News from around our 50 states

Elva Mankin

Alabama Montgomery: A program to aid families with students who are limited to distance learning this fall because of the coronavirus pandemic will provide $100 million for increased internet service, according to the state. Vouchers, which will help pay for the cost of equipment and high-speed internet service through Dec. […]


Montgomery: A program to aid families with students who are limited to distance learning this fall because of the coronavirus pandemic will provide $100 million for increased internet service, according to the state. Vouchers, which will help pay for the cost of equipment and high-speed internet service through Dec. 31, will be available for students who receive free or reduced-price meals or meet other income criteria, Gov. Kay Ivey’s office said in a statement. Eligible families will receive a letter in August. With high-speed internet service often unavailable across rural Alabama and in some urban areas, the funding will go toward technology including wireless hot spots and home and mobile internet service, the announcement said. While some students were able to attend classes online after schools closed in the spring, many were unable to participate in similar programs because of the lack of reliable high-speed internet.


Anchorage: Health officials reported 159 new COVID-19 cases in the state Sunday, including 111 within the Municipality of Anchorage. The new cases included 145 Alaska residents and 14 nonresidents, The Anchorage Daily News reports. Data from the state Department of Health and Social Services showed there was one new hospitalization reported and no additional deaths Sunday. The health department reported 27 people with COVID-19 were hospitalized as of Sunday, and 12 people were hospitalized with test results for the coronavirus pending. Alaska has had 3,280 confirmed cases of the virus including 134 people who have required hospitalization since the pandemic began, officials said. Since the pandemic’s outbreak, 24 Alaska residents’ deaths have been connected to COVID-19. Cases have sharply climbed in the past few months since Alaska began reopening its businesses and other public facilities.


Window Rock: Lawmakers on the Navajo Nation have approved a massive spending bill to respond to the coronavirus pandemic that includes money for water projects, power lines, broadband and casino employees who have been laid off. The Navajo Nation Council passed the nearly $651 million in spending late Friday after discussing it for more than 28 hours in a special session over three days. The money comes from the Navajo Nation’s share of $8 billion federal coronavirus relief funding that was set aside for tribes. “This was a collective effort that brought to the surface all the underlying, systemic challenges like lack of running water and access to electricity that are common throughout the Navajo Nation,” council Speaker Seth Damon said Saturday. “This legislation begins to directly address those obstacles we face, as Navajo people, in protecting the health of our own homes and communities.”


Little Rock: The state reported 637 more confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Sunday. The new tally bring the state’s total to 43,810 confirmed cases of the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, up from 43,173 on Saturday, according to the Arkansas Department of Health. The department had not reported any additional deaths Sunday evening. The actual number of cases in Arkansas is likely higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected and not feel sick.


Los Angeles: Demonstrators who gathered again Sunday outside the home of Mayor Eric Garcetti called on the city to cancel rent for people finding it hard to make ends meet as the coronavirus pandemic ravages the state’s economy. Tenant rights activists statewide have for weeks urged leaders to take additional action to prevent Californians from losing their apartments and falling into homelessness as expanded unemployment benefits expire while virus cases continue to surge. The state court system is considering lifting its emergency restrictions on processing eviction cases later this month, the Los Angeles Times reports. Three people were arrested and two cited during a protest Saturday outside Garcetti’s home west of downtown Los Angeles, the Times reports. Hundreds of demonstrators demanded the city impose a blanket ban on evictions, cancel rent and commandeer hotels for homeless people.


Colorado Springs: An argument over COVID-19-related social distancing led to a fistfight in a Walmart between two women Friday, police said. One of the women complained that the other was not staying 6 feet away, according to Colorado Springs police. An argument ensued, and the first woman threw the other to the floor inside the store, police said. The woman, whose name was not released, was arrested on suspicion of third-degree assault, The Gazette reports. Health experts recommend people try to stay at least 6 feet away from each other to slow the spread of the coronavirus.


Greenwich: A flare-up of coronavirus cases in the city is being partly blamed on a series of parties involving young people, whose families are not cooperating with efforts to conduct contact tracing, local officials said. There were 41 new cases of the virus from July 19 to 25. Barbara Heins, an aide to Greenwich First Selectman Fred Camillo, told the Hartford Courant that half of those were individuals ages 10 to 19, mostly teens who attended many of the same parties. “Many of the individuals they are contacting, including the young people and their families, they are not cooperating,” Heins said. A Connecticut Department of Public Health spokesman said the agency was aware of the situation in Greenwich and was working with local contact tracers to track how far the virus has spread. Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont, whose private home is in Greenwich, has warned about the pitfalls of young people not social distancing.


