By: - March 10, 2020 12:00 am

Latest State Action on COVID-19

NJ: New Jersey declares state of emergency

New Jersey officials declared a state of emergency amid growing concerns about the spread of coronavirus in the state, where 11 people have now tested positive. Officials also said 24 additional people in the Garden State are under investigation as potential infection cases by the state Department of Health.

CO: Colorado directs insurers to waive copay for testing

Democratic Colorado Gov. Jared Polis’ administration is directing health insurers regulated by the state to waive copays, deductibles and other charges for anyone who visits a doctor, urgent care center or hospital to seek a coronavirus test. But the directive applies to only about a third of all insured people in the state and they must meet state criteria for testing.

MO: Missouri election officials take extra steps to protect voters

Eric Fey, Democratic director for the St. Louis County Election Board in Missouri, said the board has sent hand sanitizing liquids and wipes to all 357 polling places. He added that plastic gloves will be available for staffers who handle returns and equipment coming in Tuesday night.

FL: Florida reverses extreme advisory

First Florida officials said anybody returning to Florida from abroad should self-isolate for 14 days. After concerns that leaders were conceding the state’s tourist economy, state health officials rewrote the advisory to follow national guidelines.

HI: Hawaii panel set to prepare for economic fallout

Hawaii House Speaker Scott Saiki, a Democrat, said he has appointed 25 people plus himself to serve on a committee that will advise House members on the potential financial and economic fallout of the new coronavirus. The panel includes academics, business leaders and public health officials.

OR: Oregon approves $5 million in emergency funding

Oregon lawmakers signed off on $5 million in emergency funding to respond to coronavirus, even as some questioned whether that is enough. State Sen. Elizabeth Steiner Hayward, a Democrat, said Oregon health officials have assured her the funding is sufficient.

NY: New York governor announces additional measures

Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo said New York state would soon require that if a student tested positive for the coronavirus, their school would be closed for an initial 24 hours while health officials assessed the situation. Cuomo also said the state had asked a state entity that uses prison labor to manufacture products to make 100,000 gallons of hand sanitizer a week.

MN: Minnesota legislature quickly passes bill

A Minnesota bill was quickly approved that could be the first of several legislative responses to COVID-19 with discussions already focusing on front-line health centers and idled workers.

VT: Two Vermont school districts close

The school closures, the first in the state, come after the first Vermont patient tested positive for COVID-19 on Saturday. As of Monday, 28 Vermonters had tested negative for the virus, according to the Department of Health; the state is monitoring 224 others.

CT: Connecticut governor restricts travel for state employees, asks private employers to follow

Democratic Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont has issued a freeze on out-of-state business travel for all state employees and urged private employers to consider similar precautions to stem the spread of the 2019 coronavirus. His office also urged nursing homes to stop allowing outside visitors.

MD: Maryland governor announces response team

Republican Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced that he has formed a coronavirus response team, including experts in public health and emergency management, to leverage the state’s resources and expertise to respond to the outbreak. Hogan spoke at a news conference after signing a measure to enable the state to tap up to $50 million from its rainy-day fund to respond to the virus.

LA: Louisiana governor: Be ‘vigilant’ but don’t panic

After weeks of preparations for the inevitable spread of the new coronavirus, Louisiana discovered its first case of the virus.                                                                          

NV: Nevada attorney general warns against price gouging

Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford, a Democrat, warned in a tweet against any retailer selling products like hand sanitizer and protective masks at higher than normal prices. Anyone who sees incidents of unusually high prices is asked to call his office’s complaint hotline, Ford said.

WA: Washington’s homeless population particularly vulnerable

Washington’s homeless population is both older and more likely to have underlying health conditions than the public at large, and many are in close contact at shelters. Those conditions make homeless people much more vulnerable to coronavirus, and “there’s no way of knowing” if the symptoms many already display are caused by the disease.

General State News

ID: Idaho lawmakers kill higher education budget

Legislators killed the higher education budget on the House floor, offering a sharp rebuke to Idaho’s college and university system and casting doubt on the legislature’s ability to adjourn the 2020 session next week. Conservatives opposed the budget over a proposed increase in funding and opposition to programming and hiring decisions.

OK: Oklahoma House rejects bill to restrict marriage involving minors

The legislation would have prohibited minors under age 16 from getting married in Oklahoma. Those ages 16 and 17 seeking to get married first would have had to get emancipated, with approval by a court. Research shows Oklahoma has one of the highest rates of teen marriages.

AL: Senator wants to rewrite ‘toothless’ Alabama public records law

Alabama law says residents have a right to inspect and copy public records, but a state senator proposing to rewrite the law says the statute is “toothless.” State Sen. Cam Ward, a Republican, would set a 14-day time limit on when public agencies must respond to requests for records.

GA: Georgia Senate approves bill aiming to remove speech zones at public colleges

The Georgia Senate approved legislation that aims to prohibit specific locations for students and others to speak at public colleges and universities. The bill is the latest Republican to combat what they say has been harsh or unconstitutional treatment by campus officials and some students of speakers, particularly those with conservative viewpoints or representing faith-based organizations.

IL: Sports betting launches in Illinois

All sports bets are on in Illinois. The Land of Lincoln became the 15th state to play host to a legal sports wager as Rivers Casino in Des Plaines opened the state’s first sportsbook.

VA: Statute of limitations could derail Virginia Confederate re-naming suit

A federal judge warned lawyers seeking to rename two Virginia schools honoring Confederate leaders that it might be too late. The lawsuit centers on Stonewall Jackson Middle School and Lee-Davis High School. The judge said it might not qualify under a two-year statute of limitations.

RI: U.S. Supreme Court declines to hear Rhode Island inmate case on civil death

The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case of a Rhode Island inmate serving life behind bars who had challenged the state’s law that considers him “civilly dead.” Rhode Island is one of the few places where inmates serving life in prison are deemed dead by state statute with respect to property rights, marriage and other civil rights, as if their natural death took place when they were convicted.

CO, WY: Wyoming considers massive mineral rights purchase that would spill into Colorado

Wyoming is weighing a massive land and mineral rights purchase that could give it a piece of Colorado — actually, a lot of little pieces — along with a big straw to dip into the state’s oil and gas reserves. And legal experts say there probably isn’t much Colorado can do to block that from happening.

UT: Utah abortion ban bill could criminalize ending a pregnancy

An attempt to prohibit all elective abortions in Utah could lead to the criminal prosecution of women who illegally attempt the procedure at home, the measure’s sponsor told colleagues.

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Stateline staff
Stateline staff

Stateline’s team of veteran journalists combines original reporting with a roundup of the latest news from sources around the country.