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US Teachers push back, churches in court, National Guard: News from around our 50 states

12:45  25 january  2021
12:45  25 january  2021 Source:   usatoday.com

Chicago Teachers Defy Order to Return to In-Person Work, Cite COVID Fears

  Chicago Teachers Defy Order to Return to In-Person Work, Cite COVID Fears Union members worry about both teachers and students bringing infection back home to their families. Additionally, staff and teachers are worried that the students will have additional exposure that could put their households at risk, too, further curbing efforts to contain the spread of the virus. While we agree with our labor partners on many aspects of a smooth expansion of in-person learning, our discussions are ongoing. To ensure we reach a resolution without a disruption to student learning, we’ve agreed to push back the return of K-8 teachers, staff to Wed, 1/27. pic.twitter.

But many churches are tired of waiting. Wednesday, a lawyer representing a church in Lodi that has sued Newsom said more than 1,200 Washington: Some D.C. students could head back to school as early as Aug. 10, according to members of the ReOpen DC Committee on Education and Childcare.

National Guard troops were deployed near the White House after President Trump demanded a military show of force in the wake of the George Police use tear gas, push back peaceful protesters for Trump church visit. President Trump vows to send U.S. troops onto the streets of American cities

Alabama

Montgomery: The state is getting roughly half as much COVID-19 vaccine as it was expecting based on federal plans announced last year, officials said Friday, meaning it would take more than two years to vaccinate the adult population without improvement. The state has 800 approved vaccination sites and is trying to deliver shots as quickly as it can, but supply issues have been the biggest hindrance to state vaccination efforts, said Dr. Scott Harris, head of the Alabama Department of Public Health. “Every state had the idea that they were going to get much more vaccine than they ultimately got,” he said. “I assume this is related to optimistic projections and the inability of manufacturers to keep up that. … There just wasn’t enough vaccine to go around.” Alabama health officials were expecting to get more than 112,000 COVID-19 vaccination doses a week based on conversations with federal officials when Operation Warp Speed began last year. Instead, officials said, the state is getting about 50,000 to 60,000 doses a week. Harris said federal officials later said the 112,000 figure was not a promise but a figure that the state should use in its planning.

Chicago Teachers Union votes to refuse in-person classes and continue remote instruction

  Chicago Teachers Union votes to refuse in-person classes and continue remote instruction As the district prepares to bring back thousands more students on Feb. 1, teachers press for the right to work remotely. Chicago Public Schools chief executive Janice Jackson had said the action would constitute an illegal strike. “I want to be clear, if teachers refuse to come to work on Monday, that is a strike, that is not a lockout,” Jackson said Friday as the union polled its 25,000 members.

Breaking news and analysis on politics, business, world national news , entertainment more. In-depth DC, Virginia, Maryland news coverage including traffic, weather, crime, education, restaurant reviews and more.

Thousands of National Guard fighters will provide security at Joe Biden’s inauguration on January 20. Officials of the Federal Bureau of Investigation seriously fear a riot in the ranks of the National Guard . The Bureau believes that the concentration of such a number of armed soldiers in Washington

Alaska

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Juneau: Renters will have to wait an undetermined amount of time before receiving allotments of up to $200 million in federal coronavirus aid. The Alaska Housing Finance Corp. will oversee the rental assistance in much of the state, but the corporation said Wednesday that it is still forming plans to distribute the funds, the Anchorage Daily News reports. Corporation Public Relations Manager Soren Johansson said the U.S. Treasury issued updated guidance last week on establishing rules for the program’s implementation. “We’re working now to understand the requirements and develop a plan that supports renters and gets money to landlords as soon as we’re able,” Johansson said. Congress passed and former President Donald Trump signed legislation in December distributing $25 billion to households unable to pay rent and utilities because of the pandemic. The measure allows cities with more than 200,000 residents to request separate funding outside state control. The Municipality of Anchorage applied for a separate share, but neither the corporation nor legislative budget officials were certain of how much.

Teachers say they want the COVID-19 vaccine before they head back to the classroom

  Teachers say they want the COVID-19 vaccine before they head back to the classroom "I don’t understand why we have to risk our lives when we’re so close to a vaccine," a Chicago teacher said.Especially in Chicago, the nation’s third-largest public school district, where teachers who were supposed to return to classrooms Wednesday worked from home again and are once more threatening to strike.

The Delaware State News reported that Rep. Sean Lynn, D-Dover, said he hopes the measure will alleviate Mack is not allowed back on the island as long as the borders remain closed because of Boise: The number of Idaho National Guard soldiers helping with the state ’s coronavirus response

The U.S. State Department on Saturday said it was concerned by China's "pattern of ongoing attempts to Biden, the nation ’s second Catholic president, picked Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Gabbard’s comments came during an appearance on Fox News Primetime when host Brian Kilmeade asked her

Arizona

Prescott Valley: A multipurpose arena will be the latest large venue in the state to become a COVID-19 vaccination site. Cottonwood-based Spectrum Healthcare on Monday will open an appointment-only setup called “Vaccination Station” inside Findlay Toyota Center, a 5,100-seat facility that has hosted events including professional basketball games, rodeos, concerts and ice shows. Spectrum, in a partnership with Yavapai County and other organizations, plans to administer shots to between 500 and 1,000 people daily, seven days a week, depending on adequate vaccine support and staffing, The Daily Courier reports. Several venues in Arizona’s two large metro areas, located in desert regions where the winters are milder than in the Prescott area, are either already in use or planned as drive-thru vaccination sites. The state on Jan. 11 opened a 24/7 vaccination site blanketing a large parking lot next to State Farm Stadium in Glendale and plans to open a second state-run site at Phoenix Municipal Stadium near the Phoenix-Tempe line Feb. 1. Pima County earlier this month opened a drive-thru vaccination site in Tucson at Kino Sports Complex.

What you need to know about standardized testing

  What you need to know about standardized testing Education historian and advocate Diane Ravitch looks at the history and current use of these tests. In her influential 2010 book, “The Death and Life of the Great American School System,” Ravitch explained why she dropped her support for No Child Left Behind, the chief education initiative of President George W. Bush, and for standardized test-based school “reform.

