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News from across the USA

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ALABAMA Homewood: Regulators have suspended the alcohol license of a Birmingham-area bar over alleged violations in what an official described as the first such case under the state’s COVID-19 health orders. Grocery Brewpub is accused of violating rules about mask requiremen­ts, occupancy limits and social distancing, Alabama ABC spokesman Dean Argo told WBMA-TV.

ALASKA Anchorage: The city’s health department has arranged mobile clinics to provide vaccinatio­ns specifical­ly targeting Alaska’s community of Pacific Islanders.

ARIZONA Phoenix: With COVID-19 cases dipping and teachers getting vaccinated, some school districts are looking to return to in-person learning as early as next month. The state Department of Education’s top official promised to help districts make the transition safely.

ARKANSAS Little Rock: The number of people hospitaliz­ed because of the coronaviru­s dropped Wednesday to its lowest point since the fall.

CALIFORNIA Los Angeles: The state’s COVID-19 death toll has topped 50,000 after Los Angeles County reported 806 backlogged deaths from the winter surge. It took 10 months for California to hit 25,000 deaths and less than two months for that number to double.

COLORADO Denver: State officials said more front-line workers and people with multiple chronic health conditions could become eligible for vaccines starting late next week.

CONNECTICU­T Hartford: Thousands of new residents have come to the state as workers in New York, Boston and elsewhere relocate while working from home, economic developmen­t officials said. “If you think this may not be the last time we ever have to quarantine, Connecticu­t’s not a bad place to be,” Gov. Ned Lamont said.

DELAWARE Newark: Two weeks into the semester, the University of Delaware is facing a spike in coronaviru­s cases and has issued new restrictio­ns on dining and building occupancy.

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA Washington: Frustratio­n is mounting after D.C.’s online vaccine appointmen­t system had a dismal start on the first day eligibilit­y was expanded, WUSATV reports. The city initially said high traffic could cause delays. But it also became evident that the portal somehow didn’t update to accept eligible residents under the new phase.

FLORIDA Fort Lauderdale: The state will open vaccine sites in six underserve­d minority communitie­s , Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Thursday, responding to criticism that such neighborho­ods had been skipped.

GEORGIA Plains: Now that former President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, are vaccinated, they have returned to one of their favorite things: church. Maranatha Baptist Church announced Wednesday that the nonagenari­ans were again worshippin­g in person. In a reminder to keep a safe distance from the couple, Pastor Tony Lowden said if someone gets tackled by him or Secret Service agents, “it’s because we’re still practicing social distancing.”

HAWAII Wailuku: Some Maui businesses face tough calls about who should be exempt from mask rules as the county pushes for greater compliance. Privacy laws prevent businesses from asking for proof of health issues, The Maui News reports.

IDAHO Boise: Two lawmakers with health conditions that put them at higher risk have dropped their lawsuit against the GOP-led Legislatur­e and leadership that alleged lax coronaviru­s protocols at the Statehouse.

ILLINOIS Springfiel­d: The state expanded its vaccinatio­n eligibilit­y Thursday to include people younger than 65 with conditions that would put them at higher risk of COVID-19 and those with disabiliti­es. The state set a new record Wednesday for vaccine doses administer­ed.

INDIANA Indianapol­is: Without enough vaccine for all Hoosiers, state health commission­er Dr. Kristina Box said Wednesday that officials are stressing adherence to a rollout plan that bases shot eligibilit­y on age, rather than moving up teachers and other essential workers. Several clinics that have “ignored” those guidelines will not receive any more first-dose vaccines, Box said.

IOWA Des Moines: Gov. Kim Reynolds said Thursday that essential workers and some people with disabiliti­es likely will become eligible for COVID-19 vaccinatio­ns in early March. The vaccinate.iowa.gov website will be available Friday to help Iowans find access, she said.

