Capital reopening, free rides, vaccine theft: News from around our 50 states


Montgomery: Gov. Kay Ivey will end the state’s participation in federal unemployment programs geared to the pandemic, including supplements to jobless benefits and a suspension of a work-search requirement. The state will withdraw from the program June 19, the governor’s office said in a statement Monday. Applications for the pandemic-related benefits will be processed until then. The decision means the state will withdraw from programs that provided an additional $300 weekly payment in unemployment insurance; extended benefits to self-employed, gig workers and part-time workers; extended benefits for those who’ve exhausted regular benefits; and provided an additional $100 benefit to people with mixed earnings. “Among other factors, increased unemployment assistance, which was meant to be a short-term relief program during emergency related shutdowns, is now contributing to a labor shortage that is compromising the continuation of our economic recovery,” Ivey said in a statement. Studies have suggested the increased unemployment benefit has not affected job searches. Economists and staffing officials say individuals caring for family members with illness or supervising children learning from home may be contributing to the shortage of workers for advertised positions.


Juneau: The Alaska House passed a version of the state operating budget Monday that leaves for later debate over how much to pay residents from the state’s oil-wealth fund for this year’s dividend. Time to resolve that debate is running out in the current legislative session, set to end May 19 unless lawmakers vote to give themselves up to an extra 10 days. The process is playing out later than usual: Often the House, which traditionally gets first dibs over the Senate on reworking the governor’s budget proposal, passes its version of the budget in March. But it took the House a month to organize after the session started in January. The bipartisan coalition in control of the House has the bare minimum needed for a majority, 21 members. Another factor has been funds from a federal pandemic relief aid package that the state is expecting. Guidance on use of the funds was released Monday. Jeff Turner, a spokesperson for Gov. Mike Dunleavy, said it will take time to review the material “and determine the best path forward.” Dunleavy had proposed an initial outline for the expected $1 billion. The House version of the budget proposed spending 70%; both proposals came before the guidelines were issued.


Seen in Communist China today.
Oops, I mean Arizona.

Phoenix: A legislator is likening state messages encouraging residents to get a COVID-19 shot to communism. COVID-19 vaccines are not mandatory in Arizona. But on digital billboards situated on state highways, the government has been urging residents to get vaccinated as a way of returning to normal life. State Sen. Kelly Townsend, R-Mesa, shared on social media last week that she thinks the signs are government overreach and similar to China, which has a one-party government – the Communist Party of China. “Want to return to normal? Get vaccinated,” says the digital billboard message that Townsend photographed and included in a tweet Thursday. “Seen in Communist China today,” Townsend wrote in the tweet accompanying the photo. “Oops, I mean Arizona.” The Oxford Dictionary defines “communism” as a political theory derived from Karl Marx that advocates class war leading to a society where property is publicly owned, and each person works and is paid according to their abilities and needs.


Springdale: Tyson Foods says it’s raising wages to combat absenteeism and worker turnover at its plants as U.S. demand for chicken soars. The Springdale-based company, which processes 20% of U.S. beef, chicken and pork, said Monday that absentee rates are about 50% higher than they were before the pandemic. Government stimulus payments and enhanced unemployment benefits have made it harder to keep some workers, the company said. Health concerns and child care issues have also been a factor. “It takes about six days right now to get five days’ worth of work done,” said Donnie King, Tyson’s chief operating officer, during a conference call Monday with investors. To combat COVID-19, Tyson began vaccinating workers in February through clinics at more than 100 sites. The company said Monday that it has vaccinated more than 42,000 employees, or about one-third of its workforce. Tyson said it’s also offering vaccines to team members’ families when possible. Tyson said it’s raising wages and implementing more flexible scheduling in order to keep its plants staffed. Executives did not elaborate on the percentage pay hikes workers were being given, and a company spokesman was unable to provide further details. “There’s not a magic bullet here. We’re looking at all kinds of things, trying to generate worker-driven solutions,” King said.


Gov. Gavin Newsom addresses the crowd during a news conference held at Unity Council career center in the Fruitvale neighborhood of Oakland, Calif., on Monday. (Photo: Jessica Christian/San Francisco Chronicle via AP)

Sacramento: Aided by an astonishing nearly $76 billion budget surplus, Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday proposed tax rebates of up to $1,100 for millions of households and more than $7 billion to help people affected by the pandemic cover rent and utilities. It was Newsom’s first in a weeklong rollout of pandemic recovery proposals totaling $100 billion, which could boost his political fortunes as he faces a likely recall election later this year. His opponents accused him of pandering and said the state would be better served by broader tax reforms. “Direct stimulus checks going into people’s pockets and direct relief – that’s meaningful,” Newsom said from a community organization in a disadvantaged Oakland neighborhood. Under his plan, roughly 11 million low- and middle-income Californians would see direct, one-time payments. Taxpayers making between $30,000 and $75,000 a year would get a $600 payment. Households making up to $75,000 with at least one child would get an extra $500 payment. The proposal builds on earlier payments to the lowest-income Californians and immigrants who pay taxes but did not get federal stimulus payments, including those living in the country illegally. The projected $75.7 billion surplus is largely due to taxes paid by rich Californians who generally did well during the pandemic.


Denver: The state already had some of the hottest real estate markets in the nation. Now, lumber prices – up 250% compared to a year ago – are contributing to a price surge that shows no sign of slowing. Predictions of a pandemic-related housing slowdown never came to pass. Instead, the opposite happened. “The combination of the lockdowns and more time spent at home made people realize they wanted to live in a home that met their evolving needs,” economist Ali Wolf, with the housing market research firm Zonda, told The Denver Post. By December, new home contract sales were 43% above the same period a year earlier, according to Zonda. Now, 86% of builders report major lumber supply disruptions, and 96% report recent price increases associated with lumber costs, according to Zonda. The lumber price surge is also affecting remodeling. Deborah Cowles, of Centennial, put off replacing an old fence during the coronavirus pandemic, only to have contractors increase their price quotes by $1,000 or more a year later. Contractors also couldn’t guarantee they could get the type of wood she wanted, Cowles said. “It’s really caught us off guard,” she said.


