Birmingham: The head of the Alabama Department of Education says state schools are facing a shortage of workers that’s being made worse by the coronavirus pandemic. State Superintendent Eric Mackey told WBRC-TV that schools can’t find enough substitute teachers, bus drivers or nurses. The problem existed last year, he said, and the pandemic has made it worse. Retirees often fill positions including substitute teachers, and many aren’t comfortable being in schools right now because of health concerns. “There’s really not much we can do except to continue to recruit, to continue to try and work with them,” he said. Trucking companies are hiring many people who might otherwise drive school buses since they have commercial driver licenses, Mackey said. Some bus drivers will have to double up and run two routes if more drivers can’t be hired, he said.
Anchorage: The state’s contact tracing program is working well despite undergoing a strain in recent months for the effort to track coronavirus infections, public health officials said. Alaska recently increased the size of its team of contact tracers as the number of new cases went on a downward trajectory, The Anchorage Daily News reports. The efficiency of contact tracing depends on the actions of residents and public officials. “People are (now) getting outreached within 24 hours,” said Dr. Louisa Castrodale, a state epidemiologist. Many businesses were closed and limits on social gatherings put in place in March, limiting contacts by infected people, health officials said. By the end of June, contact tracers were having difficulty tracking the virus as more people went out and mixed in groups. Contact tracers recently began prioritizing cases and stopped following up with everyone, said Tari O’Connor, deputy director of the state Division of Public Health.
Phoenix: Instagram has deleted an account that claimed to throw “COVID parties” at Arizona State University after the school sued Facebook and the owner of the account Thursday on allegations that the account improperly used the school’s logos and trademarks. “We have removed the account in question for violating our policies,” said a spokesperson for Facebook, Instagram’s owner. “We disagree that the account infringes any trademark rights ASU might have.” It is unclear who ran the account. The university’s regents filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court on Thursday. The lawsuit said the account shared misinformation about the coronavirus with students and claimed to be throwing large parties as students returned for fall semester classes the previous Thursday. One alumnus threatened to cut off support for ASU because the person thought the account was affiliated with the university, the lawsuit said.
Little Rock: Some of the state’s public universities have said they will make public information about coronavirus cases on their campuses. While the Arkansas Department of Health has daily reports on COVID-19 virus cases at long-term care facilities and correctional institutions, no such report exists for Arkansas’ residential colleges, though all colleges are required to report cases to the department. Some higher education leaders say they expect universities and colleges eventually to report case data uniformly, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports. Three of the state’s largest universities begin fall classes this week, with some having partial in-person instruction. Several schools already have reported active coronavirus cases on their campuses and usage of their isolation and quarantine rooms to prevent the virus’s spread, with cases more than doubling in the past week at Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia.
San Francisco: Anglers and biologists believe the state is likely to experience an increase of chinook salmon during the fall run resulting from the coronavirus and fewer fish caught over the summer. The annual migration is expected to peak in September, The San Francisco Chronicle reports. State and federal scientists earlier this year forecast 473,200 adult salmon off the San Francisco Bay Area coast from the Sacramento River system, a big jump from 380,000 last year and 224,000 in 2018. The route spanning the Marin Coast through the Golden Gate, Bay-Delta and up the Sacramento River is known as the “Salmon Highway.” The region could experience a “traffic jam” of chinook, also called king salmon, in the coming month, said Keith Fraser of Loch Lomond Live Bait in San Rafael. The season was delayed from its scheduled opening in early April to mid-June, with more than two months of fishing shut down.
Fort Collins: While thousands of Poudre School District students started off the school year Monday in front of a computer screen, some Larimer County charter and private schools have found ways to welcome students back in person while abiding by coronavirus-related restrictions. Loveland Classical Schools will require all students and staff to wear face coverings among other measures when the school year starts Sept. 1. St. Joseph Catholic School in Fort Collins reopened for all in-person learning Aug. 17, following safety protocols put in place in accordance with county guidelines and guidance from the Archdiocese of Denver, Principal Nick Blanco said. Heritage Christian Academy and Resurrection Christian School are also welcoming students back in person. And Liberty Common Charter School in Fort Collins welcomed its students back Monday to classrooms now outfitted with polycarbonate shields at each desk.
