US Food banks, passing on passports, governors’ shots: News from around our 50 states
Marjorie Taylor Greene Rebukes Vaccine Passports as 'Biden's Mark of the Beast'
The freshman congresswoman also called on Georgia to be the next U.S. state to ban vaccine passports."They are actually talking about people's ability to buy and sell linked to the vaccine passport," the Georgia Republican tweeted. "They might as well call it Biden's Mark of the Beast.
Montgomery: Following the return of students to classrooms, the Montgomery Public Schools district. In partnership with Auburn University Montgomery, 600 doses of the Pfizer vaccine will be provided to MPS employees Friday. “We are very thankful to AUM for helping us offer our employees another opportunity to be vaccinated,” Superintendent Ann Roy Moore said in a news release. “We take health and safety seriously, and it is important to us to provide our teachers and support staff access to the COVID vaccine.” The clinic, at the campus’ Wellness Center, will also provide vaccines to the general public. Patients must make an appointment ahead of time at . As of Monday, the state’s vaccine eligibility was opened to everyone 16 and older. “Throughout the pandemic, the employees of Montgomery Public Schools have demonstrated incredible dedication and resourcefulness in serving the educational needs of nearly 30,000 students,” Auburn University at Montgomery Chancellor Carl A. Stockton said in the release. “As a community-minded, partnership-oriented university, we are delighted to assist our local educators.”
Vaccine Passports Brouhaha Puzzles International Travelers Who've Needed Them for Years
According to the World Health Organization, international travelers visiting certain high-risk countries have to prove that they have been inoculated against infectious diseases such as yellow fever, rubella, cholera and poliovirus for years. After being vaccinated, travelers often receive a signed and stamped "yellow card," known as an International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis, to prove they have been vaccinated.
Bethel: Alaska tribes will receive more than $1 billion from the most recent $1.9 trillion federal coronavirus relief bill. The tribes can take as long as three years to spend these funds, unlike a similar bill that was passed in 2020, which had a shorter deadline, KYUK-AM reports. Teresa Jacobsson from the Alaska Tribal Administrators Association said tribes will have more leeway on how to spend the funds compared to previous legislation. But the government will not just give tribal members checks without a reason. “You have to show a need, which is show basic living essentials like housing and rent expenses, utilities, internet connectivity, personal cleaning and sanitation products,” Jacobsson said. “You have to tie the money to a COVID-related need.” Alaska tribes will be required to document their spending because records will be reviewed by auditors. They can spend part of the federal funds to get professional help to manage the spending, but Jacobsson said beneficiaries will have to be cognizant of consultants and contractors who have taken advantage of tribes who have received virus relief funds in the past.
Hillicon Valley: DHS chief lays out actions to boost cybersecurity after major hacks | Facebook removes video of Trump citing suspension from platform | Battle rages over vaccine passports
Welcome to Hillicon Valley, The Hill's newsletter detailing all you need to know about the tech and cyber news from Capitol Hill to Silicon Valley. If you haven't already, be sure to sign up for our newsletter by clicking HERE. Welcome! Follow our cyber reporter, Maggie Miller (@magmill95), and tech team, Chris Mills Rodrigo (@chrisismills) and Rebecca Klar (@rebeccaklar_), for more coverage.Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Wednesday laid out a roadmap for federal cybersecurity while teasing an upcoming cyber executive order.
Phoenix: Gov. Doug Ducey on Monday signed legislation giving businesses, nursing homes and others a broad shield from lawsuits related to COVID-19, making Arizona the latest state to limit liability after the pandemic. Republican lawmakers approved the legislation in party-line votes in the House and Senate last week, saying businesses struggled during the pandemic and shouldn’t have to worry about the potential for frivolous lawsuits. The measure was fiercely opposed by consumer advocates and lawyers, who say it will reward bad actors who flouted health guidance and endangered their workers or the public. They say there’s been no deluge of COVID-19 lawsuits. Business and medical interest groups have pushed hard for a liability shield since the start of the pandemic. Ducey called for the measure in his State of the State address in January. The bill raises the bar for winning pandemic-related lawsuits against businesses, health care providers, nursing homes, nonprofits, governments, churches and schools. Instead of proving negligence by a preponderance of the evidence, plaintiffs would have to prove “gross negligence” or “willful misconduct” by clear and convincing evidence.
Overnight Health Care: CDC says fully vaccinated people can safely travel | Biden bemoans those acting as though COVID-19 fight over | Will vaccine passports be the biggest campaign issue of 2022?
Welcome to Friday's Overnight Health Care. A new phrase for cohorting classes to help reduce the risk of COVID-19: "The full Harry Potter" (i.e. you stay in your assigned house). Via Caitlin Rivers from Johns Hopkins on Twitter. If you have any tips, email us at email@example.com , firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com follow us on Twitter at @NateWeixel, @PeterSullivan4, and @JustineColeman8.Today: CDC says vaccinated people can travel, but isn't really encouraging anyone to right now. President Biden is urging people not to let down their guard. And Republicans are starting to move against vaccine passports.
Little Rock: Active coronavirus cases continued to decrease Monday as the state reported five new deaths from the virus. The Department of Health reported that active cases, ones that don’t include people who have died or recovered, decreased by 125 to 1,607. The state’s COVID-19 deaths now total 5,648 since the pandemic began last year. COVID-19 hospitalizations remained unchanged at 145. Overall, the state’s coronavirus cases increased by 44 to 331,098 total since the pandemic began. The department said nearly 8,800 additional COVID-19 vaccine doses were administered in the state. More than 1.2 million of the 1.8 million doses allocated to the state have been given so far. Arkansas last week expanded its vaccine eligibility to everyone 16 and older.
