the option of teaching online, though nearly all schools will have some in-person instruction. Teachers could earn an extra $750 per quarter if they work in classrooms, the district said.
Minneapolis: The state is reporting more than 1,000 new positive COVID-19 tests and four additional deaths. Health officials reported 1,032 positive tests Saturday, bringing the statewide total to 74,257. Health officials said 8,175 health care workers have tested positive for the virus since the pandemic began. Minnesota’s death toll since the pandemic began was 1,814 on Saturday. Officials report that 1,337 of those deaths have been among residents of long-term care or assisted living facilities. A total of 6,411 people have required hospitalization. Of those, 313 remain in those facilities, with 134 in intensive care.
Jackson: Voters shouldn’t have to choose between their health and the right to vote in the November election, a federal lawsuit filed Thursday says. The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court on behalf of three voters, the Mississippi League of Women Voters and the Mississippi Conference of the NAACP. The lawsuit, the second filed this month over Mississippi’s absentee voting laws, names Secretary of State Michael Watson and state Attorney General Lynn Fitch as defendants. “Mississippi has some of the most restrictive burdens on absentee voting in the nation that run afoul of the Constitution and have a particularly stark impact on Black voters,” said Jennifer Nwachukwu, attorney at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law. Attorneys from the Washington-based Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the Southern Poverty Law Center and a private law firm filed the lawsuit on behalf of the plaintiffs.
Columbia: With more than 300 University of Missouri students infected with the coronavirus and cases spiking in the surrounding community, the city health director on Friday announced a new order that limits crowd sizes and requires bars to close early. Stephanie Browning, who leads the health department for Columbia and Boone County, said at a news conference that new cases of COVID-19 “are increasing exponentially, it feels like.” She cited a county test positivity rate of 44.6% last week as evidence of “widespread community transmission.” The positivity rate is roughly four times the county’s 11% rate before students returned to classes Aug. 19. It is nearly eight times the seven-day rolling average rate for the U.S. as of Thursday, which was 5.9%, according to data from The COVID Tracking Project. Businesses found in violation of the new rule could face prosecution.
Helena: The state reported its 100th COVID-19-related death Friday, hitting the grim milestone as the state surpassed 7,000 confirmed cases of the respiratory virus. “We all share the responsibility of learning to live in our new normal. By doing so, we are not disregarding that 100 Montanans have lost their lives,” Gov. Steve Bullock said in a statement. “The best way to honor these souls is to protect the people and the state they loved. Through acting collectively to mitigate the risk, we are preventing this virus from leaving more tragedy in its wake.” Of 134 new cases reported Friday, 52 were in Yellowstone County, which is now seeing the largest outbreak in the state and accounts for more than half of the roughly 1,800 active cases in Montana. The number of infections is thought to be far higher because not everyone has been tested, and people can be infected with the virus without having symptoms.
Omaha: The Douglas County board has abandoned a plan to spend $1.85 million in federal coronavirus relief funding to buy a mobile command center for the county sheriff’s office. Sheriff Tim Dunning withdrew his request for the RV-like truck because he said his office couldn’t find a manufacturer who could build and deliver one in 2020, when the federal aid must be spent. Officials had argued that the command center could have helped officials respond to the coronavirus outbreak by supporting mass vaccination efforts in the area. County Board Member Mary Ann Borgeson, who had supported the mobile command center funding, said the county board will look at several ideas on how to spend the money, and she said officials will have to figure out how to sustain funding for a new program after the relief money is gone. Borgeson said she wants to use the $1.85 million for mental health services instead.
Carson City: The state is reporting 609 additional coronavirus cases and 15 deaths. The Nevada Department of Health and Human Services released the latest COVID-19 statistics Saturday. The statewide totals now stand at 68,461 cases and 1,302 deaths since the start of the pandemic. The number of newly confirmed cases reported daily has decreased since peaking above 1,400 on July 15 – a trend that officials attribute, at least partially, to the state’s face-covering mandate and limits on large gatherings. But the number of tests reported has also decreased significantly week-by-week. Meanwhile, a student at the College of Southern Nevada and an employee at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas have tested positive for COVID-19. Both schools confirmed the infections. The UNLV staff member is the fourth person at the school to test positive since school began last week.
