Montgomery: Dine-in restaurants, bars, salons and gyms will be allowed to reopen with limits as the state eases restrictions during the continuing coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Kay Ivey said Friday. New guidelines taking effect Monday require that social distancing rules remain in place, and businesses will be required to protect both customers and workers, officials said. But the state will lift restrictions on nonwork gatherings of 10 or more people, Ivey said. The new rules will allow more churches to resume regular services, but entertainment venues including movie theaters and bowling alleys must remain closed, and youth sports teams are still barred from playing. More outbreaks will occur as the economy reopens, said Dr. Scott Harris, the state health officer, but the state is “well prepared” to deal with them. The changes were coupled with new legal protections meant to help shield businesses from what Ivey called “frivolous” lawsuits linked to the pandemic.
Anchorage: Domestic violence and sexual assault organizations in the state have experienced a 52% increase in hotline calls as residents remain at home amid the coronavirus pandemic, a study said. The Alaska Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault took a survey of 30 shelter providers statewide from March 11 to April 24, the Anchorage Daily News reports. In that time period, shelter capacity was reduced by 57% to comply with federal social distancing guidelines, meaning some shelters limited one person to a room instead of four, the study said. To curtail limited space, shelters saw a 60% increase in alternative housing options such as hotel rooms and safe houses and a 20% increase in online tool usage, the study said. Children staying in shelters were also having trouble keeping up with schoolwork in part because of the lack of computers or internet, officials said, adding that there are efforts to increase resources.
Phoenix: Arizona State University economists say the state’s economic slide due to the coronavirus pandemic will last for months but be followed by a rebound that results in a recovery by early 2021. Economics professors predicted a recession of three to nine months during last week’s annual forecasting webinar hosted by the W.P. Carey School of Business and the Economic Club of Phoenix. They said they expect the trough to be followed by a swift recovery if consumer spending kicks in with an assist by heavy federal spending. Professor Dennis Hoffman said there’ll be “some startling numbers” in the meantime, including state unemployment rates above 15%. But Hoffman and fellow economics professor Lee McPheters said the recovery will be V-shaped as consumer spending and service industries rebound. That’d put the state in a position to return to normal by early 2021, they said.
Little Rock: The state is allowing pools and water parks to reopen this month with new capacity limits and other restrictions to prevent the spread of coronavirus, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Friday. Hutchinson said pools will be allowed to reopen May 22, in the latest move by the Republican governor to roll back the state’s coronavirus restrictions. The decision will also allow splash pads and swim beaches to reopen that day. Hutchinson said the pools will be limited to 50% capacity, and no entry will be allowed for anyone with fever, symptoms or contact with a positive patient. Unlike most states, Arkansas did not issue a stay-at-home order during the pandemic. But the state had other restrictions that have been eased in recent days. Restaurants will be allowed to resume sit-down service starting Monday.
Los Angeles: Hiking to the Hollywood sign and hitting the links were allowed again Saturday as the California county hit hardest by the coronavirus cautiously reopened some sites to recreation-starved stay-at-homers. Los Angeles County permitted the reopening of trails and golf courses but with social distancing restrictions. For those interested in retail therapy, there was even better news as Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday allowed tens of thousands of stores to reopen, including florist shops, just in time for Mother’s Day. The city of Los Angeles announced it also was reopening some public spaces, including sprawling Griffith Park, which includes popular paths to the Hollywood sign. But mounted police and park rangers would be keeping hikers to small, distant groups wearing face coverings. Mayor Eric Garcetti urged “good judgment” and said the city would rely on education and encouragement rather than heavy-handed enforcement.
Aspen: Park officials have announced that bus service to a scenic area in White River National Forest will likely not be operational this summer amid the coronavirus pandemic. Park supervisor Scott Fitzwilliams made the announcement Thursday, citing plans to find alternative scenarios for people to enjoy the Maroon Bells Scenic Area, southwest of Aspen, The Aspen Times reports. The U.S. Forest Service and its partners have started to look into a reservation system that would allow a limited number of private vehicles to drive up the popular destination, Fitzwilliams said. “It’s still a work in progress,” Fitzwilliams said. But “the shuttle system is not an option, at least not at this time.” The agency has a bus service agreement with the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority that previously restricted private vehicles during summer days and into fall. But with an increasing number of COVID-19 cases, public transportation is not recommended.
