US Feeding the front line, whooping cranes, stadium crowds: News from around our 50 states
Let Whitney Houston soar at Super Bowl or force her into 'traditional' arrangement? Here's oral history of her untouchable anthem.
Before Super Bowl XXV kicked off in front of 73,813 people on Jan. 27, 1991, Whitney Houston sang one of the most memorable renditions of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” This is the story of how Houston’s performance came together amid Super Bowl hype 30 years ago in Tampa, Florida, as told by those who were part of the production, select players and coaches and those who witnessed it as football fans. Ten days before the New York Giants and Buffalo Bills played at Tampa Stadium, Operation Desert Storm began. Tensions and worries were high in the United States, with a nation facing the realities of war in the Persian Gulf.
Montgomery: Vaccines against COVID-19 will soon be available at more than 70 Walmart and Sam’s Club stores across Alabama, the company and the state announced. The retailer said people who meet the state’s eligibility requirements can begin signing up for appointments, and the immunizations begin Friday. Part of the program’s aim is to get the vaccine into areas without adequate medical services, the company said. That includes the south Alabama town of Brewton, which the company said was chosen to get the vaccine because other immunization sites are so far away. More than 1,000 Walmart and Sam’s Club pharmacies in Alabama and 21 other states are receiving federal vaccine allocations this week. Gov. Kay Ivey said the state was grateful for the doses but urged patience since each store will have a limited supply of vaccine. The state on Monday expanded vaccine eligibility to include everyone 65 and older, school workers, grocery store employees, some manufacturers, public transit workers, agriculture employees, state legislators and constitutional officers. As many as 1.5 million people now qualify for shots, up from about 700,000 previously.
Myanmar's youth savored their taste of democracy. Will they fight to get it back?
Burmese punk band Rebel Riot's lead singer embodies the growing outrage over the military coup. He's now rallying others to resist.“Viva la revolution! Let’s sing together, let’s fight together!" he sang, adding a string of profanity-laced challenges to authority.
Juneau: The state is expanding eligibility for COVID-19 vaccinations to people 50 and older with high-risk medical conditions, prekindergarten through grade 12 teachers and child care workers, and those 50 and older in jobs considered essential who work in close proximity to others. The state health department announced the expansion Wednesday. It said people in those groups can start making appointments Thursday. Gov. Mike Dunleavy, in a statement, said many Alaskans in the 65-and-older age group who wanted to receive vaccinations have, “and now it’s time to open up vaccinations to a new group of Alaskans.” Individuals previously eligible can still get vaccinated, officials say. Dr. Anne Zink, the state’s chief medical officer, said factors such as Alaska’s remaining allocation for February and estimates on how much vaccine the state might receive for March were weighed in making the decision to expand eligibility. The new tier includes people living or working in congregate settings who weren’t previously eligible, including homeless and domestic violence shelters and those in correctional settings.
‘Living the dream’: Slain FBI special agent remembered by family, colleagues
MIAMI — For someone whose daily work was to shed light on some of the darkest corners of the internet, Special Agent Daniel I. Alfin always managed to have a smile on his face, much to the bewilderment of his own colleagues. He was witty and tagged a heavy dose of sarcasm to the end of his sentences. He was smart and really good with computers, a skill he would pass on to many of his older colleagues throughout his postings in Albany, Quantico and Miami. By the time he was 36, he had become an FBI special agent in Miami investigating crimes against children, a milestone many law enforcement officials in his field can only dream of achieving in a lifetime.
Phoenix: Facing complaints from advocates for people with disabilities, the state Senate is eyeing legislation that would bar hospitals from considering a person’s potential lifespan, quality of life or disability when the facilities are forced to ration care during the current or any future pandemic. The proposal from Sen. Nancy Barto, R-Phoenix, instead would require hospitals that are assessing patients under state-adopted crisis standards of care to assess only a patient’s ability to survive the current hospitalization. Barto said at a hearing Wednesday that the current standards, adopted last year to address the COVID-19 pandemic, could discriminate against disabled people. But not everyone who testified at the Senate Health and Human Services Committee hearing backed the change. Dr. Patricia Mayer, director of clinical ethics at the Banner Health hospital chain, who was involved in drafting the current COVID-19 guidelines, said putting the new requirements into law could lock out future updates to the standards, which have been in place for nearly a decade. She said preventing doctors from judging who gets treatment without being able to consider their realistic lifespan could lead to absurd results.
Washington Football Team star Chase Young backs Maryland police reform effort
Young, the NFL defensive rookie of the year from Prince George’s County, tells lawmakers: ‘My mom is scared for me.’ “At this stage I don’t know what can happen,” Young, 21, said during the virtual hearing. “My mom is scared for me, my dad. Just everybody. I feel like people are just tired of just everything that is going on. That’s why I feel like we have to pass this bill.
Little Rock: The state Senate on Wednesday approved a measure allowing medical providers to refuse to treat someone because of their religious or moral beliefs, a move critics say will allow them to turn LGBTQ patients away. The majority-Republican Senate voted 27-6 in favor of the measure, which says health care workers and institutions have the right to not participate in nonemergency treatments that violate their conscience. The proposal now heads to the House. Supporters of the bill said it would protect health care workers from being forced to perform something that goes against their conscience. “This bill is about elective things, things you can take time to find a provider who’s willing to offer the service rather than a force a provider who doesn’t believe in doing it,” said Republican Sen. Kim Hammer, who sponsored the measure. Opponents said it would give wide berth to medical providers to use religious, moral or philosophical beliefs to deny care to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender patients. One opponent said it’s written so broadly that it could even allow someone to be denied service because of their political affiliation.
Dodger Stadium vaccination site temporarily closing due to lack of doses
Los Angeles' five city-run vaccination sites, including Dodger Stadium, will close on Friday and Saturday due to a lack of doses, Mayor Eric Garcetti said. Your browser does not support this video The city will have exhausted its current supply of the Moderna vaccine for first-dose appointments by Thursday, forcing the temporary closures, he said. "The problem is, we don't have enough vaccines," Garcetti said during a virtual briefing Wednesday evening. "We aren't receiving enough doses soon enough.
