From USA TODAY Network and wire reports | USA TODAY
Montgomery: Alabama’s monthly unemployment rate jumped to 6.6% in September as the coronavirus pandemic kept up its continuing damage to the state’s economy, the government reported Friday. The rate was a full percentage point above the August jobless rate and even worse when compared to the precoronavirus rate of 2.7% a year earlier. The state’s labor secretary, Fitzgerald Washington, said fluctuations in the unemployment rate will likely continue during the pandemic, which is blamed for nearly 2,800 deaths in the state from COVID-19, the illness caused by the new virus. The September rate represented 148,912 people without jobs, an increase of about 23,000 from a month earlier. Cullman County, located north of Birmingham, had the state’s lowest jobless rate at 3.8%, with Franklin, Marshall and Randolph counties close behind. Rural Wilcox County in west Alabama was worst at 17%.
Anchorage: A coronavirus outbreak at Fairbanks Pioneer Home for seniors increased to 53 cases after 20 residents and five staff members tested positive over a week. The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services said no deaths have occurred, and one resident is hospitalized, The Anchorage Daily News reported. “An isolation unit has been set up at the home so all positive residents can be cared for in one area by staff who have recovered and were cleared to return to work,” the health department said. The state operates six Pioneer Homes serving nearly 500 Alaska residents ages 60 and older in Anchorage, Palmer, Juneau, Sitka, Ketchikan and Fairbanks. Most of the new cases in the Fairbanks home were identified over the weekend, and the outbreak appeared to be contained to two areas within the home, emails sent to families said. An Oct. 11 message from the Fairbanks home said residents were asked to remain in their rooms to decrease hall traffic and that common areas have been closed. Staff members have been tested twice per week since Sept. 22, when the home determined a staff member contracted the virus, state health officials said last week. Residents are now tested twice weekly. They were previously tested after showing symptoms of the virus.
Whiteriver: In early June, the White Mountain Apache Tribe surpassed the Navajo Nation in total number of COVID-19 cases per capita, meaning it had one of the highest infection rates in the country. However, the tribe’s number of new daily and active COVID-19 cases dropped and its number of COVID-19-related deaths through the pandemic also remained consistently low with a fatality rate as of Oct. 14 of 1.6%, which is less than the state’s rate of 2.5% and the country’s at 2.7%. Health officials lend credit, in large part, to its robust contract tracing efforts on the Fort Apache Indian Reservation. Between two and four healthcare providers each day travel within the tribe’s communities to see between 30 and 50 patients, according to said Lt. Cmdr. Laura Enos, acting director of public health nursing and leader of Whiteriver Indian Hospital’s contact tracing team. The visits typically continue until a high-risk patient is out of isolation or has “displayed notable clinical improvements” for two days straight, she said.
Little Rock: A scaled-back version of the Arkansas State Fair, without crowds, rides and concerts, was held last weekend as the event’s size was significantly reduced because of the coronavirus pandemic. Mainly junior livestock competitions were scheduled to run until this weekend during this year’s fair after organizers announced in July that a large-scale fair would be canceled because of the pandemic, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported. On Saturday afternoon, children who participated in a junior livestock showing of wether dam goats led their animals around a barn as family members and friends watched. A masked judge evaluated the goats. Many staff members and attendees appeared to comply with the event’s face-covering requirement, but some did not. A “Taste of the Fair” portion of the event featuring food vendors will be held this weekend, with a capacity restriction of 500 people and all food packaged in to-go containers. The pageant portion of the fair is scheduled to take place Oct. 24, when winners of various divisions of the pageant competition, including Miss Arkansas State Fair Queen, will be crowned in a Facebook Live broadcast. The Arkansas Livestock Show Association, which produces the annual event, said it would focus on resuming a full-scale fair in October 2021. The fair draws on average of more than 450,000 visitors a year.
La Quinta: City leaders touted new business development against the headwinds of the coronavirus pandemic in a socially distant state of the city address that reflected the realities under which the city has been operating since March. The pandemic and its impact on city finances, capital improvement projects and local businesses dominated the address, which was delivered via Zoom. The City Council adopted a $51.05 million 2020-21 general fund budget in June – a $7 million difference from the 2019-20 budget – closing a projected $2.9 million deficit through across-the-board cuts in expenditures at City Hall, the use of more Measure G sales tax revenues and about $1.8 million saved through staff layoffs and furloughs. The budget “is conservative, balanced and anticipates a slow, gradual recovery of revenues” hit by the pandemic, Councilmember Robert Radi said. Although some businesses have closed or filed bankruptcy during the pandemic, including Souplantation and Steinmart – both with locations in La Quinta – the city has also seen some new businesses open since the last annual address. “Since January of this year, we have issued over 2,000 business licenses in the city of La Quinta,” Mayor Linda Evans said. Businesses with plans to open soon in La Quinta include Dutch Bros. Coffee and a Marriott Residence Inn.
Pueblo: Last week, members of the Pueblo Police Department ventured to the rugged, rocky and dusty banks of Fountain Creek on new utility task vehicles to reach homeless people living there to provide COVID-19 tests and hepatitis A vaccinations. The police department recently acquired two new UTVs at a cost of $36,000 for both vehicles. The price included adding police lights, wiring, sirens and a trailer. Some of the funding came from Volunteers Assisting Pueblo Police, which raised money through a golf tournament that paid for half of the cost. A grant from the Colorado Housing and Finance Authority also helped pay for the new vehicles. “With these new UTVs, the police department has already been able to engage in one community outreach effort. We’ve done these in the past, but always had to borrow UTVs from other organizations, and in some instances, officers used their own equipment,” Police Chief Troy Davenport said. “Now we have UTVs of our own.”
