Montgomery: The city might become the state’s latest to require the wearing of face masks in public amid rising COVID-19 cases. Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed said Friday that the proposal may be brought to the City Council as soon as Tuesday. Birmingham currently has an ordinance requiring face masks in public. The Birmingham City Council on Friday voted to extend the ordinance through June 12. “I don’t go from encouragement to enforcement very easily,” Reed said. “However, right now we have not seen the behavior that we need to see, nor have we seen the data showing us that the encouragement approach is working.” Montgomery has become an emerging hot spot for coronavirus. State Health Officer Scott Harris said last week that there is evidence of community spread instead of cases being linked to a singular location, like a nursing home, or an event.
Anchorage: The state on Sunday reported 27 new coronavirus cases, the largest one-day increase reported since the start of the pandemic. Cases have spiked since Gov. Mike Dunleavy, a Republican, loosened restrictions put into place to guard against the virus’s spread. The state on April 24 began easing restrictions on businesses. Most restrictions on businesses were lifted May 22, though some local governments opened later. Dunleavy said at the time that he expected case numbers would rise and that the state would respond to any spikes or clusters. Sunday’s count was the most single-day cases since 22 were reported April 6. This comes after 13 new cases were reported Thursday, which was the state’s first double-digit increase in cases in six weeks. The state now has a total of 460 cases involving residents. Its death count remains at 10, and a death attributed to COVID-19 hasn’t been recorded since May 5.
Eloy: Immigrants detained at the La Palma Correctional Center have become increasingly desperate as the coronavirus outbreak at the facility has grown into one of the biggest in the nation. At least 76 undocumented immigrants detained at the 3,060-bed detention center had tested positive for COVID-19 as of Saturday. That is sixth-largest coronavirus outbreak at an immigration detention facility in the country, according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement. La Palma Correctional Center, a former prison, is run by the private, for-profit company CoreCivic, under a contract with ICE. The outbreak at La Palma has become increasingly concerning in light of two detainees’ recent deaths of coronavirus complications at other detention centers. In letters written to relatives and immigration advocates, detainees, some with medical conditions, say they are fearful of becoming infected and dying because they don’t have any way to social distance.
Little Rock: The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Arkansas has surpassed 7,000, and one additional death is reported due to COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, the Arkansas Department of Health said. The department had reported at least 7,253 cases and 133 deaths by Monday morning, up from 6,777 cases and 132 deaths reported Friday. The true number is likely higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected and not feel sick. The state health department reported that 5,275 people have recovered from the virus and that 115 were hospitalized, versus 113 hospitalizations reported Friday.
Palm Springs: Two months after Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the state would be the nation’s first placed under a stay-at-home order lasting “many, many months,” he began rolling back restrictions in favor of reopening businesses. But when counties initially couldn’t meet stringent reopening metrics, Newsom loosened those criteria. Counties soon began receiving the green light to restore portions of their economies even though many regions still struggled to show a significant downward trend in COVID-19 cases and lacked resources to track and respond to potential upticks. Of the 49 counties that received approval to speed along this quicker path to normalcy, 49% failed to meet at least one of the reopening criteria mandated by the state, according to an analysis by the Palm Springs Desert Sun. Nearly a third of the counties that received authorization didn’t have enough contact tracers, and more than 20% failed to conduct enough coronavirus tests on a daily basis.
Fort Collins: The more than 4 million visitors who flock to Rocky Mountain National Park each year will see significant changes as the park balances visitors’ safety with their love of nature while reopening after its COVID-19 shutdown. National Park Service sites have taken a financial hit as many closed for two months or more. Rocky Mountain National Park – the third-most-visited national park – partially reopened Wednesday after shutting down March 20. Kyle Patterson, spokesperson for the park, said last year it collected about $2 million in entrance and campground fees from mid-March through May. Without that revenue and with new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines in place that restricted the park’s ability to house and train seasonal workers, the park will only partially open some of its campgrounds and restrooms, while evaluating the opening of others.
New London: Health care workers rallied Saturday to protest what they called a shortage of personal protective equipment and pay tribute to a nurse’s aide who died last month after contracting the coronavirus. Gov. Ned Lamont, Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz and U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-Conn., joined workers for Lawrence + Memorial Hospital and the Visiting Nurses Association of Southeastern Connecticut for the rally. Union leaders said nurses, aides and other health care workers are risking their lives caring for COVID-19 patients while lacking sufficient protective gear such as masks and gowns to keep them safe. People at the rally also remembered Elva Graveline, a 52-year-old nurse’s aide at Lawrence + Memorial who contracted the coronavirus and died May 19. Hospital officials said in a statement Saturday that workers have not been without protective gear during the pandemic and credited staff for doing a “phenomenal job.”