Hartford: Gov. Ned Lamont announced Monday that 71% of adult residents have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. The state tops the nation when it comes to the percentage of fully vaccinated adults and is among the top five states in getting at least one shot in arms, the governor’s office said. About half of Connecticut’s 16- and 17 year-olds have gotten a shot, putting the vaccine rate for the total population at 57%, Lamont said. The numbers are much higher for those 45 and above (80%) and 65 and older (92%), he said. “What that means is that 45 and above, we’re very close to what they call herd immunity,” Lamont said. “I know that’s a moving target. But you add that 80% who have been vaccinated along with those who were previously infected over the last year or have some antibodies, we’re in pretty good shape.” The state did record 17 more COVID-19-related deaths over the weekend, bringing the total to 8,154 throughout the pandemic. But Lamont said hospitalizations fell by 29 patients to 280, the lowest total in more than seven months. He said that if the metrics continue to trend in the direction they are now going, Connecticut could be “back to normal” within a matter of months. “The fall, we’ll see if there are variants or anything that make us worry, but right now I think it’s a good summer,” he said.


Dover: Firefly Music Festival is planning to reduce capacity by about half of the usual level to about 45,000 fans this fall, state officials said – a reduced capacity that would make it the smallest since the festival’s 2012 debut. But details about other possible COVID-19-related precautions and restrictions have largely been undecided. State health officials will begin the detailed planning process with festival organizers later this month. Firefly dropped its 93-act lineup Monday for the Sept. 23-26 camping-and-music event, featuring headliners Billie Eilish, The Killers, Tame Impala and Lizzo. The Delaware Division of Public Health’s Jamie Mack said he and other health experts will be examining several factors including the state’s vaccination rate, new coronavirus cases and hospitalizations when determining what precautions will be in place. With cases dropping – the state’s seven-day average of new cases has decreased 44% from 304 to 169 in the past month – there is reason to be hopeful. “Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve seen a lot of these factors moving in a positive direction, and we’re optimistic they will continue that way through the summer, especially as we see more people get vaccinated,” said Mack, the state’s environmental health director. Nearly 40% of the state is fully vaccinated.

District of Columbia

Charity Struthers with Signature Tours brings a group of students into Lafayette Park, across the street from the White House, as it reopens in a limited capacity Monday. (Photo: Andrew Harnik/AP)

Washington: The city is emerging from its pandemic quarantine. With coronavirus numbers dropping, officials in the nation’s capital have announced a reopening timeline that would see all indoor capacity limits eliminated by early June, but with mask requirements still in place. Mayor Muriel Bowser unveiled a two-stage plan Monday, with capacity restrictions on most indoor activities lifting May 21, with the exception of bars, nightclubs and entertainment venues. Those final categories would see their capacity limits removed by June 11. The two dates represent a pair of major crossroads moments for Washington, both for the daily lives of its residents and for its hospitality-heavy economy, driven by tourism and conventions. “We are quickly and enthusiastically approaching containment level of the virus in our jurisdiction,” said Health Department Director Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt. “But in the ensuing weeks, we continue to need to remain vigilant.” Virus metrics show daily case rates are down to levels not seen since last summer. Nesbitt said contract tracing for new cases “would remain a 24/7 operation.” Bowser also announced that the overflow field hospital that took over Washington’s convention center last year would be dismantled. “I’m grateful we never had to use it,” she said.


Naples: The number of variant cases of the coronavirus is rising in Southwest Florida, heightening concern among some medical officials that there will be a summer spike. While the daily number of new COVID-19 cases is dropping, Florida still leads the nation in new infections as those caused by mutated strains of the coronavirus skyrocket, according to the latest reports from state health officials. The number of people in Florida infected with a variant strain of the virus increased 77% in the past three weeks, and the number of deaths nearly tripled to 73, state health officials report. Lee County has seen 204 variant cases; that’s up 26% from 162 cases since April 27, according to the latest state data through May 5. The county ranks 12th among the 67 counties in the state for its number of variant cases, the data shows. Collier County ranks 16th in the state with 153 variant cases, up 28% from 120 cases in late April. All but a handful of the Southwest Florida cases have been the B.1.1.7 strain out of the United Kingdom that is the dominant one among the six circulating in Florida. Of the 12,242 people in the state who have tested positive for one of the variants, 6,175 are in Palm Beach, Broward or Miami-Dade counties, the state’s three most populous counties.


Mark Butler, Republican then-candidate for Georgia commissioner of labor, talks to supporters during an election night party in 2010 in Atlanta. (Photo: John Amis/AP)

Atlanta: After announcing last week that he plans to require people receiving unemployment benefits to resume searching for work, the state’s labor commissioner now says he’s considering cutting federal benefits to the jobless in an effort to push them back into the workforce. Kersha Cartwright, a spokesperson for elected Republican Mark Butler, said Butler and Gov. Brian Kemp met Monday and discussed possibilities such as cutting the $300-a-week federal supplement to unemployed workers or cutting off special federal benefits to people not usually eligible for state unemployment. “I think the governor’s office and the commissioner are agreed that a major reduction in some programs, if not all programs, is needed,” Cartwright said. “Everything’s on the table for discussion.” Mallory Blount, a spokesperson for Kemp, said residents could “expect final decisions on timing and other specifics in the coming days.” Butler has the legal authority to reject the benefits but is consulting with Kemp. Butler could also decrease the amount of money someone can earn and still qualify for benefits. Butler set that amount at $300 a week when the pandemic began, meaning people who are working reduced hours can still qualify for the $300-a-week federal boost.


Honolulu: The state’s vaccine passport program for interisland travel has begun. The program launch allows people who received their COVID-19 shots in Hawaii to skip coronavirus testing and quarantine rules for travel between the islands, Hawaii News Now reports. Officials have easy access to state vaccination records that can be quickly verified, so only those who have been fully vaccinated at clinics in the islands can participate. The governor said he hopes to open the program to out-of-state visitors and trans-Pacific travelers later this year. “We don’t have a firm timeline on trans-Pacific. The challenge is about verification – about vaccination done in other states,” Gov. David Ige said. “We’ve been working with a couple of other private-sector partners about working to get access to the state vaccination records, and we believe that that would help them to get vaccination records in other states as well.” People participating in the program must be more than two weeks out from their final COVID-19 vaccine shot. Health officials report about 40% of Hawaii’s population is fully vaccinated. Anyone flying into the state still has to produce a negative coronavirus test to bypass a 10-day quarantine rule.