Sacramento: Despite promises from Gov. Gavin Newsom to build an “army” of contact tracers to contain the coronavirus, a new audit says the state mustered less than half of the number promised. But even if the staffing goals were met, it would not have been enough. The intended number of contact tracers was based on an assumption that California would average 5,000 new coronavirus infections a day. But the nation’s most populated state averaged 25,000 per day from late November to the end of December. “The sheer number of cases has overwhelmed local health jurisdictions’ contact tracing efforts,” State Auditor Elaine Howle wrote in the report released Thursday. Public health officials say one of the best ways to slow the spread of a dangerous disease is to contact infected people and retrace their steps. The goal is to identify others who have been exposed, contact them and ask them to quarantine before they can spread the virus to others. Contact tracing was central to California’s strategy early in the pandemic. The Department of Public Health estimated the state needed 31,400 contact tracers. Newsom pledged to train 10,000 state workers and deploy them to help local public health departments meet that goal. But by January, California had just 12,100 contact tracers, including 2,262 state workers.
Mississippi GOP governor pushes back on vaccine passports: 'I don't think it's a good thing to do in America'
Mississippi's Republican governor said Sunday that he doesn't support the potential use of so-called Covid-19 vaccine passports in his state, calling the credentials that could be key to a return to normalcy by the end of the year unnecessary. © Provided by CNN "I don't support vaccine passports. I don't think it's necessary and I don't think it's a good thing to do in America," Gov. Tate Reeves told CNN's Jake Tapper on "State of the Union" when asked about the possible use of the passports in Mississippi.
Denver: State health department officials said they would explore the possibility of COVID-19 vaccine passports. As of Monday, there is no statewide program for vaccine passports, the Denver Post reports. “While we are exploring what’s working in other states, anything we do will be specific to Colorado and our needs,” a spokesperson for the state Department of Public Health and Environment said in an email. “A business could not access a customer’s protected health information, such as their COVID-19 immunization status, unless that person volunteered that information.” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said last Friday that any potential vaccine passports would be primarily directed by private businesses. Vaccine passports have become a political flashpoint in the U.S. even as they have come into use in Israel and are under development in Europe. Some Republicans in the U.S. see them as heavy-handed government intrusion. Live events in Colorado have already begun to open up. Red Rocks Amphitheatre was closed for most of the past year but will reopen later this month with a 2,500-person capacity. A spokesperson for the venue said it does not plan on having concertgoers show proof of vaccination yet.
Manchester: Several school districts have been forced to close or stop in-person learning for a day, after educators attending vaccine clinics called in sick with side effects from the shots. Manchester schools reported a shortage of teachers and bus drivers Monday after a vaccine clinic for educators over the weekend. “I understand the challenges this causes for parents and families and had hoped to avoid going remote for the day,” Matt Geary, the town’s school superintendent, wrote to the community Monday. “I apologize for the inconvenience.” A similar incident caused a Colchester elementary school to close for a day last month and forced Stamford schools to delay a return to in-person learning for one day. In Region 13, which includes Durham and Middlefield, officials proactively scheduled a day off for Monday after a clinic was scheduled April 3 to give educators their second vaccine dose. “The good news is that we held one snow day in reserve for this exact scenario, so we do not need to adjust our calendar or change the graduation date,” Superintendent Doug Schuch wrote. Southington officials made a similar decision last month, giving staff a day off the Monday after a March 14 clinic.
Vaccine passports: Why proof of vaccination is so politically complicated
Many millions of Americans are now vaccinated and itching to get on with something resembling their pre-pandemic lives, but new Covid strains are afflicting younger people who have had less access to vaccines and are less likely to maintain social distance. © From oliviawitherite/Twitter Evan Manivong reached inside his uniform and pulled out a card, that at first, no one could identify. The Biden administration announced Tuesday its goal of opening vaccine eligibility to all Americans over the age of 16 by April 19.
Wilmington: In March 2020, more than a thousand cars flooded to the Chase Center as people tried to get a box of free food for their families. Many of them had lost their jobs as businesses were forced to shutter. The cars backed up onto I-95 for the Food Bank of Delaware’s first emergency food drive during the pandemic. One year later, the Food Bank of Delaware million more pounds to families compared with the same time period a year prior. “I have been here at the food bank since 2008. I was here right when the Great Recession hit, and what we have experienced over the past year cannot even compare to that,” said Kim Turner, a spokesperson for the Food Bank. Before the pandemic, Turner said there were about 121,000 food-insecure Delawareans. Now, she expects there are more than 164,000. The Food Bank was flooded with donations soon after the pandemic began, but they have leveled off since then. Turner said the community “stepped up” with food and monetary donations to help them serve as many families as they have. “We were overwhelmed with the generosity from the community. People were so generous, whether they sent $5 or $5,000,” she said. . It supplied nearly 6
District of Columbia
Washington: All D.C. residents 16 and older will become eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine April 19, . Mayor Muriel Bowser announced the eligibility expansion in a tweet Monday, a day before a White House official said President Joe Biden expects all U.S. adults to be eligible by that date. All essential workers in D.C.’s Phase 1C Tier 3 will still become eligible next Monday, according to the tweet from Bowser. Hours earlier, the mayor announced that capacity limits for entertainment venues, special events, pools, recreational activities, retail stores, libraries and museums across the district will be increased in May.
Immigrant aid, lifeguard shortage, Frontier Days: News from around our 50 states
How the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting every stateStart the day smarter. Get all the news you need in your inbox each morning.
Orlando: Gov. Ron DeSantis pushed back aggressively Tuesday against a “60 Minutes” report that suggested he initially made a deal to distribute COVID-19 vaccines at Publix Super Markets pharmacies because the company made a donation to his political action committee. The Republican governor warned of unspecified “consequences” over the report that aired Sunday night on CBS, which stood behind the story. The report focused on the vaccine rollout in Palm Beach County and also suggested Florida’s vaccine distribution had generally favored the wealthy and well-connected. “These are smear merchants,” DeSantis said during a news conference in Panama City. “They knew what they were doing was a lie.” The governor said his office had offered people to be interviewed about Florida’s vaccine rollout for the report, but the news show declined. He called the “pay-to-play” allegations in the report “lies built on lies.” CBS said in a statement that “60 Minutes” interviewed dozens of people about the story and requested interviews with DeSantis, who declined, and Florida Division of Emergency Management Director Jared Moskowitz, who declined to be interviewed on camera until after the story’s deadline.
