Montgomery: State securities officials say cybercrime including email attacks is on the rise during the pandemic, and they’re warning people to be careful online. A statement from the Alabama Securities Commission says social engineering attacks have been increasing with more people working at home and children using virtual learning because of the coronavirus outbreak. The agency says “phishing” attacks are a particular threat. That’s when scammers mimic a legitimate source in an attempt to access personal information, often by email. Many of the attacks try to create a sense of urgency by making people think information or financial accounts are at risk. Emails that include misspellings, grammatical errors, generic greetings, unbelievable claims and requests for personal information are risky, the agency said.
Juneau: Some oyster farmers have raised concerns about the future of the mariculture industry amid declining oil prices and the coronavirus pandemic. Salty Lady Seafood Company owner Meta Mesdag said many of the business’ challenges stem from the industry’s reliance on state funding, Alaska’s Energy Desk reports. Mesdag sends her oysters to get tested weekly by a state lab to assess the threat of paralytic shellfish poisoning and make sure they are safe to eat. The state currently pays for that testing, which could cost up to $800 a week, but funding could go away next year, as oil prices have hit record lows, and the pandemic added financial pressure on the economy. Before the pandemic, the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation proposed shifting half of the testing costs back to the industry, with the hope farmers would eventually fully fund it. The proposal did not pass in the last legislative session but is expected to be brought up again.
Phoenix: A suburban school district has put off its plan to return its high school to in-person instruction from remote learning starting Tuesday. Cactus Shadows High School Principal Tony Vining announced late Friday that Cave Creek Unified School District’s sole high school didn’t “have enough staff to safely open and will need to revert to our distance learning model.” Vining said in a statement that remote learning would be provided Tuesday, when the district would provide an update on “the situation for the rest of the week with our goal to open safely for our students and staff as soon as possible.” Some Arizona schools have reopened for in-person instruction, but J.O. Combs Unified in San Tan Valley was thwarted last month because numerous teachers called in sick while voicing concerns about the safety of reopening schools.
Little Rock: State health officials reported 687 new coronavirus cases Sunday and 12 more deaths due to COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus. There are a total of 65,377 cases, and 894 people have died, the health department said, an increase from 64,690 cases and 882 deaths reported Saturday, according to the Arkansas Department of Health. The true number of cases in Arkansas is likely higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected and not feel sick. The department also reported 6,188 active cases and said 58,295 people have recovered. The number of newly confirmed cases Sunday is a drop from the record 1,094 new cases reported Friday and comes as health officials said they’re worried about the possibility of the outbreak growing during the Labor Day weekend.
San Diego: San Diego State University issued a stay-at-home order for students living on campus to limit the spread of COVID-19 as they return for the school year. The order went into effect Saturday and was set to last through 6 a.m. Tuesday, urging students to stay home through the Labor Day weekend, KNSD-TV reports. The announcement was made Saturday, a day after the university reported an additional 120 confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases linked to students both on and off campus. There are now 184 confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases on campus. The university said those who violate the order could face disciplinary action, but it did not detail the consequences. None of the cases is related to on-campus educational activities such as classes or labs, and no employees, visitors or vendors have tested positive since the campus reopened Aug. 24.
Fort Collins: Colorado State University ordered mandatory COVID-19 testing for more than 600 students after wastewater monitoring indicated some students in three residence halls might be infected with the coronavirus. The university is monitoring wastewater at various locations throughout campus to gauge early warning signs of infection. Wastewater data can’t be traced back to a specific person, but CSU is using it to pinpoint areas where COVID-19 infection might be on the rise. Wastewater monitoring results from Braiden Hall indicate there are “signs of COVID-19 within the hall and further testing could prevent spread from occurring,” according to an email sent to students living on campus. Braiden Hall is one of the larger residential dorms at CSU. The school ordered testing for all 580 residents of Braiden as well as one wing of Corbett Hall and a section of University Village, CSU spokesperson Dell Rae Ciaravola said.