Boise: The state will receive $1.1 billion in the latest round of coronavirus relief money in two separate payments, the U.S. Treasury Department announced Monday, with state officials saying the money could be used to substantially bolster water, sewer and broadband infrastructure. The $350 billion program is part of President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package that became law in March. Administration officials say payments could begin going out in the coming days. In addition to the money coming to the state, Idaho’s nine largest cities will get a total of $124 million, while 190 cities with populations of typically less than 50,000 will get $108 million. Counties will get another $314 million. The distribution is based on population. Alex Adams, Republican Gov. Brad Little’s budget chief, said his initial take on the announcement and a 150-page document outlining how the money can be spent contained two surprises. First, Adams said, is that the plan allows the money to be allocated by December 2024, with the projects complete by the end of 2026. The second surprise is that Idaho is getting about $90 million less than expected, apparently the result of its economy improving, as a portion of the federal money distribution is based on Idaho’s unemployment rate.


Gov. J.B. Pritzker discusses Chicago’s vaccination efforts during a news conference at the Harris Bank Building in the Loop on Monday in Chicago. (Photo: Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Chicago Sun-Times via AP)

Chicago: The state, working with business and labor organizations, plans to offer COVID-19 vaccinations to workers at offices, officials announced Monday. The initiative is being prompted by the return to offices of thousands of workers forced home by the pandemic. Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Monday that having vaccines available where people are working makes getting a shot very convenient. The effort will launch in mid-May with the opening of 10 vaccination sites in Chicago, Schaumburg and Rockford. The clinics, staffed by Walgreen pharmacists, offer two-dose vaccinations and will also take walk-ins. State officials are encouraging Illinois building operators interested in hosting additional clinics to contact the Illinois Department of Public Health directly or to contact the Building Owners and Managers Association. “With enhanced air quality and ventilation, advanced cleanliness procedures, and reconfigurations, our buildings have been prepared to welcome tenants back to the office for over a year,” Building Owners and Managers Association executive director Farzin Parang said in a statement. While announcing the vaccination plans at a Chicago bank, Pritzker acknowledged Illinois has reached a vaccination plateau, as most people eager to be vaccinated have already received their shots.


Indianapolis: The city will remain under a mask mandate and other COVID-19 restrictions as local officials endorsed those measures after the Legislature nullified such orders previously issued by county health officers. The new state law that took effect immediately Monday allows local COVID-19 restrictions tougher than those issued statewide only upon approval of elected county commissioners or city councils. The Democratic-controlled Indianapolis council voted 19-5 along party lines Monday night to keep the mask mandate and rules that restrict restaurants to 75% indoor capacity and bars to 50% capacity. Democratic council member Maggie Lewis said it was important for the council to support Marion County’s health officer as the expert on what precautions should be taken. Republican legislators overrode a veto by GOP Gov. Eric Holcomb to enact the new law, arguing that it provides a “check and balance” protecting the rights of business owners. Local elected officials must now endorse restrictions for other cities including South Bend, Elkhart and Bloomington that have been in place since Holcomb rescinded the statewide mask order in early April. County commissioners in northern Indiana’s Elkhart County have said they don’t intend to endorse the tougher rules ordered by the county health officer.


Des Moines: Gov. Kim Reynolds announced Tuesday that Iowa will join a bevy of Republican-led states ending pandemic-related federal programs that give extra cash to unemployed workers. The state will end the federal boosts, including an additional $300-a-week unemployment payment, Reynolds said in a news release. That benefit was scheduled to run through early September. Reynolds said in the announcement that the benefits are causing a labor shortage in the state and hindering its economy. “Now that our businesses and schools have reopened, these payments are discouraging people from returning to work,” the Republican governor said. “Our unemployment rate is at 3.7%, vaccines are available to anyone who wants one, and we have more jobs available than unemployed people.” But supporters of the federal unemployment programs point to other factors, including parents who don’t have child care and people reluctant to take jobs in service industries that require contact with the public for fear of contracting COVID-19. The federal benefits will end June 12, Reynolds said. Regular, pre-pandemic unemployment benefits will remain available.


Topeka: More than 2 million COVID-19 shots have been administered in the state, officials reported Monday, as the federal government detailed plans to distribute nearly $1 billion in aid to Kansas’ cities and counties. The state health department said 39.5% of residents had received at least one vaccine dose. Meanwhile, the U.S. Treasury Department spelled out for the first time how it would distribute a majority of the aid from a federal coronavirus relief measure that became law in March. The state will receive $1.6 billion from the allocation. Its 105 counties will receive a total of $566 million, distributed $194 per resident. Another $427 million go to cities, with 10 major cities sharing $260 million. Meanwhile, Kansas State University is altering its mask policy for outdoor settings, citing recent guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that Americans don’t need to cover their faces anymore when they’re outdoors unless they are in a big crowd. WIBW-TV reports that starting May 17, people who are fully vaccinated can participate in outdoor campus activities and recreation without a mask, except in crowded settings and venues. The university in Manhattan said masks still will be required in all indoor spaces on university property.


Customers enjoy a meal at the Irish Rover restaurant in Louisville, Ky., on Nov. 18, 2020. (Photo: Sam Upshaw Jr./Courier Journal)

Louisville: Starting May 28, bars and restaurants will no longer need to abide by a curfew, and bar seating will be allowed, Gov. Andy Beshear announced Monday. Bars and restaurants have had several curfews during the pandemic to help keep crowds down and COVID-19 at bay. In August, Beshear set a 10 p.m. last call curfew and closing time of 11 p.m. On Sept. 15, that curfew was moved to 11 p.m. with a closing time of midnight. In March, he announced a last call curfew of midnight and a closing time of 1 a.m. “I want everybody to remember that we have been and we’re going to be loosening these restrictions,” the Democratic governor said. “But be reasonable. … Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. Look at your own facilities, look at the ability for air to move in and out, look at what your vaccination rates are in your county and what your incident rates are, and try to make good decisions. I know everybody wants to protect their clientele, those that they serve.” Also on May 28, maximum capacity for events with 1,000 or fewer people is increasing to 75%, and the limit is rising to 60% for more than 1,000.


