USA TODAY US Edition

50 ★States

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ALABAMA Montgomery: Residents struggling to pay their rent because of the pandemic can get help this month. The Alabama Housing Finance Authority began accepting applicatio­ns from landlords and tenants Monday, WBRC-TV reports.

ALASKA Juneau: A state COVID-19 vaccine task force on Wednesday vastly expanded eligibilit­y, adding those 55 to 64 and people 16 and older who are considered essential workers, live in a multigener­ational household, are at high risk for severe illness, or live in communitie­s lacking in water and sewer systems.

ARIZONA Phoenix: Gov. Doug Ducey received a vaccine at State Farm Stadium early Tuesday, a few hours before other Arizonans in the 56-yearold Republican governor’s age group could register for appointmen­ts.

ARKANSAS Little Rock: Workers at poultry plants and other food manufactur­ing facilities are now eligible for vaccinatio­ns, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Tuesday.

CALIFORNIA Sacramento: The jobs most vulnerable to layoffs and furloughs due to the pandemic were among people making less than $40,000 a year, a state report out Tuesday found, with women in lowincome households suffering most.

COLORADO Denver: One year into a pandemic that has yielded contentiou­s public health measures, officials have asked lawmakers to pass a bill that would make it unlawful to disseminat­e personal informatio­n that threatens the safety of public health workers and their families.

CONNECTICU­T Hartford: More than 500,000 residents between 55 and 64 years old became eligible this week for COVID-19 vaccinatio­ns, but Gov. Ned Lamont warned it could take more than three weeks for the majority to get their first shot.

DELAWARE Wilmington: With coronaviru­s infection rates dropping below 5%, the state will begin to allow visitors at long-term care facilities.

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA Washington: The Children’s National Hospital will offer vaccinatio­ns to qualifying 16- and 17-year-olds, WUSA-TV reports, citing a hospital news release.

FLORIDA Tallahasse­e: After plunging early in the pandemic, Gov. Ron DeSantis’ approval rating has rebounded substantia­lly, according to a poll released Tuesday. The Mason-Dixon survey found 53% of Florida voters approve of the governor’s job performanc­e. That’s still well below DeSantis’ 62% approval two years ago but a big improvemen­t from the 45% who approved of his performanc­e in July.

GEORGIA Atlanta: A bill passed in the state House includes a tax break for pharmaceut­ical and medical equipment makers sought by Gov. Brian Kemp in an effort to increase medical manufactur­ing in response to COVID-19. Another approved measure exempts tickets for museums and nonprofit performing arts from sales taxes through 2022, with lawmakers saying that would aid fine arts groups’ pandemic recovery.

HAWAII Honolulu: The pandemic is claiming a 170-year-old institutio­n: Love’s Bakery. Hawaii’s oldest and largest commercial bakery told state and federal agencies this week that it will close at the end of March and lay off more than 230 employees.

IDAHO Boise: A legislativ­e panel took up a bill Tuesday to prohibit mask mandates. Republican state Rep. Karey Hanks said she had done research “on the physical and emotional and even mental injuries to our bodies, and possibly even our souls, as healthy individual­s are required to wear these masks.” She also said face masks can help spread disease.

ILLINOIS Chicago: Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced Tuesday that bars and restaurant­s may open at 50% capacity. But restaurant industry leaders remain unhappy, with Illinois Restaurant Associatio­n President Toia saying he wants to see a further capacity boost. “We’re moving into the springtime here. You’ve got a lot of communions, graduation­s, Bar Mitzvahs, weddings,” Toia said.

INDIANA Indianapol­is: Nearly onefifth of the state’s teachers now qualify for COVID-19 vaccines – but not because of their job. Indiana, which has been taking an age-based approach to eligibilit­y, expanded access Tuesday to everyone 55 and older.

IOWA Des Moines: Gov. Kim Reynolds received a single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine Wednesday, saying she wanted to quell “irresponsi­ble” criticism that it’s not as effective as the two-dose vaccines.

KANSAS Topeka: The state Senate on Wednesday approved a proposal to require public school districts to offer in-person classes to all students by March 26.