Wilmington: A federal judge and a federal appeals panel have rejected a request from a preacher for an emergency injunction to lift state restrictions on church worship to prevent spread of the coronavirus. Neither the ruling Friday from a judge in Wilmington nor the 2-1 ruling Saturday from the federal appeals court in Philadelphia end the matter. They only leave the restrictions in place while a judge considers the merits of the issue. Christopher Allan Bullock, a well-known Wilmington pastor and community activist, had requested an emergency injunction to lift the restrictions ahead of Sunday, which was Pentecost. Judge Colm Connolly said the pastor could not prove he would be irreparably harmed, a legal standard required for issuing an injunction. But he made clear in his ruling that Bullock’s claims “implicate one of our most treasured rights protected by the Constitution – the right to exercise freely one’s religion.”
District of Columbia
Washington: The district lowered the speed limit on streets to 20 miles per hour effective Monday, WUSA-TV reports. The change was made in an effort to keep D.C. streets safe during the pandemic and social distancing era after officials noted an increase in speeding on city streets. D.C.’s seven-day moving average for new coronavirus cases has dropped to 101 – the lowest number since April 6.
Key Largo: The Florida Keys reopened for visitors Monday after the tourist-dependent island chain was closed for more than two months to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. As the Keys took down barriers, Miami-Dade County decided to keep its beaches closed because of protests in South Florida and across the country over the May 25 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Roadblocks were taken down shortly after midnight near Key Largo, the northernmost island in the chain. Almost half of all workers in the Keys are employed by hotels, bars and other hospitality industries, and many of the rest are involved in commercial and sport fishing. Richard Stanczyk, owner of Bud N’ Mary’s marina in Islamorada, said the 40 captains who operate fishing boats out of the 76-year-old business have had virtually no customers for weeks and welcome the reopening of the area to visitors.
Atlanta: Emergency officials in some coastal counties are nervously bracing for this year’s hurricane season amid new dangers posed by the coronavirus to people who would require help evacuating. “If we have to evacuate, it’s going to be a nightmare,” said Ty Poppell, director of the Emergency Management Agency in McIntosh County south of Savannah. Poppell said putting evacuees on a bus and maintaining 6 feet of space around each person to help prevent potential exposure to the virus would be a big problem. As of mid-May, the county was still working to update its hurricane response for the virus, Poppell said. In neighboring Liberty County, emergency management director Larry Logan said he didn’t have enough shelters to maintain social distance in case of a mass evacuation. He was concerned that fear of contracting the virus at a shelter would lead more residents to ignore any evacuation orders.
Wailuku: The Maui County Liquor Control Department has issued a written notice of warning to Maui Brewing Co. after an investigation revealed the company violated state law by advertising free hand sanitizer with the sale of liquor. The department released a statement about the notice following its investigation last month into the made-in-house hand sanitizer and giveaway promotions, The Maui News reports. “It is short of subjecting Maui Brewing to an adjudicatory hearing,” the department said. Maui Brewing CEO Garrett Marrero has said the company – which sells food, alcoholic beverages, coffee, soda and merchandise – did not violate rules. It had offered a free 16-ounce hand sanitizer with the purchase of any to-go item, not just alcohol, after its Kihei and Lahaina restaurant locations closed in March amid the coronavirus pandemic. But the giveaway promotion was flagged by the state liquor department and led to an investigation.
Boise: New data shows a recent spike in coronavirus cases has hit Latinos in rural Idaho, an already disproportionately affected community that makes up a third of the state’s cases where the race is known. Data collected from all seven Idaho public health districts has shown a majority of the people who have contracted the coronavirus in multiple Magic Valley counties are Latino, the Idaho Statesman reports. The report released Wednesday showed Latinos made up more than half of the positive coronavirus cases in Lincoln, Minidoka, Gooding, Jerome and Cassia counties. Lincoln County had the highest percentage in Magic Valley, with Latinos making up 78% of the county’s 33 COVID-19 cases. The data provided by other Idaho health districts also shows similar effects on Latino communities, the Statesman reports.