Baton Rouge: Consumers could get wine shipped directly from manufacturers under a bill that narrowly won passage Monday in the state House. Current law prohibits wine manufacturers from shipping wine directly to a consumer unless the purchase is made in person at the winery, or unless the manufacturer doesn’t have a wholesale agreement to sell in the state through stores and other sites. Rep. Joseph Orgeron, R-Larose, said 44 other states allow similar direct shipments of wine without such conditions. He said his proposal would increase consumer access. Opponents suggest the change could damage wholesalers and the retailers that sell wine. Lawmakers sent the proposal to the Senate with a 53-40 vote – exactly the minimum it needed to pass. The vote was unanimous for a second alcohol measure that would let restaurants sell prepackaged, pre-measured, “ready-to-drink” alcoholic beverages for delivery. Rep. John Illg, R-River Ridge, said the measure would help the state’s ailing restaurant industry as it struggles to recover amid the pandemic. A 95-0 vote sent that bill to the Senate for debate.


Augusta: A Republican lawmaker has been barred from inviting guests into the Maine State House after violating rules by hosting an out-of-state activist who spread conspiracy theories about the coronavirus. Rep. Shelley Rudnicki, of Fairfield, was disciplined by legislative leaders after bringing Naomi Wolf and a camera operator into the State House on April 28 while lawmakers were convened at the Augusta Civic Center, the Bangor Daily News reports. They approached Gov. Janet Mills’ office suite and were told to leave by the governor’s chief of staff. Wolf has been touring the country to advocate for the end of pandemic restrictions. She has questioned the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines and suggested they could be used to implant microchips in people. The Legislative Council voted 6-4 to revoke Rudnicki’s guest privileges, and a letter from House Speaker Ryan Fecteau, a Democrat, said she “explicitly disregarded” the policy put in place during the pandemic. The policy, adopted in February, permits lawmakers to bring two constituents into the State House to meet in their offices as long as they check with staff to ensure space is free. Rudnicki said she has been trying to meet with Mills through other channels. She disagreed that Wolf should not be allowed in the building because she does not live in her district.


Baltimore: Businessman Mike Rosenbaum announced Tuesday that he’s seeking the Democratic nomination for governor. Rosenbaum, 49, is the founder of the companies Catalyte and Arena. He has focused on building systems using data to project how well people will perform in a specific position or company. He said Maryland needs a governor to build a more inclusive post-COVID-19 economy. Rosenbaum served in the U.S. State Department, where he worked on trade issues. He also served in the White House under former President Bill Clinton as an economist focusing on tech, labor, urban and rural policy for the Council of Economic Advisers.


Boston Red Sox’s Hunter Renfroe, left, celebrates his home run with Bobby Dalbec during the eighth inning of a baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles on Sunday in Baltimore. (Photo: Nick Wass/AP)

Boston: The Red Sox, Celtics and Bruins can now welcome more fans as the state continues to ease restrictions aimed at thwarting the spread of the coronavirus. Indoor and outdoor stadiums, arenas and ballparks, which had been limited to 12% capacity, are allowed to increase capacity to 25%. Amusement parks, theme parks and outdoor water parks are also allowed to welcome more visitors, up to 50% capacity, as long as they have a safety plan approved by the state Department of Public Health. Road races and other outdoor organized amateur or professional sporting events can also resume. Supermarkets and other retailers are no longer required to maintain special hours for seniors, and singing is allowed indoors with strict distancing requirements in place. Restrictions are being relaxed as more people get vaccinated against COVID-19. As of Sunday, more than 2.9 million people in Massachusetts had been fully vaccinated, according to the health department. More than 3.8 million residents have received at least first doses. To make getting a shot easier, the state will allow walk-up vaccinations at six mass vaccination sites.


Lansing: The state on Monday surpassed a 55% COVID-19 vaccination rate, reaching a milestone that will lead to the automatic easing of in-person work restrictions in two weeks. Employers currently must prohibit on-site work if employees’ jobs can feasibly be done remotely. The state anticipates lifting the rule May 24, said COVID-19 workplace safety director Sean Egan. The 55% benchmark is the first of four under a plan outlined by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer less than two weeks ago. “If you’ve gotten your safe, effective vaccine, thank you. And if you haven’t yet, I encourage you to speak to your doctor or your friends or family who’ve been vaccinated to learn about their experiences,” the Democrat said in a video. At a 60% vaccination rate, capacity at sports stadiums, banquet halls, conference centers and funeral homes will rise to 25% after two weeks – and 50% at gyms. Restaurants and bars will no longer have an 11 p.m. curfew. All indoor capacity limits will be lifted after 65% of eligible people have one shot, though social distancing will remain. At 70%, the state will rescind its mask and gatherings order and stop imposing broad mitigation measures barring unanticipated circumstances, such as vaccine-resistant coronavirus variants. The state could delay eased restrictions in regions with high case rates.


St. Paul: Suburban police are investigating the theft of COVID-19 vaccines after a man recorded and posted videos on social media of him walking away with vials of what he called “poison” and said he had plans to have the vaccines tested at a lab. Allina Health told police the man, who has been identified by law enforcement as Thomas Humphrey, took a vial of the Pfizer vaccine from a clinic in Oakdale on May 4 and left before officers arrived. The 32-year-old St. Paul man recorded the alleged theft, as well as one the next day at a CVS pharmacy, the location of which is not known, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports. The videos were on Humphrey’s Facebook page early Monday, before they were either deleted or removed from public view. The videos generated hundreds of comments on Humphrey’s page. One of the videos shows him sitting down with a nurse at the Allina clinic, then grabbing the Pfizer vaccine before he stands up and yells at others not to get the vaccine because it would kill them. In the CVS pharmacy video, Humphrey takes a vial of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine from a box that a worker handed him, then walks out of the store, despite pleas from workers not to leave.