Danbury: A spike in coronavirus cases in the city has prompted Western Connecticut State University to temporarily move all classes online and bar students from returning to residence halls for at least two weeks. Nearly 900 students were expected to begin moving into dorms Sunday, but school President John Clark announced the new restrictions Saturday. About 60 students who moved in early are being told to stay on campus for the next two weeks, and commuting students must stay off campus, he said. WSCU had planned for some of its classes to be a combination of in-person and online learning but moved all classes to online-only for at least two weeks because of the new spike in virus cases. Classes will begin online Wednesday as originally planned. The state Department of Public Health issued a coronavirus alert for Danbury on Friday night due to what officials called a serious outbreak in the city.
Wilmington: A $10 million grant program is being made available to organizations in New Castle County to reduce health care inequities caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The program has developed from federal coronavirus-relief funding. “There have been health inequities for generations, and COVID-19 has exacerbated those inequities, particularly in communities of color,” New Castle County Executive Matt Meyer said. “These funds will be used on immediate and urgent needs, as well as to address the root causes of unequal health outcomes in our communities.” Those addressing health equity issues in the county can complete a grant application and submit a proposal to receive funding to continue or expand their efforts to address health disparities in vulnerable communities, the county said. This grant program is part of New Castle County’s CARES Act Task Force’s Promote Health Equity Committee, which launched in June.
District of Columbia
Washington: The district has added three states to its list of high-risk locations from which travelers must self-quarantine for two weeks upon arrival to D.C., WUSA-TV reports. Hawaii and South Dakota were added, and Delaware is back on the list after being removed from the first released list weeks ago. Officials also dropped Montana and New Mexico from the list, no longer deeming the areas high-risk for the coronavirus. The travel order applies to people coming to the district for nonessential activities. Those who are entering the D.C. region for essential travel or after essential travel are urged to monitor any potential symptoms of COVID-19 for 14 days. If they have any symptoms, they must self-quarantine and get tested or seek medical attention. The order does not apply to neighboring states such as Virginia and Maryland.
Miami: A $3 million shipment of ventilators that was stolen earlier this month was recovered in South Florida, the FBI said in a news release. The agency said the ventilators were being prepared for shipment to El Salvador by the United States Agency for International Development when they were stolen sometime around Aug. 8. The theft happened in southwest Miami-Dade County, the agency said. The theft is being investigated by the Boynton Beach Police Department, Miami-Dade Police Department, Medley Police Department, City of Miami Gardens Police Department, Broward Sheriff’s Office, USAID Office of the Inspector General, the FBI Miami’s Major Theft Task Force, and the FBI, the agency said. No additional details were released.
Macon: Strolling through the city’s downtown with a cocktail is no longer limited to Fridays. The Macon-Bibb County Commission has temporarily relaxed liquor laws to allow open containers of alcohol outside in downtown areas from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. every night for the rest of the year, local news outlets report. Commissioners say they’re trying to help businesses that have been hit by a decline in patronage because of COVID-19. Previously, outdoor drinking was allowed only during events of the first Friday of each month. “This supports the health of entrepreneurship and those business owners that are suffering,” said Mayor Pro Tem Al Tillman “It’s time for us to get on board and let’s help our businesses any way we can.” Three commissioners opposed the plan, saying it could cause further spread of COVID-19 and other problems.
Honolulu: The state plans to use at least $10 million in federal coronavirus recovery funds to bolster jobs beyond Hawaii’s vital tourism industry in sectors including agriculture, health care and technology. State officials hope to use the federal money to diversify Hawaii’s economy, The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reports. Democratic Gov. David Ige and state lawmakers are working on how to fully disburse $1.25 billion allocated to Hawaii as part of the federal economic response to the pandemic. Hawaii’s legislation overseeing the funds allocates $10 million for workforce retraining and development programs to help expand the state’s tourism-heavy economy. Democratic state Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz said the initiative will pay about $13 per hour to employees for on-the-job training until the end of the year, when the federal recovery money must be spent.
