Top State Stories 8/19
WA: Washington hospitals are nearly at capacity
The labor shortage roiling American industries is now stressing the health care system, causing severe overcrowding in Washington hospitals. The state’s hospitals are at near maximum capacity, forcing administrators to shuffle patients to other facilities, cancel surgeries and fill hallways with rented beds.
MS: Short on nurses, Mississippi authorizes some paramedics and EMTs to care for hospital patients
The Mississippi Department of Health issued an order that allows certified paramedics and regular and advanced emergency medical technicians to care for patients in any part of a Mississippi hospital. The lack of staffed hospital beds in the state has left patients waiting days for care.
MI: Michigan’s top doctor asks governor for mask mandate in schools
Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, Michigan’s top doctor, said she has advised Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, that a mask mandate for K-12 schools would help keep children safe when they return to classrooms this fall, but Whitmer has yet to take action.
TX: Democrat says he’s returning to Texas House in hopes of ending his party’s quorum break
Democratic state Rep. Garnet Coleman said he’ll return to the House chamber, a move Republicans hope will help them get the quorum they need to approve a controversial elections bill and the rest of Republican Gov. Greg Abbott’s special session agenda.
RI: Rhode Island labor unions challenge vaccine mandates
More employers in Rhode Island are rolling out requirements that their workers get vaccinated against COVID-19 or face regular testing. But some labor unions are raising concerns about those requirements, saying management can’t impose them unilaterally and must negotiate with them first.
WI: Wisconsin governor says he backs local vaccine requirements for teachers
Teachers should be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 when Wisconsin schools reopen classrooms this fall, Democratic Gov. Tony Evers said. The governor’s comments come as officials in the state’s largest school district consider mandating vaccinations for their staff to prevent classroom closures.
AK: Alaska’s ICU system is maxed out
The people caring for Alaska’s most vulnerable patients say a new flood of COVID-19 cases is stressing the state’s already compromised intensive-care system at levels they’ve never seen before. There’s too many patients and not enough staffed beds, medical professionals ranging from the state’s top doctor to floor nurses said this week.
NY: New York officials contemplate ways to help Afghan refugees
In the days since the fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban, New York elected officials across the political spectrum have called for support to increase the number of visas for Afghans who helped America in its war over the past 20 years. Until they arrive in New York, however, there’s little state officials can do for them.
VT: Vermont governor tells White House the state welcomes Afghan refugees
Republican Gov. Phil Scott’s administration contacted the White House to say Vermont is open to taking in additional refugees following the collapse of the Afghan government last weekend. During his weekly news conference, Scott said the state had sought to convey that it was “ready, willing and able” to accept those fleeing war-torn countries.
MD: Maryland will require health care staff vaccination
People who work in Maryland’s hospitals and nursing homes will be required to get a coronavirus vaccine or submit to regular testing. Those employees must get their first dose by Sept. 1.
FL: Florida program for brain-damaged kids arbitrarily denied claims, overspent on perks, audit finds
Over the past two years, Florida’s embattled compensation program for children who suffer brain damage at birth spent nearly for holiday luncheons and violated state spending laws by offering lavish buffets to employees and board members but refused to reimburse a family for the full amount of a ,314 computer designed to help a nonverbal child speak, according to a report by the state auditor general.
OR: Oregon has paid out less than half of relief funds earmarked for landlords
Oregon has paid out less than half of the money it set aside for landlords through a state rent assistance fund approved by lawmakers last December. As of Aug. 11, landlords had received .6 million from the state through the Landlord Compensation Fund to cover the missed rent of tenants who have struggled to keep up with payments during the pandemic.
NJ: New Jersey will restore ‘Urban Enterprise’ program that cuts taxes in struggling cities
New Jersey is reforming the Urban Enterprise Zone program that allows businesses in distressed communities to slash sales taxes. Acting Gov. Sheila Oliver, a Democrat, who signed urban enterprise legislation, said the law also will dedicate .5 million in funding this fiscal year and up to .5 million a year in future years. (Oliver is serving as acting governor while Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy is vacationing in Italy.)
MO: Feds say Missouri law obstructs access to gun crime evidence
Kansas City police and some other Missouri departments are cutting off federal agents’ access to evidence in gun crimes under a new state law banning local enforcement of certain federal firearms laws, the U.S. Department of Justice said in a court filing. The evidence includes background on potential suspects and ballistics information from crime scenes.
SD: South Dakota guard says donation didn’t affect border plan
The head of the South Dakota National Guard said that Gov. Kristi Noem, a Republican, didn’t tell him she would use a private donation for the deployment to the U.S. border with Mexico until after the mission was already planned.
MN: Former Minnesota GOP staff allege toxic culture, sexual harassment at the party
Minnesota Republican Party Chair Jennifer Carnahan has presided over a toxic workplace culture and unchecked sexual harassment in the state party, according to a growing number of former staffers and activists who have leveled allegations against her.
MA: Massachusetts governor says prison shakedowns should be video recorded
Correction authorities should ensure that prison shakedowns and major reorganizations are video recorded, Republican Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker said, in his first public comments about a weekend Globe story on alleged abuses at the state’s maximum security prison during and shortly after a lockdown in early 2020.
PA: Philadelphia archdiocese advised priests not to help parishioners seeking vaccine exemptions
The Archdiocese of Philadelphia, in a letter to clergy obtained by The Inquirer, ordered priests not to assist parishioners seeking religious exemptions, joining some of the nation’s largest Catholic dioceses, including New York and Los Angeles, which have implemented similar policies in recent days.
CA: As thousands of residents flee California wildfires, official warns of price gouging
Price gouging on food, gas, housing and other essential items is illegal during a state of emergency, California Democratic Attorney General Rob Bonta said in a news release. Eleven California counties are under state of emergency orders for wildfires.
AZ: Arizona Republicans campaign for tighter voter ID rules as civil rights groups contest election laws
Republican supporters of tighter voter ID requirements in Arizona launched a ballot measure campaign that would require voters to show official ID when voting by mail, returning a spouse’s ballot or voting early. On the same day, a coalition of groups focused on racial and social justice filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court challenging two election bills lawmakers approved earlier this year.
NM: New Mexico State Fair vaccine mandate spurs concern
Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced everyone attending the upcoming New Mexico State Fair must show proof of vaccination. The mandate was announced as part of a new public health order that also requires health care workers and others to get vaccinated within a certain period of time or risk losing their jobs. A mask mandate for all public indoor spaces also was reinstated.
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