Maxwell Air Force Base: The 908th Airlift Wing was among the units across the U.S. Air Force Reserve Command that was able to resume Physical Fitness Assessment testing for its members. Over the Unit Training Assembly weekend of July 10-11, more than 100 Reserve Citizen Airmen from the 908th participated in the testing in Montgomery, Ala., which provided wing leadership with important data. Healthy and fit airmen are better equipped to mitigate the stresses of living and working in the austere environments often encountered at deployed locations. However, social distancing protocols limited the options airmen had to participate in physical training. Combined with postponed testing, some airmen experienced a lack in the motivation to stay fit because they couldn’t participate in their preferred activity or sport. Now that restrictions have been lifted and testing has resumed, some airmen have regained the incentive to maintain an exercise regimen and healthier lifestyle.
Juneau: The state-run ferry system is proposing a winter schedule that suggests limited service for some southeast Alaskan communities and improved service for Kodiak Island and some parts of south-central Alaska. State transportation department spokesperson Andy Mills told CoastAlaska the draft schedule reflects the best the state can do given available funding and maintenance needs within the fleet. Gov. Mike Dunleavy vetoed about $8.5 million for vessel operations, which his budget office said would “align service with historical demand, while providing 18 months of funding to align the system’s budget with the calendar year.” The move to provide funding for operations for 18 months rather than the traditional 12 months was intended in part to provide more stability in scheduling. The draft, which the transportation department is taking public comment on, covers operations between October and April and calls for up to five ships operating at any one time. One of those, however, is a ferry that shuttles between Ketchikan and nearby Metlakatla.
Phoenix: State wildlife officials and conservationists are offering a reward of up to $2,500 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of a suspect or suspects in the recent poaching of a desert bighorn sheep at Gillespie Dam southwest of Phoenix. The illegal harvest of the ram occurred the evening of July 10 south of Buckeye, the Arizona Game and Fish Department said. Investigators said a group of five Asian males seen leaving the scene at approximately 8:30 p.m. in a gray sedan and a black sport utility vehicle might have been involved. Anyone with information can call Operation Game Thief hotline at (800) 352-0700 regarding case #21-002114. Tipsters might be eligible for a reward of up to $1,500 for information that leads to an arrest in this case. The Arizona Desert Bighorn Sheep Society is offering an additional reward of $1,000 for information that leads to a conviction.
Little Rock: Public health researchers called the rapid rise in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations in Arkansas a “raging forest fire,” and the state’s top health official warned that he expects significant outbreaks in schools. The model by the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences’ Fay W. Boozman College of Public Health projected a daily average of 1,039 new cases over the next week. The model also predicted an average increase of 169 new cases a day in children under age 17. Arkansas leads the country in new cases per capita, according to figures compiled by Johns Hopkins University researchers. The state also has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country, with only 35% of the population fully vaccinated. Dr. Jose Romero, the state’s health secretary, said he was concerned about the possibility of a “surge on top of this surge” when school begins this fall. Laws enacted this year prevent schools from mandating face masks or from requiring students and teachers to be vaccinated. Romero said the key to combatting those outbreaks will be parents stressing the importance of wearing masks.
Los Angeles: Six more California counties are urging residents to wear masks in indoor public settings amid concerning upticks in coronavirus cases and continued circulation of the highly contagious delta variant. The latest recommendations from Santa Barbara, Monterey, Napa, San Benito, Santa Cruz and Ventura raise to 17 the number of counties now asking even fully vaccinated individuals to wear face coverings as a precaution while inside places such as grocery stores, movie theaters and retail outlets. So far, only one – Los Angeles County – has gone a step further and mandated that masks be worn in such settings. The city of Pasadena, which has its own independent health department, said it would do likewise later this week. The new round of advisories means that roughly 56% of Californians live in a county that either recommends or requires indoor masking for all individuals, including those vaccinated for COVID-19.
Denver: Marijuana-related arrests have dropped since the first recreational pot shops opened in Colorado seven years ago but Black people are still much more likely to get into legal trouble for cannabis offenses, according to a state report released Monday. The biennial report, commissioned by the Colorado Division of Criminal Justice, found that the marijuana arrest rate for Black people (160 per 100,000 people) is more than double that for white people (76 per 100,000) in Colorado, The Denver Post reported. The report also found that people over 65 are using marijuana at triple the rate that they did in 2014 and that people are consuming cannabis through vapes and edibles at higher rates.
Hartford: Terrence Cheng, president of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system, said the state’s community colleges will forgive $17 million of student debt accumulated during the pandemic. The debt, which students took on during the pandemic or could not repay because of it, will be made up with money from the federal Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund, Cheng said. There are no conditions attached, and students are not required to enroll in classes in any future semesters, Cheng said. The decision is expected to impact 18,161 current and former students at the state’s 12 community colleges, officials said. That includes students who lost jobs, suffered food insecurity and even those who were afflicted with COVID-19 said Jane Gates, CSCU’s provost and senior vice president of academic and student affairs.