Jackson: State legislators are not in session now, so it could be months before they start deciding how to spend $1.8 billion in the latest round of pandemic relief from the federal government. Mississippi will receive part of the money this year and the rest next year. “I think it’s going to take some time to fully inspect and understand what’s included,” Mississippi Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Briggs Hopson said Monday. The U.S. Treasury Department said state and local governments may use the money for public health, including efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. They may use it to address economic problems that the pandemic has caused for workers, households, small businesses, industries and government. They also may use some of the money to replace tax revenue that was lost because of the pandemic and to provide extra pay for essential workers. Other acceptable uses are for improvements to water and sewer systems and expansion of broadband access, the Treasury Department said. States are not allowed to use the money to cut taxes, shore up pension funds or rainy day funds, make payments on long-term debt or pay off legal settlements. Mississippi legislators’ next regular session begins in January. Republican Gov. Tate Reeves could call them into special session, if he wants.


Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt speaks during a news conference in St. Louis on Aug. 6. Schmitt filed a lawsuit Tuesday over St. Louis County’s COVID-19 restrictions. (Photo: Jeff Roberson/AP)

O’Fallon: Republican Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt on Tuesday filed a lawsuit challenging St. Louis County’s COVID-19 restrictions, citing concerns about their impact on religion, education and the freedom of residents. The lawsuit filed in St. Louis County Circuit Court names Democratic County Executive Sam Page, the county’s health department and its director, Dr. Faisal Khan. It seeks an injunction to end the restrictions. “From requiring a mask outdoors to subjecting citizens to government pre-approval for private events, enough is enough,” Schmitt said in a news release. “The seemingly unending control over people’s lives must end. Vaccines are widely available to all adults – it’s past time for St. Louis County to lift these restrictions, and that’s why I filed suit today.” Page’s spokesman, Doug Moore, said litigation related to public health orders is common across the country, “and St. Louis County has been successful in defending every legal challenge around public health orders. Our legal foundation is sound.” The lawsuit is the latest of several filed by Schmitt, who announced in March that he will seek the GOP nomination for U.S. Senate in 2022. His announcement came weeks after incumbent Republican Sen. Roy Blunt announced he would not seek reelection.


Great Falls: The state on Tuesday reported 167 new coronavirus cases, bringing the total number of active cases to 1,028. There have been 1,593 deaths from COVID-19 and 107,486 recoveries. Hospitals across Montana have 69 COVID-19 patients out of 5,122 total hospitalizations for the disease since the pandemic began. The state administered 2,764 new coronavirus tests since Monday. Cascade County on Tuesday reported 36 new cases. The county has administered 50,691 total doses of COVID-19 vaccine, and 24,276 residents have been fully immunized. Great Falls Public Schools as of Monday had 17 active COVID-19 cases. The state has administered 750,025 doses of COVID-19 vaccine, and 352,991 Montanans have been fully immunized. Gallatin County reported 37 new cases, Yellowstone County reported 29, Lewis and Clark added 11, and Flathead County added six.


Omaha: The pace of vaccinations in the state has slowed significantly over the past month. The state said 49,016 COVID-19 vaccine doses were administered in Nebraska last week. That continues the steady decline seen in recent weeks, when roughly 70,000 and 93,000 doses were administered. The latest weekly total of vaccine doses is less than one-quarter of the mid-April peak of 211,057 doses in a single week. Health officials said 49.9% of the state’s population over the age of 16 has now been vaccinated, and 1.55 million doses have been administered statewide since December. But demand for the shots has weakened across the state. The state reported 411 new coronavirus cases and one death Tuesday to give Nebraska a total of 221,911 cases and 2,247 deaths since the pandemic began. The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Nebraska decreased over the past two weeks, going from 317.00 new cases per day April 25 to 182.14 new cases per day Sunday.


For the absolute best views in Vegas, head to the top of the Stratosphere Tower. (Photo: Stratosphere Hotel & Casino)

Las Vegas: The casino long known as the Stratosphere announced Monday that it has lifted most coronavirus pandemic restrictions and moved to 100% capacity on its casino floor after meeting Nevada Gaming Control Board requirements. STRAT Hotel, Casino & SkyPod owner Golden Entertainment Inc. said it provided COVID-19 vaccinations at on-site casino clinics for employees and their families. Property Vice President and General Manager Stephen Thayer said masks still will be required for workers and guests at the iconic tallest tower on Las Vegas Boulevard. Golden Entertainment bought the 2,427-room STRAT in late 2017 and has been renovating the 25-year-old property. The tower is 1,149 feet high and features sightseeing, a restaurant with a 360-degree rotating dining room and several thrill rides. The Wynn Las Vegas, Encore and Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas got approval last week from regulators to lift capacity and physical distancing limits and remove clear plastic separators from gambling tables. They showed the Gaming Control Board that at least 80% of their employees had received at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine.

New Hampshire

Concord: A recent COVID-19 outbreak at the Sullivan County nursing home has led some officials to consider compensation changes for staff and mandatory vaccinations for employees. The outbreak, which started last month, has affected staff and residents at the home in Unity, including some who were fully vaccinated. Last year, the county instituted a compensation program for employees in quarantine, paying them two-thirds of wages for a missed day of work. The Eagle Times reports that under a new proposal, only vaccinated employees will still be eligible for this compensation, said Derek Ferland, county manager. Unvaccinated employees who contract the coronavirus will have to use their sick or vacation days to continue getting paid. “It’s not that we’re trying to be mean about it,” Ferland said. “(But) as long as there are hosts, the virus continues to do its thing. And the number of hosts is directly proportional to the number of people who are not vaccinated.” Currently, 92% of the county home’s residents and 75% of staff are fully vaccinated.

New Jersey

Trenton: The state’s daily rate of COVID-19 vaccinations has plummeted so much in recent weeks that it’s casting doubt on whether Gov. Phil Murphy will meet his goal to fully vaccinate 4.7 million adults by the end of June, and he says bribing residents to get a shot isn’t out of the question. New Jersey needs to administer 280,000 first doses each week in May to reach its goal, which is key to ushering in a return to normalcy this summer, said Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli. But in the first seven days of May, only 121,000 first doses of Pfizer and Moderna were administered, according to a review of state data. That represents a 64% decline from the first week of April, when 340,000 first doses were administered. “We’re going to have to scrap to get there, almost certainly,” Murphy said of his goal at a briefing Monday. NJ Transit unveiled a plan last week to offer two free round-trip rides to vaccination sites. More than 30 breweries are offering a free beer to those who get their shots in May. And in what may be the most lucrative incentive, Rowan University in South Jersey took the unprecedented step last week of giving vaccinated students $1,000 off their fall tuition and housing bills. “Are we willing to bribe people to get vaccinated? Everything is on the table,” Murphy said Monday.