What followed in the State Dining Room was a fascinating back -and-forth between Trump and other The session quickly became a seminar on federalism — and a reminder that states really remain the “We now have well over a hundred school districts in the state of Texas where teachers or other

Many of the nation ’s 3.5 million teachers found themselves feeling under siege this week as pressure from the White House, pediatricians and some parents to get 18, and called President Trump’s push to reopen schools part of a “dangerous, anti-science agenda that puts the lives of our members, our

Arkansas

Little Rock: Gov. Asa Hutchinson noted a decline in the number of confirmed coronavirus cases from the same time last week, saying he hopes the trend will soon be reflected in a decrease in the number of deaths caused by the virus. The latest figures from the Arkansas Health Department show there were 2,162 confirmed new coronavirus cases Friday, which Hutchinson noted was a decrease of nearly 1,000 new cases compared to the same day the week prior. “If we can keep our new cases on the decline, then our deaths will reduce as well, and this is one goal we can all unite behind,” he said in a statement. Arkansas also reported 53 additional deaths Friday, bringing the statewide death toll to 4,549 since the pandemic began. The state also reported declines in the number of people hospitalized and on ventilators as a result of the virus. The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases and test positivity rate in Arkansas both declined over the past two weeks, while the seven-day rolling average of daily deaths has risen from 36.43 deaths Jan. 8 to 40.86 deaths Jan. 22, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

D.C. seeks a temporary restraining order against teachers union to order that teachers stop discussing a strike

  D.C. seeks a temporary restraining order against teachers union to order that teachers stop discussing a strike The union says that it has not decided whether it wants to pursue a strike or work stoppage. The move comes on the heels of marathon union meetings this past week in which members discussed possible strategies — including not showing up at school buildings and continuing with remote instruction — to oppose the city’s plan to return 45 percent of the teaching workforce to schools. The union’s members have not voted to authorize a strike, nor has leadership decided to pursue one, according to Elizabeth Davis, president of the Washington Teachers’ Union.

California

San Francisco: A federal appeals court has denied a Southern California church’s request to overturn the state’s coronavirus restrictions barring worship services indoors during the coronavirus pandemic, according to a newspaper report Saturday. The Sacramento Bee said Friday’s ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals leaves the door open for addressing Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration’s limits on church attendance if a county is in a less-restrictive COVID-19 tier. A three-judge panel ruled against South Bay United Pentecostal Church of Chula Vista over public health orders that restrict religious services from being held inside while virus case rates and hospitalizations remain high. While the panel agreed the San Diego-area church is suffering “irreparable harm,” the judges believed California’s rules to curb the spread of the virus did not violate First Amendment rights, the Bee reports. The judges said the ban on indoor service is directly tied to the state’s effects to curb the spread of COVID-19, which has killed 36,000 Californians and infected more than 3 million.

Colorado

Denver: The Regional Transportation District in Colorado has halted layoffs for about 250 employees after it received more than $200 million from a $900 billion federal coronavirus relief aid package, officials said. The agency also reversed furloughs and salary cuts that were planned for its highest-paid management employees, including a 7.5% pay cut for a dozen or so employees making more than $180,000, The Denver Post reports. Despite receiving some financial respite, the agency is not calling back 90 non-union employees who left in recent weeks because their jobs are still deemed unnecessary given reduced agency services, spokeswoman Pauletta Tonilas said. The coronavirus aid package was signed into law in late December by then-President Donald Trump. However, the agency by then had already started to notify employees of impending layoffs in January. “We told them back at the beginning of December not to move forward with at least giving out the layoff notices,” said Lance Longenbohn, president of Amalgamated Transit Union’s Local 1001. “We told them the (pandemic aid) money was coming.”

These Pics of Pete Davidson and Machine Gun Kelly Together Are Big Time Adorable

  These Pics of Pete Davidson and Machine Gun Kelly Together Are Big Time Adorable Cutest Hollywood BFFs? It may just be Pete Davidson and Machine Gun Kelly.

Connecticut

Hartford: COVID-19-related hospitalizations in the state continued to decrease Friday as a growing number of people have received their first dose of the vaccine. There were 1,058 people hospitalized, a decrease of 11 since Thursday. Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont called the hospitalization trend “extraordinarily good news” during a media briefing Thursday. “We’re watching the metrics carefully,” he said, “but we are continuing to make progress, I think, every day.” According to data through Thursday from Johns Hopkins University, the rolling average number of daily new cases has decreased by 399.7, a decrease of 16.4% over the past two weeks. Meanwhile, the Hartford Courant reports that an attorney representing families and the CT Freedom Alliance, who are challenging state rules requiring students to wear face masks while in school, has asked the state Supreme Court to get involved in the case. Attorney Norm Pattis requested the state’s highest court hear an appeal of a lower court’s ruling against the families’ request to indefinitely lift the state order.

Delaware

Dover: Officials are offering incentives to encourage inmates to get a COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available. The offers include five days of good time credits, a free video visit, and a snack bag or special meal, The Delaware State News reports. Prisoners who are vaccinated will also be scheduled first for in-person visitations when they resume. The Department of Correction encourages vaccinations, but staff and inmates aren’t required to get the shots. Inmates are in the third part of the state’s Phase 1 grouping for priority vaccinations. Those vaccines could arrive at prisons by mid-March, according to the Delaware Division of Public Health, but a target date has not been finalized. “The time frame to complete COVID vaccinations will be determined by how quickly vaccine doses are released to the DOC,” spokesman Jason Miller said. Inmates who are 60 or older and have medical conditions will be prioritized. Delaware’s prisons have seen more 1,580 prisoners infected with the virus and 12 die.

After months of planning, protests and false starts, D.C. students and teachers head to classes for first time in nearly a year

  After months of planning, protests and false starts, D.C. students and teachers head to classes for first time in nearly a year About 9,000 students are expected to be in school buildings this week, the region’s first districtwide reopening attempt Students are reporting to schools on a two-hour delay because of icy roads, which gives the city extra time to bring in last-minute substitutes if teachers call in sick to protest the reopening.

District of Columbia

Washington: As thousands of National Guard troops departed the city, a U.S. official said Friday that approximately 150 of 26,000 troops deployed to the capital have tested positive for the coronavirus, WUSA-TV reports. The figure includes all troops from the Guard deployed to the U.S. Capitol since a deadly Jan. 6 insurrection. Images showing troops in close quarters within the Capitol Visitor Center immediately raised concerns that social distancing guidelines would be at times impossible to follow. It remained unclear if defense officials had informed Mayor Muriel Bowser’s office of the testing data or if the diagnoses constitute a super-spreader event. In a statement, National Guard spokesperson Maj. Matt Murphy said the bureau does not discuss COVID-19 cases, and personnel are following CDC guidelines. “When National Guard members departed from their individual states and upon arrival to the D.C. Armory, they had their temperatures checked and completed a screening questionnaire,” Murphy said. “Masks and social distancing are required where the mission allows. They are following these procedures daily.”

Florida

a screen shot of a person in a suit and tie: In this screenshot, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis appears on Fox & Friends chaperoning 100-year-old Henry Sayler as he gets what DeSantis said may be the millionth senior COVID-19 vaccination in the state. © Fox & Friends In this screenshot, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis appears on Fox & Friends chaperoning 100-year-old Henry Sayler as he gets what DeSantis said may be the millionth senior COVID-19 vaccination in the state.

