Top State Stories 12/9

By: - December 9, 2020 12:00 am

CA: California coronavirus cases spike to new daily high. ‘This is the start of the Thanksgiving bump.’

California has again demolished a daily record for newly confirmed COVID-19 cases, continuing a relentless onslaught of infections that has already sent more people to the hospital than at any point during the pandemic.

NC: North Carolina hospitals will run out of beds in six weeks, if trends continue

North Carolina will reach its capacity of hospital beds statewide in about six weeks if the current increase in COVID-19 patients needing hospitalization continues, according to a group of researchers based in the Raleigh-Durham region. The supply of intensive care unit beds would likely run out sooner, in a little more than four and a half weeks.

MA: Stark inequities persist in Massachusetts COVID-19 testing

For many Massachusetts residents without COVID-19 symptoms and who don’t have access to free testing, the $80 to $160 price per test is out of reach.

NY: Far more White children than Black children return to New York City schools

There are nearly 12,000 more White children returning to public school buildings in New York City than Black students—even though there are many more Black students than White children in the system overall. Latino students are returning at a rate roughly proportional to their overall representation in the school system.

ME: Marijuana has become Maine’s most valuable crop

Cannabis is now Maine’s most valuable crop, besting the state’s signature agricultural products such as potatoes, milk and blueberries. Medical marijuana sales totaled $221.8 million from January through October, more than double what had been sold by this time last year, according to state sales tax figures.

OH: Ohio Republican lawmakers fast-track ‘stand your ground’ bill

Ohio’s GOP-controlled legislature is fast-tracking a bill that will eliminate the requirement to retreat before shooting, known as a stand-your-ground provision.

NV: Nevada to reduce COVID-19 contract tracing

Identifying an infected person’s close contacts and where they think they caught the disease is now optional and should be done only “if time and case volume permits,” according to a Nevada Department of Health and Human Services memo. Investigators’ top priority should be notifying infected residents of their positive lab result within 24 hours so they can self-isolate.

VT: Vermont adopts text message contact tracing

Vermonters who get text messages from 89361 have likely been exposed to COVID-19, and can expect a phone call from a Department of Health contact tracer. Texts, the latest in the state’s early warning system for the coronavirus, will be sent out to potentially contagious contacts.

CO: Colorado reclassifies houses of worship, weddings as ‘critical services’

Colorado houses of worship and activities like weddings and funerals no longer have to comply with a cap on the number of people who can attend, though they still have to keep those from different households 6 feet apart.

TX: Texas sues over other states’ election results

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican, asked the U.S. Supreme Court to block four battleground states—Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin—from casting “unlawful and constitutionally tainted votes” in the Electoral College. There is no evidence of widespread voter fraud.

TN: Tennessee school districts using rapid COVID-19 tests for staff and eventually, students

Both public and private schools across Tennessee are starting to pilot rapid COVID-19 tests in an effort to keep classrooms open.

KY: University of Kentucky fraternity suspended after COVID-19, alcohol violations

A University of Kentucky fraternity has been suspended from campus for two years after a student conduct hearing found that members violated university policies related to COVID-19 guidelines and alcohol misuse.

OK: Oklahoma bars face suspension for curfew noncompliance

Agents from the state Alcoholic Beverage Laws Enforcement Commission spread out across Oklahoma, enforcing the governor’s order that cut off the sale of food and beverages for on-premises consumption by any bar and restaurant license holder after 11 p.m.

NJ: After months, New Jersey workers still can’t get their unemployment claims resolved

Dozens of workers tell NJ Advance Media that after months of trying to get through to the New Jersey Labor Department by phone, they’re usually unsuccessful. And when they do connect with someone, agents promise they will get a call back, but the calls never come.

MO: Missouri governor continues to ignore White House virus-fighting recommendations

Missouri GOP Gov. Mike Parson again rejected the advice of federal health experts who have warned states to adopt rules to slow the spread of COVID-19. In a memo to the Republican governor’s administration, the White House Coronavirus Task Force urged the governor to take actions that had “stemmed the tide” of summer COVID-19 cases.

AR: Speedier internet to spread statewide in Arkansas

The Federal Communications Commission is allocating $424.2 million to expand broadband service in all 75 Arkansas counties. The agency announced that more than 388,000 rural residents of the state will gain access to high-speed internet service through the initiative.

LA: Louisiana to use first vaccine doses in 48 hours

Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards pledged Louisiana would administer all 79,000 doses of vaccines in Louisiana within two days. The state will send National Guard troops into underserved communities.

WA: Washington governor extends restrictions on restaurants, gatherings

Washington’s latest round of sweeping COVID-19 restrictions will stay in place through the holiday season and into the new year. Speaking at a news conference, Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat, announced a three-week extension of the wide-ranging limits he ordered Nov. 15—shutting down indoor dining and gyms and limiting social gatherings—through Jan. 4.

OR: Oregon lawmakers divided on proposal to extend eviction moratorium

Democrats in the Oregon Senate remain divided on a proposal that would extend the state’s residential eviction moratorium. That leaves Oregonians who have struggled with their rent during the pandemic in a state of uncertainty less than four weeks before the current moratorium expires on Dec. 31.

HI: Hawaii seeks digital nomads to invigorate the economy

Hawaii is seizing on the prospect of a work-from-anywhere economy to soften the blow of prolonged tourism job losses. The state’s Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism is developing a series of initiatives to match unemployed Hawaii residents with remote jobs and to parlay the rise of remote work flexibility as a means to allow former Hawaii residents living elsewhere to return home.

SD: White House again recommends mask compliance in South Dakota

The White House Coronavirus Task Force recommends that South Dakota place an “increased emphasis” on the use of face coverings and efforts to monitor and enforce local ordinances on face masks to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

NE: Nebraska health officials stiff legislative Medicaid hearing

The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services declined to participate in a virtual legislative hearing that was held to review the state’s Medicaid expansion program, triggering some outrage from state senators.

IL: School workers should be a priority in vaccine rollout, say Illinois teachers unions

The two largest teachers unions in Illinois are calling on the state legislature to put educators on the shortlist for the COVID-19 vaccine. They also are asking for rapid testing at schools and guidance they say is essential to ensure school buildings are safe for in-person student learning.

AK: FBI questions Alaska lawmakers on Permanent Fund dividend votes

The FBI has interviewed or sought to interview at least 11 Alaska state legislators this year, asking in at least some of the interviews whether any lawmakers received financial benefits in exchange for their vote on the Permanent Fund dividend. The dividend offers annual payments to permanent Alaska residents from state fees paid by fossil fuel companies that have drilling rights.

MS: Mississippi should receive first vaccine doses next week

The first coronavirus vaccines should arrive next week in Mississippi and the state’s top two health officers say they will receive the first shots during a live news conference to show they believe the Pfizer vaccine is safe and effective. The state plans to push out vaccines to all critical-care hospitals for frontline health care workers exposed to COVID-19 patients.


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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.