New Haven: Yale University has closed two museums on campus, raised its alert status for the coronavirus and canceled athletic activities for the week after an outbreak infected at least 18 members of the men’s hockey team. The Yale University Art Gallery and Yale Center for British Art were closed Friday, a day after the university moved from a green alert to a yellow alert, signaling low-to-moderate risk. A COVID-19 coordinator for the Ivy League university, Dr. Stephanie Spangler, said in a memo to campus that the infected hockey players and others who worked with them had been instructed to quarantine. She instructed people not to bring visitors from outside Yale onto the campus. “This recent cluster, coupled with news of increasing cases of COVID-19 in Connecticut, are reminders that the virus is present in our community and we must exercise vigilance and caution in all of our activities,” Spangler wrote. The two museums were closed for an unspecified period. They each had reopened to the public on Sept. 25.
Dover: From storybooks to the silver screen, all kinds of colorful characters will make an appearance at Akridge Scout Reservation near Camden for the Children’s Halloween Drive-thru Fantasy from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday. Although some Halloween traditions in Kent County could not happen under public health guidelines, Kent County Parks and Recreation received approval from state health officials to modify the popular children’s event this year. Jeremy Sheppard, director of the Department of Community Services, said children typically come to Brecknock Park, where they can walk along the nature trail and trick-or-treat as they come across about 20 scenes with characters and decorative backdrops. The family friendly tradition is designed for children 2 to 7 years old. This year, children will stay inside their cars for a drive-thru version of the event, and they will receive a bag of candy at the end, rather than at each scene. One bag of candy will be distributed per vehicle. Any extra entertainment, such as hayrides, will not happen this year, Sheppard said.
District of Columbia
Washington: The District has updated its list of “high-risk states” that will require travelers to self-quarantine for two weeks upon arrival to D.C. because of the coronavirus, WUSA-TV reported. The states added to the list are Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island, according to D.C. Health. No states were removed from the updated list. The travel order applies to people coming to the District for nonessential activities. On the other hand, those who are entering the D.C. region for essential travel or after essential travel are urged to monitor any potential symptoms of COVID-19 for 14 days. If they have any symptoms, they must self-quarantine and get tested or seek medical attention. During the time people are self-quarantining, Mayor Muriel Bowser’s order requires travelers to stay in their home or hotel room and only leave for essential medical appointments or essential goods when delivery of food or other essential goods aren’t available. The order also said guests are not allowed. The order does not apply to neighboring states such as Virginia and Maryland. High-risk states are states where the seven-day moving average of daily new COVID-19 cases is 10 or more per 100,000 persons, D.C. Health Department said. There are a total of 39 states on the list.
Jacksonville: City officials are seeking reimbursement for more than $150,000 in expenses for law enforcement costs, consulting fees and other funds spent preparing to host the National Republican Convention that never took place in their city. The festivities, which were to be held in Jacksonville in August to formally reanoint President Donald Trump as the Republican nominee for president, was scuttled because of concerns over the coronavirus. City officials told the Florida Times-Union that they have been assured by the 2020 Jacksonville Host Committee that it will be repaid. Jacksonville had been selected to host Trump and other Republicans in late August after a disagreement over social distancing with North Carolina’s Democratic governor prompted the party to scale back festivities in Charlotte. Jacksonville officials, including Mayor Lenny Curry, had openly sought to host the event. Curry had assured residents that taxpayers would not be on the hook for the convention. Jordan Elsbury, chief of staff for the mayor, said the city and the host committee have been “working together over the past couple of weeks to resolve any balances the city had.” He said the city has been assured “timely payment.”
Atlanta: Atlanta Public Schools won’t have in-school classes at least through the end of the year because COVID-19 data continues to trend the wrong way, said Superintendent Lisa Herring. “Despite downward trends in recent weeks, our community has seen recent increases in new cases, resulting in a current average that exceeds 130 new cases per 100,000 county residents. That number leaves us in substantial spread of COVID-19 and unable to reopen to in-person instruction,” she wrote in an on-line announcement. Herring said she consulted with public health officials and experts, teachers, students and parents before deciding to continue only virtual classes at least until January. The district is continuing to look for ways to support special needs and very young students, including consideration of whether they might return to some in-person services before the new year, she wrote. She did not describe what such services might be. Herring said families of all 38,397 students in traditional public schools were sent a form asking if the children would return to a reopened school. She said families of 22,000 responded, and 10,460 said their children would attend in-person classes. The form was not sent to families of students at charter and partner schools. Herring said the system will provide seven-day weekly meal kits including breakfasts and lunches, starting Oct. 26. Distribution will be from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Monday at 14 curbside pickup locations or designated school bus routes. High school football, volleyball, softball, and cross country teams will continue competing in front of stands without fans. “In addition, we expect our winter sports athletes to begin conditioning soon, following all health and safety protocols,” Herring wrote.
Honolulu: Hawaii’s Board of Education has approved phasing out distance learning curriculum that parents and teachers complained contained racist and sexist content and will send parents a letter acknowledging the Acellus program was selected hastily during the pandemic without proper vetting. The unanimous vote goes further than Superintendent Christina Kishimoto’s letter to parents this week that said state Department of Education reviewers recommended discontinuing use of Acellus “due to its inconsistency in quality and rigor.” One of the findings in the four-page review by the department was that the distance learning curriculum conflicted with “policies addressing academic program, standards, curriculum, discrimination and religion.” Kishimoto told board members education officials launched into a review as soon as problems surfaced. Acellus was never aimed at being a permanent option for remote learning, she said, but that evaluating different types of online curriculum takes time. A review should have happened in July instead of in September, said board member Bruce Voss. Some have complained Acellus’ multiple-choice format lacks rigor and contains questions that are racist toward Black Americans and others. Paige Kemerer, a third grade teacher at Kapaa Elementary, said she reached out to Acellus about her concerns and that the company agreed to change “Congressmen” to “members of Congress,” but ignored other examples of gender stereotypes she shared. Acellus representatives haven’t returned messages seeking comment from the Associated Press.