San Francisco: The Golden State has edged past New York in the grim statistic of the number of deaths due to COVID-19, according to Johns Hopkins University data reported Thursday. California’s death toll reached 45,496, surpassing New York’s toll of 45,312, even as coronavirus trends are showing improvement in California. Meanwhile, a surge of coronavirus cases at the University of California, Berkeley has prompted school officials to extend a lockdown on about 2,000 students living in residence halls and ban them from outdoor exercise as part of strict new measures to curb the spread of infections. More than 400 people, mostly undergraduate students, at UC Berkeley have tested positive for the virus since an outbreak that started in mid-January, according to the university’s coronavirus dashboard. All students living in dorm-style residence halls were ordered to “self-sequester” in a lockdown initially put in place from Feb. 1-8. But this week, school officials extended the lockdown through at least Monday. “You may NOT leave your room for solo outdoor exercise,” an email said, noting this was a change from the previous week’s rules. The ban goes beyond strict guidelines issued by the state. Gov. Gavin Newsom has encouraged outdoor exercise, even during strict lockdown periods.
DeSantis defends maskless crowds after Buccaneers win amid COVID concerns
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) attacked the media for what he said was a double standard with how large marches for social justice were covered as opposed to celebrations in Tampa following the Buccaneers' Super Bowl win. "The media is worried about that, obviously," DeSantis said Wednesday of scenes of massive celebrations across Tampa that showed hundreds of fans maskless while crowded together in streets and bars on Sunday night. "You don't"The media is worried about that, obviously," DeSantis said Wednesday of scenes of massive celebrations across Tampa that showed hundreds of fans maskless while crowded together in streets and bars on Sunday night.
Denver: Businesses in the state have sold about $10 billion of marijuana since the plant was legalized for recreational use in 2014, according to new data released by the state Department of Revenue. The figures released Tuesday indicate that marijuana sales in 2020 hit an all-time high for one year with $2.19 billion in total revenue, up from $1.75 billion in 2019. Marijuana revenue from 2020 surpassed figures from 2019 by the end of October. “Ten billion is incredible and unsurprising at the same time,” said Truman Bradley, executive director of the Marijuana Industry Group, Colorado’s trade association. “The industry has partnered with regulators to do things the right way in Colorado.” Tax and fee revenue from marijuana sales since 2014 has totaled about $1.63 billion, the state said. Marijuana dispensaries collect 2.9% in state sales tax, 15% as a marijuana retail sales tax, and a 15% excise tax on wholesale sales or transfers of retail marijuana, the Colorado Sun reports. Fees are generated from license and application charges, while cities often add local sales taxes of about 20%.
My warning to President Biden: Protect America from a rising China
If the Biden administration can commit to maintaining a great powers competition strategy, then I will be the first stand beside President Biden to defend our nation from China’s threats of global dominance. Gimenez represent Florida's 26th District.
Hartford: New and limited data released Wednesday from the state Department of Public Health suggests racial disparities in the administration of the COVID-19 vaccine, mirroring what’s been happening in other states where Black populations lag far behind white populations in getting the shots. As of Feb. 3, nearly 2% of residents 75 and older who had received the vaccine were Black, while 59.7% were white, according to the data. Meanwhile, slightly more than 1% were Asian; 2.3% were Hispanic; 6.2% were mixed race; and 19.4% were listed as other, which includes American Indians, Native Alaskans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders. According to 2019 U.S. census data, 74.6% of Connecticut’s population is white, while 11% is only Black or African-American. “As we open up the vaccine program to individuals 65 and over, we are redoubling our efforts to ensure that vaccine is reaching the communities and populations who have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19,” DPH Acting Commissioner Dr. Deidre Gifford said. The department cautioned that there are some gaps in data reporting and that people can select “other,” “multiple races” or “not reported.”
See how Louisiana pivoted to extravagant house floats for Mardi Gras
Louisiana residents created extravagant house floats to celebrate Mardi Gras amid the coronavirus pandemic.Some residents enjoyed the celebrations by creating extravagant house floats to replace the usual parade floats, either adorning their homes themselves or hiring artists to do so.
Dover: Local hip-hop musician and activist Amillion the Poettitled “The Quarantine.” The song is a melodic reminder to wear masks and take COVID-19 seriously, especially since the country has eclipsed 400,000 coronavirus deaths. The video features a cameo from Amillion’s daughter, Aaliyah Adams-Mayfield. Amillion, whose real name is Lucas Amillion Mayfield, teamed up with director Jet Phynx Films on the track, along with national recording songstress Stacy Barthe and J’ne Indigo. The song can be found on the music project “Covid-1NA and Deluxe,” which is out now. Around 2009, Amillion survived as a single parent by traveling to poetry open mics around the country, mostly performing for free, while making money from selling his book of poetry, “Poetry in Motion Proceeds,” after his performances. In the span of two years, the Dover rapper averaged close to 100 gigs annually. Eventually, Amillion said, he didn’t want to get pigeonholed as just the poetry guy. So he began performing at churches, prisons and schools. The emcee finally made his debut at Firefly Music Festival in 2018.
District of Columbia
Washington: Residents 65 and older are eligible to register for 2,500 COVID-19 vaccine appointment slots that opened Thursday,. The appointments are also available to health professionals who work in the district and residents of Wards 5, 7 and 8 priority ZIP codes. Mayor Muriel Bowser said the demand is high, and appointments were expected to fill up quickly. Those eligible can register online at vaccinate.dc.gov or call the city’s vaccine hotline at 855-363-0333. Howard University Hospital also announced Thursday that it will open a clinic offering D.C. residents ages 65 and up their first and second doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. “It’s no secret that COVID-19 exposure and mortality rates in the communities that we serve are three times higher than the national average. And those who have unfortunately passed away from this deadly disease have been disproportionately people of color,” said Dr. Hugh E. Mighty, dean of the Howard University College of Medicine and vice president of clinical affairs. “This vaccine serves as a powerful tool in our ongoing fight to combat the virus, and the importance of administering it first to high-risk patient populations is a critical endeavor that I am proud to take on.”
Orlando: Local tourism officials are launching their first full-scale marketing campaign since the pandemic, aimed at tourists within driving distance in the Southeast. The $2.2 million advertising campaign launched this month is targeted for spring and summer travel to potential visitors living in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas. The campaign, called “The Wonder Remains,” includes TV ads, YouTube videos, digital ads, social media ads, e-newsletters and website content. Along with highlighting Orlando’s theme parks and restaurants, the campaign emphasizes the safety measures that have been taken at its tourist attractions to protect tourists from the coronavirus. “The Central Florida region has gone above and beyond to create a safe and sanitized guest experience,” said Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings. “I believe this campaign will reach individuals who are prepared to travel to a well-prepared destination for much-needed recreation.” Before the start of the pandemic almost a year ago, Orlando was the most visited tourist destination in the U.S., attracting 75 million visitors in 2018.