Hartford: The state health department distributed iPads to nursing homes Saturday with an order to help residents who have been unable to have visitors since March stay in touch with friends and relatives. The iPads, paid for with civil fines, were being delivered in time for Mother’s Day on Sunday. Each of the state’s 215 nursing homes was to receive a number of the devices based on the facility’s size. State officials banned visitors to nursing homes March 13 as part of efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Department of Public Health Commissioner Renee Coleman-Mitchell on Saturday ordered each facility to schedule weekly alternatives to in-person visits for residents. They can include outdoor visits while social distancing, video chats, telephone calls or visits through the window. Nursing home residents have accounted for more than half of all COVID-19-related deaths in the state, according to data released by Gov. Ned Lamont’s office.
Dover: Delaware’s state-of-emergency order amid the coronavirus pandemic has been extended to the end of May as the state more than quadruples its testing capacity for the virus. Gov. John Carney on Friday extended his state-of-emergency order, which includes the current mask order, stay-at-home order and beach closures, among other restrictions to prevent the spread of the virus. When the state of emergency was first implemented, these orders were set to stay in effect until May 15, or until the virus is no longer a public health threat. By June 1, the Carney administration wants to begin the first phase of a reopening plan based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the White House. It’s not clear exactly what the first phase of reopening the economy will look like, but social distancing will still be required after June 1, and no more than 10 people can be in a group. Schools will stay closed, as will bars.
District of Columbia
Washington: Instead of welcoming crowds and hosting events during a normally busy spring season, the Walter E. Washington Convention Center is instead being used as a temporary alternative care facility as the spread of coronavirus continues to lead to large gatherings being canceled across the D.C. region, WUSA-TV reports. Other venues owned by Events DC, including Nationals Park and the Entertainment and Sports Arena, also remain shut down as the future of sporting events and conventions in the area faces an uncertain road ahead. Last week the impact to tourism from the pandemic became even clearer after district leaders released statistics showing the losses D.C. has endured over the past several weeks. According to the report, the spread of the new coronavirus has led to a $1.7 billion loss in travel spending after the city welcomed almost 23 million domestic visitors last year.
Fort Lauderdale: More than 650 patients at nursing homes and assisted living facilities in the state have died from the new coronavirus, including 22 at a facility near St. Petersburg, state data shows. Florida Department of Health figures released late Friday show 656 patients, eight employees and one person of unknown status have died at the state’s nursing homes and assisted living facilities, with 14 reporting at least 10 deaths and 183 reporting at least one. That means nursing homes and ALFs account for almost 40% of the state’s 1,715 confirmed deaths from COVID-19. The state has now had more than 40,000 confirmed cases since reporting its first two months ago. People over 65 and those with underlying health conditions are particularly endangered by the disease, making nursing homes especially vulnerable to outbreaks. According to the Florida Health Care Association, a trade group, there are 700 nursing homes and 3,100 ALFs in the state caring for 155,000 people. The facilities employ 200,000 people.
Atlanta: The number of patients hospitalized due to the coronavirus has fallen to its lowest total in weeks, Gov. Brian Kemp said Saturday as the state’s death toll from COVID-19 reached at least 1,400. Kemp tweeted Saturday morning that 1,203 patients were currently hospitalized, the lowest number since the state started reporting the figure April 8. He also noted that Saturday’s total of 897 ventilators in use across the state was the lowest number since early April. “We will win this fight together!” the Republican governor tweeted. The state began to reopen some businesses April 24. The Athens Farmers Market was among those to reopen its doors Saturday. Organizers said extensive precautions were put in place. Only 50 people were allowed inside at a time, and customers were asked to wash or sanitize their hands before entering, to wear masks at all times and to maintain a distance of at least 6 feet.
Lihue: Environmental groups in the state have joined a campaign to bring attention to discarded personal protective equipment that is adding to plastic pollution on shorelines worldwide amid the coronavirus pandemic, advocates said. Federal and state governments have advised people to wear masks in public to protect themselves and others against the coronavirus, but masks, gloves and other equipment are not always properly disposed of, The Garden Island reports. “Millions of pounds of plastic pollution wash ashore Hawaii beaches each year. This campaign is aimed at reducing the environmental and public health impacts of improperly discarded PPE,” Surfrider Foundation Kauai chapter scientist Carl Berg said. Personal protective equipment can be mistaken as food by birds, turtles and marine mammals and can put animals at risk, the foundation said in a statement, adding that these used items could also be carrying pathogens and contributing to the spread of COVID-19.