Atlanta: The state has hit a milestone of administering more than 4 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine, Gov. Brian Kemp said Monday. The state reached the 3 million mark March 19, Kemp said. That means that more than 1 million doses of vaccine were administered in about 15 days. Kemp recently rolled back coronavirus restrictions. He signed an executive order that ends a ban on large gatherings, eliminates shelter-in-place requirements, and reduces any remaining distance requirements at restaurants, bars, and movie theaters and between people at group fitness classes. The rollback starts Thursday and runs through April 30. On Monday, Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr and the Georgia Department of Health warned that scammers have been trying to exploit the vaccine rollout, texting or emailing people asking for payments for the vaccine, scheduling an appointment or getting on the waiting list. “Scam artists are attempting to take advantage of people’s sense of urgency about getting the vaccine,” Carr said in a statement. “Remember that the vaccine is free, and hang up on any caller who asks you for money or personal information related to the vaccine.”
Florida newspaper blasts DeSantis's ban on COVID-19 passports: 'Makes no sense'
The editorial board of Florida-based newspaper The Palm Beach Post on Friday blasted Gov. Ron DeSantis's (R) executive order banning COVID-19 "vaccine passports."The editorial comes as several governors in recent weeks have taken actions to limit vaccine passports - documents that provide proof of vaccination to give people access to events with larger crowds such as weddings and parties.
Honolulu: The state’s vacation rental market has outperformed hotels in occupancy rates in every month since October. Vacation rental owners across the state have said the higher demand was prompted by pandemic-related attitude shifts that prioritize space and seclusion for getaways, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reports. Other rental home operators have said that the pandemic-induced reduction in some hotel services, such as daily housekeeping, has decreased the service gap between homes and vacation rentals, according to the newspaper. Matt Beall, the CEO of the full-service real estate brokerage Hawaii Life, said the company is enjoying its best year on record for vacation rentals. The dramatic demand increase happened as some counties attempted to regulate the industry. Longtime hotelier Jerry Gibson said regulating vacation rentals is important for state residents and to aid job recovery for hotel workers. “Vacation rental occupancy was 7 percentage points higher than hotel occupancy in 2020,” Gibson said. “The current situation is impacting job recovery for hotels. It’s also affecting resident sentiment. The general public would rather have people in the tourism zones than in their neighborhood.”
Boise: The state will receive nearly $21 million in federal funds to encourage people to get COVID-19 vaccines and to improve access among racial and ethnic minorities. The $20.7 million comes as part of the latest pandemic aid package signed into law by President Joe Biden. Alex Adams, with the Idaho Division of Financial Management, told the Idaho Statesman that the state is working with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to finalize possible ways to use the funding while meeting equity requirements. State legislators must approve the appropriations before the money can be spent. Most of the funding must go to programs designed to increase vaccine access and uptake among racial and ethnic minority groups. Much of the money is expected to go to local health departments, community organizations and health centers. Idaho didn’t start collecting race and ethnicity data on people provided COVID-19 shots until the vaccination program was well underway because state leaders incorrectly said they were not legally allowed to track those demographics. As a result, the state is missing race data from about a quarter of the people who have been vaccinated and ethnicity data from more than one-third of the total number.
Chicago: An indoor event at a bar in rural Illinois triggered 46 cases of COVID-19, the hospitalization of a resident of a long-term care facility and a school shutdown, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report released Monday. Attendees of the bar opening event in February reported “inconsistent” mask-wearing and lax physical distancing. In the end, those who tested positive for the coronavirus included three bar staff members, 26 patrons and 17 others who were infected by those who went to the bar. A 650-student school had to shut down because so many people were in quarantine, according to the CDC. The findings show that “transmission originating in a business such as a bar not only affects the patrons and employees of the bar but can also affect an entire community,” the report said. For example, one bar patron who reported a runny nose two days after the event had close contact with 26 people during in-person classes and indoor sports practice at school. Within days, two student athletes tested positive for the virus. The school closed for two weeks starting Feb. 18 because 13 school employees were in isolation or quarantine or had a child who was quarantined. The Illinois Department of Public Health confirmed Monday that the outbreak occurred in Douglas County.
Indianapolis: The state billion the CDC is distributing among 64 jurisdictions to encourage vaccination and access to vaccines for communities that COVID-19 has disproportionately affected. While Black people make up about 9.4% of Indiana’s population over the age of 16, Black residents comprise only about 5% of those who have been vaccinated, according to Indiana’s pandemic dashboard. Latino people comprise 6.2% of the state’s population and 2.4% of those who have been vaccinated. Three-quarters of the federal funding must go to support programs that encourage vaccine access and uptake among racial and ethnic minority communities, while 60% must support local health departments and community organizations.. The funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will help programs such as door-to-door outreach to raise awareness about vaccinations or help people sign up to get vaccinated. The money comes from pandemic relief funding approved by Congress. Indiana’s funding is part of $3
Ames: Iowa State University 19, ISU leaders told the campus community Tuesday. The announcement came after two weeks of significantly increased numbers of coronavirus cases being reported on campus, with total cases numbering more than double what they had in the weeks since the spring semester started Jan. 25. Mass vaccination is also “a significant step toward our goal of returning to a vibrant campus experience this fall,” according to ISU President Wendy Wintersteen and Erin Baldwin, the university’s leader of student health. The university said last month that it’s planning for classrooms in the fall to be at full capacity with students learning in person, as well as for labs, studios, residence halls, dining, student activities and campus events to return “to pre-pandemic levels.” Decisions about mask-wearing on campus are likely to be made in August., and mass vaccinations will start April
Topeka: Gov. Laura Kelly said Monday that she has no plans to have the state issue vaccine passports, which are designed to help inoculated residents travel, shop and dine out more freely. The Democratic governor also signed into law a largely symbolic measure approved by the Republican-controlled Legislature to require public schools to offer full-time, in-person classes to all students for the rest of the current semester. Almost all of the state’s 286 local school districts already have most students attending in-person classes, according to the State Department of Education. Vaccine passports verifying people’s immunizations status have become a political flashpoint in the U.S. as they’ve come into use in Israel and under development in Europe. Some Republicans in the U.S. see them as heavy-handed government intrusion. Kelly said she’s concentrating on making sure people get tested for the coronavirus and vaccinated against COVID-19. “I have no interest in vaccine passports,” she told reporters. “We will not be issuing those under my authority.” New COVID-19 cases have declined sharply in Kansas in recent months. State health department data showed an average of just 195 new cases a day for the seven days ending Monday, the lowest rolling seven-day average since late June 2020.
