Park closures, 3D-printed masks, writing history: News from around our 50 states

Park closures, 3D-printed masks, writing history: News from around our 50 states


Montgomery: The state on Monday reported a significant jump in the number of COVID-19 patients, reaching more than 2,000 confirmed cases and more than 53 reported deaths. The state doubled its number of reported cases in just five days. Gov. Kay Ivey announced a “stay-at-home” order that took effect Saturday, saying she felt compelled to require people to shelter at home as cases of the new virus continued to rise and too many people ignored calls to isolate voluntarily. A hospital serving one of the state’s outbreak areas pleaded with people to stay home. East Alabama Medical Center urged people to practice social distancing guidelines and said that – “unfortunately” – “not much has changed in our community since” the order took effect. “Children are still playing together, people are still congregating in public places, and stores are packed with people,” the hospital said in a Monday update.


Anchorage: Some food producers in the Matanuska-Susitna Valley have experienced increased demand for locally produced products during the coronavirus pandemic. A dairy and potato farm in the south-central region are working hard to fill orders from grocery stores as the virus continues to spread, KTVA-TV reports. Staff at Havemeister Dairy in Palmer are milking 80 cows and shipping about 5,000 gallons per week, most of which is on store shelves within 24 hours, creamery manager Ty Havemeister said. “We were pretty much selling everything before this happened,” Havemeister said, noting that since the outbreak there has been a “snowball effect.” VanderWeele Farm in Palmer has experienced unprecedented demand. “I can tell you that I’ve never sold this many potatoes in my life, in the last two weeks, in the same time period,” owner Ben VanderWeele said. He estimated his farm is shipping three to four times more sacks of potatoes than normal.


Supai: A small northern Arizona reservation known for its blue-green waterfalls will remain closed to tourists through mid-May. The Havasupai Tribe passed a resolution Monday to extend the closure to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Anyone who has a permit to stay at the tribe’s lodge or in the campground through May 14 will be able to reschedule the trip for sometime next year, the tribe said. About 40,000 people visit the tribe’s land annually. The reservation is deep in a gorge off the Grand Canyon, accessible only by foot, mule or helicopter. It is home to about 450 people who have been instructed to stay at home, except to get essential items. The tribe has no confirmed cases of COVID-19. The Tonto and Coronado national forests also have expanded the list of closed areas, including more developed campgrounds and day-use sites, to discourage people from gathering in large groups.


Little Rock: The governor on Tuesday opposed allowing cities to issue their own stay-at-home orders during the coronavirus outbreak while the state resists such a restriction. Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who is among a handful of governors who haven’t issued stay-at-home orders, said those restrictions need to be dealt with on a statewide basis. Hutchinson said a number of mayors have talked with him about the issue. “I think it points up the need to have a statewide policy because if you have a business in one community, it impacts others,” Hutchinson said. “If you have essential services in one community, it serves the entire state if not more.” Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott said he’d like to be able to issue such a restriction. The city has imposed a nighttime curfew in response to the outbreak. Health officials said the number of coronavirus cases in the state had risen to at least 946. The state reported two additional deaths, bringing its total to 18.


Los Angeles: Mayor Eric Garcetti said Monday that he’s encouraged by a slowing rate of coronavirus infections but warned that City Hall could expand restrictions on public and business activity if the numbers suddenly take a turn for the worse. Garcetti said the possibilities include requiring people to stay mostly in their neighborhoods, rather than travel longer distances for shopping and exercise, and clamping down on construction sites with workers in too-close proximity. Nothing is imminent, but “be ready for more, depending on what the statistics are,” the mayor said. Beginning in mid-March, the city put broad restrictions in place that have closed gyms, bars and sit-down dining rooms and limited business activity to lines of work deemed essential. Now, freeways flow freely, with most residents spending their days at home. But the limits on activity could get even tougher.


Denver: Gov. Jared Polis on Monday extended his statewide stay-at-home order until April 26 to help curb the spread of the coronavirus. In a speech that was televised statewide, Polis said the spread of the disease had slowed, but he called on residents to continue to keep social distance and to wear protective face masks when they run essential errands. “If there’s any way to safely end it sooner, I will,” he said. “And likewise, if Coloradans aren’t staying at home, and the numbers of dead and dying continue to pile up, it could go longer.” The initial stay-at-home order was set to expire April 11. Polis said that at the beginning of the crisis, the number of cases in Colorado was doubling every one and a half days but now is doubling every six or seven days. “We’re fighting an invisible enemy, a virus that is both deadly and extremely contagious,” said Polis, who warned that the state’s health care system won’t have the capacity to treat some patients if too many people get sick at the same time.