Atlanta: State lawmakers approved their changes to the current year’s budget Thursday, including more money for K-12 schools and public health, along with $1,000 bonuses for more than 50,000 state employees. The House and Senate agreed to the changes by overwhelming votes, sending the bill to Gov. Brian Kemp. A spokesperson said he would sign it. The measure spends $26.6 billion in state funds and $15.6 billion more in federal money in the current year ending June 30. Lawmakers agreed with Gov. Brian Kemp’s plan to restore $567 million to the state’s K-12 school funding formula, which was cut by $950 million last year when lawmakers feared a steeper drop in revenue. Overall, lawmakers cut $2.2 billion last June, or about 10% across the board. Kemp and legislative leaders have also announced a plan to pay $1,000 bonuses to state employees making less than $80,000 yearly. House Appropriations Committee Chairman Terry England, R-Auburn, told House members Thursday that “simple words” are not enough to thank employees for their work during the coronavirus pandemic. “The savings we were able to capture there are the dollars we have put back in to say thank you to our state employees,” England said.
Honolulu: A statewide moratorium on residential evictions is expected to be extended for another two months in a coronavirus emergency proclamation from the governor. Democratic Gov. David Ige also said federal stimulus funds will extend rental assistance to include utility financial aid that could help renters for up to a year, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reports. There are no plans to provide rent relief for commercial properties, a situation Ige said was challenging. He noted difficulty in trying establish moratoriums on evictions by owners of commercial properties “without unfairly advantaging one side.” Instead, Ige said he supports ongoing efforts to provide direct financial help to small businesses. The state Council on Revenues forecast an additional $300 million increase in revenue this year and is projecting an additional $2 billion over the next seven years, leading to a significant impact on the state’s financial planning, Ige said. An improved economy means previously announced 10% budget reductions across the state will fall to 2.5% for the state Department of Education, restoring $123 million to classrooms, he said.
Boise: Legislation taking aim at limits on how many people can gather during the coronavirus pandemic cleared the state House on Wednesday, but it doesn’t appear likely to have any force. The House voted 55-15 to approve the measure triggered by lawmaker anger over restrictions on crowd sizes that the Idaho High School Activities Association set for the girls’ state basketball tournament this month. The association has limited the event to 1,800 fans in the 11,000-capacity Ford Idaho Center in Nampa, saying it’s intended to keep kids safe. Officials also said some schools wouldn’t send teams to participate if they felt kids were at risk because of the pandemic. The legislation targets Republican Gov. Brad Little’s health order last week that raised the limits on gatherings from 10 to 50. The resolution says the 50-person limit is “declared null, void, and of no force and effect.” However, the governor’s health order recommends, but doesn’t require, a 50-person limit, and there is no penalty for exceeding 50 people. Also, the Ford Idaho Center is owned by the city of Nampa, which has no size limits on crowds. Neither does Canyon County, where Nampa is located.
Quincy: Residents under 65 years old with preexisting medical conditions will be eligible to receive vaccination to protect them against COVID-19, Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Wednesday. The Phase 1B distribution plan opening Feb. 25 will follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for vaccinating pregnant women and people with diabetes, heart disease, cancer, sickle cell disease and other conditions. “Many of these people may already be eligible because they’re 65 and over or they’re in a covered profession, but those who are under 65 and live with comorbidities have an elevated risk of serious complications or even death if they contract COVID-19,” Pritzker said during a tour of a vaccination site in Quincy. The Pritzker administration said the expansion is possible due to increased federal vaccine shipments to the state. Pritzker said Illinois is making progress in adding more vaccination sites, with 517 vaccination locations established statewide. However, he conceded making an appointment requires patience because the state hasn’t received enough vaccines to provide for everyone who is eligible in Phase 1B.
Indianapolis: Gov. Eric Holcomb 6, the same day the state reported its first coronavirus case. He cited a state law that allowed him to declare a disaster emergency in 30-day increments. Religious services were ordered to switch online or limit services to 10 people at the beginning of the pandemic, before he reopened places of worship in May. “I want to make sure whatever changes we make are constitutional, and I think we all share that, but we’re coming from a lot of different angles,” Holcomb said. He twice said he wouldn’t go into specific line items and whether he agreed or disagreed with them, and he said the lawmakers still have the second half of the session to go.in response to an Indiana House vote this week to limit his emergency powers. At his weekly COVID-19 update Wednesday, Holcomb said he makes sure “anything” he mandates “passes constitutional muster,” after being asked his thoughts on the House vote to ban him from placing restrictions on in-person worship and allowing the General Assembly to decide whether to convene during an emergency. Holcomb declared a public health emergency March
Des Moines: The Catholic Church billion through the forgivable loan program, even as many dioceses remained financially healthy. In Iowa, the church’s total was more than $50 million, including more than $40 million for the components for the four Catholic dioceses and $8.7 million more that went to four Catholic colleges controlled by other church entities. Those state and national totals appear to make a church with thousands of employees in Iowa alone the largest beneficiary both statewide and nationally of a program intended to help companies with fewer than 500 employees pay workers as the COVID-19 pandemic raged last summer. Church officials said the aid was necessary to prevent layoffs. Catholic officials lobbied the Trump administration to free religious organizations from the so-called affiliation rule that typically disqualifies applicants with more than 500 workers from being treated as a small business., a review of the program by the Des Moines Register shows. The finding comes as a new investigation by the Associated Press shows that the U.S. arm of the church received at least $3
Mission: School districts are rushing to vaccinate their teachers in preparation for an eventual return to a full reopening of classrooms and before a more contagious strain of the coronavirus can spread throughout the state. Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly told leaders of the Republican-controlled Legislature on Wednesday that about 60% of the state’s school districts have started vaccinating their teachers and staff. She met with top lawmakers a day after the state Department of Education recommended that school districts allow middle and high school students resume full-time in-person instruction if precautions are taken. Several of the state’s largest districts have been offering in-person classes only part time or teaching students only online. “The more we can get the vaccines in the arms of the folks who are teaching and taking care of our kids in our school buildings and day care centers, the more likely we will be able to bring them back safely and let them continue in person,” Kelly told legislative leaders. The state is inoculating teachers as part of its second round of vaccinations, which also extended eligibility to people ages 65 and older, prisoners, and essential workers such as law enforcement officers.