Boise: Angry, maskless spectators forced themselves into the state House special session on the coronavirus pandemic Monday, shattering a glass door, rushing into the gallery that had limited seating because of the virus and forcing lawmakers to ask for calm in a crowd that included a man carrying an assault-style weapon. After some people shoved their way past Idaho State Police, Republican House Speaker Scott Bedke allowed the gallery to fully open as long as the crowd stopped chanting and was respectful. “I want to always try to avoid violence,” he said later. Bedke said he was more disappointed than surprised at the violence. “I think we’re better than that,” he said. “I think that Idahoans expect more out of their citizens.” The session started with a full gallery and few masks. That carried over into packed committee rooms, where maskless spectators ignored social distancing.
Springfield: The state set another record for tourism before the coronavirus pandemic essentially shut down normal life around the world, officials said. The Illinois Office of Tourism Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity announced Friday that the state welcomed 120 million visitors in 2019. That was the ninth consecutive year Illinois saw tourism growth. Officials noted that COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus, has devastated the tourism industry; shuttered schools and businesses; and required people to stay at home for periods. “Pre-COVID-19, Illinois offered one of the top destinations for travel in the country, supporting thousands of jobs and economic growth for our communities,” said Michael Negron, acting director of the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, which houses the tourism office. The U.S. Travel Association estimates tourists spent $43.1 billion in Illinois last year.
Indianapolis: A federal judge has denied a bid to require the Indiana Election Commission to make voting by mail available to all registered voters this November. The lawsuit is among several challenging the state’s election protocols during the pandemic. Indiana requires voters to have an accepted and specific reason to use an absentee ballot. U.S. District Court Judge J.P. Hanlon said in a 19-page ruling that there’s no constitutional right to vote by mail, saying mail-in absentee voting is available as a convenience, according to The (Northwest Indiana) Times. The judge said while coronavirus “undisputedly presents new and serious challenges, Plaintiffs have not explained why those challenges trigger constitutional protections when the challenges of working mothers, medical personnel, and those working two jobs do not.”
Iowa City: A young child died due to complications from coronavirus in June, the first confirmed death of a minor in Iowa during the pandemic, the state health department belatedly announced Sunday evening. The Iowa Department of Public Health said the state medical examiner’s office concluded its case investigation Aug. 6 into the death of the child, who was under the age of 5. But the death wasn’t reported in the state’s statistics until Saturday, more than two weeks later. The confirmation of the state’s first child death came one day before dozens of school districts began the school year Monday – a development that had many educators and parents already on edge. Gov. Kim Reynolds has ordered schools to reopen for at least 50% in-person instruction, despite a pandemic that has already killed 1,036 people and seen infections soar in recent days.
Wichita: The city’s school district has only received two-thirds of the computers and tablets it has ordered to equip students for distance learning because of worldwide supply chain problems caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Until the supply-and-demand problem clears up, the 50,000-student district is prioritizing its distribution of the 8,000 devices it has received out of an order of 24,000. Children learning at home who don’t have computers or internet access are getting first call on the machines, said Superintendent Alicia Thompson. She said there will be enough equipment on hand for all students in need, The Wichita Eagle reports. Middle and high school students are starting the year online only, the district’s board decided Thursday. Younger students can go in person, although many families are choosing a remote option for them as well.
Louisville: The University of Louisville is requiring students who are taking in-person classes to be tested for the new coronavirus. The mandatory test must be taken between Aug. 24 and Sept. 4, the university said in a statement. The rule applies to students, faculty and staff. The tests are for both those who are on campus and those who plan to be on campus periodically, the statement said. There were 53 positive virus cases out of more than 2,600 tests given as of Aug. 17, according to the university’s health dashboard. The university’s COVID-19 page said it is “now critical for us to quickly identify and isolate positive cases to better limit the virus’s spread in our university community.” The university wants to avoid an online-only semester this fall, the page said. Classes began Aug. 17.
Monroe: The state’s COVID-19 hospitalizations fell below 1,000 Sunday for the first time since July 6. The state reported hospitalizations fell by 110 over two days to 941. Hospitalizations are considered a key metric in determining the trajectory of the infection. Twenty fewer patients were on ventilators Sunday for a total of 152. Sunday’s numbers include two days of data. Saturday is the only day the Louisiana Department of Health doesn’t provide a daily update. The agency reported 1,223 new cases over the weekend for a total of 142,943 since the coronavirus pandemic began. Fifty-nine new deaths were reported for a total of 4,605.