Lexington: U.S. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell downplayed a new infusion of federal relief for his home state’s government, questioning the need Monday as the economy looks to rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic. During a stop in Lexington, McConnell touted federal pandemic aid passed by Congress last year with bipartisan support when the GOP held the Senate and White House. The Kentucky senator was dismissive of the latest round of federal relief championed by Democratic President Joe Biden that passed recently over united opposition from congressional Republicans. State government in Kentucky is expected to eventually receive more than $2.4 billion from the newest federal package. “What we did last year was a big bonus for Kentucky on top of what it needed,” McConnell said. “This is an even bigger bonus. I’m sure they’ll love to have it. But I don’t see that they needed it.” The state’s Democratic governor, Andy Beshear, said he disagreed with the senator’s remarks. The latest round of aid will stimulate job growth and upgrade infrastructure in Kentucky, Beshear said. “It’s a question of: Do you want a long, difficult recession that hurts Kentuckians, that has more people jobless? Or do you want to invest, create jobs and sprint out of this pandemic instead of stumble?” he said at a news conference later Monday.
New Orleans: The state’s labor department sent more than $405 million in state and federal unemployment insurance benefits to people who don’t appear to have been eligible for them as the coronavirus pandemic devastated the economy, the state Legislative Auditor’s Office said in a report Monday. The report said an analysis estimates the money was paid to more than 97,500 people who were not eligible, based on their income. The analysis was done using wage reports from employers. A footnote says the amount may be higher because it does not include complete data employers submitted in August or data from self-employed or “gig” workers who don’t report wages to the department. The department in Baton Rouge, known as the Louisiana Workforce Commission, didn’t dispute the report. In a response, it said the pandemic-related surge in applicants and legislative action giving employers more time to submit wage reports affected efforts to verify the accuracy of applicants’ self-reported income. Increased benefits funded through federal legislation passed by Congress last year “greatly incentivized countless criminal enterprises and bad actors to take advantage of already overwhelmed state workforce agencies nationwide,” the department response said.
Augusta: Gov. Janet Mills, a Democrat, said Monday that the state has updated its pandemic guidelines to allow for more attendance at town meetings next month. The state had been limiting indoor town meetings to 50% of permitted occupancy or 50 people, whichever is greater. That number increases to 75% or permitted occupancy May 24, the governor’s office said. Outdoor town meetings have been limited to 75% of occupancy and will increase to 100% on May 24, the office said. Mills office’ said the rules are “based on the premise that the right to debate and vote as well as public health and safety can be protected with procedures specially designed for elections during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Annapolis: All residents 16 and up are eligible to get vaccinated at mass vaccination sites, Gov. Larry Hogan announced. That same group will be allowed to schedule appointments through all providers starting next Monday, the governor said at a news conference. Residents 16 and up represent Phase 3 of the state’s rollout plan. “Appointments for any remaining individuals in Phase 1 or Phase 2 will continue to be prioritized,” Hogan said. “And Marylanders 16 or 17 years of age will only be able to utilize clinics that are providing the Pfizer vaccine, as it is only one that is currently approved by the (Food and Drug Administration) for ages 16 and over.” Hogan underscored that not everyone 16 and over will be able to get vaccinated immediately due to insufficient supply. However, he said over the next few weeks in April and May, state officials believe they will have enough vaccines for people who want them. “And that’s why we’re trying to get an organized process,” Hogan said. “We don’t want to slow down. We want to keep ramping up.” Residents can preregister for an appointment at a mass site online at. They can also call Maryland’s COVID-19 Vaccination Support Center at 1-855-634-6829. Maryland has 12 mass vaccination sites available for preregistration, with seven more opening this month.
Boston: A sharp-eyed hospital worker is being credited with spotting a shipment of tens of thousands of counterfeit N95 surgical masks that could have potentially put the health of front-line medical workers at risk, officials said Monday. Masks and other protective equipment have been in high demand during the coronavirus pandemic, leading to shortages of many products. James “Barry” O’Shaughnessy, the manager of procurement of South Shore Health in Weymouth with 25 years of experience, recently placed an order for 30,000 masks, but when they arrived, he noticed something was awry. “The labels on the boxes were placed differently than other shipments,” O’Shaughnessy said in a statement. “And the plastic bag inside the boxes had a strange seal. My gut told me something was off.” He asked a 3M representative to help inspect the third-party masks that were not from a 3M-authorized distributor. “I sent 20-30 photos of the product to 3M and the representative confirmed my suspicion. The masks were counterfeit,” he said. The Department of Homeland Security seized the masks and is investigating.
Detroit: Gov. Gretchen Whitmer got her first COVID-19 vaccine shot Tuesday, touting it as the most effective way to protect people and to return Michigan to normalcy. The governor, 49, was vaccinated at Ford Field’s mass clinic alongside her 19-year-old daughter, Sherry, a day after eligibility expanded to everyone ages 16 and older. Whitmer urged parents to ensure their high school- and college-age kids are inoculated, too. The state is facing the country’s highest rate of new coronavirus cases in the past two weeks, which the governor – who does not plan to tighten restrictions – blames on pandemic fatigue, residents’ increased movement and more contagious variants. “I feel good. I feel relieved, to be honest,” Whitmer told reporters after receiving a dose of the Pfizer vaccine from Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the state’s chief medical executive. Khaldun said hospitals were treating roughly 3,100 adults with confirmed infections Monday, up nearly 500 from three days before. About half were under age 60. “We are all in this together, no matter your age,” she said, addressing young people in particular. “When you get vaccinated, you’re protecting yourself; you’re protecting your family; you’re protecting your entire community.”