Louisville: A bill thatwon approval by a Senate committee Wednesday despite one member’s concerns that it could cause problems in a future disaster or disease outbreak. The legislation sponsored by Sen. Danny Carroll, R-Paducah, drew praise from child advocates because it streamlines the process for certifying and regulating family child care homes, where up to six children may receive care in a private residence. Kentucky Youth Advocates called it “an important first step for families seeking child care.” But a separate provision, reducing to 30 days the time the state could limit child care class sizes, drew objections from Sen. Karen Berg, D-Louisville, a physician who said she was concerned about restrictions in the next “epidemic or pandemic.” Kelli Rodman, director of legislative affairs for the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, said her agency also opposes that provision. The restrictions on class sizes, part of COVID-19 emergency rules, have been a sore point for many child care providers because they require additional staffing and space at at time when many are struggling with other pandemic rules.
New Orleans: Hospitality industry workers who will lose income because of a bar shutdown and other coronavirus restrictions in the French Quarter can apply for five days of part-time work with the city, the mayor’s office said Wednesday. Bars are being shut down throughout the city Friday, the beginning of what is usually a raucous Mardi Gras weekend. And there will be limits on automobile and pedestrian traffic in the French Quarter, where bars usually cater to shoulder-to-shoulder crowds. In a $100,000 program, the city is offering up to 200 displaced workers jobs that officials say may include trash and litter pickup and mask distribution, according to a news release from Mayor LaToya Cantrell’s administration. Workers selected can earn up to $100 a day for five hours of work a day Friday through Tuesday. Affected workersand will need documentation including a state identification card and a paycheck stub.
Portland: A county commissioner is continuing a campaign to stop the enforcement of the state’s mandatory mask order, despite rulings by the state’s highest court that the orders are legal. Androscoggin County Commissioner Isaiah Lary, a Republican, is involved in a spat with state officials over mask rules. He proposed a resolution Wednesday stating that no county official can enforce masking orders in the county, which is home to Lewiston, the state’s second-largest city. Lary also wants the county administrator to ask the Maine Supreme Judicial Court for a declaration that the orders are unconstitutional, the Sun Journal reports. Maine Attorney General Aaron Frey has already told the county that the state’s masking orders are constitutional. Frey sent a letter to commissioners last week saying that “counties, municipalities and other political subdivisions have no authority to exempt themselves from executive orders, and any effort to do so would be of no legal effect,” the Sun Journal reports. The Androscoggin County Commission could vote on Lary’s proposed resolution at a Feb. 17 meeting. Lary is one of three commissioners facing a potential recall vote over their opposition to masking orders.
Bel Air: Harford County wants the state to use Ripken Stadium in Aberdeen as a mass COVID-19 vaccination site, noting that doses are being held back in the jurisdiction after large-scale vaccination sites opened in Baltimore City and Prince George’s County. A letter from Harford County officials to the acting secretary of health said the stadium’s proximity to Interstate 95 and Route 40 would allow Marylanders easy access to the site, The Baltimore Sun reports. County Health Officer David Bishai said more than 40,000 county residents are preregistered to receive the vaccine. But Bishai told the county council Tuesday that because of the limited supply of first doses, Harford is giving about 200 first doses a day. Ripken Stadium, used for a mass testing clinic in August, has a large parking lot and refrigeration but no ultra-cold refrigerators needed to store Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine. Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford said in a video meeting Wednesday that additional mass vaccination sites are in the works for M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore and in southern Maryland, western Maryland and on the Eastern Shore. Northern Maryland and Harford County specifically weren’t mentioned.
Boston: The state is opening two additional mass vaccination sites this month, in Natick and Dartmouth, Gov. Charlie Baker said Wednesday. The announcement came as 74,000 appointments were scheduled to be posted online for mass vaccination sites and pharmacies at locations statewide Thursday. An additional 30,000 appointments will be posted over the course of the week at pharmacies, for a total of more than 100,000 new appointments this week. The Natick location will open Feb. 22 at the Natick Mall and will begin administering 500 doses per day, accelerating over the course of several weeks to 3,000 doses daily. The Dartmouth location is scheduled to open Feb. 24 at Circuit City. It will begin administering 500 doses per day, increasing over several weeks to more than 2,000 daily. Also beginning Thursday at mass vaccination sites, caregivers who are accompanying a person 75 or older may schedule their own vaccination at the same time and location. Only one caregiver is permitted to schedule an appointment with the older resident. Caregivers may receive their first dose even if the older resident is receiving their second dose.
Lansing: Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Thursday proposed a $67 billion state budget that she said would aid Michigan’s pandemic recovery by solidifying new programs to expand eligibility for free community college tuition, bolstering child care assistance and boosting local bridge repairs. The Democratic governor’s spending blueprint also calls for $570 million to address learning loss and K-12 enrollment declines on top of a $162-per-student, or 2%, increase in base aid for most traditional districts in the next fiscal year. Better-funded districts would get $82 more per student, roughly 1%. More immediate coronavirus-related needs, such as vaccine distribution, would be funded with multibillion-dollar supplemental spending bills – primarily through the release of federal COVID-19 relief aid that Whitmer has been urging lawmakers to pass soon. She said she focused on three priorities: economic reengagement that “drives everything,” a return to in-person instruction at schools and vaccine dissemination. She wants to double spending on Futures for Frontliners, which covers community college tuition for essential workers who worked in the early months of the pandemic, to include those who lost their jobs when her administration reinstated business restrictions to curb surging infections in the late fall.
Minneapolis: State officials on Wednesday unveiled their plan to deal with toxic man-made “forever chemicals” that are polluting Minnesota’s waters and causing growing concerns about potential health risks. The pharmaceuticals, microplastics and synthetic chemicals are known collectively as PFAS and are used in a variety of consumer products because of their durability and resistance to heat and water. An increasing number of scientists have linked some PFAS to negative health effects in humans, such as low birth weight, thyroid and kidney problems, and some cancers. “These forever chemicals are everywhere,” Minnesota Pollution Control Agency Commissioner Laura Bishop said in a Zoom meeting that included leaders from other state agencies, lawmakers and environmental activists. “And new PFAS are being invented, used in industry and incorporated into commercial products, and released into the environment every day.” The Minnesota PFAS Blueprint calls for the state to enact stronger regulations, including designating more than 5,000 different chemicals as hazardous substances under Minnesota’s Superfund law.
