Decatur: A spike in drunken driving cases in Morgan County has led to speculation that the stresses associated with the coronavirus pandemic might be behind the increase. County sheriff’s spokesman Mike Swafford said his department made 43 DUI arrests in the first nine months of 2019. This year, the total is 66 through Sept. 30, an increase of almost 54%. Swafford told The Decatur Daily that sheriff’s officials believe the pandemic is a factor. “People are stressed more,” he said. “We’re seeing more cases of domestic violence, people arguing with their neighbors that we attribute to the stress of everyday living during this pandemic.” But there has also been an increase in patrols under Sheriff Ron Puckett. And, another likely factor, he said, is the closure of two bridges on a U.S. highway that created a 16-mile detour. Another state jurisdiction also is seeing an increase in DUI cases compared to other localities. Town Creek Police Chief Jerry Garrett believes the pandemic is behind the rise his department has seen in recent months. The police force had 19 DUI arrests from March 1, 2019, to Sept. 30, 2019, but the total jumped to 27 for the same period this year.
Anchorage: Personnel stationed at a military base in Alaska’s largest city were ordered to avoid bars and interior dining at restaurants amid rising coronavirus cases on and off the base. Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson placed the restrictions on airmen and soldiers in Anchorage, The Anchorage Daily News reported Saturday. Members of the 673rd Air Base Wing are not allowed to visit businesses that “primarily engage in preparing and serving alcoholic beverages for on-site consumption,” an Oct. 8 memo from base Commander Col. Kirsten Aguilar said. The order keeps active-duty airmen assigned to the 673rd Wing from visiting bars, breweries, pubs and nightclubs. The restrictions were enacted as a “precaution” because of increasing COVID-19 cases statewide, Media Operations Section Chief Erin Eaton said. “The decision was made based on data and inputs from the medical team through their contact tracing efforts, and through base leadership’s evaluation of risk,” Eaton said in an email. The regulation might be reviewed within 30 days. Aguilar said in a video posted on social media Friday that the base has moved into HPCON Charlie, a military health protection level requiring additional limitations on certain base services and potentially more telecommuting.
Phoenix: Citing an urgent situation, particularly for communities of color, the Tohono O’odham Nation said it will donate $2 million to advance COVID-19 research in the state. Leaders of the Tohono O’odham Nation of southern Arizona were in Phoenix to make the announcement that they would be giving $1 million each to the University of Arizona and Arizona State University to advance ongoing COVID-19 research, including the development of rapid tests. The money comes from gaming revenue earned by the tribe’s four casinos. Part of the tribe’s gaming compact with the state requires the donation of 12% of revenue toward local community programs. The tribe operates Desert Diamond casinos near Tucson, Sahuarita, Why and in the West Valley near Glendale that reopened in June. Native American communities across the U.S. have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19. In Arizona, Native Americans make up just 5% of the state’s population, yet 11% of its known deaths, tribal chairman Ned Norris Jr. said. Norris announced the grants after a prayer led by Tohono O’odham legislative council chairman Timothy Joaquin at the UA College of Medicine - Phoenix on Monday afternoon. UA President Robert Robbins and ASU President Michael Crow were both in attendance to accept the donation, along with officials from the Arizona Board of Regents. Robbins and Crow said their universities are working on developing easy, rapid tests that can give results in minutes that they hope to have ready by spring.
Little Rock: The state on Monday hit a new record for number of people hospitalized because of the illness caused by the coronavirus. The Department of Health reported 41 more people hospitalized because of COVID-19, bringing its total number to 613. Ten more people died, bringing the state’s total fatalities to 1,714. The state’s new cases, however, dropped from the previous day. The state’s probable and confirmed cases rose by 531 to 99,597. A day earlier, the state reported 644 new total cases. Arkansas ranks 13th in the country for new cases per capita, according to figures compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Gov. Asa Hutchinson said he remained hopeful that cases would stay low through the week. “Let’s stay vigilant, and while cases usually go up in the next four days, let’s remember that it is up to each of us to do our part to help slow this virus and protect ourselves, our family, and our neighbors,” Hutchinson said in a statement.
Sacramento: The state won’t allow any distribution of coronavirus vaccines until it is reviewed by the state’s own panel of experts, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Monday. Vaccinations for the pandemic “will move at the speed of trust,” said Newsom, a Democrat, and the state wants its own independent review no matter who wins the presidential election next month. “Of course we won’t take anyone’s word for it,” Newsom said as he named 11 doctors and scientists to review any rollout of vaccines by the federal government or vaccine developers. The board members hail from top California universities and medical providers, along with state and local public health officials. The pledge raises the possibility that California residents might not receive a vaccine as distribution begins in other states, though the governor said widespread vaccinations are unrealistic until sometime next year. At most, 45 million doses will be available nationwide before the end of this year from the two most advanced vaccines, Newsom said. Each person must receive two doses, three weeks apart. If California were to receive 12% of the doses, commensurate with its percentage of the nation’s population, that would be 5.4 million doses, or enough to treat 2.7 million of the state’s nearly 40 million residents. Most would go to front-line medical workers and first responders, he said, then to the most vulnerable in the population.