Latrish Oseko is packing up the Newark house she rents because it has been sold, forcing her to look for new housing in the middle of a pandemic.
Latrish Oseko is packing up the Newark house she rents because it has been sold, forcing her to look for new housing in the middle of a pandemic.

Wilmington: State officials and housing advocates concerned about a wave of homelessness as federal unemployment benefits expire are rushing to set up a new way to hear eviction cases in hopes of settling as many landlord-tenant disputes out of court as possible. The goal, court officials said, is to create a slowed-down, mostly virtual track for landlord-tenant cases, with mediators on hand at every step, that would “flatten the curve” of potential evictions. A statewide eviction moratorium ordered by Gov. John Carney when the pandemic reached Delaware has been lifted for the past month. Court-approved evictions are still significantly on hold, and even cases seeking eviction that were filed before the pandemic won’t go before a judge until late August at the earliest, said Chief Magistrate Alan Davis of the Justice of the Peace Court, where eviction cases are heard.

District of Columbia

Washington: Thirty children and their families in D.C.’s most underserved communities are learning how to eat and live healthily thanks to the Virtual Foodprints program, WUSA-TV reports. In a typical school year, Foodprints is an in-class program in D.C. schools through the nonprofit Freshfarm that offers a garden to the kitchen food experience for children at 15 DCPS elementary schools to provide a variety of nutrition and gardening education, according to the organization’s website. Now, in light of the coronavirus pandemic, the organization has a virtual seven-week course that serves families in Ward 7 and 8 by delivering free groceries and garden supplies weekly. Foodprints’ parent company, Freshfarm, is raising money for D.C. high school and college students who want to pursue a career in food education and sustainable agriculture. In return, Foodprints will then hire those students as interns or assistant teachers.


Tallahassee: State Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried on Monday unveiled a public awareness campaign urging Floridians to keep their distance and wear masks as a way to lower the risk of coronavirus infections in the latest pressure tactic aimed at Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis’ resistance to ordering a mandatory mask requirement. “Not enough people are doing the small things to slow down COVID-19,” Fried, Florida’s only Democratic statewide officeholder, said at a news conference. “To reopen our state and our economy safely, we must all be in this together.” The series of videos feature famous Floridians, including the Miami Heat’s Alonzo Mourning, U.S. Rep. Donna Shalala and Miami Mayor Francis Suarez – a Republican. In a 16-second clip, Suarez is seen with his nose and mouth covered. He says he’s doing his “part by wearing a mask and keeping my distance” and ends the spot with “be smart, Florida.”


Atlanta: The state’s 26 public universities could lose nearly $500 million in room, board and student fees if no students return to campus this fall, according to information obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution via a public records request. The University System of Georgia made the estimates as some faculty, staff and students pressure administrators to conduct all classes online, or at least offer that as an option, in an effort to prevent the further spread of COVID-19 infections. Regents and University System Chancellor Steve Wrigley have consistently called for all universities to offer in-person instruction. Professors have said administrators are requiring them to offer at least some in-person sessions, although many classes may be partly online. Online instruction received mixed reviews during the spring semester. The biggest complaint from students was internet connection problems where they lived.


Honolulu: The lieutenant governor has warned that the state’s current rate of increase in coronavirus infections could result in a significant public health impact in the next month. Democratic Lt. Gov. Josh Green said hospitals could soon be filled with COVID-19 patients, The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reports. “At this current trajectory, we’ll have 5,000 cases by Sept. 1,” said Green, who is also an emergency room physician on Hawaii island. The statewide count of confirmed cases since the start of the outbreak was 2,197 on Sunday, with cases more than doubling since the beginning of July. There were 87 new confirmed cases Saturday, all on Oahu, after triple-digit increases in each of the three previous days. Green projected 90 more coronavirus patients could be hospitalized over the next few weeks at an average of up to 100 cases per day.


Boise: The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that an Idaho group must stop collecting online signatures for an education funding initiative for the November ballot. The court ruled Thursday in favor of Republican Gov. Brad Little’s request that a district court’s order allowing online signatures be stayed until the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals hears the case and makes a ruling. Arguments before that court are scheduled for the middle of August in the expedited case. “I am pleased that the Supreme Court upheld Idaho’s sovereignty over its election and initiative processes,” Little said in a statement. The ruling ends for now Reclaim Idaho’s attempt to collect enough signatures during the coronavirus pandemic for the initiative seeking to raise $170 million for K-12 education.