Jackson: The state . A temporary courtroom will be set up in the Woolfolk State Office Building across the street from the state Capitol. The announcement was made by Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann and Mississippi Supreme Court Chief Justice Mike Randolph during a Wednesday press conference. The backlog in the court system has been driven by a historic rise in violent crime in Jackson amid the COVID-19 pandemic. There were more than 125 homicides reported in Jackson alone in 2020. There are currently thousands of backlogged cases in Hinds County, Randolph said during the briefing. According to the Ledger, Hosemann said even among cases in which an individual has been indicted by a grand jury, there are hundreds that haven’t made it to trial. The backlog has kept those cases from making it to court.
Jefferson City: State lawmakers are considering several bills that would allow Missourians to keep unemployment benefits they were given if they did not intentionally commit fraud. The House Special Committee on Government Oversight on Wednesday heard seven proposals on the issue. The committee chairman said the bills will be combined into one proposal, and the committee will likely vote on it early next week. The discussion comes after Gov. Mike Parson has said people should “most certainly” be required to return payments they mistakenly received. Most of the proposals focused on unemployment funds from the federal government because national stimulus packages allow states to waive repayment. Lawmakers said 75%-80% of the overpayments are federal funds. No committee members or witnesses objected to the idea, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. Several options were discussed on how to recoup the 20%-25% of the payments that are from state funds. One bill would prohibit the state from collecting the funds, while other committee members suggested the state could cover the cost of repayment or use federal coronavirus relief money to reduce the economic loss for the state.
Helena: Saying he will lift a statewide mask requirement this week, Gov. Greg Gianforte signed a bill Wednesday intended to protect businesses and health care providers from coronavirus-related lawsuits. Gianforte said the new law will allow businesses to open safely during the pandemic. He also said enough vulnerable Montana residents have received COVID-19 vaccinations to allow the lifting Friday of the mask mandate put in place in July by his Democratic predecessor, Steve Bullock. Still, Gianforte said he would continue to wear a mask for the time being and encouraged others to do so. Local jurisdictions will still be permitted to implement mask mandates after the statewide rule is lifted. As of Wednesday, more than 41,000 Montana residents – representing just under 4% of the population – had received both doses of a vaccine. The state is still in the midst of the second phase of vaccinations, with doses available only to people 70 or older, those with severe underlying medical conditions, and people of color who are at greater risk if they contract the virus. Gianforte’s announcement came as U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky warned against lifting broad mask requirements.
Omaha: The state should see at least 43 retail pharmacies participating in a new federal program to help provide COVID-19 vaccinations, although state officials don’t have a good way to communicate with all of them to avoid mistakes, Gov. Pete Ricketts said Wednesday. Ricketts said he’s grateful for the additional 5,700 doses Nebraska will get through the federal program but voiced concerns about how all the different businesses will coordinate with the state’s efforts. He said the federal program didn’t include a clear way for states and the retailers to ensure they’re on the same page. “This is an area we do have concerns about,” Ricketts, a Republican, said at a news conference to discuss the state’s pandemic response. The coordination is critical to ensure “good information is going back and forth between those pharmacies and the state so that we can keep track of who’s been vaccinated.” Retailers participating in the program include Walmart and independent pharmacies throughout the state. Walmart announced Tuesday that it will start vaccinations Friday at more than a dozen of its Nebraska stores, all in smaller cities outside Omaha, Lincoln and Grand Island.
Las Vegas: Distance runners will cover a shorter course when the Rock ’n’ Roll race series returns to the Las Vegas Strip in a year, tourism and event officials said Tuesday. The marathon was cut to a half-marathon under a three-year, $450,000 agreement approved by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority board. Elizabeth O’Brien, managing director of North America for Rock ’n’ Roll, called it a next chapter for the event. She said a three-day health and fitness expo will be held ahead of the half-marathon, now set for Feb. 27, 2022. The contract through hometown Las Vegas Events also includes Rock ’n’ Roll Las Vegas races in 2023 and 2024. The event traces its origin to a marathon run since 1967 in and around Las Vegas. It moved to the Las Vegas Strip in 2005 and became a Rock ’n’ Roll series race in 2009, featuring music and entertainment along the course. Held in November in recent years, it has attracted tens of thousands of runners annually for fun-run, 5-kilometer, 10-kilometer, 13.1-mile and 26.2-mile distances. The unusual nighttime race begins and ends on the neon-lit Las Vegas Strip and includes the downtown Fremont Street Experience casino mall. Races in 2020 and 2021 were canceled due to the pandemic.
Concord: With coronavirus case counts on the decline and fewer hospitalizations in the state, the governor’s reopening task force on Thursday looked ahead to summer and recommended updated guidance for camp operators that includes keeping children in small groups and more preparation for arrivals and pickups. Gov. Chris Sununu would need to approve the task force’s recommendations, which also include lifting some restrictions for restaurants and bars on the use of pool and billiard tables, dartboards and karaoke. The group also plans to include new members from industries that have been hit particularly hard, such as performing arts and outdoor entertainment venues, and the wedding industry. Regarding camps, staff working at overnight camps would quarantine on site for 10 days. Campers attending from outside New England would self-quarantine at home or in New Hampshire before arriving at camp. Staff and children also would undergo virus tests seven days before they arrive, when they get to camp, and then about five to seven days later. Only four of the state’s 95 overnight summer camps opened last summer because of the pandemic.
Trenton: The state’s COVID-19 vaccine call center 25, has been inundated with hundreds of thousands of callers, only 50,000 of whom have gotten through to an operator. Many callers are seniors seeking appointments after not being able to obtain one on various state and private online portals. Demand skyrocketed in mid-January when Gov. Phil Murphy opened eligibility to more than 4 million New Jerseyans including those 65 and older, those with underlying conditions and smokers. The state has only been receiving about 200,000 doses a week.such as double-booking patients, state officials said Wednesday. Since the call center opened two weeks ago, only 600 appointments had been booked by early this week despite the center being inundated with hundreds of thousands of callers. The 250 agents who operate the phone line – 855-568-0545 – will have more training on using the state’s appointment system, Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli said at Wednesday’s briefing. “We found that it is not as easy as we thought it would be,” she said. The center, which opened Jan.