Concord: Undergraduate students will begin returning to Dartmouth College on Sept. 8. Officials last week had delayed the announcement because they wanted to take a few more days to listen to students, faculty staff and community members and to study the experiences of other colleges and universities. About half of the undergraduate student body will be on campus each term, though most classes will be taught remotely. Extensive testing for the virus is planned. As of Friday, 7,216 people had tested positive for the virus in New Hampshire, an increase of 23 from the previous day. The number of deaths increased by one to 432. The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in the state decreased over the past two weeks, going from 29 new cases per day Aug. 13 to 21 new cases per day Aug. 27.
Trenton: Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy on Friday signed into law legislation to conduct November’s presidential election nearly entirely by mail. The new laws come in the face of a lawsuit from Republican President Donald Trump’s campaign to halt an executive order Murphy signed earlier this month requiring a mostly mail-in election. The GOP lawsuit argued that the governor’s order amounted to a “usurpation” of the Legislature’s powers. The legislation “really undercuts” part of the suit, Democratic Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker said in an interview. Murphy had cited concerns about the spread of the coronavirus when he signed an executive order requiring that every active registered voter be sent a ballot with a prepaid return envelope in time for the Nov. 3 general election. In a statement Friday, Murphy invoked the outbreak as the reason for the change.
Albuquerque: Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is apologizing for claiming residents of Espanola aren’t wearing masks during the pandemic. The governor said in a statement Friday that she regrets her words gave an inaccurate impression of the city. “Please accept my apology for that, and please know that your efforts in fighting COVID-19 are so important and are making an enormous difference for our state,” Lujan Grisham said. At a news conference Thursday, Lujan Grisham criticized those who were disobeying a state mandate to wear face coverings in public. She cited Espanola as an example, saying she had recently driven through the town and saw nobody with a mask on. Lujan Grisham said she concedes that was just one “snapshot” of how the town was dealing with COVID-19. Espanola Mayor Javier Sanchez slammed Lujan Grisham’s comments, saying it felt like “getting punched in the gut.”
Albany: One of the State University of New York’s campuses will shut down for two weeks after more than 100 people in the college community tested positive for the coronavirus, officials announced Sunday. The positive cases at SUNY Oneonta represent about 3% of the students and faculty on campus this semester, said Jim Malatras, the chancellor of the state university system. Malatras, who joined Gov. Andrew Cuomo on a conference call, said five students have been suspended because of large parties that were held last week. He said three rapid-result testing sites will be set up in Oneonta starting Wednesday. The shutdown of the central New York campus is the first in New York state, where most colleges are opening with a mix of in-person and online instruction. Cuomo, a Democrat, urged students to follow virus safety guidelines and avoid large gatherings.
Raleigh: Republicans at the General Assembly said Friday that they’re committed to raising state unemployment benefits for all beneficiaries by $50 a week when they reconvene. GOP leaders disclosed their agreement on the concept as they prepare to meet starting Wednesday, chiefly to distribute yet-used COVID-19 relief dollars that Congress approved in the spring. By June, lawmakers already had decided how to spend more than $2 billion of the federal funds. North Carolina’s state unemployment benefits currently are capped at $350 per week. Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper urged lawmakers this month to raise the maximum weekly benefit to $500 and raise the duration to 24 weeks, up from 12 weeks. But a news release from House and Senate Republicans emphasized how the additional $50 increase would boost every assistance check. It’s not clear how long the payment bump would last.