Orono: Students at the University of Maine are returning to campus for the first time since being sent home in March. Monday marked the start of move-in week just days after three students tested positive for the coronavirus. Two of those students are roommates and live off campus, and one student lives in a fraternity house. All three are showing mild symptoms and are quarantining. The university system is testing all students who are returning from out of state and all students who are living in campus residence halls. Meanwhile, Professional Fire Fighters of Maine said three members of the Sanford Fire Department have tested positive for COVID-19, and ten members were still waiting on results of tests. Public health authorities said the state was the site of a total of 21 more reported cases of coronavirus Monday. The state has had more than 4,300 reported cases of the virus. It has also been the site of 131 deaths.
Annapolis: Gov. Larry Hogan’s counsel estimated it would cost more than $5,800 to produce records requested by the Associated Press relating to COVID-19 and business, health and local government groups as the state weighed policies about reopening. In an emailed response to a Maryland Public Information Act request, the counsel for the governor wrote that more than 5,700 records between April 12 and May 22 had been identified as potentially relevant. It would take more than 10 working days to produce the records in the state’s possession, according to the June 8 email from Christopher Mincher, the senior deputy legal counsel. Mincher wrote that it would take about 57 hours for an attorney to review the documents for material that would be exempt from disclosure and 23 hours for a paralegal to produce them. The mid-April to late May time frame was significant in Maryland’s response to the virus.
Boston: The chief of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority said Monday that he won’t rule out service cuts, fare hikes or layoffs as the Boston-area transit agency tries to recover from a steep drop in revenue caused by a massive reduction in ridership during the coronavirus pandemic. The agency is looking for ways of saving money and boosting revenue, MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak told the T’s governing board, according to The Boston Globe. The agency is not projecting riders to return at pre-pandemic levels before the summer of 2022, resulting in a budget gap for the fiscal year that starts next July that could range from $308 million to more than $575 million. The T’s annual operating budget is about $2.3 billion. Ridership is about 20% compared to pre-pandemics levels on most subway lines and close to 40% on buses.
Detroit: Almost half of the men incarcerated at a western Michigan prison have tested positive for COVID-19. Roughly 47%, or 612, of 1,296 prisoners at Muskegon Correctional Facility have tested positive as of last Thursday. Fifteen staff members have also tested positive. Since March, 4,620 of 37,497 state prisoners have tested positive, and 68 prisoners have died. Some prisoners are blaming the prison for an inadequate response to the virus and fear further spread, but prison officials say they’ve taken proper safety steps. State health officials on Sunday reported 768 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 and four related deaths. Overall, Michigan has reported 96,792 confirmed positive cases and 6,393 deaths since the start of the pandemic.
Minneapolis: The COVID-19 pandemic has not stopped the University of Minnesota’s continued land purchases in Stadium Village, the Minnesota Daily reports. Over recent months, the university has pursued the acquisition of high-profile properties on the campus’ eastern edge. The school’s recently approved budget is accounting for revenue losses, while state funding is uncertain amid the pandemic. As a result, some are left questioning the university’s bandwidth to continue purchasing property – totaling more than $30 million in just a few months. But university leaders say the school needs to jump at the chance to own land when available in the highly demanded area. “The University does not take these real estate transactions lightly,” said Leslie Krueger, assistant vice president for planning, space and real estate. “Similarly, in the context of the financial implications of COVID-19, we also normally balance the long-term planning with the short-term challenges that we’re facing.”
Jackson: The Mississippi Public Service Commission has created a new committee that will help identify internet connectivity challenges in the state amid the coronavirus pandemic. The pandemic has highlighted the need for more internet connectivity in the state, Southern District Public Service Commissioner Dane Maxwell said. “Mississippi’s a rural state,” Maxwell said. “We had been preaching this before COVID-19. We’ve been working on it before COVID-19, but it just brought it to everybody’s attention. People nowadays can’t operate without the internet, and that is our main focus.” Telecommunications representative Christa Alexander said broadband is no longer a luxury but a necessity. “You need it for telehealth, teleworking, distance learning. Even going to school now, you don’t have a choice, you have to do everything online and carry on,” she said.