Kuna: At least 23 employees working at a beef processing plant near Boise have tested positive for the coronavirus, health officials confirmed Saturday. One additional employee is presumed to have the virus, and two other contract employees have tested positive, Central District Health spokesperson Christine Myron told the Idaho Statesman. The majority of the employees have recovered, Myron said. Steve Cherry, CS Beef Packers plant manager, said in a statement that plant employees working in close proximity may have been exposed to the virus. Employees who are ill will remain at home until officials confirm they are recovered, Cherry said. Employees will be compensated for time away from work, he said. Cherry said all employees have been provided masks, face shields and outside seating options to allow for social distancing during breaks. The plant is also conducting temperature and health screenings of all employees reporting for work, he said.
Chicago: The effort to reduce the population at Cook County Jail to slow the spread of the coronavirus hit another snag when the sheriff announced he has run out of electronic monitoring bracelets that defendants wear when they’re placed on home confinement. The sheriff’s department said Thursday that the lack of the bracelets will mean that defendants who might otherwise have been sent home will have to remain in jail, where hundreds of detainees and staffers have been infected by the virus in recent weeks. The lack of bracelets “threatens to undo the successes we have achieved in slowing the spread of the virus,” said jail spokeswoman Sophia Ansari. Judges, attorneys and the sheriff’s office have been scrambling to get as many nonviolent offenders out of jail as quickly as possible – an effort that has seen its population shrink from about 5,400 in late March to just over 4,000 this week.
Indianapolis: Three women who moved to the United States as children have created a fund to help immigrant families who don’t qualify for government aid and have lost their jobs during the coronavirus pandemic. The women joined other volunteers, many of whom are also recipients under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, in an effort to raise awareness of working-class families – including people living in the country illegally. The Undocumented Hoosier Support Fund will help about 800 families pay for utilities, medical expenses or a whole month’s worth of food. “We’re called essential workers, but when we don’t have access to sick pay or protection to stay safe at work without exposing our families, that tells us we’re disposable,” said Dara Marquez, one of the three women who started the fund group, along with friends Wendy Catalan Ruana and Mari Luna.
West Liberty: A turkey plant that is the site of a coronavirus outbreak said Friday that hundreds of employees will be furloughed this fall due to the nation’s economic collapse. West Liberty Foods said roughly one-third of its 994 employees will be temporarily laid off for months, likely from from November through February. The company confirmed Friday that 136 employees have tested positive for coronavirus, after mass testing at the West Liberty plant last week. The company said restaurant closures have dramatically reduced demand for many of its products, resulting in excess supply. As a result, growers affiliated with the plant will stop placing baby turkeys for 18 weeks beginning in late June. That means the plant won’t have turkeys to process for about four months beginning in November. During that time, the plant will work through millions of pounds in excess turkey breast that’s in cold storage.
Lawrence: Kansas state parks saw a “significant” increase in visits last month, especially with new users. State Parks Director Linda Lanterman said the increase in the last weeks of April offset the revenue state parks lost in March, when Kansas issued its stay-at-home order, the Lawrence Journal-World reports. The number of visits is up about 200,000 from last April, Lanterman said. If the parks are able to remain open, and the high traffic continues, “we can make good strides to increasing our revenue we lost,” she said. Kansas’ state parks also lost about about $1.2 million in user fees as a result of summer flooding last year. “I think during this pandemic, being outside is good for us,” Lanterman said. There’s also plenty of room for social distancing given miles of trails and various campgrounds.
Louisville: The coronavirus pandemic has put a bigger share of the state’s workforce out of a job than any other in America, new unemployment figures show. More than 670,000 Kentuckians – roughly one-third of the commonwealth’s workforce – filed for unemployment insurance for the first time from the week ending March 14 through the week ending May 2. That puts Kentucky No. 1 in the nation for the percentage of its workforce that has submitted new jobless claims during the pandemic, credit rating agency Fitch Ratings found in a report published Thursday. Trying to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, Gov. Andy Beshear issued several executive orders in March that closed or altered businesses across the commonwealth, from restaurants to retail shops. Beshear knew that would leave many Kentuckians without a job – and he has repeatedly encouraged people to apply for unemployment benefits.
New Orleans: The state will have 250 workers in place by the end of the week to contact people infected with the coronavirus and track down people with whom they have been in close contact, Gov. John Bel Edwards said Friday. Such “contact tracing” is a key factor in whether the state will be able to start easing restrictions and closures of businesses, something the Democratic governor is under increasing pressure to do from Republican officials. Increased testing is also a factor, and Edwards said the state, with aid from the federal government, plans to complete a total of 200,000 tests for the month of May. Edwards said contracts have been signed with two companies that will establish the contact tracing system. That will bolster the 70 contact tracers currently working. The state expects to eventually hire as many as 700 contract tracers if needed.