Tallahassee: Gov. Ron DeSantis had a made-for-TV moment: A 100-year-old World War II veteran getting a vaccine against COVID-19. “An American hero,” the governor proclaimed Friday, would be the 1 millionth senior in his state to get the lifesaving shot. As it turned out, the assertion was premature, and the Republican governor later walked back the claim, saying instead that the injection was symbolic of the state being on track to hit 1 million doses soon. DeSantis’ own health department reported that, as of Thursday, fewer than 840,000 seniors had received the shot. The governor’s misstep came as Florida’s congressional Democrats, in a letter to DeSantis, expressed “serious concerns with the state’s rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine.” The Democrats said more than 1 million unused vaccine doses were “on hold” in Florida, suggesting the state was not expeditiously administering them. The letter chided the governor for confusing and misleading the public on vaccine distribution and availability, citing “a perception of unfairness and political motivation.” Democrats also faulted him and his administration for the delay in establishing a statewide system to schedule vaccination appointments.

Teachers to Biden: What we want from your administration

  Teachers to Biden: What we want from your administration Here's an open letter from three teachers with a list of education recommendations for the new administration. In this post, three educators who have decades of cumulative experience teaching students and teachers spell out where they hope the new administration will go in helping schools provide an education to all students that, as they explain, “is relevant and engages them in things that matter.

Georgia

Savannah: The NAACP has filed suit against state prison officials, blaming a lack of coronavirus testing and insufficient safeguards for an outbreak that infected nearly 1 in 10 inmates at one prison. The lawsuit asks a federal judge to order officials at Coffee Correctional Facility in rural southern Georgia to provide more robust testing, enforce social distancing inside the prison, and ensure inmates have access to free masks, hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes. The NAACP’s Georgia conference filed the lawsuit Thursday in U.S. District Court in Atlanta on behalf of three inmates at the medium-security prison in Coffee County, about 110 miles southwest of Savannah. They say the Georgia Department of Corrections and CoreCivic, a private company that operates the prison under a state contract, violated inmates’ civil rights by failing to provide reasonable protection against the virus. The lawsuit says inmates in the prison’s housing pods sleep 18 inches apart, and problems with severe leaks and mold put them at a heightened risk of respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.

Hawaii

Honolulu: The state has reported its hotel occupancy rates have declined by more than half in December compared to the same time in 2019, although the rates have gradually increased in recent months. Hawaii Tourism Authority data shows 23.9% of hotel rooms in the state were full last month as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, a decline of 56 percentage points compared to December 2019. December occupancy was in the low to mid-20% range for every major Hawaii island, except Kauai, which dropped to 13.4%, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reports. Across the United States, only Washington, D.C., had a lower hotel occupancy rate than Hawaii. Hotel revenues per available room and the average daily hotel rates dropped by 75% and 17%, respectively, from the previous year as well, Hawaii Tribune-Herald reports. Hotel room revenue reached $107.9 million in 2020 compared to $472 million in 2019. Room demand also decreased by 72% statewide. American Hotel & Lodging Association spokesman Kekoa McClellan said the industry has a long way to go, estimating the average hotel in Hawaii needs to hit at least 52% occupancy to be profitable.

Idaho

Boise: Gov. Brad Little on Friday ripped state lawmakers for jeopardizing efforts to fight the coronavirus and called on residents to contact their senators and representatives as they push legislation aiming to strip away some of his authority during a crisis like the pandemic. In an anger-tinged speech on live television, the Republican governor said the GOP-led Legislature is perpetuating false information and trying to score political points rather than helping to fight the pandemic. Little said vaccinations are being put at risk. “We are in the final lap of the pandemic fight, and the finish line is close,” Little said. “We are so close to returning to normal. But all that success is threatened by the actions taking place in the Legislature right now.” Lawmakers have put forward about a dozen pieces of legislation to curb the governor’s authority. Some of it is aimed at immediately ending Little’s coronavirus emergency declaration, in effect since March. Such declarations are needed to trigger and keep federal money coming, typically from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. State officials say ending the coronavirus emergency could cost the state $20 million in federal aid.

Illinois

Chicago: The Chicago Teachers Union said Sunday that its members voted to defy an order to return to the classroom before they are vaccinated against COVID-19, setting up a showdown with district officials who have said such a move would amount to an illegal strike. The nation’s third-largest school district wanted roughly 10,000 K-8 teachers and other staffers to return to school Monday to get ready to welcome back roughly 70,000 students for part-time in-school classes starting Feb. 1. The union, though, opposed the plan over concern for its members’ health and called on them to continue teaching from home in defiance of the plan. The union’s collective bargaining agreement prohibits its roughly 25,000 members from striking and bars district officials from locking them out. District officials have said a union vote to disobey the order would violate the contract. Union officials, though, say returning to in-person instruction before its members are vaccinated would put them at greater risk of contracting the coronavirus. The district said Friday that it would begin vaccinating teachers and staff starting in mid-February and that the process would take months.

Indiana

Indianapolis: The state’s rates of COVID-19 deaths, hospitalizations and infections have reached their lowest levels in more than two months, and the governor is considering rolling back restrictions on crowd sizes. The seven-day rolling average of about 50 COVID-19 deaths has declined by about 40% since its peak in early December. Indiana’s daily average of newly confirmed COVID-19 cases has dropped during that time by about half, and its hospitalizations from the disease are down by nearly 40% from their peak after a steep surge that began in September. Gov. Eric Holcomb said Thursday that he might consider revisions to his executive order imposing crowd size limits based on each county’s risk level for coronavirus spread. But that is tempered by the state not broadening vaccine eligibility beyond health care workers and those age 70 or older because of limited dose availability from the federal government. The state health commissioner, Dr. Kristina Box, said she thinks the vaccine might already be holding down new infections in nursing homes, although she couldn’t pinpoint a reason for the slower spread over the past month.

Iowa

Des Moines: The Polk County Health Department filled all available appointments for COVID-19 vaccinations by Friday afternoon, a day after eligibility was opened to all residents 65 or older. The county, which includes Des Moines, has booked vaccination appointments through Jan. 31. The department is holding off on opening subsequent appointments until officials know how many vaccine doses will be available for the next week, spokeswoman Nola Aigner Davis said Friday. Appointments for the week of Feb. 1 will become available at noon Friday, Aigner Davis said. The best way to obtain one of those slots will be to go online to immunizepolk.com or hy-vee.com/my-pharmacy/covid-vaccine-consent, the department said. Appointment requests also can made by calling 515-323-5221. Until last week, almost all COVID-19 vaccinations in Iowa had been reserved for front-line health care workers and residents and staff at long-term health facilities. Gov. Kim Reynolds announced Thursday that the state would make shots available Feb. 1 to all Iowans 65 or older, plus those in certain professions, such as school staff, first responders and child care workers.

