US Meat plant protest, Twisted Sister, water ski show: News from around our 50 states

14:07  18 september  2020
14:07  18 september  2020 Source:   usatoday.com

'Tactical parade' rides across Utah town waving guns and flags for Constitution Day

  'Tactical parade' rides across Utah town waving guns and flags for Constitution Day A "tactical parade" featuring plenty of guns and "Trump 2020" gear rode through St. George Thursday as part of a Constitution Day event.Some 75 vehicles participated in the parade, which was organized by the same right-wing group that led an anti-mask rally outside a school district building several weeks ago that led to international attention over a viral video that drew jokes from Jimmy Kimmel and others.


Tuscaloosa: Mayor Walt Maddox is opening the faucet a bit wider with an updated executive order to allow more people into the city’s bars and pubs. Effective at 5:01 p.m. Thursday, the maximum number of people allowed inside businesses holding a lounge liquor license through the Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control Board will increase from 100 to 150. Occupancy limits at these establishments will remain capped at 50%, but the updated executive order issued Wednesday by Mayor Walt Maddox increases the population permissions for larger bars and taverns. The updated order also retains the suspension of walk-up service for other ABC-licensed establishments that are authorized for on-premise consumption, effectively limiting alcohol sales to seated customers only. Patrons at these establishments still will not be allowed to enter the business unless seating is readily available, according to the updated executive order.

ECOWAS likely to decide on lifting Mali sanctions Friday

  ECOWAS likely to decide on lifting Mali sanctions Friday The West African bloc ECOWAS will likely decide on Friday whether to lift potentially crippling sanctions imposed on Mali after last month's coup, its mediator said. West African leaders have heaped pressure on the ruling military junta to return power to civilians since the coup toppled president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita on August 18.The mediator, Nigerian former president Goodluck Jonathan, called the 15-nation bloc's sanctions "unfortunate" during a visit to Mali's capital Bamako on Wednesday.


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Anchorage: The Anchorage School District’s finances could be significantly affected by decreased enrollment after many families enrolled children in home-schooling programs instead of neighborhood schools. Chief Financial Officer Jim Anderson said the district’s enrollment is down by thousands of students this year after officials decided to start classes online because of the coronavirus pandemic, The Anchorage Daily News reports. About $10 million will move from neighborhood schools to the district’s home-school programs, while there could be a shortfall of about $14 million in state and local revenue, Anderson said. There is also a potential $2 million shortfall in transportation revenue from the state to the district without school buses running, he said.

'Next generation of poll workers': Young people are stepping up during the pandemic. It might avert a crisis

  'Next generation of poll workers': Young people are stepping up during the pandemic. It might avert a crisis Thanks to a robust poll-worker recruitment push, several key cities have more poll workers than they need for Nov. 3. But the work isn't over.Two officers shot during Kentucky protests


Phoenix: The novel coronavirus seems to mutate once every two weeks, according to a team of researchers who have analyzed genetic information from nearly 3,000 coronavirus samples in the state. This might sound like a fast mutation rate, but when compared with other viruses, it’s a somewhat slower rate, according to Northern Arizona University geneticist Jason Ladner. Any variation of the virus circulating now would have, on average, about 15 differences from the initial novel coronavirus that jumped into humans, he said. One big question is whether one of these mutations could change the effectiveness of any vaccines or treatments. “What we found and others found as well is that there can be very large mutations or deletions in the genomes of these viruses,” said Arizona State University virologist Efrem Lim. Any big changes or deletions in the virus’s genetic material, or genome, could change the way the virus looks or behaves.

Austrian Alps to Open for Skiing With Ban Apres-Ski Parties

  Austrian Alps to Open for Skiing With Ban Apres-Ski Parties Austria’s ski resorts will open up again this winter, though tourists will have to do without the usual off-piste partying, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said. © Photographer: Sean Gallup/Getty Images Europe ISCHGL, AUSTRIA - SEPTEMBER 10: A man removes a protective face mask after photographing himself in front of an advertisement in the shape of ski goggles for the Ischgl ski resort on September 10, 2020 in Ischgl, Austria.


Little Rock: More than 600 new coronavirus cases were confirmed in the state and seven more deaths reported Wednesday, while a new White House report kept the state in the red zone for new virus cases per capita, officials said. The White House Coronavirus Task Force said the state had the eighth-highest rate for new cases last week, reporting 124 per 100,000 people. But the report noted that new cases and the rate of positive coronavirus tests have trended downward in the past week. The state’s rate of positive tests was down 2 percentage points to 7.6% over the previous week, the report said. The national rate of positive tests was 4.8%, according to the report, dated Sunday. Meanwhile, an updated model from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences’ Fay W. Boozman College of Public Health predicts virus cases will peak in Arkansas in late December.


