Mobile: The city is moving ahead with plans to hold Mardi Gras celebrations in early 2021 despite the coronavirus pandemic, which is quickly worsening. Some groups already have called off parades and balls because of concerns about spreading the virus that causes COVID-19, but news outlets report that Mayor Sandy Stimpson’s office has released a memo saying Mardi Gras isn’t being canceled in the port city. Instead, the city is getting ready to issue permits for parades that will wind through downtown streets. Stimpson’s memo, which was released publicly by a City Council member on social media, said the number of people riding on floats will be limited, and participants will need to wear face masks. “This is a fluid situation, and we’re in uncharted waters,” said the note, which also said that organizations which rent city facilities for Mardi Gras balls will be able to cancel events as late as one week beforehand without a penalty.
Juneau: The city will receive its own machine to process coronavirus tests starting in December, which should lead to a quicker turnaround time for results. The Juneau Assembly had authorized $700,000 from the federal coronavirus aid fund for testing equipment in June. But with the machines in high demand across the world, the city expected to have to wait until 2021. The new machine will be able to process almost 400 tests every eight hours. That means people should be able to receive same-day or next-day results, KTOO Public Media reports. “Ideally, we will have the staff and supplies in order to process all of our tests that occur in Juneau on the system,” said Emergency Operations Center Planning Chief Robert Barr. Juneau currently conducts roughly 150 to 200 tests a day on average, Barr said. Every test must be flown to a laboratory to be processed. Most results still take two to three days to finalize, KTOO Public Media reports.
Phoenix: State health officials reported 1,476 new confirmed coronavirus cases Monday but no new deaths. The state Department of Health Services’ latest coronavirus figures showed the number of hospitalizations due to COVID-19 including ventilator use continues to trend upward. The total number of positive cases in Arizona since the pandemic started now stands at 276,912, with the death toll at 6,302. Arizona’s outbreak bottomed out in September but has steadily increased through October and into November. Health officials have said the recent increase is due to factors that include business and school reopenings and public fatigue with precautions such as masking. Warning that conditions likely will get worse due to Thanksgiving family gatherings and other socializing, officials advise against congregating outside households that live together.
Little Rock: A newly formed task force dealing with the coronavirus in Arkansas was set to begin meeting Monday, a day after COVID-19 hospitalizations hit a new record high in the state. Hospitalizations rose to 830 on Sunday, which is a record high for the state since the pandemic began. The state also reported 874 new cases of the virus Sunday, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said. “We had significant testing and lower numbers. This is part of weekend lag, but I am grateful for all who follow the guidelines and are making a difference,” he said. Hutchinson announced the Winter COVID-19 Task Force on Friday, when the state reported a single-day record of 2,312 cases. The task force includes 19 physicians, state officials and health care executives. Hutchinson will serve as the chair of the committee and Arkansas Surgeon General Dr. Greg Bledsoe as vice chair.
San Diego: Four San Diego County restaurants and gyms that were forced to halt indoor operations beginning Saturday have filed a lawsuit seeking an emergency injunction to halt the shutdown. The lawsuit filed on behalf of all restaurants and gyms came as 11 California counties, including San Diego, were forced to impose stricter limits on businesses after coronavirus cases rose above thresholds established by the state. Under the purple level of the state’s COVID-19 reopening system, restaurants, bars that serve food, gyms, churches and movie theaters are limited to outdoor operations only. The plaintiffs assert that the state and county orders interfere with their rights and violate the California Constitution, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. They are asking a judge to allow affected businesses to operate indoors under proper sanitation and social distancing protocols, a move they say will “redress the harms suffered by them without undermining the government’s legitimate interest in public health.” A hearing in the lawsuit is scheduled for Tuesday before a San Diego Superior Court judge.
Denver: The state corrections department would hire a consultant to help it identify and protect medically vulnerable inmates from the coronavirus under a proposed settlement of a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union. The deal, which must be approved by a judge, also requires the state to do several things it already says it is doing, such as providing masks to inmates, conducting wide-scale testing, prioritizing placing those most at risk of being harmed by the coronavirus in single cells, and conducting audits of prisons to ensure compliance with policies aimed at preventing the spread of the virus. However, in the proposed deal filed in Denver District Court, the ACLU says that many of the actions taken by the department have only been partially or sporadically implemented. If the order is signed by a judge, either side would be able to ask the judge to enforce its terms.
Hartford: Gov. Ned Lamont has requested that the National Guard be allowed to continue supporting the state’s coronavirus response efforts through the middle of next year. The governor, in a letter to President Donald Trump, also requested that the federal government pick up 100% of the cost of using those troops. The current authorization is scheduled to expire Dec. 31. More than 1,000 members of the Guard have been deployed in Connecticut during the pandemic, performing tasks such as setting up field hospitals, distributing personal protective equipment, assisting in nursing home inspections and helping to run COVID-19 testing sites. Between April 2 and Sept. 30, the federal government picked up the entire cost of those deployments. Since Oct. 1, the state has been responsible for 25% of the cost. The governor’s office said Monday that change is estimated to cost the state $2.5 million during the current authorization.