Kansas

Mission: Online sign-ups for the COVID-19 vaccine are filling up almost as quickly as they are posted, as health officials begin moving beyond immunizing just health care workers and long-term care residents. Saline County had to shut its sign-up site down within 30 minutes after residents 65 and older nabbed all 900 available slots. That’s about how long Douglas County had its sign-up open before its 500 slots were filled. The rush comes after Gov. Laura Kelly announced Thursday that the state was moving into the second vaccination phase. The issue is that the phase is massive, covering about 1 million people. It includes not just those 65 and older but also people in congregate settings such as prisons and homeless shelters, plus critical workers such as firefighters, police officers, teachers and meatpacking plant employees. The state also will continue vaccinating people from the first phase, some of whom wanted to watch the rollout to see if there were problems before getting vaccinated themselves. The challenge is that the state doesn’t yet have nearly enough doses for all of them. So Kansas is leaving it up to counties to decide how to prioritize who gets vaccinated next.

Kentucky

a group of people standing in front of a building: Kentucky Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman, Gov. Andy Beshear and first lady Britainy Beshear each plant a flag behind the Kentucky State Capitol on Friday, when 3,301 flags were planted to remember each Kentuckian lost to COVID-19. © Michael Clevenger/Courier Journal Kentucky Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman, Gov. Andy Beshear and first lady Britainy Beshear each plant a flag behind the Kentucky State Capitol on Friday, when 3,301 flags were planted to remember each Kentuckian lost to COVID-19.

Frankfort: Gov. Andy Beshear watched teachers get vaccinated against COVID-19 on Friday and later headlined a memorial ceremony for the thousands of Kentuckians who have died from the virus. The dual events reflected the hope of ultimately defeating the coronavirus and the losses the pandemic has inflicted, killing more than 3,300 Kentuckians, the governor said. American flags were planted outside the state Capitol during the memorial ceremony in Frankfort. Earlier in the day, Beshear was in Louisville as teachers were being vaccinated, underscoring his push to get K-12 staffers inoculated statewide to get schools reopened. The state hopes to finish the first round of vaccinations for school staffers by the end of the first week in February. During the memorial event, Beshear called the vaccination program he saw Friday a hopeful moment as he commemorated “another sad milestone in our war against COVID-19.” “The light at the end of this dark tunnel grows ever closer as we walk toward it,” he said. “But this commemoration shows that we remain in a very dangerous and still a very dark time, with the pace of COVID-19’s destruction at one of its highest points in the entire pandemic.”

Louisiana

Baton Rouge: Nearly six weeks after COVID-19 vaccinations began, Louisiana on Friday began releasing demographic details on who has received shots, but the data lacks key pieces of information to determine if the state’s doses are being distributed equitably. In particular, few vaccine providers are identifying recipients’ race in the data submitted to the Louisiana Department of Health, undermining Gov. John Bel Edwards’ efforts to ensure minority groups have adequate access to the doses. The information shows at least 33% of Louisiana’s nearly 273,000 vaccine recipients are white, and at least 10% are black. But another 56% of those who have received the shots were listed by the vaccine administrators as “unknown” or “other.” Edwards is calling on the hospitals, clinics and pharmacies vaccinating people in Louisiana to start providing more complete data. In addition, the state hasn’t provided a racial breakdown of the nearly 900,000 people who are currently eligible to receive the vaccine, to use as a point of comparison. About 63% of Louisiana’s 4.6 million residents are white, while one-third are Black. But those percentages don’t necessarily extend to the eligibility categories for vaccination.

Maine

Augusta: A group of lawmakers responsible for overseeing the rules of the state’s two legislative chambers is reviewing pandemic protocols in response to complaints about members not wearing effective masks. In a subcommittee meeting Thursday, legislative leaders from both parties discussed changing the Legislature’s pandemic rules to mandate that face coverings comply with the state’s public health recommendations, the Portland Press Herald reports. The review follows complaints that some lawmakers were not wearing effective face coverings and frustration from lawmakers who want to be at work in person. A group of Republican lawmakers filmed themselves at the State House this month not wearing masks, and two Republican lawmakers have been wearing a partial shield that rests on their chin and covers only their mouth while at the State House, the newspaper reports. The Maine Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told the newspaper those partial face shields are not effective at diminishing the spread of the coronavirus, which can travel in a person’s respiratory droplets.

Maryland


Video: State expands vaccination eligibility (WCVB Boston)

Annapolis: Gov. Larry Hogan has called on all schools in the state to resume in-person learning by March 1, if not sooner. Hogan said there is currently no public health reason for county school boards to keep students away from classrooms, citing Maryland’s drop to 7.6% in the coronavirus test positivity rate. “Our children can simply not afford any more endless roadblocks or any more moving of the goalposts,” Hogan said in a Thursday press conference. “The time has come to get all of the kids back into the classroom.” Hogan said he will take every legal action in his power to return students to in-person instruction, noting a decision from Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine that would withhold COVID-19 vaccinations from teachers who refuse to return to the classroom. Hogan said he hopes not to enact a similar order but will explore all options should some schools not return to in-person learning by March 1. Research has concluded community spread is not due to in-person instruction, according to Hogan, who also said online learning has taken “an unmistakable toll on students, family and educators.”

Massachusetts

Boston: Nearly 2,000 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine were spoiled at a Veterans Affairs hospital after a contractor accidentally unplugged a freezer, hospital officials announced Thursday. Staff at the Jamaica Plain VA Medical Center discovered Tuesday that a freezer had failed, compromising 1,900 doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. The plug to the freezer was found to be loose after a contractor accidentally unplugged it while cleaning, according to a statement from Kyle Toto, a spokesperson for VA Boston Healthcare System. The freezer had been in a safe location and had an alarm system, he said. The system is investigating the cause of the incident and why the monitoring alarm system did not work. More doses are on the way, Toto said, and officials “do not foresee disruption” of the system’s vaccination effort. The Moderna vaccine needs to be stored at regular freezer temperatures, though not the ultra-cold level required for Pfizer-BioNTech’s shot.

Michigan

Lansing: State Health and Human Services Director Robert Gordon, who issued sweeping orders to curb the spread of the coronavirus after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s powers were upended by a court ruling, abruptly resigned Friday. No explanation for the resignation was given. In a tweet, he said it was “an honor to serve alongside wonderful colleagues. I look forward to the next chapter.” In recent months, Gordon helped with President Joe Biden’s transition, co-leading a team that reviewed operations at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Gordon’s announcement came just hours after he signed a revised order that will let restaurants and bars resume indoor dining Feb. 1, ending a ban that took effect in mid-November. In a written statement announcing the latest measure – he was not at the governor’s COVID-19 news conference Friday – he said unmasked, indoor activities like dining and drinking are still a high risk. Whitmer, a Democrat, appointed Elizabeth Hertel to succeed Gordon at the state Department of Health and Human Services, effectively immediately. Hertel had been the agency’s senior chief deputy director for administration.

