Tuscaloosa: Ripple effects from the COVID-19 pandemic will vastly reduce the carnival-like spectacle for Saturday’s 2020 University of Alabama home football opener. Just 20% of the 101,821 full capacity of Bryant-Denny Stadium will be allowed into the game, following guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Alabama Department of Public Health. And to provide social distancing, there will be no tailgating, no Walk of Fame, no Elephant Stomp. The Million Dollar Band will perform with just 96 members, instead of all 400, and only from the stands. There’ll be no half-time performance on the field. And while the 20,000-ish ticketholders will still make cheerful noise, among that murmur won’t be the cry of hawkers offering fistfuls of crimson paper. All ticketing is electronic. Ticket holders received notifications via email, allowing for download to Google Pay Wallet or Apple Wallet on their smartphones.
Juneau: The coronavirus pandemic has caused a national increase in the number of people enrolling in the federal Medicaid health payment program, and officials have said Alaska residents are joining at unprecedented levels. Over the past six months, more than 12,000 people in Alaska have joined Medicaid, known in the state as DenaliCare and Denali KidCare, Juneau Public Media reports. Alaska’s program covered 232,735 participants as of Aug. 31, or nearly 1 in 3 state residents, including most children. Alaska’s Medicaid enrollment increase of more than 5% is still smaller than most other states have reported. Among those taking out the coverage in Alaska at the highest levels are women and people living in northern, western and southwest Alaska. The highest concentration of new enrollments has been among young adults. Job losses are among the top reasons for the increase.
Phoenix: Arizona State University saw 134 new COVID-19 cases – 132 students and two faculty or staff members – in the past week, according to numbers the university released Monday night. In all, 211 students and four faculty or staff were considered positive for COVID-19 as of Monday, ASU said. The number of people considered positive for COVID-19 at one point in time has declined throughout the month, down from 807 students and 18 faculty and staff known to be positive as of Sept. 6, according to ASU. Of those students, 148 were off campus in metro Phoenix, 60 were in isolation on the Tempe campus, and the rest were in isolation among the other three campuses. Four fraternity and sorority chapters were on interim suspension Monday as ASU investigated them for possible COVID-19 violations, an ASU spokesperson said. The chapters were not allowed to participate in social events during the investigation.
Little Rock: The local teachers’ union backed off its call Monday for teachers only to work virtually because of concerns about the spread of the coronavirus in schools after dozens of teachers faced disciplinary action for not showing up for in-person classes. Little Rock Education Association President Teresa Knapp Gordon said members on Monday night called off its action. Sixty-nine teachers face disciplinary action, which includes the possibility of termination, for not showing up to teach classes in person, Superintendent Mike Poore told reporters. The 21,000-student, state-run district has about 1,900 teachers. Classes remained open Monday. “There will be a form of discipline, and that we’re working on over the course of the rest of the day,” Poore said. Gordon said Monday night that the teachers had received notices of pending disciplinary action.
Sacramento: The state is showing signs of a new surge of coronavirus cases, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Monday, warning of a potential third shutdown of businesses and more delays in school reopenings “if we’re not vigilant.” Coronavirus-related hospitalizations have fallen more than 20% in the past two weeks, and just 2.8% of people tested each day in California were positive for the disease, the lowest rate since the pandemic began. The improving numbers have prompted state officials to loosen restrictions in 13 more counties over the past few weeks, allowing more businesses to reopen while granting hundreds of waivers for elementary schools – mostly private – to resume in-person classes. But the “reproduction number,” a measure of how quickly the virus is spreading, is creeping up in the state’s most populated areas.
Boulder: The county has announced an update to coronavirus health restrictions, including a very slightly loosened limitation on gatherings of young adults. Boulder County Public Health announced the change Monday allowing 18- to 22-year-olds to gather publicly in pairs, The Daily Camera reports. The updated order also allows people to participate in “legally required activities.” A statement by the agency said a previous public health order prohibited any gatherings of two or more people, and public health officials changed the order “to ensure young adults feel safe in the community.” The amended order allows residents of 36 residences in designated “stay-at-home properties” to leave home for activities and travel deemed essential, including moving cars to avoid parking tickets. Public health officials added language allowing work, jury duty, permitted educational activities, and ceremonies such as weddings and funerals.