Springfield: The state will offer free meals to school-age children at hundreds of sites this summer, using options such as home delivery and drive-thru distribution to ensure families that need help can get it during the pandemic. The Illinois State Board of Education said more organizations are needed to participate in the summer food program, as the number of families relying on the assistance for meals when school isn’t in session has increased due to the coronavirus outbreak. “COVID-19 has turned many families’ lives upside down,” said State Superintendent of Education Carmen Ayala. “Illinois’ summer meals programs help to ensure that one thing families do not have to worry about is where their children will get their next meal.” Ayala said schools have found safe and creative ways to provide food to students, including curbside pickup and providing meals for multiple days at one time. Families may locate their summer food site by calling (800) 359-2163, texting “FoodIL” to 877-877, or visiting summermealsillinois.org.
Indianapolis: Central Indiana trash haulers have collected record levels of residential trash since a statewide stay-at-home order that’s now being eased took effect in March due to the coronavirus pandemic, officials said. In the wake of that trash surge, Indianapolis city workers and private trash-collecting contractors have experienced longer days for drivers, lengthy lines at the dumping site, increased repairs for hard-running trucks and higher expenses. Republic Services, which serves homes in Marion County and many of Indianapolis’ surrounding suburban counties, saw the volume of weekly residential trash increase 28% when colleges and schools closed and families began eating at home and ordering takeout, the Indianapolis Business Journal reports. Residents stuck at home also started spring cleaning that resulted in a surge of castoffs, which Republic said led to a 48% increase of trash in April.
Des Moines: Another five people with COVID-19 have died, and there have been an additional 204 positive cases, the state reported Monday morning. The state confirmed 538 COVID-19-related deaths, an increase of five since the state’s tally at 10 a.m. Sunday. According to the state’s coronavirus.Iowa.gov website, two deaths were reported for Sunday. COVID-19 is the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus. The state reported Monday that there were 19,688 confirmed cases of COVID-19, an increase of 204 since Sunday. Of the 19,688 people who have tested positive, 11,185 have recovered, according to the state. The total number of people tested is 159,292. Gov. Kim Reynolds announced last week that she will no longer be holding daily coronavirus news conferences. Instead, she plans to hold them on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Wichita: Hundreds of people in the state’s largest city flocked to bars and clubs on the first weekend they were open after Gov. Laura Kelly and local officials lifted restrictions meant to check the spread of the coronavirus. By 11 p.m. Friday, bars in the Old Town district of downtown Wichita were packing in customers for a celebration after being closed for two months, The Wichita Eagle reports. Knots of people moved through the streets, hugging friends they met and, in some cases, turning cartwheels. “It feels like a freaking high school reunion,” said Megan Gilbert, who works in Old Town and for a roofing company. “I’m seeing all of these people that it seems like I haven’t seen in years.” Kelly last week converted her directives for a phased reopening of the state’s economy into recommendations for local officials to follow. Her reopening plan would have kept bars and nightclubs closed over the weekend.
Frankfort: More of the state’s parks are set to reopen this month. Four Kentucky State Park lodges – Lake Cumberland State Resort Park, Lake Barkley State Resort Park, Blue Licks Battlefield State Resort Park and Buckhorn Lake State Resort Park – that were previously designated as part of the state’s coronavirus emergency response will reopen June 8, Gov. Andy Beshear announced. A decline in cases of the virus means the lodging is no longer necessary for response efforts, officials said. Officials also plan to reopen Kentucky Horse Park on June 11. “We are making every effort to safely reopen tourism attractions across the commonwealth and offer in-state travel opportunities for Kentuckians to enjoy,” Beshear said. “The revenue generated from in-state travel will foster economic growth in local communities and help Kentucky rebound with a healthy economy.” Health officials still stress the need for masks and social distancing.
New Orleans: The Audubon Zoo plans to reopen Wednesday with special guidelines in place designed to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. According to the guidelines announced by the zoo Friday, it will open at 25% capacity, and reservations will be required in order to keep numbers low and assist in keeping visitors spread out. “We look forward to reconnecting the community with the animals in our care,” Audubon Nature Institute President and CEO Ron Forman said in a statement. “While our doors were closed to help stop the spread of COVID-19, Audubon’s dedicated staff continued to provide outstanding care for our animals and parks.” The zoo said in a news release that it had consulted with other zoo and aquarium officials around the country and with experts at other museums and attractions in Louisiana to come up with its reopening plan.
