US Playgrounds, airport testing, mask outreach: News from around our 50 states

13:05  01 october  2020
13:05  01 october  2020 Source:   usatoday.com

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Montgomery: Mayor Steven Reed issued an executive order to mandate masks in Montgomery, bypassing a tied City Council vote that failed to do the same less than 24 hours prior. “As you know, we’ve been encouraging our community to wear masks . Most of our community has done just that.

Orlando: Officials at the state ’s busiest airport said Wednesday that only two workers out of 500 employees tested positive for COVID-19 over DeSantis said at a news conference Tuesday, while talking about outbreaks around the state in the past week, that an airport in central Florida – which


a group of people walking down the street: People make their way along The Strip, the University of Alabama's bar scene, on Aug. 15 in Tuscaloosa. Three weeks into the fall semester, the school is enforcing new COVID-19 regulations amid high positive test counts. © Vasha Hunt People make their way along The Strip, the University of Alabama's bar scene, on Aug. 15 in Tuscaloosa. Three weeks into the fall semester, the school is enforcing new COVID-19 regulations amid high positive test counts.

Montgomery: State alcohol regulators voted Tuesday to lift restrictions on operating hours for bars and restaurants that were imposed in the summer to stem the spread of the coronavirus and adopted new rules written in conjunction with the businesses. With cases of COVID-19 increasing at a slower rate after months of a statewide rule requiring masks in public, members of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board voted to eliminate an emergency rule that required businesses to stop selling alcohol at 11 p.m. and close 30 minutes later. Originally intended to keep down crowds and encourage social distancing, the rule also reduced revenues and limited tips for servers. ABC Administrator Mac Gipson, who called the old restriction a “business killer” for bars, said the board also approved a new order that emphasizes health considerations including 50% occupancy rules, face coverings, social distancing, hand sanitizing and cleaning.

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Juneau: State agencies, cities, the University of Alaska and school districts could not bar individuals from wearing tribal regalia or carrying objects of traditional cultural significance at public events under a bill introduced in the Alaska House. The bill is sponsored by Rep. Tiffany Zulkosky, a Bethel Democrat.

Columbus: State Rep. Theresa Gavarone, R-Bowling Green, has introduced a bill to ban the manufacture, sale or possession of synthetic urine, which people are using to defeat drug tests . Fabricated urine costs around and comes with instructions for microwaving it to bring it to body


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Juneau: An annual market event held for the past 37 years in the capital city was canceled because of the coronavirus. The public market has brought merchants and crowds of shoppers to downtown Juneau since 1983, The Juneau Empire reports. Market organizer Peter Metcalfe announced Monday that the event was canceled because of the pandemic and the potential risk to lives. “Hundreds of our customers and several of our vendors are elders who are in the demographic most vulnerable to COVID-19,” Metcalfe said in a statement. “The city did us a favor by making the decision easy: we simply cannot stage the event this year.” The City and Borough of Juneau is using some of the facilities that have traditionally hosted the event for an emergency warming shelter and quarantine and isolation. Virtual shopping will be available through a website expected to launch by mid-October, Metcalfe said.

Full reopening, firefighter lawsuit, sidewalk extension: News from around our 50 states

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Under the current state mandate, out -of- state travelers will need to show proof of their negative COVID-19 results upon arriving in Alaska. A news release Friday from the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services said two more state prisons employees tested positive last week for the virus

Arthur Ashe, missing Marilyn, pacifier-eating pup: News from around our 50 states . Phoenix: State test scores are improving, but only by a few percentage points. VanZant said in a Facebook post Wednesday that five buildings and two playgrounds were affected by flood waters.


Lake Havasu City: The mayor of this tourist destination has lifted a citywide mask mandate originally ordered in July that required facial coverings indoors when social distancing was not possible. Lake Havasu City Mayor Cal Sheehy suspended the mandate Monday after it was extended twice, Today’s News-Herald reports. The order for the city that attracts recreational boaters, off-road vehicle enthusiasts, hikers and anglers had been set to expire Oct. 15. The order listed multiple exceptions, including children under 6 years old and in places where it was not practicable or feasible to wear face masks. Despite the announcement, all bars, restaurants, fitness centers, movie theaters and water parks are required to adhere to guidelines from the Arizona Department of Health Services. Those guidelines dictate the use of masks for customers and employees, even if there is no local mask requirement.

Dianne Feinstein is pictured walking through DC airport without a mask

  Dianne Feinstein is pictured walking through DC airport without a mask A maskless Dianne Feinstein, of CA, was caught on camera traversing her way through Dulles International Airport on Friday, with the images first aired by Fox News' Tucker Carlson Monday.The maskless California Democrat was caught on camera traversing her way through a private terminal at Dulles International Airport on Friday, with the images first aired by Fox News’ Tucker Carlson on Monday night.