San Diego: Officials said Wednesday that the state would not consider removing college students’ virus cases from a county’s data because they are part of the broader community and can contribute to the spread of the illness. “You can’t isolate as if it’s on an island, a campus community that is part of a larger community,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said, hours before Greg Cox, chairman of the San Diego County board of supervisors, wrote the governor asking that he seriously consider excluding San Diego State University from the county’s count. San Diego County, the state’s second-most populous, has seen hundreds of cases among college students that have helped drive up infections. SDSU has reported more than 700 cases, prompting the university to move classes online and, on Tuesday, mandate testing for students living on campus. While about 1 in 4 infected students lives on campus, the vast majority live off campus, a county official said.

Biden's low-key campaign style worries some Democrats

  Biden's low-key campaign style worries some Democrats WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) — The final stretch of a presidential campaign is typically a nonstop mix of travel, caffeine and adrenaline. But as the worst pandemic in a century bears down on the United States, Joe Biden is taking a lower key approach. Since his Aug. 11 selection of California Sen. Kamala Harris as his running mate, Biden has had 22 days where he either didn't make public appearances, held only virtual fundraisers or ventured from his Delaware home solely for church, according to an Associated Press analysis of his schedules.


Denver: A union representing workers at a meatpacking plant where six workers died of COVID-19 and hundreds more were infected staged a protest Wednesday, claiming federal officials should have fined the company more for its alleged failure to provide safe working conditions. The JBS USA-owned plant in Greeley was issued a $15,615 fine Sept. 11 by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The United Food and Commercial Workers Union called the fine for the multibillion-dollar company “insulting” and “ineffectual,” but JBS said it’s unwarranted. The union’s Local 7, which represents about 3,000 workers at the plant, asked co-workers and relatives of those who died and were infected to protest outside OSHA’s Denver offices. “After seven deaths and seven months, they issued a lousy, measly $15,000 fine,” local president Kim Cordova declared to several dozen demonstrators, some holding signs that read “Shame on OSHA.”


Trumbull: A middle school has been forced to close for two weeks after a person tested positive for the coronavirus and nearly 70 people were asked to quarantine. Trumbull Superintendent of Schools Martin Semmel said Wednesday that someone associated with Hillcrest Middle School tested positive, and there aren’t enough substitute teachers to fill in for staff members who are required to quarantine, Hearst Connecticut Media reports. All students have switched to remote learning, and the school will reopen to students Oct. 1, officials said. Semmel said the building already has been deemed safe for staff members to return. School officials did not say if any of the 70 people asked to quarantine are students. Semmel also said someone at Trumbull High School tested positive for the virus, but the school is remaining open, and contact tracing is underway.

Fact check: 'Kingdom of God' comment by SCOTUS contender Amy Coney Barrett is missing context in meme

  Fact check: 'Kingdom of God' comment by SCOTUS contender Amy Coney Barrett is missing context in meme A 2006 remark about the "Kingdom of God" is missing context in a meme that also falsely attributes views on ending separation of church and state. The widely cited reference to Barrett encouraging a “Kingdom of God” is taken out of context. Fact check: No guarantee Obama would've replaced Ginsburg with a progressive justice Amy Coney Barrett’s religious and judicial views Barrett is a conservative and a favorite among the religious right. Trump appointed Barrett to a be a federal appeals court judge in 2017, and she has since ruled in over 100 cases.


Wilmington: The state has released a new app that, through Bluetooth technology, could alert users they have come in contact with someone who has tested positive for the coronavirus. COVID Alert DE, which can be downloaded via the App Store or Google Play, uses Bluetooth “keys” – numbers that change every few minutes in the background of a person’s phone. Users’ phones will anonymously share these numbers if they are within 6 feet of another user for more than 15 minutes. If a person tests positive for COVID-19, the Division of Public Health will verify the results and give these app users a six-digit code. These users then have the option to input the code into the app and upload their Bluetooth keys, which will then be checked against a list of others with whom they have come in contact in the past few days. If there is a match, the app will alert those users that they may have been exposed to the virus.

District of Columbia

Washington: George Washington University has developed an in-house coronavirus test conducted in its new COVID-19 laboratory in an effort to keep the school community safe during the pandemic, WUSA-TV reports. The free, on-campus coronavirus testing gives results within 24 to 48 hours, compared to days or weeks for results to return from outside laboratories. The university implemented the testing as an additional safeguard to help prevent outbreaks on campus. The school said the test is fast and accurate and will go along with case investigations to control and contain positive COVID-19 cases within the school community and the D.C. area. GW’s COVID-19 tests use a technique called polymerase chain reaction to detect genetic material from the virus that causes coronavirus, school officials said, calling the powerful method highly accurate. Members of the school community who are on campus must get weekly COVID-19 tests.

Fact check: Kentucky attorney general is not married to a relative of Mitch McConnell

  Fact check: Kentucky attorney general is not married to a relative of Mitch McConnell Viral posts on Facebook falsely suggest that Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron's wife is a niece or granddaughter of the powerful senator.Miami mayor questions if Florida is ready for Phase 3


a close up of Dee Snider: Dee Snider speaks to fans at the Fanboy Expo in the Knoxville Convention Center Friday, Oct. 6, 2017. © CAITIE MCMEKIN/NEWS SENTINEL Dee Snider speaks to fans at the Fanboy Expo in the Knoxville Convention Center Friday, Oct. 6, 2017.