Hartford: When a large swath of the state was forced to shut down during the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, officials quickly created an emergency loan program from scratch, hoping to help small businesses – from pizza shops to yoga studios – weather the economic crisis. Months later, records obtained by the Associated Press through a Freedom of Information Act request show the fledgling Connecticut Recovery Bridge Loan Program ultimately funded 2,123 one-year, no-interest loans, averaging $19,705 apiece. Because of the massive flood of applications, officials decided to cap loan amounts at $37,500 – half of the $75,000 originally promised when the program was launched in March – to help twice the number of businesses. The change was made after officials had to stop accepting applications the day after the program was announced and decided to double the investment to $50 million, underwritten by the state’s venture capital organization.
Wilmington: Visitors have not been permitted inside Delaware’s 88 long-term care facilities since the state’s first coronavirus case was announced in mid-March. More than five months later, that may soon change, though no hugs will be allowed. The Department of Health and Social Services’ COVID-19 reopening plan for long-term care facilities takes effect Tuesday. Facilities that have not had a new positive case originate there within the past 14 days and have adequate staffing to meet the needs of residents will be eligible to submit a plan for resuming indoor visitation. In June, eligible nursing homes and assisted-living facilities were able to submit plans for outdoor visitation. The plans of 26 such facilities have been approved by DHSS. Indoor visits will be limited to one or two people per resident and will be by appointment only, the department said. Visits must occur in a visitation room near an entrance.
District of Columbia
Washington: The COVID-19 pandemic has paved the way for so-called streeteries, WUSA-TV reports. In D.C.’s Adams Morgan neighborhood, which had seen an effort to make streeteries popular even before the pandemic, extra patio space is becoming popular, so some are calling for more space around their businesses to make business better over the next few crucial weeks. Over Labor Day weekend, 18th Street had curb lanes closed for patio dining in Adams Morgan. Matteo Catalani, owner of Retrobottega, said extra seating capacity is a lifeline for his business, and he hopes now that officials and diners have seen what’s possible, it could become permanent. In June, Adams Morgan became a test case for streeteries in D.C. by blocking the entire street to traffic. It was such a popular move that it briefly became difficult to maintain social distancing. Catalani said those kinks have since been worked out.
Tallahassee: The state has now surpassed 12,000 deaths linked to the coronavirus, according to data released by health officials Sunday. The milestone was reached after the state added 38 more people to the grim tally. With more than 2,500 new cases reported Sunday, Florida has recorded more than 646,000 cases of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic six months ago. Nearly 3,200 infected people were being treated in hospitals for the virus. The new deaths pushed the state’s death toll to 12,001, with the average number of deaths over the past week at about 105 per day. The Florida Health Department said it had received more than 56,000 test results Saturday, with about 5% of those results positive for the virus. It was 25th consecutive day the positivity rate fell below 10%, health officials said.
Atlanta: The state on Sunday reached more than 6,000 reported deaths from the coronavirus pandemic as officials urged people to take health precautions over the Labor Day weekend. The state Department of Public Health on Sunday reported an additional 60 COVID-19 deaths, bringing the total to 6,037 coronavirus-related deaths since the pandemic began. More than 283,000 cases of COVID-19 have been reported in the state. Gov. Brian Kemp on Sunday urged people to maintain precautions during the Labor Day weekend. Health officials have expressed concerns that there could be a spike in infections, similar to those that occurred after Memorial Day and Fourth of July celebrations and gatherings. Kemp did a tour of the state Friday, urging precautions. “When you look at the charts, it’s abundantly clear that cases have spiked and hospitalizations have risen and deaths have increased after our holiday weekends,” he told reporters Friday in Savannah.
Honolulu: The head of the state’s coronavirus contact tracing program has returned to work after going on leave last week because of department confusion over the chain of command. Dr. Emily Roberson resumed her position as disease investigation branch chief with the state Department of Health on Friday, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reports. Roberson was hired in July to lead the contract tracing program, an effort that had garnered criticism as COVID-19 cases increased in recent months. Roberson’s return came a day after Dr. Sarah Park, the state’s epidemiologist, announced she was going on paid leave and the same week Democratic Gov. David Ige announced Health Director Bruce Anderson’s retirement. In Roberson’s request for leave Wednesday, she said there was confusion regarding whose authority and which directives she should follow in regard to the contract tracing program.