Hartford: A special police unit in the city will handle a surge in domestic violence calls believed to be linked to social isolation measures imposed to fight the coronavirus pandemic, officials said. Two officers during the day and two at night will respond only to domestic violence calls and will give victims information on services including safe houses and counseling, Mayor Luke Bronin said. The city is working with Interval House, a nonprofit group. Bronin said there was a 20% increase in domestic violence calls to police over the past week, but officials worry many cases are not being reported. “We’ve asked everybody to stay home,” Bronin said Monday. “But the tragic reality is that as we take those measures to keep our community safe, it also means that there are those in our community, in our neighborhood and loved ones who may be at greater risk and who suffer in this time of isolation.”


Newark: A woman is facing felony charges after going into a store and shouting that she had the coronavirus. New Castle County police responded Friday to a report of disorderly conduct at Brookside Shopping Center in Newark. Witnesses told police that a woman was screaming and using profanity and telling everyone she had tested positive for COVID-19 and did not care who she infected. Witnesses said people fled the store trying to avoid the woman. Officers detained 54-year-old Kelley Hines took her to a local hospital for testing. After being medically cleared, Hines was charged with felony terroristic threatening causing a building to be evacuated, two counts of misdemeanor terroristic threatening, and one count of misdemeanor disorderly conduct. Hines was released after posting $5,200 unsecured bail.

District of Columbia

Washington: In an effort to help slow the spread of the coronavirus and encourage social distancing, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton wants the National Park Service to close the Lincoln and Jefferson memorials, WUSA-TV reports. The request comes after reports of crowds gathering at the memorials over the weekend. “Federal agencies must do their part to flatten the curve,” Norton said. “Given the crowds that continue to gather in the chambers of both the Jefferson and Lincoln Memorials, it is no longer in the best interest of the community for these memorials to remain open. I am calling on Acting Director (David) Vela to restrict access to the public until the coronavirus is over.” Norton had previously sent a letter to Vela asking for answers on measures NPS is taking to protect the safety of U.S. Park Police, who are tasked with protecting these memorials.


Fort Lauderdale: The sheriff’s office ripped apart by the 2018 Parkland high school massacre is now facing an angry, public fracture sparked by the coronavirus death of one of its deputies. The animosity between Broward County Sheriff Gregory Tony and the union representing his street deputies got even nastier Tuesday when union president Jeff Bell penned a column blasting Tony in the South Florida Sun Sentinel. It came four days after the death of Deputy Shannon Bennett, 39, and after three dozen Broward deputies and other employees had tested positive for COVID-19. Bell accused the sheriff of not providing his deputies with sufficient protective equipment as they face a disease ”that has the potential to take more lives of police officers in a single month than will fall to gunfire nationwide in a year.” Tony quickly returned fire, calling a Tuesday morning news conference at which he excoriated Bell and said he used Bennett’s death “to politicize and capitalize on a moment when we lost one of our own.” He called Bell’s actions “dishonorable.”


Atlanta: Part of an expansion at a hospital will open nearly four months early in order to provide more intensive care beds during the coronavirus pandemic, as the death toll in the state increased to 329. Piedmont Healthcare announced Tuesday that three floors of the new Marcus Tower at Piedmont Atlanta Hospital will now open April 13. The tower was originally slated to open Aug. 1. A statement from Piedmont says the new space will be able to provide 132 additional beds, including 64 ICU beds. “By opening this part of the tower early, we are increasing capacity at a critical time when our community needs it the most,” said hospital CEO Dr. Patrick Battey. News outlets report state officials are also exploring the possibility of using other locations, including the Georgia World Congress Center – a sprawling convention center in downtown Atlanta – to house patients.


Hilo: A homeless encampment that was dismantled late last year has been reassembled in the same vacant lot on the Big Island. The new camp has raised fears of a potential public health threat as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, The Hawaii Tribune-Herald reports. A collection of makeshift shacks and tents was removed in November from the lot in downtown Hilo. The property owners were ordered to keep the lot clear of unpermitted structures. During March, the lot once again attracted members of the homeless community, who set up tents and tarps at the encampment. “It’s been getting bigger and bigger lately, and it’s progressing faster,” said Irene Agasa, co-owner of the adjacent Agasa Furniture and Music Store. While she followed Gov. David Ige’s directive to close nonessential businesses, Agasa said she regularly sanitizes the shop because the camp’s population gathers around the store’s loading zones in opposition to social distancing guidelines.


Boise: State officials on Monday extended the statewide school closure because of the coronavirus through the end of the academic year, or until social distancing requirements are lifted. The Idaho State Board of Education voted unanimously to extend school closures past the April 20 date for possible reopening. Students will still be taught online. Health officials say the number of people contracting the virus in Idaho is expected to peak in late April and early May. Meanwhile, more Idahoans have been signing up for health care insurance through Medicaid expansion as the economy has collapsed, and others who have lost jobs due to the coronavirus could qualify for the state-run insurance market, officials say. More than 45,000 workers lost employment in the past several weeks as the state’s economy shed jobs at a record rate. Medicaid expansion numbers have climbed more steeply over that same period and are approaching 70,000. Your Health Idaho insurance exchange officials say some workers who lost jobs could get health insurance there if they qualify. But Idaho is the only state running its own insurance exchange that hasn’t reopened enrollments to help people get health insurance during the pandemic.