Springfield: There were 1,467 new confirmed cases of coronavirus in the state and 14 additional confirmed deaths, the Illinois Department of Public Health reported Sunday. The latest confirmed cases bring to 181,943 the number of COVID-19 cases reported in Illinois since the start of the pandemic. The number of deaths has reached 7,517. The ages of coronavirus cases reported in Illinois range from younger than 1 year to older than 100 years. The preliminary seven-day statewide positivity rate for cases as a percent of total tests from July 26 to Aug. 1 is 3.9%, the health department reports. According to the health department, laboratories report 38,945 tests for the virus have taken place in the past 24 hours, putting the number of tests in Illinois for COVID-19 at 2,778,000.


Indianapolis: More than half of the state’s nonprofit groups that provide services to those in need have cut back on programs or reduced their capacity in recent months due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, a report has found. Between revenue declines and fundraiser cancellations, about 60% of not-for-profit groups have suspended or ended programs such as summer camps, after-school programs, mentorships and volunteer programs, according to the report from the Paul H. O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University and Indiana United Ways. Other nonprofits have shifted as much as possible to virtual programs. According to the IU report, 69% of organizations statewide are providing more programs either online or via telephone. Few have slowly and cautiously started to reintegrate in-person programs and services.


Des Moines: Multiple religious leaders on Monday called on Gov. Kim Reynolds to issue a public mask mandate. Iowa and South Dakota are the only states that do not have some type of public mask requirement, according to Masks4All, a volunteer organization that advocates for more mask-wearing. Nearly 900 people in Iowa have died from COVID-19, and nearly 46,000 had tested positive as of early Monday, according to state data. “It’s time to take more action,” said Connie Ryan, Interfaith Alliance of Iowa’s executive director and one of six religious leaders at a Monday news conference before the Iowa Capitol. The group asked Reynolds to require anyone to wear a mask while inside any public building when they cannot practice social distancing. Monday’s group delivered a petition with more than 800 signatures to her office. And on Saturday, about 30 doctors called on Reynolds to issue an order mandating masks in public.


Hays: Officials in this college town in conservative western Kansas are embracing a mask ordinance in hopes of making residents and incoming students feel safe, even as surrounding communities have balked at such efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus. City officials in Hays, home to Fort Hays State University, voted last month to require people to wear masks in public. The response in the community has been mixed since the ordinance took effect last week, with some businesses offering masks and refusing to serve customers who won’t wear them and others letting customers come in without them. “In Hays we brag about how safe and clean we are all the time, and I want to make darn sure I can do anything I can to keep that reputation,” said Mayor Shaun Musil, who voted for the ordinance and also owns a wine bar in the city of 20,800 people some 270 miles west of Kansas City.


Louisville: Sharing “good news for today,” Gov. Andy Beshear on Monday announced 323 new coronavirus cases and only two new deaths. Beshear also said people should expect more deaths in August after high numbers in July. “Having a rough month in terms of overall cases in July will likely mean we have a rough month in terms of Kentuckians that we lose in August,” he said. “We should be concerned.” He said there’s reason for optimism, touting the success of his mask mandate in deescalating Kentucky’s coronavirus cases. Of Monday’s new cases, 12 were children 5 and younger coming from a variety of counties. The youngest two are 3 months old, Beshear said. With only a couple of exceptions, children 5 and younger have tested positive for the virus every day during the past two weeks in the double digits.


Baton Rouge: The state Department of Health is accusing some rural parish officials of misusing lists of patients who tested positive for the coronavirus, violating privacy laws and misinterpreting the data to claim the virus outbreak is less severe than it is. To combat what it considers improper handling of sensitive data, the health department sent an email to all parish emergency leaders telling them if they want to keep receiving the reports, they must sign a new data sharing agreement limiting how they can use the data and requiring destruction of earlier records. “The problem we had is when we did share it, we told them, ‘This is (federally protected) information. You’re not to share it with everyone.’ They have not always followed our guidance,” said Dr. Jimmy Guidry, Louisiana’s state health office. “They have shared and put information out and put names out, and that changes the way people react to you, at your home, in your community.”


Portland: A meeting of governors from around the country that had been scheduled to take place in Maine has been moved online to reduce the risk of spreading the coronavirus. The Summer Meeting of the National Governors Association had been slated to convene Wednesday in Portland. The association said the event has been moved online “in accordance with public health guidelines and to afford governors from around the country a forum to meet and discuss common goals and priorities without leaving their home states, commonwealths and territories.” The organizers of the event said more than 40 governors are expected to participate. Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, is expected to transfer chairmanship of the association over to New York’s Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Portland last hosted the association’s meeting in 1983.