Portland: A federal judge has denied a motion in a lawsuit by some campground operators who believe a state quarantine order for out-of-state visitors is unconstitutional. The move came Friday, hours after the U.S. Department of Justice said it filed court papers in support of campground operators. The campgrounds sued in federal court saying they believe the rule treats Maine residents more favorably than out-of-state residents, and that is hurting them economically. U.S. District Judge Lance Walker on Friday denied a motion for a preliminary injunction, allowing the rule to stand while the lawsuit proceeds, the Portland Press Herald reports. Gov. Janet Mills, a Democrat, said that the quarantine is “a proven tool to prevent the spread of this deadly disease” and that the Justice Department is “making a concerted effort to undermine the health of the people of Maine.”
College Park: The 12 state schools that constitute the University System of Maryland will use a mix of in-person and remote learning when they reopen in the fall. The system, which includes the flagship University of Maryland at College Park, announced a framework Friday for schools to respond to the coronavirus. Each school will announce its own specific plans in the next two weeks as to how they’ll adjust their calendars and classroom settings. The release said all schools will provide at least some on-campus, in-person instruction in combination with remote learning. Some schools may adjust calendars to start the fall semester as early as July so the semester can conclude by Thanksgiving. All schools will enact plans to reduce crowding in residence and dining halls.
Boston: City officials are concerned that many Asian American residents may not be getting tested for the new coronavirus. Boston’s Chinatown zip code, where half the residents are of Asian descent, is one of the city’s neighborhoods with the lowest percentage of positive coronavirus cases, Marty Martinez, the city’s chief of Health and Human Services, told the Boston Globe. Only 13% of those tested were positive, compared to the citywide cumulative percentage of 26%. Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders make up just less than 10% of Boston’s population but account for only 4% of confirmed COVID-19 cases and 6% of deaths, according the newspaper. At the same time, black residents, who comprise 25% of the city’s population, account for 38% of COVID-19 infections and 35% of deaths, in cases where the race and ethnicity is known. Latinos make up nearly 20% of the Boston population and account for 25% of cases and 11% of deaths.
Detroit: Public health officials worry future outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases could emerge in the state, as vaccination rates have dramatically fallen during the coronavirus pandemic. Vaccination rates for those 18 and younger fell by more than 20%, according to a study published by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Measles vaccinations in particular dropped about 76% among 16-month-old children. Other diseases include mumps, rubella, diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis, also known as whooping cough. Many parents worried about the virus have kept their young children home, doctors say. “I’m extremely concerned that anytime we see a drop-off in our vaccine rates that it does leave the door open for a potential outbreak,” Bob Swanson, director of the division of immunization at the Michigan Department of Public Health, told The Detroit News.
Minneapolis: Minnesota health officials reported 10 new deaths from COVID-19 on Monday, raising the state’s death toll to 1,050 on the same day Gov. Tim Walz allowed restaurants and bars to start offering outdoor dining. Salons and barbershops were also able to reopen starting Monday. The number of positive tests for the coronavirus grew Monday by 361, raising the state total to 25,208. The number of health care workers who have been infected rose to 2,725. The latest state figures showed 253 patients in Minnesota intensive care units Monday.
Jackson: The Mississippi Department of Corrections says it will soon restart the transfer of inmates from county jails into state prisons and from one prison to another – a practice that has been on hold for about two months because of the coronavirus pandemic. The department said in a news release Friday that transfers will be done in a “limited, controlled and safe manner,” beginning in mid-June. Mississippi has about 18,000 prisoners in custody. As of Friday, 28 inmates and 17 employees had tested positive for COVID-19, the department said. Advocates for inmate safety have questioned whether Mississippi is doing enough testing for the highly contagious virus. Inmates will be quarantined at least 14 days before being moved out of South Mississippi Correctional Institution, Central Mississippi Correctional Facility or the privately run Tallahatchie County Correctional Facility.