Portland: The state will reopen the economy in its rural areas sooner than its population centers, with many businesses reopening this month, the governor said Friday. The reopening plan applies to 12 counties but leaves out Cumberland, York, Penobscot and Androscoggin counties, which are home to the state’s biggest cities and more than half its population. Gov. Janet Mills, a Democrat, said retail stores in the more rural counties will be able to open Monday with increased health and safety precautions in place. Restaurants will be able to open May 18. The state is in the midst of a gradual reopening of its economy. Retail businesses and restaurants aren’t allowed to open statewide until June 1. “I believe we are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, and the tunnel is a long one, and there are some dark corners ahead,” Mills said.
Baltimore: The state’s Democratic attorney general is defending Republican Gov. Larry Hogan’s executive orders to combat the coronavirus pandemic in a legal filing in federal court. Attorney General Brian Frosh’s office urged a judge in U.S. District Court in Baltimore to toss out a lawsuit filed last week challenging stay-at-home orders and other restrictions Hogan has imposed. The memo filed Friday by Frosh’s office says that federal courts have generally turned aside similar challenges in other states and that governors enjoy broad authority to act swiftly during a public health emergency. A coalition of state legislators, pastors and a group called Reopen Maryland filed the suit, arguing that the governor’s actions unconstitutionally restrict freedom of assembly and religion. A conference call in the case has been scheduled for Monday afternoon.
Boston: The live Fourth of July concert with the Boston Pops along the banks of the Charles River has been canceled to help limit the spread of the coronavirus. The Pops announced Friday that the group will instead present A Boston Pops Salute to Our Heroes, designed to pay tribute to the front-line workers and honor those who have died during the current health crisis. The virtual concert will feature newly created content from The Boston Pops and guest artists, as well as highlights from recent presentations of The Boston Pops fireworks spectacular. The fireworks display that traditionally accompanies the concert has also been canceled. Mayor Marty Walsh said Friday during a press conference that other traditional parades and festivals will not take place in the city this summer up to and including Labor Day.
Lansing: Restaurants and bars on Friday pushed Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to let them reopen in three weeks, saying they need a lifeline to survive financially and a chance to show the public it is safe to return. The venues have been closed to dine-in customers since March 16. They hope to resume service May 29, when restrictions are set to end unless the governor extends them. Guidance released Friday by the Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association to help restaurants prepare to reopen their dining rooms includes procedures for cleaning, screening workers, providing them masks and gloves, and keeping customers, tables and bar stools 6 feet apart. Whitmer spokeswoman Tiffany Brown said the governor “will continue to listen to medical experts and put the health and safety of Michiganders first.”
Minneapolis: Metro Transit officials are trying to contain a homeless encampment that has grown to more than 100 people in the past month, as many men and women moved to “Camp Quarantine” amid fears they would catch the coronavirus in crowded shelters. Metro Transit officials said the camp’s tightly packed tents and lack of hygiene facilities create a scenario that could contribute to the virus’s spread. The Star Tribune reports Metro Transit ordered the construction of a fence around the site near the light-rail line in south Minneapolis to keep it from growing. Officials also might clear out the camp if it becomes too much of a health and safety risk. Those who first moved to Camp Quarantine said they set up tents there largely to isolate themselves and have stability, as libraries and other public buildings shut their doors in the early days of the pandemic. The camp allowed them to stay in one spot without going to crowded, virus-prone shelters.
Jackson: Barbershops, salons and gyms are allowed to reopen Monday, Gov. Tate Reeves said Friday. It was the Republican governor’s latest announcement to gradually remove restrictions he has set because of the pandemic in the past several weeks. Reeves said people must continue taking precautions against the highly contagious coronavirus as confirmed case numbers continue to rise. But he also said he is trying to avoid another Great Depression. “I believe in my heart that endless government shutdowns are not an option,” Reeves said. He said the pandemic has been “particularly cruel to the working class – those people who work on their feet, those people who don’t have a home office or paid leave.” The governor said he is extending his “safer at home” order for another two weeks. It was set to expire Monday morning; Reeves said the new expiration is May 25.
St. Louis: Experts aren’t clear why the coronavirus is striking the state’s two largest metropolitan areas so differently, although the geography of the areas might provide a clue. Johns Hopkins University reported 483 deaths and 9,700 cases in Missouri as of Saturday, with the bulk of them in the St. Louis region. As of late the week, 466 had died in the St. Louis area, compared to 157 in greater Kansas City, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. The St. Louis region is home to about 30% more people, not enough to account for the lopsided totals. The discrepancy is all the more confusing, according to some experts, because the timeline of each region’s coronavirus outbreaks and response actions seemed to unfold – at least initially – in such similar fashion. One theory, according to some experts, is that the St. Louis community has a higher population density and simply had more of the virus circulating undetected at the time shutdowns clicked into place. Kansas City also is better shielded from initial hot spots by a larger geographic buffer.