Santa Fe: State officials on Wednesday said they would be ending mandatory self-quarantine requirements for visitors and residents arriving in the state, as more counties have reported less spread of the coronavirus over the past two weeks. More than half of the state’s 33 counties have emerged from strict lockdown – earning favorable yellow and green ratings on a color-coded map – as test positivity rates decline. That opens permission for limited indoor dining at restaurants, though movie theaters, bars and contact recreational facilities remain closed statewide. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham sounded an optimistic note about progress against COVID-19 during an online news conference, noting that average daily deaths, infections and hospitalizations were declining. “Today is a day to really feel good about the collective efforts of the state,” Lujan Grisham said. She acknowledged a one-day surge in virus-related deaths with 31 on Wednesday. Health officials also confirmed that the state’s allotment of vaccine doses from the federal government will increase next week to about 61,000, a more than 8% increase from last week.
Albany: Large arenas and stadiums can soon reopen for sports and entertainment at 10% of their normal capacity under a plan announced by Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday, despite concern from public health experts about still-high rates of coronavirus infections and the threat of more contagious variants. Cuomo said major stadiums and arenas with a capacity of 10,000 people or more can reopen with limited spectators starting Feb. 23. The Barclays Center, which has about 17,700 seats for basketball games, has already received state approval to reopen Feb. 23 for the Brooklyn Nets’ home game against the Sacramento Kings. And the New York Knicks and New York Rangers said they plan to host about 2,000 fans at every game, starting with Feb. 23 and Feb. 26 games at Madison Square Garden. A New York Yankees spokesperson called Cuomo’s announcement an “encouraging first step.” But CUNY School of Public Health epidemiology professor Denis Nash said the state’s approach lacks a scientific basis when “community prevalence is very high.” He and other public health experts pointed to evidence that COVID-19 spreads more easily indoors and to the risk of people sitting near others who may be cheering or taking masks off while eating.
Raleigh: Gov. Roy Cooper announced Wednesday afternoon that educators and support staff will be eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine starting Feb. 24 as part of a staggered rollout of the state’s next phase of distribution. The Democratic governor estimated about 240,000 people would become eligible in two weeks. The group includes child care workers, pre-K to 12th grade principals and teachers at public, private and charter schools, and support staff, such as janitors, bus drivers and cafeteria workers. “Moving to the next phase is good news. The challenge continues to be the very limited supply of the vaccine,” Cooper said. Other groups the state considers “front-line essential workers” will start becoming eligible March 10, though public health officials are still evaluating whether it will prioritize certain subgroups within that population. That group includes manufacturing workers, grocery store clerks, college and university instructors and support staff, farmers, restaurant workers, mail carriers, court workers, elected officials, homeless shelter staff, public health workers, social workers, firefighters, EMS personnel, police officers, public transit workers and several others.
Bismarck: The number of COVID-19 vaccine doses being delivered to North Dakota is increasing. The state will receive a 5% increase in vaccine doses allocated, according to Gov. Doug Burgum. North Dakota will receive 7,500 doses next week, up from 6,900 this week. Also, Thrifty White pharmacies in the state will be getting the vaccine starting this week as part of the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program, the Bismarck Tribune reports. The state’s immunization program manager, Molly Howell, said 16 of the 30 Thrifty White locations in North Dakota have registered to receive the vaccine. According to the company’s vaccination registration website, its pharmacies are inoculating people 65 and older. North Dakotans who want to be vaccinated may need to go somewhere besides their traditional health care provider, Howell said. Pharmacies, local public health departments and private health care providers all are offering vaccines. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, North Dakota’s rate of vaccine doses administered remains among the highest in the country, No. 3, at 17,030 people per 100,000 population.
Columbus: The discovery of as many as 4,000 unreported COVID-19 deaths came as the Health Department reconciled an internal death certificate database with a federal database, the state auditor’s office said Thursday. Republican Auditor Keith Faber has been auditing Health Department coronavirus death data since September. But the agency didn’t have access to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s infectious diseases database because of federal health privacy laws, said Matt Eiselstein, Faber’s communications director. “We were never able to make that reconciliation ourselves to come up with those figures,” Eiselstein said. The final audit is expected next month. The Ohio Department of Health said those deaths will now be added to the state’s tally of deaths from the coronavirus during the coming week. Thursday’s coronavirus death toll showed more than 720 deaths, of which 650 come from previously unreported deaths, Gov. Mike DeWine said. “We hope, we believe, that is going to put us back from the track where we actually are,” DeWine said. The Health Department said that “process issues affecting the reconciliation and reporting of these deaths” began in October, with most occurring in November and December.
Oklahoma City: The first bill signed into law by Gov. Kevin Stitt during the current legislative session allows public bodies to continue meeting virtually as a coronavirus safety precaution. The law signed Wednesday allows public bodies to meet virtually through February 2022 or until the expiration of the governor’s executive emergency order on COVID-19, whichever comes first. “We’ve all heard from constituents, state agencies, local school boards and other public bodies requesting this, and I’m pleased we were able to deliver so quickly,” Stitt said in a statement. The bill by Senate President Pro Tem Greg Treat was passed by the state Senate on Feb. 3 and by the House five days later. “With the signing of this bill, public entities can continue to meet and do so safely until the pandemic is behind us, and the people of Oklahoma maintain access to public meetings at all levels through virtual meetings,” Treat said. Lawmakers last year allowed for virtual meetings, but those provisions expired in November. Rather than convene in a special session, Republican legislative leaders agreed to address the issue at the start of the session.
Portland: The week after Christmas, with coronavirus case numbers and hospitalizations soaring, morale was low at Oregon Health & Science University, the state’s largest hospital. Doctors and nurses caring for the most critically ill were burning out just when they were needed the most. Then, the food started coming: hot, delicious, individually wrapped meals from some of the city’s trendiest restaurants, a buffet of cuisines from Chinese to Italian to Lebanese to Southern comfort food. For staffers who only took off their N95 masks once to eat during a 12-hour shift, the meals were more than just food – they were emotional sustenance. “It’s almost like having a weight lifted. It’s like getting a surprise dozen roses or something,” nurse Alice Clark said. “We’re so grateful.” But the meals, paid for by a wellness grant from the Oregon-based insurance fund SAIF, also served another purpose: They kept struggling restaurants afloat. “It’s kept the doors open and a small workforce employed. It’s been the most heartfelt catering we’ve ever done,” said Kiauna Floyd, third-generation owner of Amalfi’s, a Portland institution that’s been serving up Italian cuisine for 62 years. For now, though, meal deliveries to OHSU have dried up with the grant funding, and the program ended Jan. 19. Leaders are hoping for a new funding source to get meals running again soon.