Lone Tree: With many U.S. stores closing during the coronavirus pandemic, especially inside malls, the owners of a chain of retail stores called COVID-19 Essential have seized on the empty space, as well as the world’s growing acceptance that wearing masks is a reality that may last well into 2021, if not longer. Masks have evolved from a utilitarian, anything-you-can-find-that-works product into another way to express one’s personality, political leanings or sports fandom. And the owners of COVID-19 Essentials are betting that Americans are willing to put their money where their mouth is. Prices range from $19.99 for a simple children’s mask to $130 for a top-of-the-line face covering, with an N95 filter and a battery-powered fan. Almost all shops and many pop-up kiosks in the Park Meadows mall now sell masks. But COVID-19 Essentials also carries other accessories for the pandemic, including hand sanitizer and other sanitation devices. The chain has locations in New York City, New Jersey, Philadelphia and Las Vegas, and is looking to open stores in California, where wildfires have only added to the demand for masks.
Hartford: The state is planning to revamp its benchmarks for when people entering the state from locations with large COVID-19 rates will need to quarantine. Currently, state residents and out-of-state travelers coming from states and territories with 10 cases per 100,000 population or 10% positivity rates must fill out a state travel form and isolate for 14 days. Under the new rule, people must take such steps if they come from locations with 10 cases per 100,000 and 5% positivity rates. “The other threshold was so broad that it was including about 85 percent of our states across the country. It was becoming unenforceable,” said Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont. As of Monday, Connecticut itself surpassed the threshold of 10 cases per 100,000 with 11.2 new cases per 100,000. The state’s seven-day rolling average for positive cases as of Monday was 1.7%. Lamont said the state will continue to issue fines for Connecticut residents and out-of-state residents who violate the quarantine and state notification rules. As of last week, the state has issued 45 fines, most to people from Connecticut. Lamont said his administration is still trying to determine how to handle workers who live in one state and work in another if Connecticut reaches the new benchmark.
Dover: A health care system said it is seeing “overwhelming demand” for flu shots this year amid the coronavirus pandemic. Beebe Healthcare, a not-for-profit system based in Lewes, has vaccinated more than 3,100 community members through 13 flu clinics, the Delaware State News reported Saturday. That’s about 75% of the total number of vaccinations Beebe recorded last year in more than 30 clinics. This year’s total from Beebe doesn’t include its team members. More than 2,200 were vaccinated in a 48-hour period in September, according to the newspaper. “We’ve seen an overwhelming demand for flu shots from the community this year, which is really encouraging considering how important being vaccinated is with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic,” said Dr. Bill Chasanov, clinical transformation officer and infectious disease physician at Beebe Healthcare. Health officials and medical groups are urging people to get either the flu shot or nasal spray, so that doctors and hospitals don’t face the extra strain of having to treat influenza in the midst of the pandemic. Last year Delaware had more than 7,000 cases of the flu, with 400 individuals hospitalized and 11 deaths.
Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly described the nature and location of Beebe Healthcare, which is seeing high demand for flu shots. It is a not-for-profit, independent health care system based in Lewes, Delaware.
District of Columbia
Washington: Mayor Muriel Bowser said the city will launch a new COVID-19 exposure notifications app for residents to aid in contact tracing, WUSA-TV reported. The app, DC CAN, which became available Tuesday, was developed by Apple and Google and can be used by iPhone and Android users based on whether the smartphone user activates the specific region/state on their phone. D.C. Health Director Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt said if users opt in, their phones will send out “beacons” to other nearby phones using a randomly generated ID that changes every 10-20 minutes. According to Nesbitt, the exposure notification system once a day will download a list of keys belonging to people who have tested positive for COVID-19 and report their diagnosis through DC CAN. Users will then receive a notification informing them if they have come in contact with an individual diagnosed with COVID-19.
Tallahassee: Florida State University President John Thrasher and his wife, Jean, are free of COVID-19, the president posted on his Twitter account Monday afternoon. “I am happy to share that Jean and I were cleared Friday by the Florida DOH after testing positive for COVID-19 earlier this month, and we are resuming many of our regular activities,” Thrasher said. “We are feeling good and appreciate all the prayers and well wishes!” Jean Thrasher learned of her positive diagnosis on Oct. 5 after a recent stay in the hospital and a local rehabilitation facility for an unrelated condition. President Thrasher, who tested positive Oct. 6, has continued to conduct university business at home. On Monday, FSU reported 26 students tested positive last week, along with one employee, according to the university’s dashboard. In total, 2,031 people were tested at the Tucker Center last week, with a low positivity rate of 1.33%. At Florida A&M University, eight students reported testing positive for the coronavirus for the week ending Friday, according to its weekly dashboard. That is the highest student number since the week of September 25, when nine positive students tests were reported.
Atlanta: The number of COVID-19 cases is rising in Georgia, although infections in the state are not climbing as fast as those nationwide. Even with relatively few infections reported Monday, the state’s seven-day average is close to 1,300, more than 10% above the recent bottom on Oct. 8. The number of people hospitalized with confirmed cases of COVID-19 has also been rising for a week, crossing back above 1,300 on Monday. A ray of light for Georgia is that the positivity rate has stayed level over the last two weeks at just above 6%, even as the number of DNA-based tests rose modestly, on average. Georgia’s transmission rates still remain below those being seen nationwide, with the state ranking 35th per capita among states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico over the last two weeks, according to data collected by the the Associated Press.