Fargo: A top White House coronavirus adviser stopped in the state on a day it set a record for the number of daily positive tests for the disease. Dr. Deborah Birx, the coordinator of the White House’s coronavirus task force, has been touring the country to press for people to cover their faces and to practice social distancing to fight the pandemic. Birx was hosting a meeting Saturday afternoon in Fargo with Gov. Doug Burgum and other officials. Officials reported 375 positive tests Saturday, up from the previous record of 337 set Thursday. Thirty-two of North Dakota’s 53 counties reported new positive cases, led by Grand Forks County with 146. The state also confirmed two more deaths Saturday, bringing the stateside death toll to 141. The number of active cases continued to climb Saturday to a record 2,325. There were 65 people in hospitals, a decrease of five from Wednesday.
Columbus: School districts must establish a system for collecting information on cases of the coronavirus and then make that information publicly available, Gov. Mike DeWine said in announcing an upcoming order. After learning of students or staff members who test positive, schools must report that information to local health departments as quickly as possible and then figure out the best way to make that data available to the public and to parents and guardians of children in the district, DeWine said Thursday. The systems could be similar to what schools already have in place for parents reporting a child’s absence or for schools reporting illnesses – such as a lice outbreak – to the school community, DeWine said. Also Thursday, Lt. Gov. Jon Husted said the federal government approved the state for an additional $300 in weekly federal unemployment compensation for people unemployed as a result of the pandemic.
Oklahoma City: The number of reported coronavirus cases in the state has surpassed 58,000, and the number of related deaths is nearly 800, the Oklahoma State Department of Health said Sunday. There are now 58,020 reported cases and 799 deaths due to COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus, increases of 667 cases and two additional deaths. The true number of cases in Oklahoma is likely higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected and not feel sick. On Friday, Gov. Kevin Stitt extended a state of emergency first issued March 15 in response to the virus outbreak in Oklahoma. The order includes all 77 counties in the state and activates a provision in state law that allows absentee voters to mail their ballots by verifying their signatures with a copy of an approved form of identification. An approved ID includes a state driver’s license or a military or federally recognized American Indian tribe or nation.
Portland: Multnomah and Hood River counties have been removed from the state’s COVID-19 watchlist, Gov. Kate Brown announced Friday. Brown said both counties have reduced the spread of the coronavirus successfully enough to be taken off the watchlist. With their removal, six counties remain: Baker, Jackson, Jefferson, Malheur, Morrow and Umatilla. KOIN reports that counties are added to the watchlist when the virus is spreading quickly and public health officials cannot trace the spread to a specific source. Being on the watchlist lets the state prioritize resources and help, increases monitoring and deploys more technical assistance, officials said. Authorities have reported more than 26,000 confirmed coronavirus cases and 447 deaths in Oregon. Officials on Friday announced nine additional deaths, including a 29-year-old Multnomah County man with no underlying health conditions.
Harrisburg: State utility regulators have effectively extended a moratorium preventing utilities from terminating service to nonpaying customers for three more weeks while the state fights the spread of the coronavirus. The four-member panel of two Democrats and two Republicans postponed a vote on Thursday’s agenda until Sept. 17, after deadlocking twice on motions to lift the moratorium over the summer. The Public Utility Commission slapped a moratorium on shutoffs in March as Gov. Tom Wolf was in the midst of a cascade of shutdown orders to help stop the spread of the virus. In letters to the commission, Wolf, Attorney General Josh Shapiro, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney and consumer advocates called on the commission to keep the moratorium in place, warning that people are still being hit hard economically by the fallout from the virus.
Providence: The governor on Friday announced the formation of a new task force to help the state’s cities and towns shore up their economies, both during the coronavirus pandemic and in the long term. The eight-member Municipal Resilience Task Force is made up of municipal, state and private-sector leaders who will look at the lessons learned during the pandemic and develop innovative recommendations to build economic resiliency, find ways to save money, and improve services. “With so much financial uncertainty, now is the time to begin exploring creative steps they can take to become more efficient and flexible,” Gov. Gina Raimondo said in a statement. “This task force will bring together a diverse group of community leaders who are committed to addressing and responding to the immediate challenges presented by COVID-19.” The group will also quantify the impact of the pandemic on municipal finances.