Minnesota

Minneapolis: Health officials reported Friday that the state has now been allocated 871,650 doses of federally controlled COVID-19 vaccine, up more than 240,000 doses from a week earlier. The state’s snapshot of progress in administering vaccines also showed that 214,050 people have gotten their first dose of a two-shot series, with 49,604 people having completed both shots. If all the state’s 5.6 million residents were to get two shots, the federal vaccine allocated so far would amount to less than 8% of what’s needed. The numbers don’t reflect doses sent directly to federal organizations such as Veterans Affairs facilities. During a visit to a long-term care facility in New Hope, Gov. Tim Walz and Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said that with a new president came a different tone from the federal government that includes consistency in messaging about the virus and a willingness to understand the perspective of state and local governments in their virus response. Should the Biden administration deliver on its goal of 100 million doses in the president’s first 100 days, that would work out to about 2 million doses reserved for Minnesota.

Mississippi

Jackson: The state’s top health official criticized the rollout of vaccines within long-term care facilities Friday, calling the plan made by the federal government and pharmacies contracted to give the shots “faulty” and “frustrating.” “We gave them too much vaccine too soon,” State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs said during a virtual briefing with the Mississippi State Medical Association, adding that the situation is now a “daunting problem” for health officials. The Department of Health is now having conversations with CVS and Walgreens about whether some of the doses allocated to them need to be pulled back, Dobbs said. Overall, he said, the state is doing “remarkably well” at vaccinating people who are not long-term care residents, with 75% of the state’s allocation for first doses used as of Friday. Still, officials at the drive-thru sites and other facilities offering vaccinations have not been able to come close to keeping up with the demand. “If we could have given them 4,000 a week like they’re using, then we could have used that other vaccine,” Dobbs said of long-term care facilities. Officials with CVS and Walgreens have assured the Department of Health that vaccinations will be 95% done by the end of January, Dobbs said.

Missouri

St. Louis: The state’s health department doesn’t include antigen tests in its count of coronavirus cases, meaning tens of thousands of positive tests have not been included in its tally. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch obtained data from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services showing that antigen tests found 20,083 cases of the coronavirus in December alone, and 12,228 in January through Tuesday. Missouri’s virus tracking dashboard on Friday showed 445,621 confirmed cases of COVID-19. Though that total doesn’t include antigen tests, the same dashboard separately lists details about each type of testing. It shows that 64,685 Missourians have tested positive through antigen tests, also known as rapid tests. Antigen testing has increased in popularity in recent months, recently accounting for more than 30% of tests administered. While the state wrestles with test reporting, it is moving to vaccinate more people. Republican Gov. Mike Parson last week announced plans for mass vaccination sites across Missouri, and the first of those sites opened Friday in the southeast Missouri town of Poplar Bluff.

Montana

Helena: A bill that would protect businesses and health care providers from coronavirus-related lawsuits is advancing quickly through the Legislature, after the Republican governor said the measure was necessary to remove a statewide mask mandate put in place by his Democratic predecessor. Gov. Greg Gianforte also said more vulnerable residents would have to receive COVID-19 vaccines before he lifts the mandate former Gov. Steve Bullock implemented in July. The House Businesses and Labor Committee held a hearing Friday on the bill after the Senate passed it in a 37-13 vote earlier in the week. Republican lawmakers, with majorities in both the House and Senate, say the measure is needed to reopen the state’s economy following an economic downturn induced by the pandemic. Under the bill, businesses cannot be sued by individuals exposed to the coronavirus on their premises, except in cases of “gross negligence” or when businesses intentionally spread the virus. Business owners would not be required to uphold federal or state mask requirements or temperature-check requirements if they remain in place.

Nebraska

Lincoln: A mass vaccination event that helped the state record one of its most productive days in its campaign to distribute shots could serve as a model for future events. Health officials in Lincoln said roughly 2,400 health care workers received the vaccine Friday at the event held at the Pinnacle Bank Arena. That helped the state administer 8,701 doses of the vaccine Friday in what was the second-busiest day of the campaign so far. Jan. 5 – when 13,660 doses of the vaccine were administered – is the busiest day on record for Nebraska. The state has been averaging about 4,500 shots a day over the past two weeks as it works to speed up distribution of the vaccine. Pat Lopez, director of the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department, said Friday’s mass vaccination event was successfu,l with most people able to get their shots and get out of the arena in less than 30 minutes. Currently, the state is receiving about 23,500 doses of COVID-19 vaccines each week that are distributed statewide. The state said 599 cases of the virus were reported Saturday. A total of 186,854 cases and 1,879 deaths have been recorded so far.

Nevada

Reno: A rural church wants the U.S. Supreme Court to weigh in on a legal battle over the government’s authority to limit the size of religious gatherings amid the COVID-19 pandemic even after the church won an appeals court ruling that found the state’s restrictions unconstitutional. Attorneys general from 19 other states recently joined the Calvary Chapel Dayton Valley near Reno in urging the Supreme Court to rule on the merits of the Nevada case to help bring uniformity to various standards courts across the country have used to balance the interests of public safety and freedom of religion. “This petition is the court’s last opportunity to issue a merits opinion this term settling how lower courts analyze the interplay between COVID-19 emergency orders and free-exercise rights,” lawyers for the church wrote in their latest court filings Thursday. They want the Supreme Court to “clarify for all that the First Amendment does not allow government officials to use COVID-19 as an excuse to treat churches and their worshippers worse than secular establishments and their patrons.”

New Hampshire

Concord: School districts across the state are losing money because its funding formula is based on metrics heavily affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Sixteen mayors and school board leaders wrote to Gov. Chris Sununu and legislative leaders last week expressing their concerns. They explained that while districts have been providing more free meals than ever to students, fewer families have filled out the paperwork to document participation in the free and reduced-price meal program. Because the funding formula is based in part on enrollment in the program, Manchester, for example, faces a $3.6 million decrease in funding. Similarly, enrollment overall has decreased as more parents sent children to private school or home school amid the pandemic, the group wrote. The Republican governor said the two federal virus relief packages passed by Congress include about $220 million for education-related expenses in New Hampshire, and the state will work with communities to help families sign up for the meal program. “It’s very legitimate concerns on their part. And between the funding and the state support, I think we can close the gap,” he said.