Boise: Idaho’s coronavirus cases are rising fast and hospitals are seeing an influx of COVID-19 patients, Gov. Brad Little said. Still, he said, personal responsibility, not a statewide mandate, remains the best way to reduce the burden on hospitals and slow the spread of COVID-19. “Our personal actions work better to slow the spread of coronavirus than anything else,” Little said. “This is about personal responsibility, something Idaho is all about.” Little said the state would again remain in Stage 4 of his four-step reopening plan, allowing all businesses to continue to operate and large events to be held as long as social distancing guidelines are followed. The governor also urged anyone who is at higher risk of developing complications from COVID-19 – and those who share their household – to vote by absentee ballot rather than risk exposure at the polls in November. Little has declined to issue a statewide mask mandate despite the rising cases. Instead he has left those decisions up to local governments and regional health departments. In many parts of the state, local mask mandates are not enforced, leaving small businesses left to decide if they will require and enforce mask-wearing.
Chicago: Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Sunday that President Donald Trump and his allies in Illinois are partly to blame for the coronavirus spike in the state. Pritzker spoke to CNN’s “State of the Union” the same day health officials announced 4,245 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 22 additional deaths. “He’s modeling bad behavior. He doesn’t wear a mask in public. He has rallies where they don’t encourage people to wear masks in public,” Pritzker said. “But it is the president’s allies in our state, all across the state, who are simply saying to people, ‘Don’t pay any attention to the mitigations, don’t follow the rules.’ Indeed, there are bars and restaurants which are restricted from expanding their indoor service that are just ignoring the rules, and they’re just filling the place up.” Trump appeared Saturday at a rally in Wisconsin, critcizing Illinois’ COVID-19 restrictions, saying schools should fully reopen. “Illinois could use a new governor,” Trump told supporters. “That guy doesn’t know what’s happened.” Pritzker, a Democrat elected in 2018, spoke to CNN days after Illinois reported a new record for COVID-19 cases, coinciding with spikes elsewhere nationwide. Illinois officials have said high testing rates are part of the reason behind the surge.
Indianapolis: The debate set for Tuesday night among the three candidates for governor has been changed to a virtual format in what organizers said was a coronavirus safety move. The nonprofit Indiana Debate Commission said Monday that the candidates will all be present at the WFYI-TV studio in Indianapolis but they and the moderator will be in separate spaces as they appear by video for the hourlong debate that begins at 7 p.m. EDT. The group said it has discussed the new format with campaign leaders for Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb, Democratic challenger Woody Myers and Libertarian Donald Rainwater. Coronavirus precautions had meant there wouldn’t be a studio audience for the debate. The format change follows Myers last week asking for the debate commission to require COVID-19 testing for the candidates ahead of the debate. Organizers said any testing was up to the candidates and wouldn’t be required. The debate comes as Holcomb has large fundraising and organization advantages over his challengers. Myers has been pushing for more aggressive actions to control COVID-19 spread, and some conservatives angry over Holcomb’s coronavirus orders have said they will vote for Rainwater, who is an opponent of the statewide mask mandate. A second gubernatorial debate is set for Oct. 27.
Des Moines: The state has reported nearly 3,000 new confirmed positive coronavirus cases in the last three days. The Department of Public Health reported 1,595 confirmed cases Saturday, 915 on Sunday and 508 on Monday. During that time, the department reported 13 deaths from the coronavirus. There were 480 people being treated in Iowa hospitals for the virus, just below a record high set last week. Gov. Kim Reynolds had earlier eased restrictions aimed at slowing the spread of the virus. On Friday, she signed a new proclamation that extended existing measures, including requiring 6 feet of distance between groups or individuals at bars and restaurants, as well as social distancing at gyms, casinos, salons and theaters.
Belle Plaine: Counties are making their own rules about whether to require poll workers to wear masks as the public votes, even though the state spent $1.28 million to buy personal protective equipment for every polling location. Kansas Secretary of State Scott Schwab has issued no statewide mandate requiring poll workers to wear masks, his spokeswoman said. “Every county election office works with their local health department to determine COVID-19 protocols,” said Katie Koupal, spokeswoman for the secretary of state’s office. That has created a patchwork of masking practices for poll workers across Kansas. Although the state’s more urban counties generally require masks, the rural counties often do not. Butler County Clerk Tatum Stafford said her county does not mandate masks, so she believes she cannot mandate them for her poll workers. The secretary of state’s office said it used federal coronavirus aid to buy every polling location in Kansas a kit containing 12 bottles of hand sanitizer, three bottles of sanitizing spray, nine boxes of wipes, 100 face masks, 200 gloves, use instructions and hand washing encouragement signs. The state also purchased plexiglass shields for every polling location and single-use stylus pens to limit common touch points, Koupal said.
Louisville: Physicians at the University of Louisville’s Trager Transplant Center elected to continue services during the pandemic, and so far, the results have paid dividends, with patients’ lives saved and no adverse outcomes from the coronavirus. “We persevered and said, ‘OK, we’re going to continue transplanting,’ “ said Dr. Christopher Jones, medical director of the transplant program. “We just kind of kept going.” Jones and Kim Rallis, the program’s executive director, met with reporters last week to talk about how they are managing under COVID-19 constraints, a particular risk for transplant patients who take immune-suppressing drugs to avoid organ rejection. At the center, doctors perform heart, liver, lung, kidney, pancreas and hand transplants. With more than 1,000 Kentuckians on the waiting list for various transplants, staff decided not to suspend procedures that in most cases are life-saving. As of last week, the center had provided 101 transplants this year. The state’s other transplant program is at the University of Kentucky, which also continued organ transplants without interruption, a spokeswoman said. UK reported it has performed 189 transplants this year.