New Mexico

Santa Fe: Transportation officials say roadside litter has become a persistent issue for the state, compounded by new types of debris amid the pandemic, so they’re reviving the “Toss No Mas” campaign with a new twist. State Transportation Secretary Mike Sandoval said Monday that his agency has nearly 900 boots on the ground picking up trash and debris year-round. The day after a stretch of road is cleaned, he said, new trash shows up. “During the pandemic, the problem seemed to get worse. PPE was found everywhere,” he said, referring to personal protective equipment used to curb the spread of the coronavirus. “We are asking for everyone’s help.” The campaign will include the messages “Can the Trash” and “Tie it. Tarp it. Pick it up.” Officials said they found that the largest litter accumulations come from people not tying up their garbage bags, tarping their loads, or picking up dropped debris or litter. The “Toss No Mas” campaign was created in the ’90’s by Cooney-Watson Productions. Santa Fe songwriter Jim Terr wrote a memorable song with an anti-litter public service message. Taos musician Michael Hearne was then brought on to sing a soulful version of the song, and it became a well-known anthem across New Mexico. The modernization of the campaign includes a new jingle for the radio.

New York

Albany: As the pace of vaccinations has slowed, officials are trying a mix of mandates and incentives to overcome hesitancy, including free subway rides. Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the state can’t mandate COVID-19 vaccines until they get full approval from the federal government. If that happens, New York will require students of the state’s and New York City’s public university and college systems to get vaccinated to attend in-person classes this fall, Cuomo said in a Monday press conference in New York City. “If you must have a vaccine, get it now,” Cuomo said. “If you have to get it anyway.” And anyone who gets vaccinated at one of six New York City subway stations from Wednesday through Sunday will receive a free seven-day MetroCard, New York City Transit Interim President Sarah Feinberg said. Feinberg said subway ridership reached a recent high of 2.23 million riders Friday. The Long Island Railroad and Metro-North are also offering vaccination sites at two stations in Ossining and Hempstead. Those who get inoculated can receive two free one-way trips. Cuomo and transit officials said they hope pop-up sites will increase vaccination rates and ease riders’ minds as New York City’s subways prepare to resume 24/7, around-the-clock operations next Monday.

North Carolina

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper leaves the House chamber after delivering his State of the State address before a joint session of the North Carolina House and Senate on April 26 in Raleigh. (Photo: Robert Willett/The News & Observer via AP)

Raleigh: State House members on Monday approved a plan to curb the governor’s ability to mandate COVID-19 vaccines through executive action – a power Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper has shown no desire to exercise. The measure put forward by Rep. Keith Kidwell, R-Beaufort, would also bar state public health authorities and licensing agencies from requiring North Carolinians to get vaccinated in order to obtain a license. It’s perhaps the most mild of a string of anti-vaccination proposals brought forward by Republican state lawmakers. The measure passed 75-38 with support from 10 Democrats and all GOP members present and now heads to the Senate. Cooper has strongly encouraged residents to get vaccinated but has been reluctant to mandate it or turn it into a hot-button political issue. He and his health secretary, Dr. Mandy Cohen, have instead promoted a message of a quicker return to summer activities once more people get vaccinated. They have also vowed to ease pandemic restrictions, such as the indoor mask mandate, once two-thirds of adults in the state have gotten at least one COVID-19 dose. Still, some GOP lawmakers say they wish Kidwell’s proposal would have gone further, preventing schools and child care facilities from requiring the vaccines.

North Dakota

Bismarck: Gov. Doug Burgum announced Monday that the state will terminate its participation in the federal government’s pandemic-related unemployment assistance programs, effective June 19. Burgum said in a statement that ending the $300 weekly federal supplemental benefit is meant “to help address the ongoing workforce shortage across the state.” North Dakota had 16,396 online job openings in April, which was nearly 50% more than the same period in 2020 and represents the state’s largest number of online job openings since July 2015, according to Job Service North Dakota. Burgum said more than 8,300 people are claiming unemployment benefits under the programs North Dakota is terminating June 19. He said the programs have paid out more than $700 million in unemployment benefits, though 29% of federal program claimants live out of state. “Federal funds provided a safety net to our unemployed workers during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, and now that open jobs are surpassing pre-pandemic levels, we believe that reemployment is the best recovery plan for North Dakota‘s economic health,” said Bryan Klipfel, executive director of Job Service North Dakota.


Columbus: The state will receive nearly $5.4 billion in aid as part of Democratic President Joe Biden’s larger $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, with another nearly $6.6 billion going directly to counties, cities and townships, the U.S. Treasury Department said Monday. Thirty-seven cities and townships and all 88 counties will receive the payments. State and local governments can use the money for relief from the public health crisis. The funding also can be used to offset harm to workers, small businesses and affected industries; to invest in water, sewer and broadband systems; and to replace lost public-sector revenue, according to guidance from the Treasury Department. Essential workers also can qualify for premium pay under the program. What officials can’t do with the money is use it to cut taxes, pay down debt or bolster the state rainy day fund. Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost, a Republican, called Treasury’s directives on the money akin to “fantasy fiction.” GOP Gov. Mike DeWine has recommended to the Legislature using a portion of its the relief dollars to pay off the unemployment compensation insurance loan the state owes to the federal government. Under Treasury guidelines, states can use the money to replenish their unemployment insurance trust funds up to pre-pandemic levels.


Oklahoma City: State health officials are preparing to offer COVID-19 shots to adolescents, now that children ages 12 through 15 can qualify for the Pfizer vaccine. The Food and Drug Administration authorized the use of the vaccine for use in that age group Monday afternoon. Before shots begin, a federal vaccine advisory committee will meet to discuss whether to endorse the move, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will decide whether to adopt the committee’s recommendation, according to the Associated Press. Once approval is official, the Oklahoma State Health Department plans to be able to start giving vaccinations to children in that age group immediately, said Keith Reed, deputy commissioner of health. The state will turn on registration access for the younger age group through the state vaccine scheduling portal once the federal vaccine advisory committee makes its recommendation to the CDC, Reed said. Some individual providers, like Clyde Pharmacy in Oklahoma City, are already scheduling appointments for teens in anticipation of the vaccine being approved for the younger age group. The Oklahoma City-County Health Department plans to work with Oklahoma City Public Schools to survey families about how and whether they plan to vaccinate their children.