Dover: Public health officials on Sunday disclosed that the personal information of thousands of people who were tested for the coronavirus this summer was mistakenly shared with an unauthorized individual. The state’s Division of Public Health said the data breach happened when a temporary staff member sent two unencrypted emails in August that included files with the test results, names, dates of birth and phone numbers of 10,000 people. The files did not include financial information. The emails were meant to be distributed among the employees of a call center who help people obtain their test results, but the temporary agency staffer sent it to an unauthorized user by mistake, officials said. The person who received the emails Aug. 13 and Aug. 20 alerted the division about the error and reported deleting the messages. People with questions can call 1-833-791-1663.
District of Columbia
Washington: The local teachers union and DC Public Schools are one step closer to making it possible for kids to have an in-person learning option even as the pandemic rages on. After months of negotiations, the two sides have reached a tentative deal, WUSA-TV reports. Washington Teachers’ Union President Elizabeth Davis said many of her members were worried. “They were concerned. Many of them work in schools that are 65 and 70 years old, with windows that won’t open, schools that have no central air conditioning. No heating ventilation system that works properly. They had reason to be concerned,” Davis said. A 50-item checklist for safety is part of the tentative deal. Davis said those protocols will get oversight from teachers and parents. She said teachers will be able to opt out of in-person teaching from now until February. After that, they can opt out unless there’s a shortage of staff.
St. Petersburg: State officials reported more than 10,000 new coronavirus cases Sunday – the highest number of daily cases reported since July. According to statistics released from the Florida Department of Health, 885,201 people in the state have contracted the virus. More than 146,000 test results were reported Sunday, which could explain the dramatic rise in positive cases. On Saturday, Florida logged 4,452 new coronavirus cases. The state also tallied another 30 deaths Sunday. Since the start of the pandemic, 17,734 people in Florida have died from the virus. The number of patients being treated for COVID-19 in Florida hospitals has also risen in recent weeks. The state’s online census of hospitals showed numbers hovering between 2,000 and 2,200 for most of last month, but on Sunday, there were 3,118 coronavirus patients in hospitals.
Atlanta: Gov. Brian Kemp announced Friday that he is extending coronavirus-driven social distancing and sanitization restrictions for businesses, gatherings and long-term elderly care facilities in the state. Kemp signed an executive order effective at midnight Sunday and running through the end of the month, leaving the current set of restrictions in place. “As COVID-19 case numbers and hospitalizations rise across the country, (Georgia Commissioner of Public Health) Dr. (Kathleen) Toomey and I are asking Georgians to remain vigilant in our fight against COVID-19,” the governor said. “Continue to wash your hands, wear a mask, watch your distance, follow public health guidance, and get a flu shot. By taking these simple steps, we will protect lives –and livelihoods.” The latest order keeps in place a ban on gatherings larger than 50 people and continues to make wearing a mask voluntary at the statewide level rather than mandatory. Cities and counties have been allowed to impose their own mask mandates since August so long as their local requirements do not apply to businesses and residences.
Honolulu: The annual Remembrance Day ceremony to commemorate the attack on Pearl Harbor will be closed to the public this year and streamed online as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The ceremony will begin at 7:50 a.m. Dec. 7 at the Pearl Harbor National Memorial’s Contemplation Circle in Hawaii. A small number of veterans will be in attendance on site, Hawaii News Now reports. A moment of silence will be observed at 7:55 a.m., the time when the Japanese attack on the American naval base began in 1941. “America’s obligation to honor its veterans has been a sacrosanct pillar of our society, and we encourage everyone to join us virtually for this important ceremony,” said Scott Burch, acting superintendent of Pearl Harbor National Memorial.
Rexburg: Administrators at nursing homes and assisted living centers have started pen pal programs for their residents to safely interact with others during the coronavirus pandemic. Madison Carriage Cove Activities Director Emily Spencer collected the names of residents who were interested and put out a Facebook call asking people to write them, the Post Register reports. Spencer said five residents had signed up for the program in late August. Ombudsman Tera Fellows, who spends her days talking to people, said the program has spread across the region, and she has started her own as well. Fellows is paid by the state to investigate complaints from patients or residents in long-term care facilities in eastern Idaho. Four of the 36 long-term care facilities across nine eastern Idaho counties in which Fellows works are involved in the pen pal program. “It’s still in the early stages,” Fellows said. “I can’t wait one day to be visiting the patients and ask them face to face if they’re still getting letters.”