Hartford: Gov. Ned Lamont rescinded emergency orders Monday that had banned most visits at nursing homes amid the coronavirus pandemic, and the state’s Health Department issued new, relaxed guidelines. The move will allow indoor visits to resume with certain conditions on screening, social distancing and hygiene. Dr. Deidre Gifford, the acting health commissioner, said the conditions, which include limiting visitors to one per patient at a time, are based on new guidance from the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. “Making the decision to limit in-person visits at nursing homes is one of the hardest things I’ve had to do as governor, but amid the outbreak of this pandemic that is impacting the lives of so many people in our senior population, I knew it was the right thing to do,” Lamont said in a statement.
Dover: A judge has rejected a challenge by the state Republican Party to the constitutionality of a new law allowing universal voting by mail in this year’s elections. The judge on Monday denied the GOP’s request for an injunction to prevent vote-by-mail ballots from being counted in the November election. The judge said the General Assembly’s decision to use its emergency powers to declare that voting by mail was necessary to protect public health and ensure the continuity of governmental operations during the coronavirus epidemic was not “clearly erroneous.” The GOP filed a lawsuit last month arguing that lawmakers in the Democrat-controlled Legislature exceeded their constitutional authority in invoking emergency powers to pass the measure. In passing the bill, Democrats asserted that voting by mail is “necessary and proper for insuring the continuity of governmental operations” amid the coronavirus epidemic.
District of Columbia
Washington: The Washington Monument will reopen Thursday, six months after it closed amid the COVID-19 pandemic, WUSA-TV reports. Tickets are available online only, and the National Park Service is implementing new social distancing procedures to keep people safer while visiting. A comprehensive safety program has been implemented that includes timed ticketing, limited entries, physical distancing, and additional cleaning and safety measures to ensure the health and safety of visitors and employees. A face-covering policy for individuals while inside the monument accounts for physical distance limitations as well as legal and other considerations, consistent with relevant guidance to reduce the risks of the spread of COVID-19 and to ensure the health and well-being of NPS employees, contractors and visitors.
Fort Lauderdale: The state’s decision to fully reopen bars and restaurants is “very concerning,” according to the top infectious disease expert in the country. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, warned that the decision may lead to another outbreak, according to statements he made Monday on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” “That is very concerning to me,” Fauci told the morning show. “When you’re dealing with community spread, and you have the kind of congregate setting where people get together, particularly without masks, you’re really asking for trouble.” In fact, now is the time to double down a bit, Fauci said. “When I say that, people get concerned that we’re talking about shutting down,” he said. “We’re talking about common-sense type of public health measures that we’ve been talking about all along.”
Athens: An argument over masks in an Oconee County restaurant led to the recent arrest of a Winder man. An Oconee deputy was dispatched to a Five Guys restaurant Sept. 20 after a loud argument between a man and woman created a scene. Deputies said the 37-year-old Winder man entered the restaurant without wearing a mask, which prompted a woman to point him out to her children, telling them the man wasn’t showing good conduct and safety precautions during the pandemic. The man overheard the woman, and her comments “did not sit well” with him, the deputy reported. The man told the deputy he was angry that the woman told him he “had to wear a mask.” The man, who refused to cooperate even when warned of possible arrest, was charged with obstruction. He was also banned from Five Guys for two years.
Honolulu: Officials are making final updates to an online application for collecting traveler information to enforce public safety measures related to the coronavirus. Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim and Maui County Mayor Mike Victorino said they plan to supplement the state Safe Travels pre-arrival program with additional data and personnel to verify traveler information, The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reports. The Safe Travels testing program is scheduled to begin Oct. 15. Travelers are required to complete an online application and receive codes resembling square bar codes. Airport officials will use the codes to review passenger information for clearance or secondary screening. The information can be used by Hawaii officials including police to check on visitors who did not obtain negative COVID-19 test results prior to arrival and are required to quarantine for 14 days.
Boise: Some health experts are warning that the state is entering its third wave of new coronavirus infections. “I think we are a week into our third spike that is going to be bigger than either of the ones before,” said Dr. David Pate, a member of the state’s coronavirus task force and the former CEO of St. Luke’s Health System, Boise television station KTVB reports. “Every week we are opening up another school, and we are putting more kids in classrooms. In addition, we have college campuses back open, and we have resumed sports.” Pate noted that bars have reopened as well and that newly confirmed COVID-19 cases will likely reach their highest rates yet in the coming weeks. School leaders at Brigham Young University-Idaho in Rexburg sent a memo to students and employees last week warning that the school could close its campus and switch to online learning if cases continue to rise.
