HI: Hawaii officials announce expanded testing
Hawaii’s testing criteria now includes people not showing symptoms who have been in close contact with people who have tested positive. The policy follows heated infighting within the administration of Gov. David Ige, as Lt. Gov. Josh Green, a fellow Democrat, has criticized the state for not testing more aggressively.
AK: Alaska’s supplies request to feds fell short; now it’s on its own
Alaska requested more than 3 million N-95 masks from the federal government, and has received 165,000. It asked for 1 million medical gowns and received 9,400, state officials said. It also has shortages of face shields, gloves and surgical masks.
AL: Alabama resolves complaint over old ventilator guidelines
Alabama agreed to remove old ventilator triage guidelines that advocates said discriminated against the elderly and disabled. The difficult decisions about who could get a ventilator has taken on new urgency amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
NJ: New Jersey residents get grace period on health, home, renters and car insurance
New Jersey residents will not lose insurance coverage if they are unable to pay premiums during the coronavirus crisis, Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy said. The grace periods under his executive order are a minimum of 60 days for health and dental insurance policies and 90 days for home and car insurance, renters insurance and life insurance.
CO: Social distancing has pushed Colorado’s expected coronavirus peak to May
Social distancing and stay-at-home measures have helped prevent Colorado health care facilities from being overwhelmed, said the state’s incident commander for COVID-19. The state currently has excess ventilators but officials are still trying to acquire more to make sure hospitals have enough when the surge does happen.
FL: Florida spending M on failed unemployment response
Florida’s last-minute scramble to beef up its broken unemployment system comes with an astonishingly high price tag: nearly million so far. State records reveal that just 1 percent of 864,313 calls to the unemployment hotline were answered in one week.
TX: Judge: Some abortions can proceed in Texas
In a second rebuke to Texas GOP officials who have said a ban on nearly all abortions is essential as the state battles the novel coronavirus, a federal judge ruled that some abortions may proceed. Hundreds of abortions have already been canceled.
MI: Michigan extends stay-home order through month
The new executive order limits gatherings and travel and requires all workers who are not necessary to sustain or protect life to stay home through at least April 30. It also imposed more stringent limitations on foot traffic in stores.
NM: New Mexico GOP fights mail-in primary
The New Mexico Republican Party is continuing its push to block a request by 27 county clerks to hold the state’s primary election by mail, even after long lines at polling sites in Wisconsin this week raised alarms about the possible spread of COVID-19.
UT: Utah lawmakers consider limiting county stay-at-home orders
Utah lawmakers are looking at “clarifying the process” that some counties have used to issue stricter stay-at-home orders than the state during the coronavirus pandemic. It’s a move seen as imposing new limits on the power of local governments.
AL: Alabama authorities urge people to ignore KKK-era anti-masking law
A 71-year-old Alabama law prohibiting people from wearing masks in public will not be enforced against those who wear medical masks “covering only the nose and mouth,” Attorney General Steve Marshall’s Office said. But at least one civil rights group is concerned.
SD: Smithfield Foods to close South Dakota plant for 3 days after becoming COVID-19 ‘hot spot’
Smithfield Foods will close its Sioux Falls, South Dakota, plants for three days, the company announced. The decision to close comes less than 24 hours after South Dakota Health Secretary Kim Malsam-Rysdom confirmed that more than 80 employees had tested positive for the new coronavirus.
NV: Nevada governor closes golf courses, limits religious gatherings
Democratic Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak ordered a closure of golf courses, real estate open houses, religious gatherings of 10 people or more and imposed additional restrictions. Sisolak said he was expanding rules related to social distancing because some people have tried to circumvent rules he already put in place.
NY: New York will streamline unemployment applications after weeks of frustration
New York state’s updated application will have fewer questions, and claimants who leave some fields blank will no longer have to wait on hold for hours. Instead, state employees will return calls of applicants within 72 hours after their claim is submitted.
MD: Black Marylanders make up largest group of coronavirus cases
The rate of coronavirus infections and related deaths in Maryland is higher among African American residents than whites or other groups, according to the state Department of Health. In Maryland, 49.4% of those infected whose race was known were black, 36.9% were white and 13.7% were Asian or another race.
CA: California tele-meeting about sport fishing ban erupts
The California Fish and Game Commission abruptly canceled a teleconference amid cries of “make fishing great again!” and “fascists!” before it could consider authorizing a limited ban on sportfishing.
VA: Virginia judge rules against church that wanted big Easter service
A Virginia judge ruled against a Southwest Virginia man’s request to allow groups of 10 or more people gather in church for Easter. Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat, issued orders barring gatherings of more than 10 people, including at churches.
NC: North Carolina governor limits access to grocery, other open stores
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, ordered retail stores that are open to limit the number of shoppers allowed inside stores at one time. The occupancy is now limited to no more than 20 percent of stores’ fire capacity. Cooper also said stores must mark 6 feet of distance where people might gather, such as in checkout lines.
MO: Missouri schools closed through end of academic year
GOP Gov. Mike Parson ordered all classrooms in Missouri to remain closed through the end of the school year as the number of deaths from the coronavirus continues to climb.
IA: Religious freedom groups question Iowa governor’s day of prayer declaration
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, a Republican, declared a day of prayer as the state continues to battle the coronavirus, but one group says that’s not her place.
MA: Massachusetts families want more disclosure on nursing home outbreaks
Families are frustrated with Massachusetts officials as the number of COVID-19 cases in long-term-care facilities soars, saying they have allowed the sites to hide crucial information about how deeply the virus has infiltrated and how their loved ones are doing.