Hilo: A state program providing rental assistance to tenants struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic temporarily stopped accepting applications. The Rent Relief and Housing Assistance Program called a halt to applications after reaching its processing capacity, The Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported Sunday. The program launched in early September received more than 20,000 applications and overwhelmed Catholic Charities Hawaii and Aloha United Way, which are helping administer the program. The charities are working out how to manage the current backlog. “Right now we’re meeting with them daily to figure out how to work through it as quickly as possible,” said Kent Miyasaki, spokesman for the Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corporation. The program was expected to disburse $100 million in federal coronavirus relief funding through monthly payments to the landlords of tenants struggling to pay rent. The program approved $5.8 million in payouts, although only $2.3 million has been distributed, Miyasaki said.
Idaho: State officials approved a contract with Florida-based vendor ClassWallet to distribute $50 million in federal coronavirus emergency money to low-income families to help children learn during the coronavirus pandemic. The Idaho State Board of Education awarded the no-bid contract Monday that with various fees will cost the state about $2 million to administer. The program will provide up to $1,500 per child with a maximum of $3,500 per family and help about 30,000 children. The program starts Wednesday, and families can apply between then and Dec. 8. Applications will go out in waves based on need until the money runs out. The board unanimously signed off on the contract that’s part of the Strong Families, Strong Students initiative program put forward by Republican Gov. Brad Little. The money is intended to make it less likely for parents to leave the workforce or dip into household money while their children learn amid the challenges posed by the pandemic. The money will be distributed based on income and can be used to purchase educational materials, computers and other services. Many of Idaho’s 310,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade are learning at home as school districts and families try to avoid spreading COVID-19.
Chicago: City officials warned Monday of “worrying trends” in increased COVID-19 cases, calling it a second wave that could trigger additional restrictions to curb the spread. Such restrictions have returned to other areas of the state. Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker, speaking Monday in Murphysboro, announced an end to indoor restaurant and bar service in parts of southern Illinois, along with limits on groups of more than 25 from congregating. In Chicago, there has been a more than 50% increase of positive cases in the past two weeks to more than 500 daily cases, according to the Chicago Department of Public Health. Commissioner Allison Arwady said it is the most cases since late May, which was the end of the pandemic’s first wave. There also has been a 25% increase in hospitalizations. There are spikes across all groups of Chicagoans and parts of the city. The increase coincides with an increase statewide. The Illinois Department of Public Health on Monday announced 3,113 new confirmed COVID-19 cases and 22 additional deaths.
Covington: A county clerk in rural Indiana said she will not wear a mask while overseeing early voting despite the county’s surge of coronavirus cases and warnings from a state official. Fountain County Clerk Paula Copenhaver said she will “not be part of the government overreach” and contends social distancing and hand sanitizer are enough. Valerie Warycha, spokeswoman for the secretary of state, confirmed Friday that Connie Lawson contacted Copenhaver to ask her to wear a mask. Lawson also wrote in an email on Friday to clerks and election officials in all 92 Indiana counties that if poll workers refuse to wear masks or other protection, clerks should thank them for their service “and ask that they voluntarily resign.” Lawson did not mention any clerks or counties by name in her email, and she did not issue any mandates. State elected officials do not have the authority to do that, Warycha said. Lawson said the election is “the time to be careful, not cavalier,” and that clerks needed to put public health before personal preference, the Journal & Courier reported.
Iowa City: State Auditor Rob Sand warned the governor’s decision to spend $21 million in federal pandemic relief funds on a new executive branch software system would not be allowed and should be abandoned. Sand said that using the federal money to pay for Workday, a cloud-based program for the executive branch’s human resources and finances, is an inappropriate use under the law. He said that if the money isn’t redeployed for a different purpose, Iowa taxpayers could be on the hook to repay the federal government $21 million later on. Sand, a Democrat, said his conclusion was shared by the Treasury Department’s Office of Inspector General, which is responsible for overseeing the appropriate use of federal funds. He noted that the administration of Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a five-year, $20 million software contract with Workday in 2019, long before the coronavirus pandemic started. In addition, the state anticipates spending about $28 million more on implementation costs. Earlier this year, Reynolds’ office decided to partly pay for the program with money from the $2. trillion coronavirus aid package approved in March by Congress, which has sent billions of dollars to Iowa. Reynolds’ office has sought to justify its decision to pay for Workday with the money by arguing that it would allow the state to “act quickly to assist essential government employees.” The program could help workers request COVID-19 hardship assistance and time off for family and medical leaves, for instance.
Topeka: A coronavirus outbreak has killed 10 residents in a nursing home in a northwestern Kansas county that proportionally already had the nation’s largest increase in cases over two weeks. The health department in Norton County reported Monday night that all 62 residents and an unspecified number of employees at the Andbe Home in Norton had tested positive for the coronavirus. The agency also said one Andbe Home resident was hospitalized, and the remaining 51 were being treated at the home. “Steps are being taken to prevent any further outbreak, including quarantining residents in their rooms and not allowing outside visitors into the facility,” the county health department said in a statement Monday night. The outbreak at the nursing home came after the state Department of Health and Environment last week reported more than 100 cases at the state’s prison in Norton over the two weeks ending Wednesday.
