Infected minks, airport layoffs, crawfish farmers: News from around our 50 states

AlabamaOpelika: High schools are severely limiting attendance at football games this fall because of the coronavirus pandemic, and at least one canceled sports after deciding it wasn’t worth the risk to play. Opelika High School said it will cap attendance at about 30% of the stadium’s capacity of 8,000 so fans can maintain proper social distancing, and Gulf Shores said attendance at athletic events will be cut by 50%. Other schools are also announcing attendance reductions or still working on plans. The first football games are scheduled for this week, although some schools have delayed contests after players or staff tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19. The moves follow an announcement by state health officials on Thursday that fans can attend games despite the pandemic. The agency asked schools to limit crowds and require anyone in attendance to wear face masks and keep away from other people to avoid spreading the virus. In Dallas County, Ellwood Christian Academy decided to cancel its football, volleyball and soccer seasons rather than take a risk during the pandemic.AlaskaAnchorage: The food service provider for the Anchorage and Fairbanks airports will lay off more than 140 employees because of the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic, the organization said in a letter to state officials. The layoffs will consist of 123 workers from Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport and 19 at Fairbanks International Airport, the food service provider, HMSHost, said in letters to state employment officials. The layoffs at the Anchorage airport will affect businesses such as Starbucks, Cinnabon, Humpy’s Great Alaskan Alehouse, Norton Sound Seafood House, Alaska Doghaus, Cream, Mezzanine Bar, Anchorage Marketplace and Local Alaskan Rustic Marketplace, the Anchorage Daily News reported. “The COVID-19 pandemic has devastated the travel and restaurant industries, and unfortunately, HMSHost sits at the intersection of both,” the letter said. “Never in the history of aviation and the hospitality industry have we experienced such catastrophic customer traffic declines.” The Fairbanks layoffs will affect businesses such as The Local and Starbucks, HMSHost said. The workers were originally furloughed in March. The layoffs are expected to be permanent on Oct. 15, HMSHost said.ArizonaThe Arizona Department of Health Services has approved a reopening plan for more than 20 gyms in the Phoenix area operated by EoS Fitness.Phoenix: The Arizona Department of Health Services has approved a reopening plan for more than 20 gyms in the Phoenix area operated by EoS Fitness. The gyms will be some of the first to open their doors after the state announced a number of health benchmarks to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and guide the reopening of certain businesses. When the benchmarks were announced on Aug. 10, the spread of COVID-19 in Maricopa County was “substantial” by state guidelines and had not slowed to a safe threshold for opening gyms. Still, the state said it would consider plans for reopening that followed stricter safety policies than will be required when the benchmarks are met. The approved plan for EoS Fitness centers includes limiting occupancy to about 100 members, or 10% capacity. Saunas, steam rooms, hot tubs and basketball courts – places where people are likely to come in close contact – will stay closed, according to the company’s website. The gyms will have water refill stations as opposed to drinking fountains, and will space exercise equipment at least 6 feet apart. EoS Fitness said it would not hold group fitness classes until the spread of COVID-19 is downgraded to “moderate” in Maricopa County, per the health department benchmarks.ArkansasPine Bluff: As of Thursday, Arkansas is sixth in the nation for COVID-19-related cases among inmates in state prisons, and Arkansas is ninth for most inmate deaths, according to data from the Marshall Project. Since March, The Marshall Project has been tracking how many people are being sickened and killed by COVID-19 in prisons and how widely it has spread across the nation and within each state. According to the Marshall Project there have been at least 4,665 cases of coronavirus reported among prisoners in Arkansas, with 3,883 prisoners recovered. Their report states there have been at least 34 COVID-19-related deaths. Since July, a continuous number of inmates have been announced as having died in various hospitals by the Arkansas Department of Corrections. Most recently, an inmate was pronounced dead on Saturday at CHI St. Vincent – Hot Springs. The inmate from the Ouachita River Correctional Unit was undergoing treatment for COVID-19-related symptoms. The inmate was in his late 50s and serving a sentence for criminal attempt at murder in the first degree. The Department of Corrections has extended suspension of inmate visitation until Sept. 1. The suspension includes all prisons and community correction centers, and it applies to regular and special visits.CaliforniaLos Angeles: A judge ordered immediate testing of all detainees and staff at an immigration detention center where COVID-19 was spreading for weeks while officials refused to test for the virus. Federal District Court Judge Vince Chhabria ordered the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency to conduct quick-result testing of everyone in the Mesa Verde ICE Processing Facility in Bakersfield, The Los Angeles Times reported. At least 54 of the 104 detained people remaining at the facility tested positive for the virus. Initial results from quick tests Saturday found 11 more positive cases, MacLean said. Chhabria’s order also directed about 140 staff members at Mesa Verde to be tested during their next shift, and weekly thereafter. The order followed results Friday showing nearly half of the detainees tested earlier in the week were positive for COVID-19. Deputy Public Defender Emi MacLean of the San Francisco public defender’s office said the judge cited the “deliberate indifference” of ICE and GEO Group, the private company managing the facility. The public defender’s office represents detainees at the facility in San Francisco Immigration Court.ColoradoRocky Ford: The 32nd Arkansas Valley Fair Board has canceled the 2020 Balloon Festival because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The festival was planned for Nov. 6-8 and has been rescheduled for Nov. 5-7, 2021. The festival was canceled to avoid adding more stress on attendees and participants, the board said in a news release. “We love our ballooning family and want everyone to be as safe as possible,” the statement said. “We considered many scenarios before coming to this decision. The strain of this pandemic has been difficult, and we do not want to put any more stress on our sponsors, pilots, or spectators.” For the last three decades, colorful and vibrant hot air balloons have filled the skies nearly every first week of November. Balloon pilots – professional fliers and often longtime thrill-seekers – have visited the Arkansas Valley and Rocky Ford where, weather conditions permitting, they would take to the skies. Pilots were usually happy to take locals and visitors up with them, too, where one could get a rare, expansive look at the valley.ConnecticutNew Britain: Two Connecticut parents filed an appeal in state court challenging a Department of Education requirement that students returning to classrooms this fall wear facemasks. The appeal filed Friday in Superior Court in New Britain seeks to have the department rescind the