Minneapolis: Gov. Tim Walz on Tuesday launched an outreach campaign aimed at vaccinating workers in front-line industries in the coming weeks. The outreach effort, part of a broader statewide “Roll Up Your Sleeves, MN” campaign, aims to connect workers in industries like food service with opportunities to get vaccinated at state-run community vaccination sites. The campaign begins this week with workers at restaurants, bars and breweries across the state. “Food service workers have been profoundly impacted by this pandemic,” Walz said in a release. “While we’ve expanded vaccine eligibility, we are still focused on immunizing for impact and the priority populations we identified early in this process.” As of Sunday, more than 1.8 million Minnesotans have received at least one dose of vaccine, and nearly 1.2 million have been fully vaccinated. At least 42% of Minnesotans 16 and older have received one dose, including 83% of people 65 and older. The Minnesota Department of Health on Tuesday reported 3,014 new coronavirus cases and four COVID-19 deaths, which represent cases and deaths for both Monday and Tuesday after the state did not release an update Sunday due to the Easter holiday.
Jackson: The state has now administered 1.32 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine to residents, according to the health department. As of Monday, 815,673 people have received at least one vaccine dose, and 541,241 more are fully vaccinated. Everyone over the age of 16 in the state is eligible to receive a vaccine. People can be inoculated at state-run drive-thru sites, as well as at community health centers, some pharmacies and private health care providers. The Mississippi State Department of Health said Tuesday that the state of approximately 3 million residents has reported at least 306,000 confirmed coronavirus cases and more than 7,000 deaths from COVID-19 as of Monday evening. While most people who contract the coronavirus recover after suffering only mild to moderate symptoms, it can be deadly for older patients and those with other health problems. People eligible to receive the vaccine can make an appointment at or by calling the COVID-19 call center at 1-877-978-6453.
Columbia: The University of Missouri is planning to have full-capacity, in-person classes and activities on the Columbia campus for the fall semester beginning in August, university officials announced Tuesday. University President Mun Choi said in a news release that MU officials will stay in touch with local health officials as they plan for football, concerts and classes. The university had 13 active student coronavirus cases as of Tuesday, Choi said. Some faculty and staff are already working on campus, and all are expected to be back by May 17 to prepare for the full-capacity return this fall. The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Missouri has held steady over the past 14 days at about 590. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that 28.5% of the population had received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine as of Monday, and 16.5% had been fully vaccinated.
Bozeman: Gov. Greg Gianforte has continued to show mild systems after testing positive for the coronavirus over the weekend. Gianforte’s office disclosed Monday evening that he had been tested after experiencing unspecified symptoms a day earlier. His office said he notified all of his close contacts since his last public event Thursday. Those contacts were with a staff member, a member of his security detail, family members, and friends with whom he had dinner, spokesperson Brooke Stroyke said. Gianforte received his first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine Thursday and had been tested regularly since he was sworn into office in January. Vaccinations can take some time before they are fully effective. First lady Susan Gianforte has not exhibited symptoms but was also tested and awaiting results. Gianforte planned to isolate for 10 days on the advice of his doctor and public health guidance. All of his in-person events have been canceled. But he will “continue to conduct his duties and manage the state’s business from his home in Bozeman,” his office said in a statement. Since taking office in January, Gianforte has lifted a mask mandate imposed by his predecessor and eased other restrictions intended to curb the spread of the virus. He’s touted personal responsibility and had kept a mask mandate in place for his own office.
Omaha: More than 120,000 residents were vaccinated against COVID-19 last week, up from roughly 106,000 the week before. The state has now opened up vaccine eligibility to everyone age 16 and older, but health officials in Lancaster County are still prioritizing older residents at this point. More than one-quarter of all Nebraskans over age 16 have been vaccinated. But the seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Nebraska has risen over the past two weeks from 259.71 new cases per day March 21 to 486.43 new cases per day Sunday. And the number of people hospitalized with the coronavirus in the state has crept up to 148 over the past week after bottoming out at 102 on March 29. The state said Tuesday that 212,257 cases and 2,183 deaths have been reported since the pandemic began. Nearly 350,000 Nebraskans have registered with the state online to receive a vaccine.
Henderson: U.S. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto on Monday encouraged people to shop on the state’s health insurance exchange to determine if they can get cheaper coverage thanks to the new federal coronavirus relief law. The Democratic senator held a news conference in Henderson to promote the benefits of the relief law signed by President Joe Biden last month. Cortez Masto said the law increases subsidies for 60,000 Nevadans who are already receiving them to help pay for their health insurance on the Silver State Health Insurance Exchange. She said the law also makes 40,000 other people eligible for subsidies and anyone receiving unemployment benefits eligible for free monthly premiums and help paying co-pays and deductibles. “What this means is that if you already have a plan, there’s a good chance it’s cheaper. And if you found coverage to be unaffordable up to this point, you could be eligible for discounted coverage or even a plan that is free to you,” Cortez Masto said. Officials with Silver State Health Insurance Exchange said the new rates and assistance should begin showing up on the online system at the end of the month. The rates and assistance will be effective from May 1 through the end of the year.
Warner: Those who attended events at a small Catholic college in town around Easter are being asked to get tested for the coronavirus after an outbreak infected at least 16 people. Anyone who attended events and services between March 21 and April 4 at Magdalen College of the Liberal Arts – including Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday – may have been exposed and should seek testing, the Department of Health and Human Services said Tuesday. The department also is conducting contact tracing. The campus is currently closed to the public. Meanwhile, contact tracing is underway after a member of Gov. Chris Sununu’s office tested positive for the virus. The employee, who has not been in the office since Thursday, tested positive Monday after experiencing minor symptoms over the weekend. One person who was determined to have been a close contact is quarantining. Sununu was not determined to have been a close contact. This is the second confirmed case of COVID-19 within the governor’s office. Another staff member tested positive in early December.