Wilmington: The Delaware Democratic Party said that anti-Asian slurs and other sexual language used by state Rep. Gerald Brady in an email “will not be tolerated,” but stopped short of demanding that he resign. The outcry came after a June 27 email sent by Brady was shared with The News Journal. The email was intended to be sent to a private citizen Brady knows, said Drew Volturo, a spokesman for the House Democratic Caucus. Instead, Brady replied to a sex workers’ advocate who had emailed him to discuss legislation intended to protect sex workers. “Misogynistic, anti-Asian language has no place in our Party and calls into question the integrity of any leader,” Betsy Maron, chair of the Delaware Democratic Party, said in a written statement. “No apology will rectify the fact that Representative Gerald Brady felt comfortable enough to use such hateful language behind closed doors.” When asked if the party was calling on Brady to step down, Democratic spokeswoman Sarah Fulton said no. “If Gerald Brady doesn’t want to resign, that’s something that he is going to have to deal with when he looks his constituents in the face next fall and tries to justify why they should vote for him,” Fulton said. Brady sent a written apology Monday through a spokesman. He also posted his apology on his Facebook page Tuesday afternoon.
District of Columbia
Washington: For the first time in decades, D.C.’s Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will open to the public on April 18, 2022, WUSA-TV reported. According to a news release from the Church of Latter-day Saints, invited guests will be available to take private tours of the renovated temple between April 19-27. The temple will then hold a public open house for two months, except Sundays, starting April 28 and running through June 4.Ticket information for the public open house will be made available at the DC Temple website, here. The Church of Latter-day Saints said the Temple first opened in 1974 and was closed in March 2018 to undergo a significant renovation. According to Dan Holt, the project manager, the renovations added “21st-century flair” to the temple's midcentury motif to make the temple “more maintainable, more modern and really relevant for today.” The last time the temple was open to the public was from Sept. 17 to Oct. 19, in 1974, when more than 750,000 people toured the building.
Miami: Officials in Florida’s most populous county are encouraging residents to get vaccinated against the coronavirus as infection rates once again spike in the state. Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava and other government, public safety and health officials released a statement Tuesday urging people to take the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible. Miami-Dade has achieved a vaccination rate of more than 75%, according to the Florida Department of Health. In less than a month, positive tests have increased from 3.6% to 8.6% in Miami-Dade County, officials said. In the last three weeks, the number of COVID-positive inpatients at Miami’s Jackson Health System has increased 178%. More than 95% of the new patients are unvaccinated, and more than 40% are under age 50.
Atlanta: The surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations around the world is starting to reach Georgia, experts said, driven by the infection’s spread among the unvaccinated. Arkansas, Florida, Missouri and Nevada are in full-fledged outbreaks, and neighboring states are following behind, Emory University Professor Carlos del Rio said in a briefing. In the past week, Georgia’s hospitalizations from the disease have increased 30%, he said. The highly contagious delta variant now accounts for about 70% of all new cases, most of which are among those who haven’t been vaccinated, including children too young for the shots. Of the 480 Georgia patients hospitalized with COVID-19 this month, 416 were not fully vaccinated, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health.
Kahului: Dozens of Maui residents held a rally for affordable housing as the county’s median home price tops $1 million and the county council considers a new affordable housing plan. Stand Up Maui organized the affordable housing rally, which gathered more than 40 people along Kaahumanu Avenue on Monday, The Maui News reported. “Build affordable housing now,” resident Faith Chase yelled through a bullhorn. Median home prices in Maui County hit $1,117,500 in June – the highest in the state. The figure was up 45% from $773,250 during the same month last year. At the Maui County Council, a committee heard testimony about a new affordable housing plan. Some said the county should require that candidates for affordable housing have at least 20 years of residency. But the Comprehensive Affordable Housing Plan called for two years of residency. The affordable housing plan called for the county to spend $380 million on infrastructure, including roads, water and wastewater projects. Another $789 million would support housing for locals, including subsidies for rentals and mortgages.
Boise: Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin, acting as governor with Gov. Brad Little out of the state, on Tuesday sent what she called a formal inquiry to the director of the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare concerning private health care businesses requiring their employees get COVID-19 vaccines. McGeachin, who is running for governor, said the Biden administration could be behind the requirement, citing a lengthy proposed rule in the federal register published in May having to do with Medicare that has several references to vaccine coverage among health care workers. As acting governor in May, McGeachin issued an executive order banning mask mandates that Little nullified when he returned. Little is in Colorado meeting with other Republican governors and is scheduled to return Wednesday, spokeswoman Marissa Morrison said. McGeachin has said she wants to find out why three large Idaho health care providers are requiring their employees be vaccinated against COVID-19.