Frankfort: The moratorium on disconnecting utilities for nonpayment is ending in Kentucky, but relief funds are being designated to help when residents are at risk of having services cut off during the coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Andy Beshear said. Beshear signed an executive order ending the statewide moratorium on Nov. 6, but his office said the order also designates $15 million in federal COVID-19 relief funds to help Kentuckians who face disconnections. The order also requires utilities to provide a payment plan over at least six months for residential customers.
Lafayette: Five members of a sorority at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette have tested positive for COVID-19, university officials said. Officials did not identity the sorority but stated the members followed protocols and self-reported their illnesses, UL Lafayette spokesman Eric Maron said in the release. They are now in isolation, he confirmed. An additional 16 sorority members were in close contact with the women who tested positive and are now in quarantine, Maron said. The university is conducting contact tracing to identify others who may have been in close proximity to the members. Student Health Services will notify anyone who is determined to have been in close contact with anyone who tests positive. Members of the sorority are being offered free, on-campus testing. Once the cases are confirmed through documentation, the cases will be added to the university’s public COVID-19 dashboard. Since March, 138 students and faculty have tested positive for the coronavirus, according to the dashboard.
Portland: Restaurants and retailers will be allowed to continue operating outdoors through the holiday season in Maine’s largest city. The Portland City Council approved a plan Monday night that extends through Jan. 4 provisions letting businesses operate on private property, public sidewalks and in parking lanes. “Certainly most people in the city are more comfortable dining outdoors than they are indoors right now, so we’re hoping that will provide some flexibility and relief for businesses that are really struggling right now,” Councilor Justin Costa said. In the Old Port, Dana, Milk, Exchange and Wharf streets are closed. Under the plan, all of these roads will reopen to traffic and parking except Dana Street from Fore to Wharf streets and Wharf Street from Union to Dana streets. Businesses on Middle Street cxan continue to use the parking lane with some changes to help with winter operations. City Manager Jon Jennings said the plan accounts for safety and public health standards, along with expeditious removal of snow. Businesses will have to reapply for a permit to continue outdoor dining, but all fees have been waived.
Hurlock: The governors of Maryland and Delaware have announced new grant programs to help contracted chicken farmers offset losses caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Each state’s program will offer grants of $1,000 per house, up to $5,000 per farm, with $10 million in funds from the federal CARES, Act. The help is intended to boost family farmers who are contract growers for big companies, like Perdue or Tyson, the governors said in a news conference in Hurlock on Monday. Poultry is the region’s top agricultural commodity and is Delaware’s No. 1 industry. “This COVID-19 pandemic has caused and is continuing to cause great hardship for so many people, not just here in our state, but all across the country and all around the globe,” said Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan. “And our farmers certainly are no exception... It’s been a very difficult time for our ag community.” Farms that were forced to euthanize entire flocks – a production reduction measure done in response to processors having reduced capacity – will be eligible for an additional $1,500 per house. Applications are open for the programs, called the Maryland Farmer COVID-19 Relief Program and the Delaware Contract Poultry Grower Grant Assistance Program. The application deadline is Dec. 1.
Boston: A cluster of COVID-19 cases that affected nearly 60 staff and patients at Brigham and Women’s Hospital has been contained, hospital officials said. The cluster was identified Sept. 22 in two inpatient units, and 42 employees and 15 patients were potentially connected, the hospital said in a statement on its website. The hospital has not had any new potentially contagious cases on the units that were affected since Oct. 3. The possible factors that contributed to the cluster included a highly infectious source patient, several people with very high viral loads, inconsistencies in patient masking and the use of eye protection among providers, and a lack of physical distancing among staff while eating. The likely source patient was not admitted because of the coronavirus, but had symptoms of a respiratory infection and twice tested negative for COVID-19, Dr. Michael Klompas, hospital epidemiologist, told The Boston Globe. The patient infected a roommate who was then transferred to another unit, he said. In response to the cluster, the hospital instituted an aggressive testing protocol for staff and patients, tested the HVAC system and thoroughly cleaned the affected areas.
Owosso: Misdemeanor charges are being dropped against a barber who defied Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and reopened his shop last spring during the coronavirus pandemic. The case against Karl Manke of Owosso fizzled after the Michigan Supreme Court on Oct. 2 said Whitmer used an unconstitutional law as the foundation for emergency orders to control the virus, attorney David Kallman said. Barbershops and salons were closed for months until June 15. But Manke, 77, reopened in early May, declaring that “government is not my mother.” He inspired people from all over Michigan to drive to his shop for a haircut. Manke cut hair on the grounds of the state Capitol during a protest in May. Kallman said the Shiawassee County prosecutor’s office is dropping the case. “It is definitely a weight off my shoulders,” Manke said. “I just want to earn a living, and I am not a health threat to anyone.” State regulators still are trying to revoke his barber license, Kallman said. A hearing is set for Nov. 19.