Chicago: Restrictions aimed at limiting spread of the coronavirus in the city’s restaurants and bars will ease slightly this week, letting more customers dine and drink indoors. Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced the decision Monday as Illinois officials said 1,709 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus have been reported statewide, and 13 more people have died. Statewide, 3.7% of the tests performed during the past seven days have been positive. In Chicago, Lightfoot said that figure is 4.5%. The changes to Chicago’s rules will let restaurants increase capacity from 25% to 40%, with a cap of 50 people within one room. Bars without food service, which the city shut down this summer after a brief reopening, can resume indoor service at 25% or a maximum of 50 people. Chicago is also allowing health and fitness centers to welcome patrons at up to 40% capacity, up from 25%. The lighter restrictions take effect Thursday.
South Bend: In a letter to students, faculty and staff Monday, University of Notre Dame President the Rev. John I. Jenkins apologized for not wearing a mask Saturday at the announcement of Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court. Photographs of Jenkins sitting shoulder-to-shoulder with others, shaking hands and not wearing a mask circulated quickly Saturday and drew criticism on social media. “I write to express my regret for certain choices I made that day and for failing to lead as I should have,” Jenkins wrote. The letter says that it was important for him to attend the ceremony because Barrett is a Notre Dame alumna and a professor at Notre Dame Law School and that upon arriving at the White House, attendees received rapid-response COVID-19 tests. Three Notre Dame students circulated a petition calling for the Student Senate to demand Jenkins’ immediate resignation, calling his actions “a bit hypocritical.”
Des Moines: A nurse was fired from her job after arguing with a patient’s family who said COVID-19 is a “hoax.” State records indicate that in April, Lisa Dockery was fired from her job as a home-health nurse for Recover Health Services. For the previous eight years, Dockery worked with one patient full time: a nonverbal boy with severe disabilities. As part her job, Dockery assisted the boy with all activities of daily living. After the COVID-19 pandemic struck, the boy’s parents allegedly told Dockery they believed the virus was a “hoax” and refused to wear a mask around her or their son. Dockery told the boy’s parents their child was at risk of death if he contracted the virus because of his respiratory problems, his need to be fed by tube and the fact that he is not ambulatory. After Dockery and the parents became involved in an argument about COVID-19, the boy’s father asked Dockery to leave, and Recover fired Dockery.
Topeka: The state on Monday reported another seven-day record for new coronavirus cases, with 16% of the tests for the virus during that period coming back positive. The continued spike in confirmed and probable cases comes as officials in some counties worry they won’t be able to spend some coronavirus relief funds before the end of the year as federal law requires. Some counties haven’t seen any of $400 million in aid allocated by the state in June because of the state’s process for reviewing their spending plans. During a news conference Monday, Gov. Laura Kelly said she was concerned with the lack of a statewide mask mandate and testing strategy. Kelly said she is also worried Kansans with preexisting health conditions may lose their health insurance if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns the Affordable Care Act.
Frankfort: Warning of a growing complacency in fighting the coronavirus, the governor said Monday that the state is experiencing a surge in cases that needs to be met with a commitment to public mask-wearing. The Bluegrass State had nearly 5,000 coronavirus cases last week – the most in a single week since the pandemic began, Gov. Andy Beshear said at a news conference. After about seven months of efforts to contain the virus, he warned that some people are becoming casual in responding to the health crisis, which could lead to more cases and ultimately more deaths. “The virus is here, and it waits for us to get casual,” Beshear said. His warning of a renewed surge of COVID-19 cases came on a day many children returned to school across the state. In recent weeks, Kentucky has repeatedly set record highs for weekly cases. With colder weather approaching, more people will be inside, where the virus spreads faster, he said.
Baton Rouge: The state’s top elections official won’t challenge a federal judge’s decision requiring him to offer more mail-in balloting options for the fall elections to people at higher risk to the coronavirus disease. Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin said he must focus on implementing the required changes, suggesting an immediate appeal of U.S. District Judge Shelly Dick’s Sept. 16 ruling could create confusion ahead of the Nov. 3 presidential election. “I and the voters deserve certainty,” Ardoin told The Advocate. “My staff, the clerks and the (voter) registrars and their staffs need to know how we’re conducting this election.” Ardoin, a Republican, said his decision against asking the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to hear the case on an emergency basis “cuts down on the amount of confusion for voters.” Early voting for the November election will begin Oct. 16 and run through Oct. 27.