Springfield: The Illinois Department of Public Health on Sunday reported 10,631 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 in the state and 72 confirmed new deaths. With the latest announced number, Illinois has reported 573,616 cases of COVID-19, including 10,742 deaths. The latest confirmed and probable cases were the result of 84,831 tests administered over 24 hours. The seven-day statewide test positivity rate is 14.8%. As of late Saturday, 5,474 people in Illinois were reported hospitalized with COVID-19. Of those, 1,045 patients were in intensive care units, and 490 patients with the coronavirus were on ventilators. The latest numbers come after Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Friday ordered an extension of several of coronavirus-related executive orders for another 30 days, including an extension of a moratorium on evictions. State officials also released data covering the period from Aug. 1 to Nov. 7 showing Illinois is short of its goal of launching contact tracing for 90% of cases.
Terre Haute: The Vigo County Health Department is pleading with the community to take coronavirus precautions seriously after county officials announced they’ve rented four refrigerated semitrailers to store bodies of COVID-19 decedents. With some funeral homes in the area already becoming “overrun with bodies,” health department administrator Joni Wise said there aren’t enough places to put them. “We have to have some place for mass casualties to go, and this is one of those situations that is going to get worse before it gets better,” Wise said Thursday in a video statement. Community spread of COVID-19 continues to increase in Vigo County, said County Commissioner Brendan Kearns. Gatherings at bars, restaurants and similar venues continue to be a main source of virus transmission. “People are not wearing masks,” Kearns said in the video statement. “The hospitals are already pretty much at capacity … they’re busting at the seams … employees are stressed out. This is overwhelming the community.”
Des Moines: Eight labor and civil rights groups filed a federal complaint Friday alleging the state has failed to protect workers in meatpacking, dairy, construction, transportation, health care facilities, nursing homes and other industries. The complaint filed with the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration office in Kansas City seeks a full investigation and corrective action by the federal government. While it cites several examples of alleged failure of Iowa OSHA to do on-site inspections or investigate unsafe conditions related to the coronavirus pandemic, the groups say Iowa work safety issues go beyond coronavirus problems. Gov. Kim Reynolds is supportive of the work Iowa OSHA has done and “believes any federal review would find Iowa OSHA has followed all guidance to protect Iowa workers throughout this pandemic,” said spokesman Pat Garrett.
Topeka: Counties that require masks saw about half as many new coronavirus infections as counties that don’t mandate face coverings, a study found, as cases statewide surged again to record levels. “Do Masks Matter in Kansas” produced by the Institute for Policy and Social Research at the University of Kansas found that counties that require masks saw a decrease in their seven-day rolling average of daily cases per 100,000 population starting 14 days after the mandate was issued. “Masks, it is important to note, do not eliminate COVID, but they significantly slow the spread of the disease – at least here in Kansas,” said Donna K. Ginther, the institute’s director, in a video presenting the study’s findings. The Institute for Policy and Social Research at the University of Kansas has been tracking the impact of COVID-19 on the state, The Kansas City Star reports. “We found a 50% reduction in the spread of COVID-19 in counties that had a mask mandate compared to those without,” Ginther said.
Louisville: The state again recorded a record-high weekly total of new coronavirus cases, with 1,449 additional cases and three more deaths reported Sunday. The state has set weekly records over the past month, with the rate for positive tests also increasing, sitting at 8.88% on Sunday. Kentucky passed its daily record three times last week, reporting 3,303 new cases Saturday. “Coronavirus is present in every corner of the commonwealth, and it’s spreading at a truly alarming rate,” Gov. Andy Beshear said in a statement. “This is not a drill; this is a health emergency that we all need to take seriously. Let’s come together as Team Kentucky to defeat this virus.” Dr. Steven Stack, the state’s public health commissioner, reminded people to maintain social distance, wear a mask and wash hands often. “Kentucky’s state motto is ‘United We Stand, Divided We Fall.’ This motto has never been more applicable than now, as we fight the most deadly pandemic in over 100 years,” Stack said in a statement. “Unless Kentuckians come together, we will continue on this dangerous trajectory with disastrous consequences.”
Lafayette: Acadiana’s elected leaders leaned on the region’s medical community to lead efforts to prevent a third COVID-19 wave Thursday, with Lafayette Mayor-President Josh Guillory calling on them to do more to avoid the need for economic restrictions. During a conference call with parish leaders, Regional Medical Director Dr. Tina Stefanski warned that Acadiana is experiencing a growth in new coronavirus cases and in hospitalizations for the virus, similar to the increase seen in the run-up to the summer’s massive wave of cases and hospitalized COVID-19 patients. Stefanski blamed the increase on risky behavior and fatigue with COVID-19 mitigation measures, reinforcing the need for everyone to adhere to social distancing guidelines, the state’s mask mandate and good hand hygiene in what she called a “pivotal, pivotal” moment in the virus’s trajectory locally. St. Martin Parish President Chester Cedars agreed that people have stopped following COVID-19 protocols and asked Stefanski to coordinate with local health care providers to make another plea with the public to use the mitigation measures.