Fort Lauderdale: Twisted Sister singer Dee Snider took to social media to condemn anti-maskers who went into a local Target store blaring the group’s hit “We’re Not Gonna Take It” while ripping off their masks. In a tweet Wednesday, Snider called the stunt “moronic” and shared a video that was recorded by an upset customer inside the Target at Coral Ridge Mall in Fort Lauderdale. Snider said the group doesn’t have his “permission or blessing to use my song for their moronic cause.” The stunt drew quick action from Broward County officials. Target was fined for not enforcing the county’s mask law, and citations were mailed to the protesters, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reports. Fort Lauderdale resident Chris Nelson told the newspaper that his group, ReOpen South Florida, organized the “flash mob,” in which the anti-maskers approached customers and told them to take off their masks. He also posted a YouTube video from their vantage point.


Atlanta: For the first time since April, some families will be able to visit relatives in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities in the state under new rules for the coronavirus approved by the governor. Gov. Brian Kemp signed an executive order Tuesday that lifts a ban on visitors implemented April 8, but not for all long-term care facilities. In counties where the infection rate remains high, visitors will still only be permitted under extremely limited circumstances. Long-term care facilities in counties where the 14-day COVID-19 case rate is greater than 100 in 100,000 or where the positive testing rate exceeds 10% will still be generally barred from allowing visitors. In another population group that’s had a lot of focus on viral spread recently, the University of Georgia announced Wednesday that the pace of new infections eased last week, with the 39,000-student university reporting 421 new cases in the week that ended Sunday.

Musicians who were influenced by Bruce Springsteen

  Musicians who were influenced by Bruce Springsteen Bruce Springsteen has always enjoyed paying tribute and boasting about those who have had a major influence on his music and indirectly helped shape his legendary career.


Wailuku: A cargo shipping rate increase is expected to raise prices on some products moved between the state’s islands before they reach customers. The 46% increase by interisland shipper Young Brothers LLC took effect this month, The Maui News reports. Although some businesses have yet to see updated invoices, Young Brothers confirmed Tuesday that its emergency rate increase has gone into effect. The company also returned to shipping schedules used before the coronavirus outbreak, which was a condition of the rate approval by the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission. The utilities commission last month granted Young Brothers’ request for the emergency rate increase, which is expected to increase the company’s revenue by $27 million. Warren Watanabe, executive director of the Maui County Farm Bureau, said the commission’s decision will “severely impact” farmers and ranchers who ship products across the state.


Boise: The state’s rate of death by suicide this year is similar to figures from 2019 and less than numbers from 2018 despite the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, the Idaho Statesman reports. As of Aug. 31, 248 people in Idaho had died by suicide. By the same time last year, 240 people in the state had died by suicide. In the first eight months of 2018, the state reported 280 suicides. Idaho had the fifth-highest number of suicides in the country in 2018 with 409, while it was the 38th in population, according to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare. Dr. Christopher Edwards, a St. Luke’s Boise Medical Center psychologist, said anxiety and depression have substantially increased as a result of the pandemic. Edwards said as opposed to this time last year, anxiety has increased about threefold, and depression rates have increased roughly four times. He also said 25% of people are reporting trauma-like symptoms related to the coronavirus.


Springfield: Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Wednesday that the focus during the coronavirus pandemic should be on protecting communities and not whether families make decisions about sons and daughters strapping on football helmets or spiking volleyballs. A day after refusing to retract an earlier prohibition on fall sports despite protests around the state, the Democrat said the decision must consider more than the athletes, coaches and staff. “This deadly virus should remind us that there are some individual choices that have enormous life-changing impacts on others,” Pritzker said. “While parents might choose to send their children out onto the playing field, I can tell you that someone else becomes ill because of that decision wouldn’t call that ‘your personal choice.’


Indianapolis: The counties that include Indiana and Ball State universities are listed as the highest-risk locations for coronavirus infections on the state health department’s updated county-by-county map released Wednesday. Monroe County, which includes the main Indiana University campus in Bloomington, and Delaware County, which includes Ball State in Muncie, are the only two listed with the health department’s orange rating for moderate to high coronavirus spread after seven counties had that rating last week. No counties were listed with the highest-risk red rating in either week. The remaining 90 counties received yellow or blue ratings based on the number of new cases per 100,000 residents and the percentage of tests confirming COVID-19 infections. State health commissioner Dr. Kristina Box attributed the ratings for Monroe and Delaware counties to congregate living settings and large-scale university testing within the counties.


Kim Reynolds wearing a suit and tie: Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds holds a © Olivia Sun/The Register Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds holds a "Return to Learn" news conference on the reopening of public schools on July 30, 2020 at the Iowa State Capitol.