Beaver: In the first six weeks of vaccine distribution in Pennsylvania, residents in a handful of counties million people. Removing Philadelphia County from the equation – it receives its vaccine doses directly from the federal government rather than the state – those three counties comprise 21.5% of Pennsylvania’s population. The state uses a formula to determine how to allocate vaccine among counties and providers based on the previous allocation of vaccine, the amount on hand for distribution, the amount administrated, the population, the amount of the population 65 and older, the percent positivity for coronavirus tests and the death rate.. An analysis of state data found that four rural counties didn’t receive any doses in the first six weeks of the bungled rollout, and the majority of doses were sent to health care systems that focused solely on inoculating employees. More than a third of vaccine doses sent out through late January went to three counties: Allegheny, Lehigh and Montgomery, which together are home to 2.4
Pawtucket: The city’s school district, which had largely resisted pressure to bring students back to the classroom, has approved a plan to resume in-person learning for most children. The plan approved Tuesday night by the Pawtucket School Committee calls for bringing back elementary school students March 1, middle school students March 15 and high school students on a hybrid schedule March 29. Only preschoolers, kindergartners and students in special populations had been approved for school in person. The school committee was under pressure from many parents, who rallied last weekend in support of in-person learning. The teachers’ union, which had previously been opposed to in-person instruction, said it now supports in-person learning for elementary students but not high school students.
Greer: While many people grapple with whether to wear two face masks or one, the operator ofsays one will do. “You don’t have to do that, doubling of a mask,” said Rick Gehricke, chief operating officer of Carolina Facemask and PPE. “If you have a mask certified to international standards, you don’t have to.” Carolina Face Mask & PPE was born more than a year ago from a Greer company founded in 1999 called Advanced Testing Instruments Corp., headed by Tim Ziegenfus. The business provides advanced testing of products in the textile, chemical, plastic, automotive, aerospace, paper, military, medial, foam and packaging industries. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit last March, the company ramped up production of three-ply, Level 1 PPE face masks, and business took off. Spokesperson Katlyn Searcy said with the recent surge in coronavirus cases, many people still don’t realize a small business in Greer is doing its part to fight the pandemic. “People are starting to ask more questions about masks and their effectiveness,” Searcy said. “There are also concerns of more PPE shortages as the curve is trending up again.”
Pierre: Lawmakers million to help the South Dakota State Fair construct a new multipurpose livestock and equestrian facility at the fairgrounds in Huron, House Speaker Spencer Gosch wants to use the opportunity to honor his late friend and colleague’s legacy. “His life was basically servitude to his community, and it shouldn’t go unnoticed,” he said after pitching his plan to state appropriators Tuesday afternoon. Gosch called the situation “fast moving” and said it’s not known what a Glanzer memorial might look like. It could be anything from a sculpture or a plaque to naming the Dakota Events Complex, as the governor has been referring to the project, after him, he said.. The late Bob Glanzer died in April while still serving as a member of the state House of Representatives after a short battle with coronavirus. Representing District 22, Glanzer was known as “Mr. Huron” for his community involvement in his hometown over his 74 years and a well-respected legislator among not just his fellow Republicans but Democrats as well. And with Gov. Kristi Noem’s pushing legislators to sign off on her plan to set aside $12
Knoxville: Public health officials announced Wednesday that 975 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine that went missing were likely thrown out by accident. Knox County said the state’s Department of Health confirmed the doses were shipped to the region last week, but local officials said they have no record of receiving them. Knox County Health Department Director Dr. Martha Buchanan said that based on GPS data, she believes the box containing the doses was probably discarded by someone who thought they were throwing out dry ice. Due to security reasons, vaccine doses are shipped without any readily identifiable information attached. “It was a kick in the gut for all of us,” Buchanan said through tears. “I apologize. Vaccinating our community is very important to us.” County officials have asked for a state investigation even though Buchanan said there was no indication of foul play. A key question remains why the GPS and temperature monitors attached to the Moderna vaccines did not work, Buchanan said. “Why were we the ones who found this out?” she asked.
Austwell: The coronavirus pandemic has canceled this year’s flights to count the only natural flock of whooping cranes – the first time in 71 years that crews in Texas couldn’t make an aerial survey of the world’s rarest cranes. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has records of such surveys for every year starting in 1950, Wade Harrell, whooping crane recovery coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said in an email Wednesday. The flock breeds in Canada and winters on and around Aransas National Wildlife Refuge in Texas, where the survey is made. Current protocols call for about six flights, each with a pilot and at least two observers – often coming from different parts of the country – in the close quarters of a small plane, Harrell said. “We decided to forgo the aerial survey this winter with COVID-19 cases currently spiking,” he said in a news release. At 5 feet high from their black feet to the little red caps on their heads, whooping cranes are the tallest birds in North America, and their wingspan, at more than 7 feet, is wider than a full-size pickup truck. They mate for life. Only about 825 exist – most of them in the natural flock, which is also the only one that doesn’t need human help to keep its numbers up. Habitat loss and hunting had cut that flock to 15 in 1941.
Panguitch: Just off this small city’s main road is a small, unassuming building that houses the local office for the Southwest Utah Public Health Department. On a clear, chilly day in early January, dozens of Garfield County residents crowded around the entrance waiting to get the COVID-19 vaccine. The people in line ranged from young to old – teachers to first responders. In the back, Robin McMullin, a supervisor with the health department, was laser-focused as she filled up syringes with the Moderna vaccine. “I feel like it’s liquid gold. I seriously do,” McMullin told KUER-FM. “I don’t want to waste one drop of it.” Garfield County, with just over 5,000 people, has seen nearly 400 cases of COVID-19 – more than one in every dozen people have had the disease. Sheriff Danny Perkins said the spread of the coronavirus really picked up this fall at the county jail. About two thirds of the inmates got it, though there weren’t any serious cases among the prisoners. “But it got out in our staff, and it was devastating,” Perkins said. “There were days that I was ten people down, and when you take ten officers off of an office my size, that’s huge.” As of Feb. 2, nine people in Garfield County had died of COVID-19, making it second in the state for deaths per capita. The community has missed out on big life moments like funerals as well as more casual moments, like getting together at high school basketball games. “It’s a social gathering to get caught up on all the gossip to see how everybody’s doing,” Perkins said. “And it’s been taken away because of this disease.”