Oakland: A large gathering over the weekend at a church has the “potential to be a superspreader” event, Town Manager Gary Bowman says. Deputy Police Chief Rick Stubbert said the church’s senior pastor, the Rev. Jamie Dickson, indicated the event at the Kingdom Life Church grew larger than planned. A crowd packed the church Saturday night for “Worship Night,” featuring a worship leader from California. The event is believed to have far exceeded the state’s limit of 50 people at an indoors gatherings because of the pandemic. Stubbert said the parking lot of the church appeared to be full Friday and Saturday, and there were “a lot of out-of-state plates coming and going.” The church canceled an indoor conference that was originally planned for this past weekend because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Annapolis: The Maryland Board of Revenue Estimates was scheduled to meet Tuesday afternoon to discuss updated revenue projections for the state. The panel planned to discuss new projections for the current fiscal year, which began in July, and for the next fiscal year. The forecasts will provide officials with the latest revenue projections and economic trends that have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The board includes Comptroller Peter Franchot, Treasurer Nancy Kopp and David Brinkley, who is Gov. Larry Hogan’s budget secretary. While Maryland officials will be wrestling with budget challenges, the state received some positive news earlier this month when revenues for the last fiscal year ended up stronger than expected. The comptroller announced the state has a fund balance of nearly $586 million. The governor submits a state budget for the next fiscal year to the General Assembly each January.
Salem: Multiple Salem State University students are expected to face discipline from the school and citations from the city after they attended a party with more than 50 people on Friday. A joint statement from Salem State and the mayor of Salem said any students found to have been at the off-campus party will face punishment for violating city health guidelines against large gatherings, The Salem News reports. Police are working with Salem State to identify students who were at the party. More than 50 people were reported to have attended, but it was not immediately clear how many were students. The owner of the home was cited for keeping a disorderly house. Anyone who attended the party is being urged to get tested for COVID-19.
Lansing: The state’s attorney general opened an investigation Monday into allegations that a ballot group may have committed crimes while gathering signatures to repeal a law that gives Gov. Gretchen Whitmer broad powers to manage the coronavirus crisis without legislative approval. Dana Nessel, a Democrat, said her office will probe Unlock Michigan, a Republican-affiliated committee that plans to submit its signatures Friday. If the group turns in enough – it needs 340,000 valid signatures – the initiative will go to the Legislature. The Detroit Free Press has reported on deceptive, potentially illegal tactics engaged by people who gathered signatures. The League of Women Voters and John Pirich, a retired election lawyer who supported Whitmer’s election, subsequently wrote letters seeking an investigation.
Moorhead: Six months after the state registered its first case of COVID-19, the serious effects of the virus are still hitting Indigenous residents hard despite their successful efforts to slow the spread. Since tribal health care has long been underfunded, and high rates of chronic health conditions including diabetes and obesity have put American Indians at high risk of severe complications from COVID-19, tribal nations continue to look cautiously ahead to what health officials warn will be a difficult fall and winter. After tribal leaders watched cases explode on the Navajo Nation, most tribes in Minnesota responded aggressively, closing casinos, launching communication campaigns, urging social distancing and requiring the use of masks, according to the Minnesota Public Radio News. Tribes began using rapid testing to help them understand how the virus was spreading in reservation communities.
Jackson: A letter circulating on social media claiming to be from the office of Gov. Tate Reeves and abolishing the statewide mask mandate is fake, Mississippi Emergency Management Agency officials said Sunday. “The letter is a FAKE,” the agency wrote on its Facebook page, adding that all of the governor’s executive orders can be found on the Secretary of State’s website. “Any major changes will be addressed in a press conference and an updated executive order.” Mississippi’s statewide mask mandate has been in place since Aug. 4 to stem the spread of the coronavirus. It is set to expire at 5 p.m. Wednesday unless the governor extends it. He has chosen to extend the mandate several times already. Agency officials posted a photo of the letter on Facebook and Twitter with “FAKE” branded across it in red lettering.
Springfield: Leaders of four universities and colleges have asked city leaders to extend a mask mandate that is scheduled to end in mid-October to help them keep students and faculty safe during the coronavirus pandemic. Presidents and chancellors of Drury, Evangel and Missouri State universities and Ozarks Technical Community College said in the letter that the requirement to wear masks in public and group settings has helped reduce cases of COVID-19 on their four campuses. The letter was sent Friday to Mayor Ken McClure and the Springfield City Council. The city’s mask requirement is scheduled to end at midnight Oct. 14. The schools will keep requiring masks even if the city allows its mask mandate to expire. But the college leaders said students and faculty don’t “live in a bubble,” and their safety and that of Springfield residents will suffer if the city mandate ends.