Hayden: A man was transported to Kootenai Health with non-life-threatening injuries following a plane crash Sunday night. The Coeur d’Alene Press reports Kootenai County Sheriff’s Deputies and Northern Lakes Fire Department personnel responded to East Lancaster Road near English Point Road in Hayden for a report of a plane that crash-landed. The pilot, Craig Craviotto, 38, of Athol, walked to a nearby residence after attempting to land the Cessna 182D on Lancaster Road. Craviotto told deputies he ran out of fuel and could not safely make it to the Coeur d’Alene Airport, which was his target destination and initial starting point. The KCSO report will be forwarded to the FAA and NTSB for further investigation. It does not appear that alcohol was a factor.
Chicago: The city’s Navy Pier will shut down Tuesday until the spring after seeing low visitor numbers during the coronavirus pandemic. Officials have not announced an exact date to reopen the tourist attraction. Navy Pier reopened with limited capacity and attractions in June as Illinois began to loosen restrictions designed to minimize the spread of the coronavirus. But officials have said visitor numbers are about 15% to 20% of the typical summer season, making it financially difficult to remain open.
South Bend: Bar and restaurant owners in the city are exploring ways to attract more customers after the University of Notre Dame limited attendance at Irish football games to help combat the spread of the coronavirus. The school’s decision to limit attendance at home games to no more than 20% of stadium capacity while also banning tailgating on campus was another hit for businesses that depend on the home games for a large part of their revenue. Notre Dame’s policies mean fewer Irish fans visiting the northern Indiana city for games and fewer people patronizing its bars and restaurants. “We’re going to experience something that we haven’t experienced before,” said Rob DeCleene, executive director of Visit South Bend Mishawaka, St. Joseph County’s tourism agency. Each home football game brings in about $17 million in visitor spending to St. Joseph County and $22 million for the overall region.
Des Moines: A judge has refused to allow some area bars to reopen while their lawsuit challenging Gov. Kim Reynolds’ new round of bar closures makes its way through the courts. Polk County Judge William Kelly emphasized the importance of public health Friday in his explanation of the ruling denying a temporary injunction to the bar owners in Polk and Dallas counties. Attorney Billy Mallory, who is representing the bar owners, said he will appeal the denial while continuing to prepare for trial, where he will seek a permanent injunction. The suit alleges the closure of bars in Dallas and Polk counties is unconstitutional and unfairly targets some businesses, while others, like restaurants and coffee shops, may continue operating. In Reynolds’ Aug. 27 order, she also required the closing of bars in Black Hawk, Johnson, Linn and Story counties. Those, along with Polk and Dallas, are considered hot spots for COVID-19 infections.
Manhattan: Active coronavirus cases in the Kansas State University area have spiked more than 400% since classes resumed. Active Riley County cases increased from 125 on Aug. 17 – the first day of classes – to 679 as of Friday, The Manhattan Mercury reports. The newspaper reports the local health department declared virus outbreaks at three fraternities, six sororities and the college football team. The Riley County Health Department canceled permits for all September events at sorority and fraternity houses. Meanwhile, at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, students planned to strike on Labor Day to pressure the university to close campus, amid 546 confirmed cases, the Kansas City Star reports. Leaders of student organization Jayhawker Liberation Front tweeted that a strike “would send a firm message to administration that our lives are not their expendable playthings; that we are not simply an avenue through which they make money.”
Frankfort: The state set a record for the number of positive coronavirus cases for the second straight week, Gov. Andy Beshear said Sunday. The 4,742 confirmed cases for the week ending Sunday topped the record 4,503 cases from the previous week, Beshear said. There were 313 new cases reported Sunday, pushing Kentucky’s total for the pandemic to at least 52,774. Three new deaths also were reported, bringing the state’s total to at least 996. The deaths included a 75-year-old woman from Harlan County, an 81-year-old woman from Lewis County and an 86-year-old man from Fayette County. “We’re facing the challenge of our lifetimes, and we must do better,” Beshear said.
Vidalia: The mayor has tested positive for COVID-19. Vidalia Mayor Buz Craft confirmed the diagnosis Thursday in a post on Facebook, The Natchez Democrat reports. “I want to inform everyone that I have tested positive for COVID,” his post said. “I feel fine with minor symptoms. I will be reaching out to everyone I may have come in contact with.” Vidalia lies on the west bank of the Mississippi River, across from the city of Natchez in Mississippi. Craft told the newspaper he started having a cough Wednesday. On his way to work Thursday morning, he felt mild aches and had a low-grade fever and decided to call in sick and get tested, he said. “I’ve been quarantined and started contacting everyone that I know of who I may have come in contact with. I went to a funeral this past Sunday and went to church. The main thing I want to do is protect my loved ones and the people I work with,” Craft said.