Springfield: Two state agencies that oversee higher education in Illinois on Monday encouraged colleges and universities to require COVID-19 vaccinations of students heading to campuses this fall. The Illinois Board of Higher Education and the Illinois Community College Board made the recommendation, which they said follows recently released guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The state agencies contend the guidance will help facilitate the safe transition back to campus, as more students return to in-person learning. The oversight agencies’ recommendation came on the same day a federal judge ruled Indiana University can require its students and employees to get vaccinated before returning to campus for fall classes. Students who don’t comply will have their registration canceled and workers who don’t will lose their jobs.
West Lafayette: Purdue University said 60% of incoming students and 66% of school employees have submitted proof of being fully vaccinated against COVID-19 four weeks ahead of an Aug. 13 fall semester deadline. Purdue announced the figures Tuesday in its first release of overall campus vaccination rates. Purdue said it is strongly encouraging all students and employees to get the vaccine if possible. The university expects the numbers of those fully vaccinated will grow before the first day of fall classes Aug. 23, said Eric Barker, dean of the College of Pharmacy and leader of the Protect Purdue Health Monitoring and Surveillance team. Vaccination rates for Purdue students are about twice the rate compared with individuals ages 16-29 across the state, the school said. Individuals not vaccinated who have a high-risk exposure must quarantine for 14 days and will not be allowed to attend classes or report to work, regardless of symptoms, Purdue said. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines a high-risk exposure as coming within 6 feet of an infected individual for 15 minutes or more where both individuals are not wearing masks.
Waterloo: Waterloo Community Schools will seek federal stimulus dollars to help fund internet access and computers for students whose families can’t afford them. The district is applying for money through the Emergency Connectivity Fund, part of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. On Tuesday, the Board of Education approved the purchase of 593 Dell touchscreen Chromebook laptops at a cost of $148,843 during a special meeting. The ECF includes a provision that allows districts to seek funding for laptop computers when they will be used by students who lack devices sufficient to engage in remote learning. As a result, Waterloo Schools will “target our virtual students, who obviously need a suitable device,” said Matt O’Brien, the district’s director of technology. The touchscreen functionality has been identified as being important for the district’s virtual learners, especially those in elementary school. Reimbursement will be sought from the fund for the entire cost.
Topeka: Families and advocates for the elderly in Kansas argue that with most nursing home residents vaccinated against COVID-19, some facilities’ visiting rules need to be relaxed, though the delta variant’s spread is making operators nervous. A state official who investigates complaints against nursing homes and the elder-care focused Kansas Advocates for Better Care are calling on the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services to crack down on homes that aren’t open enough. They’re concerned that the delta variant will prompt new lockdowns. The aging department said it is working to ensure that residents and families have a voice in visitation policies, though some industry officials still see a need to proceed with caution. The debate showed how operators feel they’re still facing tough choices after nursing homes were COVID-19 hot spots early on during the pandemic. It also shows how residents’ and families’ anguish and anger still linger.
Frankfort: Kentucky State University’s president resigned Tuesday amid concerns about the school’s financial health and lawsuits alleging misconduct by campus officials. The school’s Board of Regents accepted M. Christopher Brown II’s resignation at a specially called meeting, news media outlets reported. Brown’s resignation came after four years on the job. The regents named Clara Ross Stamps as the school’s acting president. Stamps has been a senior vice president and spokeswoman at the university. The board also voted to hire auditors to review the school’s financial situation. Stamps declined afterward to provide any information about possible problems or the reason for Brown’s departure, the Lexington Herald-Leader reported. Brown’s departure came amid a half-dozen lawsuits pending this year accusing college officials, including Brown, of various acts of misconduct, the newspaper reported.
New Orleans: State health officials reported 5,388 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday and said it’s the third-highest daily count since the beginning of the pandemic in early 2020. Hospitalizations for the disease rose to 844 statewide, up more than 600 since June 19. The numbers were announced as state officials continued to stress the need for vaccination. Figures posted Wednesday showed 1.6 million people, about 36% of the state’s population are fully vaccinated. The seven-day average of new cases reported daily in New Orleans had jumped to 99 by Tuesday, up from 11 two weeks ago. Mayor LaToya Tidwell said vaccinations are the key to stopping the spread, which is fueled by the highly contagious delta variant of the virus that causes COVID-19. Restrictions on gatherings and mask requirements had been greatly eased in recent months as vaccines became widely available.
Portland: The City Council has decided to continue a pandemic rule to allow outdoor dining and retail in place until at least the fall. Portland is looking to end a local emergency declaration about the pandemic on July 29. That would also end additional powers given to the city manager that can restrict public gatherings. However, street closures that allow businesses to expand outdoor dining and retail options will continue until November, the Portland Press Herald reported. The council voted that a designation allowing restaurants to operate without additional fees will continue until Nov. 1. A statewide emergency declaration about the pandemic ended in June. Maine has had a lower burden of coronavirus cases than many other states, though cases have increased somewhat in recent days.