New Orleans: City officials said they will investigate crowds that gathered in the French Quarter after the city relaxed coronavirus pandemic restrictions. Saturday was the first day that bars could have outdoor seats under guidelines set by Mayor LaToya Cantrell, who is taking a more gradual approach than the state. Tweets on Sunday from the city’s official Twitter account said officials had been made aware of crowds gathering in the French Quarter and would enforce the rules, WWL-TV reported. Under the city’s guidelines, bars can have outdoor seats for up to 25% of their normal capacity or 50 people – whichever is smaller. Police and the city’s code enforcement task force enforced the 11 p.m. curfew on alcohol takeout and sales “in the French Quarter and throughout the city,” it said. “Businesses not in compliance with Phase 3.2 guidelines will be met with enforcement action,” another tweet said. “Our people have put in the work which has allowed us to ease restrictions, but actions that lead to super spreader events will not be condoned. We cannot go back.” The city did not mention enforcement against people making up crowds outside bars, the station noted.
Portland: The Maine Medical Center Research Institute is joining an initiative to create a centralized national data platform that scientists can use to study COVID-19 and identify potential treatments. The institute received a $203,000 grant from West Virginia University for a National Institute of General Medical Sciences initiative. The National COVID Cohort Collaborative is a partnership of more than 35 institutions. The goal is to use COVID-19 clinical data to answer critical research questions to address the pandemic. “The N3C platform allows researchers access to vast amounts of data without health care institutions having to share personally identifiable information about their patients,” said Susan Santangelo, from the Maine Medical Center Research Institute. “This collaboration may help us save lives.” Santangelo used previous funding to create a data warehouse from medical records of MaineHealth patients since the beginning of 2020. The data sets are in line with patient confidential laws, officials said.
Baltimore: A historic Baltimore hotel has been repurposed amid the coronavirus pandemic, serving as a free isolation center for people with COVID-19. Since May, more than 600 people have come through the Lord Baltimore Hotel’s doors, the Baltimore Sun reported. Referrals to the city’s Triage, Respite, and Isolation Center come from hospitals as well as homeless shelters and recovery houses. It’s intended for people who aren’t sick enough to require hospitalization but who can’t self-isolate at home. The initiative is a partnership between Baltimore and the University of Maryland Medical System. It’s being funded through $103 million the city received from the federal coronavirus relief bill. Although those dollars expire in December, city officials plan to seek funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to keep it open longer, the newspaper reported. Leon Love, a 68-year-old Baltimore resident, stayed there last month. He said the good care he received there helped him make a full recovery. The new business has also helped the hotel hire back 20 of the 60 employees laid off earlier in the pandemic, according to the newspaper.
Boston: Massachusetts has delayed the resumption of jury trials until early next month. The earliest potential start date for jury trials will be extended to Nov. 9, Trial Court Chief Justice Paula Carey said in a statement last week. The delay comes amid a rising number of conformed cases of COVID-19 around the state. The Supreme Judicial Court had authorized the first phase of the resumption of jury trials to begin no earlier than Oct. 23. The Office of Jury Commissioner is canceling jurors summoned for the weeks of Oct. 26 and Nov. 2. Trials scheduled prior to Nov. 9 will be rescheduled. “We continue to review building systems to minimize any risk to jurors, court users and court staff,” Carey said. “We are following CDC guidance in terms of occupancy levels and want to take a few more weeks to prepare.” Courts have been working toward the gradual resumption of jury trials. Plans call for conducting a limited number of trials at first, with six-person juries, in a designated number of courthouses.
Detroit: PJ’s Lager House said Sunday on Facebook it has temporarily closed after an employee recently tested positive for the coronavirus, and said anyone who visited the Corktown neighborhood restaurant from Oct. 9-12 should consider getting tested. The employee received their positive test result Sunday and is in quarantine. However, the restaurant has been closed since Oct. 13, when management was alerted that a customer, who visited the restaurant Oct. 9, tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19. PJ’s Lager House will remain closed until all staff members have had two negative COVID-19 tests in a row. “We’re doing everything we can to be transparent and operate safely,” the business posted on Facebook. Those who visited the Lager House from Oct. 9-12 should monitor themselves for symptoms, stay away from others for 14 days, and seek COVID-19 testing. After testing, people should continue avoiding contact with others while they await test results.
Minneapolis: Democratic U.S. Sen. Tina Smith skipped a campaign event with Sen. Elizabeth Warren over the weekend after learning that a person who attended one of her events eight days earlier had tested positive for the coronavirus. “I’m getting tested & I am quarantining until I test negative,” Smith tweeted Sunday. After learning Monday morning that she had tested negative, Smith tweeted that she was “Headed back to Washington to keep working for Minnesotans.” Campaign spokeswoman Molly Morrisey said the person who tested positive attended a lawn sign pickup rally at Smith’s headquarters in St. Paul on Oct. 10. It was an outdoor event at which masks were required, and Smith did not have close contact with the individual, Morrisey said. The campaign learned Sunday that the person tested positive. To be safe, Morrisey said, Smith got tested and skipped a Sunday afternoon rally with Warren, a senator from Massachusetts, at Macalester College in St. Paul.