OH: Governor says he’s optimistic about Ohio cases
Republican Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said he has tried to be upfront about developing details on the coronavirus in Ohio. The governor credited social distancing with a decline in projected cases over the next few weeks.
TN: Tennessee lowers high school graduation requirements
The Tennessee State Board of Education has approved a set of emergency rules for the rest of the school year, lowering graduation requirements and freezing grades for high school students as the coronavirus outbreak upends in-school learning.
KY: Kentucky gets new machines that process testing results in minutes
Kentucky has received more than a dozen portable COVID-19 testing machines capable of producing results in a matter of minutes, significantly expanding the state’s otherwise limited testing capacity.
AR: Black Arkansans’ virus hit seen as disproportionate
The coronavirus pandemic is disproportionately affecting black Arkansans, according to statistics from the state Health Department.
DE: Delaware will start tracking race of coronavirus patients
Gov. John Carney, a Democrat, and the Delaware Division of Public Health will begin requiring each test kit to report the race and ethnicity of the person being tested.
MN: COVID-19’s spread fuels record run on guns in Minnesota
A record surge in gun sales in Minnesota was fueled by the spread of the virus — and its dire economic toll. The FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System vetted 96,654 transactions last month, the most ever in the state for a single month. That was part of a record 3.7 million background checks processed nationwide.
GA: Georgia primary delayed again to June 9 during coronavirus emergency
The challenge of keeping Georgia voters safe and precincts open during the coronavirus pandemic led Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to postpone the primary for three weeks, pushing it back to June 9.
LA: Louisiana officials investigating abortion clinics during coronavirus stay-at-home order
Louisiana officials are investigating abortion clinics during the coronavirus pandemic to determine whether they are violating the state’s stay-at-home order by performing the procedure, amid a push by Republicans across the country to deem the procedure non-essential.
MS: Some Mississippians may soon see extra in unemployment benefits, governor says
For Mississippians without work during the coronavirus pandemic, enhanced unemployment benefits, longer hours, more days and additional help is on the way, Republican Gov. Tate Reeves said.
WI: Wisconsin projects 27% unemployment rate
Wisconsin’s jobless rate has skyrocketed to nearly 27% because of the outbreak, according to a new estimate from the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development.
PA: Governor orders Pennsylvania schools closed through rest of academic year
Pennsylvania’s school closure order applies to all public K-12 schools, brick and mortar and cyber charter schools, private and parochial schools, career and technical centers and intermediate units.
VT: 70,000 Vermonters have filed unemployment claims since crisis began
More than 70,000 Vermonters have filed unemployment claims since Republican Gov. Phil Scott started ordering the closure of businesses around March 15, the state Department of Labor reported.
CT: Connecticut suggests school districts drop letter grades as distance learning continues
Connecticut’s education department issued guidance to districts on how to grade students, proposing they focus on engagement rather than achievement during weeks of distance learning. The state’s top education officials believe that marking students on a pass/fail system was the best way to address grading.
IN: Recreational options in Indiana dwindle as campgrounds, trails close
Indianans looking for recreational activities and ways to stay active have been taking to the trails at city and state parks. But state officials are increasingly clamping down on such public options, closing trails and campgrounds.
RI: Rhode Island visitor restrictions toughened
Rhode Island Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo has signed an executive order that allows authorities to fine out-of-state visitors who don’t self-quarantine for 14 days after traveling to the state.
ND: North Dakota’s largest stadium preparing for virus patients
Plans are in place to convert North Dakota’s largest sports venue into a field hospital in case it’s needed for COVID-19 patients, Fargo officials said.
WY: Wyoming county asks governor for stronger stay-at-home order
Nearly 2,000 Wyomingites have signed a petition asking state government to approve Teton County’s request for a stronger community stay-at-home order. The governor has turned down the request from Teton County, home to Jackson Hole and the highest number of COVID-19 cases.
CO: Colorado lawmakers brace for budget hit of up to B
Members of the Colorado legislature’s Joint Budget Committee, which writes and then refers the budget to the broader legislature, are planning for a shortfall of up to about billion. That’s a dramatically worse situation than what was forecast in mid-March.
WA: Washington nears half a million unemployed
Nearly 171,000 Washingtonians joined the swelling ranks of the state’s unemployed last week — and state officials think the worst may be still to come. That brings the total number of state residents seeking jobless benefits since the pandemic began to nearly half a million.
OR: Oregon layoffs reach new record
In the past three weeks alone 1 in 8 Oregon workers lost their jobs, after the state fielded a record 100,000 claims last week. Altogether, the state has received nearly 270,000 claims in the past three weeks.
ID: Idaho unemployment claims dip slightly
Idahoans filed nearly 31,000 initial claims for unemployment in the week ending April 4. That’s fewer than the record 32,941 claims from the previous week, but not by much.
IL: Illinois could see up to B revenue hit from epidemic
A task force of University of Illinois fiscal experts estimates the state’s four-year revenue hit from the COVID-induced recession could range from billion to billion.
OK: Oklahoma governor signs budget bills
Oklahoma GOP Gov. Kevin Stitt signed budget bills that will keep state government funded through April and he accused leadership in the state House of “playing Washington, D.C., politics.” Left unsigned was a third bill to send money from the “rainy day” fund to the General Revenue Fund.
SC: South Carolina will miss out on B in revenue
The economic downturn resulting from the coronavirus pandemic is taking its toll on South Carolina’s economy. The state will miss out on million it expected to bring in the current budget year, which ends June 30. And state budget forecasters say next year’s budget, which starts July 1, could also take a hit of more than a half a billion.
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