USA TODAY US Edition
50 ★ States
News from across the USA
ALABAMA Tuscaloosa: The Alabama Department of Public Health is asking residents who have tested positive for the coronavirus to participate in a confidential survey on its website that will help experts learn more about the virus’s spread.
ALASKA Pelican: Residents of this fishing community have so far escaped the COVID-19 pandemic without any infections. Pelican is one of at least 10 isolated Alaska communities that has avoided illnesses, Alaska Public Media reports.
ARIZONA Phoenix: Many grocery store workers say they’re still anxious about customers who won’t wear masks, with 1 in 5 employees affiliated with a major grocery union in the state saying they’re worried they could be physically assaulted.
ARKANSAS Little Rock: Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Friday lifted most of the safety restrictions imposed to curb COVID-19’s spread, except for a mask mandate he said would stay in place until at least the end of March.
CALIFORNIA Sacramento: The Medical Board of California said it would investigate a plastic surgeon who appeared in a videoconference for his traffic violation trial while operating.
COLORADO Denver: Anyone 60 or older will be eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine beginning Friday, followed by those 50 and up toward the end of the month, Gov. Jared Polis said. He said some front-line essential workers also will qualify in the first phase, including those in the grocery, agriculture and meatpacking industries, as will younger people with two or more qualifying medical conditions.
CONNECTICUT Hartford: Some proponents of the latest effort in the state to allow physicians to prescribe medication to terminally ill patients to end their lives said Friday that the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for such a law. Opponents argued in a virtual hearing at the Legislature that it’s the absolute wrong time to bring up the bill again.
DELAWARE Newark: At the University of Delaware, 300 students tested positive for the coronavirus last week – the most cases in one week the school has ever seen. If numbers don’t improve in the next few days, more restrictions could be put into place, President Dennis Assanis said.
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA Washington: Problems persist with DC Health’s vaccination website as residents struggle to sign up for a shot, WUSA-TV reports. Councilman Charles Allen reported more than 30,000 people clicked the portal when it opened at 9 a.m. Saturday, with only 4,300 slots available.
FLORIDA Tallahassee: Lawmakers gavel into session Tuesday amid a pandemic that will play a starring role on their agenda and influence how they conduct business. Social distancing rules will remain in place at the Capitol to keep the coronavirus from infiltrating the hallways of power – even though at least a fourth of the state Senate has been infected.
GEORGIA Atlanta: Lawmakers are considering a reorganization of the public health system that would strip power from county boards of health and give it to the state public health commissioner, saying the COVID-19 pandemic has underlined the need for a more centralized structure.
HAWAII Honolulu: The Hawaii Nature Center has become an outdoor classroom for children who have been huddled in front of screens for their school lessons. The center that has connected kids to nature for nearly 40 years has taken on a renewed purpose in the age of COVID-19, Hawaii Public Radio reports, offering science-based environmental education to children ages 6 to 11.
IDAHO Nampa: The state Senate unanimously voted Thursday to authorize spending $175 million in rental assistance from funds the state was granted in a coronavirus relief package signed by then-President Donald Trump in December, the Idaho Press reports. The bill was sent to Republican Gov. Brad Little’s desk.
ILLINOIS Chicago: The days of paying cash on the Illinois Tollway are gone forever. The tollway announced Thursday that it will accept only I-Pass, E-ZPass or online payments, nearly a year after the tollway suspended cash tolls because of the coronavirus outbreak.
INDIANA Indianapolis: The city is relaxing coronavirus restrictions on bars and restaurants ahead of the upcoming Big Ten and NCAA men’s basketball tournaments. Changes announced Thursday allow bars to operate at 50% capacity instead of 25% starting Monday, while restaurants’ indoor capacity will increase from 50% to 75%. Bars, restaurants and music venues will also be able to close two hours later, at 2 a.m., Mayor Joe Hogsett announced.
IOWA Iowa City: University of Iowa Health Care is warning the community of a phone scam in which callers claim to be calling on behalf of UIHC to schedule appointments for COVID-19 vaccinations but ask for personal and financial information.
KANSAS Topeka: Republican lawmakers advanced a new proposal Friday to put $450 million in COVID-19 relief funds from the federal government into the state’s unemployment program to help cover losses from fraudulent claims.
KENTUCKY Frankfort: The state Senate advanced a bill Friday that would allow the overpayment of some unemployment claims to be waived, but legislators bickered over the long delays many people have endured in seeking assistance amid the pandemic, laying blame at Gov. Andy Beshear’s feet. Democrats countered that the overwhelmed system suffered from staffing cuts before Beshear took office.
LOUISIANA New Orleans: Mayor LaToya Cantrell’s office relaxed coronavirus restrictions Friday. Groups of up to 75 may gather indoors and 150 outdoors, and restaurants, bars, breweries, libraries and other businesses may seat up to 15 people at a table. Indoor stadiums may admit up to 15% of the usual maximum number of fans and outdoor stadiums up to 25%.
MAINE Portland: With vaccines more plentiful, the state is expanding eligibility to those 60 and up this week and will use a strictly age-based approach moving forward, Gov. Janet Mills said Friday.
MARYLAND Annapolis: The General Assembly gave final approval Friday to expanding a pandemicrelief state tax credit to include immigrants, including some living in the country illegally who work and pay taxes in the state. Republican Gov. Larry Hogan’s spokesman said the measure will become law without the governor’s signature.
MASSACHUSETTS Newburyport: It could take years to help students fully rebound from the emotional cost of spending months in virtual classes away from teachers and friends, state Education Commissioner Jeffrey Riley said Friday.
MICHIGAN Lansing: Bars could make up some losses after missing out heavily because of coronavirus restrictions, under a bill that would allow alcohol sales until 4 a.m. after the COVID-19 crisis abates.