Jackson: The Mississippi State Fair closed late Sunday after 12-day run, but state Agriculture Commissioner Andy Gipson said officials will take the unusual step of reopening the fair this coming weekend. Gipson said Monday on Twitter that days are being added because Hurricane Delta brought rain that hurt attendance during the first weekend. Fair officials were working on details of reopening, including information about how many vendors will remain. The fair was also affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Gov. Tate Reeves lifted Mississippi’s statewide mask mandate before the fair started. Gipson encouraged people at the fair to wear masks if they could not maintain social distance. Overall attendance figures for the 12 days were not immediately available Monday.
Springfield: Mayor Ken McClure was given the Governmental Excellence Award by Missouri State University for his work during the coronavirus pandemic. University president Cliff Smart said McClure’s leadership on behalf of the city has benefited the university. He said the university has worked closely with the city on its safety measures and response to the pandemic. “We would not be where we are without his leadership in both steering through and in terms of timing the masking mandate, the stay-at-home order that was a piece of this, the gathering restrictions,” Smart said. McClure was part of Missouri State’s leadership team for years, retiring in mid-2015. He served as vice president of administrative and information services. In that position, he was responsible for safety, campus planning, human resources, support services and managing facilities.
Missoula: The Montana State Prison has locked down because of an outbreak of the coronavirus in the facility, the state Department of Corrections said. The lockdown starting Friday occurred after the number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the prison jumped from eight to 36, the Missoulian reported. The Department of Corrections said 23 prison employees have also tested positive for the coronavirus. “To help keep the virus from spreading at MSP, the facility has been placed on quarantine, allowing extremely limited movement of offenders within the facility,” Department of Corrections spokeswoman Carolynn Bright said. “At this time, MSP inmates who are positive for COVID-19 are either being isolated in their cells or cohorted with other COVID-19-positive inmates.” The prison in southwest Montana houses about 1,500 inmates and employs about 700 staff members.
Omaha: The state will reopen a series of federally funded grant programs to help small businesses and nonprofits that are struggling because of the coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Pete Ricketts said. Nebraska still has $160 million available from the $1 billion it received under the federal CARES Act, the package designed to soften the pandemic’s impact on the economy. The state will accept applications for assistance from 10 a.m. Wednesday until Nov. 13 on a first-come, first-served basis. The newest round of grants will include aid targeting some of the hardest-hit businesses, including restaurants, bars, movie theaters, tattoo parlors, zoos, event centers and ethanol plants that lost business because of reduced travel and gasoline usage. “In every area where you see a separate line item, there was an additional need,” Ricketts said. Nebraska will provide up to $12,000 for restaurants, bars and tattoo parlors that can show they were hurt by the pandemic. Hotels and convention centers could each qualify for up to $500,000, depending on their size. Restaurants qualified for the same amount when the state awarded its first round of assistance earlier in July. Ricketts said restaurants that didn’t get a first-round grant could be eligible for $24,000. He said some eligible businesses didn’t apply for the initial funding because they didn’t know about it or didn’t think they qualified. State officials have also set aside $11 million for food banks, $2.5 million for licensed child care providers and $3.3 million to help renters who are at risk of eviction.
Reno: Skiing and snowboarding won’t be much different than usual on the slopes when Lake Tahoe ski resorts begin reopening next month. But a variety of changes are planned indoors because of COVID-19. Capacity limits will be in place, and some resorts are adopting reservation systems. All of of the Tahoe-area resorts plan to reopen on both sides of the California-Nevada line in the next two months. Several, including Mount Rose on the edge of Reno, haven’t announced an opening date yet. The first scheduled to open are Heavenly and Northstar on Nov. 20, followed by Boreal, Nov. 23; Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows, Nov. 25; and Sugar Bowl, Nov. 27. Others include Kirkwood, Dec. 4; Diamond Peak, Dec. 10; and Homewood, Dec. 11. Diamond Peak will implement a reservation system for tables in the lodge. The number of people who enter restaurants and lodges at Heavenly, Kirkwood and Northstar will be monitored. At Sugar Bowl and Boreal, indoor use will be limited to restrooms or using a warming zone for 15 to 20 minutes. Some resorts won’t allow nonskiing friends and family members to lounge in their lodges.
Concord: The state has asked the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday to strike down a regulation that requires roughly 80,000 of its residents who are employed by Massachusetts companies to pay income taxes in the neighboring state while they work from home during the coronavirus pandemic. Under a temporary rule enacted by the Massachusetts Department of Revenue, residents of other states who were working in Massachusetts before the pandemic remain subject to Massachusetts’ 5.05% income tax while they work from home. Although the regulation will expire Dec. 31, or 90 days after the coronavirus state of emergency in Massachusetts is lifted, New Hampshire officials argued it represents a permanent shift in underlying policy and amounts to an “aggressive attempt to impose Massachusetts income tax” beyond its borders. The lack of an income tax in New Hampshire is part of the state’s identity, they argued, and has helped boost per capita income, decrease unemployment and motivated businesses and individuals to move to the state. The complaint asks the court to declare the rule unconstitutional, block its implementation and order Massachusetts to refund the taxes. Massachusetts officials have said the regulation is similar to those adopted by other states and have declined to comment on pending litigation.
Trenton: The state’s daily number of COVID-19 cases has doubled since last month, reaching about 1,000 each day, Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli said. The spike in cases stems from “community spread,” and not a single decision to reopen part of the state’s economy, she said. Although there were recent spikes in Ocean County and in higher education institutions, she added, the increase is “widespread” across the state. A review of cases that excluded schools and congregant living health care facilities, showed the largest share of outbreaks stem from gatherings and parties, as well as day care and on farms, she said. Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy advised residents to continue to use masks, keep social distance and quarantine if exposed to the virus. New Jersey’s cases have also reached the level at which the state travelers from other states with high COVID-19 levels must quarantine. Murphy advised residents “not to travel, frankly,” but said essential travel for work would be OK.