Covid testing centres are popping up at airports worldwide, offering travelers a way to bypass mandatory quarantine, while combatting a second wave of infections imported from summer holiday destinations. Express or standard, paying or free

Little Rock: The state reported at least 795 new cases Saturday of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, as well as 16 new deaths from the illness. Of those new cases, 108 were found in the state ’s correctional system, according to the Department of Health.


Little Rock: A school superintendent died Tuesday from the illness caused by the coronavirus, as a White House task force said the state continued to have one of the highest rates of new virus cases in the country. The Atkins School District announced that Superintendent Jody Jenkins died due to complications from COVID-19. Jenkins, 57, announced Sept. 13 that he had tested positive for the virus and had been hospitalized for the past several days. “He loved the community, he loved his school, and he adored all of the students,” the school said in a post on its Facebook page. Classes resumed in Arkansas in August, and the state said there are 717 active cases in public schools. “(Jenkins’) passing demonstrates, in an especially painful way, the vulnerability of our educators who are on the frontlines of this public health crisis,” Carol Fleming, the president of the Arkansas Education Association, said in a statement.


Sacramento: The state has relaxed coronavirus restrictions in 40 of its 58 counties, including all but one in the San Francisco Bay Area where the illness first took hold in the state, even as signs emerge of a possible surge of new cases. On Tuesday, state officials upgraded seven counties from its most restrictive rules, clearing the way for a return to indoor restaurant dining, worship services, gym workouts and movies in theaters – all with modifications to require face coverings and limit capacity to ensure physical distancing. The state is moving more slowly than the reopening last spring that brought with it a dramatic spike in cases, hospitalizations and deaths. The state issued guidelines late Monday for public playgrounds to reopen across the state. But the rules are strict, requiring everyone 2 and older to wear face masks and mandating parents keep their children at least 6 feet away from others.

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“We wear face mask , but we dont require our customers to, its their choice,” the store Plastic shields have been installed around cashiers’ stations. The state Gaming Commission limits the Concord: The state is adding new coronavirus testing sites while taking away some of the eligibility restrictions.

The state -owned facility has a capacity of 150 residents, and 91 have tested positive for the coronavirus, the agency said. A worker at the veterans home who tested positive for the virus March 30 wasn’t allowed to enter, the statement said, and the first resident tested positive nine days later.


Denver: Gov. Jared Polis addressed parents Tuesday, encouraging families to register students in online or in-person schools as the state experiences a decline in enrollment. Polis said the decline is based on anecdotal evidence, but it is widespread across the state, with the greatest decrease among preschool to third grade students. Other school districts across the U.S. have reported similar trends. According to Colorado’s Department of Education, the state saw a continued increase of its student population over the past 30 years, with the last decrease recorded in the 1988-89 school year. At a news conference Tuesday, Polis and other officials warned about the “major deficit” that children who return to school after taking time off may face. Thursday is Colorado’s school count day. It will largely determine the state finances awarded to school districts, which rely greatly on the number of students counted in each district.


Hartford: Gov. Ned Lamont said Tuesday that the state expects to receive about 1 million new rapid tests for the coronavirus from the federal government and will use them to help make sure schools stay open. His remarks came as the state reported finding 182 new cases of the virus out of 10,380 tests conducted since Monday. That is a rate of 1.75%, the state’s highest since June. Lamont said the state is expecting to receive 69,000 of the rapid tests next week. He said they also will be used in settings such as nursing homes, day care centers, prisons, and for the state’s rapid-response team to deal with any virus outbreaks. The tests will come from a previously announced national supply of 150 million ordered from Abbott Laboratories. The company’s rapid test, the size of a credit card, is the first that does not require specialty computer equipment to process. It delivers results in about 15 minutes.

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Wilmington: At the beginning of September, an average of 86.7 people per day were being diagnosed with the coronavirus in the state, according to a rolling seven-day average. As the month closed, that number had risen to nearly 110 cases per day, and the percentage of people testing positive – 7.2% as of Monday – is the highest it has been since July. During his weekly COVID-19 press conference, Gov. John Carney said the recent trend in positive cases is made up largely of young people. The governor said off-campus gatherings, such as parties that flout gathering limits in places like Newark, have been a problem area. So have some bars and restaurants. Carney said he’d like to see the average case count get below 90 and positive numbers be at 5% or lower. The recent uptick has landed Delaware back on quarantine lists in New York, New Jersey and elsewhere.

District of Columbia

Washington: The Women’s March organization is planning a nationwide protest Oct. 17 opposing President Donald Trump and his move to fill the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s seat on the Supreme Court, WUSA-TV reports. The organization posted on social media that it’s planning a “socially distant march” in D.C. and more than 30 other cities, just days before Senate Republicans vote on Trump’s pick to replace Ginsburg on the Supreme Court. On Saturday, Trump nominated Amy Coney Barrett, a circuit judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit and a longtime Notre Dame Law School professor. If confirmed by the Senate, she would fill the seat vacated by Ginsburg.

