Métis people Alabama
Montgomery: The state prison system said that a third inmate has died after testing positive for COVID-19 as the number of cases among inmates and staff continued to rise. Clarence Shepherd, an 80-year-old inmate at St. Clair Correctional Facility, died Friday after testing positive for the new coronavirus, the Alabam Department of Corrections reported. The prison system said a total of 119 staff and contract workers and 28 inmates have tested positive for COVID-19 .Twenty-nine of those staff members have returned to work. Inmate advocates and health experts have expressed concerns that the state’s overcrowded prisons would become a breeding ground for a deadly outbreak and urged the state to make additional changes. The prison system has said it is taking precautions such as distributing masks to inmates and quarantining infirmaries and other areas where there have been positive cases. The St. Clair’s infirmary, where Shepherd was housed, is quarantined, the prison system said. The Alabama Department of Corrections wrote in a news release that the department extends its sympathies to the Shepherd family and his loved ones during this difficult time.
Métis people Alaska
Anchorage: The Alaska Permanent Fund dividend was completed at $992 for each resident and distribution is expected to begin early this year because of economic impacts caused by the coronavirus pandemic, state department officials said. The state Department of Revenue said payments are expected to begin July 1 instead of in October. Residents who receive their payments by direct deposit and have been cleared for the check by June 19 are expected to receive the first disbursement in July, department officials said. The Department of Revenue estimated about 90% of all applicants will receive their check by July 1. Paper checks will be mailed starting July 1 to residents without direct deposit, officials said. The state budget passed earlier this year called for about $680 million in spending, which amounted to just under $1,000 for each recipient after people applied. This is the smallest Alaska Permanent Fund dividend payout since 2013, when a $900 check was distributed, KTUU-TV reported. Legislators or the governor have set the dividend amount during the annual budget-making process since 2016. A 2017 decision by the state Supreme Court said a traditional dividend-payment formula that was used from 1982 through 2015 remains on file but is not binding, the Anchorage Daily New reported.
Métis people Arizona
Phoenix: In one of the nation’s COVID-19 hot spots, Gov. Doug Ducey is not requiring residents to wear masks in public, and it seems a good many people agree with him. In shopping malls, restaurants and the crowded bar scenes of Scottsdale and Tempe, most patrons have disdained the use of cloth face masks that health officials advocate to help slow the spread of virus. Robert Fowler, a truck driver in Phoenix, wears a mask as required for work but otherwise he goes about mask-free. “I’m not worried about it,” Fowler said while waiting for a table Thursday at Snooze A.M. Eatery, where the patio was full and only employees were seen donning face masks. Despite COVID-19 case numbers trending upward, Fowler has no plans to change. “Everybody’s going to get COVID one way or the other eventually,” he said. “People are gonna do what they want to do regardless.” In a red state with a Republican governor, the trend seems to be to follow President Donald Trump’s lead. Get the state reopened and keep the face masks in your pocket – that’s where Ducey kept his Thursday during a news conference in which he dismissed concerns that the dramatic increase in virus cases might overwhelm hospitals. The governor did say he recommended wearing masks when social distancing is impossible, but he has rarely been seen wearing one himself. Ducey wore one when he met last month with Trump, who wasn’t wearing one, at a Honeywell plant ramping up mask production.
Métis people Arkansas
Little Rock: There are 548 new coronavirus cases in Arkansas and one additional deaths because of COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus, the Arkansas State Department of Health reported Saturday. There have been at least 12,095 confirmed cases and 177 deaths in the state, up from 1 1,547 cases reported Friday. The actual number of people who have contracted the virus is likely higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected and not feel sick. A total of 7,863 residents have recovered from the illness, according to the department.