Portland: The organizers of an annual holiday tree and wreath festival have decided to cancel the event this year because of the rise in coronavirus cases in the state. The Midcoast Tree Festival has been postponed to 2021. The event had been scheduled to start Friday. “It just isn’t responsible to hold a major event that will bring hundreds and possibly thousands of people to one location before sending them off to their family Thanksgiving meals and holiday gatherings,” Southern Midcoast Maine Chamber Executive Director Cory King said. The festival is a joint fundraising event between the chamber and other organizations that involves crafts, food and entertainment in addition to the trees and wreaths. The latest average coronavirus positivity rate in Maine is 2.14%. The seven-day rolling average of the positivity rate has risen over the past two weeks from 1.05% on Nov. 1 to 2.14% on Sunday. State authorities said the state surpassed 9,000 reported coronavirus cases Monday.
Baltimore: Drivers have become more aggressive during the pandemic. And the proof is in Baltimore County. The Baltimore Sun reports citations from speed ticket cameras in the county are on track to set a record. Officials say people drove faster this year as more people stayed home because of the pandemic. The county has seen a 10% increase in speed camera violations so far in 2020. It issued more than 180,000 citations between January and Oct. 13. The same period last year saw 164,000 citations. At the same time, revenue from speed cameras rose by nearly 38%. And more than $4.56 million in speeding fines was collected compared to $3.31 million. The city of Baltimore also saw a rise in citations, although not as high. Citations were up by 7% by more than 500,000 through September. Those citations generated more than $12 million in revenue.
Boston: The city is offering more help to local small businesses struggling to stay viable amid the pandemic. Mayor Marty Walsh on Friday announced three new relief funds totaling $6.3 million. One will provide up to $15,000 to small businesses that are struggling to pay their rent. Another will make $15,000 grants available to businesses owned by minorities, women or veterans. The third will offer grants to restaurants to enable them to retain or rehire employees. Since the start of the pandemic, the city has set aside more than $15 million in total to help businesses survive the economic downturn caused by the pandemic. Massachusetts hit 10,015 confirmed coronavirus deaths Thursday, nearly nine months after the state’s initial case was detected. Confirmed cases have topped 174,000, and the number of cities and towns designated as “high risk” nearly doubled over a two-week period last month.
Lansing: Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said Monday that she has the authority to issue a second stay-at-home order to curb the spiking coronavirus if necessary and called a comment by an adviser to President Donald Trump urging people to “rise up” against Michigan’s latest restrictions “incredibly reckless.” The Democratic governor spoke with Capitol reporters a day after announcing limits amid a surge of COVID-19 cases that has led to increased hospitalizations and deaths. She has urged the public to “double down” with precautions to avoid a shelter-in-place order like what was instituted in the spring. Under the restrictions that start Wednesday, Michigan high schools and colleges must halt in-person classes, restaurants must stop indoor dining, and entertainment businesses such as casinos, movie theaters and bowling alleys must close for three weeks. Gathering sizes also will be tightened. Whitmer called it a “targeted approach” informed by epidemiologists and public health experts. She renewed her call for the Republican-led Legislature to codify a mask requirement in law in part to send a unified message to the public.
Minneapolis: Democratic state senators are calling on Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka to resign from his leadership post after Senate Republicans failed to notify their Democratic colleagues, nonpartisan staff and Capitol security of a potential COVID-19 outbreak among GOP ranks in advance of a special session last week. Senate Minority Leader Susan Kent called on Gazelka to step down Sunday, hours after he disclosed he tested positive for the coronavirus. Kent said GOP gatherings led to an outbreak, and the information wasn’t shared, and there is still uncertainty about who was exposed. Gazelka did not immediately return a message seeking comment Monday. In a statement Sunday, he said he has been in quarantine since he began experiencing symptoms Nov. 9 and “will remain in quarantine as long as my doctor advises me to.” Gazelka is in Florida and said he did not attend the Legislature’s special session Thursday.
Jackson: Officials have identified an outbreak at a prison in the Mississippi Delta in which more than 50 inmates have tested positive for the coronavirus. The Mississippi Department of Corrections and the Mississippi State Department of Health confirm the outbreak occurred at the Marshall County Correctional Facility in Holly Springs. The facility is operated by private prison management group Management & Training Corporation of Centerville, Utah. Marshall County borders the Mississippi-Tennessee state line and the greater Memphis metropolitan area. Dr. Raman Singh, medical director for the correction department’s medical provider, VitalCore Health Strategies, said three inmates in the prison’s 959-inmate population became symptomatic last week and tested positive last Monday. Singh said the facility began contact tracing and identified 109 inmates who were either living in the area of the three positive inmates or had contact with them. He said most of the affected inmates are asymptomatic, with just a few showing mild symptoms.