Eugene: The University of Oregon and Western Oregon University say students will be required to get COVID-19 vaccines by this fall, joining other colleges in the Northwest that have made the same announcement. “The requirement will help us to reach the highest level of protection possible, reduce infections and protect the health and safety of our university community and the communities we serve. Individuals will be able to request exemptions for medical and non-medical reasons,” the University of Oregon said in a tweet Monday. The state’s flagship public university, located in Eugene, has about 18,000 undergraduate students. Meanwhile, WOU officials announced during a virtual session Monday that vaccinations will be required for students and employees who either study or work in person at the university’s Monmouth or Salem campuses for the fall term. Oregon State University is among the other institutions of higher education that will require COVID-19 vaccinations this fall.


A Wells Fargo Center worker receives a Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccination before an NHL hockey game between the Philadelphia Flyers and the New Jersey Devils on Monday in Philadelphia. (Photo: Matt Slocum/AP)

Philadelphia: As the Philadelphia Flyers put shots on goal Monday night, they were also pushing shots into arms. The Flyers and Penn Medicine teamed up to offer COVID-19 vaccines to fans attending Monday’s regular season finale against the New Jersey Devils at Wells Fargo Center. Anyone getting the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine also received a voucher for two free tickets to a Flyers game next season. Meanwhile, about 750,000 Pennsylvania children are expected to become eligible for Pfizer’s COVID-19 shot after U.S. regulators expanded the use of the two-dose vaccine to 12- to 15-year-olds, state health officials said Tuesday. Health providers in Pennsylvania could begin vaccinating people in that age group later this week after a federal vaccine advisory committee signs off as expected. The state Health Department said vaccine providers should follow their existing policies for vaccinating minors, which requires parental consent in Pennsylvania. The administration of Gov. Tom Wolf has said it will lift a statewide mask mandate once at least 70% of adult residents are fully vaccinated. Statewide, about 45.6% of people age 18 and older had been fully vaccinated as of Tuesday, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Rhode Island

Providence: The state expects to start offering Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine to children ages 12 to 15 later this week now that the Food and Drug Administration has authorized its use for that age group, state officials said Tuesday. The announcement came during a news conference at Rhode Island Hospital to celebrate the fact that more than 1 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in the state. The state’s first vaccine against the disease caused by the coronavirus was given at the hospital in mid-December. “I don’t think anyone would have ever thought on Dec. 14 that we would have 1 million shots in the arms on May 11,” Gov. Daniel McKee said. Eligible children, with parental consent, were expected to be able to sign up for a shot at the state’s current vaccination sites later Tuesday, and there are also plans to bring vaccination clinics to schools, officials said. “We are so excited that we can expand to this younger age,” said Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott, director of the state Department of Health. “Because children could not get vaccinated and because we are seeing these more contagious variants of COVID-19, we have seen an increase in our proportion of cases in children. So the timing right now is perfect.”

South Carolina

Columbia: The state and local governments are getting nearly $2.5 billion in new federal coronavirus aid, as South Carolina begins to phase out a different federal jobless benefit the governor says is disincentivizing people to return to the workplace. The funds announced this week are part of a $350 billion allocation being distributed to state and local governments, a piece of President Joe Biden’s larger $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package that became law in March. All of South Carolina’s 46 counties and some cities will get the money, which could soon begin arriving in state and local hands, according to the White House. Treasury Department guidance listed broad categories for spending the funds, like public health costs, or offsetting harm from the downturn to workers, small businesses and affected industries. Money can also replace lost public sector revenues and be invested in water, sewer and broadband internet. The distribution comes as South Carolina phases out its participation in another federal coronavirus aid component. Last week, Gov. Henry McMaster announced that, beginning June 30, the state will opt out of the federal unemployment programs that have been providing extra money to jobless residents, in light of “unprecedented” workforce shortages across the state.

South Dakota

Sioux Falls: The average number of new coronavirus infections in the state fell to its lowest level since July, with 125 new cases reported Tuesday. Those cases were recorded over the weekend and brought the seven-day average to 66 cases per day, the lowest number since July 25. No new deaths were reported, leaving the statewide total of people who have died with COVID-19 at 1,981. Minnehaha County residents accounted for 26 new infections. Lincoln County had 13 positive cases. Brown County reported 10 new infections and Codington County four. Active infections decreased to 1,100 as the state reported an additional 236 people recovered from COVID-19. The number of people in state hospital beds with COVID-19 fell to 66. Of those, 21 were receiving intensive care, and 15 were on ventilators. Out of the 123,435 people in the state who have tested positive for the virus, about 6% have received hospital care. A total of 335,301 people in the state have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine through the South Dakota Department of Health’s immunization program and the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program. That number does not include immunizations through Indian Health Service or Veterans Affairs.


Nashville: The state is withdrawing from a $300 weekly unemployment supplement program, a decision by Gov. Bill Lee that comes as many Republicans argue the additional funds allow low-wage workers to make more money while staying at home. Lee informed the U.S. Department of Labor of the decision Tuesday, joining several other Southern states in refusing the additional payments for unemployed people. “We will no longer participate in federal pandemic unemployment programs because Tennesseans have access to more than 250,000 jobs in our state,” Lee said in a statement about the decision. The federal unemployment assistance programs will end July 3, Lee wrote to Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh. Tennessee pays up to $275 weekly for unemployed individuals, ranking it among the lowest in the country and significantly below the national average of $387. Combined with the current $300 federal supplement – a drop from a $600 a week offered last year – Tennesseans receiving unemployment benefits are now receiving about $575 weekly, the equivalent of $14.38 per hour for a 40-hour week. The federal minimum wage, which hasn’t been raised in more than a decade, is $7.25 per hour, though many argue a living wage would be in the $15-$20 range.