Johnston: Gov. Kim Reynolds said Wednesday that there is nothing inappropriate about her decision to spend nearly $450,000 in federal coronavirus relief money on salaries for aides in her office, including her chief of staff and spokesman. Reynolds addressed the matter at a press conference for the first time since a report was posted Sunday by Laura Belin, publisher of the liberal-leaning online blog Bleeding Heartland. The report, based on information Belin obtained through a public records request to the Iowa Department of Management, indicated 21 employees on Reynolds’ staff will have more than 60% of their salary paid with federal emergency funds from March 14 through June 30. Reynolds said the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act allow salaries to be paid for workers whose job requirements are significantly changed due to the coronavirus pandemic.


Lawrence: State officials are considering spending $50 million to dramatically ramp up testing of people who aren’t showing obvious signs of the coronavirus. A state task force this week backed Kansas Health Secretary Lee Norman’s recommendation to use the federal stimulus money on testing at schools, workplaces and other sites. The goal is to catch coronavirus in people who haven’t even realized they’re carrying it, KCUR reports. Some of the testing would be done at Wichita State University, where a new not-for-profit lab is gearing up to churn out hundreds of thousands of tests by the end of the year. Experts say positivity rates should drop when a state or city goes beyond testing only groups of people who are most likely to be sick. Right now, about 15% of Kansans who get the test find out they have COVID-19. By Johns Hopkins University’s calculations, that puts it among the states with the highest rates of new positives.


Frankfort: Gov. Andy Beshear said he is willing to roll up his sleeves to be vaccinated in public to show his confidence in the safety of COVID-19 vaccines once they become available. The Democratic governor urged patience even as federal health agencies and the Defense Department have sketched out plans for a vaccination campaign to begin gradually in January or even late this year, eventually ramping up to reach any American who wants a shot. “We do have to let the science take its course,” Beshear said. “And we do have to make sure it’s safe. Because I’m going to be asked to sign a form for my kids on it. And I intend to do that. I intend to do that when I know it’s safe.” Beshear, the father of two children, said he’ll discuss the matter with Kentuckians when the time comes. And that includes setting a public example once a safe and effective shot is developed.


New Orleans: The state must reinstate coronavirus pandemic voting plans used for summer elections rather than using a more restrictive plan proposed by the Louisiana secretary of state and approved by the Legislature for elections in November and December, a federal judge has ruled. “The state’s failure to provide accommodation for pandemic-affected voters is likely unconstitutional because it imposes an undue burden on Plaintiffs’ right to vote,” U.S. District Chief Judge Shelly Dick of Baton Rouge wrote in her opinion Wednesday. The plan used in July and August, which had five pandemic-related reasons for getting mail-in ballots, worked just fine, she wrote. It “was not broken; the bumbling attempts to fix what was not broken have brought us to today,” she said. “Today’s ruling is a huge victory not only for the health and safety of the people of Louisiana, but also for their voting rights and our democracy,” Gov. John Bel Edwards said in a statement.


Augusta: The University of New England is undertaking additional testing measures on its Biddeford and Portland campuses as York County remains a hot spot for COVID-19. Students who feel they’re at higher risk of contracting the coronavirus can be tested free of charge, UNE President James Herbert said in a letter to the university community. Examples of activities that place a student at higher risk include attending a party, church or other social event where masks are not consistently worn; travel outside Maine; or close contact with someone known to have the virus. “Students who volunteer for such testing will be granted immunity from any potential conduct violations related to the activity that puts them at increased risk,” Herbert wrote. There is currently one active case of a UNE student with COVID-19, but York County is host to several outbreaks. The largest is at the county jail, where more than 70 people tested positive.


Annapolis: It will likely be at least six to eight months longer before a coronavirus vaccine can be distributed in a best-case scenario, leading state health officials and lawmakers said Wednesday as they make plans for Maryland. Senate President Bill Ferguson said he spoke Tuesday with one of the principal investigators at Johns Hopkins University who is working on a vaccine now in its third phase. While there has been remarkable progress, Ferguson said the logistics that go into distributing a vaccine are “enormous and herculean.” Robert Neall, Maryland’s health secretary, emphasized that people need to be prepared to use available tools like masks and handwashing well into next year. He also emphasized that the state could face a challenging time with the upcoming flu season. For the next six or eight months, Neall said health officials will be using “vintage 1918 tactics” to coexist with the virus, referring to the deadly flu pandemic.


Boston: Getting a flu shot this year is one of the best ways to help the state guard against a spike in demand for health care services caused by any potential new surge in COVID-19 cases, Gov. Charlie Baker said Thursday. Public health officials have warned that an increase in both diseases could put pressure on the state’s hospitals and health care system, the Republican said at a news conference at a CVS Pharmacy in the Roslindale neighborhood of Boston. He also said the state must push harder to make sure all students receive a flu shot. He said the current vaccination rate for elementary students is 81%, but the state can do better. State public health officials last month announced flu shots will be required for all students and children six months and older attending child care, preschool, K-12, and colleges and universities in Massachusetts.


Ann Arbor: Graduate students who teach at the University of Michigan returned to classes Thursday after voting to end a strike. The Graduate Employees’ Organization, which represents about 2,000 students who teach or assist, said it achieved “critical progress” on child care options during the coronavirus pandemic, COVID-19 testing protocols and concerns about campus police operations. The vote Wednesday was 1,074-239, the union said. The strike began Sept. 8. The deal ends legal action taken by the university, which sued this week to try to end the strike. “By withholding our labor, building coalitions, and making our power impossible to ignore, we forced the university to give us an offer with substantive progress toward a safe and just campus,” the union said. The university said the strike disrupted many online undergraduate classes taught by graduate students.