Baltimore: The leader of the Maryland National Guard is warning that training missions and equipment maintenance are in peril if the state isn’t reimbursed soon for the Guard’s response to the Jan. 6 insurrection attempt at the U.S. Capitol. Maj. Gen. Timothy E. Gowen, the adjutant general for the Maryland National Guard, warned in a letter Tuesday to members of Congress that the Guard is so short on money that he might have to resort to deep budget cuts in the coming weeks. Maryland Guard members were among the first to arrive in Washington on Jan. 6 when the Capitol building was disrupted during the certification of the 2020 election results. After a delay in getting the sign-off from federal officials, the state sent 500 Guard members, a number that swelled to about 1,000 over the next few weeks. The deployment to Washington came in the midst of an unprecedented and busy time for the Guard, whose members helped run coronavirus testing sites and food distribution programs and were preparing to staff mass vaccination clinics at the time of the attack on the Capitol.
Boston: City health officials urged recent visitors to Provincetown to self-isolate and get tested for the coronavirus after a cluster of cases was linked to the popular Cape Cod tourist town. At least 35 cases of COVID-19 in Boston have been traced to Provincetown, with the vast majority of cases involving people who were fully vaccinated, according to the Boston Public Health Commission. Anyone who has traveled to Provincetown since July 1 is being asked to get tested at least five days after returning. The travel guidance also asks recent visitors to self-isolate and avoid gatherings for at least five days and until they receive a negative coronavirus test. Provincetown officials issued a new mask advisory on Monday after more than 100 people tested positive following the Fourth of July holiday. The advisory encourages mask-wearing for all residents and visitors of the town, which is a popular LGBTQ+ summer destination.
Grand Marais: A wildfire burned about 6 acres of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and adjacent state forest in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, authorities said. A U.S. Coast Guard vessel reported the fire about 3 p.m. Monday near the Twelvemile Beach campground at Pictured Rocks, they said. Park rangers said large amounts of smoke might linger for the next few days in the area and along Highway 58 near the Kingston Lake campground. The investigation into how the fire started is continuing. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Burt Township firefighters and Pictured Rocks park rangers extinguished the fire.“Thank you to all our agency partners who reported and helped us keep this fire under control,” Chief Ranger Joseph Hughes said in a statement. “I would like to remind all park visitors to recreate safely. Drivers and visitors should slow down and use caution in the area.”
Minneapolis: Minnesota’s most populous county is boosting its incentive program for COVID-19 vaccine shots. The Hennepin County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved an additional $250,000 to promote vaccine shots, on top of the original $100,000 that was allocated earlier from federal recovery funds. Commissioner Chris LaTondresse said the program has increased the number of shots and Tuesday’s action “doubles down on this promising strategy” to help fight the coronavirus. The county used the original investment to buy 2,235 Visa gift cards worth $50 each. As of Monday. about 775 of those cards had been distributed, mainly at county public health events. The incentive program includes partnerships with community groups to host vaccine events and provide perks such as free meals, groceries, and entertainment.
Jackson: With a national moratorium on evictions scheduled to end at the end of this month, millions of dollars in federal rental and utility assistance is still available for low-income tenants in Mississippi. The funds, provided by Congress, are disbursed through the Mississippi Home Corporation. Eligible for the benefits are Mississippians making 80% or less of the median area income whose ability to pay rent or utilities was disrupted by the pandemic. For example, in Hinds County, a three-person household making $52,300 or less a year is eligible for assistance. There is more than $180 million available to state residents, and Home Corporation Executive Director Scott Spivey said he hopes more people apply for the assistance.
Jefferson City: The St. Louis area is facing a third wave of COVID-19 that could cause more deaths and serious cases if residents don’t get vaccinated and return to wearing masks in public, the head of the region’s pandemic task force said. Dr. Clay Dunagan, BJC HealthCare’s chief clinical officer, said seven COVID-19 patients have died in the St. Louis region and 91 were admitted to intensive care units during the 24 hours before he issued his plea Tuesday morning. He said if residents don’t respond, the area could return to high hospitalization rates, prompting renewed visitor restrictions and delayed elective procedures. He said even people who have been vaccinated should wear masks in public, in part because only 46.3% of Missourians had been fully vaccinated as of Tuesday, which significantly trailed the national average. Also Tuesday, officials from St. Louis County and St. Louis issued a joint statement echoing Dunagan’s remarks. They said they are watching trends and paying attention to mask mandates initiated by other jurisdictions.
Bozeman: Environmental groups pressed a state judge to order a new review of a Montana copper mine over worries that mining waste will pollute a river that’s popular among boaters. Attorneys for Trout Unlimited and other groups argued that state officials did not adequately review the risk of toxic waste spills from the Black Butte copper mine north of White Sulphur Springs. Work began last year on the mine along Sheep Creek, a tributary of the Smith River. Montana Department of Environmental Quality attorney Sarah Clerget rejected worries the mine would pollute the Smith during Friday’s hearing before state District Judge Katherine Bidegary in Meagher County. Clerget said the mine won’t leak or fail, the Bozeman Daily Chronicle reported. The underground mine proposed by Vancouver-based Sandfire Resources is on private land and would extract 15.3 million tons of copper-laden rock and waste over 15 years – roughly 440 tons a day. The 110-mile Smith River runs through a limestone canyon and a scenic valley before flowing into the Missouri River south of Great Falls. The waterway is so popular the state holds an annual lottery for permits to float down it.