MINNESOTA Minneapolis: State health officials on Sunday reported a second straight daily record for vaccinations, with nearly 70,000 doses administered in the past day.
MISSISSIPPI Starkville: The state’s longest-running film festival is underway, but it’s mostly virtual this year. Magnolia Independent Film Festival is offering a slate of 42 films for purchase on its website. A drivein showing will be held Saturday at Mississippi Horse Park.
MISSOURI Columbia: The University of Missouri plans to hold inperson graduation ceremonies this spring after canceling them last year because of the pandemic.
MONTANA Missoula: The nominee to be the state’s next health director faced an unwieldy disease outbreak and pushed Medicaid work requirements – two issues looming in Montana – when he held a similar job in Kentucky. While he awaits confirmation in the state Senate, Adam Meier is engaged in the state’s COVID-19 vaccine efforts and working on the agency’s daily tasks, department spokesperson Jon Ebelt said.
NEBRASKA Omaha: Officials expect to release a plan in the next two weeks for vaccinating residents with underlying health conditions after they were removed from the high-priority group of seniors who are eligible now, the state’s chief medical officer said Friday.
NEVADA Las Vegas: The Department of Corrections has been incorrectly overreporting COVID-19 cases in facilities because of data entry errors, state officials said. NEW HAMPSHIRE Concord: COVID-19 hospitalizations in the state fell below 100 last week for the first time since November.
NEW JERSEY Trenton: To meet the increased demand for accessible mental health assistance during the pandemic, the state Department of Community Affairs is allowing any mental health professional to offer free services to low-income patients and health care workers as part of their biannual recertification.
NEW MEXICO Santa Fe: Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Friday signed legislation that will provide some relief to businesses that lost money in 2020 amid the pandemic and emergency health restrictions. The measure will make $200 million in grants available.
NORTH CAROLINA Raleigh: Gov. Roy Cooper on Friday vetoed a bill that would compel public school districts to reopen with at least partial in-person instruction.
NORTH DAKOTA Bismarck: About 9.5% of the state’s population has received the full two-dose series of a COVID-19 vaccine, according to data posted online Saturday.
OHIO Cincinnati: Officials are moving to relax pandemic restrictions to permit school proms, graduations, weddings, sports and other spring events to accommodate more people as hospitalizations decline and vaccinations increase.
OKLAHOMA Oklahoma City: Health officials announced Friday that the state had passed the 1 million mark in COVID-19 vaccine doses administered. According to CDC data, Oklahoma ranks 11th nationally for doses given per capita.
OREGON Portland: All residents 16 and older will be eligible for vaccinations no later than July 1, Gov. Kate Brown announced Friday. “Yes, you are hearing me correctly,” she said. “Come summer – provided supplies from the federal government continue as planned – any Oregonian who wants the vaccine will be eligible to receive it.”
PENNSYLVANIA West Chester: A second health system has acknowledged it gave the COVID-19 vaccine to employees’ family members but said it halted the program after discussions with the state Department of Health. The University of Pennsylvania Health System said its Chester County Hospital ran a “lottery system” for family who otherwise met the state’s eligibility requirements. RHODE ISLAND Newport: Marble House, a National Historic Landmark that’s been closed since last March because of the pandemic, is reopening to visitors Monday.
SOUTH CAROLINA Columbia: Gov. Henry McMaster is lifting restrictions on mass gatherings and alcohol sales, his office announced Friday. Starting Monday, restaurants and bars will be able to sell alcohol after 11 p.m. again, and event organizers will no longer have to secure permits for groups of more than 250 people.
SOUTH DAKOTA Sioux Falls: More than 25% of the state’s population has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine as of Sunday morning, and more than 13% have completed both shots.
TENNESSEE Memphis: Top health officials revealed Friday that the state has asked federal law enforcement to investigate alleged theft of vaccine doses in Shelby County. They also announced that a volunteer improperly vaccinated two children despite the shots to protect against COVID-19 not being cleared for young minors.
TEXAS Houston: Making his first trip to the Lone Star State as president, Joe Biden offered words of encouragement Friday after touring several Houston sites to assess recovery efforts after a bout of crippling winter weather. He toured the Houston Food Bank with first lady Jill Biden before ending his visit at NRG Stadium, where a federal-state COVID-19 mass vaccination site opened last week. “The vaccines are safe, I promise you. They are safe and effective,” he said.
UTAH Utah: The state is canceling about 7,200 vaccine appointments after an error in the health department’s registration website allowed people without qualifying conditions to register.
VERMONT Montpelier: Despite improvements to remote learning and some in-person instruction, many students are struggling, Gov. Phil Scott said Friday. A study done in collaboration with the Vermont Department of Health and the University of Vermont found that youths ages 12 to 17 reported increases in depressive symptoms and anxiety in the fall of 2020, compared to the fall of 2019, according to state Mental Health Commissioner Sarah Squirrel.
VIRGINIA Richmond: Lawmakers gave final approval Friday to a measure that would provide certain home health care workers paid sick leave.
WASHINGTON Bremerton: The state has fined St. Michael Medical Center $17,800 for safety violations in the wake of a major coronavirus outbreak at the hospital in late summer.
WEST VIRGINIA Charleston: Republican Gov. Jim Justice said Friday that Congress should “go big or go home” on federal pandemic stimulus, breaking with opposition to the plan from within his own party, a day before the House passed President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion package. “We have tried to underspend and undersize what was really needed to get over the top of the mountain,” he told reporters at his coronavirus briefing. WISCONSIN Madison: Over half of residents 65 and up have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, and the state plans to begin vaccinating teachers, child care workers and some essential workers Monday.
WYOMING Casper: Gov. Mark Gordon has announced plans to lift all coronavirus-related restrictions on personal care businesses for the first time since last spring.