St. Paul: The City Council has voted unanimously to approve Mayor Melvin Carter’s proposal to guarantee $500 in monthly income to 150 low-income families affected by COVID-19. The council was poised last week to approve using $300,000 in federal funding to launch the pilot program, but it decided to wait a week after U.S. Rep Betty McCollum questioned whether the plan would meet legal requirements for spending the coronavirus aid or endanger participants’ eligibility for other aid programs. But the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports Muneer Karcher-Ramos, director of the city’s Office of Financial Empowerment, told the council Wednesday that his office had confirmed the plan was allowed. He also said there would be systems in place to educate families about how it might affect their eligibility for other benefits. The mayor has said philanthropy will fund most of the $1.5 million, 18-month project, aimed at stabilizing the finances of disadvantaged families.


Jackson: Significantly fewer Mississippians approve of Gov. Tate Reeves’ handling of the pandemic now compared to the early weeks of the crisis, a new survey shows. Some 56% of state residents approved of Reeves’ performance in late April, a figure that slipped to 34% by August, according to the latest in a series of surveys about governors’ performance across all 50 states. The survey project – run by researchers from Northeastern, Harvard, Rutgers and Northwestern universities – found while governors across the board saw their pandemic approval ratings slip, Reeves and 11 other governors had garnered “notably low” ratings. Even as Reeves’ approval tied to the pandemic was dropping, President Donald Trump’s COVID-19 response ratings by Mississippi voters stayed relatively stable, at 45% last month. That’s much higher than Trump’s national COVID-19 approval rating of 34%, the researchers found.


O’Fallon: Poll workers who signed up to work the November election in a county near St. Louis were urged by email to “act surprised” if voters ask why they aren’t wearing masks given the coronavirus threat, but the elections director said Thursday that the message was misinterpreted. The St. Charles County Election Authority sent an email to poll workers Wednesday that says they will not be required to wear a mask Nov. 3 but must keep one near them and put it on if a voter asks. “You may act surprised that you don’t have a face mask on properly and then apologize as you put the mask on,” the email says. “Wear your mask correctly until the voter leaves the polling place. Please do this every time a voter says something to you.” After the August primary, the county decided that rather than simply encouraging workers to wear masks, it would require them in November to have one nearby, such as on their ear, under their chin or on a lanyard, and to put it on if a voter asks.


Helena: About sixty schools in the state have seen at least one confirmed case of COVID-19 in a student or staff member since the beginning of the school year, Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock said Wednesday. Those include both K-12 schools and universities. A total of 51 K-12 students have been diagnosed with the virus in the few weeks since the semester started, out of 147,000 students in the state. Numerous schools have had to temporarily close after positive cases were identified to limit the spread of the virus. “This was not unexpected,” Bullock said, adding that transmission has been limited thanks to quick action, including identifying close contacts and testing them. Bullock said the state will begin releasing weekly reports on COVID-19 cases in schools and universities. The governor said the report would protect student privacy by including only limited information on cases in schools with fewer than 50 students.


Omaha: Students in the state’s largest public school district will begin going back into the classroom next week for the first time since March, when the coronavirus outbreak sent students home to learn remotely. Omaha Public Schools, which serves about 53,000 students, announced in an email this week that some schools will open to in-person classes starting Wednesday, the Omaha World-Herald reports. That follows Superintendent Cheryl Logan’s goal to get most students in school at least part time by Oct. 19, which is the start of the second quarter. In-person classes five days a week will begin for elementary special education, hearing-impaired and alternate curriculum students Wednesday. Elementary and middle schools will begin part-time, staggered in-person classes starting Oct. 5, and high schools will follow with the same part-time schedule Oct. 19. Remote learning will continue to be an option.


Carson City: Gov. Steve Sisolak asked in a letter Wednesday to Vice President Mike Pence why President Donald Trump’s campaign defied White House guidance on public gatherings by holding two weekend rallies in Nevada. Sisolak said the president’s campaign “knowingly packed thousands of people into two venues to hold public gatherings that are categorized as ‘high risk.’ ” The letter is a departure from Sisolak’s previously moderate tone toward the White House over its handling of the coronavirus pandemic. Sisolak had refrained from heavily criticizing Trump’s response to the crisis until the president announced his plans for the rallies. “You can imagine my confusion and utter disbelief over the contradictory and dismissive behavior demonstrated by the president,” Sisolak said in the letter, which was released by the governor’s office. The first-term Democrat said the president’s behavior was an insult to Nevadans’ sacrifices.