Jefferson City: With Missourians under a stay-at-home order this spring as a coronavirus precaution, the Associated Industries of Missouri began surveying businesses to gauge how they were affected and gather suggestions for reopening the economy. The results went straight to Gov. Mike Parson’s top staff, according to email records provided to the Associated Press under the state Sunshine Law. Less than a week later, the Republican governor announced that all businesses could reopen – one of the quickest restarts nationally. The Missouri business survey is just one of many examples of how governors across the U.S. were inundated with reopening advice from a wide range of industries during a critical early juncture in the nation’s battle against the worst pandemic in a century and the resulting recession. Confirmed COVID-19 cases have surged in Missouri since the state began reopening.
Billings: The majority of the state’s 150,000 public school students return to classes this week, but many will be shadowed by uncertainty after health officials in Yellowstone County warned of possible closures if coronavirus trends keep getting worse. Public school districts statewide are offering at least some level of in-person instruction, ranging from full-time to a mix of online and classroom learning, said Montana Office of Public Instruction spokesman Dylan Klapmeier. The resumption of classes comes as the number of coronavirus cases continues to climb, with more than 700 new virus cases reported in Montana in the past week, including 52 on Monday. Ninety-one people have died. Yellowstone County, which includes the city of Billings, has the highest number of cases by far, with almost 1,800 infections confirmed since the pandemic began. The county accounts for about half of Montana’s active cases.
Lincoln: The state’s education commissioner on Monday urged public schools to remain flexible for students and teachers as they resume classes in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. State Education Commissioner Matthew Blomstedt said his agency will continue to help schools as needed while maintaining its largely hands-off approach that lets individual schools decide how to proceed. State education officials have released nonbinding public health guidelines for schools and worked with local districts to develop coronavirus plans. But they haven’t imposed statewide requirements to specify whether schools should mandate masks or in-person attendance. The result has been a patchwork of approaches throughout Nebraska, with some schools returning to in-class learning while others still provide online coursework. The latter has raised concerns among parents that their children are spending too much time in front of screens.
Reno: McQueen High School has confirmed a case of COVID-19, according to the Washoe County School District. The district did not say if the person was a student or teacher but said the health district is working on contact tracing. The case at McQueen follows a string of recent cases at local schools including Reed, Wooster, Hug and Bishop Manogue high schools. State health officials reported 532 new confirmed COVID-19 cases but no additional deaths as of Sunday. The latest numbers increase Nevada’s totals in the coronavirus outbreak to 65,601 cases and 1,197 deaths. According to Johns Hopkins University data analyzed by the Associated Press, the seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in the state declined over the past two weeks, while the seven-day rolling average for deaths increased.
Concord: More than 50 communities in the state have yet to apply for reimbursement for expenses related to the coronavirus pandemic. Requests must be made by Sept. 15 to be reimbursed for expenses incurred between March 1 and Aug. 31. As of Friday, 51 towns had not applied, according to the Governor’s Office for Emergency Relief and Recovery, which is in charge of distributing the state’s $1.25 billion in federal aid. Communities also can request reimbursement for expenses incurred from Sept. 1 to Oct. 15. That deadline will be Oct. 30. New Hampshire reported another 15 positive cases of the virus Sunday, bringing the state’s total so far to more than 7,100. The number of deaths stands at 429.
Montclair: Eleven students were suspended by Montclair State University for COVID-19 rule violations, according to communications sent to staff and students. A text message reading “Is the Next Message You Want to Get: Pack Your Bags and Go Home?” was sent to students this weekend. It said students had “gathered in large groups to party without masks and social distancing.” “Please understand, there will be no second chances,” the message said. “Any student who violates the safety protocols will be immediately suspended from housing (possibly for the remainder of the year), will be referred to the Director of Student Conduct for disciplinary action and will be immediately de-registered from any courses or programs that have an on-campus component. There are also no refunds for housing.” Andrew Mees, MSU media relations specialist, said the university is one the few in the state to bring students back into dorms.
Albuquerque: Health officials report 98 new confirmed COVID-19 cases in the state and two additional deaths as of Sunday. The latest numbers from the New Mexico Department of Health increase the state’s totals to 24,396 cases and 745 deaths. The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick. According to Johns Hopkins University data analyzed by the Associated Press, the seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in New Mexico decreased over the past two weeks, while the rolling average of deaths was nearly unchanged. The rolling average for new cases decreased from 198 new cases on Aug. 7 to 138 on Aug. 21, while the rolling average for deaths was just under 5 on Aug. 7 and just over 5 on Aug. 21.