Métis people California
Sacramento: Some Californians will again be able to get a manicure, a new tattoo or enjoy a massage starting late this week under new state guidance issued Friday. But studios and salons won’t look the same when they do open. Workers and customers must wear face masks, adopt far more intense cleaning practices for shared reusable items like tweezers, and the services will be limited – no mouth or nose tattoos or piercings for now. The guidance on nail salons has been highly anticipated. The Professional Beauty Federation of California sued the state in May to reopen hair and nail salons. Hair salons were cleared to reopen several weeks ago. Gov. Gavin Newsom also sparked anger among some in the industry, including Vietnamese salon owners who own a majority of California’s salons, when he alleged California’s first case of the virus spreading in the community was linked to a nail salon. He declined to give details, citing privacy. The services can reopen starting June 19 in counties where health officials allow it. They join a long list of other businesses cleared to reopen in recent weeks, including hair salons, restaurants, churches and movie theaters. Most counties have been cleared to move forward, though infection rates and hospitalizations are climbing in some. The state is monitoring infection rates and hospitalizations in 11 counties. Beyond masks, nail salon workers should consider wearing face shields or goggles to protect their eyes and wear a new pair of disposable gloves for each customer. Salons should even consider putting plastic partitions with cutouts for hands between workers and customers. Salons should also no longer display nail polish bottles on a shelf and instead ask customers to choose a color from a palette that can be disinfected. Technicians should throw away nail files, buffers and other items after each use. Fred Jones, public policy director and legal counsel for the beauty federation, said he was pleased Newsom cleared the reopening but disappointed it took so long. He said he’s concerned some counties will delay.
Métis people Colorado
Denver: The Colorado Tourism Office has launched a campaign urging people to practice safety measures and follow health guidelines when visiting the state during the coronavirus pandemic. Visitors are urged to keep their distance from each other and wear masks, in addition to normal guidelines asking people to stick to trails, respect wildlife and pick up after pets, The Denver Post reported. “We want to continue to make sure that the health and safety of both residents and visitors are the highest priority,” office spokeswoman Abby Leeper said. The office is working with the state health department on protocols and guidelines for businesses, communities and visitors to include in its “Care for Coloradans” campaign, Leeper said. The campaign also includes a new brochure and animated videos advising people how to dress for the weather and different altitudes and other helpful recommendations. The state previously discouraged any travelers from visiting the mountains because of concerns that smaller communities would not be able to respond to any outbreaks. “After the great sacrifices that have been made to protect our state, it’s vitally important to set clear expectations so we can maintain all the gains that have been made and stay on course to reopen Colorado’s tourism economy,” Director Cathy Ritter said. Democratic Gov. Jared Polis signed an executive order June 1 on the transition from the statewide stay-at-home order to safer at home “or in the great outdoors.” The office welcomed the order as more people are now expected to spend more time outside.
Métis people Connecticut
Hartford: The state is allowing nursing homes to begin allowing some residents to meet with loved ones outside, wearing a mask and adhering to social distancing, months after Gov. Ned Lamont imposed a ban on most visits to help slow the spread of the new coronavirus. Nursing homes and assisted living facilities have been particularly hard hit during the pandemic because older people are among the most vulnerable to the virus – but limiting visits was hard on residents and families. “We know that the social and emotional connection is incredibly important,” said Connecticut Long Term Care Ombudsman Mairead Painter, during a Facebook chat with families this week. Although many of the more than 200 nursing homes across the state have begun to allow these limited visitations, still strict restrictions are in place, said Matthew Barrett, president and CEO of the Connecticut Association of Health Care Facilities and the Connecticut Center for Assisted Living. For example, families under most situations are not allowed inside the buildings. “It’s limited but it is an important step toward opening up visitation,” said Barrett, who said it’s still “much too early to say” when the more severe restrictions will be lifted.