requirement to wear face coverings and to issue an order stating that neither the department nor local school districts can impose such a requirement, according to the Hartford Courant. “The Defendants’ requirements regarding the use of face coverings, masks, and face shields in schools … place an unconstitutional burden and restriction on the Plaintiffs’ fundamental right to an education, and is a denial of their right to equal protection of the law,” according to the filing. An emailed response Saturday from the Department of Education and the Office of the Attorney General said: “We are reviewing the complaint and will respond in court. Masks keep people safe. Please wear your mask.” The parents named in the filing are Jenna Matos, whose children ages 5 and 7 attend a parochial school in Manchester, and Raena Ferguson of East Lyme, whose 14-year-old child attends the local high school. The parents were joined in the appeal by the Connecticut Freedom Alliance. The mask requirement was included in a plan the education department released this summer stipulating certain rules schools must follow if they open for in-person learning this fall.DelawareThe 31st annual Sea Witch Festival has been postponed to Oct. 29-31 of next year amid concerns over the coronavirus pandemic, organizers announced Monday.Rehoboth Beach: The 31st annual Sea Witch Festival has been postponed to Oct. 29-31 of next year amid concerns over the coronavirus pandemic, organizers announced Monday in a Rehoboth Beach-Dewey Beach Chamber of Commerce email. Organizers stated that COVID-19 regulations and mandates “cannot be met” for such an event. “Next year will be bigger & better than EVER, including more entertainment, more activities, and more FUN!!” they added. The Sea Witch Festival, which welcomes thousands of people to Rehoboth Beach each fall, is one of the latest crowd-drawing events in southern Delaware to be impacted by the pandemic. Last week, the Jazz Festival was also postponed to October 2021. The Sea Witch Festival is a weekend-long event that attracts visitors well after the summer season ends, making Monday’s announcement especially taxing on small businesses. Rehoboth Beach, like many resort towns along the Delaware coast and nationally, has taken an economic punch this summer season, with less visitors, an uptick in hotel cancellations and restaurants facing limited capacity and other strict COVID-19 regulations.District of ColumbiaWashington: Asymptomatic spread of the coronavirus has been a major source of infections in the District, WUSA-TV reported, according to new data revealed by an analysis of the city’s contact tracing cases. In a presentation released Monday, DC Health offered lessons learned from an analysis of 971 confirmed cases of the coronavirus between July 31 and Aug. 13. According to DC Health, more than half of those surveyed, 51%, said they had not come into contact with a person diagnosed with COVID-19 during the exposure period. To illustrate this, DC Health offered several contact tracing case studies derived from the data, including one in which three branches of an extended family became infected with the virus after attending a birthday party together – despite none of the attendees showing symptoms until the day after the party. The presentation also found troubling reports about large gatherings that have continued to be held in the District. Of those surveyed, 145 people reported attending a large event during their exposure event. More than 60% of those indicated that some part of the event occurred indoors, and the same amount said social distancing wasn’t observed during the event. Also, of those surveyed, 102 said they have traveled during their exposure period, with air travel being far and away the most common (71%), followed by rideshare (33%).FloridaDaytona Beach: Ninety-three inmates at the Volusia County Branch Jail have tested positive for the coronavirus since July 31, according to a county spokesman. The jail began routinely testing all inmates on July 27 except for inmates who were booked and immediately bonded out, said spokesman Gary Davidson. Before that, the jail had only been testing inmates who exhibited symptoms, Davidson wrote in an email. Davidson provided statistics on Friday going back to July 27 showing that 1,128 inmates have been tested resulting in 93 positive results. Those 93 are in addition to 13 inmates who had tested positive by July 31 at the jail, Davidson wrote. Davidson said that all the inmates who have tested positive since July 27 were asymptomatic. “Because of the proactive testing measures, we’re now able to identify and isolate the inmates as necessary to help prevent further spread,” Davidson wrote. He said the jail has not had any coronavirus-related deaths and none of the inmates who has tested positive has been hospitalized. Jail staff are awaiting the results on about 275 tests; 1,033 inmates have tested negative.GeorgiaAtlanta: Gov. Brian Kemp, who has opposed local mask mandates and even sued over one in Atlanta, has signed an executive order that allows local governments to enact mask requirements to help fight the coronavirus pandemic. As with previous orders, the one issued Saturday said residents and visitors of the state are “strongly encouraged” to wear face coverings when they are outside of their homes, except when eating, drinking or exercising outside. But unlike previous orders, this one allows local governments in counties that have reached a “threshold requirement” to require the wearing of masks on government-owned property. A county meets that threshold requirement if it has had 100 or more confirmed cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 people over the previous 14 days. Only two of Georgia’s 159 counties were below that threshold, according to data from the state Department of Public Health. Local mask mandates cannot result in fines, fees or penalties against private businesses or organizations, and penalties against individuals for non-compliance cannot included a fine greater than $50 and cannot include prison time, the order said. If people are not in compliance, local authorities must warn them “about the health risks posed by not wearing a face mask or face covering” prior to issuing a citation. Local mask requirements can’t be enforced on residential property and can only be enforced on private property, including businesses, if the owner or occupant consents to enforcement, the order said.HawaiiKahului: Kahului Airport on Maui has completed its second phase of its thermal screening project meant to fight the spread of the coronavirus. The screening uses thermal imaging and facial recognition technology to pinpoint people with a temperature of 100.4 degrees or higher. Dual lens cameras have been installed at all arrival gates and TSA checkpoints in the airport. When Phase 3 is completed, the cameras will be able to track travelers with high body temperatures so contact tracers can stop and screen them before they leave the airport, The Maui News reported. Maui Airports District Manager Marvin Moniz said he expects Phase 3 to be completed before the end of the year. The technology is being implemented at all five of Hawaii’s main airports. In response to growing privacy concerns, Moniz said the images are erased every 30 minutes. There are also signs throughout the airport that alert travelers about the thermal screening cameras. “It’s not recorded, it’s just like a queue,” said Maui District Assistant Airport Superintendent Larry Miller. “It’s not permanently stored.” Moniz said the airport is using the system to flag people, even before the third phase starts. He said