Annapolis: Gov. Larry Hogan on Saturday criticized an order by the health officer for the state’s most populous county that requires private schools to remain closed for in-person instruction through Oct. 1 and to conduct online-only classes due to the coronavirus. Hogan wrote on Twitter that he “strongly” disagreed with the decision taken in Montgomery County, a suburb of the nation’s capital. “As long as these schools develop safe plans that follow (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and state guidelines, they should be empowered to do what’s best for their community,” wrote Hogan, a Republican. “This is a decision for schools and parents, not politicians.” Montgomery County Health Officer Dr. Travis Gayles, who issued the order late Friday, said it will be reevaluated before Oct. 1 to determine whether it should be extended, terminated or changed in any way.


Provincetown: Health officials in the city are asking the state to make it possible to get results for tests for the coronavirus within 48 hours as a way to help contain its spread. The population of Provincetown has increased in the busy summer tourist season even during the pandemic and because of an increase in owners of second homes working remotely. The Cape Cod Times reports the town and Outer Cape Health Services recently started testing for asymptomatic hospitality and retail workers, but the test result turnaround time is seven days. “As a rural community that is doing its part, we deserve a shorter turnaround for our proactive testing initiatives,” the Provincetown Board of Health wrote in a letter sent to Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders. “With each positive result comes contact tracing, and delaying contact tracing increases the potential for additional exposures.”


Houghton: Michigan Tech University students want to help other students who didn’t qualify for federal financial help related to the coronavirus. Michigan Tech set up the Husky Emergency Assistance Fund months ago. The graduate student government organization now is pledging to match up to $10,000 in donations from other students. Students received $350 federal grants from the Upper Peninsula university, but some students might not need the money. Others, meanwhile, might not have qualified, especially if they’re from outside the U.S. “I and other students like me have not been impacted by COVID-19 as much as others, and we were in a situation where we could help our fellow students,” said Nathan Ford, president of graduate student government. Ford wants to help students who didn’t qualify for grants or others who still need financial assistance, the university said.


St. Paul: The state faces a potential $4.7 billion deficit in its next two-year budget due to continued economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new planning estimate from the Minnesota Management and Budget office. Management and Budget Commissioner Myron Frans said the pandemic has made economic conditions “extremely volatile.” A February economic forecast showed the state had a projected $1.5 billion budget surplus for the rest of this budget year, ending July 2021. But after the pandemic hit, a May update showed the state faces a $2.4 billion deficit this budget cycle. The Star Tribune reports updated numbers for 2022 and 2023 show a continued slide. Minnesota received more than $2 billion in federal coronavirus relief, but that money can’t be used for revenue collection gaps.


Jackson: A private university is trying to attract and retain students during the coronavirus pandemic by providing full-tuition scholarships for people to earn graduate degrees online. “Offering traditional students a free master’s degree is our way of helping our students push through these hard adjustments,” Belhaven University President Roger Parrott said in a news release. “I’m thrilled we can be the only university in America responding to COVID-19 with such an innovative solution that will propel our students.” The news release said the scholarship is available to first-year students, transfer students and all returning students who enroll for the traditional campus program during this fall semester. Students must remain enrolled full time until graduating from Belhaven. The full-tuition scholarship can be used for any Belhaven University online master’s degree.


Chris Ford is the superintendent of the Fordland School District.
Chris Ford is the superintendent of the Fordland School District.

Springfield: As school districts figure out the best way to protect students and staff during a pandemic, substitute teachers are also attempting to navigate the protocols each building sets in place. At Fordland School District, officials are taking a different approach when it comes to subs. About two years ago, Superintendent Chris Ford suggested hiring a permanent substitute teacher who will work full time for the district, fill in as needed and, even if there aren’t classes that need a substitute that day, still have other duties to help with. “It’s such a struggle to find quality substitutes and, sometimes, even find substitutes,” Ford said. “In our building, almost every day, we have a sub, whether that’s for teacher illness, leave or professional development. … Now, even as we’re entering a new school year with a whole new set of circumstances, I think that is going to become much more vital for us to have that permanent sub on campus every day.”