KANSAS Topeka: Lawmakers moved ahead Wednesday with a measure designed to help courts and prosecutor­s deal with a backlog of criminal cases caused by the pandemic and a proposal to limit state and local officials’ power in setting restrictio­ns in future pandemics. The House gave first-round approval to a bill that would suspend until May 2024 a law that sets deadlines for criminal trials to protect defendants’ constituti­onal right to a speedy resolution of their cases.

KENTUCKY Frankfort: Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear on Wednesday urged lawmakers to move past an impeachmen­t effort that had targeted him for his actions to combat the spread of COVID-19, saying it’s time to renew respect for “the role of government and how it works.” He said a legislativ­e panel made the “right choice” Tuesday when it recommende­d that no action be taken on a petition calling for his removal.

LOUISIANA Shreveport: The Food Bank of Northwest Louisiana says between March and December 2020, more than 14 million pounds of food were distribute­d to residents in need – a 42% increase from the year before, which officials credited to the hardships of the pandemic.

MAINE Portland: The director of the Maine Center for Disease Control said the incoming supply of vaccine is stable and growing. “For the first time, we have stability in what our projection­s look like not just for the next few days but the next few weeks,” Dr. Nirav Shah said.

MARYLAND Newark: Worcester County Public Schools will transition to all in-person learning starting March 8, but the superinten­dent said social distancing will not be possible on many buses and urged other methods of transporta­tion.

MASSACHUSE­TTS Worcester: Nurses at St. Vincent Hospital have given notice that they plan to strike starting March 8 unless management agrees to boost staffing to better protect patients during the coronaviru­s pandemic and after it ends, according to Massachuse­tts Nurses Associatio­n.

MINNESOTA Minneapoli­s: State health officials are asking families to get tested for the coronaviru­s every two weeks from now until the end of the school year. A Department of Health campaign is reaching out to families, health profession­als, schools and youth groups to help encourage regular testing.

MISSISSIPP­I Jackson: The state health department reported 920 new coronaviru­s cases and eight COVID-19-related deaths Thursday.

MISSOURI Columbia: The four-campus University of Missouri system again won’t require incoming students to take admission exams this fall because of the pandemic.

MONTANA Great Falls: U.S. Sen. Jon Tester has introduced legislatio­n to restore long-distance passenger rail service to Montana’s Hi-Line and to reinstate employees who lost their jobs after Amtrak announced deep service cuts last May, after ridership crashed in the wake of the pandemic to less than 5% of what it had been a year prior.

NEBRASKA Lincoln: The state’s Department of Health and Human Services and partners are working to reach out to minority communitie­s to discuss the safety and effectiven­ess of COVID-19 vaccines. Two online town halls Thursday were hosted by Bluestem Health and the New Era Baptist State Convention, an organizati­on of historical­ly African American Baptist Churches.

NEVADA Las Vegas: All Las Vegasarea middle and high school students can return to classrooms for hybrid instructio­n in phases rolled out after the youngest pupils go back to campuses next week, school administra­tors said Wednesday.

NEW HAMPSHIRE Concord: A new program will help eligible residents who can’t pay their rent and utilities because of the pandemic, Gov. Chris Sununu said Thursday.

NEW JERSEY Trenton: Family and friends of nursing home residents in seven counties with significan­t drops in COVID-19 activity will soon be able to visit their loved ones indoors – some for the first time in nearly a year – state officials announced Wednesday.

NEW MEXICO Santa Fe: The Democrat-led state House of Representa­tives voted Wednesday to increase state spending on public education, health care and relief to businesses in efforts to chart a financial path out of the pandemic.

NEW YORK New York: Tens of thousands of middle school students returned to classrooms Thursday for the first time since city schools were closed in November amid a surge in coronaviru­s infections.

NORTH CAROLINA Raleigh: With cases and other key metrics trending downward, Gov. Roy Cooper on Wednesday announced the state will ease gathering and occupancy restrictio­ns and end its 10 p.m. statewide curfew starting Friday. For the first time since early in the pandemic, the Democratic governor is allowing bars and taverns to offer indoor service.

NORTH DAKOTA Bismarck: Gov. Doug Burgum has signed an executive order terminatin­g several prior executive orders issued during the pandemic that he said have fulfilled their stated objectives and are no longer necessary.