personnel from the American Medical Response and the Kahului Airport Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting Unit are tasked with testing passengers who are flagged for high temperatures. He said those who have been flagged so far using the cameras include a person who had a kidney infection and another with an ear infection.IdahoBoise: A group that had been collecting online signatures for an education initiative called off the effort Thursday following a U.S. Supreme Court ruling against them late last month. The court case remains active, but it’s back at the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and not likely to wrap up with enough time left to get the initiative on the ballot. Reclaim Idaho contended it should be allowed to collect online signatures during the pandemic. The initiative would have raised $170 million for K-12 education by raising taxes on corporations and individuals making $250,000 or more annually. “This is an initiative that promised to save Idaho from deep cuts to the K-12 budget, and it’s an initiative that the vast majority of Idahoans support,” said Luke Mayville, co-founder of Reclaim Idaho, in a statement. The group backs initiatives and successfully got Medicaid expansion on the ballot several years ago that ultimately became law. Reclaim Idaho in the lawsuit filed in June said Republican Gov. Brad Little’s statewide stay-at-home order in late March because of the pandemic didn’t include exceptions for ballot initiative signature-gathering. The group said that violated the First Amendment-protected process of signature gathering, a form of political speech. Idaho does not allow online signatures for ballot initiatives. The state argued in court documents that allowing such signatures undermines the election process. Reclaim Idaho won in U.S. District Court and the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, allowing online signature gathering. But the U.S. Supreme Court sided with Little, putting online signature gathering on hold and sending the case back to the appeals court to be decided on its merits.IllinoisChicago: Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced fresh restrictions Sunday for southwestern Illinois after a resurgence of COVID-19 cases. The rules, effective Tuesday, include limiting meetings and social events to the lesser of 25 people or 25% of overall room capacity and closing bars and casinos at 11 p.m. The restrictions follow three straight days of a positive test rate of 8% or higher. Illinois’ statewide average is 4.1%. “Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, I have made it clear that neither arbitrary dates on a calendar nor political pressure will dictate Illinois’ efforts to protect our people,” Pritzker said in a statement. “If the data shows we need to go backwards in our reopening, I won’t hesitate to tighten restrictions to protect our collective health.” The restrictions apply to seven counties, including Madison and St. Clair.IndianaIndianapolis: Arts, cultural and tourism organizations across the state can compete for a share of $10 million in aid intended to give a boost to groups impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch has announced that qualifying organizations whose normal operations have been disrupted by COVID-19 are eligible for the state grants, which are funded by the federal CARES Act. “The arts and cultural sector adds vibrancy and depth to Hoosiers’ lives and is a significant factor in the health of Indiana’s tourism economy,” Crouch said. The funding will be jointly awarded by the Indiana Destination Development Corp. and the Indiana Arts Commission, The (Northwest Indiana) Times reported. Indiana-based nonprofit organizations can apply for the funds through the Indiana Arts Commission website at The application deadline is Sept. 8.Lewis Ricci, executive director of the state arts commission, said the funding “will help preserve the arts and cultural community assets that our citizens value.” “In cities, towns and counties both urban and rural, big and small, the arts play a vital role in economy, quality of life, and community identity,” Ricci said.IowaDes Moines: Another three people with COVID-19 have died and there have been an additional 395 confirmed cases, the state reported Monday. There have been a total of 978 COVID-19-related deaths in the state. The state has a total of 52,616 confirmed cases of coronavirus, an increase of 395 since Sunday. Of those tested Sunday, 11.8% were positive. Since the state started tracking the positivity rate, 9.4% of people who have been tested were positive.KansasWichita: Teachers who quit because they don’t feel safe returning to teaching in-person classes during the pandemic might have to pay their school districts up to $10,000 for backing out of their contracts. Penalties for quitting or resigning are meant to help districts find replacement teachers, but schools must prove that their penalty fee is based on the cost of replacing that teacher and not just an arbitrary amount designed to punish teachers. Educators said heading back to school seemed a lot safer before the resignation deadlines a few months ago when the coronavirus outbreak appeared nearly under control, KMUW-FM reported. The state had reported its lowest number of new coronavirus cases in two months and businesses were slowly reopening. Some educators said it’s unfair to charge teachers for escaping their contracts if the situation has changed and they no longer feel safe returning to the classroom. Marcus Baltzell, head of communications for the Kansas National Education Association, said forcing teachers to pay could just lead to more teachers quitting. “You can claw back as much money as you want, but if you’re not careful, then what you end up with is a district with no teachers,” he said. Usually districts ask for about $2,000, depending on how late a teacher leaves. But some districts do more. Emporia Public Schools is asking for $5,000 if a teacher resigns after August. The Syracuse school district near the Colorado border asks for $10,000.KentuckyFrankfort: Gov. Andy Beshear raised concerns about tightening supplies of testing materials and personal protective equipment in the fight against COVID-19. The Bluegrass State has built reserve supplies of some PPE and is in better shape than most states to deal with shortages of testing materials, Beshear said. “I believe that in Kentucky, we are in a much better place because of our local partnerships,” the Democratic governor told reporters. “But I will warn everybody that we’re starting to see the market tighten in both testing supplies, which are at a very difficult level, and PPE. It’s getting harder and harder, once again, to get certain items of PPE.” His concerns about the availability of crucial supplies come as Kentucky recorded its highest number of coronavirus cases in a single week. The state had 4,333 reported cases last week, Beshear said. He’s hoping the state has reached a “new plateau” in weekly cases.LouisianaBaton Rouge: Crawfish farmers are now eligible for a $16 billion coronavirus aid program run by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Crawfish are among scores of commodities added to the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program announced in May. Louisiana’s congressional delegation, state Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain, the Louisiana Farm Bureau Federation and the LSU AgCenter have been pushing to add farmed crawfish to the list. “For generations, crawfish have brought Louisianans together to celebrate the change in seasons, our faith, our families, and our heritage,” Louisiana’s