Top State Stories 11/25
CA: Scams led California to send COVID-19 jobless benefits to Scott Peterson, death row inmates
Investigations have uncovered more than ,000 in state benefits paid to death row inmates, and more than million to other incarcerated people in California’s 38 prisons. A group of nine district attorneys called the situation “the most significant fraud on taxpayer funds in California history.”
UT: Utah voters set new turnout record
The final election totals show that more than 1.5 million Utahns cast a ballot, far and away the highest number in the state’s history. It was also the largest turnout on record by percentage, with about 90.1% of the state’s 1.7 million active registered voters participating.
WA: Washington considers loosening pandemic guidelines to reopen schools
Washington state health officials are considering changing the disease metrics that guide school district reopening decisions during the pandemic. If adopted, up to half the state’s 300 school districts would meet the benchmark to start educating their youngest learners in person at least part time.
CO: Colorado restaurants that defy COVID-19 orders could lose licenses
Colorado businesses that refuse to comply with restrictions to slow the spread of COVID-19 could lose their licenses, even if their county has declined to enforce the rules, Democratic Gov. Jared Polis said. In 22 counties, most businesses can operate only at 25% capacity and indoor dining is prohibited.
MA: Public school enrollment plummets across Massachusetts
Public school enrollment across Massachusetts has dropped by nearly 4% this fall, a significant decrease that largely reflects a wave of families who have pulled their children out of public schools, frustrated that classrooms remain closed during the pandemic.
LA: Louisiana governor orders new restrictions as coronavirus cases surge
Facing a deluge of coronavirus cases and hospitalizations ahead of Thanksgiving, Louisiana Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards said he would order many bars to close and most businesses back to 50% occupancy, likely through the end of the year.
WI: Nearly 300 Wisconsin nursing home residents died from COVID-19 in 4 weeks
Nearly 300 nursing home residents in Wisconsin died from COVID-19 in the most recent month reported to the federal government—more than 10 times the previous month. While residents of long-term care facilities make up a small percentage of overall coronavirus cases in Wisconsin, they represent at least 27% of fatalities.
NV: Nevada Supreme Court accepts 2020 election results
The Nevada Supreme Court accepted the results of the 2020 general election, making official the results of a contentious election that has sparked numerous legal challenges seeking to cast doubt on the integrity of the electoral process in the Silver State.
RI: Staff shortages force Rhode Island state hospital to let workers exposed to COVID-19 stay on the job
Faced with potential staff shortages, the state-run Eleanor Slater Hospital in Rhode Island has allowed “close contacts” of coronavirus-infected patients and staff to continue working. A spokesperson acknowledged that exposed workers were still on the job while awaiting their own test results.
MN: Minnesota governor, lawmakers aim for pandemic relief for businesses
Direct state assistance to businesses impacted by the pandemic, as well as temporary breaks in state taxes and fees, are all on the table as Minnesota Democratic Gov. Tim Walz and state lawmakers try to reach quick accord on a relief package as COVID-19 cases rise and restrictions intensify.
TX: Texas reports record number of coronavirus cases
Texas health officials reported 13,998 new coronavirus cases, a daily record. Coronavirus patients make up more than 15% of the total hospital bed capacity in five of the state’s 22 trauma service areas, a threshold that could trigger tighter restrictions in those areas if those rates continue.
MD: Faulty payment system threatens Maryland mental health, substance abuse providers
The billing problems affect about 2,200 Maryland doctors, hospitals, clinics and other facilities that offer such services through Medicaid, which covers a disproportionate amount of behavioral health treatment in the state. But the issues could risk treatment for all their clients if they cannot get paid.
PA: Pennsylvania declares Biden winner of state’s 2020 presidential election, certifies results
Pennsylvania has officially declared President-elect Joe Biden the state’s presidential winner, certifying election results for all 67 counties and bringing officials one step closer to formally closing out an election like no other. Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf signed the certificate.
AZ: Arizona governor acknowledges Biden win
Republican Gov. Doug Ducey acknowledged that Democrat Joe Biden carried Arizona, nearly three weeks after the Associated Press called the state for Biden and nearly two weeks after several other major news outlets did.
KS: 21 Kansas counties have added mask mandates since governor announced new order
On the eve of Kansas Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly’s new statewide mask order going into effect, many more counties are welcoming the mandates than did so following her previous attempt to gain compliance this summer.
MI: Michigan AG investigating threats made against Wayne County canvassers
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, a Democrat, did not identify specific threats or Wayne county Board of Canvassers members. However, Republican board member Monica Palmer has publicly stated she received graphic threats based on a contentious vote to ultimately certify Wayne County election results.
NJ: New Jersey police must wear body cameras under new laws
Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy signed two bills into law mandating that all New Jersey police officers wear body cameras and regulating when they should be turned on. Residents should generally be notified when they’re being filmed, according to the law, and may ask an officer to turn off a camera under certain circumstances.
OR: Oregon health officers tell patients to conduct their own contact tracing
Public health officers in Oregon are urging Portland-area residents who’ve tested positive for COVID-19 to reach out “right away” to anyone they’ve been in close contact with and encourage them to take steps to quarantine or isolate. The region’s contact tracing workforce is unable to perform those duties in a timely manner as coronavirus cases continue to increase at a rapid pace.
HI: Hawaii leaders outraged over change to pre-travel COVID-19 testing program
Gov. David Ige’s change to Hawaii’s pre-travel COVID-19 testing program has caused an outcry among business and political leaders who say the Democrat made the change abruptly without talking to tourism industry executives, based on a small number of infected travelers who slipped through the cracks. The change means people flying into Hawaii must have a negative COVID-19 test upon arrival to bypass the state’s required 14-day quarantine.
MS: Mississippi governor adds 19 counties to mask mandate
Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves, a Republican, stopped short of a statewide mask mandate as COVID-19 cases surge, but added 19 counties to existing orders, which brings the total number of counties with mandates to 41 of the state’s 82. Hospitalizations are expected to continue climbing over the next two weeks, even if cases decline, because of the lag between infection and serious illness.
OK: Asymptomatic health care workers with COVID-19 allowed to continue working in Oklahoma
The Oklahoma State Department of Health is allowing health care workers who have tested positive for COVID-19, but aren’t exhibiting symptoms of the virus, to continue working at hospitals and long-term care facilities. But the Oklahoma Nurses Association opposes the move and called the recommendation a “reckless” solution to the state’s staffing shortage.
MO: COVID-19 death toll in Missouri prisons climbs to 27 inmates, 4 staff
A glut of inmate deaths this month related to the coronavirus has led to renewed calls on the state to take additional steps to protect Missouri’s prison population.
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