St. Cloud: Monday’s lunchtime crowd at the White Horse restaurant and bar included Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan after she listened to the owner’s feedback on how the pandemic has affected her small business. Flanagan stopped in St. Cloud on a half-day trip to Central Minnesota as part of a statewide small business listening tour. Flanagan also stopped at Stoney Brook Farms in Foley earlier in the day. White Horse owner Jackie Lee told Flanagan and state Rep. Dan Wolgamott, D-St. Cloud, how much she appreciated financial help in the form of the Paycheck Protection Program and Economic Injury Disaster Loan – especially with the potential for forgiveness. Flanagan said she continues to advocate for cities and counties to dole out Coronavirus Relief Fund money established by the federal CARES Act. The Minnesota Department of Revenue distributed more than $837.5 million to 85 counties and 1,521 cities and townships, which could be used to support, among other things, grants to businesses impacted by COVID-19. She said the state wants to make sure that money gets to where it needs to be. Cities have until Nov. 15 and counties to Dec. 1 to spend that funding. Unspent aid will then return to the state.
Jackson: Gov. Tate Reeves said he is imposing a mask mandate for public indoor spaces and other restrictions in nine counties to curb the spread of the coronavirus amid weeks of steadily rising case numbers. “Here in Mississippi, we have seen this before,” Reeves said, referencing a spike in cases the state saw in the summer. “We know what can happen if we allow this to get out of control, so want to be proactive to prevent that from happening.” Reeves said explicitly that he does not think what is happening in Mississippi qualifies as a spike. “We’ve seen a relatively slow, slight increase over the last six weeks, which has really been exacerbated over the last 10 or 11 days,” he said. In the past week, Mississippi had two days when the number of new cases reported in one day reached more than 1,000, something the Department of Health hadn’t reported since mid-August. The seven-day rolling average of daily new confirmed cases in Mississippi has risen from 518 per day on Oct. 4 to 725 cases on Sunday, according to Johns Hopkins data analyzed by the Associated Press.
O’Fallon: Dr. Alex Garza of the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force is warning that hospital workers are “overworked and demoralized” after months of fighting the coronavirus, and the worst might yet to come. Garza said hospitalizations are getting higher and intensive care unit beds are filling up at a time when the flu season is about to create even more strain on the health care system. The St. Louis region is actually in better shape than the rest of the state, according to data released Tuesday on the state health department’s COVID-19 dashboard. Hospitalizations are at or near record levels in virtually every region except St. Louis, which was hit hardest in the spring. But, according to Garza, even St. Louis is seeing an uptick. In Springfield, CoxHealth constructed a temporary building on the parking lot of Cox Medical Center South to serve the expected overflow of COVID-19 and flu patients. The state dashboard showed that ICU capacity statewide was down to 29%, with 476 of Missouri’s 1,439 COVID-19 patients receiving intensive care. The data also shows that 788 ventilators are in use, a figure that includes non-COVID-19 patients.
Bozeman: Students at Montana State University have sued the university claiming it broke a contractual agreement when it canceled in-person classes because of the pandemic without offering to refund or reduce tuition and fees. Anthony Cordero, who was an undergraduate student in the spring semester, filed a class-action lawsuit in U.S. District Court in September on behalf of himself and other students who paid tuition for in-person classes that were forced online because of the pandemic, the Bozeman Daily Chronicle reported. The lawsuit said Cordero paid about $6,500 for the spring semester and was not provided a prorated refund for his in-person classes that were discontinued and moved online, or the mandatory fees he paid after school facilities and events were canceled. The university said in early March that it would transition to fully online because of health concerns, and did not offer in-person classes again until Aug. 17. The lawsuit alleged that since the students did not choose to attend an online-only higher education institution, they were deprived of both the education and on-campus experiences they paid for when they chose the Bozeman-based university. Kalispell-based attorney Dale Cockrell, who is representing the university, said he was reviewing the lawsuit and expects to file a response toward the end of November. University spokesman Tracy Ellig said the university doesn’t comment on pending litigation.
Omaha: The state continues to report record numbers of people hospitalized with the coronavirus, and another inmate who had been diagnosed with COVID-19 has died. The state said the number of people hospitalized with the virus jumped to 380 on Monday and eclipsed the previous day’s record of 343. The new record is 64% higher than the spring peak of 232 set on May 27, according to the state’s online virus tracker. But Nebraska officials said 37% of the state’s 578 intensive care beds remain available, so it appears that hospitals have the capacity to handle the recent surge. Nebraska has the fifth-highest rate of new virus cases in the nation. The rate of new cases per 100,000 Nebraska residents over the past two weeks reached 547.25 on Monday, according to an Associated Press analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University. The state Corrections Department said an inmate in his 60s died Sunday – three weeks after testing positive for the coronavirus. He is the second inmate to die after being diagnosed with the virus, although officials said he had other health problems.
Boulder City: The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation reopened Hoover Dam to the public Tuesday, seven months after it closed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Federal officials said visitors will be able to access all open areas and visit the Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge plaza and walkway. The visitor center will remain closed with no tours or exhibits available. Visitors to the dam at the Nevada-Arizona border are being asked to follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines when it comes to preventing the spread of the coronavirus.