New Hampshire

Concord: State lawmakers on Wednesday failed to override more than 20 bills vetoed by Republican Gov. Chris Sununu, including a catchall one containing 40 wide-ranging measures that was passed during during a truncated session in the coronavirus pandemic. Lawmakers said the bill would have changed building codes to help construction workers; provided death benefits to emergency medical technicians and rescue squad members; set up a database to track animal health records; allowed for expanded voting for sports book retail locations; regulated hemp; and many other topics. Sununu said he was concerned that parts of the 77-page legislation didn’t have the chance to go through the public hearing process and that most of the bills do not relate to one another. Rep. Mary Beth Walz, a Democrat from Bow, noted that soon after vetoing this bill, Sununu signed another one that packaged multiple topics.

New Jersey

Trenton: Gov. Phil Murphy said Wednesday that YouTube stars who rented out the “Jersey Shore” house Monday should “be taken to task” after an estimated 1,000 people showed up, many flouting COVID-19 social distancing rules. Murphy, a Democrat, called the gathering at the Seaside Heights house that hosted the MTV show one of the “most extreme and egregious” examples of “knucklehead” behavior since the outbreak began in March. The Canadian YouTubers, known as the Nelk Boys, rented out the house Monday to mark the offering of new merchandise for sale. One of the group’s members, Kyle Forgeard, wrote on Twitter that they didn’t intend for a large group to gather, and the group was being unfairly criticized. He said they had hired off-duty police and provided other security to make sure there wasn’t a big gathering. “Now that we’ve learned when COVID’s going on everyone’s bored people are going … to show up,” he said.

New Mexico

Las Cruces: Las Cruces Public Schools board members unanimously voted Tuesday to remain online for the remainder of the fall semester through December or longer depending on health guidelines. Superintendent Karen Trujillo proposed continuing remote learning, except for small groups of students in special education, preschool students and others with a greater need for in-person instruction. The exemption includes new English learners; homeless, migrant or foster students; students who are not engaged; and students who are at risk of failure. These students will have their temperature checked and be required to do a daily wellness check. Public schools have been closed to in-person learning since March, when Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham issued a public health emergency to limit the spread of COVID-19.

New York

New York: The city’s ambitious attempt to be among the first big cities to bring students back into classrooms closed by the coronavirus suffered another setback Thursday, as the mayor announced he was again delaying the start of in-person instruction for most students due to a shortage of staff and supplies. De Blasio announced a new timeline that will keep most elementary school students out of their physical classrooms until Sept. 29. Middle and high school students will learn remotely through Oct. 1. The plan, which has now been delayed twice since it was announced in July, is for the majority of the more than 1 million public school students to be in the classroom one to three days a week and learning remotely the rest of the time. About 42% of families have opted for remote-only instruction. The delay came just days before students were set to resume in-person instruction Monday.

North Carolina

Raleigh: North Carolina State University confirmed Wednesday that it has had more than 1,000 of its students test positive for the coronavirus since classes began Aug. 10. Mick Kulikowski, a spokesman for the university, said 1,007 students had been confirmed to have the virus as of Monday. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill was the first college in the state to shut down in-person undergraduate classes and direct students to move out of their dorms and return home to their families. N.C. State followed shortly thereafter, as did East Carolina University. All three campuses began the fall semester Aug. 10. ECU reported last week that it had eclipsed 1,000 student COVID-19 cases, and UNC is approaching that mark with more than 950 cases. The 13 remaining colleges within the University of North Carolina have seen mixed results.

North Dakota

Bismarck: State health officials reported five more deaths related to COVID-19 on Thursday, bringing to 10 the number of people who died from coronavirus in the past two days. Seven of the deaths in those two days have been in Burleigh County, which tallied four deaths Thursday. Health officials said the other death was reported in Ward County. The state has recorded 182 deaths since the pandemic began, which is the 46th highest in the country overall and the 38th highest per capita, according to the COVID Tracking Project. The volunteer organization ranks North Dakota No. 1 overall in the number of cases per capita in the past two weeks. It also ranks the North Dakota first in the nation as having the most testing per capita. North Dakota on Thursday reported 394 positive cases of COVID-19. The number of active cases in the state increased by 185, to a record 2,713. The number of hospitalizations increased by seven, to 69.


Columbus: Houses of worship can’t be shut down by local or state officials, and elections can’t be moved from their prescribed dates, under a bill signed into law Wednesday by Gov. Mike DeWine and pushed by fellow Republican lawmakers angered over orders meant to slow the spread of the coronavirus. DeWine expressly did not order religious institutions shut down in Ohio because of the pandemic and was praised by religious groups for that decision. But because governors in other states restricted religious gatherings in some form, the measure is necessary as a proactive move should such a situation arise in the future, said state Sen. Terry Johnson, a southern Ohio Republican who pushed the proposal. Other states’ orders disregarded the First Amendment “by forcing the closure of places of worship and religious institutions,” Johnson said in a statement.