O’Fallon: Casinos are beginning to reopen in the state after a more than two-month shutdown caused by the coronavirus, and it was clear Monday that many people were eager to gamble. Nearly 100 people lined up awaiting the 9 a.m. reopening of Lumiere Place casino in downtown St. Louis, including many older adults, most wearing masks, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. According to state health department data, 579 of the 772 people in Missouri who have died from COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, were age 70 or older. Darryl Foster, 54, told the newspaper he wasn’t worried about the virus. “I look at it like it is what it is,” he said. “If it’s gonna get you, it’s gonna get you.” In the Kansas City area, gambling was resuming at Ameristar, Argosy, Isle of Capri and Harrah’s. The Kansas City Star reported several casinos would operate at a limited capacity, and some amenities such as live entertainment and buffets would remain closed.
Bozeman: The Montana entrances to Yellowstone are still closed, but that hasn’t stopped several Big Sky tour companies from teaming up to be ready when those gates do open. Big Sky Adventures & Tours, Discover Yellowstone Tours, Yellowstone Scenic Tours, Yellowstone Tour Guide and Yellowstone Touring Company are normally in competition to get tourists on their vehicles and into the park. But this year is far from normal. “It makes more sense for us to work together and put aside competition and make a common plan so people feel safe,” said Andrea Saari, a co-owner and guide with Big Sky Adventures and Tours. The five companies got together to create a COVID-19 operating plan to submit to the park, a requirement for all commercial business going in and out of Yellowstone. Each company submitted its own copy, and, in a memo dated May 17, the park accepted Big Sky Adventures & Tours’ operating plan.
Lincoln: Bars, zoos, swimming pools and other public venues were allowed to reopen Monday even as the coronavirus pandemic continues to loom as a major public health threat. The new, lighter restrictions approved by Gov. Pete Ricketts went into effect in 89 of Nebraska’s 93 counties. The new rules also allowed non-contact sports such as baseball, softball and volleyball to resume practices Monday, and games can begin June 18. Rodeos can also resume Monday, but contact sports such as football, basketball and wrestling will remain prohibited. Ricketts imposed the rules to try to prevent the coronavirus from spreading and overwhelming the state’s hospitals. State officials confirmed another 196 new cases Sunday, bringing the statewide total to 14,101. Of that number, 170 people have died from the virus. More than 103,800 people have been tested so far.
Carson City: Health officials are reporting the state’s total number of COVID-19 cases is now past 8,600. The state Department of Health and Human Services updated its testing data Monday with a new total of 8,688 positive coronavirus cases. The number of known deaths is now up to 421. Gov. Steve Sisolak, a Democrat, last week eased closure orders enacted to prevent groups of people from gathering and possibly spreading communicable COVID-19. The governor allowed a second wave of businesses including bars and health facilities to reopen Friday and raised from 10 to 50 the number of people allowed at social gatherings, including religious services. He said gambling can resume Thursday under strict rules and oversight of gambling regulators. Casino companies have begun calling back some of their hundreds of thousands of furloughed employees.
Concord: The owner of the Mount Washington Cog Railway implored a task force Monday to allow his business to reopen, even if it means stopping short of the summit of the Northeast’s highest peak. Wayne Presby, owner of the 150-year-old tourist train, presented proposed rules to the governor’s Economic Reopening Task Force that include initially limiting passenger car capacity to 50%, requiring passengers to wear face coverings, and running separate trains for New Hampshire residents and out-of-staters. By mid-July, capacity restrictions would be lifted, and individuals from any state would be allowed on all trains. “We also have the ability to offer shorter trips to reduce the time spent by guests in confined spaces,” he said. “If the committee feels it’s inappropriate for us to be taking trips all the way to the summit of Mount Washington, we can limit those to trips only partway up the mountain.”
Trenton: Shoppers will soon be able to enter nonessential retail establishments, and restaurants may allow outdoor dining as of June 15, Gov. Phil Murphy said Monday. Salons and barbershops can serve customers June 22, if coronavirus cases and hospitalizations continue to decline, he said. Currently, retail stores and restaurants may only offer customers drive-thru or pickup options, but the governor said retail shops could let in a fraction of their capacity inside the stores. Murphy said the state will next discuss how gyms and health clubs can reopen safely but did not give an anticipated reopening date. Murphy has been taking a piecemeal approach to lifting measures meant to stem the spread of the coronavirus, announcing new measures each day. All day cares can reopen June 15, non-contact youth sports can resume June 22, and children can attend summer camps July 6. Indoor religious services may allow more people than the current 10 inside starting June 12 if coronavirus data continues to trend downward.
