Top State Stories 8/9
CA: Dixie fire, now the second largest in California history, has burned more than 400 structures
The Dixie fire is now the second largest wildfire in California history, burning more than 463,000 acres through a large swath of Northern California and destroying more than 400 homes and commercial buildings as firefighters have struggled to get the upper hand.
NJ: New Jersey governor says school mask mandate is ‘one we need to make’
Declaring that COVID-19 outbreaks will mushroom without a requirement for face coverings in classrooms, New Jersey Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy said he is requiring students, teachers and visitors in schools to wear masks indoors when the academic year begins.
FL: Florida approves vouchers for ‘COVID-19 harassment,’ new pandemic protocols in schools
Florida parents will be allowed to apply for vouchers and move their kids to another school if they perceive any type of “COVID-19 harassment” against their child in connection to district rules on masking, testing and isolation due to exposure, under a new emergency rule approved unanimously by the State Board of Education.
GA: Georgia schools can set their own rules for handling COVID quarantines
Under new rules, Georgia school districts are allowed to make their own quarantine policies for students exposed to COVID-19.
SD: South Dakota biker rally is busiest ever
A South Dakota motorcycle rally that became a superspreader event in 2020 is back and bigger than ever despite delta variant concerns. Calls to law enforcement doubled from last year in the opening days.
OH: Vax-a-Million boosted COVID vaccinations in Ohio, Harvard study says
A new study from Harvard University suggests Ohio’s Vax-a-Million lottery got more than 100,000 additional Ohioans to get in line for a COVID-19 vaccine. This contradicts an earlier study from Boston University School of Medicine suggesting that Vax-a-Million was not associated with an increase in COVID-19 vaccination rates in Ohio.
CT: Connecticut governor’s executive order requires COVID vaccines for long-term care workers
An executive order issued by Connecticut Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont will require all long-term caretakers, and employees in the facilities, to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
WA: Washington’s Latino population faces steep COVID risk
Across Washington, 43% of Hispanic residents have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, compared with 57% of all residents. Over the course of the pandemic, Hispanic people have accounted for 29% of COVID-19 cases, according to the state Department of Health, despite making up only 13% of the state’s population.
OR: COVID hospitalizations spike in Oregon
The number of Oregonians hospitalized with COVID-19 has skyrocketed over the past month, rising faster than in previous waves and almost entirely among the unvaccinated. Hospital leaders say patients requiring hospitalization are younger on average than ever before.
NC: North Carolina town declares a COVID state of emergency. Even toddlers must mask up.
The town of Boone in the North Carolina mountains declared a COVID-19 state of emergency amid rising cases among the unvaccinated, officials said. Effective 5 p.m. Aug. 10, residents ages 2 and older must mask up in all indoor public settings, according to Mayor Rennie Brantz’s declaration. The Town Council voted to reenact the state of emergency first imposed during the pandemic last year.
NH: COVID vaccination rates among Asian, Black residents decline sharply in New Hampshire
New updates to the COVID-19 vaccine data provided by New Hampshire state officials show striking impacts on vaccination rates for Black and Asian American residents. Before the dashboard was updated, on July 20, state data showed the estimated percentage of Black people in New Hampshire having received at least one shot of the COVID vaccine to be at 42%. On Aug. 6, with the new dashboard, it’s at 33%. Percentages for Asian Americans also dropped, from 71.5% having received at least one shot, to 58.1% now.
ME: COVID vaccination rates in Maine increased 11.7% since late July
COVID-19 vaccination rates in Maine are up 11.7% since late July, according to the state’s top health official.
KS: Kansas schools prepare for quarantines, though rapid testing, vaccines should make them less common
The Kansas Department of Health and Environment has urged districts to adopt rapid-testing protocols aimed at keeping more students learning in person, even after a potential exposure to COVID-19. That, combined with COVID vaccines for students 12-and-older, means widespread quarantines should prove less likely this year.
WI: Wisconsin governor signs bill requiring officers to report excessive force
Wisconsin Democratic Gov. Tony Evers signed into law a bill that bars police agencies from disciplining officers for reporting colleagues’ use of excessive force and requires officers to report when they use force or when they witness their colleagues using force. The governor also vetoed a bill that would have cut state aid for municipalities that reduce funding for police departments for any reason.
NV: Rise of cash buyers in Nevada’s housing market leaves conventional homebuyers locked out
Across Nevada, an increasing number of cash purchasers—including investors, investment pools, corporations and wealthy buyers from out of state—are squeezing out would-be purchasers reliant on loans and mortgages.
DE: Staffing shortages hurt Delaware’s small cities
Staffing shortages in Delaware’s city governments manifest as they compete with private businesses. In some places, it’ll take longer to repair downed power lines, collect the city’s garbage or send out utility bills. Small towns are reevaluating their pay scales to compete.
AK: Federal aid has been a lifeline for Alaska businesses
Federal aid programs pumped billions of dollars into Alaska, propping up thousands of businesses. The number of businesses that closed turned out to be far fewer than anticipated.
HI: Hawaii’s tourism industry is bouncing back, but jobs are scarce
A study shows unemployment insurance payments aren’t keeping Hawaiians from rejoining the workforce but economists don’t know why hospitality jobs have not fully returned.
NE: Facing gas shortages, Nebraska eases truck driver work rules
Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts, a Republican, eased restrictions on the number of hours truck drivers hauling gasoline can work. The move is aimed to ease gas shortages.
CO: New Colorado laws support people with disabilities
Supporting people with disabilities was among the topics that saw movement in the Colorado legislature this year, with lawmakers passing a slate of bills—many with bipartisan support—aimed at protecting people’s rights, preventing discrimination and increasing access to services 31 years after the federal Americans with Disabilities Act became law.
WY: Wyoming coal production sees modest bump after dismal 2020
A 6% increase in production for the first half of 2021 for mines in Wyoming’s Powder River Basin may not seem like much. But it’s a welcome reprieve from the 22.5% decline thermal coal saw last year.
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