Helena: A COVID-19 outbreak that started at a north-central Montana assisted living facility and caused six of the state’s 16 deaths appears to be over, a state health official said Friday. Jim Murphy, the health department’s Communicable Disease Control and Prevention Bureau chief, said that while there are still seven active cases in Toole County, those who are ill remain in isolation, and no new cases have been diagnosed in weeks, “well past an incubation period.” Because the outbreak was tied to the Marias Heritage Center in Shelby, state and local health officials have been cautious in confirming that someone has fully recovered, he said. Sometimes it takes up to four or five weeks for a person to test clear of the virus, he said.
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Lincoln: Businesses have started reopening in the state, even as the number of coronavirus cases surges, raising concerns among medical experts. Projections have long suggested the pandemic would peak at the end of April in Nebraska. But Dr. Mark Rupp, chief of the division of infectious diseases at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, said it appears cases have only plateaued at best – and at much higher levels than had been seen just weeks earlier, the Omaha World-Herald reports. Gov. Pete Ricketts on Friday declined to say whether he thinks the state has peaked. But he said he’s not so much focused on the case numbers as he is on whether Nebraska’s hospitals are being overwhelmed with patients, and they’re not. Dr. Daniel Brailita, an infectious disease specialist with Mary Lanning Healthcare in Hastings, said models showing an April peak clearly did not anticipate how explosively the virus would spread within meatpacking communities.
Carson City: Restaurants, hair salons and some of the other businesses that closed or had their operations reduced under state-imposed restrictions to slow the spread of the coronavirus were able Saturday to reopen or once again allow customers inside their establishments. Gov. Steve Sisolak on Thursday had said restaurants, salons and other nonessential businesses could reopen with limited capacity. He said hospitalization rates and positive tests had stabilized. However, Sisolak kept casinos, nightclubs, spas and gyms closed, along with indoor movie theaters, bowling alleys, community centers, tattoo parlors, strip clubs and brothels. Lala’s Style Hair & Makeup Studio, near the Las Vegas airport, had only one customer per stylist when it reopened Saturday, and everybody was masked, said owner Laura Leon. She said her customers were anxious for the business to reopen. “They’re happy. They’re so excited,” Leon said. “Everybody has long hair.”
Concord: Dentists can reopen their offices Monday, and public colleges are preparing to welcome students back to campus in the fall. But a decision on beaches might take a while, as the state continues to grapple with the coronavirus pandemic. Walking, swimming and other motion-based activities would be allowed at Hampton Beach starting June 1, with sunbathing and small gatherings to follow a few weeks later, under a proposal being considered by the Governor’s Economic Reopening Task Force. Dentists have gotten the go-ahead to resume some routine work. While dentistry offices were not ordered to close, most if not all have limited their practice to emergency work during the coronavirus pandemic. The state is not recommending the resumption of elective cosmetic procedures or the use of ultrasonic scaling.
Trenton: Gov. Phil Murphy announced that two American Red Cross convalescent plasma collection sites will begin operations in northern New Jersey this week. Convalescent plasma collection will begin Monday at the American Red Cross blood center in Fairfield and at University Hospital in Newark. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration in late March announced a new initiative to collect plasma from those who have recovered from the novel coronavirus in order to treat patients with serious or immediately life-threatening COVID-19 infections. Officials say the blood plasma from recovered patients contains antibodies that may help critically ill patients fight the virus. Convalescent plasma has historically been used as a potentially life-saving treatment in situations when new diseases or infections develop quickly with no treatments or vaccines yet available, officials said.
Rio Rancho: Republicans and sheriffs in the state are asking U.S. Attorney General William Barr to look into Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s health orders aimed at stopping the spread of COVID-19. State Republican Party Chairman Steve Pearce and New Mexico Sheriffs’ Association President Tony Mace each sent letters to Barr last week seeking a review into the health orders that have shuttered some businesses since late March. They say the orders, which have closed several small businesses, violate residents’ civil rights. Mace, the Cibola County sheriff and a frequent critic of fellow Democrat Lujan Grisham, said the health order was unfairly hurting residents. “The governor has been discriminatory in her policies, keeping big box corporate giants open – draining New Mexico dollars out of state – while shutting down mom and pop locally owned establishments,” Mase wrote.