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St. Petersburg: Floridians saw a flurry of positive coronavirus news Tuesday, from an announcement that the state will receive more than 6.4 million rapid tests to one that said Tampa International Airport would begin testing passengers for the virus in the terminal. Also, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman said the postponed St. Pete Grand Prix motorsports race is a go for Oct. 25. The announcements come just days after Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis lifted all restrictions on restaurants and other businesses in Florida and banned local fines against people who refuse to wear masks as he seeks to reopen the state’s economy despite the spread of the coronavirus. Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez announced Tuesday that officers will continue to fine people who are not wearing masks or social distancing despite DeSantis’ order.


Brunswick: A coastal county is considering banning alcohol from a popular beach on the weekend of the Florida-Georgia football game in nearby Jacksonville, Florida. The Brunswick News reports the Glynn County Commission will consider the alcohol ban on East Beach on St. Simons Island on Nov. 6-7. Commissioners could vote when they meet Thursday. The game typically draws crowds to what’s been dubbed “frat beach” on the coastal Georgia island. Commissioners say they want to put a lid on revelry because they’re concerned about COVID-19 infections, citing spikes in cases that the county saw after Memorial Day and Independence Day. “My position is, I think we need to completely shut it down,” said commission Vice Chairman Bill Brunson. “I’d shut the beaches down if I could, but that’s (Gov. Brian Kemp’s) call.” The Republican governor has blocked local governments from closing beaches.


Honolulu: Movie and television productions in the state have started or are scheduled to begin soon despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Work on new seasons of the television shows “Magnum PI” and “Temptation Island” on Oahu are beginning, while other productions are expected to shoot on Hawaii island and Maui. Maui County Film Commissioner Tracy Bennett said a miniseries is expected to begin work in the near future, while a Christmas movie is scheduled to film toward the year’s end. The state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism reported film and television productions contributed more than $419 million to Hawaii’s economy in 2018. “Every sector of our economy, in some way, shape, or form, is touched by film production in our state,” Hawaii Film Commissioner Donne Dawson said. Film industry professionals have produced a pandemic protocol to safely return people to work, Dawson said.

President Donald Trump and his staff have defied CDC coronavirus guidelines 23 times since Sept. 1

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Twin Falls: Wildlife officials have closed some forest areas statewide, affecting hunters and other recreationists during record-breaking fires across the West. The Idaho Department of Fish and Game announced closures south of Twin Falls in the Sawtooth National Forest, affecting big game hunts for hundreds with tags for deer, elk and pronghorn, Boise State Public Radio reports. More than 139 square miles have burned in the region. “Over the past decade, we’ve kind of learned to deal with it and adapt and go other places,” Backcountry Hunters and Anglers CEO Land Tawney said. “I think that’s one of the great things about public lands, in particular, is that you can pick up camp and go someplace else.” The U.S. Forest Service has also implemented closures this year in the Payette National Forest and the Boise National Forest because of nearby fires.


Urbana: Fall enrollment at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign totals 52,331, surpassing by more than 1,000 the record set last year despite the mixture of in-person and online instruction resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, the school says. The rise in enrollment numbers is due to a jump in the number of graduate students to 17,802 from a record enrollment of 16,319 in 2019. Undergraduate enrollment is 33,492, a slight drop from 33,850 last year. “We engaged faculty members and staff throughout the spring and summer to expand our educational opportunities and give students choices about how best to pursue their education while remaining safe,” said Kevin Pitts, the vice provost for undergraduate education. Illinois developed safety measures that included a saliva-based COVID-19 test administered twice a week to all students residing in the area, as well as to campus personnel who report to university facilities.


Fort Wayne: The water utility for the city will lift its protections against utility shutoffs next week after officials said the months­long moratorium had become “unsustainable.” Fort Wayne City Utilities said the unpaid bill collections and disconnect policies imposed early in the coronavirus pandemic would end Monday. The nonprofit public utility has observed that moratorium for nearly seven months, The Journal Gazette reports. While Gov. Eric Holcomb ended the state’s moratorium on utility shutoffs in mid-August, City Utilities extended the policy of waiving late fees and disconnects through the beginning of October to help customers. But officials said Monday in a news release that the situation was “unsustainable.” Anyone needing financial assistance can contact their township trustee’s office or call the United Way’s 211.


Kim Reynolds wearing a suit and tie: Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds updates the state's response to the coronavirus outbreak during a news conference, Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020, in Johnston, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall) © Charlie Neibergall, AP Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds updates the state's response to the coronavirus outbreak during a news conference, Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020, in Johnston, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Iowa City: Gov. Kim Reynolds announced a policy change Tuesday to make it easier for Iowa students, teachers and business workers exposed to someone with COVID-19 to avoid a two-week quarantine, despite increasing cases across the state. Under the new state guidance, workers and children in day cares and schools don’t have to quarantine as long as they and the infected person with whom they were in contact were consistently and correctly wearing face coverings. Only the infected person must go into isolation, while the close contacts should monitor their health. The change breaks with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance, which recommends a 14-day quarantine for anyone who is in close contact with someone who has tested positive regardless of mask use.