Portland: Operators of music clubs and music industry professionals have formed a grassroots alliance and launched a $500,000 fundraising campaign to help local venues survive the pandemic. The Maine Music Alliance will coordinate the fundraising campaign and serve as an advocate for the music industry in Maine, Scott Mohler, its president, told the Portland Press Herald. “I think we’ve all had a fair amount of optimism there would be some kind of government assistance coming down through the Save Our Stages Act or something similar. But the urgency has increased,” he said. “We’ve worked too hard to build the scene up; we can’t just wave the white flag.” The Save Our Stages Act would provide six months of financial support to keep music venues and theaters open and pay employees. It is among several pandemic-related bills that are mired in the political fight in Washington over the scope of the next round of pandemic relief.
Denton: A nursing home is monitoring a COVID-19 outbreak that spread to nearly half its residents and 17 staff members, according to Caroline County health department officials. Health officials were initially alerted Aug. 29 that three residents and one employee of the Caroline Nursing and Rehabilitation Center had tested positive for the new coronavirus. Days later, on Sept. 3, those numbers surged to 32 residents and 17 staff members who were confirmed to be infected. One test is still pending, according to a Friday post on a health department website. “Obviously we are deeply concerned about an outbreak in a facility that is home to such medically fragile residents,” said Roger Harrell, interim acting health officer for the health department. No residents are currently hospitalized due to COVID-19, health officials said Friday.
Boston: The state had some of the nation’s strongest tenant protections during the eviction moratorium tied to federal coronavirus relief, with thousands of residential evictions suspended in state court and a block on the filing of most new cases. But a two-month investigation of the federal and state moratoriums by Boston University journalism students, in collaboration with the Howard Center for Investigative Journalism, found holes in safeguards against evictions for Massachusetts tenants emerged soon after the laws took effect. At least 70 illegal eviction cases were filed in Massachusetts Housing Court this spring, including 50 violating the national ban that blocked displacing renters in most federally subsidized properties. Some tenants were only a few hundred dollars in arrears or lived in the poorest areas of the commonwealth, and nearly all lacked lawyers, court records show.
Lansing: Central Michigan University shows no signs of shutting down campus as it nears 300 coronavirus cases associated with its university population. The administration is pushing to keep students on campus until it is no longer feasible, but tensions with students are increasing. A group of students participating in a #NotFiredUpForFall campaign put up signs on campus Monday calling on the university to suspend in-person classes. The campaign, a play on CMU’s chant “Fire up Chips,” is being led by New America Project, a progressive student organization. The campaign is demanding that CMU be accountable to students and protect at-risk populations. “One life is too many to be touched by this disease,” NAP President Emily Jones said. “CMU seems to not really have any regard for the science, even though they like to claim that.”
Minneapolis: The state has surpassed 80,000 positive COVID-19 tests, health officials said Sunday. They reported 714 positive tests Sunday, bringing the statewide total to 80,587. Health officials said 8,747 health care workers have tested positive for the virus since the pandemic began. More than 72,000 people were marked as no longer needing isolation. Minnesota’s death toll from the coronavirus rose by six to 1,8577 as of Sunday. Officials report that 1,359 of deaths have been among residents of long-term care or assisted living facilities. A total of 6,719 people have required hospitalization. Of those, 284 remain in those facilities, with 143 in intensive care.
Jackson: Plea hearings in felony cases can now be conducted by videoconference to help cut the spread of the coronavirus in jails. Mississippi Supreme Court Chief Justice Mike Randolph on Friday signed an order giving trial judges the “discretion to use interactive audiovisual equipment to conduct plea hearings.” The Supreme Court said video conferencing for a plea hearing can be done only if a defendant agrees to that kind of method and only if the defense attorney is physically present with the defendant. The Mississippi Attorney General asked the court in a document filed Aug. 20 to protect vulnerable populations of jails by “vesting complete discretion in Mississippi’s trial court judges to decide on a case-by-case bases whether in-person hearings can be conducted safely or should be handled remotely.”