Santa Fe: New Mexico Tech has temporarily closed out of caution against COVID-19 after officials learned of several off-campus weekend parties. University President Stephen Wells announced on the school’s website that the campus would be shut down Monday. According to Wells, between 50 and 100 students gathered over the weekend at multiple parties in the area surrounding the Socorro campus. Wells said “it is regrettable that I have to take this extreme measure due to the irresponsibility of a few.” He warned any student who attended a party should go into self-isolation and report it to the office of the dean of students. Furthermore, the school will attempt to move all classes online. Wells did not say if the school would remain closed beyond Monday. Since the school year began, New Mexico Tech has reported four cases of COVID-19.
Albany: Ski resorts in New York will be allowed to open next month at half their indoor capacity with restrictions on sharing gondolas, and face coverings will be required off the slopes, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. The governor said ski resorts can open Nov. 6 during a briefing in which he outlined draft plans for the “massive undertaking” of administering vaccinations for millions of New Yorkers. Ski resorts can open under a series of restrictions consistent with rules for other entertainment venues. Masks will be required at all times except when eating, drinking or skiing. Gondolas and lifts will be restricted to members of the same party and shared or rented equipment must be disinfected between uses. Also, capacity on the mountain must be reduced by 25% during “peak” days or if multiple trails are closed because of unseasonable conditions. Ski lessons will be limited to 10 or fewer people, he said.
Asheville: A detainee at the Buncombe County Detention Facility has tested positive for COVID-19, according to a release from the sheriff’s office. That individual has been under quarantine since entering the facility and is asymptomatic, according to sheriff’s office PIO Aaron Sarver. Sarver said medical staff determined the detainee should be tested after routine intake screening. “Each detainee receives a screening for COVID-19 when they enter the BCDF,” he said. “This consists of a temperature check and asking a series of questions that screen for symptoms. A temperature of 100.4 is the threshold.” The sheriff’s department has enlisted the help of Buncombe County Health and Human Services to conduct contact tracing, determining so far the risk of community spread is low, Sarver said. No detention officers, facility staff or other detainees are exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, he said. This is the fourth COVID case detected at the facility, Sarver said. A Buncombe County resident detained on criminal charges in September also tested positive after self-reporting an infection. Another tested positive in August, the same month a detention officer tested positive.
Bismarck: The state’s daily positivity rate for COVID-19 topped 10% for the sixth time in the last seven days as health officials on Sunday reported 716 new cases, including three counties with more than 100 positive tests. The state has now surpassed 400 deaths. The update lifted the total number of the coronavirus cases statewide to nearly 32,000 since the pandemic began. There were about 1,069 new cases per 100,000 people in North Dakota over the past two weeks, which ranks first in the country for new cases per capita, according to figures compiled Saturday by Johns Hopkins University researchers. Cass County, which includes the most populous metropolitan area in the state, reported 131 cases in the last day, followed by Burleigh County with 114 and Grand Forks County with 113. There were new cases in 45 counties. Hospitalizations stood at 147, which was down from 148 in the last update. As of Saturday, there were 16 staffed ICU beds and 235 staffed inpatient beds available across the state. The report showed five deaths in the last day, lifting the total number of fatalities due to complications from the coronavirus to 404.
Newark: Coronavirus pandemic relief to all Licking County, which totaled $7.3 million at the end of August, has more than doubled with another $12.7 million allocation which must be spent by the end of the year. The federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act funds, passed through the state government to the counties, must be returned if unspent. “It’s a substantial amount of pandemic relief money in a short period of time with a lot of strings attached, and we will be subject to audit,” Licking County Commissioner Tim Bubb said. “If somebody would have told me in January, we’d have a pandemic that would change the world and somebody would drop $10 million on the county to spend in a month, I’d told you, you were nuts.” The money must be spent as a reimbursement for pandemic-related expenses. The recipients are not limited to governments. Licking County allocated $500,000 each to the Licking County Chamber of Commerce, Licking County Coalition for Housing and Licking County Foundation. The chamber will disburse the money to small businesses, the housing coalition for rental assistance and the foundation to nonprofits. The commissioners also approved $300,000 to the United Way of Licking County for hygiene products, $106,000 to Career and Technology Education Centers of Licking County for workforce training, $100,000 to The Works for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math remote learning and $76,000 to The Midland Theatre for virtual capabilities. The commissioners must appropriate the funds by Nov. 20, and the recipients have until the end of the year to spend it.
Bartlesville: Oklahoma Wesleyan University will waive the ACT/SAT admission requirement in light of testing issues during the coronavirus pandemic. “Oklahoma Wesleyan recognizes the challenges students are facing this year in taking the ACT,” said Mark Weeter, OKWU’s vice president of academic affairs. “Therefore, we will be accepting students provisionally without an ACT, if they meet other academic requirements.” He said students will still take other assessments such as the Residual ACT or the Classic Learning Test for placement purposes. College admissions testing dates at locations throughout the country have been canceled since the pandemic began. Testing capacity has been limited by adherence to health guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Most Oklahoma schools offer the ACT college readiness exam, rather than the SAT. ACT, Inc. recently announced additional test site cancellations for October, including 20 dates and sites in Oklahoma.The College Board, which manages SAT testing, closed all of its testing centers in Oklahoma for October and November. The University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond announced earlier this week that it will waive the ACT/SAT requirements for first-year undergraduate applicants who meet specific requirements. The University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University have moved to test-optional status earlier this year.