Columbia: The state’s streak of 13 days with fewer than 1,000 reported coronavirus cases is over, according to The State newspaper. The state’s Department of Health and Environmental Control reported 1,250 new coronavirus cases Saturday, bringing the total number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in South Carolina to more than 15,500. More than 2,500 people in the state have died from the virus. The percentage of positive tests announced Saturday also climbed to 20.5%, the second time in a week it’s been more than 20%, The State said. “Our goal has always been to see a consistent downward trend that persisted for at least 14 days at a very low level with a percent positive that is … ideally, less than 5%,” DHEC state Epidemiologist Linda Bell said Friday. “And so if we were to achieve that goal of sustained disease activity suppression for at least two weeks, that would have widespread implications for a confidence that we could resume certain activities that are being evaluated now.”
Sioux Falls: Health officials say the state has exceeded 13,000 total confirmed cases of the coronavirus. The South Dakota Department of Health on Sunday reported 380 newly confirmed cases, raising the state’s total to 13,322 since the pandemic hit. More than 2,000 cases have been reported in the past seven days. That accounts for about 15% of South Dakota’s total cases during the pandemic. No new deaths were reported, keeping the state’s total at 167. Of the new cases reported Sunday, more than half were attributed to people between the ages of 10 and 29. Officials report 154 of them were people 20-29, and 60 were in those ages 10-19. Pennington County, in western South Dakota, reported the most new cases Sunday with 69. Minnehaha County, the state’s most populous county, reported 57 new cases.
Nashville: Gov. Bill Lee has once again extended the state of emergency until the end of September. Lee, a Republican, initially imposed the state of emergency March 12 in order to free up funding and relax rules regarding the treatment and containment of COVID-19. He extended the order Friday, the day before it was set to expire. The state of emergency urges – but does not require – people to wear masks when out in public and urges limiting activity, maintaining social distancing and staying home whenever possible. Social and recreational gatherings will remain limited to 50 or more people, though places of worship are still exempt, as well as weddings, funerals and related events. Other provisions will also remain in place, such as expanding access to telehealth services, continuing delivery of alcohol services and allowing prescriptions to be available in 90-day supplies.
Austin: The state reported 4,732 newly confirmed cases of the coronavirus Saturday and 154 new deaths from the disease it causes, COVID-19. The new virus cases reported Friday pushed the overall number for the six-month Texas outbreak to at least 606,530, the Texas Department of State Health Services said. Of those, the state said its estimate of the number of active cases fell by almost 3,500 to 101,189, and the confirmed number of COVID-19 patients hospitalized fell by 67 to 4,422. However, the true number of cases is likely higher because many people haven’t been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected and not feel sick. The overall COVID-19 death toll for the Texas outbreak rose to 12,266. The rolling seven-day average of the rate of positive tests has fallen from 16% a week ago to 12.16% as of Friday, the most recent rate reported by the state. Gov. Greg Abbott has set a 10% positivity rate as a target.
Provo: The Provo Municipal Council overrode a mayoral veto and implemented a mask mandate ahead of a new school year starting at Brigham Young University. Thursday’s 6-1 vote means people must wear facial coverings indoors and outdoors in public areas and at large gatherings during the pandemic, the Daily Herald reports. BYU’s new school year begins Monday. Council members had been concerned the city wasn’t prepared for the influx of students from around the country. Mayor Michelle Kaufusi vetoed the mandate, saying people should be educated on why masks are important rather than required to wear them. Council Chair George Handley said the override was not a “rift” in city leadership, and he decried public anger on both sides. The ordinance carries a maximum $55 citation, and organizers of gatherings without masks can be fined $500.