Trenton: Residents with the most severe disabilities. Many are depressed and stuck at home with families at their breaking points while the state is unfairly barring them from needed services, according to families, advocates and some lawmakers. These services, which come bundled under the catchall title of day programs, offer therapy, social activities, job training and classes. Except six weeks last fall, they’ve been shuttered since March 2020 in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19. But the state’s unilateral decision to do so has resulted in hardship for many individuals and their caretakers. Republican state Sen. Anthony Bucco “strongly” urged Gov. Phil Murphy in a letter to “reconsider the reopening protocols” that require a higher bar for getting these programs restarted than schools, businesses and other organizations. “Strangely, these requirements are far more strict than those that apply to public schools, and will prevent most of the day programs from reopening,” he wrote.
Carlsbad: The state million barrels of oil in 2020 compared to about 330 million barrels of oil produced in 2019. Although last year produced the highest amount of oil since the division began tracking production in the 1970s, officials said rate of growth dropped from a 33% increase between 2018, which yielded about 250 million barrels of oil, and 2019. New Mexico also produced about 1.9 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, surpassing the 2001 record of 1.6 trillion cubic feet, according to data. However, natural gas production growth also declined, increasing about 7% between 2019 and last year compared to 19% between 2018 and 2019. An annual report by the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association on revenue for the state by the industry said $2.8 billion was generated last year, including $1.4 billion for public education. The amount was second to the record $3.1 billion of state revenue generated in 2019.even as demand for fuel dropped during the coronavirus pandemic. Data from the state’s oil conservation division showed the state produced about 370
New York: Residents over 16 years old can sign up for COVID-19 vaccinations starting Tuesday, a major expansion of eligibility as the state seeks to immunize as many people as possible. The State University of New York also announced plans to offer vaccines to tens of thousands of college students before they head home for the summer. Gov. Andrew Cuomo expanded eligibility to 30 and over last week and announced that people 16 to 29 would be eligible starting April 6. Teens 16 and 17 years old will be limited to receiving the two-dose Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, the only one that has been authorized for use by people under 18. Parental consent will be required for vaccinations of those minors at state-run sites, with certain exceptions including for teens who are married or are parents. None of the available vaccines has yet been approved for people under 16. New York state health officials hope that increased eligibility will help cut down COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations – particularly among millennials and Generation Xers.
Nags Head: The ferry service that carries passengers to the Outer Banks is facing a shortage of deck hands, seamen and captains. The Virginian-Pilot reports there’s often a waiting list to get a ferry job. But this year the service needs to fill an expanded summer schedule. Jed Dixon, deputy director of the North Carolina Ferry Division, said it’s having a “harder time than I can remember finding people.” Dixon said the pandemic prevented an annual job fair that typically helps recruit enough employees. But people could simply be choosing other careers. With a system of 22 ferries on seven routes, North Carolina has the second-largest ferry system in the nation. About 2 million people ride the vessels each year across the state’s waterways between the Outer Banks and the mainland. The ferry service needs roughly 20 more employees. “While there’s always a chance we might not be able to run the full summer schedule if we don’t get the crews, the ferry division is doing everything humanly possible to not let that happen,” spokesman Tim Hass said.
Fargo: More than 20 North Dakota State University nursing and pharmacy studentsfor students, faculty and staff, using the single-dose Johnson & Johnson shot. “I made the choice to get my COVID-19 vaccine to protect myself and others, and I chose to volunteer administering COVID-19 vaccines at NDSU because I want to be able to assist others on campus in protecting themselves and others as well,” said NDSU nursing student Aaron Dwyer, who will graduate this year, after which he has accepted a job to work in an oncology unit at a Fargo hospital. Students are trained in vaccination techniques, said Dr. Amy Werremeyer, chair of NDSU School of Pharmacy and a preceptor for the events. “Students get to combine skills they’ve learned in the classroom such as vaccine administration technique, infection control, public health principles, process management and improvement. ... Not only do they get to combine those skills, they get to see them applied in action, which is invaluable as a learning opportunity.”
Columbus: A group representing Asian American neighbors of the Republican lieutenant governor said Monday that he and his family have agreed to meet with them to discuss their concerns about his recent tweet that referred to the coronavirus as the “Wuhan virus.” Lt. Gov. Jon Husted’s office didn’t immediately return a call seeking to confirm the meeting with residents of Upper Arlington. The group said it is scheduled to meet him Friday. Asian American residents of the Columbus suburb wrote to Husted last week outlining their concerns over the tweet. They want to use the meeting to express how his words affected them during a time when there is an uptick in attacks against members of the Asian American community. “Your choice of words has only raised the anxiety and fear that Asians and Asian Americans in Upper Arlington are currently experiencing,” the March 31 letter said. “Our children have been targeted for bullying and abuse in the district well before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, but that abuse has increased significantly in the last 14 months and has reached levels that have brought news media attention to our doorsteps.” The letter to Husted has now been signed by more than 80 community members and families, up from the 60 original names.
Oklahoma City: The Choctaw Nation on Monday announced plans to provide COVID-19 vaccines to the general public, becoming the latest tribe based in the state to expand vaccine distribution beyond its own citizens. The Durant-based tribe also announced it is partnering with a new national database, Dr. B, that allows people to be put on standby to receive unused doses of the vaccine. “We realize, to best protect our tribal members, we need to vaccinate the communities in which they live,” said Todd Hallmark, executive officer of health services for the Choctaw Nation. Native American tribes in Oklahoma have been receiving separate allocations of vaccines from the federal government, and the Chickasaw and Muscogee (Creek) nations have previously announced plans to make some of their allocation available to the general public. Oklahoma health officials announced 226 confirmed new coronavirus cases and 29 new deaths Monday. That brings the total number of confirmed infections in the state to more than 440,000 and the state’s death count to 7,961. After weeks of declining numbers, the seven-day rolling averages of daily new cases and daily deaths have both increased in Oklahoma over the past two weeks, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
Salem: All residents 16 and older will be eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine April 19, Gov. Kate Brown announced Tuesday morning. The news coincided with an expected announcement from President Joe Biden on Tuesday that he is accelerating the deadline for states to open up COVID-19 vaccinations to every adult in the U.S. by April 19, a White House official said. Last week officials warned of a fourth COVID-19 wave, expressing concerns about coronavirus variants and the increase in cases. Brown described the coming weeks as a “critical moment for all to double down so we can outrun this next wave.” Officials say Oregon will pass the threshold of 2 million vaccines administered Tuesday and is focused on vaccinating as many front-line workers and people with underlying conditions as possible in the next two weeks. “And yet, in communities across Oregon, COVID-19 is spreading at concerning rates. We must move as quickly as possible to get more shots in arms,” Brown said in a statement Tuesday. People of color, who have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19, make up a large percentage of those groups, said Brown, a Democrat.