New York: After an outcry over racial disparities in the city’s enforcement of social distancing, the mayor planned Sunday to double the ranks of non-police workers trying to persuade people to comply with the policy. The number of city workers deployed as “social distancing ambassadors” will grow by next weekend from about 1,000 to 2,300, Mayor Bill de Blasio said. “More and more, the emphasis will be on a communicative, encouraging approach,” the Democrat said, while noting that enforcement through ticketing “will still be there when needed.” “The last thing we want to see is enforcement if there’s any other way to get the job done.” The city didn’t immediately have information on social distancing arrests or summonses, if any, over the weekend. De Blasio reiterated there have been relatively few – under 10 summonses a day citywide – but said enforcement needs to be done “fairly and consistently in all communities.”
Raleigh: COVID-19 remains a “lethal threat” to residents who don’t take it seriously, Gov. Roy Cooper said Friday as rules he issued so more businesses can open and the public enjoy more of the outdoors took effect. Cooper offered sobering comments to citizens even while defending his decision this week to initiate Friday afternoon the first part of his three-phase plan to ease restrictions that began in March. He said it’s still preferable to stay at home but urged social distancing and wearing of face masks in public. Still, the Democratic governor and state health department Secretary Mandy Cohen said case data, testing, tracing and supply trends support easing the order. Nearly 15,000 people had tested positive in the state by Sunday, the state health department said, and 547 people have died.
Bismarck: Cass County in eastern North Dakota remains the epicenter of the state’s coronavirus outbreak. North Dakota officials on Sunday reported 24 new cases of COVID-19 in Cass County, bringing the county’s total to 805 – more than half of the coronavirus cases in the state. Grand Forks County is second with 285 cases. Statewide, there were 1,491 confirmed cases as of Sunday, up 27 from the previous day. North Dakota’s death toll from COVID-19 remains at 35. Mass-testing events continued over the weekend, including one in Fort Yates on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, The Bismarck Tribune reports. On Facebook, the tribe reported 482 residents and essential workers were tested. Results are expected in several days. Meanwhile, Theodore Roosevelt National Park in western North Dakota resumed visitor access Saturday for day use of trails, picnic areas, roads and backcountry camping.
Columbus: Gov. Mike DeWine is acknowledging that there are risks to reopening the state’s economy following closures due to the coronavirus pandemic, but he says that “it’s really a risk no matter what we do.” The Republican governor dialed into the economic toll the pandemic has had on businesses during an appearance on “Fox News Sunday.” “The economy’s not going to open no matter what we do, whatever we order, unless people have confidence,” he said Sunday. “And we’re trying to give them confidence.” So, he said, officials are emphasizing that the virus is still out there and “still very, very dangerous,” so people should continue maintaining social distance, wearing masks and washing their hands. Retail businesses in Ohio will be allowed to reopen Tuesday. Barbershops, hair salons, day spas, nail salons and other services can start reopening Friday. Construction companies, distributors, manufacturers and offices were allowed to open last week.
Oklahoma City: A local plastic supplier company has been receiving thousands of orders for custom-made protective barriers from businesses reopening amid the coronavirus pandemic. Allied Plastic Supply is working out contracts with a wide variety of clients to fit each business’ needs. “Any place where there’s face-to-face customer interaction, we’re trying to develop styles that allow for that protection,” said Sheryl Gipson, a salesperson at Allied Plastic Supply. A casino has asked the company to put up plastic barriers between slot machines. A nail salon is getting barriers with a hole just large enough for customers to put their hands in so the nail technician can work, and a public library system wants to hang shields from the ceiling to protect checkout attendants. “The problem is going to be sourcing the material,” Gipson said. “There still are domestic suppliers of acrylic, but they’re running flat out trying to keep up with demand. It’s hard.”
Astoria: Twelve more workers at Bornstein Seafoods have tested positive for the coronavirus, bringing the outbreak to 26. The Clatsop County Public Health Department began testing workers at the seafood processor May 2 after the company informed the county that one employee had tested positive. The county finished testing all 200 workers earlier this week, The Astorian reports. Of the positive tests, 17 live in Oregon’s Clatsop County, while the rest live in Washington’s Pacific, Grays Harbor and Cowlitz counties. Bornstein Seafoods has shut down two plants at the Port of Astoria in response to the outbreak and advised employees to stay home. Michael McNickle, the county’s public health director, said the prevalence of the virus among workers at the facility was lower than he expected after the initial positive tests.