Springfield: Inmates who meet the medical criteria may be granted furloughs to minimize the spread of coronavirus in state prisons, under an executive order signed Monday by Gov. J.B. Pritzker. His executive order gives the Illinois Department of Corrections permission to allow “medically vulnerable” inmates out of prison temporarily for as long as the governor’s disaster proclamation is in effect. Pritzker’s action came as 62 inmates and 40 Corrections Department staffers had been confirmed to have COVID-19. Two inmates at Stateville Correctional Center have died of the disease. Several lawsuits have been filed by representatives of prisoners contending the state has been slow to act in the face of the pandemic. The lawsuits noted as many as 13,000 prisoners could be eligible for release, including some who are convicted of nonviolent offenses, elderly or at a higher risk of getting sick or who have served most of their sentences.


Indianapolis: The Indiana Historical Society isn’t waiting for the coronavirus crisis to make it into the history books to prepare to tell the story. The group that’s been documenting the state’s past since 1830 is for the first time collecting documents at the exact time the historic event is unfolding. “As historians we’re looking back 10, 15 and even 20 years because with historical perspective, you get a sense of something that is significant, ” Jody Blankenship, president and CEO of Indiana Historical Society, told WISH-TV. “So this is new for us.” The museum has thus far collected more than 260 items from people all over the state. Once items are collected, the society’s researchers will start to digitize and understand the submissions. Items the museum is looking for include photographs, paintings, drawings, writings and whatever else might help tell the story of how the global pandemic played out in Indiana. And the museum doesn’t want people to think that because they’re not famous, their submissions aren’t important. “Oftentimes, people will look at their own history and say it’s not history. Not everything in history has to be because you’re a general or a famous person,” Blankenship said.


Iowa City: Gov. Kim Reynolds on Monday expanded business closures to include malls, bowling alleys and playgrounds and instructed police to enforce her order prohibiting gatherings of more than 10 people. Outbreaks of the coronavirus were confirmed at two more Iowa nursing homes, a major meat processing plant was temporarily closed after scores of workers were infected, and a beloved Iowa City educator was confirmed to be among the dead. Iowa Department of Public Safety Commissioner Stephan Bayens said the governor was issuing guidance this week to police officers to enforce her orders limiting nonessential public gatherings. He said violators would first be educated and warned, but they could also be charged with simple misdemeanors for noncompliance. “Law enforcement has no desire to cite or arrest anyone. Most Iowans are being responsible and doing their part. It is only a small segment that is throwing caution to the wind,” he said.


Parsons: Three staff members and a resident at a state hospital that serves people with intellectual disabilities have tested positive for the coronavirus as another outbreak at a nursing home continues to grow. The Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services announced the new cases at Parsons State Hospital and Training Center in southeast Kansas in a news release Monday night. The sickened resident has been moved into on-site isolation. Statewide, health officials reported 845 confirmed cases of the coronavirus Monday, up from 747 on Sunday. Twenty-five deaths have been recorded, including one resident of the Life Care Center of Burlington. At the facility, 40 other residents and staff members have been sickened, Coffey County health officials said. Updated projections from the University of Washington show hospital use is now expected to peak in Kansas on April 19. Kansas deaths, meanwhile, are expected to peak April 23 at 10 per day.


Frankfort: The state’s coronavirus outbreak surpassed 1,000 cases in the past month as Gov. Andy Beshear reported 54 new statewide cases Monday and 14 more virus-related deaths from the pandemic. The latest coronavirus cases were about half the daily totals from last week, but the governor cautioned against concluding that it signals a trend in the fight to contain the virus. “Fifty-four, that’s a lot less than we expected at this point, and the last two days are certainly less than the days before,” he said at his daily briefing. “Let’s not read anything into it until we see the following days. We think we are still escalating. But let me tell you, if you want to take something positive from this number, it’s that what you are doing is working.” He has constantly preached the need to follow social-distancing guidelines and avoid gatherings. While new cases were down from last week, the number of deaths reported Monday was the highest in one day since the outbreak began in Kentucky.


Baton Rouge: The state is releasing more information about its coronavirus deaths, showing the virus’s victims are disproportionately black, and two-thirds of those who have died suffered from high blood pressure. The new data released by Louisiana’s health department gives a glimpse of who is most at risk of dying from the COVID-19 disease in a state deemed one of the nation’s most unhealthy. Although African Americans account for one-third of Louisiana’s population, they represent more than 70% of the state’s deaths caused by the virus, according to the data. Gov. John Bel Edwards called that racial disparity disturbing. “That deserves more attention. We’re going to have to dig into that and see what we can do to slow that trend down,” the Democratic governor said. Dr. Alexander Billioux, assistant secretary of Louisiana’s Office of Public Health, said the disproportionate rate of deaths in the black community is tied to the state’s existing health gap between African Americans and white residents.