Albuquerque: The state’s largest electric provider is asking state regulators to consider a proposal that would allow it to recover fixed service costs independent of how much electricity is actually consumed by customers. Public Service Co. of New Mexico is pursing what is known as decoupling, pointing to uncertainty amid the coronavirus pandemic. The utility recently filed its request with the Public Regulation Commission after announcing its intentions to shareholders in May. “Decoupling is designed to collect fixed costs – no more, no less,” PNM Director of Pricing Stella Chan told the Albuquerque Journal. “If we over collect, we’ll credit that back to customers, and if we under-collect, we’ll charge customers the difference to recover the costs we incurred.”
New York: Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill Saturday granting death benefits to the families of police officers, public health workers and other front-line workers who have died of the coronavirus. “You gave your lives for us; we will be there for your families going forward,” Cuomo said as he signed the legislation at his daily briefing on the virus. The bill passed by state lawmakers last week provides an accidental death benefit that is more substantial than the regular death benefit that public workers’ families receive. Dozens of police officers, public health workers, transit workers and paramedics have died of COVID-19 in the months since New York became the epicenter of the pandemic in the United States. Cuomo said he will focus this week on providing more testing for the coronavirus and more supplies like masks to neighborhoods in the outer boroughs of New York City where infection rates remain stubbornly high.
Raleigh: As hurricane season began Monday, most of the state’s coastal counties are grappling with shortfalls or concerns about equipment and resources as they balance the dual threat of tropical weather and the COVID-19 pandemic. All 20 counties in the state’s coastal management zone said COVID-19 is factoring into hurricane preparations. Five of those – Chowan, Currituck, Dare, Hyde and Washington – said overall plans hadn’t changed, but they’re ready to adjust to the virus if needed. Fifteen counties acknowledged shortfalls or concerns about supplies, with protective gear being the most common worry during a national shortage. However, three others – Dare, New Hanover and Pender – said they have sufficient resources for hurricane season. The pandemic increases the stakes for a state hit hard in recent years by hurricanes Florence and Matthew. North Carolina Emergency Management Director Mike Sprayberry said hotels, classrooms and dorms are being considered as shelters to increase social distancing.
Bismarck: State corrections officials are seeking up to $2.5 million in federal COVID-19 aid to give temporary pay increases to employees who are required to be in close contact with prisoners and others during the pandemic. The state’s top budget writer said Friday that other agencies whose workers cannot practice social distancing as part of their job may submit similar requests. The Department of Corrections will request the funds next month from the state’s Emergency Commission, which is headed by Gov. Doug Burgum. The money would come from the $1.25 billion that was given to the state in the federal stimulus package approved in March. Dave Krabbenhoft, the agency’s director of administration, said monthly pay increases of up to $300 would be provided until the end of the year to each of the more than 800 employees who qualify for the “hazard pay.”
Cincinnati: Child care providers can begin to reopen this week, but they will look much different from how they did in March. There are new rules for cleaning and washing hands. Classrooms are capped at six for infants and toddlers or nine children for preschoolers and school-age children – half or fewer than they held before the coronavirus pandemic. Day camps were also given the green light to open Sunday with groups of nine children at most. But not all will start this week. Some might not open at all. Learning Grove, a nonprofit child care provider that has centers in Ohio and Kentucky with 60% low-income children, is staggering its openings. Some centers will open Monday and others June 8. Patricia Gleason, chief operating officer, said two state grants will help keep Learning Grove centers afloat for about two months. The agency is losing $10,000 to $25,000 per site per month, she said, because of pandemic-related rules.
Oklahoma City: State prisons will reopen for inmate visitation starting next weekend, but with precautions to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, according to the state Department of Correction. Visitors must remain in their vehicle until called, wear a mask provided by the facility, complete a health screening, show no symptoms of the virus and maintain social distancing, the department said Friday. Visitors will be allowed to carry only an identification card, car key, and baby care items if a young child is present. The DOC suspended inmate visitation in March in an effort to prevent the spread of the virus.
Hood River: State officials disclosed Friday that a Hood River County pear-packing company is the site of the latest COVID-19 outbreak connected to the agriculture industry. Six employees of Duckwall Fruit have tested positive for coronavirus, the Oregon Health Authority said. Duckwall Fruit is the first employer identified by state officials after they announced Thursday that they would disclose workplace outbreaks of at least five infections, The Oregonian/OregonLive reports. The decision came after the state received heavy criticism for initially declining to identify Townsend Farms in Multnomah County, which has had two outbreaks since late April, totaling more than 100 coronavirus cases. The investigation into the Duckwall Fruit outbreak started Friday, the state said. Officials say they are working with the business to address the outbreak and protect the health of workers.