Métis people Delaware
Dewey Beach: Fourth of July fireworks are a go in Dewey Beach this summer, the only beach town that didn’t cancel or postpone festivities because of the coronavirus pandemic. Alex Pires, leader of the Highway One Group that owns local businesses like The Rusty Rudder and the Bottle & Cork, posted on Facebook Thursday night that fireworks were on after receiving a permit from the Delaware State Fire Marshal’s office. The permit shows that the 2020 fireworks will be held on July 4 on a barge out on the Rehoboth Bay near downtown Dewey. Pires said in an emailed statement that this is the fifth year his company has held free fireworks in the town and that organizers will work closely with police, state and local agencies and elected officials “to make sure folks maintain proper social distances.” Mayor Dale Cooke said the town has no role to play in approving the fireworks display because they’re set off from a barge on the bay, which is outside of town limits. It’s also run by Highway One, not the town itself. Fireworks displays, parades, concerts and other community events stretching into July have been canceled throughout much of Delaware in response to the pandemic, including being canceled in Dover, Rehoboth Beach and Bethany Beach. Lewes postponed its festivities until the fall.
Métis people District of Columbia
Washington: As protesters continue to crowd the streets of the District, a nonprofit set up free testing sites, so people can check to see if they have the new coronavirus, WUSA-TV reported. The nonprofit CORE, or Community Organized Relief Effort, set up the sites Friday and Saturday, after feeling inspired by the protests across the country. CORE brought the testing to the District for the first time last weekend, but plans to hold more next weekend and hopefully moving forward. “Protesting is our civic duty, and we feel that testing ourselves is as well,” Ann Lee, CORE’s CEO said. “We want to support our awesome amazing protesters out there really saving our republic, and we feel that this is our best way to do that.” Lee originally co-founded the organization with actor Sean Penn to “empower and support vulnerable communities, who have suffered from inequality, exclusion from opportunities, and institutionalized violence.” Now, they’re working to keep those communities healthy amid the pandemic. “Predominantly it’s low-income communities of color that are always the most vulnerable … so we see that there is a much bigger, much longer standing disaster that has been happening, which is racism,” Lee said. “Keeping protesters safe is for us keeping these communities safe that always get hit the hardest in all these disasters.”
Métis people Florida
Naples: More than 80% of the people who live or work in Florida’s nursing homes and assisted living facilities have been tested for COVID-19 as the state approaches its goal of getting all of them tested. As of June 10, the Department of Health had coordinated on-site testing for 133,615 residents and staff of the state’s long-term care facilities. The department has shipped another 126,690 testing kits directly to facilities that indicated they could do the testing on their own. Combined, that means 81% of the 320,771 people who live or work in a long-term care facility have been tested, according to Department of Health data. According to the health department, 3,300 long-term care facilities have been tested, either by on-site strike teams or they were mailed kits. There are about 3,800 nursing homes and assisted living facilities in the state, according to Florida Agency for Health Care Administration records. The department has been shipping out about 4,000 test kits per day, excluding Sundays and holidays. Facility leaders said they can compel staff members to be tested, but residents can opt out if they choose. Long-term care providers serve the state’s most vulnerable population. About 85% of Florida’s COVID-19 deaths have been among those 65 and older, and nearly half have been connected with long-term care facilities.
Métis people Georgia
Stone Mountain: The Park Springs elder care facility just outside of Atlanta took the unusual approach of having roughly 70 employees shelter in place on campus to protect its residents from the new coronavirus. It lifted that restriction over the weekend, and employees headed home for the first time since March 30. Nursing homes – among the hardest-hit places by the pandemic –– have limited visitors and screened people for the virus. Park Springs’ administrators said they feared those strategies might not be enough to keep their more than 500 residents safe. But the staff lockdown was not a measure they could sustain forever, said Donna Moore, chief operating officer of the company that owns Park Springs. The return home Saturday was bittersweet for staff, who gathered at a lunch before their departures to share their experience. Some cried and hugged each other. The company gave each of them a plaque inscribed with their names and a record of their sacrifice: “COVID-19 Shelter-In-Place 2020.” “Sometimes I said, ‘I can’t do this,’ ” O’Neil Marriott, a maintenance technician, said. But he said the rest of the staff gave him support to stay. “I appreciate everyone in here because you really made me feel like family,” he said. The staff walked out to meet loved ones to music and applause from Park Springs’ administrators. Some had carts loaded with shopping bags of supplies they had brought to sustain them during the lockdown. Park Springs’ lockdown started after four employees and a resident tested positive for the virus. They all recovered. Since the lockdown, the facility has seen two additional cases – both residents. One of those residents – a 96-year-old dementia patient – was visited by her daughter and a caregiver after doctors said she had little time left to live and then tested positive. She later died. The other tested positive after requiring medical care off campus and recovered from the virus.