Kittery: A civilian worker at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard died from complications associated with COVID-19, the Navy said. The employee, who died Sunday, was assigned to Submarine Maintenance Engineering, Planning and Procurement Activity at the shipyard in Kittery, the Navy said. On Monday, the Navy issued new guidance requiring the wearing of face coverings for uniformed personnel, civilian employees, family members, contractors and all other individuals on Department of Defense property, installations and facilities. Private defense contractor Bath Iron Works said its workers would have to begin wearing face masks Tuesday. But union leaders have balked, saying homemade masks created from cotton and other flammable materials could pose a risk to welders and other workers. The Machinists Union has asked to pause construction or provide employees with paid leave at Bath Iron Works, where two workers tested positive for the virus. One has recovered.


Baltimore: The City Council introduced a bill requiring the city’s commissioner to report patients’ races and ZIP codes in order to address potential disparities in the response to the coronavirus pandemic. Baltimore City Council President Brandon Scott told The Baltimore Sun the information is necessary to ensure resources are directed to communities that need them, since the city remains highly segregated, and life expectancy tends to vary by a person’s neighborhood. Scott and council members join dozens of Maryland lawmakers who have requested a racial breakdown of coronavirus patients in recent days. A spokesman for Gov. Larry Hogan, Mike Ricci, said last week that officials are seeking to get patients’ racial data from testing sites. Public data already offers information on a patient’s gender, age and county.


Boston: A car carrying samples to be tested for the coronavirus crashed Tuesday near the state’s border with Rhode Island, but liquid found at the scene turned out to be coffee, not the samples themselves, state police said. Responders were initially concerned the samples may have spilled when liquid was found at the scene, but a state hazardous materials team determined the spilled liquid was the driver’s coffee, Massachusetts State Police Spokesman Dave Procopio said in an email. A plastic container holding the samples was not damaged, and no samples were affected, Procopio said. A woman working as a courier was taking the samples to a lab when her car and a tractor-trailer collided on Route 195 in Seekonk, police said. The car spun out and hit an ambulance, which was carrying a patient. That patient was transferred to another ambulance. Another courier picked up the samples to take them to their destination.


Lansing: The Republican-led Legislature on Tuesday lengthened Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s coronavirus emergency declaration by 23 days, through April, rather than adopt a 70-day extension she sought into mid-June. Mask-wearing lawmakers approved the shorter extension by voice vote after undergoing screening procedures to enter the Senate and House chambers. Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist II, who presides over the Senate, wore an “Everybody Vs. COVID-19” shirt. Republicans said they had to act lest Whitmer’s emergency declaration expire under a 1976 law. But Democrats said it would not have lapsed because she issued a declaration last week that also includes a new disaster declaration, meaning legislators did not have to vote until April 29. Another complexity is that a 1945 law, also cited in Whitmer’s declarations and orders, gives a governor broad powers to unilaterally declare an emergency and when it has ended – without any legislative oversight.


Minneapolis: The state has one of the lowest COVID-19 infection rates in the country, but it must not get complacent, Gov. Walz said Monday as he prepared to extend a stay-at-home order that he imposed nearly two weeks ago. “Minnesota is 17 per 100,000 right now,” Walz told reporters of the state’s infection rate. “It puts us best in the country. But we’re not resting on those laurels. We’re preparing for what will come, a surge to our hospitals, a burden on those emergency rooms, and the risk to our neighbors.” Walz’s original stay-at-home order runs through Friday, but he has said in recent days that he’s not ready to lift it. He said he hopes to announce a decision “in the next day or two” and indicated it will likely run through the end of April, in keeping with federal guidance, and may include some tweaks to the ground rules. While Minnesotans have largely been very good about social distancing, Walz said, they’re not so good about it in parks and other recreation areas.


Jackson: The Mississippi State Department of Health has not released statistics showing the race of people testing positive or dying from the new coronavirus, but a top official says he thinks black residents have been disproportionately affected, as they have been in some other states. “The early indications are, we’re seeing similar here in Mississippi – that it is impacting the African American community at a little higher rate,” said Jim Craig, the department’s senior deputy and director of the Office of Health Protection. Gov. Tate Reeves said Monday that many people in the state have “unique risks.” Mississippi has high rates of heart disease, diabetes and asthma. The state also has a high poverty rate and a large percentage of uninsured residents who might be less likely to seek preventive medical care for chronic conditions. Most of the people who have died of COVID-19 in Mississippi are 60 or older, and the outbreak has spread to at least 38 long-term care facilities, the state said Tuesday.