Billings: Health officials in southern Montana have reported confirmed COVID-19 cases in several inmates at the Big Horn County jail. County Public Information Officer Rhonda Johnson said all of the inmates who tested positive are asymptomatic and were moved into quarantine at the facility in Hardin, about 50 miles east of Billings, the Billings Gazette reports. Johnson could not confirm exactly how many inmates at the jail had tested positive, but there are 36 in the facility. The county confirmed that a detention officer at the jail tested positive for COVID-19 late last month, but the officer had not worked in the jail for three days prior to testing, Johnson said. The jail started conducting testing monthly in May on all its inmates and staff members willing to take a test, but that stopped when a surge in case numbers forced the state to prioritize symptomatic testing and contract tracing of confirmed cases, officials said.


Omaha: Gov. Pete Ricketts said Monday that he remains confident the benefits of reopening schools this fall outweigh the risks posed by the coronavirus and that he thinks students can return to the classroom safely. Ricketts said it’s important to reopen schools because of the academic, social, behavioral and nutritional benefits of having kids in class. “It’s important from an academic standpoint, but it’s not just about academics either,” Ricketts said. “There’s a wide variety of things that go into the overall health of a child when it comes to why it’s important that they’re back in classrooms.” Ricketts and Education Commissioner Matt Blomstedt said schools across the state have drafted detailed plans to keep children safe while reopening after consulting with local health officials and the state. Many districts are also offering parents an online-only option for their children to learn.


Photo from Electric Daisy Carnival 2019 Day 1.
Photo from Electric Daisy Carnival 2019 Day 1.

Las Vegas: The Electric Daisy Carnival will not be happening this year. Organizers of the electronic dance music festival announced Sunday that the event will be pushed back to 2021. Typically held in May at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the festival was postponed initially until October because of the coronavirus pandemic. Insomniac CEO and Founder Pasquale Rotella says it’s now slated for May 21-23 of next year. Tickets for this year’s festival will be honored. Anyone who can’t make the new dates can fill out an online form. In an Instagram post, Rotella said organizers were trying to set up a way for attendees to be tested for COVID-19 before coming to Las Vegas and again at the venue. “Unfortunately, we just learned that the medical advances necessary to pull this off will not be ready in time,” Rotella wrote. More than 150,000 people attend each night of the carnival, which features more than 200 performers on eight stages.

New Hampshire

Concord: The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department says the pandemic is contributing to an increase in problems with bears. Bear project leader Andrew Timmins said complaints have increased in part because dry weather in spring and early summer reduced natural food sources for bears, driving them into residential areas. But the pandemic also is playing a role in several ways: More people are staying home, which means more garbage bins full of food waste to attract bears. And bird watchers kept their feeders up longer into the summer. Timmins is reminding residents to secure trash receptacles and garbage cans, take down bird feeders and stop leaving pet food outside at night. “Bears have an extremely acute sense of smell and long memories, so we really need the cooperation of residents and visitors this summer and fall to prevent bears from returning to locations where they previously found food,” he said.

New Jersey

Trenton: Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy said Monday that he’s reducing the limit on indoor gatherings to 25% percent capacity, with a cap of 25 people down from 100. Too many indoor house parties have led to trends creeping in the wrong direction, Murphy said during a news conference. “The actions of a few knuckleheads leave us no choice,” he said. The rate of transmission, which indicates the number of people to whom an infected person spreads the virus, has climbed from 0.87 a month ago to 1.48 on Monday. Murphy also reported there were 266 new positive cases added overnight, putting the total at about 183,000. There were 10 new deaths, for a death toll of 13,971. The governor also said face coverings will be required at all times for all students in the coming school year. That’s a change from before, when the state Education Department was only strongly recommending face coverings for students.

New Mexico

Rio Rancho: The leader of the New Mexico group Cowboys for Trump has been barred from in-person visits with his son following social media posts that have generated threats and for refusing to abide by COVID-19 mask requirements, a state district judge ruled. District Judge Mary Rosner ruled that Couy Griffin can only see his son on FaceTime calls after he ignored orders to remove social media photos of his son at Cowboys for Trump events. The judge said Griffin also repeatedly has defied health orders to put a mask on his son at public events and has openly said he will continue to do so. Griffin’s ex-wife, Kourtnie, filed an emergency motion in May to modify their custody and visitation agreement. Kourtnie Griffin, an Iraqi war veteran, understands “passions for God and country” and believes her ex-husband has a right to express his views, her lawyers said. But she “did not take her minor child to war with her” as Couy Griffin is doing by taking their son to campaign events for President Donald Trump during a pandemic, the attorneys said.