Eugene: Amtrak quietly reduced the number of times the only passenger train that connects Oregon and California – the Coast Starlight route – stops in Eugene. Decreasing the long-distance services from daily to three times a week this month on 10 of its long-distance routes nationwide is one of the ways Amtrak is trying to cope with the economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, but it will potentially cost Oregon millions. The other route that will impact Oregon is the Empire Builder train, which provides service from Chicago to Seattle and Portland. Its service reduction to three times a week began Monday. The pandemic upended the success Amtrak experienced in 2019, the best year for ridership in the company’s history with a record 32.5 million passenger trips and $3.3 billion in total operating revenue in 2019. The Rail Passengers Association advocacy group released new research showing that Amtrak’s plan to reduce service on its long-distance routes will cost Oregonians $43 million annually, driven by a loss of roughly 182,000 passengers.
Erie: Erie County Department of Health Director Melissa Lyon offered some advice to anyone attending President Donald Trump’s rally Tuesday at Erie International Airport. “Wear your face mask and and stay socially distant if you can,” Lyon said. “They are the only tools we have.” Up to 10,000 people are expected to attend the rally, scheduled for 7 p.m. The event will be held inside a hangar but at least some of the seats will be outside. Lyon said the health department was notified about the rally but not consulted about how to reduce its risk of spreading COVID-19. Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat who recently expanded outdoor seating at Pennsylvania events to as many as 7,500 people in certain circumstances, has criticized the president for holding “unsafe rallies that will put Pennsylvania communities at risk” of COVID-19 outbreaks. A Trump campaign spokeswoman said strong precautions are being taken at these rallies. “Every attendee has their temperature checked, is provided a mask they’re instructed to wear, and has access to plenty of hand sanitizer,” said Courtney Parella, the campaign’s deputy national press secretary. “We also have signs at our events instructing attendees to wear their masks.” If COVID-19 cases are linked to the rally, Lyon said the health department will conduct contact tracing like it does with any other case.
Providence: The city is throwing a lifeline to small businesses struggling during the coronavirus pandemic with microgrants of up to $10,000, officials said Monday. The microenterprise grant program will support more than 20 low-to-moderate income entrepreneurs and business owners, said Mayor Jorge Elorza and Jeanne Cola, executive director of the Local Initiatives Support Corp. Rhode Island in a statement. “Small businesses, especially microbusinesses, are the backbone of Providence’s economy,” Elorza said. “This program will provide much needed relief to our neighborhoods and ensure businesses have access to the resources and financial supports to ride out the current economic storm.” The businesses, typically ineligible for funding through federal programs, will be able to use the grants for business expenses including rent, staffing, utilities, and retail location modifications. Grant applications will be available online starting Oct. 29.
Columbia: Authorities broke up a party where at least 2,000 people were gathered without taking precautions to prevent spreading the coronavirus, fire officials said. The gathering occurred Saturday at an apartment complex during the University of South Carolina’s football game, Columbia Fire Department spokesman Mike DeSumma told The State. Fire department photos showed a huge crowd of young people with scant evidence of face masks or social distancing. Some people threw bottles at crews as they arrived to answer a medical call, DeSumma said. Sheriff’s deputies and university police helped to break up the party after fire officials declared it an imminent danger. No citations were issued to partygoers, DeSumma said, but not wearing a mask is a civil infraction with a fine up to $25, and businesses face a $100 penalty, according to a pandemic ordinance in Richland County.
Sioux Falls: South Dakota Speaker of the House Steve Haugaard, R-Sioux Falls, told the Argus Leader on Monday that he spent the last two weeks dealing with a severe case of COVID-19. “It’s been the most devastating stuff I’ve ever had in my life,” said the 64-year-old attorney. Haugaard is at least the second South Dakota legislator to be diagnosed with COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic earlier this year. State Rep. Bob Glanzer, R-Huron, was among the first South Dakotans to contract and die from the virus. Haugaard and dozens of other lawmakers convened in Pierre earlier this month for a special session of the Legislature to formally authorize Gov. Kristi Noem to spend more than a billion dollars in federal pandemic relief funds. But Haugaard couldn’t say where he contracted the virus because he had been around different people in different settings in the days before he began showing symptoms, he said. He said his symptoms included loss of appetite and daily fevers ranging between 100 and 105 degrees that prompted two trips to the emergency room. Hauggard said his fever finally broke Friday, and he intends to return to work this week.
Knoxville: Sixteen residents and one staff member have died after a COVID-19 outbreak at a nursing home in eastern Tennessee. The Knoxville News Sentinel reported that more than two-fifths of The Heritage Center’s residents have tested positive for the coronavirus. Meanwhile, a fourth of the residents who have tested positive have died. “We mourn the loss of these residents and associates,” said Executive Director Scott Hunt in a statement Friday. “They were part of our family, and their passing has left a hole in our heart.” According to information provided by the nursing home, 46 residents have recovered. One resident remains at the hospital. Separately, 43 staff members have recovered after testing positive for the disease. Seven continue to stay at home. The deaths at The Heritage Center mark the second-deadliest outbreak in eastern Tennessee, where Signature Healthcare of Greeneville reported 20 resident deaths earlier this year.
El Paso: The El Paso area has reported its highest number of hospitalizations because of the coronavirus since the pandemic began, officials said Sunday. A record 449 hospitalizations were reported for Saturday, with 129 of those patients in intensive care, according to El Paso health officials. In the El Paso area, only seven ICU beds are available, according to the Texas Department of Health and Human Services. Hospitalizations have been steadily increasing in the El Paso area since early September. The increase in hospitalizations and cases prompted El Paso officials last week to implement tighter restrictions to fight the spread of the coronavirus. Mayor Dee Margo had announced that visitors to facilities that care for the elderly will not be allowed, and businesses not considered essential must cut back to 50% of their capacity from 75%. Restaurants are limited to takeout and drive-thru service after 9 p.m., home gatherings are temporarily banned and bars, which had not been allowed to reopen, will remain closed. The number of new daily COVID-19 cases recorded in El Paso soared Thursday to a record-breaking 838. That number dipped to 684 on Saturday.