Kansas City: Kansas City Public Schools has suspended its free meal distribution program for students after a food service worker helping with the effort tested positive for COVID-19, district officials said. The district announced the suspension Monday, the Kansas City Star reports. Officials gave no timeline for when the program might resume but suggested families go to the Harvesters Community Food Network website to locate food pantries and mobile distribution sites. It was the second case of coronavirus among the district’s food service workers. Weeks ago, a worker who was out of town at the time tested positive. Most school districts in the area launched grab-and-go food pickup programs when the spread of coronavirus closed schools, to help ensure children in at-risk homes were getting enough to eat. But several programs have been interrupted as the spread of the virus has grown.


The Montana mask design features a removable cartridge component to easily replace a filter after each use. The PLA (polylactic acid) plastic material is commonly used for 3D printing.

The Montana mask design features a removable cartridge component to easily replace a filter after each use. The PLA (polylactic acid) plastic material is commonly used for 3D printing.

Billings: Reusable plastic face masks designed for 3D printers by a college graduate and a pair of local medical professionals have gone global. The free, open-source software file they created has been downloaded or shared in 148 countries across six continents. Dubbed the Montana Mask, the design has made the jump from 3D printers to injection mold production, crafted by the Bozeman company Spark R&D, The Billings Gazette reports. That move allows for much faster mass production and gives the masks a more comfortable feel. Injection mold production can use materials that are softer and more flexible than the plastic required by 3D printers. “It’s been really cool to see,” said Colton Zaugg, a college graduate with a degree in microbiology. Colton; his father, Spencer Zaugg, a Billings dentist; and their friend, Dusty Richardson, a neurosurgeon at Billings Clinic, worked together last month to design a face mask with a replaceable filter that can be produced from a 3D printer. Once they got a prototype they were happy with, the trio posted the code for free online.


Lincoln: Nebraska State Patrol troopers have ramped up their efforts to ensure residents are following the state’s new social distancing rules to fight the coronavirus, but they haven’t yet issued any citations, officials said Monday. A Nebraska State Patrol spokesman said the agency hadn’t ticketed anyone as of Monday afternoon, although troopers are able to do so under new restrictions that were expanded statewide Friday. Patrol spokesman Cody Thomas said a trooper kept watch over a recent “cruise night” in Crete but didn’t see any violations. Thomas said the patrol has redirected some of its troopers from traffic enforcement because there aren’t as many motorists on the road as more people limit their travel. Gov. Pete Ricketts said state officials are focusing on getting voluntary compliance and encouraging residents to stay at home and avoid large groups where the new coronavirus could spread.


Reno: As the state’s coronavirus cases have grown, the number of ventilators in use has climbed slightly, with just under half of the state’s available machines in use, Gov. Steve Sisolak said Monday. Sisolak said with patients using 44% of the state’s 838 ventilators, Nevada is seeking 450 more from the U.S. government to prepare for what’s expected to be a growing number of cases and hospitalized patients in the coming days and weeks. The governor made his comments less than an hour after the White House announced Nevada would receive 100 ventilators on loan from California. Sisolak said he had been on an hours­long phone call earlier Monday trying to secure the machines for the state. He said the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency told him to expect delivery of the 450 ventilators he requested “72 hours before what they’re deeming a surge” in cases in Nevada, whenever that day comes.

New Hampshire

Concord: Gov. Chris Sununu on Monday ordered that hotels, inns and short-term rental services such as AirBnb be restricted to “vulnerable populations and essential workers only” during the coronavirus pandemic, including children in emergency placement, victims of domestic violence and people receiving specialized medical care. The order also applies to people made homeless if their hotels or other lodging accommodations are being used as emergency shelters; residents who are self-isolating; people unable to return to their homes outside of the state due to flight cancellations; and workers employed by a business or organization that qualifies as an essential business. The order does not apply to campgrounds.

New Jersey

Trenton: The Garden State is closing its state and county parks after too many people failed to observe social-distancing guidelines, Gov. Phil Murphy said Tuesday. “We need 100% compliance,” Murphy said. “We understand that staying at home is hard – you need to get fresh air, but you need to stay at home.” Murphy also said he signed executive orders to keep the state’s schools closed indefinitely during the coronavirus outbreak and to waive standardized testing requirements for students this year. The death toll from the virus climbed 23% overnight, from about 1,000 people to 1,232, Murphy said. More than 44,000 positive cases have been identified in New Jersey, up about 3,000 over the past 24 hours.