U.S. senators and representatives said in a July 6 letter to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. “While the social impact of the loss of these celebrations on the people of Louisiana can never be quantified, the economic loss to the State is estimated at over $146 million for 2020.” Program details are available at MainePortland: Maine’s community banks are getting credit for swiftly funneling aid to businesses through the Paycheck Protection Program. Although national banks prioritized large businesses, Maine banks helped small businesses stabilize and the economy with hundreds of millions of dollars of forgivable loans, the Portland Press Herald reported. More than 46% of Paycheck Protection Program loans over $150,000 were made by just six locally owned banks, according to data from the U.S. Small Business Administration. National banks were far less active in PPP lending in Maine. The top 10 national PPP lenders, including TD Bank, KeyBank, Bank of America and Chase Bank, provided just 13% of loans under $150,000, and about 17% of larger loans in the state. “I think everyone realized that the goal was to get as many of those loans approved and in the system as quickly as possible,” said Kim Donnelly, director of business banking at Gorham Savings Bank. To date, about 28,300 loans worth more than $2.2 billion have been made to Maine employers. The vast majority of loans are below $150,000. The loans could be forgiven if businesses meet certain spending and employment thresholds. Loan balances that aren’t forgiven could be repaid over up to five years at 1% interest.MarylandA health care worker performs an antigen test at a COVID-19 testing site. The Maryland Department of Health will keep the results of rapid antigen tests separate from those of more accurate molecular tests in its official count of COVID-19 cases, a state health official said.Annapolis: The Maryland Department of Health will keep the results of rapid antigen tests separate from those of more accurate molecular tests in its official count of COVID-19 cases, a state health official said. The antigen tests, which are the centerpiece of Gov. Larry Hogan’s interstate compact to expand COVID-19 testing, can offer results in 15 to 20 minutes, rather than days. But they are also less sensitive than the standard molecular tests, known as PCR tests, experts said. The use of antigen tests in Maryland is limited, said Dennis Schrader, chief operating officer and Medicaid director for the Maryland Department of Health. The rapid tests will form the next phase of testing, he said – one that is focused on fast, high-volume screening. Because the antigen tests will focus more on screening than on diagnosis, he said, the results from those tests will be tracked separately from the results of PCR tests. Schrader said the antigen tests also will not be used to calculate the state’s positivity rate, a key metric that measures what percentage of COVID-19 test results are positive.MassachusettsBoston: The city’s Museum of Science and a top Harvard University health expert have teamed to make it easier for anyone anywhere in the world to get answers to questions about the coronavirus pandemic. The interactive exhibit, featuring Dr. Ashish Jha and using StoryFile’s conversational video artificial intelligence technology, was unveiled Monday, the museum said in a statement. “ Ask a Virtual Expert: COVID Conversations with Dr. Jha “ allows the curious on-site and remotely to ask a digital image of Jha a multitude of questions about COVID-19. The answers are based on Jha’s responses to more than 550 questions. The museum’s goal is to make complex scientific topics accessible, President Tim Ritchie said in a statement. “The suite of COVID exhibit content we present in the museum and online – especially the opportunity to have a “personal” conversation with an AI version of one of the world’s leading public health scientists – does just that,” he said. Jha is a professor of global health at Harvard and director of the Harvard Global Health Institute. “Collaborating with the Museum of Science on this experience was, for me, an extraordinary opportunity to reach people – children and adults alike – with fact-based information about health policy, disease transmission, the importance of masks and social distancing and global efforts to combat COVID-19,” he said in a statement.MichiganDetroit: A state employee who was accused of stabbing a man after a face-mask dispute and was fatally shot by a sheriff’s deputy had been reprimanded for three separate work incidents from 2017 to 2018, according to state personnel filings. Michigan Department of Transportation employee Sean Ruis, 43, was disciplined following interactions with colleagues, according to The Detroit News. The newspaper cites filings it obtained through a public records request. Ruis had worked at the agency for 12 years. In a March 2017 incident, he was issued a notice of reprimand for approaching a coworker and questioning him about his use of leave. “You had been previously instructed, multiple times, by your supervisor and by labor relations, that the employee’s use of leave is confidential,” the notice said. “You continued to confront this coworker even after he had informed you that you were harassing him.” Ruis, 43, was shot last month near Lansing after a stabbing inside a Quality Dairy store. Authorities alleged he stabbed a 77-year-old man after being approached about not wearing a mask. The victim, John Duncan III, was left in critical condition and later died, family members said. Later, a sheriff’s deputy shot Ruiz when he tried to attack. He was holding a screwdriver and knives, authorities said.MinnesotaFlyers indicating COVID-19 restrictions are pictured on the doors of Sauk Rapids-Rice High School.Sauk Rapids: Students in the Sauk Rapids-Rice district will return to classrooms for the 2020-21 school year, but how a school day will work and which students can return first could be different between buildings and grade levels. Although the school board voted 6-1 at a special meeting Thursday to begin the school year with in-person learning for all students, the first weeks of classes might not see every student return all at once. “The biggest piece, from my perspective, is giving our staff and our students time to understand what our new normal is,” Superintendent Brad Bergstrom said at the meeting. “What we need to do at the elementary level, time-wise, may look a little different than what we need to do at the secondary level,” Bergstrom said, “and I think that we may need more than one week to do that in some circumstances.” The specific plans for reopening each building and grade level will fall to building administrators with guidance from the district, based on factors like the size of the building’s spaces and ability to allow for social distancing. All students might not return to school at the same time, Bergstrom said after the meeting. In a normal school year, he said, ninth- and sixth-graders begin the school year earlier than other students to get acclimated and transition to a new building. Mark Hauck was the only board member to vote against the in-person plan with building-specific slow starts.MississippiJackson: Fall sports and extracurricular activities for students in Mississippi’s second-largest school district have been canceled amid concerns surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. Jackson Public Schools announced the decision Friday, The Clarion Ledger reported. “I know how disappointing the cancellation of sports and extracurricular activities may be for students, coaches and parents, but the school