Columbia: The state’s health department on Sunday added another 17 previously unreported COVID-19 related deaths to Missouri’s total death toll. Most of the deaths were from June through August. The state’s Department of Health and Senior Services blamed technical issues for missing a total of 89 previously unreported deaths. The virus has been reported to have killed at least 1,658 people in Missouri and sickened 93,434, according to state health department data. About 10,003 new cases were reported in the past week, according to an Associated Press analysis of Saturday data from Johns Hopkins University’s COVID-19 tracking project. That’s about 1,429 new cases a day on average. Amid the rise in cases, St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson announced Friday that bars, restaurants and nightclubs must continue to restrict capacity to 50% and close no later than 11 p.m. each night. The restrictions were originally set to end Sept. 7.
Great Falls: The state added 100 newly confirmed COVID-19 cases Sunday and one more death, bringing the total number of fatalities attributed to the coronavirus to 117 as Montanans observed the Labor Day holiday weekend and the unofficial end of summer. Montana now has 8,264 total cases of the respiratory illness. Of those, 6,243 have recovered, and 1,904 remain active. There are 156 people hospitalized out of 456 hospitalizations. The state has administered 262,026 tests for COVID-19, which is 976 more than Saturday. A woman in her 50s died at a Yellowstone County hospital due to a COVID-19 related illness Saturday, said RiverStone Health, the county’s public health department. Yellowstone County, with 45, had nearly half of the newly reported cases Sunday. Rosebud had 18, Big Horn had 13, Flathead and Gallatin had six each, and Silver Bow had four.
Omaha: The varsity and junior varsity football teams at Omaha Creighton Prep are in a two-week quarantine after a player tested positive for the coronavirus. Creighton Prep said Saturday that all activities for the varsity and JV teams are suspended for now, the Omaha World-Herald reports. The school said all players on those squads and their coaches had enough contact with the player to require a self-quarantine. Statewide, new coronavirus cases for the seven-day period that ended Sunday totaled 2,052, an average of 293 a day, according to an Associated Press analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University’s COVID-19 tracking project. Cases are spiking in Lancaster County, home of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Local officials attributed the uptick to university students’ return to school, the newspaper reports. The positive test rate in the county increased from 6.8% in the week of Aug. 22 to 13.4% the first week of September.
Las Vegas: The University of Nevada Las Vegas has reduced its student life facilities fee by $50, but many students raised concerns about fees for services that are limited or no longer available because of COVID-19. The fee was reduced from $223 to $173 a semester to compensate for limited access during the pandemic, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports. All students enrolled in four or more course credits are required to pay it. The fee helps fund the student union and student recreation and wellness center, according to the university’s website. The funds assist with management, building maintenance, equipment and student activities. The university is offering about 80% of its classes online, so students who are remote learning are not using campus facilities, and those who are have to contend with limited hours or closed buildings, officials said. Student Body President Joshua Padilla saidmany students are frustrated over the fees.
Concord: Public health officials reported Friday that the state had not experienced a death connected to COVID-19 in a week – the longest stretch the state has gone without a COVID-19 death since the beginning of the pandemic in March. The first New Hampshire death from COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, was recorded March 23 with the death of a Hillsborough County man. More than 430 people in New Hampshire have died of COVID-19. On Friday, health officials reported more than 20 new positive cases of the illness.
Trenton: An unemployment benefit that will provide an additional $300 a week to those out of work due to COVID-19 has gained approval from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. FEMA Administrator Pete Gaynor approved New Jersey for a FEMA grant under the Lost Wages Assistance program, according to a press release from the agency Friday. The agency plans to work with Gov. Phil Murphy to implement a system to make the funding, which will be on top of regular unemployment benefits for those who are unemployed due to the virus. Unlike the $600-a-week supplemental payment that expired in July, those who were unemployed before COVID-19 are not eligible for the $300-a-week benefit. Those who receive less than $100 a week in unemployment are also not eligible.