New Mexico

Columbus: Some residents of this village, immigrant advocates and others are raising concerns about an influx of workers in the community as part of the effort to build the U.S.-Mexico border wall during the coronavirus outbreak. They’ve asked the state’s top elected officials to step in after the federal contractor working on the project began erecting portable housing. The request reflects growing worries on both the northern and southern U.S. borders about construction workers bringing the virus to areas with sparse health care services. Opponents of the work effort argued in a letter that public health orders issued by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham are aimed at limiting groups of people and contact to keep the coronavirus pandemic from worsening. “We respectfully ask that you do everything within your power to halt the influx of out-state-workers into our border communities to protect the safety and health of rural New Mexicans and border communities,” their letter says. “The lives of New Mexicans are depending on it.”

New York

New York: The state recorded 731 new coronavirus deaths, marking its biggest single-day jump, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday. The state’s death toll since the beginning of the outbreak last month grew to 5,489. The alarming surge in deaths comes even as new hospital admissions have dropped on average over several days, a possible harbinger of the outbreak finally leveling off. Cuomo said the death tally is a “lagging indicator” that reflects the loss of critically ill people hospitalized earlier. The state has been recording more than 500 new deaths a day since late last week. The number of confirmed cases – which does not include infected people who have not been tested – is close to 139,000 statewide. While Cuomo said New York could be reaching a “plateau” in hospitalizations, he warned that gains are dependent on people continuing to practice social distancing.

North Carolina

Raleigh: Gov. Roy Cooper and health researchers laid groundwork Monday to convince the public that social distancing orders could be needed beyond April to preserve hospital beds, dull COVID-19’s spread and save lives. Cooper’s current statewide stay-at-home order, which also prevents gatherings of more than 10 people, took effect a week ago and continues until April 29. A ban on dine-in service at restaurants and bars began March 17 and now continues until April 24. Cooper already has closed public schools through May 15. Maintaining social distancing policies “will likely allow our health care system to be able to manage the disease as it spreads throughout the state,” Mark Holmes, director of the Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, told reporters in a conference call.

North Dakota

Fargo: The leaders of the state’s largest metropolitan area said Tuesday that they are unveiling a plan that expands on Gov. Doug Burgum’s efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus. The announcement by Fargo Mayor Tim Mahoney and West Fargo City Commission President Bernie Dardis came shortly before state health officials reported that the number of COVID-19 cases in the state increased by 12 in the past day. There have been 16 cases confirmed in the past two days in Cass County, which includes Fargo and West Fargo. Mahoney and Dardis’ “stay home” directives do not constitute a stay-at-home order, city officials said. “This is an urgent call for our residents to help fight the community spread of COVID-19. We need you to take this seriously – now,” Mahoney said in a release. Burgum has has shut down some businesses, including restaurants, bars, movie theaters, gyms and beauty salons. He has not issued a stay-at-home order.


Columbus: A court decision has allowed abortions to continue in the state after the procedure was caught in the crosshairs of an order by the governor suspending all nonessential elective surgeries due to the new coronavirus. The decision responded to challenges by abortion rights groups. The U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals declined to hear an appeal by Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost seeking to reverse a judge’s temporary restraining order allowing abortion facilities in the state to continue performing surgical abortions. Stephanie Ranade Krider, vice president of Ohio Right to Life, the state’s oldest and largest anti-abortion organization, said foes of the procedures were grateful to Yost for trying to hold abortion providers accountable. Courts have mostly sided with clinics, however, finding that women still have a constitutional right to an abortion even during a global health pandemic.


Oklahoma City: The Legislature on Monday granted sweeping new powers to the governor to respond to the coronavirus pandemic. The House and Senate met in special session and approved the resolution under the never-before-used Catastrophic Health Emergency Act, which gives Gov. Kevin Stitt the authority to temporary suspend laws and regulations that interfere with the state’s ability to respond to the pandemic. It also gives the governor the authority to redirect state employees and other resources, including up to $50 million in state funds, from one agency to another, among other things. The powers also authorize the state’s public health authority, in this case the State Department of Health, to take control of any human remains. Those entering the Capitol on Monday had their temperature checked, and most House and Senate members wore masks and gloves as they filed onto the floor in groups of 10 or fewer to cast their votes. Some members in the House also voted by proxy.


Portland: A group of inmates concerned about contracting COVID-19 filed a lawsuit Monday against Gov. Kate Brown and leaders at the Department of Corrections. The civil rights lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court by the Oregon Justice Resource Center on behalf of the inmates, alleges the DOC has not taken the necessary steps to slow the spread of the virus inside its 14 institutions where more than 14,000 inmates live, Oregon Public Broadcasting reports. The suit asks a judge to mandate a social distance of 6 feet or more between inmates in all of the DOC’s facilities. If that can’t be accomplished, the lawsuit asks that a three-judge panel review cases and reduce the number of prisoners in DOC’s facilities so it is possible. So far in Oregon, three inmates at the Santiam Correctional Institution in Salem have tested positive for the virus, the agency said Monday. A total of five DOC staff members have also tested positive.