New Jersey

a sign in front of a building: Hackensack Meridian Health began vaccinating health care workers, first responders, and people 65 or older at the Bergen COVID-19 vaccine mega-site at the Meadowlands Racetrack in East Rutherford, N.J., on Friday. © Tariq Zehawi/NorthJersey.com Hackensack Meridian Health began vaccinating health care workers, first responders, and people 65 or older at the Bergen COVID-19 vaccine mega-site at the Meadowlands Racetrack in East Rutherford, N.J., on Friday.

East Rutherford: The state’s newest COVID-19 vaccination mega-site is now open in Bergen County. Officials on Friday said the site inside the old Meadowlands Racetrack in East Rutherford was ready to receive those eligible for the vaccine. It is one of the final six mega-sites to open statewide, a promising milestone in the fight against COVID-19 in New Jersey. “When vaccination supply increases, these mega-sites will be able to accommodate large numbers of people daily – as much as 3,000 to 5,000,” Health Department Commissioner Judy Persichilli said. “Given the operational and logistical considerations, in addition to storage requirements of vaccines, appointments are required at virtually all of our vaccination sites at this time.” Run by Hackensack Meridian Health in partnership with Bergen County officials, the site hosted a soft opening Thursday, with an estimated 100 vaccines given to the health network’s employees. At its peak, the site is expected to vaccinate as many as 2,400 people daily. However, it is unlikely officials will reach that capacity for some time due to vaccine shortages in the state and across the U.S.

New Mexico

Albuquerque: Vaccination clinics scheduled for hundreds of public school employees throughout the city and surrounding communities won’t happen after all, prompting criticism from a state lawmaker and disappointment from top administrators at two of New Mexico’s largest school districts. Republican Sen. Craig Brandt of Rio Rancho sent a letter Thursday to Dr. Tracie Collins, the state health secretary, demanding that the Health Department deliver the vaccines it had promised. “Your agency’s incomprehensible decision demonstrates a callous disregard for the families and teachers of the communities I represent,” Brandt wrote. A vaccination clinic had been set for Friday and Saturday at Rio Rancho Middle School, where as many as 1,800 people were expected to get shots, Brandt said. The Albuquerque public school district also had planned a vaccination event last week to provide several hundred doses for staff involved with in-person teaching for small groups of students with disabilities. Health officials say the state is focusing the current round of vaccinations on people 75 and older and those who have underlying medical conditions that put them at risk from COVID-19.

New York

New York: A bar owner who struck a sheriff’s deputy with a car last month will only face criminal charges alleging he served patrons indoors in defiance of state coronavirus restrictions. Mac’s Public House co-owner Daniel Presti has been indicted on misdemeanor charges of selling alcohol without a license and operating an unlicensed bottle club, Staten Island prosecutors said Friday. A grand jury that heard evidence in the case, including Presti’s testimony, did not charge him in connection with a Dec. 6 incident in which authorities say he got into his car to flee arrest, struck a sheriff’s deputy and drove about 100 yards as the deputy clung to the hood. Both of the deputy’s legs were broken. Staten Island District Attorney Michael McMahon said in a statement that he intended to pursue the alcohol-related charges against Presti “and will seek to hold this defendant accountable under the law.” The charges against Presti stem from a decision by the bar’s owners to defy a state ban on indoor food and drink service by declaring the watering hole an “autonomous zone.” After the incident, Gov. Andrew Cuomo called Presti a “coward,” and Mayor Bill de Blasio said he “should pay very, very serious consequences for what he did.”

North Carolina

Raleigh: The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill announced Friday that it avoided returning to campus 112 undergraduate students who tested positive for the coronavirus through its newly launched mass testing program. The effort to test more incoming students aims to better monitor levels of COVID-19 transmission to prevent the spread from getting out of hand on campus, as it did in August. One week into the fall semester, UNC shut down all in-person classes for undergraduates and urged students to leave their residence halls and return home. North Carolina State University and East Carolina University followed suit shortly thereafter. UNC said it has performed 13,500 tests in three testing centers and seven pop-up sites at residence halls since Jan. 11. UNC, which kicked off the semester Tuesday with virtual learning, decided earlier this month that it would delay in-person classes by three weeks due to increased spread of the virus throughout North Carolina and the nation. Appalachian State University delayed in-person classes until at least Feb. 1, while UNC-Charlotte will have online-only classes until at least Feb. 22.

North Dakota

Bismarck: State health officials said an additional eight people have died from complications due to COVID-19, and 169 more people have been confirmed to have the virus in the state, according to data released Saturday. The new figures bring the state’s death toll to 1,411 and the total number of cases to 96,720 since the pandemic began. The state says 1,161 people are considered to have active cases of the virus, while 50 people are currently hospitalized. According to Johns Hopkins University, over the past two weeks, the rolling average number of daily new cases has decreased by 100.3, a decrease of 42.1%. There were 279.8 new cases per 100,000 people in North Dakota over the past two weeks, placing the state 50th in the country for new cases per capita. According to data provided to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control last week, 12,428 people in North Dakota had received both doses of a COVID-19 vaccination. That’s about 1.6% of the state’s population. There can be a lag in CDC data, as health care providers report doses up to 72 hours after they are administered.

Ohio

Columbus: Gov. Mike DeWine on Friday ordered $390 million in across-the-board budget cuts for the rest of the fiscal year, citing the ongoing economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic. A new budget year begins July 1. The Republican governor also announced that because the cuts aren’t as big as last year, an additional $160 million can be provided to the state Department of Education and $100 million to the Department of Higher Education. That money was previously withheld. “As many schools, colleges and universities return to in-person learning, it’s important that the funding be reinstated,” DeWine said. The governor has set a goal of K-12 students returning to some form of in-person learning by March 1. Also Friday, DeWine extended the state’s 10 p.m.-to-5 a.m. curfew, which was to expire Saturday, until Jan. 30. The pandemic-driven curfew requires people to stay at home during those hours except for work, food purchases, medical appointments and other necessary travel. DeWine suggested the next step might be to extend the curfew to 11 p.m., but “we’re just not there.”

Oklahoma

Oklahoma City: Health officials plan to work with retailers and faith leaders in minority communities across the state to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines. The Oklahoma State Department of Health plans to unveil vaccine-dispensing sites in minority communities across the state in the coming weeks, Deputy Health Commissioner Keith Reed said Friday. “Ensuring equitable access to vaccines for Oklahomans across the state is a top priority,” Reed said. “Research shows disparities in both the number of COVID-19 cases and the willingness to get a COVID-19 vaccine among these communities.” He also encouraged Oklahomans to fill out information about their ethnicity when registering for a vaccine on the state’s online vaccine portal and noted that about 22% of those registering have not been including information about their ethnicity. “While this information is voluntary, we strongly encourage Oklahomans to provide this information as you register,” Reed said. “This helps us to make sure distribution of the vaccine is equitable and that we’re reaching Oklahomans in minority communities who need this vaccine as well.”