St. Louis: The number of coronavirus cases continues to steadily increase across the state, and hospitalizations remain at a high level. The state reported 3,729 new virus cases Sunday for a total of 239,451 cases. The number of deaths increased by one to 3,374. The number of people hospitalized with the virus dipped Sunday to 2,447 from the previous day’s record of 2,523, but hospitalizations have doubled in the past month, and capacity is strained in parts of the state. In the St. Louis area, BJC HealthCare and Washington University Physicians announced plans Sunday to suspend some elective surgeries to preserve hospital space for COVID-19 patients. Local health officials have urged Gov. Mike Parson to impose tougher restrictions to limit the spread of the virus, but he has resisted requiring masks and largely left it up to local officials to impose restrictions. The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Missouri has nearly doubled over the past two weeks from 2,247.71 new cases per day Oct. 31 to 4,379.43 new cases per day Saturday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
Bozeman: Hundreds of Montanans who received Pandemic Unemployment Assistance payments have been asked to pay back the Montana Department of Labor and Industry – some receiving bills for over $10,000 – because of a federal change to how a person is deemed eligible for the money. Roughly 21,000 Montanans received at least one payment between March and November from the PUA program, a program created by congressional coronavirus relief legislation to distribute unemployment funds to people not eligible for regular unemployment, such as gig workers or people who are self-employed. As of last Tuesday, the state labor department had identified 8,802 issues on accounts that will require repayment, according to department spokesperson Lauren Lewis. At least 816 people have received full denial and have been asked to pay back benefits in full.
Omaha: A group of about 35 people gathered outside a grocery store in southwest Omaha on Saturday to protest against the city’s mask mandate. The group originally planned to stage a mask-less shopping trip at the Hy-Vee grocery store, but the event turned into an outdoor march after the grocer worked with Omaha police to keep the protest out of the store. Omaha police said they would have officers at the store who would ticket people who tried to violate the city’s indoor mask requirement. Allie French said the group modified its plan after the backlash against it. French and other protesters gathered in front of the grocery store Saturday with signs and flags. Two police cars were parked among the group, and multiple officers stood at the entrance of the Hy-Vee along with several employees. Grace Willett attended the protest with her husband and 2-year-old daughter to take a stand for individual freedom. “It’s about standing up for our medical freedom to choose whether or not we wear a mask,” Willett said. “I’m fine with other people wearing a mask if they want to, but I think that we should all have the choice.”
Las Vegas: The city’s annual fireworks show on New Year’s Eve is canceled this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, officials said. The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority said in a statement that it would cancel its annual fireworks show Dec. 31. “Las Vegas has always been a bucket list New Year’s Eve destination, and we are going to make sure that remains the case – celebrating putting 2020 in the rear-view mirror in an ‘Only Vegas’ way,” Authority CEO Steve Hill said. “But as we have said throughout the year, the safety and security of our guests and employees is our top priority, and with that in mind, we will not have a fireworks show on December 31st.” Hill said the city will still “have some special things planned to welcome 2021 with the hope and promise it brings.” Individual hotels and casinos are free to launch their own fireworks independently.
Concord: The coronavirus pandemic has underscored the importance of building a system of care that strengthens families and prevents child abuse, neglect and delinquency, according to the head of a watchdog office for the state’s child welfare system. Moira O’Neill, director of the Office of the Child Advocate, said she sees parallels between the experience of living through a pandemic and living as a child in out-of-home care. “The stress and uncertainty we all feel under pandemic restrictions teaches us what children feel when placed away from home,” she wrote in an annual report released Friday. “They never really know when they will go home, if they will go home, or who will be there for them. This may be the greatest lesson of the pandemic.” O’Neill said the Division for Children, Youth and Families has forged partnerships to create new paths to supports and services during the pandemic, many of which are better than previous options. But she said there is an urgent need to implement the expansion of the entire system of care that was authorized in legislation a year and a half ago.
Trenton: Gov. Phil Murphy said he will be reducing indoor and outdoor gathering limits because of the COVID-19 resurgence. The Democrat said Monday at a news conference that he will order the maximum number of people at indoor gatherings to fall from 25 to 10 and outdoor get-togethers from 500 to 150 people. The new indoor limit goes into effect Tuesday, while the outdoor level kicks in Nov. 23. The lower levels come just before Thanksgiving and ahead of the winter holidays. Murphy said he understood the new limits would lead to frustration, but little about this year has been normal. “I must again pull back the reins,” he said. “It gives me no joy.” New Jersey’s coronavirus levels have been spiking, which Murphy has said amounts to a “second wave.” There are some exceptions to the limits, the governor said. Among them are religious services, political activities and weddings. Murphy said the tighter limits are aimed at limiting house parties, which he said contribute to climbing COVID-19 rates.
Albuquerque: The state started its lockdown Monday as Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and hospital administrators look to curb coronavirus infections. Under the latest public health order, people are being asked to stay home, and only essential businesses such as grocery stores, pharmacies, big box retailers, hardware stores, auto and bicycle repair shops, and other necessary operations will be open. Universities are transitioning back to full online classes, while many municipal and state government offices are closed to walk-in requests. Also as a result of the restrictions, Virgin Galactic said plans for the first space test flight from southern New Mexico will be pushed back. The company had announced recently that the window for the test flight would begin Nov. 19. Virgin Galactic CEO Michael Colglazier said in a statement that the company’s operations at Spaceport America will be minimized to the greatest degree possible in accordance with the public health order. New Mexico has been struggling with high case counts and deaths. On Sunday, the number of hospitalizations due to the virus surpassed 500, marking a first since the pandemic began.