New York

Albany: Democratic and Republican lawmakers grilled the state’s top health official Monday about the steep, though ultimately unknown, death toll at the state’s nursing homes amid the coronavirus pandemic. Members of the Democratic-led Legislature are holding hearings geared at understanding why and how the pandemic took root in New York nursing homes. Lawmakers, who plan to hold another hearing next Monday, said they want to pass better policies to protect nursing home residents and staffers if infections surge again. The state Department of Health reports nearly 6,600 residents died at New York’s nursing homes and adult-facilities, including 6,400 nursing home residents. The state has not disclosed how many nursing home residents died at hospitals or how many residents have been infected with COVID-19.

North Carolina

Raleigh: Wake County officials have set aside money to help families who are late in paying their utility bills due to COVID-19. The county will give up to $500 per household to help residents pay their overdue bill, The News & Observer of Raleigh reports. County officials said the $5 million, which comes from the federal Coronavirus Air Relief and Economic Security Act, should help nearly 10,000 families. Applicants must have “suffered financially from COVID-19,” be Wake County residents and be able to submit their unpaid utility bills. They also must meet federal income limits, such as $39,540 for one person and $56,460 for a family of four. “No one should have to go without water at a time when handwashing is so critically important, and no one should have to go without air conditioning when the heat index is in the triple digits,” said Greg Ford, chair of the Wake County Board of Commissioners.

North Dakota

Bismarck: Health officials reported Monday that the number of active coronavirus cases in the state remains above 1,000. The state Department of Health reported 1,090 active cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. That’s up 12 from Sunday but down slightly from a new daily high set Saturday. The Bismarck Tribune reports Monday was the ninth straight day that active cases of the coronavirus in North Dakota remained above 1,000. Cases first surpassed 1,000 on July 26, coinciding with the reopening of the economy and an increase in testing. North Dakota reported 127 newly confirmed cases Monday, raising the state’s total to 6,785 since the pandemic started. The number of deaths remained at 105.


Cincinnati: The Ohio Department of Health reported 932 new cases of coronavirus in the state Monday, bringing the total number of cases to 93,963. There were 10 new deaths reported Monday, increasing the state’s virus death toll to 3,539. Hospitalizations increased by 92, bringing the total number of hospitalizations to 10,992. Ten more people were admitted to the intensive care units, making the total number 2,570. Monday’s numbers align with what the state saw during the weekend: 944 new cases and 14 deaths reported Sunday and 928 new cases, 26 deaths reported Saturday. The average daily case number in the past 21-day span is at 1,291.


Oklahoma City: The state’s reported coronavirus cases rose by 377 on Monday, with another death due to the illness caused by the virus, the Oklahoma State Department of Health said. Oklahoma has confirmed 38,602 cases of COVID-19 and 551 deaths since the pandemic began. The death reported Monday was a man in Pottawatomie County who was 65 years old or older, the agency said. The true number of coronavirus cases in Oklahoma is likely higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected and not feel sick. On Sunday, Norman Public Schools became the latest school district in Oklahoma to opt for an online-only start because of the virus. The district pushed back its start date by a week to Aug. 24 and said classes would be held virtually to begin. Oklahoma City is also starting its school year online because of the pandemic.


Edward “Ed” Ulbricht, 61, dumps cans and bottles into one of the Springfield BottleDrop’s carts shortly before closing. Oregon’s can and bottle redemption program has seen a significant increase in participation and return since the pandemic started. [Dana Sparks/The Register-Guard] -
Edward “Ed” Ulbricht, 61, dumps cans and bottles into one of the Springfield BottleDrop’s carts shortly before closing. Oregon’s can and bottle redemption program has seen a significant increase in participation and return since the pandemic started. [Dana Sparks/The Register-Guard] –

Salem: A rapid increase in bottle and can redemption since the COVID-19 pandemic began suggests people are buying more beverages to drink at home – and recycling to get their deposit money back in their pockets. The Oregon Bottle Bill, introduced in 1971, adds a 10-cent deposit to the sale of every bottle and can of beer, soda and similar beverages sold in Oregon, which can be redeemed by returning the bottle. Local BottleDrop redemption centers, operated by the Oregon Beverage Recycling Cooperative, process returnables on-site and offer a service that allows consumers to drop off their bottles in specially marked green bags to be counted and credited to their accounts. More and more people are utilizing the drop-and-go recyclable return program. Since late April, the state has seen an average of 1,000 new BottleDrop accounts being created daily, said Joel Schoening, the cooperative’s community relations manager.