Concord: The state attorney general’s office has fined a restaurant where at least 18 people have tested positive for COVID-19. Fat Katz Food and Drink restaurant has been fined $2,000 for violating emergency orders related to the coronavirus after it moved a karaoke event inside. The Hudson restaurant told authorities that it moved the event inside after receiving noise complaints and because of colder weather. In issuing the fine, the state in a letter to the restaurant said the decision to move the event inside after being told it wasn’t allowed indoors and allowing individuals to participate without bringing their own equipment not only violated the state’s emergency order but also was “reckless.” The cases linked to Fat Katz include a person who went to the restaurant while aware of their COVID-19 diagnosis when they were supposed to be in isolation, and a second person who went there when they were knowingly supposed to be in quarantine. No one responded to a request for comment at Fat Katz.
Atlantic City: Gov. Phil Murphy conditionally vetoed a bill that would have expanded charitable groups’ ability to sell raffle tickets online based around sporting events, determining that the measure was too close to internet gambling. Because the coronavirus pandemic has drastically reduced or even eliminated in-person attendance at large sporting events in the state, some legislators proposed expanding the law to let people buy tickets to such raffles over the internet, regardless of whether they were in a stadium or not. Although lauding the intent of the bill, Murphy sent it back to lawmakers with recommended changes, including allowing such an expansion only during times of a declared public health emergency, and requiring the same sort of geolocation technology that New Jersey’s casinos and racetracks use to ensure that a person making an online casino or sports wager is physically located within the state’s boundaries.
Santa Fe: Netflix has halted production of its Western film “The Harder They Fall” after at least two people on the set tested positive for the coronavirus while working in New Mexico. The production did not identify the people infected with the virus, and declined to comment beyond confirming that production stopped as of Thursday. It is unclear when production is expected to resume. Productions usually wait two weeks with no positive tests before resuming. The New Mexico Rapid Response report listed the positive test at Santa Fe Studios, the Albuquerque Journal reported. The New Mexico Environment Department, which publishes a daily list of entities in the state reporting newly confirmed coronavirus tests, reported that Netflix confirmed at least five positive test results between Oct. 8 and Oct. 19, with at least two of those reports listed as “THTF,” an acronym for the film, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported. The production has been required to adhere to state safety guidelines, including facial masks and social distancing. The cast and crew was also subjected to multiple tests a week.
Ramapo: After repeated complaints by the state and county, the Town of Ramapo and Village of Spring Valley have committed personnel to the COVID-19 cluster enforcement task force that’s patrolling Rockland County’s red zone. “We just had online training, Ramapo Town Supervisor Michael Specht said. He said six full-time code enforcement and parking enforcement workers are now dedicated to the task force, including at least one person who is fluent in Yiddish. Another five part-time town workers will be made available this week, Specht said, if the state needs them. Amid growing clusters of COVID-19 cases, Gov. Andrew Cuomo launched enforcement zones, or red zones, with strict regulations – which closed schools and cut religious gatherings to just 10 people – designed to tamp down the spread of the virus. Downstate zones, including in Rockland County, mirror the footprint of large Orthodox and Hasidic Jewish communities. The 12.5-mile diameter zone in Rockland focuses on eastern Ramapo and portions of the Village of Spring Valley.
Greenville: East Carolina University has announced temporary furloughs and pay cuts for its athletics staff because of budget deficits caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The salary reductions and furloughs for coaches and staff members at the university will start next month, Jon Gilbert, the university’s athletic director said in a statement Monday. They are based on salary, and will be effective through June 2021. The entire athletics staff was recently furloughed for five days to reduce the school’s deficit by $4.7 million, the statement said. The university estimated a $25 million budget shortfall this fall, The News & Observer reported.
Town: Mayor Tim Mahoney said he would like to see a statewide mask mandate as the coronavirus spins out of control and in the meantime invoked emergency powers to require face coverings in most settings that don’t involve family members. Mahoney, who in addition to being Fargo’s mayor is also a general surgeon, has been largely supportive of Republican Gov. Doug Burgum’s approach to managing the pandemic. But he said up to one in four people being tested for the virus in his city in recent weeks has tested positive, and Mahoney said it “would be great” if Burgum issued an order for the entire state. Cass County, which includes Fargo, had more than 200 new cases Monday and has had nearly 8,000 since the pandemic began. It has been one of the hardest-hit spots in a state that has ranked worst in the nation for daily new cases per capita the past two weeks. North Dakota leads the nation in the number of new cases per capita in the last two weeks, a distinction it has held many times in the last couple of months, according to Johns Hopkins University researchers.
Columbus: The number of people hospitalized in the state because of the coronavirus hit a new high, the Ohio Department of Health reported. The agency said Monday that 1,154 people are hospitalized with COVID-19 related symptoms, with 158 on ventilators. That’s the highest hospitalization figure since July. Republican Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said Monday he was caught off-guard by the recent spike in cases and pleaded again for Ohioans to wear masks and keep themselves socially distanced. The Health Department reported 1,837 confirmed and probable cases on Monday, well above the 21-day case average of 1,515. The numbers reflect a recent and continuing spike in cases, including a record 2,178 cases reported on Oct. 15.