Topeka: Gov. Laura Kelly said Tuesday that she supports new federal guidelines that will allow some visitations at nursing homes that accept Medicaid and Medicare if proper coronavirus-related safety measures are followed. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services issued guidance last week that provides ways for nursing facilities to allow families to make in-person visits, which have mostly been banned since the pandemic began. Kelly said in a statement that it’s important to remain vigilant about protecting the health of nursing home residents and stopping the spread of the virus, but her administration recognizes that “prolonged separation of nursing facility residents from their loved ones has taken a significant mental health toll on everyone involved.” The state Department of Health and Environment’s report last week on coronavirus clusters showed 14 of 29 clusters in the state were tied to nursing homes in 11 counties.


Frankfort: The state’s spike in coronavirus cases accelerated Tuesday when 1,018 more cases were reported – Kentucky’s second-highest daily total since the pandemic began. The near-record number should be a “wake-up call,” Gov. Andy Beshear said as he kept urging people to wear masks in public and follow other health guidelines to contain the virus. Having warned that Kentucky is at the start of a new escalation of cases, Beshear said: “We’re certainly seeing that in today’s numbers. That means we’ve got to work harder.” “We can’t let this thing get out of control again because maybe we’re tired,” the Democratic governor said. “We know the steps that it takes.” Dr. Steven Stack, Kentucky’s public health commissioner, said that “every place on … Earth where people have gotten lazy and lax about following the things we recommend has seen a surge in disease.”


Baton Rouge: A $24 million rental aid program Gov. John Bel Edwards announced in July for people facing eviction because of coronavirus-related lost wages has committed less than one-third of the assistance promised, even though demand was so high that applications were suspended within days. The slow pace of aid is drawing criticism from state Rep. Jack McFarland, a Winnfield Republican who called program management by the Louisiana Housing Corporation “disastrous.” Only 160 tenants have seen money paid to their landlords, according to information provided Tuesday by the governor’s office. His office said McFarland’s criticism contained inaccurate information and suggested that focusing on the small number of payments made to landlords on behalf of tenants is misleading. Though only about $400,000 in rental payments have been made, Edwards spokeswoman Shauna Sanford said 3,000 families have been protected from eviction.


Alfred: The state’s county jails are implementing stricter precautions in response to an outbreak at a jail in the southern part of the state, the commissioner of the Maine Department of Corrections said Wednesday. One of the largest outbreaks to hit the state has been in the York County Jail in Alfred. State officials have said an employee of that jail attended a wedding in northern Maine where the virus spread and then returned to work. A state inspection later found that mask use and screening were not universal at the state’s 15 county jails. All inmates and staff members are now required to wear masks, corrections commissioner Randall Liberty said. Screening staff members for symptoms is now also universal, he said. The state inspection also found that most jails lacked diversion plans about where to send inmates in case of an outbreak. Liberty said those plans are now being developed and implemented.


Baltimore: Thousands of students are missing from class in the area. The Baltimore Sun reports some don’t have internet access, and their school buildings are closed because of the pandemic. Others may have dropped out. School systems are tallying their students as part of an annual count required by state law. A decline in enrollment is expected to be significant in some school systems. And the consequences for public school funding for next year could be significant. School systems are trying to find missing students. But officials say the economic downturn has forced some families to move or change phone numbers. Working parents also can’t make sure their children are online to access online instruction. In Anne Arundel County, enrollment is down by about 1,000 students, or slightly more than 1%. About 93% of students are signing on for online instruction.


Boston: Mayor Marty Walsh on Wednesday delayed the next step of the city’s reopening, citing an increase in COVID-19 cases that he partly blamed on a growing number of house parties. The city is on the cusp of reaching an infection rate that the state deems too high for further reopening, Walsh said. As a result, he said, Boston has decided not to join other cities moving to the next phase of reopening Monday. That means that gyms, museums and libraries will remain limited to 40% of capacity, and indoor performance venues will stay closed, among other restrictions. “We want to make sure that we stop the increase before it comes to a point where we’re having the entire city shut down again,” Walsh said. The city’s latest average infection rate is 3.5%, up from a previous average of 2.7%, he said. Rates in some neighborhoods have topped 7%. Half the recent cases have been among people under age 29, Walsh said.


Lansing: Gov. Gretchen Whitmer extended Michigan’s state of emergency Tuesday, continuing a declaration that is the basis for various orders designed to fight the coronavirus. While the emergency had been scheduled to expire Thursday, the governor had been expected to continue it. The declaration, which she has lengthened many times, will now run through Oct. 27. In her order, the Democratic governor said the health, economic and social harms of the COVID-19 pandemic remain “widespread and severe.” State emergency operations are necessary to bring the virus outbreak under control, she said. The emergency – first declared in March – is the underpinning for Whitmer’s restrictions on business operations and gathering sizes along with a requirement to wear a mask in enclosed public spaces and crowded outdoor places.


