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Hot dog contest, outdoor ballet, mask protests: News from around our 50 states

AlabamaTuscaloosa: The Alabama Department of Public Health said it could not verify reports of so-called COVID-19 parties where students deliberately tried to become infected, but it also warned people not to try it. Tuscaloosa City Councilor Sonya McKinstry told news outlets last week that she heard of students holding parties and wagering over who would become infected. The department said it could not verify any parties where persons tried to contract COVID-19 but warned that it is a dangerous and sometimes deadly virus. “Persons should not willfully expose themselves to this virus both for their own health and the health of others,” the department said. Tuscaloosa Fire Chief Randy Smith told the City Council on Tuesday that fire officials confirmed some students had attended parties despite knowing they were infected. The department thought the parties were rumors, but Smith said after some research, officials discovered they were real.AlaskaBethel: An official at one Alaska village says residents have been humiliated and discriminated against after the regional health corporation announced two people who were in the village tested positive for COVID-19. Napaskiak Tribal Administrator Sharon Williams said village residents have been turned away from businesses in the nearby hub community of Bethel, even though they are adhering to proper COVID-19 protocols, KYUK in Bethel reports. The Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corp. on June 25 said there was likely community spread of COVID-19 in Napaskiak after two people who were in the village tested positive. Williams sent two village employees for parts in Bethel. Both had tested negative for COVID-19 and wore masks, she said. “Once the worker heard Napaskiak, he asked them to get out,” she said. The store manager later apologized, saying the store employee was not following store policy.ArizonaPhoenix: The latest figures from health officials indicate the state is only intensifying as a coronavirus hot spot with new peaks in hospitalizations and emergency room visits. State health officials said Friday that the capacity of hospitals’ intensive care units was at an all-time high of 91%. The number of people hospitalized Thursday due to a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 was 3,013, the Arizona Department of Health Services reported. It’s the first time that figure had reached 3,000. People who went to the ER because of COVID-19 symptoms numbered at 1,847, nearly 500 more than a day earlier. The numbers of newly confirmed coronavirus cases and deaths as of Friday were 4,433 and 31, respectively, according to the state. Arizona’s total number of reported cases stands at 91,858 with 1,788 deaths.ArkansasLittle Rock: The governor on Friday allowed cities to enact measures requiring masks in public to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, relenting after opposing such mandates at the state or local level. Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed an executive order that would allow cities to enact a “model ordinance” requiring masks. The order does not require masks statewide, and the local ordinance would not include penalties for not complying. Hutchinson, a Republican, has opposed a statewide mask mandate and has previously said cities can’t impose their own restrictions. At least two Arkansas cities, however, have enacted their own mask requirements. Hutchinson announced the order as health officials said at least 22,622 people tested positive for the virus, an increase of 547 cases since Thursday. Two more people in the state had died from COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus, bringing the state’s total fatalities to 281.CaliforniaSan Francisco: As the coronavirus surges in the state, Californians celebrated Independence Day with virtual parades featuring photos of flag-draped front porches instead of pancake breakfasts and crowded festivities. Meanwhile, law enforcement officers were out and about, reminding people to wear masks in public and turning away disappointed sun-seekers from beaches that were closed to discourage crowds for the holiday weekend. California is in a make-or-break moment, with infection rates and hospitalizations rising sharply. Many communities canceled annual fireworks shows and limited or closed beaches, changes that appeared to successfully keep crowds at bay. Half Moon Bay on the Pacific Coast south of San Francisco set up barricades to prevent access to its beaches. But determined beachgoers on Friday simply carried small children and gear over the blockades.ColoradoFort Collins: Fans of Horsetooth Reservoir have taken to heart the message that it’s OK to enjoy the great outdoors during the coronavirus pandemic. Crowds flocked to the reservoir west of Fort Collins as well as other sites managed by Larimer County Natural Resources as they reopened in spring to boating, camping and hiking. The surge in visitation has carried over to summer. And with the people have come problems with safety and parking, county officials say. With so many people vying to get on the water at Horsetooth Reservoir, officials are looking into options for managing crowds. That could include hiring additional rangers. Potential remedies include setting up a reservation system for boat launching for entering the park.ConnecticutHartford: Representatives of the nursing home and assisted living industry are urging residents “to do their part” and help keep the current spread of the coronavirus low in the state as a way to prevent a resurgence in long-term care facilities. They credited social distancing, hand washing and the wearing of masks with the decreasing