Oklahoma City: Gov. Kevin Stitt reiterated Thursday that he will not issue a statewide mask mandate, despite a recommendation from the White House Coronavirus Task Force. “I’ve been very clear from the beginning that I believe a mask mandate is unenforceable, and I’m not going to mandate something that I don’t think you can enforce,” Stitt said Thursday. Stitt said he supports individual cities in the state that have issued mask-wearing mandates, which include Oklahoma City, Tulsa and Norman. The task force’s weekly report has, with the exception of one week, since early August repeatedly recommended a statewide mask mandate. Stitt also took issue with the task force’s report for saying Oklahoma is fifth in the nation in the number of positive virus cases. “We’re nowhere close to number fifth in the country, so that’s one thing that we’re going to make a phone call to the White House and find out exactly where they’re getting their numbers,” he said.


Salem: An outbreak of COVID-19 at French Prairie Nursing and Rehab facility in Woodburn continues to grow, according to the Oregon Health Authority. The assisted living facility has been the site of 71 cases and seven deaths, an increase of 29 cases and three deaths from the week before. The first case at the facility was identified Aug. 5. Other outbreaks have been identified by the OHA at The Springs at Willow Creek in Salem, where seven cases have been reported; Redwood Heights in Salem, where seven cases have been reported; Windsor Health and Rehab in Salem, where five cases have been reported; and Providence Benedictine Mt. Angel, where seven cases have been reported. The outbreak at Little Village Learning Center in Salem, which was identified Sept. 7, has increased to 12 cases from five.


Harrisburg: The state’s top lawyer asked a federal judge Wednesday to retain Gov. Tom Wolf’s limits on crowd size, at least for now, warning that allowing large groups to congregate during a legal battle over Wolf’s public health orders “will result in people’s deaths” from the coronavirus. The office of Attorney General Josh Shapiro asked the judge, an appointee of President Donald Trump, to delay enforcement of his ruling that many of the Democratic governor’s pandemic shutdown orders were unconstitutional. U.S. District Judge William Stickman IV in Pittsburgh ruled against the state’s current size limits on indoor and outdoor gatherings, saying they violate citizens’ constitutional right to assemble. The state has been enforcing a gathering limit of more than 25 people for events held indoors and more than 250 people for those held outside.

Rhode Island

Providence: The state has had at least 19 students and staff members test positive for the coronavirus since schools reopened for in-person learning this week, Gov. Gina Raimondo said Wednesday. The state’s 14 coronavirus testing sites dedicated solely to schoolchildren and school employees identified eight positive cases of the disease since schools reopened for in-person learning Monday. In addition, there were 11 positive cases in schools in people who were tested elsewhere, the Democratic governor said at a news conference. “We will continue to see cases in schools, just as we’ve seen cases all summer long,” Raimondo said. In each case, the person who tested positive as well as their close contacts were directed to quarantine, she said. All schools remained open. The 19 cases were associated with 18 different schools, according to Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott, director of the state Department of Health.

South Carolina

Columbia: Gov. Henry McMaster signed into law Wednesday changes in state voting rules allowing anyone to cast an absentee ballot without a reason in November’s general election, in an effort to help fight the spread of COVID-19. But the changes passed by the Republican-dominated General Assembly did not include proposals pushed by Democrats including eliminating the requirement that a second person witness and sign the ballot and placing multiple drop boxes for ballots in counties. State law still requires absentee ballots be mailed in or dropped off at county election commission offices in person. Voters can also cast absentee ballots in person at those offices for several weeks before Election Day. The rules are only for the 2020 election and are similar to ones put in place for the statewide primaries in June.

South Dakota

Pierre: More than 100 inmates have tested positive for the coronavirus at a minimum-security women’s prison in the city, according to the Department of Corrections. Mass testing of inmates resulted in the department finding 102 active cases, according to an update late Wednesday. There are 140 women held at the prison, based on an Aug. 31 count. Four staff members have also tested positive, with one fully recovered. Michael Winder, a spokesman for the Department of Corrections, said in a statement that the prison has placed people with infections into isolation. He said all inmates are required to wear masks, and staff at the prison are taking extra precautions for handwashing and sanitizing. The outbreak at the prison contributed to state health officials reporting one of the highest one-day tallies for new cases Thursday, with 395 people testing positive statewide.


Nashville: Mayor John Cooper announced Thursday that bars and limited-service restaurants may open at 50% capacity, thanks to steady gains against a COVID-19 outbreak that led to widespread business restrictions this year. The new restrictions, which take effect Friday, allow for up to 50 patrons per floor at Nashville’s multilevel bars, including the popular honky-tonks along Lower Broadway. Outdoor spaces such as rooftop bars or patios will also be open to up to 50 people or 50% capacity, whichever is lower. Bars and restaurants can remain open until 11 p.m. under the new rules. The eased restrictions come as Cooper and city leaders also announced plans to allow limited numbers of fans at upcoming Titans games, as well as the return of high school football.


Austin: The state is ready to relax coronavirus restrictions for the first time in months, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott announced Thursday, but bars remain closed indefinitely, and a mask mandate is still in place following a massive summer spread that became one of the deadliest outbreaks in the U.S. In allowing restaurants and gyms to let more people inside, as well as lifting a ban on elective surgeries and nursing home visits under certain criteria, Abbott said a dramatic drop in hospitalized COVID-19 patients has made it possible to begin easing restrictions put in place when new cases surged in June. Texas has nearly 14,500 confirmed deaths from COVID-19, the fourth-highest in the nation, with the vast majority of those deaths occurring this summer. “There are some Texans who want to fully open Texas 100% as if COVID is no longer a threat,” Abbott said from his office at the Texas Capitol. “The fact is COVID does still exist.”