St. Cloud: Sixteen new deaths have been linked to COVID-19, according to Wednesday’s Minnesota Department of Health report. Across the state, 684 more people tested positive for the disease. The total number of Minnesotans who have tested positive for the novel coronavirus reached 99,134 cases Wednesday, and 2,036 people have died, according to MDH. Since the start of the pandemic, 7,695 people have required hospitalization in the state, according to MDH. The department is no longer reporting the daily total number of people hospitalized, nor the daily total of those in intensive care. According to MDH, 89,392 coronavirus patients no longer need isolation.


Long Beach: An entire middle school is in quarantine after more than a dozen students tested positive for the coronavirus. Long Beach Middle School ordered Tuesday that all students be quarantined for two weeks beginning Wednesday, according to the school’s website. Students will return to the classroom Oct. 14. The news comes after 15 students tested positive for the virus, the school said. Another 165 students are under quarantine. In a statement, officials said they made the decision to temporarily shut down the school after 35% of students either tested positive or were exposed to the virus. The Mississippi Department of Health recommends that schools quarantine when 33% of students are positive or exposed. The state health department said Tuesday that Mississippi had seen an increase by Monday evening of 589 confirmed cases and 36 deaths from numbers reported the day before.


O’Fallon: The number of people hospitalized for the coronavirus has nearly tripled in areas outside the state’s two largest metropolitan areas since Missouri reopened for business in mid-June, according to state health department data Tuesday. The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services’ COVID-19 dashboard shows the state’s northwest, southeast, southwest and central regions all reached record highs for virus-related hospitalizations Monday, based on seven-day averages. All told, Missouri reported 1,094 hospitalizations, five fewer than a day earlier, when statewide hospitalizations peaked. Excluding the St. Louis and Kansas City areas, hospitalizations have risen 186% in the 31/2months since Republican Gov. Mike Parson allowed Missouri to reopen June 16. The seven-day average for hospitalizations outstate June 16 was 161; on Monday it was 461.


Helena: Montana’s secretary of state has filed notice that he plans to appeal a court ruling that extended the deadline for county elections offices to accept 2020 general election ballots returned by mail. Attorney General Tim Fox filed the notice Monday with the Montana Supreme Court that Secretary of State Corey Stapleton is appealing Judge Donald Harris’ ruling. The notice does not include the arguments for appeal. Harris ruled late Friday that ballots postmarked by Election Day 2020 can be counted as long as they’re received by county election offices by the following Monday, citing inconsistent mail delivery times and the fact that the COVID-19 pandemic is leading more people to vote by mail. Montana law requires ballots to be received in election offices by 8 p.m. on Election Day in order to be counted.


Omaha: The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 remains elevated as the state continues to report hundreds of new cases each day, but the number of hospitalizations is still below the peak set in the spring. The state’s online virus tracker on Wednesday showed 215 people hospitalized. Nebraska reported 466 new cases and six new deaths. The number of people being treated in Nebraska hospitals remains below the peak of 232 set May 27, but the number approached that when it hit 231 last Thursday. Hospitalizations were at their lowest in July, with 95. But the state said Wednesday that 27% of the intensive care beds and 78% of the ventilators in Nebraska remained available. The seven-day rolling average of the positivity rate has risen over the past two weeks from 9.4% on Sept. 15 to 13.01% on Tuesday, according to an Associated Press analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University.


Las Vegas: The state is lifting a 50-person cap on public and private gatherings, in a step toward kick-starting conventions, concerts, sports events and trade shows that power the state’s economy, Gov. Steve Sisolak announced Tuesday. “This is not the end. This is the first step toward getting us where we need to get back to. We need to get some people back to work,” the Democrat told reporters. Sisolak said guidelines have been posted on a state coronavirus response website. The removal of the 50-person cap, with conditions including submittal of safety plans, takes effect Thursday. It represents the most significant loosening of restrictions designed to prevent the spread of COVID-19 since June 4, when Sisolak let casinos partially reopen after statewide closures prompted waves of hospitality industry layoffs. Nevada’s unemployment rate grew to a record 30% in April, the highest in the nation. It improved to 13.2% in August.

New Hampshire

Manchester: The city says trick-or-treating is on for Halloween, with precautions recommended because of the coronavirus pandemic. The event is scheduled for Oct. 31 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Participants should wear a mask over their nose and mouth when trick-or-treating or when handing out treats, the city said in a statement Wednesday. Participants also should avoid confined spaces and large gatherings or parties, and they should find ways to stay at least 6 feet away from others. Participants are also advised to clean their hands frequently. As of Tuesday, a total of 8,233 people had tested positive for the virus in New Hampshire, an increase of 28 from the previous day. The number of deaths stood at 439. The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in the state has risen over the past two weeks from 34 new cases per day Sept. 14 to 37 new cases per day Sept. 28.