Harrisburg: State officials reported comparatively low figures for new COVID-19 infections and deaths Monday, a sign the pandemic’s impact may be on the wane. The Health Department said there were 12 additional deaths, bringing the total number this year to 5,567, of which 3,557 have occurred among nursing homes or personal care facilities. The agency said 356 new cases were reported, a figure that may reflect that reports from weekends have generally brought lower numbers. So far more than 72,000 Pennsylvanians have had confirmed cases of COVID-19. The number of infections is thought to be far higher than the confirmed count because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected without feeling sick.
Providence: Malls welcomed shoppers Monday as the state moves into the second phase of its economic restart. Providence Place and the Warwick Mall were both reopening late in the morning. Both closed in mid-March in response to the coronavirus crisis. The shopping centers are placing hand-sanitizing stations in common areas and will undergo frequent cleanings. At Providence Place, the food court will be open but with adjusted seating to maintain social distancing. Providence Place is also offering curbside pickup. Hair stylists, nail salons, gyms and child care centers are among the businesses that were allowed to open with restrictions Monday. Restaurants will also be allowed to offer indoor dining, but with limited capacity.
Charleston: As the debate heats up over how to secure restaurant spaces during the coronavirus pandemic, a mainstay of downtown Charleston dining has come up with a particularly summery solution, The Post and Courier reports. “It’s a hard-core, full-height, double-wide lifeguard tower,” Edmund’s Oast owner Scott Shor said proudly, referring to the custom-built elevated watchtower that now looms over the restaurant’s popular patio. Shor was quick to point out that this is no mere social-media ploy, though it’s a sure bet it will pay dividends in free marketing via customers’ Instagram feeds. Like many restaurants reopening in the Charleston area, Edmund’s Oast has incorporated into its reopening plan new workplace roles responsible for overseeing dining areas and ensuring guests are complying with its safety guidelines. At the brewpub they’re calling that job the “lifeguard.”
Pierre: The state has surpassed 5,000 confirmed cases of the coronavius, the South Dakota Department of Health said Monday. State health officials reported 41 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the state’s total to 5,034. The number of active cases was 1,069. The number of deaths reported in South Dakota since the start of the pandemic remains at 62. The Department of Health reported 87 people were hospitalized, an increase of one since Sunday. Of South Dakota’s confirmed coronavirus cases, Minnehaha County, the state’s most populous county, leads with 3,355.
Nashville: A sexual and reproductive health advocacy group is launching a billboard and digital ad campaign intended to show how COVID-19 has exposed inequality, according to a news release. A billboard image released to media by Healthy & Free Tennessee reads, “End mass incarceration. Make parenthood and abortion accessible for everyone. Protect transgender youth.” Efforts to stop the spread of the coronavirus in Tennessee jails and prisons have included releasing inmates who are in jail solely because they cannot afford bail. Criminal justice reform advocates have said changes like that one need to become permanent. Gov. Bill Lee earlier tried to shut down surgical abortions to preserve personal protective equipment for COVID-19, but his executive order was overturned in federal court.
Austin: The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the state rose by nearly 2,000 Sunday, and there were another 24 deaths tied to the disease caused by the new coronavirus, according to health officials. There were at least 64,287 cases and 1,949 deaths, the Texas Department of State Health Services reported Sunday, an increase from 62,338 cases and 1,648 deaths reported Saturday. The true numbers are likely higher, however, because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected and not feel sick. The department also estimated that there were 20,192 active cases and that 42,423 people have recovered.
Logan: With outdoor recreation being one of the few activities available during the COVID-19 pandemic, campsites are undergoing a large uptick in positive and negative use. Local forest rangers are encouraging folks to treat campgrounds respectfully, extinguish campfires and plan ahead for trips. Cache National Forest Logan District Ranger Jennefer Parker said irresponsible gun shooting, garbage and trespassing are all on the rise this season. However, an increase in unattended fires is prompting the most concern. Parker said multiple citations were recently issued for people who “completely walked away” from their campfires. Parker said each time firefighters are called out increases their risk of exposure to the novel coronavirus. Additionally, Parker said the area is drier than usual for this time of year, which could cause a potentially higher fire risk.