Winnebago: A mask mandate has been reinstated on the Winnebago Reservation to limit the spread of COVID-19. The Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska said in a post on its Facebook page that masks are required for all indoors in public buildings and places of business within the exterior boundaries of the reservation. During a meeting Monday, the Winnebago Tribal Council voted 6-1 to reinstate the mask mandate. According to a report from Twelve Clans Unity Hospital, as of Monday, there were 12 active cases of the virus on the reservation and six households in quarantine. On June 25, the Winnebago Public Health Department reported that 70% of community members ages 12 and up had received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose. Tribal officials touted the vaccination rate as the highest in the state.
Carson City: U.S. Rep. Mark Amodei said he hasn’t decided whether to run for reelection or mount a bid for Nevada governor, but appears unimpressed by the Republican primary field vying to challenge first-term Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak. “Certainly no one has sucked the air out of the room, in a Republican primary sense, which Steve Sisolak must be happy about. Nevada Republicans need a strong gubernatorial candidate in 2022,” he said. Amodei, a Carson City Republican, said he didn’t feel rushed to make a decision with the primary election 11 months away. If he enters the race, Amodei will join Sheriff Joe Lombardo, former North Las Vegas Mayor John Lee and Reno attorney Joey Gilbert in the Republican primary field. Former U.S. Sen. Dean Heller has told Republican groups that he’s also mulling a run. Amodei has served in Congress since 2011 and previously represented Carson City in the Nevada statehouse. He continues to raise campaign contributions toward another congressional run.
North Conway: Surveyors with the New Hampshire Division of Forests and Lands have found widespread defoliation attributed to a population boom of moth caterpillars. Kyle Lombard, the coordinator of the division’s forest health program, said that the department has surveyed 20% of the state and found 30,000 acres of defoliation. The affected trees are primarily clumps of red and black oaks, WCVB-TV reported. According to the department, the last time the state experienced more than 10,000 to 15,000 acres of defoliation was in 1992. Lombard said that areas with a lot of oaks will look weird; however, the defoliation should not affect the foliage season. The trees that largely produce the bright oranges, reds and yellows are primarily maples, aspens and ash, which are not affected by the moth larvae. Lombard said that the real concern is that if the moth population continues to expand, it will increase the amount of dry brush across a larger area, increasing the risk of fires.
Trenton: A state appeals court ruled Gov. Phil Murphy didn’t overstep his authority when he issued an executive order last year allowing tenants to use their security deposits to pay rent. The ruling rejected arguments by several businesses and individual landlords who argued Murphy wasn’t authorized to issue the order in April 2020 and that their due process rights were violated. In a tweet, Acting State Attorney General Andrew Bruck praised the ruling and said Murphy’s executive order “supported renters and helped keep them in their homes.” The attorney general’s office argued the case on behalf of Murphy, a Democrat; former attorney general Gurbir Grewal and state health commissioner Judy Persichilli, who also were named as defendants. Under Murphy’s order, landlords were still entitled to reimbursement for expenses that would have been covered by a security deposit, and tenants were obligated to replenish the deposit in full if they renewed the lease.
Malaga: The U.S. Geological Survey recorded an earthquake near the Eddy and Lea County line Monday morning, nearly 23 miles east-southeast of Malaga. Susan Torres, a spokesperson for the New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department , said the earthquake was reported about 5:30 a.m. The USGS considered the earthquake light. The Carlsbad Brine Well remediation project, located south of Carlsbad where U.S. highways 285 and 62/180 converge to form the South Y, detected the activity. The readings indicated the Brine Well pressure was stable. Eddy County Fire and Rescue Chief Joshua Mack said volunteer fire departments did not respond to any emergency calls in the area. Carlsbad Fire Chief Richard Lopez said no damage or injuries were reported in the city limits. The USGS has reported six other earthquakes near the Texas-New Mexico state line nearly 60 miles south of Carlsbad since July 13. The magnitude of those earthquakes was less than 4.0.
New York City: Workers in city-run hospitals and health clinics will have to get vaccinated or get tested weekly under a policy announced Wednesday to fight a rise in COVID-19 cases fueled by the highly contagious delta variant. Publicly employed nurses, doctors, social workers, custodians, registrars and colleagues will be covered under the order from city Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi, and Mayor Bill de Blasio didn’t rule out applying the same requirement to teachers, police officers and other city employees. The number of vaccine doses being given out daily in the city has dropped to less than 18,000, down from a peak of more than 100,000 in early April. About 65% of all adults are fully vaccinated. But the rate among public hospital system workers is lower: about 60%, according to Dr. Mitchell Katz, who runs it. Meanwhile, caseloads have been rising in the city for weeks, and health officials said the variant makes up about 7 in 10 cases they sequence.