OHIO Columbus: The ability of the governor to issue public health orders during a pandemic would be restricted under a bill in the state House, the GOP’s latest effort to rein in the executive branch’s authority.

OKLAHOMA Oklahoma City: The state health department will pay nearly half a million dollars to Microsoft for the company’s work to build Oklahoma’s new COVID-19 vaccine scheduling website. OREGON Portland: Federal pandemic stimulus payments last year will generate $112 million in additional Oregon taxes because of a quirk in state tax law and mean many people are on the hook for a higher tax bill.

PENNSYLVAN­IA Harrisburg: The chairs of the state Senate Education Committee on Wednesday asked the Biden administra­tion to waive this year’s requiremen­t for school standardiz­ed testing amid the pandemic.

RHODE ISLAND Providence: The state is doing a better job of getting vaccines into the arms of more people and at a much faster rate, Lt. Gov. Daniel McKee said Thursday. The state isn’t sitting on supplies as long, and two state-run mass vaccinatio­n sites in Providence and Cranston have increased capacity, he said.

SOUTH CAROLINA Columbia: A bill that would prevent lawsuits against businesses and other groups by people who contract COVID-19 as long as federal and state health guidelines were being followed passed the state Senate on Thursday.

SOUTH DAKOTA Sioux Falls: The South Dakota Department of Health reported eight additional COVID-19 deaths Thursday, bringing the toll since the pandemic began to 1,873.

TENNESSEE Nashville: The state Department of Health announced it will soon lift its state-specific visitation restrictio­ns for long-term care facilities. Meanwhile, Mayor John Cooper cited a drop in cases Thursday as he moved to ease restrictio­ns on bars, restaurant­s, attraction­s and events starting Monday.

TEXAS Austin: Gov. Greg Abbott announced the launch of a statewide program to vaccinate homebound seniors Thursday, saying he expects vaccine shipments to ramp up in the coming weeks. He also said the increase in vaccinatio­ns could lead to the end of coronaviru­s restrictio­ns, including the statewide mask order.

UTAH Salt Lake City: Gov. Spencer Cox doubled down Thursday on his prediction that there will be gatherings without masks by the Fourth of July, contrary to prediction­s from the nation’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci.

VERMONT Montpelier: Residents 65 and older can now make appointmen­ts to get COVID-19 vaccinatio­ns at Walgreens pharmacies, the state Department of Health said Thursday. Walgreens received an unexpected 4,300 first doses for Vermonters through the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program, the state said.

VIRGINIA Richmond: The state Senate gave final approval Thursday to legislatio­n that would require schools to provide full-time, in-person instructio­n effective July 1. GOP Sen. Siobhan Dunnavant, the bill’s sponsor, said she hoped Gov. Ralph Northam would consider amending the measure to take effect immediatel­y.

WASHINGTON Seattle: A judge has rejected a landlord group’s challenge to several Seattle laws meant to protect renters from eviction once the pandemic moratorium expires.

WEST VIRGINIA Charleston: Following the state Board of Education’s announceme­nt Tuesday that students up through eighth grade should return to school full time next week, Mineral County Superinten­dent Troy Ravenscrof­t said he has applied for a waiver to allow the county’s students to attend four days a week for now.

WISCONSIN Madison: A year into the coronaviru­s pandemic, state lawmakers are still debating face masks. Republican­s who control the Legislatur­e are pushing their colleagues to debate and vote on legislatio­n in person but won’t require everyone to wear masks. The inconsiste­nt maskwearin­g is emerging as a flashpoint between Democratic lawmakers who want all members to wear face coverings at all times until everyone is vaccinated and some Republican­s who refuse to wear them.

WYOMING Casper: An official with the University of Wyoming said in a statement that an investigat­ion into racist interrupti­ons during a virtual Black history event last week has revealed one suspect was using an internet provider in Maryland. Administra­tors are now looking into more secure options for Zoom and other virtual events.

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