Montpelier: The state’s courthouses resumed more routine operations Monday for the first time since mid-March, but people will be required to wear masks and answer questions about their health. Courtroom staff have been instructed to maintain social distancing among the members of the public. “I think it’s going to look different in every courtroom because even if there’s a capacity for, let’s say, 25, not all of our courtrooms will allow for that,” said Vermont chief superior Judge Brian Grearson. The reopenings of the courts comes as a number of additional sectors of the Vermont economy are reopening. Other areas opening include massage therapists, indoor gymnasiums, cleaning services and some other close-contact businesses that will be able to resume limited operations. Vermont on Sunday reported a total of 981 positive cases and 55 deaths from COVID-19 so far.
Norfolk: As hurricane season begins and the pandemic continues, the state’s largest city is facing the prospect of having fewer resources to respond to a major storm. Plummeting tax revenues are raising questions in Virginia Beach about how much funding would be available. Money would be needed for everything from running generators at pump stations to approving contracts to remove downed trees. “We know we get reimbursement down the road from FEMA,” said Erin Sutton, the city’s emergency management director. “But that takes time. And everything we do to respond to a hurricane is out of the city’s budget.” When a hurricane hits, Virginia Beach partners with about 35-plus relief groups, such as food banks, the Red Cross and Catholic Charities. Many have already stepped in to help people who’ve been hurt economically by the pandemic. Before that, some were aiding those affected by last year’s mass shooting at a municipal building.
Seattle: King County planned to apply for approval to enter into a modified Phase 1 on Monday after Gov. Jay Inslee announced he wouldn’t extend the state’s COVID-19 stay-home orders. The Seattle Times reports that County Executive Dow Constantine announced Friday that the county, in consultation with officials at Public Health – Seattle & King County, will apply and begin reopening some business activity with limited or modified openings. The stay-home order, in place since March 23, expired Sunday night. So far, 26 of the state’s 39 counties are approved to enter Phase 2, which allows restaurants and taverns to reopen at half-capacity with limited table sizes; hair and nail salons and barbershops to resume business; and retail stores to reopen for in-store purchases at 30% capacity. It also allows additional outdoor recreation and gatherings with no more than five people outside of a person’s household.
Charleston: Three people have tested positive for the coronavirus at Marshall University as the college is allowing athletes to return to campus for training, officials said Monday. A news release from the school said two student athletes and one staffer tested positive over the weekend. They have been quarantined, and a contact tracing investigation is underway. The college is making all student athletes self-isolate for a week when they return to campus. They must test negative before being allowed to leave. Marshall canceled in-person classes in March but plans to resume them Aug. 24, the college said. The school has reported five total cases since the outbreak began. The new cases come as Gov. Jim Justice moves forward with a plan to lift virus restrictions on sports in the state. The Republican is allowing youth sports teams to begin practicing again June 8, and games can resume with spectators June 22.
Madison: The percentage of new positive COVID-19 cases in the state continued a downward trend Monday, based on the latest figures reported by the Department of Health Services. Only 4% of all tests reported Monday were positive, the third-smallest total in the past two weeks. In total, just over 18,500 people have tested positive in Wisconsin, and 595 have died. That was up by three from Sunday. However, there was a sharp decline in the number of overall tests processed. Gov. Tony Evers in April set a goal of testing 12,000 people a day for the virus, a target he said was needed before the state could safely reopen. However, on Monday only about 3,600 tests were reported as being completed. That was about half of the 7,300 tests reported Sunday and more than three times less that the 13,500 that were done Friday. Evers and health officials have urged anyone who wants a test to get one.
Casper: Vital social services including child care assistance and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program are experiencing growing pressures resulting from the coronavirus pandemic. State Department of Family Services Director Korin Schmidt told lawmakers that additional funding will likely be required to meet rising demand, The Casper Star-Tribune reports. Schmidt told the Joint Committee on Labor, Health and Social Services that family enrollment in programs including SNAP, which provides food to needy families, experienced sharp increases between March and April that will likely continue into the summer. Measures implemented by the United States Department of Agriculture have increased the flexibility of the SNAP program, while the office of Wyoming first lady Jennie Gordon has helped organize funding to feed young people. But a federal block grant to cover child care services is likely to run out.
From USA TODAY Network and wire reports
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Park changes, social-distancing lifeguards: News from around our 50 states