Santa Fe: The state eased its self-quarantine requirements for interstate travelers in advance of the Labor Day holiday and allowed hotels to accept more guests if they undergo certification for coronavirus precautions. Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced she would waive quarantine restrictions on travelers as they arrive from low-risk states by land or air starting Friday. Hotel occupancy limits were raised from 50% to 75% when a certification for safe practices is completed. And individuals who can show documentation of a valid negative COVID-19 test taken within the 72 hours before or after entry into the state are exempt from the 14-day quarantine requirement. The state’s self-quarantine requirement still will apply to people returning or arriving from “high-risk” states based on coronavirus positivity rates and and per-capita infections, including nearby Texas, Arizona, Utah and Oklahoma.
New York: A couple was taken from a New York City ferry in handcuffs after refusing the captain’s order to wear masks and holding up the ferry’s departure for more than an hour while they stood defiantly on the top deck. Officers were called to the pier in Brooklyn Bridge Park about 10 p.m. Saturday when a ferry captain reported disorderly people, police said. The captain told officers the 53-year-old man and 37-year-old woman refused to get off the boat when they were told to leave for not wearing masks. The news site Gothamist reports the pair claimed they have a constitutional right to ride mask-free because they have a medical condition that exempts them from the governor’s coronavirus protection order. They declined to provide evidence of their medical condition to an officer.
Wilmington: Many coastal vacation rental companies say it’s been a busy summer despite the coronavirus pandemic, and they’re not expecting a slowdown anytime soon. Long-term rental reservations in the fall are pouring in, representatives for companies along the coast said. “The rest of September and October are still insanely busy, with a lot of longer-term rentals coming off the market for two or three months,” Intracoastal Vacation Rentals property manager Ian Kraus told the newspaper. That’s coming after what Kraus described as the busiest summer he’s experienced. Sloane Realty Vacations, which serves Ocean Isle Beach and Sunset Beach in Brunswick County, has also had an “exceptionally good summer,” according to general manager Whitney Sauls. Sauls said the company has been at 100% capacity, something she was not expecting in the spring.
Bismarck: Gov. Doug Burgum on Thursday raised the coronavirus risk levels in several counties but issued no new restrictions, as the state’s number of active COVID-19 cases continued to grow and its rate of positive tests rose to the highest in the nation. Burgum moved eight counties from low-risk to moderate under the state’s plan to set coronavirus management protocols, saying the move is necessary to reverse the state’s current direction. The guidance for moderate-risk counties includes cutting capacity in bars and restaurants from 75% to 50% and reducing the number of people allowed at large gatherings. “We really want to raise awareness that an elevated risk level does exist,” Burgum said. Burgum formed task forces to tackle virus hot spots earlier this summer in the state’s most populous areas of Fargo and Bismarck. But he has avoided statewide mandates such as mask-wearing, instead stressing personal responsibility.
Columbus: Hundreds of positive coronavirus cases are being reported at colleges in the state as more students return to campuses, though many of them are doing at least some of their learning online rather than in person. At Miami University, which started classes remotely but saw many students return to the Oxford area anyway, just over 700 student cases and two involving employees were reported. With move-ins for on-campus students scheduled in mid-September and hopes of resuming some in-person learning after that, the school has warned that students who don’t participate in surveillance testing as required may be prohibited from going to classes. Ohio State University tallied 882 cases among students the first two weeks of the semester. It also logged 20 cases among employees in August. Another 250-plus coronavirus cases have been reported at other campuses around Ohio, spread across at least a dozen public and private colleges.
Tulsa: A program designed to stem evictions in the city amid the pandemic fell flat when lawyers advised landlords that the deal offering to pay owed rent was too risky. The Landlord Tenant Relief Program was prepared to pay the rent for anyone who needed help using public donations and unlimited funding from a private donor. In exchange, landlords had to agree not to evict tenants for the next three months. But organizers said they provided rent for less than 15% of eligible eviction cases. Attorneys for eviction services companies that handle two-thirds of Tulsa’s evictions said they had warned landlords it was a risk to waive their eviction rights. Tenants attorney Eric Hallett of Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma said he thought the program was going to “save the day” for struggling families in a city listed as the nation’s 11th-biggest evictor in a 2016 survey by Princeton University’s Eviction Lab. “It should have; it was free money,” Hallett said.