Harrisburg: The state smashed its single-day high for reported coronavirus-related deaths, recording 78 more fatalities and nearly 1,600 more cases of COVID-19, as the state Department of Health confirmed Tuesday that every county now has an infected resident. The count more than doubled the previous single-day high of 34 deaths and boosted the statewide death toll to 240. “Now more than ever, as we continue to see COVID-19 cases and deaths rise in Pennsylvania, we need Pennsylvanians to take action,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said in a statement. “Those actions should be to stay calm, stay home and stay safe.” Not every state agency is necessarily urging people to stay home: The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission opened trout season Tuesday, although the abrupt announcement was two weeks ahead of schedule in a move designed to preempt big gatherings of anglers and travel that typically occurs on the traditional April opening day.

Rhode Island

Providence: Gov. Gina Raimondo on Tuesday extended to May 8 a series of executive orders meant to keep Rhode Islanders at home during the pandemic. The orders limit social gatherings to no more than five people, close restaurants for dine-in service; shutter entertainment, recreation and other nonessential businesses; and mandate arriving travelers to self-quarantine for 14 days. Meanwhile, Providence is shuttering parks and recreational areas to control the spread of the coronavirus as springtime weather is drawing more residents outdoors. Democratic Mayor Jorge Elorza said the order that took effect at noon Tuesday covers all green spaces, dog parks, sports fields and courts, and off-road trails. That includes the popular Roger Williams Park, Blackstone Boulevard and Pleasant Valley Parkway, he said. Golf courses also will be closed effective Wednesday. Violators could face fines ranging from $100 to $500. Elorza said people should stay close to home and go outside alone or only in small groups.

South Carolina

Columbia: The governor issued what he called a “home or work” order adding fines and possible jail time to keep residents away from each other. Monday’s new order attaches potential criminal penalties to the more than a dozen orders and recommendations he has made since COVID-19 was first detected in South Carolina on March 6. The order allows people to go to work or to essential businesses like grocery stores and pharmacies and to visit family. Otherwise, someone out and about could face a misdemeanor charge with a $100 fine or 30 days in jail, Gov. Henry McMaster said. Also on Monday, the state National Guard announced it is planning to add 3,000 hospital beds in the next month to the 6,000 beds currently available in hospitals around the state by using closed medical facilities, arenas and tents. Hospital officials said they think that will be enough beds to handle an expected surge in COVID-19 cases.

South Dakota

Sioux Falls: Gov. Kristi Noem on Tuesday asked South Dakotans to turn to prayer this week as she reiterated stronger executive orders that she says are necessary to delay a surge in hospitalizations from the coronavirus. In a daily briefing, the Republican governor stressed the importance of following her executive orders from Monday, telling businesses to limit gatherings and ordering people in the hardest-hit area of the state stay home if they are over 65 or have chronic health problems. Her stay-at-home order only applies to people in Minnehaha and Lincoln counties, which account for most of the confirmed cases in the state. She is also proclaiming Wednesday a day of prayer, referencing its significance for Christian and Jewish faiths. Health officials reported two new deaths from the coronavirus Tuesday, along with 32 new confirmed cases. The number of people who have tested positive rose to 320, and six people in total have died.


Nashville: Gov. Bill Lee said Monday that he sees “some good news” in a model projecting the coronavirus’ spread and demand on health care resources in his state, but he cautioned that models change and depend on people following strict social distancing orders. The Republican pointed to the model by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, which shows Tennessee may have enough hospital and intensive care unit beds and ventilators on a projected peak date of April 15. The number of deaths would be 587 by Aug. 4. One important variable: The model assumes people are 100% complying with statewide stay-at-home orders through the end of May. Lee’s stay-at-home order is currently scheduled to end April 14. He said Monday that he is “not looking to extend any decisions that we’ve made until we deem it appropriate.”


Sutherland Springs: A small-town church continues to hold in-person services despite warnings from health experts who say large gatherings pose a great danger of spreading the new coronavirus. More than 40 people attended the Sunday sermon at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs. Parishioners say their willingness to attend the service stems from surviving a 2017 mass shooting in their own church that left 26 people dead and 20 wounded. “If all these bullets weren’t going to stop me, a virus isn’t going to stop me,” said Gunny Macias, who was shot five times during the shooting. “If God wanted me, he would’ve taken me then.” Gov. Greg Abbott’s stay-at-home exempted religious services because they’re deemed essential, the San Antonio Express-News reports. Abbott encouraged churches to hold remote services when possible, adding that parishioners in church must be 6 feet apart.