New York: The city’s sheriff’s deputies have stayed busy enforcing coronavirus rules, clamping down on several big, underground night spots over the weekend, including a fight club in the Bronx that drew as many as 200 people. Deputy New York City sheriffs enforcing COVID-19 crowd limits broke up an amateur fight night event late Friday in a warehouse. The unsanctioned fight would have been illegal even before the coronavirus pandemic but risked becoming a public health threat as infections rise around the state. The size of the crowd far exceeded the state’s limit on nonessential gatherings of 10 people, authorities said. Across New York, the virus continued to claim victims at a rate unseen since the spring. Nearly 2,000 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Sunday, the state announced. That’s the most since early June, up from a low of 410 on Sept. 5. Over the past seven days, the state has averaged 4,500 positive tests per day. New York’s hospitals and nursing homes have reported 185 deaths over the past seven days.
Raleigh: The state’s depositories for old government and academic records, maps, books and genealogical materials have reopened to the public at reduced capacity after being closed for months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. State Archives public research locations in Raleigh and Manteo and the State Library of North Carolina in Raleigh planned to welcome visitors by appointment starting last Thursday, with the Western Regional Archives in Asheville following Friday. Guests must set up formal appointments online and are required to wear face masks inside. Public computer terminals there will also be closed. State archivists and librarians also urged people to check their agencies’ websites to determine whether research questions or access could be handled online.
Bismarck: Health officials on Monday reported a new high in the number of hospitalizations due to COVID-19, following a weekend in which the state enacted new measures in an effort to help slow the spread of the coronavirus. Gov. Doug Burgum announced the restrictions, including ordering the use of face coverings, late Friday. They went into effect Saturday and are set to remain in place until Dec. 13. Meanwhile, the number of virus patients in medical facilities rose by 10 on Monday, to 332. North Dakota has continued to rank first in the country for new cases per capita in the past two weeks. One in every 80 people in the state tested positive in the past week, according to Johns Hopkins University researchers. A weekend count of available staffed hospital beds in the state showed 11 in intensive care units and 181 in inpatient rooms.
Columbus: The state reported 7,853 new coronavirus cases Sunday, down for the second straight day from a record 8,071 on Friday. The pace of new cases has been accelerating in Ohio, increasing from an average of about 1,000 per day in mid-September to the record-busting counts over the past week. While cases again ticked down Sunday, they still sat well above the 21-day average of 4,761. Another 189 people were hospitalized, and eight more had died from the coronavirus as of Saturday, the state reported. The positivity rate was down slightly to 11.9% on Friday, the most recent day for which data was available. Since the start of the pandemic, Ohio has reported 298,096 cases, and 5,722 people have died from the virus. A total of 22,265 have been hospitalized with COVID-19, and 4,204 were admitted to intensive care units.
Oklahoma City: Gov. Kevin Stitt on Monday announced new restrictions as the numbers of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations surge across the state. In a news conference, Stitt announced new mandates to limit bar and restaurant capacity in an attempt to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. Effective Thursday, bars and restaurants must close by 11 p.m., except for to-go and drive-thru orders. Restaurants will also have to space out all tables 6 feet apart. Asked about whether he considered limiting capacity in bars in restaurants instead of the requirement that seating be spaced out, Stitt said limiting capacity could be difficult because businesses vary in size. Stitt also announced that all state employees and visitors to state facilities will be required to wear masks. The mask mandate for state employees will take effect Wednesday. There are roughly 33,000 state employees, Stitt said.
Portland: State health officials reported 868 new confirmed or presumptive cases of COVID-19 on Sunday and two more deaths. The state is experiencing a spike in coronavirus infections and has reached record-high positivity rates and hospitalizations in November. Oregon has surpassed 1,000 cases a day twice this month. The state total was 56,880 cases Sunday. The two new deaths were those of an 81-year-old man and a 66-year-old woman, both in Umatilla County. On Friday, Gov. Kate Brown announced a two-week “freeze” of new restrictions aimed at slowing the spread of the disease. Restaurants and bars will be limited to takeout only, and there will be closures of gyms and indoor and outdoor recreational facilities. The freeze will take effect starting Wednesday and running at least through Dec. 2.