district must make decisions that make safety our top priority,” Daryl Jones, the district’s athletic director, said in a news release. “As we will not be able to host competitions with teams in a way that we can comply with the guidance from all levels of government and health officials, we must put safety first.” In the district’s announcement, alternative methods of developing student-athletes were outlined. Seniors can create highlight videos to introduce themselves to college coaches, officials said. Small group workout sessions emphasizing technique and skill development can also be conducted and there will be a winter showcase for senior student-athletes. Small group lessons will be held for band members and small-group tumbling assistance and training will be available for cheerleaders, the district said. The district cited Hinds County’s “hot spot” designation by Gov. Tate Reeves and Mississippi’s high positivity testing rate in making its decision. It also referred to the decision by Power 5 college conferences like the Big Ten and Pac 12 to not play sports this fall.MissouriSt. Louis: A security guard who was beaten in a confrontation over facemasks opened fire early Saturday and wounded one of his attackers. St. Louis Police said the shooting happened around 2:30 a.m. after the guard told three men they couldn’t be inside a Shell gas station because they weren’t wearing masks. The city is requiring masks to slow the spread of the coronavirus. The men left but kept the door open and taunted the guard, police said. When the guard ordered the men to leave the property, they surrounded him and began punching him in the face. One of the suspects grabbed the guard’s baton and struck him several times. The guard then shot at the suspects, hitting one of the men in the abdomen, police said. That man was dropped off at a hospital where he was listed in critical but stable condition. The other two suspects fled.MontanaGreat Falls: The number of COVID-19 cases in Montana dipped to 43 on Monday, a 53% drop and tying the lowest figure reported in 22 days. In north-central Montana, Cascade and Phillips counties reported one each. The total number of confirmed reports is now 5,792. Of those, 4,162 have recovered and 1,548 remain active, according to There are 92 people who are still hospitalized out of 330 total hospitalizations. The number of deaths remained at 82. The number of cases from Saturday, reported Sunday, was 92. There were 120 on Friday, 132 on Thursday and 142 on Wednesday, according to The last time 43 cases was reported was July 26. The lowest before that was 37 on July 5. Flathead County reported 15 cases, Yellowstone County had 11, Big Horn had 10 and Carbon had two, the state reported. Cascade, Gallatin, Madison, Missoula and Phillips counties each had one.NebraskaWayne: Two Wayne State College professors said they are frustrated that their requests to teach remotely this fall were denied. Longtime history professor Don Hickey, 76, said he hired an attorney after college officials rejected his request. “This is a scandal to us – that they’re playing hardball with senior faculty and putting them at risk,” Hickey said. After Hickey told administrators he would teach his classes remotely whether they approved or not he was told his classes would be taught on campus by other faculty members. Hickey has taught at the school since 1978. A request by another Wayne State history faculty member, Joseph Weixelman, 63, also was rejected. Weixelman said he has multiple sclerosis and that medications for that disease suppress the immune system, which could make him more susceptible to severe illness from the COVID-19 virus. “I feel scared,” said Weixelman, who plans to teach his courses on campus. “With my age and a preexisting condition, I’m not sure I would make it through” a bout with COVID-19. A spokeswoman for the Nebraska State College System said fewer than 20 professors requested accommodations for teaching this fall under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Spokeswoman Judi Yorges said she wasn’t sure how many requests were granted. Yorges said in a statement that decisions “have been made with the best interests of our students and staff in mind. It is unfortunate if these efforts are misrepresented as ‘playing hardball.’ ”NevadaLas Vegas: In a letter to state officials, the food service provider at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas said it will lay off 940 employees. HMSHost sent a letter to the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation about the decisions last Tuesday. The group also said that any workers that were furloughed and not scheduled to return to work by Oct. 15 will also be let go. Most of the layoffs are for those working as fast food clerks, restaurant hosts, baristas, bartenders and servers. Food and retail outlets at the airport have been severely affected by the pandemic, which has greatly diminished air travel. Although some outlets at McCarran have reopened with limited hours, many remain closed. “HMSHost continues to see an unprecedented decline in traffic in airports and on the motorways,” the company’s letter said. “The COVID-19 pandemic has devastated the travel and restaurant industries and, unfortunately, HMSHost sits at the crossroads of both. Never in the history of aviation and the hospitality industry, have we experienced such catastrophic customer traffic declines.”New HampshireManchester: When the coronavirus pandemic shut down schools and museums, the Aviation Museum of New Hampshire used its flight simulator to bring children on a virtual trip around the world in a Douglas DC-3, which is credited with helping the allies win World War II. “Every segment was a learning adventure in which we discussed the physics of flight, in which we discussed the culture and the history and the geography of the areas that we were flying over,” said Jeffrey Rapsis, the museum’s executive director. WMUR-TV reported that the museum celebrated the end of the remote learning program Saturday by displaying one of the 21 passenger propeller planes. Hundreds turned out, wearing masks to get a close look.New JerseyBefore the coronavirus pandemic, a student at the Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine treats a patient during clinic hours. The deans of both of Rowan’s medical schools are calling upon Gov. Phil Murphy to create a task force to best address the virus’ threat of clinical hours in the face of a projected physician shortage.Trenton: The state has a shortage of nearly 3,000 physicians, according to the New Jersey Physician Task Force of the New Jersey Council of Teaching Hospitals. And that shortage could become critically worse if COVID-19 restrictions have a serious impact on medical school students who have to accumulate clinical hours for their accreditation. The deans of Rowan University’s two medical schools are asking Gov. Phil Murphy to create a task force to address the threat of a projected physician shortage. Unless accrediting bodies, government agencies, hospital associations and medical regulators come together to address a possible threat to clinical hours and accreditation, those numbers exacerbate the physician shortage, said Dr. Thomas A. Cavalieri, dean of Rowan’s School of Osteopathic Medicine in Stratford, and Dr. Annette Reboli, dean of Cooper Medical School of Rowan University in Camden. “All these groups are stakeholders in this and need to come together to see to it that the medical schools are getting what they need in order to produce a physician workforce at the state and national level,” Cavalieri said. “If not, there’s a lot at risk. If we don’t