New Jersey

Trenton: The state could soon allow more people to visit inside nursing homes again, but operators and family members are growing impatient that the state hasn’t loosened its guidelines even after getting approval from the federal government. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services issued guidelines Sept. 17 for long-term care facilities to follow for reopening. Nearly two weeks after the new federal guidance, advocates are left confused about why the state hasn’t given nursing homes the OK to open if they meet the new standards. “Nursing homes are now in a situation where we have one regulatory body saying you have to be open for visitation and another regulatory body saying you can’t be open for visitation,” said Andy Aronson, director of the newly formed Nursing Homes Advocates of New Jersey. “We have to defy one of them.”

New Mexico

Albuquerque: Health officials said Tuesday that the number of COVID-19 cases and the rate of transmission are on the rise in New Mexico, leaving the state trailing when it comes to two of its most important metrics. Human Services Secretary David Scrase acknowledged during an online briefing Tuesday that if things don’t change, the state will see the curve continue to rise. He said he would rather see New Mexicans following the health order already in place rather than the state imposing more mandates to limit spread. “I would prefer not to continue on this roller coaster,” he said. The order mandates face masks and social distancing, limits indoor dining and the size of gatherings, and calls for people to stay home whenever possible. Scrase pointed to a nationwide effort that tracks the progress of states meeting various benchmarks, saying New Mexico has now slipped behind neighboring Arizona and is considered to be trending poorly.

New York

New York: Alarmed by a spike in coronavirus infections in a few Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods, New York City officials will start issuing fines in those areas to people who refuse to wear masks, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday. De Blasio said he was sending teams of hundreds of outreach workers and contact tracers to nine Brooklyn and Queens ZIP codes that have seen an upswing in positive COVID-19 tests in hopes of avoiding harsher enforcement measures. Those workers will be handing out masks but also insisting that people put them on if they are in a place where they could be within 6 feet of other people. The maximum fine for refusing to wear a mask is $1,000. “We don’t want to fine people. If we have to, we will,” de Blasio said. The Democratic mayor warned he could order further crackdowns including the closing of nonessential businesses and bans on gatherings if things don’t improve.

North Carolina

Charlotte: A man accused of fraudulently applying for $6.1 million in coronavirus relief funds has been federally charged. Tristan Bishop Pan, 38, of Garner, submitted 14 Paycheck Protection Program loan applications and received more than $1.7 million for fake businesses, some named for fictional characters from the popular television series “Game of Thrones,” according to a statement released by the U.S. Department of Justice on Tuesday. The applications for the businesses – Pan Insurance Agency, White Walker, Khaleesi and The Night’s Watch – included falsified tax filings and false statements about employee and payroll expenses, prosecutors said. Some of the funds were recovered, the statement said. Pan was charged with wire fraud, bank fraud, and engaging in unlawful monetary transactions, according to the Justice Department.

North Dakota

Bismarck: “COVID-19 can’t hurt me because I’m young and healthy.” “I’m so over it.” “Nobody tells me what to do.” Executives at a Bismarck marketing agency hired to help stem the tide of rising virus cases in central North Dakota say that’s the mindset facing them with their campaign in the hot spot of a state that for weeks has been among the nation’s leaders in the number of new virus cases per capita, according to the COVID Tracking Project. Agency MABU was hired by a governor’s task force in Burleigh and Morton counties that is nearly six weeks into its effort and frustrated by the lack of progress in an area that includes the cities of Bismarck and Mandan. The state will soon follow with a nearly $2 million campaign of its own that dwarfs MABU’s $76,800 media budget. In the meantime, MABU has created messages designed to leverage North Dakotans’ strong sense of freedom.


Columbus: The state’s ban on alcohol sales after 10 p.m. is under review, and aid could be on the way to small businesses hurt by the economic slowdown during the pandemic, Gov. Mike DeWine said Tuesday. The Republican governor said he understands the impact the ban – meant to slow the spread of the coronavirus by limiting late-night socializing – is having on bars and restaurants. He said mayors of big cities have asked that it stay in place but acknowledged at least one mayor wants it lifted. Last month Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley and Police Chief Eliot Isaac asked DeWine to lift the ban, concerned it’s contributing to a spike in violence by pushing people with guns into public and private places. DeWine said reviewing the ban means balancing the economy and people’s health. Though Ohio is struggling to reduce its daily coronavirus infection rate of about 1,000 cases, the state hasn’t had a flare-up like other states, he said.


Oklahoma City: The number of reported coronavirus cases in the state increased by 980 on Wednesday, with 13 additional deaths due to COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus, according to the Oklahoma State Department of Health. The department reported 87,199 total cases and 1,031 deaths compared to 86,219 cases and 1,018 deaths on Tuesday. The actual number of cases in Oklahoma is likely higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected and not feel sick. There are 13,068 active cases in the state, and 73,100 people have recovered, the department said.