Salt Lake City: The novel coronavirus and the state’s recent magnitude 5.7 earthquake are prompting residents to flock to farm and ranching stores across the state, with this season’s crop of chicks practically flying out the door. The Ogden Intermountain Farmers Association store sold 1,000 chicks in one day, and West Haven’s Dallas Green Farm and Home sold 350 during a “Chick Days” event. Katy Cox and her family have been raising chickens the past four years as a hobby, and she was stunned to discover the Riverton IFA store was out of chicks when she went to replenish her flock. “I asked the woman at the store if people were hoarding chicks, and she told me you would not believe it. You have to come right when they open and put your name on a list.” Cox said it surprised her, and she worries people are buying the cute chicks but don’t realize the kind of care they require.


Swanton: One inmate at the Northwest State Correctional Facility is being monitored with symptoms of COVID-19, and the prison is on a complete lockdown after three staff members tested positive for the illness, the Department of Corrections said Tuesday. The inmate with symptoms has been isolated from other inmates and is being monitored in a special room, said Al Cormier of the Department of Corrections. The most recent of the infected staff members had contact with inmates and was last in the facility Friday. The inmates are mostly being held two to a cell, where they are being fed. They are only allowed out for emergencies and hygiene, although efforts are being made to allow inmates out on a limited basis for exercise. “We are messaging the importance of hand sanitizing, around cleaning, around hand washing, about reporting symptoms,” Cormier said. Inmates in St. Albans and at other state prisons are being issued cloth masks. Inmates’ temperatures are being taken three times a day, and staff members are being tested when they arrive for work.


Richmond: Alcohol runs may now be made with a quick trip to the front door. The Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority announced it would allow certain distilleries to ship directly to in-state customers to alleviate potential financial hardships during the coronavirus pandemic. The rule change only affects distilleries with an existing agreement with ABC, news outlets report. About 45 distilleries throughout the state have existing agreements. The change allows distilleries to ship spirits and “low-alcohol beverage coolers” directly to residents and ABC-licensed restaurants in Virginia. ABC Chief Executive Officer Travis Hill said distilleries are essential to the “economic vitality” of the state. Hill said the temporary step gives the distilleries flexibility in how they provide products for customers, which may help lessen potential financial difficulties.


Olympia: Schools will remain physically closed for the remainder of the school year while more than 1.2 million public and private K-12 students continue distance learning at least until mid-June due to the coronavirus outbreak, state officials said Monday. Schools have been shut statewide since March 17 and were initially scheduled to reopen April 27. That was extended until June 19 – when the spring term ends – and schools were encouraged to continue distance learning. The order also asks schools to start planning for a potential expansion of the closures into the summer and fall, though Gov. Jay Inslee said officials would explore whether it was possible to bring students back for graduation later in the year. The closure creates challenges in the area of equity for some students, Inslee said, explaining there will be limited on-site options in certain circumstances, such as students learning English as a second language and those with disabilities.

West Virginia

Charleston: A judge in the county with the state’s highest coronavirus caseload has approved strapping ankle monitors to people who test positive but refuse to quarantine, officials said Monday. The order allows Kanawha County sheriffs to use the GPS bracelets after a county commissioner said “a few” people with the virus ignored isolation orders. “We do not want to use the GPS ankle bracelets to enforce the quarantines; however, if we must, we will. This must be taken seriously,” said Kent Carper, president of the Kanawha County Commission. Kanawha County, where the state Capitol is located, was included in a set of executive orders last week from Republican Gov. Jim Justice that tightened existing virus restrictions in six counties that make up 60% of the state’s positive cases.


Milwaukee: The Wisconsin National Guard has set up an isolation facility for the homeless in Milwaukee County on the grounds of the St. Francis de Sales Seminary in St. Francis. The facility is expected to be manned with 10 medics and 15 other “citizen soldiers” to provide 24/7 support to those who want to be safe from the coronavirus or protect themselves from infecting others. The city of Milwaukee Health Department and Milwaukee County Housing Division designated Clare Hall at the property as the isolation facility for referrals from the area’s homeless shelters and health care facilities that have individuals who are struggling to find stable housing. The National Guard expects to house individuals in the facility later this week.


Casper: The state’s 2020 Shrine Bowl all-star high school football game has been canceled due to the coronavirus. Executive Director Frank Selby announced the cancellation in an email Sunday, saying he couldn’t ask local businesses for their financial support while they’re reeling from closures due to the coronavirus, the Casper Star-Tribune reports. Selby also said it’s unclear if it will be safe to hold the game. This year’s game, the 47th in the annual series, was scheduled for June 13 in Casper. The rosters were announced in January. Money from businesses for sponsorship and program ads along with banquet and game ticket sales will be refunded within 30 days, Selby said. “I sincerely apologize for the disappointment this brings to our participants and football fans,” Selby added. He said he and the board of directors are working “to ensure that the players, coaches and participants are justly recognized for their achievements.”

From USA TODAY Network and wire reports

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Park closures, 3D-printed masks: News from around our 50 states

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