Oregon

a screenshot of a video game: Gov. Kate Brown's State of the State address plays on a display in the media control room at the Oregon State Capitol on Thursday. Brown's address was prerecorded and released on YouTube and the Oregon Legislative Information System. © BRIAN HAYES / STATESMAN JOURNAL Gov. Kate Brown's State of the State address plays on a display in the media control room at the Oregon State Capitol on Thursday. Brown's address was prerecorded and released on YouTube and the Oregon Legislative Information System.

Portland: Gov. Kate Brown on Friday defended her decision to reject federal guidelines and prioritize teachers for the COVID-19 vaccine before the elderly, saying if all of Oregon’s seniors were vaccinated first, teachers would likely not be vaccinated before the school year, and many students would not return to in-person learning. “The harsh reality is we are managing a scarce resource right now,” Brown said. “I wish we had more vaccines to give.” During Friday’s briefing, the governor laid out estimated amounts of vaccines administered to certain groups each week, as well as hosting teacher and student speakers to discuss the struggles they have faced with distance learning. “If schools remain remote, the potential education loss could be substantial,” Brown said. “If we were to vaccinate every Oregon senior first, the unfortunate and harsh reality is that many of our educators would not get vaccinated this school year, and Oregon kids would continue to suffer. If we flip that and prioritize the needs of Oregon kids, it puts a two-week delay on beginning vaccinations for seniors who live independently.” The Oregon Health Authority said about 105,000 K-12 school staff and 47,000 early learning and child care staff are eligible for a vaccine starting Monday.

Pennsylvania

Harrisburg: The Republican-controlled Legislature on Friday took another step in the drive to strip future governors of some of their constitutional authority under emergency declarations and give lawmakers more control over the declarations. The Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee approved it on a party-line basis, 7-4. Passage by both the House and Senate before Feb. 18 can ensure it gets on Pennsylvania’s May 18 primary ballot and can go to voters for a final decision in a statewide referendum. The measure arises from Republican lawmakers’ strident disagreement with how Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, has handled the coronavirus pandemic. It would end an emergency disaster declaration after 21 days, unless lawmakers approve an extension through a majority vote. It also gives lawmakers, with a two-thirds majority vote, the ability to end a disaster declaration. Republicans say the amendment will bring a balance of power, legislative input and accountability. Democrats say it will deprive a governor of the ability to manage a disaster and potentially cost the state money by missing out on reimbursements from federal emergency relief aid.

Rhode Island

Providence: Advocates for the elderly are calling on the state to prioritize vaccinating older residents against COVID-19. The AARP’s Rhode Island office on Friday demanded that Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo and other leaders revise the state’s vaccination plan to immediately prioritize doses for residents 50 and older. Kathleen Connell, the AARP’s state director, said in a statement she’s “alarmed and dismayed” that only 25% of vaccinations have so far been administered to Rhode Islanders age 60 and older, according to state data. Residents 50 and older account for nearly 98% of the state’s more than 2,000 total COVID-19 deaths, she said. “The current disparity is inexplicable, life-threatening and unacceptable,” she said. Raimondo’s office didn’t respond to an email seeking comment Friday, but the state’s first phase of vaccine distribution calls for those 75 and older to start receiving shots in February. “We are prioritizing 65 years of age and older, but we’re starting with those 75 given that they really do have the highest risk of dying,” Dr. Phil Chan, consultant medical director for the Rhode Island Department of Health, said at a press conference.

South Carolina

Columbia: After a slow start and concerns about adequate supplies, efforts to roll out the COVID-19 vaccine kicked into high gear this past week. Early in the week, Gov. Henry McMaster visited hospitals to assure health officials sufficient supplies of the vaccine would be available. He vowed there would be enough COVID-19 vaccine available to cover “anyone who wants it.” However, Marshall Taylor, the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control’s acting director, said the supply of vaccines coming from the federal government was too small. The supply was not meeting demand, as hospitals reported receiving only about a quarter of the vaccines requested. DHEC was forced to decide how to ration the distribution of the vaccines, The State newspaper reports. On Thursday, Dr. Brannan Traxler, the state’s interim public health director, said the state receives from the federal government 60,000 to 64,000 first doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines each week. That same amount would be guaranteed to the state for the second round of vaccines.

South Dakota

Spearfish: More than 20% of the state’s children have missed routine vaccinations since the COVID-19 pandemic swept the country. The numbers are in line with a national trend that shows significant decreases in the number of vaccinations administered in 2020, according to a recent study by Wellmark Blue Cross/Blue Shield. According to the Blue Cross/Blue Shield Association, 40% of parents and legal guardians report their children missed vaccinations during the pandemic. The first vaccines were missed when COVID-19 swept the nation last spring. The second drop-off occurred in August, when students who would ordinarily be receiving shots to prepare for the school year discovered instead that they would be learning remotely at home. Dr. Rose Oakley, a pediatrician with Monument Health in Spearfish, said though it is difficult to gauge exact percentages of vaccines distributed locally, due to the families who simply do not seek vaccines, the report does not surprise her. “We have families that are nervous to take their children into a clinic because of COVID, and so they are skipping multiple well child checks,” she said.

Tennessee

Nashville: Lawmakers on Friday finished tackling education issues that surfaced during the pandemic, as Republicans fumed that some districts still are not back in classrooms but declined to act on their proposal to withhold state funding for staying virtual. The brief four-day special session sparked various conflicts inside the Republican-dominant Statehouse over the best measures to help struggling teachers and students amid the coronavirus outbreak. Ultimately, though, GOP lawmakers easily pushed through Republican Gov. Bill Lee’s agenda. Some of those proposals would adopt a new reading threshold for students to pass third grade, boost teacher pay and suspend teacher accountability measures tied to student testing. “This is really important. Implementing this is going to be difficult, and it’s going to take awhile, but we have to try,” said state Sen. Ferrell Haile, R-Gallatin. For months, the state’s top education officials have raised alarms that students have experienced serious adverse learning effects that could plague them for years. Lee’s administration has focused on Tennessee’s dismal third grade reading scores, warning that student learning was suffering outside the classroom.

Texas

Laredo: A raging coronavirus outbreak in the city, now one of the biggest hot spots in the U.S., is leading to hundreds of new cases a day around the border city. The more than 8,900 new cases reported in Webb County, which includes Laredo, over the past two weeks make it one of the highest per-capita outbreaks in the country, according to data from John Hopkins University. Gov. Greg Abbott announced Friday that more medical personnel and equipment would be sent to Laredo, where roughly half of all hospital beds are occupied by patients with COVID-19 – the highest rate of anywhere in the state. Overall hospitalizations in Texas continued showing potential signs of stabilizing, but the rising toll of new deaths continued to be the worst since the pandemic began. More than 1,200 new deaths were reported in three recent days alone, as January is already set to go down as the deadliest month of the pandemic in Texas. Abbott said Laredo has received more than 29,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines. New deaths slowed somewhat Saturday, with 407 additional deaths reported, according to the state health department.