Portland: The Oregon Health Authority on Tuesday announced Rachael Banks as its new public health director. She’s held the same position in Oregon’s most populous county since 2017, The Oregonian/OregonLive reports. Banks will be tasked with leading the state’s public health division amid the coronavirus pandemic, while improving racial and ethnic inequalities. She starts Oct. 27 and is replacing Lillian Shirley, who had said she’s retiring. Banks has led Multnomah County’s response to the coronavirus, including policy development and leading the development of health metrics for Black, Indigenous and people of color, according to the state. Banks voiced strong opposition to the Oregon Health Authority’s decision to publish data about coronavirus cases by ZIP code, warning of potential stereotyping from disclosure and saying the location of exposure is more important than where someone lives.


Harrisburg: The state’s top labor official has no timeline yet for when tens of thousands of newly unemployed workers can expect to start receiving benefits following a surge in suspicious claims last month. The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits delay has already affected at least an estimated 40,000 individuals who have filed claims through the special federal pandemic-related unemployment program, according to the Department of Labor and Industry. Pennsylvania Labor and Industry Secretary Jerry Oleksiak said Monday that he hoped the new identification verification system would be ready “very soon.” “As soon as we are satisfied they are not (fraudulent claims), those dollars will be released,” Olesiak said. “There are a lot of bad guys out there taking advantage of a system they can take advantage of.” First-time PUA applicants have been in benefits limbo since Sept. 17.

Rhode Island

Providence: The state’s minimum wage will increase by $1 this week, rising to $11.50 per hour. The pay raise approved earlier this year is less than some advocates say is needed and larger than some businesses say they can afford, the Providence Journal reports. The National Federation of Independent Business wrote in a news release Monday that small businesses like food service, retail and hospitality “struggle to recover from months of shutdowns and restrictions” and that owners cannot afford higher labor costs. The liberal Economic Progress Institute said Thursday that it’s good news the minimum wage is increasing but called for more to be done. “The pandemic has shown us that many essential worker positions , such as caregiving jobs – home care, nursing home and child care workers – are jobs we need for the economy to run and are ones that can’t be automated,” EPI Executive Director Rachel Flum said.

South Carolina

Columbia: A flurry of federal court rulings last month over whether South Carolinians need witnesses to sign their mail-in ballots this November has left many confused and frustrated as voting registration deadlines approach, with absentee voting beginning in less than a week. The rulings stem from one of several lawsuits filed over the state’s election rules during the coronavirus pandemic. A federal district judge struck down the witness signature requirement Sept. 18, only for a three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to reinstate the rule less than a week later. On Friday, the full appeals court decided to revert to the district judge’s order – temporarily, until the entire court makes a final ruling. AARP South Carolina Director Teresa Arnold said the two different messages on the witness signature requirement are contributing to high levels of anxiety among older voters, compounded by the uncertainty of the pandemic.

South Dakota

Sioux Falls: The state saw a record number of people whom the Department of Health deemed as having recovered from COVID-19 on Wednesday. At the same time, the state reported 392 additional people who tested positive for the disease. The new infections were 26 fewer than the 418 people who recovered from coronavirus infections. The number of deaths from the disease among South Dakotans remained at 223. There were 212 people in state hospitals with COVID-19. Since the start of the pandemic, 1,549 people with COVID-19 in South Dakota have been hospitalized, roughly 7% of the people who have tested positive. The state also set a record in the number of test results reported in a 24-hour period, with 5,663 new results, which included 1,623 South Dakotans who had previously not been tested. Those ages 30-39 had the highest number of new positive cases, with 70.


Memphis: The Mid-South Fair has been canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, organizers announced Wednesday. It was originally scheduled for Oct. 23-Nov. 1 at the Landers Center in Southaven. “After much discussion, we are saddened to announce the cancellation of the 2020 Mid-South Fair,” said Todd Mastry, Landers Center executive director. “The safety of our guests and employees is and always will be our top priority.” The Mid-South Fair’s website counts down the days until the next fair, at the Landers Center on Sep. 23-Oct. 3, 2021.


Dallas: A salon owner who was sent to jail for defying coronavirus lockdown orders and became a symbol of conservative angst over COVID-19 restrictions advanced to a runoff for a Texas Senate seat on Tuesday night. Republican Shelley Luther finished in a virtual dead heat with four-term Republican state Rep. Drew Springer as both advanced. Luther had 31.7% of the vote in a special election to fill a vacated seat in a heavily Republican North Texas district. Springer tallied 31.83% of the vote. Jacob Minter, the lone Democrat in the six-candidate race, finished third with 21.06% of the vote. Luther’s springboard into politics came in May when she spent about two days in jail for refusing to shut down her salon despite Republican Gov. Greg Abbott’s emergency orders. She received $500,000 in donations with the help of conservative activists as protests over COVID-19 restrictions unfolded across the country.


Salt Lake City: Republican Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox went head-to-head with Democratic law professor Chris Peterson in the gubernatorial debate Tuesday over the state’s pandemic response and the viability of a face covering mandate. Utah has been in the midst of a record-setting surge in new coronavirus cases over the past few weeks, largely driven by college-age students in Utah County, home to Brigham Young University and Utah Valley University. The state now ranks fourth in the country for newly confirmed COVID-19 infections per capita, according to data from Johns Hopkins. Cox and Peterson sharply disagreed on Utah’s response to the virus and whether to require face coverings statewide. Peterson has repeatedly called for a mandate since the state began experiencing a surge in COVID-19 cases in July. Cox has stood behind the Gov. Gary Herbert’s decision to allow city and county officials to decide if they need requirements.