Oklahoma City: The president of the Oklahoma State Medical Association is renewing the group’s call for a statewide mask mandate as the number of people hospitalized because of the coronavirus has reached record levels. OSMA President George Monks said in a tweet Sunday that cities in Oklahoma that have adopted mask ordinances have seen lower rates of infection. “We need face mask mandates to protect more of our Oklahoma citizens,” Monks tweeted. The association has been calling for a statewide mask mandate since the summer, but Gov. Kevin Stitt has repeatedly said he has no plans to do so, citing concerns about how such a mandate would be enforced.
Albany: At least 19 students in Greater Albany Public Schools attended a gathering without masks, spurring new COVID-19 cases and setting back progress made toward holding in-person classes, officials said. At least three positive cases have been traced to a large gathering in a local home with students from West Albany High School, South Albany High School and Lebanon High School, the Albany Democrat-Herald reported. “In addition to the large gathering, a number of the same individuals have been together since then,” Schools Superintendent Melissa Goff said. “So we have an additional six students who should be quarantining right now.” The families of the students have been contacted by local health authorities but according to Goff, some families might not be cooperating with efforts to trace the potential outbreak. Before the latest positive cases, the school district was holding limited in-person instruction for students who receive special services while monitoring the increasing case load around the county. A total of 142 students at 14 district sites were receiving in-person instruction. Those services have been paused and all teachers and staff who are able to work from home have been asked to do so by the district.
Harrisburg: The state’s COVID-19 quarantine list for out-of-state travelers has grown a bit larger over the past few weeks. But Georgia and Louisiana were removed from the travel advisory, meaning travelers coming from there will no longer be subject to a 14-day self-quarantine upon arrival in Pennsylvania. Ten states – Alaska, Indiana, Kentucky, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, Utah, Wisconsin, and Wyoming ––have been added to the quarantine list, pushing the total to 25 states. The recommendation for travelers coming into Pennsylvania marks a notable shift in which states are being flagged nationwide for the most alarming increases of coronavirus cases. The list of states is fluid though and will be updated regularly, according to the governor’s office. Essential workers – including truckers and others in transportation – are exempt.
Providence: A state facility that houses federal detainees has seen a recent surge in coronavirus cases, according to documents filed with a federal court. The Wyatt Detention Facility in Central Falls had 52 active cases among detainees, and eight among staff as of Monday, The Providence Journal reported. A spokesman said the facility anticipated additional cases and is prepared to respond appropriately. The center has had more than 150 cases total among detainees and staff.
Spartanburg: Blood supplies are getting dangerously low because there haven’t been any blood drives during the coronavirus pandemic. Schools, churches and businesses usually hold blood drives during the year, but many haven’t returned to a normal working schedule and most outside activities have been canceled. In addition, blood banks have seen some people who are concerned about donating blood because of fears of becoming infected with COVID-19. All of these issues have forced The Blood Connection in Spartanburg to supply hospitals with only enough blood for immediate needs. Allie Van Dyke, The Blood Connection media coordinator, said during the early months of the pandemic, blood donations declined and the trend has continued. September is usually a time when college campuses host blood drives but those also didn’t happen because of the pandemic. And in addition to the lack of donations, she said some area hospitals are beginning to perform some elective surgeries again and that has depleted the blood supply even more. Spartanburg Medical Center is among the hospitals that receive donations from The Blood Connection. Hospital officials understand how low the blood supply is and are calling on donors for help.
Sioux Falls: The state reported seven more deaths from COVID-19 on Tuesday, along with an increase in hospitalizations by 25 people. October has been the deadliest month of the pandemic in the state, with the Department of Health reporting 107 deaths. A total of 330 South Dakotans have died from COVID-19 over the course of the pandemic. Gov. Kristi Noem has said her focus is on hospitalizations, offering assurances that the state’s hospitals are still capable of caring for people with severe cases of the virus. But hospitalizations have reached a new high at 329 people. Health officials reported that about 40% of general-care hospital beds and 33% of Intensive Care Units are available, along with staff to operate them.
Nashville: First-time voters in Tennessee won’t have to appear in person to vote while a court appeal proceeds, as the Oct. 27 deadline to request an absentee ballot approaches. In a 3-0 decision, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel on Monday declined the state’s request to reinstate the in-person requirement while the court mulls the case. The decision maintains a lower court’s order last month. The blocked law requires first-time voters to cast a ballot in person or show ID at the local election office before voting by mail, if they qualify. Instead, officials are requiring certain first-time voters to submit a copy of their ID during the absentee voting process. In Monday’s opinion, Judge Julia Smith Gibbons said “disrupting the new rules at this point poses significant risk of harm to the public interest in orderly elections.” Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, said the ruling, coupled with expanded eligibility, means “thousands of first-time voters should not be forced to risk their health in order to vote.”
