US: Many states fall short of mandate to track virus exposure
As more states push to reopen their economies, many are falling short on one of the federal government’s essential criteria for doing so — having an efficient system to track people who have been physically near a person infected with the coronavirus, according to an Associated Press review.
NY: Construction, manufacturing first to return in New York’s phased reopening
Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo said New York’s plan would begin with construction and manufacturing in low-risk environments. The second phase would restart “more essential, lower-risk” businesses, a category that has not yet fully been defined.
OK: Oklahoma governor defends plan to reopen businesses
Oklahoma GOP Gov. Kevin Stitt said signs point to the coronavirus threat decreasing as long as people take the proper precautions in public. The governor’s decision came despite the continued spread of the disease in Oklahoma.
MO: Missouri food stamp applications soar
Data released this month show that applications in Missouri for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, jumped substantially to 61,164, up from 37,201 in February — an increase of 64%.
MD: Maryland received hundreds of calls about the safety of ingesting disinfectants
Republican Gov. Larry Hogan said Maryland’s emergency health hotline that was set up to field questions about the coronavirus pandemic has fielded hundreds of questions about the safety of ingesting cleaning products after President Donald Trump suggested it as a treatment for COVID-19.
NE: Clergy proceed with caution as Nebraska services begin again
People will start cautiously gathering to pray in many Nebraska houses of worship in early May for the first time since coronavirus restrictions were imposed, although some congregations won’t rush back and others are still deciding how to proceed.
MT: Church services resume as Montana takes first step to reopen
Montana took its first, halting step toward reopening as some churches resumed services and a general stay-at-home order expired. While other states have been extending restrictions amid the continuing spread of the coronavirus, Montana is among those that are beginning to loosen rules in hopes of restoring battered economies and regaining some normalcy.
VT: Vermont’s governor eases restrictions on construction, manufacturing
More workers in Vermont’s construction trades and manufacturing industries were cleared to return to work after Republican Gov. Phil Scott lifted some of the restrictions he’s imposed on businesses.
MS: Mississippi prepares to ease some coronavirus restrictions
Some Mississippi shopkeepers will start reopening their retail businesses as Republican Gov. Tate Reeves begins easing restrictions. His new “safer at home” order still requires medically vulnerable people to remain home but allows more movement by others.
TX: Texas governor promises ‘massive’ reopening
Republican Gov. Greg Abbott’s medical advisers say avoiding a new surge of infections depends on testing and contact tracing, areas where Texas has lagged. But protestors from Abbott’s own party are pressuring him to put the state back in business.
CA: California’s San Francisco Bay area likely to extend shutdown
San Francisco Mayor London Breed said it’s likely the Bay Area’s shelter-in-place order will get extended beyond the current expiration date of May 3. Her statements echoed what California Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, has said — that stay-at-home restrictions must be maintained until it’s clear that easing them won’t cause greater illness.
IN: Indiana lifts more virus limits on medical procedures
Indiana Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb signed an order largely lifting restrictions on elective medical procedures beginning this week. The restrictions had been imposed to help preserve equipment and protective gear for hospitals treating patients.
RI: Rhode Island governor optimistic about lifting stay-at-home order May 8
Rhode Island Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo expressed confidence that the state’s economy would be able to start to reopen early next month as planned. But she warned that the virus will continue to spread, that a reopening will be gradual, and that it will come with social-distancing restrictions still in place.
NC: Cell phone data shows North Carolina residents leaving their homes more
People in North Carolina left their homes more, left their counties more and traveled longer distances in recent days than in previous weeks, according to data compiled by the University of Maryland.
NJ: New Jersey ‘still a number of weeks away’ from reopening
New Jersey is “a number of weeks away” from starting to reopen from the near lockdown restrictions to slow the spread the coronavirus, Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy said. Murphy also said he is still deciding whether the state will reopen as a whole or whether it could be a regional approach.
WA: Construction projects can resume, with distancing, in Washington
Thousands of construction workers could soon be back on sites across the state after Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat, announced a plan that allows those jobs to resume. Before work on the projects can resume, all contractors must develop and post a plan at each site.