address this issue, and we get hit with another pandemic, there will be a serious shortfall of appropriately trained physicians to respond.”New MexicoJemez Springs: A popular music camp in New Mexico is canceling its summer program for the first time in more than 60 years because of COVID-19. KRQE-TV reported organizers for the Hummingbird Music Camp in Jemez Springs recently made the decision as the state remains under health orders because of the virus. Camp Director Teena King said organizers had no choice but to cancel the rest of the 2020 summer season. “It hurt our hearts. We were so prepared to figure it out and go forward,” King said. King said she is keeping her business afloat by renting out the cabins on the camp’s property to families.New YorkThe popular swimming area at the Kershaw Park Beach and Bathhouse in Canandaigua, N.Y., will be closing Saturday, two weeks before the traditional Labor Day closing.Canandaigua: After a late start to the summer season at the Kershaw Park beach because of the coronavirus pandemic, summer will be coming to an end earlier than usual at the city’s popular swimming area. The last day of swimming will be Saturday, about two weeks before the traditional Labor Day closing, according to City Manager John Goodwin. “I know it’s two weeks early, but unfortunately, we don’t have the staffing,” Goodwin said. The beach typically opens Memorial Day weekend, but that didn’t happen until June this year because of the pandemic. Noting that Ontario County’s Deep Run beach on Canandaigua Lake did not open this summer, Goodwin said “we were fortunate to get the staff to run all of July and most of August.” The city cannot allow swimmers to “swim at your own risk” – which is allowed on private properties such as hotels – because it is not permitted at public parks in New York, Goodwin said. In previous years, the tail end of the summer swim season has also brought beach closures as a result of blue-green algae blooms.North CarolinaChapel Hill: Another cluster of positive COVID-19 cases within student housing was announced Sunday at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The disclosure of cases within the Hinton James dormitory building marks the fourth such cluster – defined as five or more cases in close proximity – since the semester began Aug. 10 at the state’s flagship public university campus. The other three have occurred within an on-campus dormitory, private student housing and a fraternity house. As with the other clusters, the individuals testing positive in the Hinton James cluster are being isolated and receiving medical monitoring. Contact tracing is also happening.North DakotaBismarck: All North Dakota counties are aiming to have in-person voting as an option during the general election, a reversal from the June primary when all polling places were closed statewide amid the coronavirus outbreak. “Everyone is really moving ahead on in-person voting,” Donnell Preskey Hushka, executive director of the North Dakota County Auditors Association, said Monday. Election officials in the state’s 53 counties are “determining how many polling places they want or need.” Gov. Doug Burgum, at the request of the group, signed an executive order in March waiving the requirement that counties have at least one physical polling site for the June election, while allowing counties to conduct the primary election entirely by mail. Burgum stopped short of mandating that all polling places close during the state’s June election, despite being urged by county auditors to do so. The governor said he wanted to give counties the option of having open polling places, if they wanted. Hushka said county auditors, who serve as local election officials, have more time to plan for the upcoming election. More personal protective equipment also is available now for election workers and voters, she said.OhioColumbus: Among the voices of athletes, parents and coaches clamoring for high school sports to proceed during the coronavirus pandemic is a booster with one of the state’s highest-profile platforms: Republican Lt. Gov. Jon Husted. Husted, a former University of Dayton football player, is working with Ohio’s high school sports oversight organization to develop a plan. He has been outspoken on his personal Twitter account in recent days that sports should go forward. Those tweets come as GOP Gov. Mike DeWine was expected to announce his order governing sports Tuesday – a plan that appears to leave a lot of decision-making to local officials. “What’s the greater risk to people under age 25, canceling in-person learning & extracurriculars (sports) to protect them from COVID or leaving it to chance how they’ll fill this time?” Husted tweeted on Aug. 10 to his more than 25,500 followers. “You can’t take these things away from young people & expect good (health, academic, life) results.” DeWine hinted last week that fall sports, including football and soccer, could go forward with limits and based on local decisions by parents, schools and health officials.OklahomaStillwater: Women living at an off-campus sorority house at Oklahoma State University have been placed in isolation and are prohibited from leaving the house after 23 of them tested positive for COVID-19, university officials confirmed Monday. “Due to the nature of this situation, the entire chapter house is in isolation or quarantine and will be prohibited from leaving the facility,” the university said in a statement. “One member of the sorority who lives elsewhere is among those who tested positive and will also remain in isolation.” A widely circulated video showed dozens of students without masks packed into a Stillwater nightclub over the weekend. “As a student, I’m frustrated as hell,” said Ryan Novozinsky, an OSU junior from Allentown, New Jersey, and the editor of the student newspaper. “These are people I have to interact with. People will tell you this age group isn’t affected, but there’s always outliers with diseases, and there will be professors they interact with, starting today, that won’t be able to fight this off.” OSU has a combination of in-person and online courses, and students, staff and faculty are required to wear masks indoors and outdoors where social distancing isn’t possible. The city of Stillwater also has a mandate that masks be worn inside businesses, but police Capt. Kyle Gibbs said the department doesn’t typically respond to reports of mask violations.OregonOntario: A person imprisoned at the Snake River Correctional Institution died Wednesday after contracting COVID-19, officials said. The death marks the second of an inmate who tested positive for the virus in custody of the Oregon Department of Corrections, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported. The person who died, a man between the ages of 60 and 70, was tested last Tuesday, officials said. His test results came back Friday confirming that he had contracted the virus. The Department of Corrections did not release the man’s name or exact cause of death. The state generally discloses the deceased person’s name, county of conviction and length of sentence, but officials have changed that practice for inmates who contract the virus. The first inmate to succumb to the disease in the state, a man between 50 and 60 years old, died at the Oregon State Penitentiary in Salem in May.PennsylvaniaHarrisburg: The state plans to launch a coronavirus exposure-notification app in early September to more quickly break chains of transmission by using the new technology to notify people who might have been exposed, officials said. The state has a $1.9 million contract to deploy and maintain the app with software