Harrisburg: State health officials on Monday reported no new deaths attributed to COVID-19 for the first time in more than four months. The last time that neither the state Department of Health nor a county health department confirmed a new coronavirus death in Pennsylvania was March 20, when the statewide death toll stood at one. On Monday, health officials said the death toll remained at 7,209, while noting there’s often a lag in reporting of cases and deaths from the weekend. Deaths have been trending down in Pennsylvania since mid-May, while infections have been climbing since mid-June. The state Department of Health reported 565 new virus infections Monday. More than 114,000 people in Pennsylvania have tested positive for the virus since the beginning of the pandemic.

Rhode Island

Providence: The state’s largest hospital group has eased some restrictions on visitors so more people can see their loved ones during hospital stays. Lifespan’s changes announced recently are in line with state Department of Health guidelines meant to prevent overcrowding. Patients at Rhode Island Hospital, The Miriam Hospital and Newport Hospital who are not being treated for COVID-19 may now have up to two separate visitors per day during set visitation hours. Patients at Hasbro Children’s Hospital may have two parents or guardians visit them at the same time. All visitors will be screened and must wear a surgical mask at all times. Visitors must remain in patient rooms and are not allowed to visit the cafeterias or gift shops. Visitors may also not bring outside food or drink into the hospitals. Visitors are also expected to maintain at least 6 feet between themselves and others while in the hospital.

South Carolina

A student with the Culinary Institute of the Carolinas works during a Pastry class, where in addition to learning about the industry, students must also follow new safety measures due to COVID-19 like social distancing and wearing masks.
A student with the Culinary Institute of the Carolinas works during a Pastry class, where in addition to learning about the industry, students must also follow new safety measures due to COVID-19 like social distancing and wearing masks.

Greenville: Restaurants continue to contend with the impacts of a pandemic, and universities plan reopening strategies for the fall, but for culinary schools, which combine both elements, the landscape is particularly challenging. While program leaders across the state say enrollment is down, there is still a great need for hospitality education, but like everything else, it will look a little different in a COVID-19 world. Culinary schools in the state changed quickly to add online and virtual elements to their classes, and they have spent the past few months honing and reframing everything from how they teach new health and safety protocols to how they prepare students for a culinary world that will likely require equal ability to create a perfectly plated dish and a meal that holds up to delivery.

South Dakota

Deyvani Haeffner waits in line atop father Steven's shoulders at Huset's Speedway during its opening night Sunday in Brandon, S.D. The track had been closed since 2017.
Deyvani Haeffner waits in line atop father Steven’s shoulders at Huset’s Speedway during its opening night Sunday in Brandon, S.D. The track had been closed since 2017.

Brandon: Thousands of fans packed the stands of a race track Sunday night despite a rising number of coronavirus cases in the state. The fans came to Huset’s Speedway in Brandon for the reopening of the track that has been closed for several years. The 9,000-seat speedway was at near-capacity, with face masks nearly obsolete. The popular All Star Circuit is owned by NASCAR legend Tony Stewart. South Dakota health officials reported 88 newly confirmed cases of the coronavirus and one new death Sunday. The death toll from COVID-19 in South Dakota rose to 135 with the newly reported death. The number of confirmed coronavirus infections has risen to 8,955 in the state.


Nashville: Most of the state’s new reported COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are now outside the Nashville and Memphis metro areas, according to a report released Monday. The Vanderbilt University report says Tennessee’s outbreak began concentrated in large urban areas but has moved into more rural communities with fewer health care resources. “Understanding this shift is critical for targeting resources and preparing to address increasing needs for services and effects on rural health care systems,” the report says. “As a largely rural state, Tennessee stands to be among the states most affected by this shift.” The report says there are high overall numbers of new reported cases, so it doesn’t necessarily mean large metros are seeing fewer cases. It also says new cases and hospitalizations are stable in areas with increased mask usage, while areas without mask orders have seen increases. Other strategies could also be contributing, it says.


Dallas: Kim Peacock was once the purveyor of first-class luxury, but now her Arlington company has more than 87,000 pounds of nuts and no idea if her airline customers will ever want them again. So GNS Foods of Arlington, a supplier to American Airlines, is trying to unload dozens of pallets of mixed cashews, pistachios, pecans and almonds after the COVID-19 pandemic forced carriers to stop serving the first-class perk on flights. GNS opened a retail store at its factory and started peddling nuts online in hopes of getting rid of them at their wholesale price, even though the company took the effort to roast, salt and package the nuts. “We have pallets and pallets of nuts here,” Peacock told The Dallas Morning News. “We didn’t know how long this was going to last. The airlines were in a state of disarray themselves, and they didn’t know if they were going to be bringing them back or not.”