Moab: In September, Arches National Park was so popular, it had to close 16 times because of overcrowding. The park is not built to handle as many people as it’s attracting, with small parking lots and worries about crowding on the trails during a pandemic. In October, the park has closed every day to try and curb the crowds. Before the pandemic, Arches National Park was expected to have its busiest year yet after seeing 1.66 million visitors last year. September is tradtionally the park’s busiest month. Park officials said they had to close the park 3% more than in 2019, even with a drop in overall visitation. Vicki Varela, managing director of the Utah Office of Tourism, said no one was prepared for this level of tourism in Moab. “It’s a huge responsibility for us to plan and market appropriately with local communities on how they want to market their communities,” she said. “Moab became a bigger tourism mecca than anyone even imagined and a lot of it happened without any great planning.
Bradford: Officials said Oxbow High School was closed for the weekend for deep cleaning after a staff member tested positive for the coronavirus. “In working with the Vermont Department of Health, we have determined that no students at Oxbow are considered to be close contacts who require testing or quarantine to limit spread,” Superintendent Emilie Knisley said in a social media post. “This is excellent news for our students.” The Valley News reported contact tracing is underway and the case is believed to be isolated to the eighth grade. There was no impact on River Bend Career and Technical Center or shared bus routes, Knisley said.
Roanoke: Virginia Tech is aiming for more in-person classes in the spring semester in 2021 wile operating under COVID-19 restrictions, school officials said Monday. The school said on its website that it will start the semester as planned on Jan. 19, but will modify its traditional weeklong, early March spring break to discourage travel that might increase the risk of contracting or transmitting COVID-19 from one area to another. According to the school, all instruction will be online through Jan. 22, allowing for a gradual move-in process for residential students and allow orderly COVID-19 surveillance, the school said. In-person and hybrid instruction begins on Jan. 25 and continues to the end of the semester on May 5. As with the fall semester, courses can either be fully online, hybrid, or fully-in-person as determined by each instructor. Spring break will consist of five one-day breaks, starting on Feb. 5. The other breaks are set for Feb. 25, March 17, April 6 and April 26. Final exams will be held May 7-12 and can be taken online, using a hybrid format or in-person, based on current public health guidelines, depending on the availability of suitable classroom space, and in accordance with course planners.
Everett: A ski resort has announced plans to reopen with restrictions, including limiting how many people are allowed on the mountain to help reduce the spread of the coronavirus. Colorado-based ski company Vail Resorts, which owns Stevens Pass and other ski areas across the country, said in August that it would reopen its resorts in December, The Daily Herald reported. Visitors must have a reservation to hit the slopes at Stevens Pass, which is about 80 miles east of Seattle. The ski area is scheduled to open Dec. 4. General Manager Tom Pettigrew said pass holders will get priority, and everyone else must buy passes ahead of time online. He said daily lift tickets will be available on a week-of basis and pass holders will have priority and access to seven reserved days anytime during the season. Officials said the number of people allowed on the slopes will depend on the weather, how much terrain is available on the mountain and what phase of reopening King County is in. Pettigrew also said the resort has taken other safety precautions, such as requiring face coverings, moving to cashless transactions and social distancing at resort lodges, on chairlifts and inside buildings.
Charleston: For the second straight week, West Virginia has set a record for the number of weekly statewide confirmed coronavirus cases as officials continue to urge widespread testing. The 1,644 positive cases reported from Oct. 12 through Sunday shattered the record of 1,350 cases set in the previous week, according to the Department of Health and Human Resources website. The number of active cases statewide also hit a record Monday at about 5,100 – up 25%, or about 1,000 more cases, since the end of September. Gov. Jim Justice has pushed for more aggressive testing statewide over the past several weeks to identify people who otherwise might not be showing symptoms before they spread the virus to others. The state surpassed 200 positive daily virus cases for the first time on Aug. 30. It has hit that mark 19 times since, including a record 334 cases last Thursday. Critics said the increase in testing is aimed at lowering the rate of viruses in counties and thus enabling public schools to reopen under a color-coded map.
Madison: A judge on Monday reimposed an order from Gov. Tony Evers’ administration limiting the number of people who can gather in bars, restaurants and other indoor venues to 25% of capacity. The capacity limits order was issued Oct. 6 by Andrea Palm, secretary of the state Department of Health Services, in the face of surging coronavirus cases in Wisconsin. A judge blocked the order on Oct. 14 after it was challenged by the Tavern League of Wisconsin, which argued it amounted to a “de facto closure” order for the bars and restaurants it represents. But Barron County Judge James Babler put the capacity limits back into effect. He declined a request from the Tavern League to keep the capacity limit order on hold while the lawsuit is pending and declined to stay his ruling while the Tavern League and others appeal his decision. Wisconsin last week set new daily records for positive coronavirus cases, deaths and hospitalizations. To date, the state has more than 173,000 positive cases and 1,600 deaths. In denying the request to put the capacity limits order on hold, the judge said the Tavern League and others fighting the order did not have a reasonable probability of succeeding. He said no one had shown they would be harmed by following the order. Attorney Misha Tseytlin, who represented The Mix Up bar in Amery, said it suffered a 50% drop in sales after the order was issued. But the judge said there was no evidence that the loss of customers was the result of the order limiting capacity.
Casper: Wyoming is trending in the “wrong direction,” with its COVID-19 case numbers and hospitalizations, Gov. Mark Gordon said in a news conference Monday, the Casper Star-Tribune reported. The state set a record Monday with 36 coronavirus patients hospitalized across Wyoming.
From USA TODAY Network and wire reports