developer NearForm Ltd, the Ireland-based company whose app has been downloaded by more than one-fourth of that country’s residents. The app is based on smartphone technology developed by Apple and Google, and will undergo a pilot project next week, using state government employees and public health students, staff and faculty, officials told the Associated Press. The app will be interoperable with the state of Delaware’s app, and it also is expected to be interoperable with those of two other states, although Pennsylvania state officials declined to name those states because they are still in discussions with the app developer. It’s use will be limited to people 18 and over. It is similar to the app rolled out by Virginia earlier this month, when it became the first U.S. state to use new pandemic technology created by Apple and Google. North Dakota and Wyoming have also launched an app using the Apple-Google technology in recent days, and a number of other states are interested in it, Google has said. It is designed to automatically notify people if they might have been exposed to the coronavirus, and state officials said the app does not store location information, personal information or the identify of anyone who is in close enough range to possibly be exposed. It relies on Bluetooth wireless technology to detect when someone who downloaded the app has spent time near another app user who later tests positive for the virus.Rhode IslandProvidence: The state launched an online portal to help adults seeking training and work during and after the coronavirus pandemic connect with educational opportunities. The program, RI Reconnect, is a partnership between the state Office of the Postsecondary Commissioner and a grant from the Lumina Foundation. “With RI Reconnect, adult students are matched with a navigator who will work with them to identify and meet their goals, whether that’s earning a certificate, a license for a trade, or finishing a college degree,” Tammy Vargas Warner, the agency’s assistant commissioner, said in a statement Monday.South CarolinaColumbia: The state Senate is coming back into session in two weeks to mull over possible election law updates necessitated by the coronavirus outbreak. In a news release Monday, Senate President Harvey Peeler said state senators would return Sept. 2 to “make plans to protect the voter and the vote” given that the pandemic continues in the run up to the November general election. “If the COVID-19 pandemic is still prevalent in our state, the Senate must make plans to protect the voter and the vote,” Peeler said. “We don’t know what the situation will be like in November, but we need to prepare for safe and secure voting.” State lawmakers had already been slated to return in mid-September, purportedly to discuss possible election tweaks, among other issues. House Majority Leader Gary Simrill said Monday that chamber would stick to its plans to return Sept. 15, not earlier. Ahead of the state’s June primary elections, state lawmakers in May agreed to several changes including universal absentee voting and a waiver of the witness requirement for absentee ballots. Referencing the “bipartisan manner” in which those issues were handled, Peeler wrote he was “hopeful we can do it again and return later in September to address the remaining legislative business.”South DakotaSioux Falls: Mayor Paul TenHaken said a mask mandate for Sioux Falls is possible if cases continue to rise but said the city is in a good position with COVID-19 hospitalizations as schools prepare to open in the area. TenHaken, who said he was “so proud” of how Sioux Falls has responded in the five months since a COVID-19 case was confirmed in the city, spoke positively about where the city is, noting that an increase in the city’s rate of positive cases over the past three months had not been met with an equal increase in hospitalizations. TenHaken was joined by officials from Avera and Sanford on Monday to provide an update on the city’s response to the pandemic. With school starting soon – TenHaken noted his children are heading back this week – the mayor said the leaders of districts and schools have “nearly impossible jobs right now,” and asked the community as a whole to work together to keep transmission down – and to be prepared for when, inevitably, there are COVID-19 cases in schools.TennesseeNashville: A state lawmaker who was criticized for not wearing a mask at a Republican party dinner has been hospitalized, and colleagues said he has the coronavirus. Rep. Mike Carter tweeted Monday morning that he’s feeling better but expects ups and downs during his recovery. Carter, an Ooltewah Republican, was getting treatment for COVID-19 on Sunday in the intensive care unit of Erlanger hospital, his colleagues told the Chattanooga Times Free Press. “Our friend and colleague is battling COVID, and he is in ICU in Erlanger and we covet your prayers and so does he,” said House Republican Caucus Chairman Jeremy Faison. He said he and Carter texted each other earlier in the day. Carter attended a July 31 Hamilton County Lincoln Day dinner where a number of prominent Republicans were criticized for not wearing masks or social-distancing. He posted a photo of himself with U.S. Senate nominee Bill Hagerty, neither of them wearing a mask, and later tweeted in response to criticism that guidelines don’t require mask-wearing while dining. When the local health department announced on Aug. 5 there was a virus exposure at the event, Hagerty’s campaign said the candidate tested negative for the coronavirus. Carter chairs the House Civil Justice Committee, but was absent during last week’s special legislative session.TexasAustin: The Central Texas Food Bank will distribute free food using its mobile food pantries to help those who are facing increased food insecurity during the COVID-19 pandemic from 8 to 11 a.m. Thursday at Nelson Field in Austin and Saturday at Del Valle High School in Del Valle. Attendees will receive one box of assorted produce, 1 to 2 gallons of milk, one protein box weighing 8 to 20 pounds containing pork or chicken products and/or an emergency box of shelf-stable items. To adhere to social distancing requirements, pickup will only be available to those in vehicles. No walk-ups will be allowed. For more information, visit Lake City: Officials on Monday confirmed the first U.S. cases of mink infected with the coronavirus following outbreaks in Europe. Five infected minks have been identified at two farms in Utah, the Department of Agriculture announced. Testing began after the farms reported unusually high mortality rates among the small animals prized for their fur. The Utah mink farms have also reported cases among workers. Infected humans can spread the virus to animals during close contact, but there is no current evidence that animals spread the disease to humans, authorities said. The impacted farms in Utah have been quarantined to stop the spread of the virus. Scientists believe the coronavirus that first infected people in China initially came from an animal source, probably bats, and later spread from person to person. Some animals, including cats and dogs, have picked up the coronavirus from people as it spread around the world. Scientists are studying outbreaks in Denmark, Spain and the Netherlands and exploring whether workers could have caught the virus from minks and, if so, how much of a further threat that type of transmission might pose. More than 1 million minks were killed on Dutch farms with outbreaks to prevent the spread of the disease. VermontSabitra Phuyel, owner of Nepali Dumpling House in Burlington, Vt., holds her 7-month-old