Philadelphia: The city is banning indoor dining at restaurants and indoor gatherings of any size, public or private, as it battles a resurgence of the coronavirus, officials announced Monday. The city also plans to shutter gyms, museums and libraries, prohibit in-person instruction at colleges and high schools, and reduce occupancy at stores and religious institutions, the health commissioner, Dr. Thomas Farley, said at a news conference Monday. The new restrictions take effect Friday and extend at least through the end of the year. The Philadelphia school district had planned to start returning K-12 students to the classroom but said last week that schools will remain virtual for the foreseeable future in light of the explosion in cases. City officials said dramatic action is needed to respond to an exponential growth in cases and hospitalizations. The state is reporting an average of 4,900 new infections per day, up nearly 120% in two weeks, according to an Associated Press analysis of data from the COVID Tracking Project. The daily death toll has nearly doubled in that period, to about 42 per day, though it remains far below what it was last spring. Hospitalizations and the percentage of virus tests are also up sharply.
Warwick: A state-run psychiatric hospital is dealing with a “significant” coronavirus outbreak caused in part by employees showing up to work sick, authorities said. The outbreak includes a dozen staff members and six patients, according to an email sent to staff Friday by Brian Daly, the chief medical officer at Eleanor Slater Hospital in Cranston, and obtained by The Providence Journal. Randal Edgar, a spokesperson for the state Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals, which oversees the hospital, said in an email to the Associated Press on Monday that the newspaper’s report was accurate but did not provide additional details or updates. “The most troubling information we uncovered in doing contact tracing is that some staff members worked even while they had significant symptoms of cold or flu-like illness,” Daly’s email said. “This means that they signed the attestation we all sign every day saying they did not have these symptoms when they did.”
Columbia: With Thanksgiving and Christmas on the horizon, state health officials are urging people to get tested for the coronavirus before gathering for the holidays, to wear masks whenever they aren’t eating, and to celebrate outside if possible. But so far, health officials aren’t forcefully suggesting people skip holiday celebrations altogether. “We recognize that the holiday season is a sacred time, and we encourage South Carolinians to avoid indoor gatherings and maintain their commitment to activities that reduce the spread of COVID-19,” the state Department of Health and Environmental Control said in a statement Monday. Since the coronavirus pandemic started, South Carolina leaders have placed more emphasis on personal responsibility, such as encouraging people to wear masks, than government edicts such as mask requirements. “Those decisions are best made at the local level,” Gov. Henry McMaster said Thursday, saying local governments better know their businesses, compliance with the commonsense rules and their capacity to enforce mask rules.
Sioux Falls: City Council members who pushed for a coronavirus mask mandate that failed to pass last week plan to give it another try as the state continues to be a hot spot for COVID-19. The mask ordinance is on the agenda for the council’s meeting Tuesday, as well as one that would place limits on the number of people allowed in local businesses. The mask ordinance is largely similar to the one that was voted down by Mayor Paul TenHaken following a 4-4 tie Nov. 10. And the second ordinance would place restrictions on businesses similar to those that were in place in May before they were repealed. The COVID Tracking Project said Sunday that there were nearly 2,062 new cases per 100,000 people in South Dakota over the past two weeks, which ranks second in the country behind North Dakota for new cases per capita. One in every 86 people in South Dakota tested positive in the past week.
Nashville: Vanderbilt University announced Monday that the school will limit attendance for the final two home games of the football season to families of student-athletes and a group of other students due to concerns about the coronavirus. A specified number of graduate and professional students will be able to attend the games, which will be held Saturday and on Nov. 28, but fans and other Vanderbilt students won’t be allowed in, the university’s athletics program said in a news release. The majority of the school’s undergraduate body will leave the campus Friday, when in-person classes for the semester are scheduled to end. The school said it is also planning to begin its basketball season without spectators at the games. “Similar to our approach with fall sports, we owe it to ourselves, our student-athletes’ families and our fans to gather as much information as possible and understand all aspects of what a basketball game day looks like during this pandemic before determining our fan attendance policies,” Vice Chancellor for Athletics & University Affairs Candice Lee said in the news release.
Austin: The state surpassed 20,000 confirmed coronavirus deaths Monday, as COVID-19 continues to surge in the United States. That is the second-highest death count overall in the U.S., trailing only New York, according to researchers from Johns Hopkins University. It’s the 22nd-highest per capita at 69.7 deaths per 100,000 people. So far, Texas leaders have given no indication of forthcoming restrictions to keep people from gathering and spreading the virus. Instead, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott in recent days has been emphasizing that new therapeutics and vaccines are expected to become available soon. A state appeals court last week sided with Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and lifted a local shutdown order in El Paso, where mobile morgues are being trucked in to help overwhelmed hospitals and funeral homes. The El Paso county morgue reached out to the El Paso Sheriff’s Department for help after it became “overwhelmed,” according to El Paso Sheriff’s Department Public Affairs Director Chris Acosta. Inmates of the county’s detention facility “were asked to help for a stipend of $2 an hour,” Acosta said in a statement.