rate of infections and deaths in nursing homes and assisted living centers, which have borne more than half of the state’s deaths. Data released Thursday shows there were 58 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in nursing homes from June 24 to 30 and six COVID-associated deaths. During the pandemic, there have been a total of at least 2,789 deaths in nursing homes, which represents about 64% of the state’s total deaths. In assisted living facilities, there have been 1,068 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 370 confirmed or probable COVID-associated deaths.DelawareWilmington: The state announced 192 additional cases of coronavirus Friday, continuing a trend of relatively large daily increases compared with two weeks prior. Of those, 159 positive cases were reported Thursday, while 33 were from test results reported in previous days, state officials said. The state also reported two additional deaths due to the virus Friday, bringing Delaware’s death toll from coronavirus complications to 512. The state is seeing a surge in new cases compared with the rate of new cases two weeks ago. It was reporting an average of 56 new cases daily as of 18. That average had gone up to 127 as of Thursday, according to state data. The state reported 221 new cases Thursday, the highest daily increase since May.District of ColumbiaWashington: President Donald Trump enticed the masses with a “special evening” of tribute and fireworks in the nation’s capital Saturday, with new U.S. coronavirus infections on the rise. People wandered the National Mall in baking heat and took shade under the scattered trees while, not far away, music wafted from a party on the White House South Lawn. The crowds on the mall were strikingly thinner than the one gathered for last year’s jammed celebration there. Many who showed up wore masks. But not Pat Lee of Upper Dublin, Pennsylvania, or the two friends she came with, one a nurse from Fredericksburg, Virginia, whose only head gear was a MAGA hat. “POTUS said it would go away,” Lee said of the pandemic, using an acronym for president of the United States. “Masks, I think, are like a hoax.” But she said she wore one inside the Trump International Hotel, where she stayed. By the World War II Memorial, the National Park Service handed out packets of five white cloth masks to all who wanted them. People were not required to wear them.FloridaSt. Petersburg: The Fourth of July holiday weekend began Saturday with some sobering numbers in the Sunshine State: Florida logged a record number of people testing positive for the coronavirus. State health officials reported 11,445 new cases, a single-day record. The latest count brings the total number of cases in the state to 190,052. A website maintained by the Department of Health shows an additional 245 hospitalizations from the outbreak. More than 3,700 people in Florida have died. Local officials and health experts, worried that people would gather over this July Fourth holiday weekend and spread the virus through close contact, tried to mitigate spread by shutting bars statewide. On St. Pete Beach on Saturday afternoon, parking spaces were scarce as people flocked to the wide strip of sand on the Gulf of Mexico. On the beach, hundreds of people clustered in groups under umbrellas and in cabanas.GeorgiaAtlanta: A dog in the state is believed to have been the second canine in the U.S. to test positive for the virus that causes COVID-19, health officials said. The 6-year-old mixed breed dog was tested after its owners contracted COVID-19 and the dog began suffering from a neurological illness, the Georgia Department of Health said in a news release Wednesday. The dog was positive for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The dog was euthanized after the neurological illness progressed. Officials said the dog’s neurological illness was caused by a condition unrelated to the coronavirus. Guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that based on the limited information available so far, the risk of pets spreading coronavirus to people “is considered to be low.”HawaiiHonolulu: A U.S. judge will not stop the state from enforcing a quarantine on arriving travelers, saying in a ruling that the emergency mandate is reasonable during the public health crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic. A group of Hawaii, California and Nevada residents tried to stop the quarantine by filing a lawsuit alleging it is unfair and unnecessary. It violates the fundamental right to travel freely, they argued. The quarantine mandate, which applies to out-of-state travelers and Hawaii residents, doesn’t prevent people from traveling, and the plaintiffs “have elected not to travel – whether to or from Hawaii – because they do not want to be quarantined,” U.S. District Judge Jill Otake said in a ruling issued Thursday night denying a request for a temporary restraining order. The decision is good for Hawaii, the state attorney general’s office said Friday: “Our department will continue to wholeheartedly defend the Governor’s Emergency Proclamation.”IdahoBoise: The mayor said Thursday that she would sign a public health emergency order requiring face coverings in all indoor and outdoor public places in the state’s largest city. Boise Mayor Lauren McLean cited the significant increase in confirmed cases of COVID-19 in making the order, which took effect Saturday, for the city’s 225,000 residents. Boise, the state capital, becomes the fifth city in the state to require face coverings, after Moscow, Hailey, McCall and Driggs. Other local governments are considering similar measures as coronavirus cases surge in the state. Republican Gov. Brad Little has encouraged face coverings and wears
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