son, Prayash. The Nepali Dumpling House will close at the end of August after nearly four years because of a steep decline in business during the COVID-19 pandemic.Burlington: Dwindling sales because of the COVID-19 pandemic have prompted Nepali Dumpling House in Burlington’s Old North End to close at the end of the month. The only bright side for her customers, owner Sabitra Phuyel said, is “everything is on sale” at the family operated deli and store. Her business, which opened in 2016, sells clothing, food, toys, household items and groceries, as well as takeout meals. The going-out-of-business sale will end on Aug. 31, as will Phuyel’s lease. Phuyel said she plans to put everything that remains, with the exception of perishables, in storage in the off-chance that she (or someone else) might revive the business one day.VirginiaFarmville: Two outside experts will be allowed to inspect an immigration detention center in Virginia that has seen the worst coronavirus outbreak at any such facility in the nation, a federal judge said during a virtual hearing Monday. U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema agreed to a request from attorneys of inmates who have filed a lawsuit over conditions to allow a medical expert to conduct an inspection at the private facility in Farmville. Brinkema also agreed to a request from attorneys representing those running the facility to bring in one of their own experts. The judge instructed attorneys on both sides to draft an order allowing the visit. She could sign it as early as Monday afternoon. The visit could occur as early as this week. More than 80% of the center’s 300 detainees have tested positive for the virus, and one of those detained has died. Last week, the judge ordered immigration authorities to halt transfers into the detention center. She also excoriated U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for accepting 74 transfers from facilities in Florida and Arizona. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sent in its own team to inspect the facility last week. Dr. Homer Venters, the expert hired by the inmates’ attorneys, wrote in recently filed court documents that he attended a debrief provided by the CDC after its team visited the facility. Based on CDC observations, Venters wrote that it was difficult to maintain social distancing in some areas of the facility. He also wrote that staff do not use personal protective equipment appropriately and that many staff had exhibited symptoms of COVID-19 and continued working. Jeffrey Crawford, the director of Immigration Centers of America-Farmville, responded in his own filing. “CDC officials stated that ICA Farmville was largely in compliance with CDC recommendations, with only a few minor operational recommendations offered at that time, all of which I intend to implement at the facility,” he wrote.WashingtonOlympia: The State Department of Health on Sunday reported 576 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 15 deaths. King County continues to have the highest numbers in the state, with 17,623 cases and 694 deaths. Yakima County is second, with 10,625 cases and 221 deaths. Pierce is third with 6,150 cases. Statewide totals from the illness caused by the coronavirus are at 67,461 cases and 1,781 deaths, up from 66,885 cases and 1,766 deaths on Friday. Thirty-seven people with confirmed COVID-19 cases were admitted to Washington state hospitals on Aug. 8, the most recent date with complete data. Late March had two days with 88 people admitted, the highest numbers to date during the pandemic. The total number of tests conducted is temporarily unavailable, according to the DOH. On Aug. 8, 6,394 specimens were collected statewide, with 5.4% testing positive. The average positive test rate for the seven days prior was 7%.West VirginiaCharleston: A recently released color-coding system for West Virginia public schools to stay open during the coronavirus pandemic is being tweaked to focus more on community spread, Gov. Jim Justice said Monday. The model will still use four colors to classify the status of each county’s school system based on the seven-day average of new daily cases per 100,000 people. The colors range from minimal community transmission in green, moderate transmission in yellow, higher transmission in orange and substantial transmission in red. Schools in counties that have an orange or red coding will not be allowed to have athletic competitions, and red counties must suspend in-person instruction and activate remote learning plans, Justice said. The change will now count each employee of a nursing home or prison who contracts the virus as one case. Before, employees were counted as half of a case. The reason for the change reflects the thinking that those people go out into the community, potentially advancing the spread of the virus, officials said. The color-coding map is based on a Harvard University model. But Dr. Clay Marsh, West Virginia’s coronavirus czar, said the Harvard model does not separate congregate and community spread of virus cases. “We live in such a a small population state,” Marsh said. “We have basically decided we will just look at what is the community spread.”WisconsinMilwaukee: Temperatures in at least one Wisconsin prison have reached at least 87 degrees this summer, intensifying health concerns in prisons, already considered among the most dangerous environments during the coronavirus pandemic. Gov. Tony Evers has opted not to consider any clemency requests from inmates, and corrections officials have rejected nearly all applications for early release based on health conditions. Already overcrowded, the population in state-run prisons is rising again after months of decline, though still down since the beginning of the year. More than 21,000 adults are held in buildings designed to house fewer than 18,000. Inmates and their family members have reported troubling conditions, including poor ventilation, high temperatures and the impossibility of social distancing. In at least one facility, staff are forcing inmates to keep doors closed to restrict airflow in response to coronavirus risk. The American Civil Liberties Union has called on Evers to reduce the incarcerated population before further spread of the virus. More than 300 inmates in state prisons have been infected and 21 cases remain active. Outbreaks have been worse in other states’ prisons.WyomingGillette: The coronavirus pandemic has local high school musicians marching to a different drummer. That was evident during the morning hours of weeklong band camps for Campbell County and Thunder Basin high schools as band members practiced the fundamentals without their instruments. Whether shaking off rust for the seniors or introducing freshmen to high school marching band for the first time, the young musicians began the new band year marking time to a far-from-familiar cadence. The bands are the first high school activity returning to a semblance of normalcy for the upcoming school year. Fall sports practices began Monday. This fact registered with Thunder Basin band director Steve Schofield, and it was not something he takes lightly, the Gillette News Record reported. “I wouldn’t say it’s nervousness, but it’s a pretty heavy responsibility,” Schofield said. “We could really screw this up for everybody. If my band was to end up with half of them sick or whatever, then that could make people question whether schools should be opening up. So what I told the kids when we started was we have to be extremely serious about this.”This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 50 States
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