Top State Stories 12/8

By: - December 8, 2020 12:00 am

NJ: 74% of New Jersey COVID-19 patients unwilling to cooperate with contact tracers

The coronavirus is surging across New Jersey, but the state’s contact tracers are having more trouble than ever following the spread of the virus. Nearly three out of four people diagnosed with COVID-19 in New Jersey are not cooperating with the state’s contact tracers, Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy said.

UT: The number of failing Utah students in Salt Lake City has skyrocketed with online learning

Data released to The Salt Lake Tribune in response to a public records request shows that 4,000 Salt Lake City, Utah, secondary students received one or more F’s or incompletes in the first quarter. That’s 1,500 more students failing a class than last year.

VA: Virginia governor signs no-knock warrant ban

Sitting next to two of Breonna Taylor’s aunts, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat, marked the passage of a law banning police from executing no-knock warrants, like the one Louisville police officers used on the night they fatally shot Breonna Taylor during a botched raid in March. Using a ceremonial pen that will soon belong to Taylor’s mother, Northam signed “Breonna’s Law,” highlighting Virginia as one of only three states to pass such legislation in the wake of Taylor’s death.

WA: Black businesses were left out of Washington’s marijuana gold rush

For many local Black cannabis entrepreneurs, the door to participation in Washington’s green gold rush has largely been closed. Given the decades of racial disparity in marijuana arrests, some said the exclusion of Black operators from the lucrative retail business was shocking.

WI: Republicans defy Wisconsin governor, put Christmas tree in closed Capitol

Two Republican lawmakers put up a Christmas tree in the Wisconsin Capitol rotunda despite being told they weren’t allowed to do so—a show of defiance after Democratic Gov. Tony Evers opted not to display a holiday tree there this year because the building is closed to the public due to the coronavirus pandemic.

TN: Tennessee lawmaker introduces bill prohibiting authorities from mandating COVID-19 vaccine

An East Tennessee lawmaker proposed a bill that would prohibit a law enforcement agency or government entity from forcing individuals to get a COVID-19 vaccine.

PA: Governor offers bleak warning about Pennsylvania hospitals

Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf pleaded with Pennsylvanians to think of overwhelmed, exhausted health care workers and recommit to staying home and not gathering with anyone outside of their households. Officials remain gravely concerned about the steep rise in hospitalizations related to the coronavirus.

DC: District of Columbia to give ,200 stimulus payments to some jobless residents

District of Columbia Democratic Mayor Muriel Bowser announced that some unemployed residents will receive ,200 stimulus payments, providing temporary, immediate relief as federal benefits are set to expire at the end of the month. She said the city also is suspending high school athletics and high-contact sports in the midst of the pandemic. 

CA: California coronavirus shutdown will last through Christmas as hospitalizations blow past 10,000

For millions of Californians, the COVID-19 pandemic will provide a most unwelcome gift this Christmas: a wide-ranging shutdown imposed as the state grapples with its most massive and dangerous surge in infections and hospitalizations to date.

NE: Nebraska governor urges new round of federal COVID-19 assistance

Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts said he would like to see Congress approve another round of federal assistance to help Nebraska and other states navigate the ongoing COVID-19 economic crisis.

MA: Massachusetts governor says hospitals will curtail inpatient elective procedures

In a troubling echo of the pandemic’s early days, Massachusetts Republican Gov. Charlie Baker said that hospitals will temporarily curtail inpatient elective surgeries to make room for a further influx of patients with COVID-19.

OH: Ohio governor says overnight curfew will be extended as deaths surpass 7,000

With Ohio’s COVID-19 death toll breaking a grim new barrier, Republican Gov. Mike DeWine will extend the statewide curfew of 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. beyond its scheduled expiration of Thursday, Dec. 10.

CO: Coronavirus is again ravaging Colorado nursing homes

Nearly 200 active, ongoing outbreaks at nursing homes and other senior care centers in Colorado have in recent weeks led to at least 3,300 infections and more than 300 deaths. Thousands of staff members are catching the disease, too.

AZ: Arizona cities restrict marijuana use and sales

Cities across metro Phoenix, Arizona, are limiting where residents can use and purchase recreational marijuana in the weeks since voters approved legalizing the substance. The actions won’t stop the sale of recreational marijuana, but they could limit options for customers. 

TX: Texas food banks face shortages

Food banks across Texas are projecting food shortages in coming months due to the end of three key federal and state programs that have helped them respond to high demand during the coronavirus pandemic and its accompanying recession.

MI: Michigan extends coronavirus restrictions

Michigan’s restrictions on indoor dining and in-person classes will remain in effect for 12 more days, followed by a “cautious re-engagement,” Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said. The decision was criticized by Republicans and business leaders.

MO: COVID-19 forcing some Missouri jails, police departments to close

The coronavirus surge is creating staffing shortages for Missouri police departments and sheriff’s offices, forcing some to temporarily close to the public and prompting others to relocate jail inmates.

NY: New York governor warns of indoor dining restrictions if coronavirus hospitalizations surge

Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that if rates of COVID-19 hospitalizations in New York state don’t decrease, indoor dining would close completely in New York City, where it’s currently capped at 25%, and would decrease to 25% in the rest of the state. 

MD: Maryland prepares to launch vast vaccine messaging program

Maryland health officials will soon embark on a multi-faceted messaging campaign—possibly featuring celebrities, faith-based leaders and trusted “community messengers”—to entice state residents to get COVID-19 vaccines.

IL: Substitute teacher shortage has reached crisis levels in some Illinois school districts

A dearth of available substitute teachers in some Illinois school districts has reached a crisis level, where the roster of educators available to step in when teachers are absent has dwindled precipitously at a time of unprecedented need for their services. 

AK: Alaska to get 35,000 vaccine doses as state tackles rural distribution challenges

Unlike other states, which are receiving their first Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine shipments in weekly batches, the federal government is treating Alaska like a territory and shipping its first month’s supply all at once. That’s in part because of Alaska’s sprawling size and the logistical challenges of moving the Pfizer vaccine, which must be kept at minus 95 F and only lasts for five days in a refrigerator once thawed.

WY: Budget-strapped Wyoming cities bypass state with climate efforts

Several communities across Wyoming are breaking with state policy and forging their own plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The voluntary efforts in Wyoming—the nation’s top coal producer and among the top in oil and natural gas—stand in contrast to state-level policies that might inhibit communities attempting to move beyond a boom-and-bust fossil-fuel economy.

OR: Prominent anti-vaccine pediatrician has license suspended by Oregon Medical Board

Dr. Paul Thomas, a prominent anti-vaccine pediatrician in Oregon, had his license suspended Dec. 3 on an emergency basis after the state’s medical board found evidence he had violated standard medical practices related to vaccines. The Oregon Medical Board took the unusual step after reviewing evidence that alleged Thomas guided his patients away from getting the standard course of childhood vaccinations—and that patients suffered vaccine-preventable diseases possibly as a result.

MS: With barely a break, Mississippi lawmakers set to return in less than a month

The 2020 session of the Mississippi legislature that was slated to end in early May did not officially conclude until Oct. 10, in large part due to COVID-19 concerns, making it the longest legislative session in Mississippi history.

NV: Trump campaign files appeal in Nevada seeking to block Biden win

President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign has filed an appeal with the Nevada Supreme Court for reconsideration of an election contest lawsuit tossed by a lower-court judge last week, seeking to block confirmation of Nevada’s six electoral votes or to have them awarded to the president’s campaign.

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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.