Top State Stories 12/15

By: - December 15, 2020 12:00 am

MS: Top Mississippi doctors take COVID-19 vaccines on camera to prove safety

Mississippi’s top health officers didn’t even grimace as they received the state’s first COVID-19 vaccinations on camera to help reassure Mississippians that the vaccine is safe and effective. The vaccine comes at a time when cases in Mississippi and around the nation are skyrocketing.

WV: West Virginia governor orders weekly testing of college students

Blaming 18- to 35-year-olds for a surge in coronavirus cases, West Virginia Republican Gov. Jim Justice said he has directed state health officials to come up with a plan for weekly testing of college students, potentially by using lower-cost antigen tests, frequently referred to as rapid tests.

VT: About three-quarters of Vermonters on unemployment will lose benefits by end of the year

About 75% of the people now filing for unemployment benefits in Vermont will lose that assistance by the end of the year, according to the state Department of Labor. Those on state assistance will be ok, but those using federal CARES Act funds will be cut off.

WA: Washington governor unveils equity plans for proposed state budget

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat, unveiled a slate of proposals intended to boost diversity and equity that includes a proposed independent office for investigating deadly force by law enforcement, funding for the state’s new equity office and establishing Juneteenth as a legal holiday.

CA: California demands that Amazon comply with COVID-19 investigation

California is taking Amazon to court to force the online retail giant to cooperate with a months-long investigation into whether the company is doing enough to protect its workers from the coronavirus, Democratic Attorney General Xavier Becerra said.

UT: Lawsuit seeks to force Utah city’s schools to return to in-person classes

Eight Utah families sued the Salt Lake City School District to force a return to in-person classes, saying children there are unfairly and unconstitutionally harmed in the only district in the state that has offered only online classes so far this school year.

CO: Inmates sue Colorado county jail over lack of COVID-19 precautions

Inmates at the El Paso County jail in Colorado filed a class action lawsuit against the sheriff in charge of the facility, alleging that jail staff put their lives at risk by not providing masks and failed to properly protect people from COVID-19. A coronavirus outbreak at the 1,200-person facility infected more than 900 inmates.

OR: Oregon employers ravaged by pandemic also hardest hit by unemployment tax hike

The Oregon businesses that suffered the most during the pandemic must pay the bulk of the increase in unemployment insurance taxes. When unemployment taxes increase by a projected million in 2021, 20% of employers will have to cover nearly all the sum.

NY: New York City restaurants face bleak winter with no indoor dining

With coronavirus cases rising, this past weekend was the last time New Yorkers would legally be able to eat indoors at city restaurants, a reversal that reflected the worsening conditions of the pandemic. Now, thousands of restaurants face an uncertain future.

RI: Rhode Island nursing homes will have to wait for vaccine

As Rhode Island Hospital began vaccinating staff against COVID-19, a different distribution plan for nursing homes meant those facilities—racked by the most deaths since the pandemic began—would have to wait another week or two before receiving their first doses. 

NC: North Carolina’s task force on criminal justice calls for changes to address racial bias

North Carolina Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s task force on racial equity released 125 recommendations for addressing racial bias within the state’s policing and criminal justice systems. The recommendations address policies and laws ranging from traffic stops to protest responses, arrests and reentry into the community after prison time.

IN: Indiana’s teacher pay problem can be fixed—for M, report says

A new report from a state commission estimates that Indiana needs to make a million investment in teacher pay over the next several years to raise the average teacher’s salary to ,000 a year. Indiana is one of the lowest paying states in the region and the worst in the nation in salary growth for educators. 

WI: Wisconsin agency waited weeks to seek information to resolve unemployment claims

Wisconsin’s workforce agency waited weeks in some cases to begin seeking information to resolve unemployment claims for state residents who lost work as a result of the pandemic, a new audit shows. 

NJ: New Jersey breaks another sports betting record: M in November

New Jersey gamblers wagered more than million on sports in November, the latest in a string of monthly records set by a rapidly growing market that’s closing in on the billion-a-month mark.

OK: Oklahoma on pace to break Affordable Care Act enrollment record

More Oklahomans than ever might sign up for a health care plan on the Affordable Care Act federal exchange for the upcoming year. Federal data shows Oklahoma is on pace to topple the record the state set last year when almost 160,000 signed up.

LA: Louisiana and New Orleans police used face recognition

The New Orleans Police Department has used a partnership with the Louisiana State Police to run face recognition searches since at least 2018, newly released records show. The American Civil Liberties Union called on the city to ban that use of the technology, as several other cities have done.

TX: Texas electors try to undermine election

Texas’ 38 electors delivered their votes for President Donald Trump and defiantly urged the legislatures of four swing states to overrule the will of their voters and appoint their own electors. The resolution also “condemn[ed] the lack of action by the U.S. Supreme Court” to overturn the election results.

MA: Massachusetts mayors agree to impose new pandemic restrictions

Mayors in some of Massachusetts’ biggest cities—including Boston, Brockton, Lynn, Newton and Somerville—have agreed to close down gyms, museums, movie theaters and other areas of their battered economies as rising infection rates force officials to roll back their tentative steps toward normalcy.

WY: Some Wyoming sheriffs say they can’t enforce mask mandate

The sheriffs in Big Horn, Converse, Fremont and Sweetwater counties of Wyoming all cited the practical difficulty of enforcing the order. Their concern centers on a provision in the order that exempts people with certain medical conditions from being required to wear masks.

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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.