White River Junction: A state welcome center at the train station in White River Junction is being closed permanently, another casualty of the COVID-19 pandemic. The center, which was open seven days a week, was partially funded with a $37,500 grant from the state. Low visitor numbers mean the state is withdrawing that funding. Acting Buildings and General Services Commissioner Jennifer M.V. Fitch told the Valley News the state can no longer afford it. “Now that we’ve taken it out of our budget, it will likely be difficult to put it back in in the future,” Fitch said. The building is owned by the state of Vermont and leased to the town of Hartford. Longtime Manager Gayle Ottmann said people arriving in Vermont by train had friendly faces to greet them and provide information about the area. “I am absolutely convinced that one of the reasons people come to Vermont is the one-on-one interaction they get,” she said.


Richmond: The Republican Party of Virginia says state elections officials have created confusion among voters ahead of the November election by failing to make it clear that a witness signature requirement for absentee voters has been waived. The GOP argues in a motion filed in federal court that the state Board of Elections and Elections Commissioner Christopher Piper have not adhered to the terms of a consent decree that said the state will accept absentee ballots without the signature of a witness for voters who believe they cannot safely have a witness present while completing their ballot. The motion was filed in a lawsuit brought in April by the League of Women Voters of Virginia against the State Board of Elections, arguing that absentee voters should not be required to find a witness to sign their ballots during the coronavirus pandemic.


Mount Vernon: Multiple members of a tribal community have reported they experienced burning throats and headaches after flaring at a nearby shell refinery released an intoxicating odor Tuesday. Swinomish Police Lt. Earl Cowan said the residents of the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community made several calls to the department reporting their health reactions and smells like rotten eggs and burning rubber, the Skagit Valley Herald reports. Flares are used by refineries to safely burn off excess hydrocarbon gases. The process combines the gases with steam or air and then burns the mixture to produce water vapor and carbon dioxide. Skagit County Undersheriff Chad Clark said the sheriff’s office received an emergency notification from the Shell Puget Sound Refinery about 10 a.m. The department later posted an advisory around noon encouraging residents to stay indoors. Shell later apologized.

West Virginia

Morgantown: The state will allow the general public to attend football games at a reduced capacity this month, the school announced Monday. WVU athletic director Shane Lyons said attendance will be limited to about 15,000 fans, or 25% capacity, starting with the Oct. 17 home game against Kansas. Currently, only the families of players and coaches as well as essential game operations staff are allowed to attend games. Fans entering the stadium will be required to wear masks. “Needless to say, we are excited to open our gates and welcome Mountaineer fans back to the stadium,” Lyons said. Certain season ticket holders, WVU students and players’ families will be given seating priority. The university resumed in-person undergraduate classes Monday. Classes were moved to online only last month due to an increase in coronavirus cases.


Milwaukee: The state set a new record for COVID-19 deaths Wednesday, and the surge in cases in the state threatened to overwhelm some hospitals. Health officials reported 27 new deaths, breaking the state’s old record of 22 deaths set May 27. The disease has killed or played a role in the death of 1,327 people in the state since the pandemic began. Health officials reported 2,319 newly confirmed cases, bringing the total number of cases in Wisconsin to 122,274 since the pandemic began. Wisconsin had the third-highest positivity rate of any state as of Wednesday. Hospital officials in some areas said they were close to being overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients – a scenario that health officials have been warning could happen since the pandemic began but that only now seems like it could happen. A hospital in Appleton has been sending patients to other cities, and another in Wausau has started putting patients on waiting lists.


Cheyenne: Gov. Mark Gordon has loosened public health restrictions on restaurants, even though the coronavirus has been spreading more quickly in recent weeks. As many as eight people will now be able to sit at a table in a restaurant, up from six previously. Still, more people from the same family will be allowed to sit at the same table under the new orders taking effect Thursday. Also, people seated at restaurant booths will no longer need to be at least 6 feet apart. Data shows that sit-down dining at restaurants doesn’t contribute much to spread of the coronavirus, Gordon said in a release. Other restrictions, including limits on large gatherings of people, remain in place. The changes, which will be in effect through Oct. 15, come as Wyoming sees the fastest growth of known cases of the coronavirus since the pandemic began in March.

From USA TODAY Network and wire reports

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Playgrounds, airport testing, mask outreach: News from around our 50 states

President Donald Trump and his staff have defied CDC coronavirus guidelines 23 times since Sept. 1 .
Since Sept. 1, Trump and other key White House officials have violated CDC coronavirus guidance at least 23 times, according to a USA TODAY analysis.President Donald Trump and members of his administration have often flouted guidelines aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19, according to a review of news events by USA TODAY.

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