Portland: The Oregon Employment Department erroneously paid about $100,000 in unemployment benefits to 155 eastern Oregon school district staff who were furloughed last spring, according to the Baker School District. Now the state wants the money back. The district learned about the problem last week, said Michelle Glover, the schools’ business manager. She said the overpayments amounted to between $630 and $730 per employee, The Oregonian/OregonLive reports. The state isn’t demanding that workers repay it now, according to Glover. But if they don’t, the state will deduct the funds from any future unemployment claims those staffers make. “This is going to be a hardship on our staff,” Glover wrote in an email Thursday. The employment department has struggled to administer its benefits program during the pandemic.
Pittsburgh: Federal agents searched two nursing homes near the city Thursday, one of which had the worst coronavirus outbreak of any in Pennsylvania and was already being investigated by the state on suspicion of criminal neglect. U.S. Attorney Scott Brady said in a statement that agents were at the Brighton Rehabilitation and Wellness Center in Beaver County, as well as at the Mount Lebanon Rehabilitation and Wellness Center, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports. The agents were from the FBI, the Office of Inspector General for Health and Human Services, IRS-Criminal Investigation and state attorney general’s office, Brady said. More than 330 of the for-profit Brighton nursing home’s residents tested positive for the virus since the end of March, and at least 82 of them died, the newspaper reports.
Providence: Nearly 300 businesses in areas such as hospitality, personal services, banking, fitness and retail have received perfect scores on their COVID-19 compliance inspections, according to the state’s COVID-19 Enforcement Task Force. The task force is a collaboration between the Rhode Island Department of Health and Rhode Island Department of Business Regulation. Health officials say the inspections announced Friday are intended to measure compliance with industry-specific COVID-19 requirements. Also last week, five businesses received compliance orders, three businesses received combination compliance orders and immediate compliance orders, and one business received a partial immediate compliance order for failing to comply with a range of public health directives related to COVID-19.
Columbia: New cases of the coronavirus continue to increase, with state health officials reporting 918 more Saturday. The Department of Health and Environmental Control said almost 15% of those new cases were in Richland County as college students return to the University of South Carolina and other campuses. DHEC also confirmed 32 new deaths related to the virus. According to data from the Associated Press, the rolling average of daily new cases over the past two weeks has increased by about 33%. Ahead of the Labor Day weekend, health experts warned of a possible spike in cases as residents take vacations to crowded beaches and students return to schools. The number of active COVID-19 cases on University of South Carolina’s campus has risen to 1,443, the school announced Friday. When classes began Aug. 20, the university had 46 active cases. At least 1 in every 25 students currently has the virus.
Brookings: Daktronics Inc. is cutting about 100 jobs as the company anticipates financial setbacks created by the coronavirus pandemic. The Brookings-based maker of electronic displays and billboards reported its net sales, net income and cash generated by operations for the first fiscal quarter were down. The company reported net sales dropped from $180.3 million to $143.6 million for the quarter, while cash generated dropped from $18.2 million to $8.5 million. The company said the job cuts will affect employees across the United States and Canada. The layoffs equal less than 4% of the company’s workforce.
Nashville: Before the state’s COVID-19 liability bill passed Aug. 13, its proponents reassured the public and fellow legislators that the bill’s tougher requirements to file pandemic-related lawsuits against businesses wouldn’t completely block sick workers from financial help. The law doesn’t affect workers’ compensation insurance, they said, leaving it as the only apparent avenue for workers who contract COVID-19 on the job to seek compensation. But critics argue that workers’ compensation is a system fraught with barriers to employees and more equipped to process claims of injuries than illnesses like COVID-19, leaving workers unlikely to receive the money they need to stay afloat while recovering. From March 1 through Aug. 16, Tennessee insurers approved 1,226 of the 2,081 total workers’ compensation claims associated with COVID-19 – just under 59%, according to state data.
Austin: State health officials reported 2,800 new coronavirus cases Saturday and 64 additional deaths due to COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus. The day before, officials reported 4,456 new coronavirus cases in the state and 177 additional deaths from COVID-19. There have been 638,310 total confirmed cases in the state and 13,472 deaths, up from 635,315 cases and 13,408 deaths Saturday, according to he Texas Department of State Health Services. The true number of cases in Texas is likely higher because many people haven’t been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected and not feel sick. The health department reported 81,426 estimated active cases and said an estimated 543,412 people have recovered.