Salt Lake City: A spike in COVID-19 cases in the state will continue if schools continue resisting health department guidelines, an infectious disease expert warned Thursday. The recent increase of new cases was likely driven by high schools and colleges resuming in-person learning and could lead to an increase in hospitalizations for older people over the next few weeks, said Dr. Eddie Stenehjem, an infectious diseases specialist at the Intermountain Healthcare hospital network based in Salt Lake City. “If we don’t do something, we can’t expect a different result,” Stenehjem said Thursday. Hospitalizations in the state have been declining since July and recently flattened out. But Stenehjem said he’s worried about young adults spreading the virus to their parents and grandparents. Over the past two weeks, the rolling average number of daily new coronavirus cases in Utah has increased by about 54%, according to state data.


Westminster: A photo of the senior football players from a high school is prompting school officials to remind the players and others of the need to wear masks and maintain social distancing. The Brattleboro Reformer reports the photo of the uniformed players from the Bellows Falls Union High School senior was taken by the parent of one of the players. “We are asking people to wear masks and keep social distance,” School Board member Colin James said during a meeting this week. He said the football players were “stacked on top of each other; no masks were worn.” After seeing the photo, school Principal Christopher Hodsden sent out an email to coaches reminding them that students who wear school uniforms have to wear a mask and follow social distancing practices. School board member Jack Bryar said the students needed to be reminded that football is recreation. “This is serious business,” Bryar said. “It’s not trivial.”


Charlottesville: The University of Virginia says it’s increasing testing of students after it identified a cluster of coronavirus cases in a residence hall. The Daily Progress reports the school reported five cases Wednesday that were identified through wastewater and individual testing programs. All 188 students in the building were notified and were to be tested Wednesday evening. Residents were told to remain in their rooms except to use the bathroom or retrieve meals as they await test results. Those with positive tests will be moved to quarantine rooms. The school has reported 378 total virus cases. That includes 330 students. Limited, in-person classes began last week. “University leaders and public health experts have spent months planning for a return of students and a potential increase in cases,” university spokesman Brian Coy said in a statement.


Seattle: A graduate student at the University of Washington filed a lawsuit demanding tuition reimbursement after the school shifted most of its classes online for the remainder of the year. Alexander Barry wrote in the complaint filed Wednesday in King County Superior Court that he paid the university for “opportunities and services that he did not receive, including on-campus education, facilities, services, and activities.” University spokesperson Victor Balta said in a statement Wednesday that the school’s transition online has resulted in an increase in its investment in new technology and salaries for faculty and staff. “We understand and share the frustration and disappointment that students and their families are experiencing as we navigate the unprecedented limitations presented by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Balta said in a statement sent to The Seattle Times.

West Virginia

Charleston: Gov. Jim Justice said Wednesday that the state will kick in $6 million to continue a program that funds day care for the children of essential workers, after federal funding ran out. Justice said the first round of aid that included $23 million to expand child care for essential workers will run out at the end of September. The state’s investments will keep the program running until the end of the year. Justice said it serves 3,400 families each month. He said he still hoped the federal government will backfill the state’s expenses. “But if they don’t, we’ve got the money, and we’ve figured it out,” he said at a press conference. The state announced 10 deaths linked to the coronavirus Wednesday, bringing the total to at least 290 deaths. West Virginia has reported nearly 13,200 confirmed coronavirus cases.


Madison: The coronavirus pandemic has forced an iconic Wisconsin Dells-area water ski show to shut down forever. Tom Diehl, president and co-owner of the Tommy Bartlett Show in Lake Delton, said Wednesday that the show can’t recover from the loss of revenue this summer. The show was preparing for its 70th season when the pandemic happened, forcing Diehl to cancel the season. He said investing in a 2021 season would have been too risky given the uncertainty surrounding the virus and its dampening effect on travel. The decision means the loss of 115 seasonal jobs and a major option for live entertainment among the Dells’ rows of resorts and water parks. The show put on more than 18,700 performances for more than 30 million people, according to a news release the show issued.


Cheyenne: A student at a junior high school tested positive for the coronavirus, while the number of known cases in the state lurched upward by more than 100, officials said Thursday. Three more people from Wyoming have died of COVID-19 in recent weeks, bringing the state’s death toll since the pandemic began six months ago to 49, the Wyoming Department of Health said in a statement. Areas with abrupt increases included Natrona County, which reported 28 new cases within the past day. Albany County had 15 and Sheridan County 13 new cases, according to the department. Statewide, new cases surged by 128. The number of people in Wyoming who have been infected and have not recovered surged in one day from just over 500 to almost 600. Those cases had been hovering around 500 since July in Wyoming.

From USA TODAY Network and wire reports

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Meat plant protest, Twisted Sister, water ski show: News from around our 50 states

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