Helena: Just over two dozen inmates and detainees at a private prison in north-central Montana have tested positive for COVID-19, prison operator CoreCivic said Monday. Nearly 200 people at Crossroads Correctional Facility in Shelby were tested last Thursday and Friday, and 26 of them tested positive, CoreCivic spokesperson Ryan Gustin said in an email to the Associated Press. All inmates and federal detainees were asymptomatic at the time of testing, Gustin said. Those who have tested positive will be held separately from other inmates, Gustin said. Blair Tomsheck, director of the Toole County Health Department, said last week’s testing involved close contacts of people who had already tested positive. Three employees of CoreCivic who work at the Shelby prison have tested positive and “are recovering at home,” Gustin said. The facility can house about 700 inmates, but Gustin declined to say how many are there now.
Hastings: Hastings College is pausing some in-person classes and all its athletics this week after six members of the college tested positive for the coronavirus and another 54 were self-isolating or in quarantine. The decision will keep students on campus but change the way they attend classes for the rest of the week, according to the Hastings Tribune. All athletic practices and contests are suspended through Saturday. The suspensions went into effect at 4 p.m. Monday and are set to expire at 9 a.m. Sunday. The situation will be reviewed Friday, however, so officials can determine if the suspensions need to continue. The Hastings College Athletics Department reported that, as of Monday, the college had a total 38 people isolating because they had tested positive for the viral infection, known as COVID-19, or had been tested and were awaiting results. Another 22 were in quarantine due to COVID-19 exposure.
Nixon: Many older people living on the expansive Pyramid Lake Paiute Reservation in northern Nevada relied on the tribe’s senior services van to get to the grocery store or the doctor before the coronavirus pandemic ended that option. Now, tribal officials worry how elders and others who don’t have cars or can’t travel on their own will get to the post office to return their ballots before Election Day. “The distance has been a barrier for our people to vote,” tribal council member Janet Davis said outside the small, wood-shingle post office in the town of Nixon, not far from the turquoise lake that gives the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe its name. “We have elders that might not be able to move around much, those that might be afraid of the pandemic, people who are disabled and people that don’t have transportation.” To make voting easier, a new state law allows residents to fill out their ballots and let someone else return them on their behalf.
Manchester: The state’s hiking trails are packed, and officials are urging people to be prepared when they venture onto the trails in the White Mountains and elsewhere as more calls have come in for help. “They’re definitely on the increase,” Lt. Adam Cheney of New Hampshire Fish and Game told WMUR-TV. “Every night our lieutenant is up there, and sergeants are getting calls for either people lost off the trails or minor injuries or some medical.” Two people have died on trails in the state recently: one at Rumney Rocks, the other at Arethusa Falls. In some locations, trail parking areas are being overwhelmed with vehicles. Cheney said hikers should choose trails they can handle. When people are injured after hiking several hours, it takes rescue crews the same amount of time to reach them. “We don’t have people up on the mountains just waiting to get called to accidents on the mountain,” Cheney said.
Trenton: Legislative leaders on Monday gave final approval to $4.5 billion in new state debt they and Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy sought to plug budget holes stemming from the virus outbreak. The four-person Select Commission on Emergency COVID-19 Borrowing unanimously approved a resolution that signs off on the new debt, which amounts to nearly 10% of the state’s overall budget. The new borrowing means the state can continue to fund programs touted by Murphy, like pre-K and community college, but it also means the state is taking on more debt at an estimated 2.5% interest rate in addition to the $44.4 billion in bonded debt it already owes. The lion’s share of the new debt will go toward funding the state’s K-12 school formula, or about $2.3 billion. Also getting funded are medical education, health care subsidies, and services for maternal, child and chronic health care.
Santa Fe: The state has increased annual child support collections by $18 million as it intercepts federal economic impact payments to separated or divorced parents whose children do not live with them. The budget and accountability office of the Legislature says child support collections by the state’s enforcement office increased to $156 million during the 12-month period ending June 30, up from $138 million the prior year. Economic impact payments of up to $1,200 per adult and $500 for children were part of the $2.2 trillion COVID-19 relief package signed into law in March by President Donald Trump. New Mexico also is linking unemployment insurance claims automatically to child support programs so that a portion of benefits can be withdrawn.