Raleigh: Children would need parental permission before they could receive COVID-19 vaccines approved by federal regulators for emergency use in legislation that advanced through a state Senate committee Wednesday. The parent or guardian requirement is contained in a bill approved by the Senate Health Care Committee that also would expand the types of medications immunizing pharmacists can administer. The permission is designed to address concerns by some parents and legislators that young people could get a new COVID-19 immunization on their own while it is still authorized for emergency use, said Sen. Jim Burgin, a Harnett County Republican. Only the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is available to children from 12 to 17. North Carolina law allows these children to make the decision on their own, “if they show the decisional capacity to do so,” according to the state Department of Health Human Services.
Bismarck: Oil production is flat in North Dakota because of a workforce shortage as the industry recovers from the coronavirus pandemic. Companies said they are in need of workers to inject water, sand and chemicals down wells to crack open rock and release oil, a process known as hydraulic fracking. State Mineral Resources Director Lynn Helms said eight crews are working in North Dakota, down from at least 20 which would typically be working in the state at today’s oil prices. “Most of these folks went to Texas where activity was still significantly higher than it was here, where they didn’t have winter and where there were jobs in their industry,” Helms told the Bismarck Tribune. “It’s going to take higher pay and housing incentives and that sort of thing to get them here.” North Dakota’s oil production rose 4,000 barrels per day in May, a negligible increase. The state produced about 1 million barrels of oil per day in May, the latest month for which data is available. The fracking side of the industry is also experimenting with new techniques to reduce costs. One company is using saltwater to replace some of the freshwater used in the fracking process. The fluid is being transported several miles through a flat line hose tucked inside another hose to prevent leaks until it reaches a fracking site, Helms said.
Cincinnati: An Ohio anti-abortion group is protesting a local Catholic university’s involvement in playing host to President Joe Biden in a CNN town hall Wednesday night. The Cincinnati Enquirer reported that Right to Life of Greater Cincinnati urged members of the public Tuesday to call Mount St. Joseph University and Cincinnati Archbishop Dennis Schnurr to object to the school’s decision. The group, which opposes abortion, said the suburban Cincinnati university is playing host to the “most pro-abortion president in U.S. history.” Biden, the nation’s second Catholic president, has said he supports abortion rights for others while personally opposing the procedure. He and other Catholic politicians who take Communion while supporting abortion rights were the subject of a rebuke by U.S. bishops last month. The university defended its involvement in the event, saying in a statement that Mount St. Joseph “has always been and will continue to be a diverse and inclusive place where people from different races, ethnicities, social backgrounds, beliefs, and religions can come together to discuss and share their unique perspectives.”
Oklahoma City: A coalition of state health officials pleaded with Oklahomans to be vaccinated against the coronavirus as the number of cases and hospitalizations rise in the state. Aaron Wendelboe, an epidemiologist at the University of Oklahoma College of Public Health, said hospitalizations have nearly tripled since June. The state health department reported a seven-day average of 733 new cases daily, double the average of 364 from a week ago. “On average, each infected person with COVID is transmitting it to 2.9 other people,” compared to each infected person who transmitted the illness to two people in June, Wendelboe said. The health department reported a three-day average of 409 people hospitalized with COVID, almost four times the average of 116 in late June, topping 400 for the first time since early June. Assistant Deputy Health Commissioner Buffy Heater said 90% of those hospitalized are unvaccinated, “which further indicates to us that vaccines are safe and continue to be effective against all strains or all variants of COVID.” Oklahoma ranks ninth in the nation with 209.2 new virus cases per 100,000 residents, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Salem: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is being forced to make immediate and extensive changes to the way it operates the 13 dams in the Willamette Valley, including Detroit Dam, to give native species of fish a chance to survive. Under an order from U.S. District Court Judge Marco Hernandez issued July 16, the Corps will be forced to take actions such as improving fish passage and water quality, deep drawdowns of water to allow juvenile fish to pass downstream, spilling water at different times of year, and releasing adult fish above the dams. Hernandez's order laid out broad actions; a later final judgment will contain specifics. According to a statement from the Corps, it is reviewing Hernandez’s opinion to determine the next steps it will take to comply with it.
Philadelphia: Local Catholics attending Mass last Sunday sounded happy that Philadelphia Archbishop Nelson Pérez has reinstated the religious obligation to attend Mass in person starting next month, ending a 16-month dispensation during the coronavirus pandemic. “I think he should have done it a long time ago,” said Nathan Hook, just before he and his fiancée, Jessica Rosario, walked into St. Agatha-St. James Church in West Philadelphia. “The dispensation makes people think church isn’t that important. But you need to be in person to receive the sacraments.” The in-person attendance directive, effective Aug. 15, has exceptions. Just as before the pandemic, the church recognizes that people might not be able to gather in person because of illness, caregiving responsibilities, or health risks. Pérez’s statement said lingering pandemic anxiety about crowds is also a valid reason to stay home and, if possible, join online.