Harrisburg: Fewer state residents are getting tested for the coronavirus, 3. “Despite the number of cases rising, we’re seeing the demand for testing decrease,” Beam said. “We need to redouble efforts to increase testing even as we ramp up the vaccine process.” More than 14.3 million tests have been administered in a state with a population of 12.8 million. But that doesn’t mean everyone has been tested. Some may have been tested multiple times. “We know that the number of COVID-19 cases in Pennsylvania and across the country has been on the rise,” Beam said. “We need people to continue to be vigilant. Testing is the most effective way to identify and contain the virus.” With testing, officials also hope to be able to track variants of the bug that has so far claimed the lives of 25,237 state residents. Testing in K-12 schools will be “prioritized next,” said Beam, who could offer no further details Tuesday on those plans., Acting Secretary of Health Alison Beam said Tuesday. Just 34,887 tests were administered Monday, according to the latest figures available from the Pennsylvania Department of Health. Daily testing is down 55% from a high point of 79,237 tests recorded Dec.
Providence: Brown University on Tuesday joined a growing number of colleges that will require students to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 before returning for in-person classes next fall. “Starting in the Fall 2021 semester, Brown will require COVID-19 vaccines for all undergraduate, graduate and medical students who will be on campus or engage in any level of in-person instruction,” Christina Paxson, president of the Ivy League school, wrote in a letter to the campus community posted online. Medical and religious exemptions will be allowed. The university is still weighing whether to require employees to be vaccinated. That decision is expected in the summer. The Providence school anticipates a return to a more traditional pre-pandemic academic experience for the 2021-22 school year, including standard occupancy for student residences, as well as expanded dining and recreation options on campus, she said. “This year has been difficult for so many members of our community as the months of this pandemic have stretched on, and I know we all look forward to a greater return to normal,” Paxson wrote. “Although aspects of our lives will continue to be influenced by public health considerations for quite some time, I am looking toward next year with a sense of optimism.”
Columbia: The state is getting a $47 million federal boost to its COVID-19 vaccination programs, particularly in minority communities. The award announced Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is intended to shore up local efforts to expand vaccine deployment. Officials say 75% of the total funding has to go toward programs and initiatives aimed at getting more vaccines into racial and ethnic minority communities. As an example, the CDC said the money could go toward training people to go door-to-door in their own areas, raise vaccine awareness and help people sign up for appointments. Funds could also be used to hire community health workers focusing on bilingual outreach. Black residents – who comprise about 27% of the state’s population – represent only 17% of South Carolinians who have gotten at least one vaccine dose, according to state health officials. Numbers are even lower among Latino residents. The award – part of $3 billion in total funding going to dozens of jurisdictions across the country – comes from the $1.9 trillion pandemic relief package that President Joe Biden signed into law last month.
Sioux Falls: Gov. Kristi Noem marked the occasion of the state opening vaccines to adults 16 and older Monday by receiving her first dose. The governor, who has taken a mostly hands-off approach to restrictions during the pandemic, has encouraged people to get inoculated, saying she is “trusting people to do the right thing.” Health officials reported that 46% of the state’s population has received one dose of a vaccine. South Dakota also has one of the nation’s highest rates of people fully vaccinated – about 25% of the population, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The rolling average number of daily new infections has also decreased by about 10% over the past two weeks. However, health officials have warned that new variants of the coronavirus spread infections more easily.
Nashville: A phone line that offers callers mental health support during the COVID-19 pandemic has added an option to talk via text messaging. The state Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services says the Emotional Support Line for Pandemic Stress now lets people call or text the line at 888-642-7886 from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. CDT daily. The line is set up for health care workers, first responders and all Tennesseans working in education to talk with mental health professionals about their work-related stress, anxiety, sadness or depression. The line was created in May 2020.
Austin: Gov. Greg Abbott used his executive power Tuesday to ban state government and some private entities from requiring COVID-19 “vaccine passports” to access services, in the latest move from a Republican governor pitting public health campaigns against personal freedom and private choices. According to Abbott’s order, state agencies and political subdivisions and public and private organizations that receive public funding in Texas cannot require people to show proof that they have been inoculated against the disease caused by the coronavirus. The mandate also says it will supersede any conflicting local executive orders and calls for the Legislature to take up COVID-19 vaccine requirements during its current session. “We will continue to vaccinate more Texans and protect public health – and we will do so without treading on Texans’ personal freedoms,” Abbott said in a statement announcing the order. Abbott said the U.S. Constitution does not empower the federal government to mandate proof of vaccination. The White House has ruled out a national “vaccine passport,” saying it is leaving it to the private sector to develop a system for people show they’ve been vaccinated.
Salt Lake City: A new law blocks the state’s government from requiring people to get COVID-19 vaccines, but companies can use so-called vaccine passports to determine who has been inoculated. The Legislature passed the measure blocking vaccine requirements, and Republican Gov. Spencer Cox signed it last month, The Salt Lake Tribune reports. Vaccine passports would theoretically allow people who have been inoculate to travel, shop, dine in restaurants and attend sporting events with fewer restrictions. Many of the passports being developed are smartphone apps with a code that will verify vaccination, the Tribune reports. The Washington Post reports that at least 17 companies are working to develop the passports. “If we’re talking pure policy, I don’t think we should have vaccine passports or mask mandates now that people are being protected against the virus,” said Republican Utah Rep. Robert Spendlove, who sponsored the bill preventing vaccine requirements. Spendlove said now that COVID-19 shots are more widely available, he doesn’t see the need for vaccine passports, but he won’t try to push restrictions on their use for businesses. The law also blocks state colleges and universities from requiring COVID-19 vaccinations for students and employees. Private schools can still require them.