New York: Hundreds of thousands of elementary school students headed back to classrooms Tuesday as New York City enters a high-stakes stage of resuming in-person learning during the coronavirus pandemic, which is keeping students at home in many other big U.S. school systems. Twice delayed, the elementary school reopening comes over objections from school principals who said the city’s complicated, changing plans put them in a staffing bind. Meanwhile, officials are worried about recent spurts in virus cases in some city neighborhoods after a summer of success at keeping transmission fairly stable in the city as a whole. “It’s a big moment for the city,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said on cable news station NY1 Monday night. With in-person learning for middle and high school students scheduled to begin Thursday, he noted, “as many as half a million kids could be in school in the course of this week.”
Raleigh: Visitors are now allowed into nursing homes in the state if those facilities meet certain conditions. The Raleigh News & Observer reports the change took effect Monday. It applies to nursing homes, skilled nursing facilities, adult care homes and other congregate facilities. The order is limited to facilities that have not had COVID-19 cases in the previous 14 days and those in counties where the percentage of positive coronavirus tests is less than 10%. As of Saturday, seven of the state’s 100 counties had positive test rates that were higher than 10%. Visitors also must be screened for COVID-19 symptoms. They must wear a face covering and use alcohol-based hand sanitizer before and after a visit. The order was signed by the Secretary of the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services. The state is following guidelines set by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
Bismarck: Hospitalizations due to illness from the coronavirus reached an all-time high in the state with 105 people receiving treatment in medical centers, health officials reported Monday. The record came a day after state officials met with leaders at two hospitals in Bismarck who told a governor’s task force they are nearing capacity because of COVID-19. Burleigh County, which includes Bismarck, leads the state with 719 active virus cases. Three new deaths were reported, including a woman in her 60s and man in his 80s from Burleigh County and a man in his 80s from Rolette County. North Dakota continues to lead the nation in the number of cases per capita over a two-week period, according to the COVID Tracking Project. The state confirmed 260 positive tests in 28 counties in the past day, led by Burleigh County with 69. A total of 20,983 cases have been confirmed since the pandemic began.
Columbus: A conservative lawmaker took his frustration over the state’s coronavirus public health orders to a new level Monday by demanding that criminal charges be filed against fellow Republican Gov. Mike DeWine. Rep. John Becker, R-Cincinnati, said DeWine has exceeded his authority under state law and the Ohio and U.S. constitutions in issuing orders restricting Ohioans’ movements and activities. He made his demand in Clermont Municipal Court under a provision of state law allowing private citizen affidavits. A reviewing prosecutor dismissed the request for charges almost immediately, and a DeWine spokesman called the move “absurd.” Becker filed to have the prosecutor charge DeWine with 10 crimes, including engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, complicity, terrorism, inducing panic and interfering with civil rights. DeWine has assumed dictatorial powers and “stuck his thumb in the eye of the General Assembly,” Becker said in an interview.
Oklahoma City: An Oklahoma Highway Patrol captain has become the first state trooper in Oklahoma to die of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. Capt. Jeffery Sewell of Atoka died Saturday at a Denison, Texas, hospital where he had been treated for the virus for about three weeks, OHP spokesperson Sarah Stewart said Tuesday. Stewart said that it was not clear how Sewell contracted the virus and that no other troopers have died but that others have been infected. The number of infected troopers was not immediately available. The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported 1,025 new virus cases Tuesday and 11 more deaths due to COVID-19, bringing the totals to 86,219 cases and 1,018 deaths, up from 85,194 cases and 1,007 deaths reported Monday. The actual number of cases in Oklahoma is likely higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected and not feel sick.
Salem: Gov. Kate Brown signed an executive order Monday extending the moratorium on residential evictions for nonpayment through the end of the year. The Legislature passed House Bill 4213, which established moratoriums on residential and commercial evictions in June that ran through the end of September with a six-month repayment period. Brown’s executive order runs from Sept. 30 through Dec. 31. “Housing is a critical human need, and, as we enter cold and flu season during a pandemic – and as many students learn remotely from home – it is absolutely critical that people not be turned out of their homes,” she said in a statement. “While my action today will address the immediate issue of preventing residential evictions through the end of the year, it is my hope that, when the Legislature next meets, they will take up the larger issues we need to address regarding housing relief.”