Salt Lake City: A Utah Department of Health report of a coronavirus death Sunday brought the state’s number of deaths for a seven-day period to the highest mark since the pandemic outbreak began in March. The latest fatality related to the coronavirus was one of 37 in a week, The Salt Lake Tribune reports. The second-highest number occurred in the previous week, when the deaths of 32 people were attributed to the virus. The most recent victim of the illness was a Davis County woman between the ages of 65 and 84 who was in a long-term care facility, the state health department said. The department said 203 people are hospitalized with the coronavirus, while the identification of 473 new coronavirus cases brings the state’s total to 41,175.


Montpelier: Vermonters who are voting by mail in next week’s statewide primary should get their ballots in the mailbox by Tuesday at the very latest, Secretary of State Jim Condos said. Voters may also return ballots to their town clerk during operating hours up to the close of business Aug. 10, he said. “We cannot guarantee or predict mail times, so hand delivery to your clerk is the best option right now to ensure your ballot is received on time,” Condos said in a statement Monday. Many Vermonters have opted to vote early or by mail, while some will be voting at the polls on primary day, Aug. 11. His office and the state’s “hardworking” town clerks “have done the legwork necessary to ensure a safe, fair, accessible, and secure election,” Condos said.


Richmond: American Airlines says a flight out of Virginia was delayed after a passenger refused to comply with its policy requiring a face mask. The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports the incident occurred Sunday morning at Richmond International Airport. The airline said the plane returned to the gate, and the passenger ultimately exited the plane. The flight then departed for North Carolina’s Charlotte Douglas International Airport without further issues. American has required passengers to wear face coverings since May 11. Passengers who don’t comply are denied boarding. Since July 29, the airline has enacted a policy that requires customers over the age of 2 to wear face coverings in areas of an airport operated by American.


Olympia: Employment Security Department Commissioner Suzi LeVine said Monday that an initial backlog of claims of people who had not received payment for unemployment benefits between March and June has been resolved, and the state agency has been working through about 30,000 other cases of people who have applied since mid-June and haven’t received payment or had previously been paid and had their payments halted. LeVine said that first backlog – which was at 81,000 as of June 18 – was fully resolved last Friday. She didn’t give a time frame on when the remainder will be resolved, saying there will never be a period of time where all claims are resolved, since new issues arise on claims weekly. Instead, she said the goal is to get resolution of claims down from the current four weeks to three weeks. “Resolved does not mean approval for everyone,” LeVine said.

West Virginia

Charleston: The state set a record last week for newly confirmed coronavirus cases as infections, deaths and hospitalizations surge, according to health data released Friday. The state recorded 182 new cases Thursday, the highest daily total since the outbreak began. Officials also reported record highs in the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations, intensive care unit patients and virus ventilator use. Republican Gov. Jim Justice renewed his call for residents to wear masks and urged people to take the virus seriously as it surges within West Virginia and in surrounding states. “It may be that we need to start backing up and backing up in a more aggressive way,” Justice said.


Madison: The Legislature should act as quickly as this week or next to strike down Gov. Tony Evers’ mask mandate, Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said Monday. The order from Evers, designed to slow the spread of the coronavirus as cases spike in Wisconsin, took effect Saturday. Polls have shown broad support for wearing masks, and Evers said last week that it would be “risky business” – politically and for public health – if Republicans overthrew the order. But the Legislature has the power to call itself into session to do just that. Fitzgerald said on WISN-AM radio Monday that he was talking with Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos about overturning the order. Vos also opposes the mandate but has not said whether the Assembly would come in to vote it down. The Senate and Assembly would have to vote to rescind the order, a move that Evers could not veto.


Cheyenne: Three sightseeing balloons crashed Monday in a popular tourist destination, injuring between 16 and 20 people, officials said. The balloons owned by the same tour operator went down separately and did not crash into each other, said Teton County Sheriff Matt Carr. Weather apparently contributed to the crashes, but exactly what happened wasn’t known and was still being investigated, Carr said. At least one person was flown to a hospital in Idaho Falls for treatment, Carr said. The crash scene involved an area about half a mile long. All the balloons belonged to the Wyoming Balloon Company, he said. The weather in Jackson Hole, near Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks, was partly cloudy with winds of 9 mph shortly after the accident.

From USA TODAY Network and wire reports

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: More recycling, luxury nut surplus: News from around our 50 states

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