Montpelier: Gov. Phil Scott on Monday condemned the “racist response” to his administration’s decision to make members of ethnic minorities eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine before residents of other races. The state granted preferential vaccine access April 1 to the BIPOC community – Black, Indigenous and people of color – and anyone living in their households. The Republican governor called their disparity in vaccination rates compared to non-Hispanic whites “unacceptable.” About 20% of the former population has received at least one dose of a vaccine, compared with an about 33% vaccination rate for the latter, Scott said in a statement Monday. “In addition to the greater risk of hospitalization among BIPOC community members, the pace of vaccination for these individuals is too far behind the white population,” Scott said in the statement. He said his office, the state Health Department and vaccine providers have recently been subjected “to vitriolic and inappropriate comments in social media and other forums” over the decision. “And it is evidence that many Americans, and many Vermonters, still have a lot to learn about the impacts of racism in our country and how it has influenced public policy over the years,” he said in the statement.
Verona: The tide of coronavirus cases at Middle River Regional Jail has dwindled after a winter of managing a serious outbreak, with the facility. According to Superintendent Jeffrey Newton and Dr. Laura Kornegay, the director of Central Shenandoah Health District, inmates at MRRJ were being vaccinated Monday with the one-dose Johnson & Johnson shot, which helps ease complications with scheduling. “As a one-shot series, this will eliminate efforts at trying to coordinate second doses for persons who leave the jail in the coming weeks,” Kornegay said. Kornegay said the inmate population is a part of the category 1B vaccination effort, but given the large amount of people in the category and the logistics of coordinating inoculation in a jail, it has taken months to get a clinic set up for MRRJ. The clinic is a step in the right direction for the facility, but it will still have a long way to go before operations can return to normal. “MRRJ would need a significant number of inmates to take the vaccine, and herd immunity would need to exist in our communities to change our current intake protocol and how MRRJ is currently managing the inmate population,” Newton said. Kornegay said acceptance of vaccines in inmate populations is typically low.
Seattle: The City Council has voted to give free legal representation to renters facing eviction. Advocates say the legislation is a small investment that will help people stay in their homes and forestall the more expensive consequences of homelessness, The Seattle Times reports. It passed unanimously last week with a notable change from Council President M. Lorena Gonzalez making the offer available to tenants who are “indigent,” broadly defined as someone unable to pay for a lawyer for the eviction proceeding. No documentation would be necessary, beyond the person signing a form saying they couldn’t afford a lawyer. Gonzalez said the change was necessary to ensure the law survives legal challenges and is in line with similar city policies, like the city’s legal defense fund for local immigrants facing deportation. Councilmember Kshama Sawant, the measure’s lead sponsor, opposed the change, arguing any sort of income eligibility requirement was demeaning and would result in fewer people accessing the service. Gonzalez’s amendment passed 8-1. Local studies have shown that the most common reason for eviction is lack of payment of rent, and it’s often just a small debt. Having a lawyer, advocates say, can slow the process and help tenants access services like rental assistance.
Morgantown: West Virginia University will return to in-person commencement ceremonies for 4,500 graduating students in May. Four separate ceremonies will be held May 15-16 at Milan Puskar Stadium in Morgantown, WVU said in a news release. Some restrictions will be in place due to the coronavirus pandemic. Masks and social distancing will be required. All participants must register. Tickets will be required for admission, the statement said. In addition to the latest graduates, students who graduated in May, August and December 2020 also will be eligible to participate in the exercises, the statement said. Dr. Patrice Harris, the first African American woman to chair the American Medical Association’s Board of Trustees, will speak at all four ceremonies.
Madison: The COVID-19 vaccination center at the Alliant Energy Center will be able to increase the number of doses delivered by 2,100 a week thanks to new staffing support from the federal government starting Wednesday, Gov. Tony Evers announced. The site will become the third in Wisconsin run by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency, which also runs a mass vaccination clinic at the Wisconsin Center in downtown Milwaukee. Another FEMA-run mass vaccination clinic opens Thursday at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire’s Zorn Arena. The state has committed to supplying 7,000 doses of vaccine a week at the Madison center, which has the capacity to inoculate 1,400 people per day, the governor’s office said Tuesday. The additional 26 staff from the federal government will allow for 2,100 more doses to be administered per week, depending on supply, on top of the 5,600 weekly doses currently, Evers’ office said. The mass clinic opened in late December. “This is one of the largest vaccination efforts our state has undertaken and it takes teamwork at every level to ensure we are getting vaccine to everyone as quickly, fairly, and safely as possible,” Evers said in a statement.
Casper: The state’s unemployment rate ticked up in February, reversing a downward trend that tracked last year’s easing of coronavirus public health orders. The February rate was 5.3%, up from 5.1% in January and 5.2% in December, according to the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services. Wyoming’s unemployment rate reached 8.5% last May but fell over the summer, reaching 5.4% in October, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Wyoming’s rate this past February was nearly 1 point lower than the U.S. average, 6.2%. Wyoming still had about 15,000 fewer jobs than it did a year earlier, however. Unemployment rates increased in 15 of Wyoming’s 23 counties in February. They fell in five counties and remained steady in three, the Casper Star-Tribune reports. Natrona County, a hub of Wyoming’s still-suffering fossil fuel industries, had Wyoming’s highest unemployment rate, 8.9%, followed by Sublette (8.8%) and Sweetwater (7.6%) counties. Teton (4.4%), Albany (4.5%) and Crook (4.5%) counties had the lowest unemployment.
From USA TODAY Network and wire reports
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY:
Florida newspaper blasts DeSantis's ban on COVID-19 passports: 'Makes no sense' .
The editorial board of Florida-based newspaper The Palm Beach Post on Friday blasted Gov. Ron DeSantis's (R) executive order banning COVID-19 "vaccine passports."The editorial comes as several governors in recent weeks have taken actions to limit vaccine passports - documents that provide proof of vaccination to give people access to events with larger crowds such as weddings and parties.