KENTUCKY Frankfort: A new initiative aimed at providing more mental health services to college students will use $1.5 million in federal relief funds as COVID-19 continues to drive stress and uncertaint­y, the Kentucky Council on Postsecond­ary Education announced Tuesday.

LOUISIANA New Orleans: The pandemic, which forced cancellati­on of last year’s New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, is pushing this year’s “Jazz Fest” to October, rather than the end of April.

MAINE Portland: The Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland will livestream St. Patrick’s Day Mass this year. Maine Catholics have numerous other events planned for St. Patrick’s Day week, including a “virtual party” via Zoom from Our Lady of Hope Parish on March 15. The diocese said the parish “is calling on anyone who may have a story to tell, a song to sing or play, or a poem to share to sign up.”

MARYLAND Baltimore: A strip club has filed a lawsuit against the mayor and City Council, saying a ban enacted on adult entertainm­ent amid the pandemic infringes on the club’s right to free speech.

MASSACHUSE­TTS Gloucester: Teachers will be eligible to register for vaccines starting March 11, Gov. Charlie Baker said Wednesday.

MICHIGAN Detroit: The mayor acknowledg­ed Tuesday that the fire department has a “very serious problem” after two on-duty employees were involved in alcohol-related crashes. Mayor Mike Duggan said firefighte­rs who face the added strain of serving as medical first responders will be provided with mental health services and cited the stress of COVID-19 as a factor.

MINNESOTA St. Cloud: The number of Minnesotan­s who have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine now exceeds the state’s recorded coronaviru­s cases.

MISSISSIPP­I Jackson: Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba said the city’s mask mandate persists despite an order earlier Tuesday from Gov. Tate Reeves to lift all masking requiremen­ts he had imposed.

MISSOURI Lebanon: A company that declined to offer workers’ compensati­on benefits to the family of a police officer who died of COVID-19 has changed its decision after criticism and complaints that the refusal violated state and federal rules, city officials said.

MONTANA Helena: Beginning Monday, all residents 60 and up will qualify for vaccines, along with those 16 and older with asthma, cystic fibrosis or liver disease, Gov. Gianforte said Tuesday.

NEBRASKA Omaha: Gov. Pete Ricketts said the state has directed local health districts to give 90% of their COVID-19 vaccine doses to residents ages 50 to 64 in the next vaccinatio­n phase, which could begin this month. The other 10% will be set aside for people with health conditions that put them at higher risk. Officials said doctors working with local public health directors will determine who qualifies.

NEVADA Las Vegas: Lacrosse was reclassifi­ed from a full-contact to minimal-contact sport in the state’s coronaviru­s playbook Tuesday, as Gov. Steve Sisolak moved to let indoor and outdoor practices and competitio­ns resume.

NEW HAMPSHIRE Concord: The state plans to open a mass vaccinatio­n site by appointmen­t only for this weekend at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway with a goal of inoculatin­g 10,000 people.

NEW JERSEY Newark: A February survey of 960 New Jersey residents showed Black children were more than twice as likely to be learning remotely than their white counterpar­ts. That’s partly because some districts with large Black population­s remain closed. But even if given the option of in-school learning, 67% of Black families said they would probably or definitely stay remote, compared to 23% of white families, according to the survey commission­ed by Project Ready, a Newark-based social justice group.

NEW MEXICO Santa Fe: Accusation­s of civil rights violations have been filed against the Albuquerqu­e Public Schools Board of Education on behalf of students who cannot return to in-person learning. The legal notice contends its plaintiff is part of a class owed $1.8 billion, slightly more than the district’s annual budget.

NEW YORK New York: The state will loosen restrictio­ns on gatherings this month, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday. The limit for outdoor private gatherings will rise from 10 to 25 starting March 22. The limit for indoor gatherings in public spaces will go from 50 to 100, and the limit for outdoor public events will go from 50 to 200 on the same date, he said.