Providence: Rhode Island’s courts are preparing to resume regular operations this fall. State Supreme Court Chief Justice Paul Suttell issued an executive order that will lift most coronavirus restrictions by Sept. 7. The Boston Globe reported the new order will allow the public to return to all judicial buildings, with some restrictions. Fully vaccinated people will not be required to wear a mask, unless judges mandate it in their courtrooms. The public will be able to file court documents in-person by Sept. 7. Coronavirus cleaning protocols and plexiglass safety barriers installed in courtrooms will remain at least until the end of the year. During the early days of the pandemic, Suttell ordered courts shuttered for all but emergency matters. Like other court systems, most judicial proceedings were held remotely. The court system has been easing back into in-person operations with grand juries and bench trials resuming last summer. Jury trials resumed late last year as some courtrooms were outfitted with plexiglass.
Columbia: Three Republican U.S. House members have lost appeals challenging fines for not wearing face coverings on the House floor earlier this year. On Tuesday, the U.S. House Ethics Committee released statements noting that U.S. Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, Thomas Massie of Kentucky and Ralph Norman of South Carolina had failed in their appeals of $500 fines issued in May. The Republicans challenged the fines in June, arguing that the mandate was out of sync with recent federal guidance on face coverings during the COVID-19 pandemic. The vote in question happened a week after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued guidance noting that “fully vaccinated people can resume activities without wearing a mask or physically distancing.” At the time, face coverings were still required on the floor, a mandate put in place by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in June 2020. Even after the updated CDC guidance in May, Dr. Brian Monahan, Congress’ attending physician, wrote that “mask requirement and other guidelines remain unchanged until all Members and floor staff are fully vaccinated.”
Sioux Falls: A fraternity of the far-right group Proud Boys has withdrawn its sponsorship of a street dance in the town of Scotland in September. David Finnell applied on behalf of the group to have the street dance from noon until midnight Sept. 18 in the Bon Homme County community of about 700 people. The City Council approved the request to close a section of the city street as required for alcohol consumption and food vendors. Finnell, in a Facebook message to KELO-TV, said the Proud Boys were dropping sponsorship of the event out of concerns for safety. He did not elaborate. Scotland’s city attorney, Kent Lehr, said although the Proud Boys have gained some negative national attention, there have not been any problems locally. It’s his understanding that several local or area residents are associated with the Proud Boys, Lehr said. “I’m not saying the city is condoning or agreeing with what the group says,” Lehr said. The council had to evaluate the street dance request from the Proud Boys as it evaluates any other request, he said. “It has to consider the benefit to the community, any potential disruption (to closing street and caused by the event), the benefit to businesses on Main Street,” Lehr said. Finnell said the Proud Boys planned to raise money for local nonprofits before deciding on Monday to withdraw from the event.
Nashville: State officials said they have finished deconstructing emergency COVID-19 care sites in Nashville and Memphis. According to a news release, the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency said this week that the sites finished serving their purpose of providing additional hospital capacity for COVID-19 patients. “Tennessee’s alternate care sites provided our health care system with a margin of safety, and thankfully we did not need to open either site,” Gov. Bill Lee said in a statement. The Memphis site, which was the former home of The Commercial Appeal, was renovated to provide more than 400 beds. The Nashville site opened in late May and provided 67 beds. “The Memphis and Nashville sites are models of what the public and private sector can accomplish working together,” TEMA Director Patrick Sheehan said in a statement. All medical equipment and supplies from both sites have been returned to TEMA’s warehouse.
La Porte: Emergency officials have lifted a shelter-in-place order that was issued Wednesday morning for parts of a Houston-area city after a chemical release at a plant. The order had been issued for parts of La Porte, a city about 25 miles southeast of Houston. La Porte Emergency Management said earlier that residents in the affected area should stay indoors, turn their air conditioning off and close windows. Dow Chemical, which operates a plant in the area, said in a public alert message that a “release event” from a tank truck had occurred but did not specify what chemicals were involved. Harris County Pollution Control said in a statement that a tank wagon overpressurized, which caused a release of the chemical hydroxyethyl acrylate. The chemical can cause irritation of the nose and throat, the statement said. An evacuation order remained in place for people within a half-mile of the plant, which is located in an industrial area.
Provo: The Utah County sheriff is offering an active-shooter training class for teachers and it has filled up long before its start date. Trainers at the Teachers Academy include police, self-defense trainers and medical professionals for the 20-hour course informed by lessons learned in other active shooter incidents, the Daily Herald reported. Topics covered during the Teacher Academy training will include tactical emergency medical techniques, weapons familiarization, Utah concealed carry certification, tactical de-escalation, self-defense and live range-shooting. This is the third Teachers Academy class held since 2019. It’s designed for teachers, administrators, and school support staff. Participants for the session beginning Aug. 3 are limited to 30 people, and spots have already filled up and a wait list has started.