Salt Lake City: The state will aim to be prepared to distribute a coronavirus vaccine once it becomes available, Gov. Gary Herbert said at a weekly briefing Thursday – a week after the federal government told states to be ready for distribution by Nov. 1. Herbert did not clarify whether Utah will expedite the licensing and permitting processes as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had requested. The ramped-up distribution timeline has raised concerns among public health experts that the vaccine’s approval may be driven by political considerations ahead of a presidential election, rather than science. The state is experiencing a modest increase in new cases, and the rolling seven-day positivity rate has increased from 8.7% to 9.4% over the past week. State epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn encouraged residents to “remain vigilant” and get tested if they are in close contact with people infected with COVID-19.
Montpelier: The Vermont Agency of Agriculture is encouraging farmers, producers and working lands businesses to apply for two major coronavirus relief grant programs. The deadline to apply is Oct. 1. The purpose of the federal funding is help stabilize agricultural businesses that suffered lost revenues and expenses related to the COVID-19 public health emergency, the agency said. “We do not want to leave any money on the table,” Agriculture Secretary Anson Tebbetts said in a statement. “We have already sent millions to hundreds, but there is more money available. From organic farmers to sugar makers to slaughterhouses, there is money available to help these businesses.”
Fredericksburg: The city is already making plans for how to safely hold its annual Christmas parade during the coronavirus pandemic. Instead of the usual format, Fredericksburg will host a “reverse parade,” with stationary floats and spectators who drive by, the Free Lance-Star reports. The setup will be similar to a drive-thru holiday lights display and will allow for spacing between parade entrants. The theme is “Light up the Season,” and registration for float entrants starts this week.
Seattle: Four employees and a patient at Virginia Mason Medical Center in the city have tested positive for the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, officials said. The infections have been connected to someone who visited the patient. The visitor tested positive after being at the hospital, said Gale Robinette, Virginia Mason’s spokesperson and media relations manager. The four employees and the patient have been quarantined, and every patient and employee who works on that floor has been tested, with no new infections discovered, Robinette said. “We are continuing our surveillance efforts and working closely with Public Health – Seattle & King County,” he said. Kate Cole, a spokesperson for Public Health – Seattle & King County, said the agency is working with Virginia Mason, and the five infections “meets our definition for a healthcare setting outbreak.”
Charleston: Classes in nine of the state’s 55 counties will be held remotely after West Virginia issued an updated color-coded map determining their status for the start of the school year. The map issued Saturday night shows the rate of confirmed community-spread coronavirus cases per 100,000 residents in each county. The categories, in order of increasing severity, are green, yellow, orange and red. The school year starts Tuesday. The nine counties in orange or red must reduce their virus case rates to yellow or green before schools there can conduct in-person learning. Athletic contests in those counties also cannot be held. Students statewide have been out of classrooms since Gov. Jim Justice shut down in-person learning in mid-March. Monongalia County, home of West Virginia University, was the only county in red. The counties in orange are Fayette, Kanawha, Logan, Mercer, Mingo, Monroe, Putnam and Wayne.
Milwaukee: Health officials have directed the members of nine fraternities and sororities at the University of Wisconsin-Madison to quarantine themselves after 38 students tested positive for COVID-19. The orders from UW-Madison and Dane County health officials affect 420 Greek life students, who have been instructed to quarantine for two weeks. UW-Madison is also requiring COVID-19 tests for students who live in the 38 Greek life houses. The university did not say if the cases were linked to any parties or large gatherings. But the Madison city attorney’s office last month warned two fraternities that their gatherings violated local public health orders. So far, 440 UW-Madison students have tested positive for COVID-19, according to the university.
Casper: The University of Wyoming paused its planned return to in-person classes after announcing five students tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday. University President Ed Seidel said the pause would be necessary to gather more information to reexamine reopening plans moving forward, the Casper Star-Tribune reports. The announcement came after the university said last week that five or more positive COVID-19 tests from students or employees in Laramie in a single day would prompt a five-day pause. Officials told students to shelter in place during the break and only interact with people in their current living spaces. All classes will be held online during the pause, and in-person activities are suspended. Students scheduled to move into university housing are still able to do so this weekend, officials said. The five-day period ends Wednesday, two days after the school was expected to resume some in-person classes.
From USA TODAY Network and wire reports
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Eviction problems, student pushback: News from around our 50 states