Media: A suburban Philadelphia barbershop owner who had vowed to reopen over the weekend in defiance of the governor’s shutdown order instead hosted a rally calling for an end to the shutdown. Giovanni’s owner Nichole Missino on Saturday cited threats from the state board that licenses her and her business and from local police she said had promised action to revoke her occupancy license. Missino said last week that she and her six employees had been unable to get unemployment compensation and collectively decided to reopen the Media shop. She said barbers are trained to contain infectious diseases and vowed additional safety precautions, including masks, face shields and partitions between barber chairs. But instead, she held an impromptu rally Saturday on the salon’s front steps, telling a crowd outside through a bullhorn, “What happened to ‘Home of the Free’? I don’t know where I live anymore.”
Providence: Gov. Gina Raimondo said Friday that she is signing an executive order that will give the state Department of Health the authority to fine or even shut down businesses that fail to comply with face covering, social distancing and other guidelines. The state will conduct compliance inspections at businesses. “We’re not going to be out there trying to shut you down, we’re going to be out there bending over backwards to help you stay open and to do it safely, but if you refuse, and you’re continually noncompliant, and you get fine after fine, we will have to shut you down,” the Democrat said at her daily news conference. Businesses face fines of up to $1,000 for multiple violations. As of Saturday, nonessential businesses and some state parks reopened, but people are still required to stay 6 feet apart from others and wear face coverings in public places. Gatherings of more than five people are still barred.
Columbia: Restaurants throughout the state can reopen with limited, indoor dining service, as Gov. Henry McMaster continues to lift coronavirus-related restrictions and promises to soon discuss reopening other businesses. Starting Monday, the governor said, restaurants could open for indoor dining as long as they kept patrons to 50% occupancy, placed tables 6 to 8 feet apart, and followed stringent cleaning and sanitizing guidelines, like keeping hand sanitizer at entrances and removing previously shared condiments from tables. “A lot of iconic restaurants have actually gone out of business, and the whole state regrets that,” the governor said Friday, in announcing what he calls “phase two” of a process to get dining rooms throughout the state back open. Last week, restaurants were allowed to open for limited outdoor dining. This week, McMaster said he would likely address “close-contact” businesses like hair and nail salons.
Sioux Falls: Gov. Kristi Noem on Friday told tribes to take down road checkpoints they had set up to keep out unnecessary visitors because of concerns about the coronavirus. The Republican governor said she would take legal action if the tribes didn’t remove the checkpoints in 48 hours. Two tribes – the Oglala Sioux Tribe and the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe – set up the checkpoints last month in an attempt to lock down their reservations amid fears infections could decimate members. The move sets up a potential legal showdown between a governor who has avoided sweeping stay-at-home orders and tribes that assert their sovereign rights allow them to control who comes on reservations. The tribes have taken stronger action than the state because they are concerned the virus could overwhelm fragile health care systems that serve many people with underlying health problems.
Gatlinburg: The reopening of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park was a little too tempting of a draw Saturday as scores of nature lovers from dozens of states crowded trails and trekked into blocked-off areas, a spokeswoman said. Even with some of the most popular trails closed, parking lots were packed, and lines of cars snaked down tree-lined streets, in one case for about a mile leading up to a waterfall path, according to park spokeswoman Dana Soehn. Many people did not wear masks. “It seemed like people were not respecting our suggestion that they avoid crowded areas,” Soehn said, adding that she counted license plates from 24 different states in one visitor center parking lot. Visitors also walked past heavy barricades on one of the park’s most trafficked trails, Laurel Falls, which was closed off to heed federal social distancing guidelines, she said.
Houston: City health officials and Rice University scientists have begun testing wastewater samples for COVID-19, a process they hope will reveal the true spread of the new coronavirus as clinical testing continues to lag. The city-led effort makes use of studies that show traces of the virus can be found in human feces, according to the Houston Chronicle. By testing samples of sewage collected at the city’s wastewater treatment plants, officials hope to uncover the scale of the outbreak in Houston and, perhaps, locate hot spots undetected by in-person tests. “It’s an evolving field. We hope that it will help give us just more information on where the virus is and how much of it is out there,” said Loren Hopkins, a Rice University statistics professor who also serves as the health department’s chief environmental science officer.
Salt Lake City: Rates of domestic violence are rising as the new coronavirus confines many Utahns to their homes, stretching resources for victims and stoking concerns among law enforcers as judges decline to order some arrests. In Salt Lake County, police sent 318 domestic violence cases to prosecutors over a roughly three-week period beginning in mid-March, a nearly 22% increase from the same time frame a year earlier, the Deseret News reports. In early April, state and county leaders urged Utahns to stay in their houses. But for many, home is the most dangerous place, and the virus can amplify the threat. Those at risk may find it difficult to call for help with their abusers in the next room, noted Jenn Oxborrow, executive director of the Utah Domestic Violence Coalition, a network of 14 nonprofit programs serving survivors of domestic abuse and sexual assault across the state.