New York: Museums across the state and gyms in some parts of the state outside New York City were permitted to reopen starting Monday as coronavirus restrictions are cautiously eased. Under guidelines announced by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, museums will face restrictions including timed ticketing and 25% occupancy. New York City museums that will open over the next few weeks include the Metropolitan Museum of Art on Saturday and the American Museum of Natural History on Sept. 9. Cuomo said gyms and fitness centers could open at 33% capacity starting Monday, but New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city’s gyms would stay closed until at least Sept. 2. Cultural institutions and gyms across the state have been closed since March to stop the spread of the coronavirus, for which New York was the U.S. epicenter. State health officials have reported an infection rate below 1% every day for more than two weeks.
Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina on Saturday identified two more clusters of COVID-19 cases, at Craige residence hall and Alpha Delta Pi sorority house. “The individuals in these clusters have been identified and are isolating and receiving medical monitoring,” the university said. On Friday, UNC-Chapel Hill alerted students, staff and faculty that a cluster of COVID-19 cases turned up at Carmichael residence hall. Six other clusters were found at residence halls and fraternity houses. UNC switched to remote learning Wednesday. Also on Friday, North Carolina State University officials reported four new coronavirus clusters involving 51 cases in three sorority houses and one fraternity house. In the past week, N.C. State reported seven coronavirus clusters, leading the school to announce it would move all undergraduate classes online starting Monday.
Bismarck: The state Department of Health on Sunday reported the death of one additional person with COVID-19, bringing the statewide death toll to 136. The department reported 140 new COVID-19 cases in 16 counties, raising the statewide total since the start of the pandemic to 9,876. Active cases rose by 43 cases to 1,676, a new daily high for the state. The death reported Sunday was a Rolette County man in his 70s with underlying medical conditions. The new cases included 28 in Burleigh County and eight in neighboring Morton County. The region has developed into a hot spot with the reopening of the economy, increased gatherings of people and more public testing. There have been more than 8,000 recoveries in North Dakota since mid-March. There were 52 people still in the hospital Sunday, down one from the previous day.
Columbus: Republican Gov. Mike DeWine should be impeached over his handling of the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, a conservative GOP state House lawmaker said Monday as he announced a long-shot effort to unseat one of Ohio’s most well-known politicians. Cincinnati Rep. John Becker said he has drafted 10 articles of impeachment against the first-term governor in an effort currently backed by two other conservative House lawmakers. Becker accused DeWine of improperly shutting down the March presidential primary, arbitrarily ordering some businesses closed while allowing others to remain open, and instituting an unpopular statewide mask mandate. It was unclear, however, what law that Becker believes DeWine broke that calls for impeachment. “With deaths and hospitalizations from COVID-19 flattened, the Governor continues to press his boot on the throat of Ohio’s economy,” Becker said in a statement.
Oklahoma City: The closure of tribal casinos in the state due to the coronavirus pandemic caused a drop of nearly $30 million in fees paid to the state, the Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association said Monday. The Office of Management and Enterprise Services reported payments totaling nearly $123 million during the fiscal year that ended June 30, down from a record high of about $150 million the previous year, according to the agency’s data. Monthly payments fell from $12.2 million in February to less than $21,000 in March, according to the OMES data. Casinos began reopening in May, when fee payments rose to $2.7 million. Payments reached $11.7 million in June. The Oklahoma State Department of Health on Monday reported 53,522 confirmed coronavirus cases and 730 deaths due to COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus, increases of 357 new cases and four more deaths from Sunday.
Portland: Crowds have been overwhelming state park sites along the north Oregon coast this summer with highway traffic jams, illegal parking and overflowing trash bins amid the coronavirus pandemic, officials said. The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, Oregon Department of Transportation and other local agencies on the state’s coast are teaming up to tackle the issues, the parks department announced Friday. Key among their efforts will be increased enforcement of illegal parking, the agencies said, including ticketing “unsafely parked cars” and towing vehicles when needed, The Oregonian/OregonLive reports. Drivers may receive tickets of $115 to $250 for illegal parking, the parks department said, and would need to pay for the cost of towing. No official crowd numbers have been released from this summer, although park officials have been sounding the alarm for months.