Harrisburg: A smaller-than-usual crowd of a few hundred people rallied for gun rights on the steps of the state Capitol on Tuesday, an annual event that also was attended by a few dozen state lawmakers. The Rally to Protect Your Right to Keep and Bear Arms constituted a pep rally, provided an update on the gun lobby’s legislative efforts and opposition, and gave those present an opportunity to target Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf and other political opponents. “Gov. Wolf needs to read the Pennsylvania Constitution again,” said state Rep. Stephanie Borowicz, a Clinton County Republican. “Every right that has been given to us hinges on the Second Amendment.” Organizers said rainy weather and the pandemic may have kept down attendance, and there were none of the busloads that have brought much larger crowds in other years. Most of those in the crowd and a majority of state lawmakers did not wear masks.
Providence: Police shut down a club for what authorities described as a “blatant disregard” for coronavirus rules, such as social distancing and capacity limits. Police served the Revel Lounge and Bistro with a cease-and-desist order early Sunday, the Providence Journal reports. Police said the club exceeded its capacity by more than 200 people. The club’s owner, Howard Silverman, denied the allegations and said he is doing his “very best” to follow the rules. “I take this very seriously,” Silverman told the newspaper. Silverman said that there were only 170 to 180 people on the premises while police were there and that 239 people are allowed inside the club under the coronavirus restrictions.
Greenville: The state Department of Health and Environmental Control announced 542 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in South Carolina and 12 new probable cases Monday. The agency also identified 10 additional confirmed deaths and one new death likely related to the novel coronavirus, according to a release. The new data brings the total confirmed cases in the state to 142,449 with 3,154 confirmed deaths. In its Monday afternoon press release, DHEC also clarified test result information from Clemson University. The department announced that Rymedi, a lab performing COVID-19 testing for Clemson since Sept. 13, completed its reporting of test results for Sept. 10-28, and the results show 18,051 negative tests and 813 positives.
Sioux Falls: The number of people with active coronavirus infections in the state declined for the first time in a week Tuesday to 3,684, according to data from the Department of Health. Health officials also reported five more deaths from COVID-19, while the number of daily new cases dipped from last week’s record-setting counts. The Department of Health reported 259 people have tested positive for the coronavirus, and 211 people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19. The state has been suffering through its worst wave of the virus in recent weeks. It recorded the nation’s second-highest number of new cases per capita over the past two weeks, with nearly 560 new cases per 100,000 people, according to Johns Hopkins researchers. South Dakota’s seven-day test positivity rate has remained one of the highest in the country, an indicator that more people have active infections than testing indicates.
Nashville: The state has given more than $170 million in federal relief funds to businesses struggling to survive during the coronavirus pandemic, but top officials aren’t saying exactly who is getting the money. “This is considered confidential taxpayer information,” state Department of Revenue spokeswoman Kelly Cortesi wrote in an email to the Associated Press in response to a request to review the list of businesses that had received government checks since the program launched in early June. Payments for eligible businesses range from $2,500 to $30,000, depending on gross sales. Cortesi cited a Tennessee statute that says the revenue department can’t disclose information about individual taxpayers. Earlier this year, Republican Gov. Bill Lee and other top state officials said about 28,000 Tennessee businesses would qualify for the program at the time it rolled out, claiming the majority would likely be small businesses.
Austin: As Travis County coronavirus cases continue to decline, social distancing orders may ease just in time to enjoy cooler fall conditions with friends. Mayor Steve Adler first addressed possible changes to social distancing orders during a virtual public briefing Monday night. Adler said once Travis County’s seven-day moving average drops to 10 new hospitalizations, health officials may allow for larger gatherings, especially outdoors. The seven-day average as of Monday night was 13, according to the city’s dashboard. Dr. Mark Escott, the Austin-Travis County interim health authority, echoed Adler’s statements to county commissioners during a public meeting Tuesday. Over the past three weeks, Escott said the moving average for hospital admissions has bounced between 12 and 18. Residents are currently allowed gatherings of no more than 10.
Lehi: The Utah Giant Pumpkin Growers group has recorded eight pumpkins from the state this year that weighed more than 1,000 pounds, setting a state record. The first-place pumpkin at the 16th annual event last Saturday in the city of Lehi came in at 1,825 pounds, KSTU-TV reports. The hefty gourd was grown by local farmer Mohamed Sadiq. It was the largest pumpkin to be grown outside a greenhouse and the second-largest pumpkin ever grown in Utah, event organizers said. The event was an official weighing session for the Great Pumpkin Commonwealth, an organization that has made giant pumpkin growing a hobby with standards to ensure quality, competition fairness and education. The group is hosting a second event at Hee Haw Farms in Pleasant Grove on Oct. 10.