Utah

Salt Lake City: Gov. Spencer Cox is ordering COVID-19 vaccine shots set aside as second doses to be redistributed as first doses to new people if the original patient doesn’t come back for their follow-up appointment a few weeks later. The second shots will be released if not claimed within seven days, but latecomers can still come back at a different time, he said Thursday during his monthly news conference on PBS-Utah. Some state lawmakers have suggested not holding back a reserve of the vaccine for second doses, but Cox said health experts advise against that step. Cox said the state is also trying to “claw back” vaccine doses from pharmacies partnered with the federal government. They’re falling behind local public health departments in distributing the doses quickly, he said. Cox has mandated that vaccine doses be used within seven days. “They have too much vaccine,” he said. “The federal government has given them more vaccine than they need.” One factor is billing private insurance, which will cover part of the cost of a vaccine, but going through the process takes longer.

Vermont

Montpelier: The state will start vaccinating residents ages 75 and older Wednesday and will begin taking registrations for appointments for that age group Monday, officials said. The state will release a website and phone number Monday morning to sign up for a required appointment to get vaccinated, Human Services Secretary Mike Smith said at the governor’s twice-weekly virus briefing Friday, which was held virtually because a number of state officials are in quarantine. “We ask that you go online and register if you are able,” he said. Relatives and friends of people who are eligible are urged to offer to help register them online. A call center with roughly 400 receptionists will be available to take phone reservations, but “if calls flood in, wait times will be long,” he said. People should not call hospitals, doctors’ offices or anywhere else to register because it won’t work, he said. Smith urged people to be patient and not to be discouraged. “We’ll have enough appointments for those who are eligible,” he said. The state is planning to have 54 vaccine sites in 39 towns across Vermont, he said.

Virginia

Richmond: The state is lagging others when it comes to tracking COVID-19 vaccinations by race and ethnicity, according to public health data. Virginia is one of only 17 states that were publicly reporting COVID-19 vaccination data by race and ethnicity as of last week, but the state’s COVID-19 website indicates race and ethnicity data has not been reported for more than half of the roughly 475,000 people who have received at least one dose of the vaccine. State public health officials have said they will distribute the vaccine equitably, but researchers say that goal will be difficult to achieve without accounting for demographic data. Black and Latino workers make up nearly a third of the state’s health care work force but account for only about 17% of vaccinations with race and ethnicity data reported as of Sunday. Whites accounts for about 71% of vaccinations for which race and ethnicity have been recorded. Virginia Department of Health spokeswoman Erin Beard said the agency will not require vaccinators to report some demographics like race and ethnicity because it could prevent a provider from reporting a shot given.

Washington

Seattle: Federal authorities arrested a suburban Seattle man who advertised a supposed COVID-19 “vaccine” he said he created in his personal lab. Johnny T. Stine, 56, faces a misdemeanor charge of introducing misbranded drugs into interstate commerce in that case and could face up to one year in prison if convicted, KUOW reports. In March 2020, Stine advertised injections of the supposed vaccine for $400 on his personal Facebook page, according to Brian T. Moran, the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Washington. Stine wrote on Facebook that it wasn’t the first time he had “crossed some major lines,” adding that he had also created “personalized tumor vaccines for people who wish to actually fight for their life with legitimate tools, knowledge, and skills that I’ve acquired over the years.” He also faces charges related to peddling those untested drugs, Moran said. Stine told KUOW in May that he had downloaded the coronavirus’ genome sequences from a Chinese database to create the substance. In that same interview, Stine said he injected himself and several others.

West Virginia

Charleston: Republican Gov. Jim Justice was sworn in to a second and final term Friday. Justice said in a 20-minute speech that “West Virginia is really on the move” despite challenges wrought by the pandemic and a population that has declined for eight straight years. The state’s top elected officials are all Republicans, and the GOP flipped many seats in the Legislature to gain a supermajority in both chambers. “You know, I really never thought I’d really run again,” said Justice, who first won the seat as a Democrat before switching parties. “But there’s more to do.” Justice did not lay out a vision for his second term in his speech. He recently said on a radio show that he supported eliminating the personal income tax as a way to drive investment to the state. He acknowledged eliminating the tax, which produces a significant portion of state revenue, “would be a heavy lift” but said he would push for it with the conservative Legislature. “Just from a sex appeal standpoint, elimination of the state income tax carries with it the most appeal of anything we could do,” Justice said on WV Metro News last week.

Wisconsin

Madison: Republicans who control the Legislature will vote this week on a resolution that would end the statewide mask mandate designed to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Twenty-seven Republican lawmakers signed on to the resolution introduced Thursday. The Senate on Friday scheduled it for a vote Tuesday. Both the Senate and Assembly would have to pass it in order to end the public health emergency and undo the mask mandate issued by Democratic Gov. Tony Evers. Because it’s a joint resolution, it wouldn’t require Evers’ signature to take effect. “While Gov. Evers works to keep Wisconsinites healthy and safe and distribute vaccines across our state, Republicans continue their efforts to hinder our state’s response,” Evers’ spokeswoman, Britt Cudaback, said in a statement. “Republicans haven’t taken COVID-19 seriously from the beginning, and they still aren’t now more than 280 days since they last sent a bill to the governor’s desk.” Evers supports a bipartisan coronavirus response bill that the Senate passed last week but that Assembly leaders oppose. Evers first issued a statewide mask requirement in July and has extended the order three times.

Wyoming

Casper: A man who died in December was the state’s first inmate killed by COVID-19. The inmate at the minimum-security Wyoming Honor Farm in Riverton died Dec. 22. The cause took time to confirm by autopsy, the Wyoming Department of Corrections announced Friday. Wyoming for months was among just a handful of states with no inmate deaths from the coronavirus, the Casper Star-Tribune reports. Vermont is now the only state with no such deaths, according to the nonprofit prison news organization The Marshall Project. Recent surveillance testing found 14 new positive cases in Wyoming prisons: 13 at the Wyoming Medium Correctional Institution in Torrington and one at the Wyoming State Penitentiary in Rawlins. As of Friday, 550 people in Wyoming had died of COVID-19.

From USA TODAY Network and wire reports

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Teachers push back, churches in court, National Guard: News from around our 50 states

Teachers to Biden: What we want from your administration .
Here's an open letter from three teachers with a list of education recommendations for the new administration. In this post, three educators who have decades of cumulative experience teaching students and teachers spell out where they hope the new administration will go in helping schools provide an education to all students that, as they explain, “is relevant and engages them in things that matter.

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