Levittown: The state agency that oversees nearly 1,200 personal care and assisted living facilities says it’s on schedule to complete universal testing of staff and residents by the state-ordered Aug. 31 deadline. The Department of Human Services will be releasing a list of facilities that have completed the baseline testing this week, spokeswoman Erin James said. An updated list will be released after Aug. 31. As of last week, more than 880 of the licensed facilities, or about 76%, had completed testing, James said. Another 153 facilities have testing scheduled, and outreach efforts are continuing with the remaining facilities. The Regional Response Health Collaborated Program and licensing staff with the bureau of Human Services Licensing have contacted all licensed facilities to assess their progress in meeting the testing order.
Portsmouth: An annual ceremony to honor the 1st Rhode Island Regiment, a unit with many Black soldiers that fought with distinction during the American Revolution, has been canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic. The Newport County branch of the NAACP has honored the unit every year since 1967. This year’s ceremony was scheduled for next Sunday. The unit, also called the Black Regiment, won a decisive victory over the British at the Battle of Rhode Island in August 1778. A monument to the unit is located in Patriots Park in Portsmouth. The Museum of the American Revolution describes the regiment as “an integrated unit composed of African American, Native American, and white soldiers, who served together from 1778 through the end of the war in 1783.”
Greenville: A woman has sued the Greenville County Council, saying it is violating open meeting laws by not setting aside time during virtual meetings for public comment. The County Council typically sets aside 30 minutes at the end of meetings for residents to speak on any topic in 3-minute blocks. But that practice stopped when the council started meeting virtually because of the coronavirus pandemic. Faith Adedokun decided to sue the council under the South Carolina open meetings law after the county approved a plan to spend $91 million in federal COVID-19 relief money with no public input. The council does allow public comment for items on its agenda. Adedokun’s lawsuit asks the Greenville County Council to set up a remote location where people without internet access can watch meetings and sign up to comment, similar to the setup by the Greenville City Council.
Pierre: Health officials are reporting 141 newly confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the state and one new death. The state has now recorded a total of 11,276 cases of COVID-19 as of Sunday. There were a record 1,551 cases still active. The South Dakota Department of Health has reported 9,564 recoveries from the disease, and a total of 62 people are currently hospitalized. With the new death reported Sunday, South Dakota’s death toll from the disease has risen to 161.
Memphis: Shelby County Schools students are beginning the school year virtually, but nontraditional classrooms of sorts are in the works with the YMCA, officials say. The youth development-focused nonprofit organization is developing a child care program where school-age children can do their virtual learning assignments, Anthony Norris, chief development officer for YMCA of Memphis and the Mid-South, said last week at a press event. “We’re establishing virtual learning academies so that we can meet the needs of parents and children that may not be able to be at home,” Norris said. The “academies” would offer a space for students to complete their virtual work if they’re unable to do so at home. Norris did not say how many seats the program intended to provide. “We’re looking to meet the needs of the community,” he said. He said the YMCA is seeking additional funding.
Austin: Five more inmates in Travis County jails have tested positive for COVID-19, the disease linked to the coronavirus, the county sheriff’s office said. Three of the inmates are being quarantined, and two are already out of jail on bond, officials said. The two people who have left the jail were housed in quarantine while in custody after having symptoms. Inmates who have tested positive for the coronavirus are put in single-occupancy cells and seen twice a day by medical professionals, officials said. No new cases of coronavirus among law enforcement personnel were reported by the sheriff’s office Monday. As of Monday, 226 inmates are in isolation, and 18 are in quarantine. All newly booked inmates are held in isolation cells for 10 to 14 days before they are allowed to enter the jail’s general population, officials said.
St. George: Hundreds crowded the Washington County School District building’s front lawn Friday to protest a mask mandate in schools due to the coronavirus pandemic. The protest, organized by Liberty Action Coalition, drew concerned parents and citizens holding American flags, “Don’t Tread on Me” banners and dozens of signs, spilling into the street. Many children and teenagers were also in attendance. In response, WCSD expressed some frustration at the protest, as the district itself isn’t implementing an in-school mask mandate but rather following the statewide school mask mandate Gov. Gary Herbert put into effect last month. A 16-year-old from Hurricane High School spoke, saying she had been sent to the office five times last week because she won’t wear a mask. Principal Darin Thomas said no student had been sent to the office five times that week, and only one female student had been sent down one time.