NORTH CAROLINA Durham: A scientist and university administra­tor announced Wednesday that he’ll run for a U.S. Senate seat being vacated at the end of 2022 by GOP incumbent Richard Burr. Richard Watkins Jr., of Durham, said he’s entering the race in part to ensure that “science is represente­d at the highest levels of our government,” particular­ly with challenges like climate change and COVID-19. Watkins has a doctorate in microbiolo­gy and immunology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

NORTH DAKOTA Bismarck: A $2 billion effort aims to capture carbon monoxide from Midwestern ethanol plants and pipe it to North Dakota to be buried deep undergroun­d. The greenhouse gas generated in the fermentati­on process contribute­s to climate change when it’s released into the atmosphere.

OHIO Columbus: The state’s mask mandate will continue until a “critical mass” has been reached of people who have received a COVID-19 vaccine, a spokespers­on for Gov. Mike DeWine said Wednesday.

OKLAHOMA Oklahoma City: The number of COVID-19 deaths jumped by about 2,500 on Wednesday as the state health department began using the count reported by the federal Centers for Disease Control.

OREGON Eugene: The University of Oregon will go back to predominan­tly in-person instructio­n for the fall term, officials said.

PENNSYLVAN­IA Harrisburg: With growing emphasis on getting students back in schools, teachers and school staff will receive the first doses delivered to the state of the oneshot Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, under Gov. Tom Wolf ’s plan released Wednesday.

RHODE ISLAND Providence: Gov. Daniel McKee, on his first full day on the job after Gina Raimondo became U.S. commerce secretary, signed his first executive order Wednesday, directing the Department of Health to better engage cities and towns in expanding vaccinatio­n efforts.

SOUTH CAROLINA Columbia: A state Senate committee approved a measure Tuesday to reinstate in this year’s budget some teacher raises that lawmakers paused last spring amid uncertaint­y about the pandemic’s impact on the state’s economy.

SOUTH DAKOTA Sioux Falls: An ordinance that would see the city’s mask mandate extended until South Dakota’s vaccinatio­n plan enters its next phase passed a first reading Tuesday, after contention among elected officials and frustratio­n from outspoken residents. One woman said it was possible masks would soon be viewed in the same way as the idea of asbestos being safe or bleeding as a medical procedure.

TEXAS Austin: Most school and child care workers are now eligible for vaccines, state health officials announced Wednesday, marking the first time in three months that Texas has expanded eligibilit­y.

UTAH Salt Lake City: A legislativ­e committee has advanced a bill to repeal most of a recently passed law that requires judges to release people accused of low-level crimes with the least restrictiv­e condition appropriat­e to their case. Opponents of the bill have argued that poor and marginaliz­ed communitie­s will be hurt.

VERMONT Newport: An outbreak of COVID-19 at the state prison in Newport has grown to 100 inmates and eight staff members, making it the largest at a Vermont correction­al facility since the start of the pandemic, the commission­er for the Department of Correction­s said. “It’s all hands on deck for our response,” Correction­s Commission­er Jim Baker said in a statement Tuesday.

VIRGINIA Charlottes­ville: Leaders of Greek life organizati­ons at the University of Virginia have extended their restrictio­ns on in-person activities for fraterniti­es and sororities, even as school administra­tors lift stay-at-home orders for students.

WASHINGTON Olympia: Gov. Jay Inslee announced Tuesday that educators, school staff and licensed child care workers have been added to the current tier of vaccine eligibilit­y.

WEST VIRGINIA Charleston: Gov. Jim Justice said Wednesday that the state has lowered the age threshold for COVID-19 vaccinatio­ns to 50. He said education workers who are at least 40 can also now receive shots. WISCONSIN Madison: The state launched an online registry Wednesday where people can sign up to get a vaccine, but so far only one health department is participat­ing, a community clinic in Janesville.

WYOMING Cheyenne: The state health department says adults with high-risk medical conditions should get vaccines as soon as they are available. “If your immune system or your heart, lungs or other organs are challenged in normal times because of a medical condition, your body is more likely to have trouble responding to the physical stress caused by a COVID-19 illness,” said Dr. Alexia Harrist, state health officer and state epidemiolo­gist with the department.

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