Burlington: The city has a helpline for seniors who don’t have access to technology or transportation to get the COVID-19 vaccine. The state is now in its third week of immunizing Vermonters 75 and older. The nonprofit Age Well VT is working with the city to help seniors register for an appointment to get their first dose or to get an at-home vaccination, if necessary, WCAX-TV reports. One of the biggest concerns is getting home-bound Vermonters vaccinated, city leaders said. “It may seem to some of us like this information is everywhere, but we know we have not reached all seniors. Even in this very high-risk population, there are still significant number of those who have not yet signed up,” Mayor Miro Weinberger said Wednesday. Black Vermonters also are a large part of the age group who have not been vaccinated. Burlington’s Trusted Community Voices Program is working with the Association of Africans Living in Vermont and other groups to help educate and encourage more people of color to get their first dose, the station reports.
Newport News: Christopher Newport University is in the middle of its largest wave of coronavirus cases this school year, and one official put the blame on students not following rules instead of the return to in-person classes. As of Wednesday, 129 students and six employees at Christopher Newport had active cases, The Virginian-Pilot reports. On average, 171 students were in quarantine each day last week, or about 3.5% of the student body. In a letter to students and employees Monday, Kevin Hughes, vice president for student affairs, blamed the rising numbers on students. “What is happening on our campus right now is a stark reminder that individual behavior can have a profound and lasting impact,” Hughes wrote. “When you socialize with little concern, and in some cases reckless disregard, for who it hurts, everybody is impacted.” Some students said the message was condescending and want to see the university take more concrete actions to limit gatherings. Most colleges across the state have dozens or hundreds of active cases. More than 20% of cadets at the Virginia Military Institute are in isolation or quarantine. At William & Mary, cases are also rising sharply, with 79 reported this semester through Tuesday, surpassing last semester’s total in the span of a few weeks.
Olympia: The state Supreme Court has unanimously rejected a recall effort against the Thurston County sheriff, saying his announcement that he would not criminally enforce the Health Department’s COVID-19 mask mandate was not unreasonable. Resident Arthur West sought to recall Sheriff John Snaza, alleging that Snaza’s news release last June saying his office would not engage in criminal enforcement of the mandate interfered with a lawful order, and a trial court agreed. But the justices overturned that decision Thursday. The Health Department’s order requiring masks in any public setting said violators “may” be subject to criminal penalties. That language gave Snaza discretion in how to enforce the mandate, the court said. The decision noted that Snaza did not generally undermine the mandate: He said his office would continue to work with health officials to educate the public, and he encouraged people to take safety precautions such as wearing masks. Not directly citing or arresting people was reasonable because doing so could risk transmission of the virus, the justices said. They contrasted Snaza’s actions with those of Snohomish County Sheriff Adam Fortney, against whom the court is allowing a recall petition to proceed. Fortney said he had “no intention of carrying out enforcement for a stay-at-home directive” and encouraged business owners to remain open, in violation of the state’s directions.
Charleston: Three events for youth in the state have been canceled for the second consecutive year due to the coronavirus pandemic, officials said. The Make It Shine Earth Day Celebration, West Virginia Youth Environmental Day and state Junior Conservation Camp have all been canceled, the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection said in a news release. The events were also canceled in 2020 because of COVID-19 restrictions. The Earth Day Celebration is usually held in late April in Charleston, drawing hundreds of grade school-age children for hands-on environmental education, the release said. Youth Environmental Day had been set for May 15 in Ritchie County. Young people are recognized during the event for projects that benefit the environment and their communities. The projects will still be judged and winners recognized. Junior Conservation Camp was scheduled for June 21-25 at Cedar Lakes in Ripley. Nearly 200 campers ages 11 to 14 usually participate.
Madison: The Legislature’s Republican-controlled budget committee approved a bill Wednesday that would cut taxes by $540 million by the middle of 2023, largely by eliminating taxes on federal loans to businesses to help them through the pandemic. The full Legislature could vote to pass it as soon as Tuesday. Democrats on the budget committee argued that the bill cost too much and was another handout to businesses that took the loans but still flourished during the pandemic. “We’re punching a big hole in the budget,” Rep. Evan Goyke said. “We can direct our relief in a more targeted, more efficient manner.” Republicans countered that the bill brings state tax code in line with federal code. “This isn’t everyone’s dream tax bill,” said Rep. Mark Born, a committee co-chair. “This bill matches federal law. Of course it’s not perfect.” Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat, would have to sign the bill for the tax cut to take effect. Asked whether Evers would veto the measure, his spokeswoman, Britt Cudaback, responded with a statement from the governor saying he would keep doing everything he can to support small businesses during the pandemic.
Casper: The Coal Creek coal mine says it will shut down, making it the second mine in the Powder River Basin to announce this year that it’s closing. St. Louis, Missouri-based Arch Resources Inc., owner of the Wyoming mine, made the announcement Tuesday as the company transitions away from thermal coal generation toward coking coal, a type of coal used to make steel and other products, the Casper Star-Tribune reports. Arch Resources said it plans to wind down operations at the mine near Gillette and begin cleaning up the site over the next two years. The company said it lost $78.5 million in the final quarter of last year. The Coal Creek mine produced about 2 million tons of its lower heat value coal last year, 73% less than in 2018. The mines in the Powder River Basin produce about 40% of the nation’s coal, but production has declined in part because of a push for natural gas and renewable energy. Montana’s Decker coal mine, also in the Powder River Basin, closed last month. Production losses from coal companies have led to rising unemployment and worsening state revenue shortfalls. The coronavirus pandemic also lowered demand for coal.
From USA TODAY Network and wire reports
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY:
See how Louisiana pivoted to extravagant house floats for Mardi Gras .
Louisiana residents created extravagant house floats to celebrate Mardi Gras amid the coronavirus pandemic.Some residents enjoyed the celebrations by creating extravagant house floats to replace the usual parade floats, either adorning their homes themselves or hiring artists to do so.