Houston: Schools in the state’s largest school district resumed in-person classes Monday for the first time since campuses doors were closed in March at the start of the coronavirus pandemic. About 80,000 of the school district’s 190,000 students were back on campuses, where they were required to wear masks and practice social distancing. Movement within campuses was also going to be limited during the school day and only essential visitors would be allowed inside, said Interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan. District officials have worked to put necessary safety protocols in place, purchased needed supplies, and relied on science and data to provide a safe environment and address any concerns teachers and others might have, Lathan said. The first six weeks of classes in the current school year for Houston school district students were held online. Those children who chose not to return to campuses on Monday will continue to attend classes virtually and will have a chance after every six-week grading period to change their minds.
St. George: The southwest Utah health district reported 92 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, a record for a single day, as the St. George area has joined a statewide spike in numbers at the beginning of the fall season. Local health officials have reported 430 new cases over the past seven days, also a record for any seven-day period since the pandemic began. As recently as mid-September, the region was counting fewer than 200 cases per week. The southwest district, which includes Washington, Iron, Kane, Beaver and Garfield counties, has now counted 424 total hospitalizations and 45 new deaths. Washington County, home to the St. George area, has seen the majority of the numbers, with 4,034 total cases and 38 deaths as of Thursday. The jump comes just as hospitals across Utah are warning that they could run out of beds, with Gov. Gary Herbert having just declared the state’s rapidly rising case numbers an “unsustainable” trend.
Montpelier: The outbreak of people infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 traced to a Montpelier hockey rink has expanded to 30, the Vermont Health Department said Monday. The cases are linked to adult and youth hockey leagues and an adult broomball league at the Central Vermont Memorial Civic Center. The Health Department is planning a pop-up testing clinic Thursday at the Barre Auditorium. Testing is for people who are not showing any symptoms of COVID-19, but had direct links to the teams and their close contacts. The Central Vermont Medical Center will also be holding special testing clinics from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. through Friday at its Acute Respiratory Clinic on the Barre-Montpelier Road.
Hopewell: A Hopewell City Public Schools employee has tested positive for COVID-19, the school division said Monday. The employee works in the division’s technology department. The individual works “across our schools” and was “on site” on Oct. 15. In a press release, the school division encouraged anyone who had contact with technology department staff between Oct. 12-15 to monitor their symptoms and reach out to a primary care provider if needed. Hopewell is one of two local school divisions, along with Petersburg, that has not opened schools to students for in-person learning, so it is unlikely a student was in contact with the individual. Hopewell is considered an area of “highest risk” for the spread of COVID-19 in schools, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Petersburg, Prince George and Dinwiddie counties are also considered “highest risk.”
Olympia: Republican state Rep. Tom Dent of Moses Lake is the second Washington lawmaker known to have tested positive for the coronavirus. The Yakima Herald-Republic reported Monday that Dent, who is up for reelection, talked about his diagnosis on NewsTalk-KIT Radio and said he has been recovering at home. “So far I think I’ve gone through every symptom anybody’s talked about,” he said. “And, you know, it’s crazy. It started out pretty benign in the beginning and then kind of started to go away and came back a little stronger. It’s played this game now, today will be day 15.” Lawmakers haven’t been at the Capitol since they adjourned in March. Any meetings have been held remotely, and it’s unknown what the 105-legislative session will look like when it convenes in January.
Charleston: The federal government has authorized the West Virginia National Guard to increase the number of personnel on active status to support the response to the coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Jim Justice said. There are 379 members of the state National Guard on active status. The Federal Emergency Management Agency will allow that to increase to 400. The federal government will reimburse the state for 75% of the related costs for these personnel, the governor’s office said. The National Guard’s state response has included producing and distributing personal protective equipment, performing virus tests, disinfecting vehicles and facilities, and virus prevention training for businesses, long-term care facilities, medical practices and residents, the statement said.
Milwaukee: Like Froedtert Hospital in Wauwatosa, Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center on Milwaukee’s south side is investigating an outbreak of COVID-19 on an inpatient rehabilitation unit where patients go to recover from surgeries, strokes and other ailments. As of Monday, St. Luke’s was investigating at least 15 cases of COVID-19 among patients on the rehabilitation unit and tests were pending on staff members who were potentially affected. “We have taken the appropriate steps to isolate and care for these patients and have suspended new admissions to this unit at this time,” spokeswoman Cheri Mantz wrote in an email to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Mantz said the source of the outbreak had not been determined. St. Luke’s had not been routinely testing staff members for the virus or taking their temperatures before they showed up for work. Like Froedtert, they were relying on employees to self-report their temperatures and any symptoms via an app. It’s unknown the extent to which the hospital has been testing the patient population for the virus.
Casper: In the first week of October, Wyoming was averaging about 105 newly confirmed cases a day, officials said. That average is now above 162 new daily cases, outpacing any previous time period since March. Wyoming also reached a record on Friday for new confirmed cases in a day with 248. The state’s largest hospital, Wyoming Medical Center, opened its COVID-19 surge unit for the first time and activated its Code Orange Incident Command, which establishes special protocols and appoints a team to evaluate daily concerns and communicate them with the rest of the staff. The facility also stopped accepting nonemergent patients transferred from outside Natrona County, hospital interim CEO J.J. Bleicher said. Those patients are now being transferred out of state. “We expect this to continue for several weeks, based on COVID projections in our community,” hospital spokesperson Kristy Bleizeffer said.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 50 States