Montpelier: The state has increased the maximum amount of economic recovery grant money that businesses hurt by the coronavirus pandemic can receive. Previously, Vermont businesses could be awarded up to $50,000 in federal coronavirus relief grant funding. Gov. Phil Scott’s administration announced this week that businesses now may be eligible for up to $150,000. The increased award amount is available to new applicants and businesses that have already received a $50,000 grant, the governor’s office said. Vermont reported four new cases of the coronavirus on Sunday for a statewide total since the pandemic began of 1,557. The total number of deaths remained at 58.
Blacksburg: Virginia Tech has announced that it will take “swift action” against students who fail to follow new rules that restrict parties to no more than 15 people and require masks at such gatherings. The Roanoke Times reports the announcement was made Sunday. Frank Shushok, vice president for student affairs, wrote in a message to students that only some were “choosing to live by the health imperatives necessary.” He said that “it is now clear that this public health crisis will not be solved without clear and definitive boundaries that are enforced with swift and serious action.” The school’s COVID-19 dashboard showed that a total of 21 students and employees had tested positive since testing began Aug. 9. Eleven on-campus students were placed in quarantine. Shushok said failure to follow the new rules will result in immediate interim suspension and removal from campus housing.
Taholah: The Quinault Indian Nation is now closed to visitors in response to an increase in COVID-19 cases among households on the reservation. KOMO-TV reports the shutdown was announced by the QIN government Saturday. According to officials with the QIN, the Nation reported its first positive COVID-19 case last week, which required some households to enter a 14-day quarantine period. The closure will be in effect through at least Sept. 6 to ensure infections do not spread. During the closure, all government operations will shut down except for essential services like meal delivery, medication fulfillment, urgent medical care, COVID-19 testing, police, and fire services. Access to the Quinault Indian Reservation will be restricted to village residents, Quinault tribal members and essential government employees.
West Liberty: A search for a new president at West Liberty University is wrapping up. The second of two finalists was scheduled to visit the West Liberty campus Monday and Tuesday, the university said in a news release. Robert Colvin is vice provost for undergraduate education at Christopher Newport University in Newport News, Virginia. The other finalist, Brian Crawford, interviewed on campus last week. Crawford is West Liberty’s provost and served as acting president in 2014. Two other finalists withdrew from the search over the summer. The search process was delayed in March when Gov. Jim Justice issued a stay-at-home order. An announcement on the new president is expected by the end of the month. President Stephen Greiner announced his retirement effective at the end of June but agreed to stay on at the request of the Board of Governors due to the pandemic.
Madison: The state can’t process as many coronavirus tests as health officials say they want when schools and colleges reopen this fall. State Department of Health Services Secretary Andrea Palm said Friday that health officials will prioritize testing and processing for outbreaks as students return to classrooms and resume interacting. “There certainly is not enough testing ... to do it at the level that you would want to do it ideally in a situation like this,” Palm said. Three times last month, the number of tests conducted met or exceeded the state’s capacity to analyze to them. The state’s processing has increased since then from about 22,600 to 26,162 as of Friday. The University of Wisconsin-Madison alone plans to process at least 6,000 tests a week. Other campuses plan to test only students who are symptomatic or who have been exposed to the virus. If tests take days to be analyzed, infected people could spread the virus.
Laramie: The University of Wyoming experienced a substantial rise in enrollment after the governor announced a grant-funding program for students, the school said Sunday. Earlier this month, the university said it was facing a 20% decline in fall enrollment. But on Aug. 10, Gov. Mark Gordon announced that those unemployed or underemployed as a result of the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic were eligible for tuition grants worth $2,500 this fall under federal coronavirus relief passed by Congress. Gordon also said in his announcement that all university students would be eligible for $3,250 in funding to pay for non-tuition costs. Within a week, 191 additional students enrolled in classes. On Aug. 18, 11,500 students had enrolled for the fall semester, a 4.5% year-over-year decrease.
From USA TODAY Network and wire reports
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Party crackdowns, desk shields: News from around our 50 states