CO: Colorado retailers can open for curbside pickup
Democratic Gov. Jared Polis issued an executive order cementing rules for how Colorado will operate after the statewide coronavirus stay-at-home order expires. The governor said Coloradans should continue to wear face masks and stay home as much as possible.
HI: Hawaii governor extends stay-at-home order to May 31
Hawaii residents will need to stay put at least a month longer after Gov. David Ige, a Democrat, extended statewide stay-at-home orders, along with the current mandatory 14-day quarantine for visitors, until May 31. Some restrictions could be lifted throughout May.
KS: Testing concerns remain as restrictions lift in Kansas
Kansas plans to switch to “significantly less restrictive” coronavirus rules on May 4, kicking off a fraught reopening that will almost certainly lead to more illnesses but may also begin to restore the state’s anemic economy.
AK: Alaska’s PPE shortage has eased
Most Alaska hospitals and nursing homes now have enough face masks and other personal protection equipment to last a month.
IN: Indiana lifting more virus limits on medical procedures
Indiana Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb signed an order largely lifting restrictions on elective medical procedures. The restrictions had been imposed to help preserve equipment and protective gear for hospitals treating patients.
MS: Will Mississippi change voting laws to deal with coronavirus?
Some Mississippi politicians are discussing early voting and other measures to deal with the possibility of the coronavirus still being a concern in November. But Mississippi — with its dark history of Jim Crow voter suppression — has historically been recalcitrant on easing restrictions on voting and registration.
NY: New York cancels some June elections to reduce in-person voting
Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order canceling special elections for four vacancies in the New York state Legislature, including a Syracuse-area Senate seat and three Assembly posts in Long Island, Queens and Rochester; as well as the election for Queens borough president.
LA: Future of public defense threatened with fiscal collapse as courts close across Louisiana
The Louisiana Public Defender Board has long claimed their offices are dangerously underfunded, but now the financial blow dealt by the pandemic could threaten the entire system. Public defender districts largely rely on court-generated fines and fees, such as conviction costs and traffic ticket payments.
AL: Hole in Alabama tax revenues has no clear bottom
Alabama legislators don’t expect cuts in this year’s state budgets because of the coronavirus pandemic but have lowered expectations for next year because no one knows how long the economic fallout will last. The pandemic is causing the biggest blow to state finances since the Great Recession of 2007 to 2009, which slashed education spending in Alabama.
OR: Oregon governor apologizes for unemployment delays
Gov. Kate Brown, a Democrat, apologized to Oregonians who are dealing with delays and errors while they try to get unemployment funds. The Oregon Employment Department has run into problems stemming from the large numbers of new claims and the computer system it uses to process those claims.
NV: Fiscal dilemma looms for Southern Nevada cities
The coronavirus pandemic is creating a fiscal crisis for local governments across the country, including in Nevada. Even with an estimated million in federal aid coming to Las Vegas through the federal coronavirus relief bill, deep and immediate cuts will be inevitable.
GA: Georgia launches new test sites in rural areas as grim milestones near
Republican Gov. Brian Kemp’s office announced new drive-through coronavirus testing sites to serve rural stretches of Georgia, as the state and nation approach grim new milestones in the battle against COVID-19.
MN: Contact tracers in demand in Minnesota
As Minnesota case counts surge with more testing, there aren’t enough investigators to keep up with the work.
PA: Pennsylvania lacks contact tracing nurses pivotal to reopening
During the past month, Spotlight PA interviewed nearly two dozen current and former Pennsylvania public health employees and reviewed hundreds of pages of staffing documents, letters, payroll listings, budgets, and other material. The investigation revealed a depleted public health system that has repeatedly come under attack.
SC: Weakened South Carolina minority health office left blacks vulnerable: critics
For more than two decades, South Carolina’s Office of Minority Health ran campaigns to help African Americans who suffer a disproportionate share of diseases. But that office is barely functioning today as South Carolina’s black population struggles with a new and dangerous illness.
AZ: Arizona executive order makes it harder to sue nursing homes
Attorneys and health care experts who examined the Arizona executive order said it sets a higher bar for civil lawsuits related to COVID-19 care, raising the bar from negligence to “gross negligence or reckless or willful misconduct.”
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