Marshfield: Child care programs that had to close amid the coronavirus outbreak may reopen starting June 1, and camps may operate this summer under soon-to-be issued health and safety guidance, Gov. Phil Scott announced Friday. The news comes as the state takes steps to gradually reopen the economy and as some parents return to work. Child care centers may start transitioning May 18 to bring back staff, conduct training and prepare for reopening, Scott said. To meet health and safety requirements, the state is creating about $6 million in restart grants for the programs, he said. Child care and camp workers will be included in the state’s expanded COVID-19 testing, officials said. But Ted Brady, deputy secretary of the Agency of Commerce and Community Development, said summer camp will “look different this year.” Some camps have decided not to operate, and others have adapted or will need to, though he did not say how.
Richmond: Gov. Ralph Northam is laying out his plans for reopening the state this week amid the coronavirus pandemic, cautioning that the process will be gradual and that many restrictions will remain in place for at least several more weeks. “We are not flipping a light switch from closed to open,” Northam said. “When the time is right, we will turn a dimmer switch up just a notch.” The governor said Friday that his planned reopening – currently set for next Friday – would be slow, cautious and deliberate. Under the new rules, nonessential retail businesses and places of worship can operate at at 50% of their building’s occupancy rate. Restaurants and bars will only be allowed to serve customers in outdoor spaces. Employees at retail businesses and restaurants will have to wear masks. Beauty parlors and barber shops will be by appointment only, and employees and customers must wear masks. Gyms can only have classes outside.
Olympia: Data from COVID-19 projection models shows that the rate of infection is increasing in the state, Gov. Jay Inslee said Friday, as he urged people to follow his measured approach to slowly reopening the state from his stay-at-home restrictions. “This is a very challenging moment for us,” Inslee said at a news conference. The Democrat did say that curbside retail sales could begin almost immediately for businesses with reopening plans approved by health officials. Inslee said data showed that the reproductive rate of the coronavirus in western and eastern Washington was above 3 when the outbreak was first detected in late February and March. That means each infected person infects about three others. It has since dropped to about 1, Inslee said, but data up to April 19 shows that the reproduction rate is on the upswing.
Charleston: The West Virginia National Guard will assist in conducting tests for the coronavirus starting Monday at a poultry processing plant in a small county where cases have increased, authorities said. Testing at the Pilgrim’s Pride plant of about 940 workers in Moorefield will occur on every shift, Hardy County sheriff’s office spokesman David Maher said in a news release. Using guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for meat processing plants, employees will be screened for symptoms on a daily basis and between shifts, the statement said. Health officials have not disclosed whether there are any confirmed virus cases at the plant. The number of confirmed cases in the county of about 14,000 residents has increased from three April 27 to 16 as of Sunday, according to health officials.
Madison: A decontamination system that can sanitize N95 respirator masks worn mainly by health care workers is ready for use in the state, Gov. Tony Evers announced Saturday. The Battelle system will be able to decontaminate up to 80,000 masks on a daily basis and clean respirators up to 20 times without degrading filtration performance. Evers said the addition will help ease the shortage of personal protection equipment and aid in the fight against COVID-19. “Our front line workers are in need of these critical PPE supplies, and we are doing everything we can to supply them with the tools to effectively do their jobs while preventing further spread,” Evers said in a statement. Meanwhile, the pandemic forced the University of Wisconsin-Madison to move online Saturday for its graduation ceremonies. Bestselling author James Patterson gave the virtual commencement address from his kitchen, aptly decorated with Badgers paraphernalia.
Gillette: The Campbell County Recreation Center reopened last week following an extended closure because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Patrons were spread throughout the building and in open areas Wednesday morning, the Gillette News Record reports. Many changes accompanied the reopening of the Rec Center. About 35 employees working about four-hour shifts have been moved from others area of the Rec Center that aren’t open yet, like the Aquatic Center and climbing wall, to maintain the facility and its new health requirements. That includes some cleaning equipment and others monitoring for social distancing. Many pieces of equipment also have been removed from the weightlifting and cardio areas. The aquatics area and climbing wall are among a few of the closures that have remained in place. The basketball and racquetball courts have been limited to one person or one family each at a time.
From USA TODAY Network and wire reports
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