Hyde Park: Grappling with a changed industry, two brothers operating their family’s dairy farm have made the drastic decision to give up hundreds of cows for goats. The Jones family, which had raised cows for 150 years at Joneslan Farm, houses about 1,000 goats in their barn that remains adorned with painted cutouts of dairy cattle. Fluctuating milk prices paid to dairy cow farmers and rising costs have driven some small family farms to go big or out of business – or get creative like brothers Brian and Steven. The Jones brothers finished constructing their nanny-milking parlor and delivered their first goat milk earlier this year to Land O’ Lakes-owned Vermont Creamery, to be used for cheese-making. They plan to milk 1,200 to 1,500 dairy goats within two years. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the number of dairy cow farms fell by more than half between 2003 and 2020 while the number of cows nationwide grew as farms consolidated. At the same time, the dairy goat industry in the U.S. has grown significantly in the last 20 years, with the number of dairy goats rising from more than 190,000 in 1997 to 440,000 last year.
Richmond: Gov. Ralph Northam’s administration issued new guidance Wednesday on COVID-19 prevention measures for the upcoming school year, urging but not requiring continued masking in many circumstances. With a statewide public health order that had mandated masking in schools coming to an end Sunday, school divisions will have the ability to implement local policies “based on community level conditions and public health recommendations,” the Democratic administration said in a news release. The departments of health and education released a 14-page document with advice about reducing the spread of the coronavirus, addressing issues like ventilation and physical distancing, in addition to masking. The recommendations urge school divisions for now to adopt a universal masking policy for students and adults in elementary schools, regardless of vaccination status, because no vaccine has been approved yet for children under 12. For middle and high schools, the state guidance said that “at a minimum” teachers, students and staff who aren’t fully vaccinated should wear masks indoors. The guidance provides flexibility for school divisions while ensuring a safe and healthy environment, Northam said in a statement, which also encouraged Virginians to get vaccinated if they have not already.
Kelso: Authorities are searching for an Army lieutenant reported missing near Mount St. Helens in southwest Washington. The Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Office said crews are searching for a missing hiker, identified as 1st Lt. Brian Yang in the Coldwater area of Mount St. Helens. KOIN reported Yang, 25, was last seen at the Coldwater Trail Head about noon Sunday. According to its Twitter account, the Army’s I Corps is aware of Yang’s absence and is also involved in the effort.
Charleston: Dozens of labor and advocacy groups called on President Joe Biden to save nearly 1,500 jobs at a pharmaceutical plant in West Virginia scheduled to close at the end of July. Drugmaker Viatris Inc. announced in December it will lay off workers at the Morgantown plant, formerly operated by the generic drug company Mylan. Upjohn and Mylan’s merged last year to form the new company, which announced it would slash 20% of its workforce worldwide. Viatris is now one of the world’s dominant manufacturers in the generics industry, which has been consolidating for years. The moves left workers scrambling to find new jobs as the major employer left West Virginia, which is often trying to lure new companies to uplift the state’s stagnant economy. A new campaign led by Our Revolution, a political nonprofit organization founded by Bernie Sanders, urged Biden to use the Defense Production Act to halt Pittsburgh-based Viatris from closing the plant. It also asks Biden to convene a task force of labor groups, local leaders and others to determine how the plant might continue producing pharmaceutical or medical goods.
Madison: The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is again asking ruffed grouse hunters to submit samples during the final year of a four-year, multistate ruffed grouse West Nile virus study. The DNR and conservation partners will distribute testing kits to hunters to get more samples as biologists try to determine how many grouse are getting West Nile and what impacts the disease is having on the grouse population. Anyone else who finds a sick or entact dead grouse can also submit samples. Hunters who have a kit from a previous year are encouraged to collect a sample, fill the kit and send it in to be processed; nothing in the kit expires. Kits will be available in early September. The DNR might limit the number of kits per individual to ensure samples come from a large geographic area. The DNR will provide test results via email. Sample testing will not begin until after the grouse season has closed and final results will not be available for several months after that. Mosquitoes spread West Nile virus and its effects on birds can vary. Signs range from no clinical disease or illness to heart lesions and inflammation of the brain’s lining and spinal cord. There is no evidence that West Nile can be spread by handling dead birds or consuming properly cooked game.
Cheyenne: Gov. Mark Gordon is allowing truck drivers to work longer hours while they deliver fuel that might be needed for firefighting aircraft. So far this summer, Wyoming hasn’t had significant fuel shortages or major wildfires. Gordon’s office described Tuesday’s executive order as a preemptive measure because of high fuel demand amid record tourism and firefighting efforts elsewhere. “Part of the reason he signed the executive order was really to make sure that it wasn’t a transportation hiccup that was preventing fuel from making it to its destination,” Gordon spokesman Michael Pearlman told the Casper Star-Tribune. Other Western governors, including South Dakota’s Kristi Noem, have signed similar orders. Government rules usually limit truck drivers’ road hours to prevent fatigue-related accidents. The Wyoming order still prohibits truck drivers from driving when tired.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 50 States