Montpelier: The state’s top public health official said Friday that Vermont will continue with its procedures to test people for the coronavirus even if they are not showing symptoms but have been exposed to someone who has been. Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine said he was responding to a change in policy announced last week by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that said it was not necessary to test those who have been in close contact with infected people but don’t feel sick. Levine said testing people who may have been exposed to the virus but aren’t showing symptoms is needed to help contain outbreaks because people who have been infected can sometimes transmit it to others before showing symptoms. People who have been infected but aren’t sick can be quarantined to lessen the chance they can infect others.
Richmond: More than 550 people have tested positive for the coronavirus at colleges and universities in the state. The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported Thursday that it surveyed 41 four-year colleges across the state and found at least 558 positive cases. Twenty-one colleges reported at least one positive case. Some schools say that positive cases were inevitable and that they are prepared to handle them. Other universities across the country have backtracked on plans to allow students on campus. No school in Virginia has reported a death from the virus. Among the schools impacted is Virginia Commonwealth University, which has reported 110 cases and created space in an honors residential hall to serve those in isolation. James Madison University said a string of five positive tests among football players forced the team to shut down practice until at least early September. Other members of the team were forced to quarantine.
SeaTac: The Federal Detention Center in SeaTac says it has a cluster of coronavirus infections among inmates and staff. As of Thursday, 31 inmates and six staff members at the facility had tested positive for the virus, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, The Seattle Times reports. No deaths or hospitalizations have been reported, according to prison and public health officials. “We tried like hell to keep it out,” said U.S. District Court Chief Judge Ricardo Martinez. “We were successful for a long time. But it’s there now, and it’s a serious situation.” Martinez said the infections likely will keep local federal courts closed for another month. They had been set to open for limited trials and in-person hearings after Sept. 8, when his latest shutdown order expires. The federal courthouses in Seattle and Tacoma have been closed since early March, resulting in trial delays and in some defendants being locked up for months awaiting court dates.
Charleston: The federal government approved the state’s application for funding to provide additional unemployment benefits to residents, Gov. Jim Justice said Friday. Those unemployed due to the coronavirus pandemic will receive an additional $400 per week, with the federal government providing $300 and the state $100, Justice said. The governor’s office also said a 40-year-old South Central Regional Jail inmate who had tested positive for COVID-19 during the prior week while at the hospital died Friday. It is the first COVID-19-linked death of an inmate ordered to a state facility since the start of the pandemic, Justice’s office said. The governor also said Friday that Monongalia County bars are still expected to reopen Monday, with “extra-stringent guidelines.” He said last week that he intended the bars to reopen on that date if the number of cases didn’t climb significantly. The numbers are stable, he said.
Milwaukee: Since Gov. Tony Evers issued a statewide mask mandate a month ago, many businesses say they are fighting fewer battles against customers who are resistant to or unfamiliar with wearing them. But whether the mandate has anything to do with the decline in new cases in Wisconsin over the past month is a much tougher question to answer, according to public health experts. While the decline in new cases since the July 30 mandate could be due to Evers’ order, it could also be due to people changing their behavior in other ways, such as staying at home more, experts said. “It is hard to find these causal relationships,” said Nasia Safdar, a professor of infectious diseases at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. Safdar suggested also considering whether people are physically distancing, how much mask use differs from county to county and whether people are wearing masks properly.
Cheyenne: The state has finalized initial state spending cuts of 10%, or $250 million, as part of efforts to address a more than $1 billion budget shortfall due to the coronavirus and downturns in the coal, oil and natural gas industries, Gov. Mark Gordon announced last week. The cuts follow a freeze in state hiring and large contracts announced in April. They are still “just the tip of the iceberg,” Gordon said at a news conference Wednesday. They will be followed by a second round of cuts totaling another $250 million. “Each is agonizing, but I have to say, it has taken a long time to review them, and we just don’t see any other options,” said Gordon, a Republican. The cuts will result in 274 mostly full-time state jobs eliminated this year, state Budget Director Kevin Hibbard said at the news conference.
From USA TODAY Network and wire reports
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Campus cases, nurse march: News from around our 50 states