Gov. Greg Abbott adjusts his mask after giving an update on the coronavirus pandemic June 16. (Photo: RICARDO B. BRAZZIELL/AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

Austin: The state House gave final approval Tuesday to a bill that would curb the governor’s powers during a pandemic, a response to criticism from both Republicans and Democrats over Gov. Greg Abbott’s use of disaster powers during the coronavirus pandemic. The Pandemic Response Act, approved 104-39, would create an oversight committee with powers to strike down any order, waiver or suspension. It now heads to the Senate. “We must now take what we have learned this past year in dealing with a pandemic and set a different framework in dealing with future pandemics,” Rep. Dustin Burrows, R-Lubbock, an author of the bill, told members as he introduced the legislation Monday evening. “As a baseline in a pandemic, you will not government your way out of it. Government does not have the solutions and doesn’t have the expertise to find all the solutions to fix all the problems.” Under the bill, the governor would still have the ability to suspend state laws and trump decisions by local officials, which kept some Democrats from voting in favor of the bill. Abbott has received criticism from Democrats and local officials throughout the pandemic for not giving mayors and county judges more authority to issue their own orders, including the ability to mandate masks and reduce occupancy rates at businesses.


St. George: Head Start, a free, federally funded program that promotes early childhood development and education for low-income families, is expanding its presence to the St. George area thanks to a local family. SUU Head Start is affiliated with Southern Utah University and helps low-income families prepare their children for kindergarten. Even those who don’t meet the low-income bracket can use the program for free. SUU Head Start offers preschool services in Beaver, Iron, Millard and Washington counties, with a history in Cedar City that goes back about 30 years and about 15 years in St. George. But Head Start had to leave its old River Road location and hasn’t been back in St. George for a few years, said Tina Baker, the local Head Start Enrollment and Recruitment specialist. As a federally funded program, Head Start can’t own its buildings, so it relies on others in the community to help. So members of the local Staheli family volunteered to build Head Start its own place at a new site located in Washington City at the Staheli Cottontown Village. The pandemic posed an issue for some of the families who use the program in Cedar City. “We had to go virtual, but it’s so important to have that connection,” Baker said.


Fleet of 420s sail with campers from the Lake Champlain Community Sailing Center off the Burlington waterfront. (Photo: Courtesy)

Burlington: With new precautions in place and after a sharply curtailed 2020 season, sailors and paddlers of all ages and skill levels can once again converge at the Community Sailing Center. A phased reopening has been announced, in accordance with pandemic precautions. For another few days, the action is only open to high school racing teams, the nonprofit reported. Sailing camps and “floating classrooms” begin this week; the introductory “First Sails” program casts off in mid-June. Adult group activities and courses will gradually be reintroduced over the summer, catching a full wind by July 12. Schedules and programming follow or exceed current state health guidelines and are subject to changes, the center said. Among the new rules: Pickups and drop-offs will be staggered. Everyone must wear a mask at all times through June 18. And all adults must wear masks through July 11. In addition to its new schedule, the center announced this year its first-ever Sailing Diversity Access scholarships for 10 campers whose racial or ethnic background has historically excluded them from the sport.


Richmond: Taxpayers have just days left to file their individual income taxes with the state. The filing and payment deadline for submitting tax returns is Monday, May 17. The typical May 1 deadline was extended this year to match the new Internal Revenue Service deadline for federal tax filings. Tax Commissioner Craig Burns said in a news release that the state is encouraging taxpayers to file electronically and request refunds via direct deposit. It typically takes up to four weeks to process an electronically filed return and up to eight weeks to process a paper return. State officials said that this year, due to COVID-19 protocols, it will likely take even longer for a paper return to move through the system. For those who miss the filing deadline, Virginia has an automatic, six-month filing extension. No application is required. Taxpayers still need to pay any taxes owed on time to avoid additional penalties and interest.


Seattle: The Seattle-Tacoma International Airport is piloting a new virtual queuing program and touchless check-in kiosk system in order to streamline the travel experience, improve physical distancing and reduce congestion at peak travel times. The new SEA Spot Saver program will allow travelers to make digital reservations for Transportation Security Administration general screening security checkpoints either at their terminal or 24 hours ahead of the flight online. Once in the virtual queue, passengers can drop off bags, grab a coffee or say goodbye to loved ones while awaiting a notification that it’s their turn for screening, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports. The new service, free for all passengers, will only be available at at checkpoints 2 and 5 from 4 a.m. to noon daily. At checkpoint 2, passengers will scan a QR code with their phone and follow text message prompts that will give them their estimated wait time. At checkpoint 5, Alaska Airlines passengers can either sign up ahead of time online or on site for a screening appointment. The program can serve up to 50% of passengers going through general security screening, airport officials said. Sea-Tac is one of the first in the country to test the new queuing technology. The pilot program will run through Aug. 31.

West Virginia

Huntington: Marshall University is holding its Jazz Camp through virtual sessions again this year, for students ages 13 and up. Jazz-MU-Tazz camp is usually a six-day camp for high school musicians, but due to the coronavirus pandemic and safety guidelines, the university said the sessions will be offered virtually at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. daily. The sessions will be livestreamed through the Marshall University Jazz Facebook page. The event will be held June 14-18. The university’s jazz studies program hosts the camp. Topics to be covered include jazz improvisation, jazz theory, listening skills and instrument/section master classes by members of the Marshall jazz faculty. Registration is $75. Students can register online.


Madison: The state will receive $700 million less than initially expected in federal coronavirus relief money, and it will arrive in two payments a year apart – news that Gov. Tony Evers and U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin said Tuesday was problematic. The state was informed Monday of the split in payments and the total it would receive. Evers and Baldwin asked U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Tuesday to reconsider breaking the funding into two. “This will significantly reduce the funding that will be available for Wisconsin’s current pandemic response operations and to continue to meet immediate needs and restore economic well-being,” Baldwin and Evers wrote. The Democratic governor has emphasized wanting to spend the money quickly to help those most hurt by the pandemic. He has cited that desire for speed in vetoing GOP-authored bills that dictated how the money would be spent. The governor has sole authority in deciding how to spend the money. Republicans who control the Legislature have called on Evers to meet with them to discuss how the money should be spent. Rep. Mark Born, co-chairman of the Legislature’s budget committee, renewed that call Tuesday.


Casper: Officials in the Natrona County School District have asked the state health department to exempt it from a requirement that masks be worn in K-12 schools, the Casper Star-Tribune reports.

From USA TODAY Network and wire reports

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