Orem: The City Council has passed an ordinance outlawing demonstrations targeting homes following a protest outside the governor’s private residence. The Orem City Council passed the ordinance Friday after a protest targeted the private home of Republican Gov. Gary Herbert, KSTU-TV reports. The demonstration followed the announcement of a statewide mask mandate issued last week in an attempt to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Protests must remain at least 100 feet from the property line of any residence, with violations to be charged as misdemeanors. “The public health and welfare and the good order of the community require that citizens enjoy in their homes and neighborhoods a feeling of well-being, tranquility, and privacy, and enjoy freedom from being a captive audience to unwanted speech in their homes,” the ordinance said.
Montpelier: The state will start testing K-12 teachers and staff for COVID-19 starting this week as a strategy that health officials hope will help to track the spread of the coronavirus in communities. Teachers and school staff are not at a higher risk of contracting the illness caused by the virus, but they “represent a large group of individuals in an organized setting” and could help the state better identify cases before an outbreak, Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine said this week. The tests will be given voluntarily starting this week and resume monthly after the Thanksgiving holiday break. Those who are tested will not be required to quarantine while awaiting their results. “Testing of school personnel is a public health surveillance strategy,” Levine said. The state reported 94 new cases Saturday, while the number of deaths remained at 59. The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Vermont has risen over the past two weeks from 20 new cases per day Oct. 30 to 60 new cases per day Friday.
Richmond: State lawmakers were feuding Monday after Democratic House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn announced plans for that chamber to again conduct its work remotely because of the coronavirus pandemic when it convenes in January. Shortly after the speaker’s office made the announcement, House and Senate Republican leaders said they would use a procedural move to limit the 2021 session to 30 days, rather than the typical, longer session Filler-Corn said she expected. Such a move could hinder the breadth of what Democrats, who have a narrow majority in both chambers and Ralph Northam in the governor’s mansion, are able to address. “I think it’s extremely disappointing that the Republicans would use this moment – a time when we should be helping Virginians through this pandemic -– to exercise their limited power to cut the planned 45-day legislative session short,” Filler-Corn said in an interview. The Republicans said that given the lengthy special session that concluded earlier this month, during which lawmakers approved a new state budget and passed a host of major new criminal justice reforms, 30 days should be sufficient time to complete the year’s work. The 100-member House also conducted its work virtually during the special session.
Seattle: A long-term care facility reported 94 people have tested positive for the coronavirus since late October, its second outbreak since the pandemic began. Snohomish Health District spokeswoman Heather Thomas confirmed that 53 residents and 41 staff members at Josephine Caring Community in Stanwood have contracted the virus, The Seattle Times reports. It is unclear how many people have been hospitalized. Thomas said in an email over the weekend that at least “a few” were taken to the hospital and that she didn’t know of any deaths. It’s the second outbreak connected to the facility about 50 miles north of Seattle. In the first, the facility reported a handful of infections in March, which grew to at least 34 cases, including six deaths as of April 17. Long-term care facilities account for about 1% of the U.S. population but represent 40% of COVID-19 deaths, according to the COVID Tracking Project.
Charleston: There were 107 active known cases of the coronavirus among inmates at a federal correctional institution last week. Gilmer County Health Department announced the numbers Wednesday. The county of about 8,500 in central West Virginia has two other active cases. The federal facility has nearly 1,300 inmates. Among state-owned correctional facilities, the largest outbreak among inmates is at McDowell County Corrections, where there are 40 active cases, the state reported Thursday. An additional 40 state correctional employees have the coronavirus overall across over two dozen facilities.
Milwaukee: There is a critical need for blood plasma from recovered coronavirus patients in the state, according to officials. Convalescent plasma has been shown to be effective in treating the most seriously ill coronavirus patients, but the demand is far greater than the supply. Versiti Blood Center of Wisconsin’s chief medical officer, Dr. Thomas Abshire, said the need for convalescent plasma in Wisconsin is about double the number of donors giving plasma. Advocate Health Care transplant director Dr. Ajay Sahajpal said Wisconsin has already needed to import plasma from other states, but that might not continue as the shortage of donors continues elsewhere. “For convalescent plasma, specifically, it’s a critical shortage,” he said. Sahajpal said he is worried that as the holidays approach, fewer people will donate blood, which could lead to a crisis across several medical fronts. Saphajpal said plasma and coagulation products, which cause the blood to clot, are being rationed, even for patients in intensive-care units, some with liver failure and those awaiting transplants.
Jackson: County officials have said residents could see tighter coronavirus safety measures, including limits on further gatherings, as cases surge. Currently, state coronavirus health orders prohibit gatherings of more than 50 people. Republican Gov. Mark Gordon said Friday that more restrictive health orders could be implemented. But Teton County District Health Officer Dr. Travis Riddell said he felt it was time to take more drastic action now, the Jackson Hole News & Guide reports. “I’m not willing to wait,” Riddell said. “These cases have totally overwhelmed the capacity of our state and local health departments.” The request will next need approval from state health officer Dr. Alexia Harrist, who has granted other variances. The Wyoming Department of Health reported Teton County, which includes Jackson, has had 41 newly confirmed COVID-19 cases, increasing its active total to 175 as of Friday.
From USA TODAY Network and wire reports