Montpelier: Gov. Phil Scott on Tuesday urged Vermonters not to become complacent about the coronavirus with the number of cases growing in some other parts of the country, the Northeast and Quebec. Vermont had a total of 50 cases from Sept. 15 to 28 – its lowest two-week total since late May, when there were 45. “With the positive trends we’ve had for months, I know it can be easy to let your guard down, to get out more, see more friends, go to more gatherings, interact with more and with different groups, get a little closer, stay a little longer and pull that mask down more often,” said Scott, a Republican. But the safety measures are in place for a reason and are working, he said. “If we let up and get more relaxed, all of the hard work we’ve done can slip away as well, just like we’ve seen in other places like Hawaii, Montana and even Wyoming,” he said.
Richmond: Figures from the state Department of Corrections show that 31 prison inmates with COVID-19 have died since the start of the pandemic. The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports the highest toll has been at the Deerfield Correctional Center, home to many geriatric prisoners and prisoners with chronic health problems. The state has reported that 17 of its inmates have died. The facility has 265 active cases. They account for more than half the 474 known active cases in all the state prisons. The 925-inmate prison is located east of Emporia in Southampton County. Another outbreak is at the Fluvanna Correctional Center for Women. It has 115 cases. The Virginia Department of Corrections said it is following guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and the Virginia Department of Health.
Bremerton: There will be no screams coming from the Kitsap Haunted Fairgrounds this October. “After 17 seasons at the Kitsap County Fairgrounds, this will be the first season that the Haunted Fairgrounds will not be opening,” said James Tubberville, president of the nonprofit that operates the event. Over 12,000 people came through the Haunted Fairgrounds last year, the group said, and it deemed the risk too large for the volunteers and participants amid the coronavirus pandemic, even if the event were modified to be held entirely outdoors. To stay in the spooky spirit, each Friday throughout the month of October, a video will be shared on the Haunted Fairground’s website of the “Best of the Best,” which will showcase some of the best scares from previous years of the Haunted Fairgrounds.
Charleston: Gov. Jim Justice made an impassioned plea Monday for as many people as possible – healthy or otherwise – in the state’s most populous county to get tested for the coronavirus in an attempt to slow its spread. In announcing plans for “massively, aggressively” testing people in Kanawha County, Justice said at a news conference that multiple testing sites will be available this week. The county, whose seat includes the capital, Charleston, leads the state by far in active virus cases, with at least 980 in a state with nearly 4,000 active cases. The county has at least 77, or 23%, of the state’s 337 virus-related deaths. “If we don’t test more people, we’re not going to beat this disease,” Justice said. “I feel in my gut that we have an opportunity here and to be able to put a stranglehold on this terrible killer. I want to stomp it out.”
Madison: Less than 2% of the state’s residents had antibodies to the virus that causes COVID-19 as of July, based on early results of a study released Tuesday, as cases of coronavirus in the state continue to soar. The study was conducted by the state Department of Health Services, the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Survey of the Health of Wisconsin, and the Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene. The study tested 1,056 people, and of those, 1.6% were positive for the antibodies, indicating they had been previously infected, even if they didn’t have symptoms. The first wave of testing was completed in mid-August, with subsequent waves planned in October and over the winter. The testing was done before the surge in cases, which have made Wisconsin the third highest per capita in positives over the past two weeks.
Casper: A county Democratic Party has filed a lawsuit against its local county commission in order to extend the deadline to replace its longtime retiring county sheriff. The Albany County Democrats said in the lawsuit filed Monday that the Oct. 1 deadline to replace Sheriff Dave O’Malley, who announced his retirement in August, is too soon to properly vet candidates. The lawsuit comes amid protests that have taken place in Laramie, the county’s seat, over the 2018 police killing of Robbie Ramirez. He had a history of mental illness and was shot by a sheriff’s deputy. Under Wyoming law, a new sheriff candidate must be selected within 15 days of an office becoming vacant. With O’Malley’s retirement scheduled for Jan. 2, 2021, the party argued that the 15-day countdown should begin then rather than in September.
From USA TODAY Network and wire reports
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