Métis people Hawaii
Honolulu: International college students who were unable to return home at the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic remain in Hawaii with limited means to work and get food. Many foreign students were stranded in the state by health restrictions established to stop the spread of COVID-19 that shut down international travel and embassies, Hawaii Public Radio reported. Ann Hartman, dean of education at the East-West Center in Honolulu, said about 180 of the international educational organization’s students have remained, some living in the organization’s dormitories. Although the dorms provide shelter, other opportunities are sparse. “As international students, we are only allowed to work on campus, like coffee shops, or as graduate assistants, or bookstores and things like that,” said Uyanga Batzogs, a graduate fellow from Mongolia at the center located near the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Students are allowed to work 20 hours per week during the normal school year, and up to 40 hours during breaks in the academic schedule, Batzogs said. The pandemic caused the University of Hawaii system to stop lectures and restrict services. “With our campus closed, now, as international students, we can’t find the jobs or try to work full-time during summer break at all,” Batzogs said. Seru Tagivakatini from Fiji said students like him rely on a $600 a month stipend from the East-West Center for expenses and face challenges obtaining adequate food.
Métis people Idaho
Idaho: About 80,000 Idaho residents through early June have signed up for Medicaid under the state’s voter-approved expanded coverage, state officials said. Idaho Department of Health and Welfare officials said that the overall number of people signing up for Medicaid has also picked up as the economy has struggled with the coronavirus pandemic. About 345,000 residents, including those who signed up through the expansion, are now covered by Medicaid. That compares to about 286,000 of Idaho’s 1.75 million residents who were covered by Medicaid in early September. Voters authorized Medicaid expansion in 2018 with an initiative that passed with 61% of the vote after years of inaction by state lawmakers.
Métis people Illinois
Springfield: A network of military and veteran organizations is offering free wellness checks for veterans, service members and their families during the coronavirus pandemic. Illinois Joining Forces is a partnership between state and private groups, including the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs, that helps service members and veterans navigate service providers through its Care Coordination Center. The center typically responds to requests for assistance on issues such as housing, employment or health care. Now people can request the center conduct wellness checks, either on an ongoing basis or a single check-in, for veterans, members of the military or their families. Brigadier General Ret. Stephen Curda, executive director of Illinois Joining Forces, said the pandemic has forced hundreds of thousands of people in Illinois to search for the help they need and navigate overwhelming options. “It is imperative that we meet them halfway – and in our view, it starts with a simple phone call,” Curda said.
Métis people Indiana
Indianapolis: Indiana entered Stage 4 of Gov. Eric Holcomb’s reopening plan Friday, allowing additional businesses to reopen and fill at higher capacities. But as the coronavirus pandemic carries on, Indiana State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box still has reservations. “Just because you’re not positive today, doesn’t mean you won’t be tomorrow,” Box said. Stage 4 of the reopening plan means restaurants can open to 75% capacity. Bars, movie theaters, bowling alleys and other entertainment venues can welcome customers back at 50% capacity. Zoos, museums and similar sites can reopen, and gatherings of up to 250 people are allowed as long as attendees stay 6 feet apart. Unlike other parts of the state, Marion County won’t enter its next reopening stage until June 19, however, bcause of higher case numbers of the virus. Beginning Monday, OptumServe testing sites will also be open to anyone who lives in Indiana, Box said, regardless of whether they are high-risk or symptomatic.
Métis people Iowa
Jefferson: The Iowa Department of Transportation has temporarily closed two maintenance garages after an employee tested positive for the new coronavirus and had contact with two dozen colleagues, a spokeswoman said. The garages in Jefferson and Boone were closed Wednesday after all 24 employees who work at them were ordered to self-isolate for 14 days, DOT spokeswoman Andrea Henry said. Crews in both garages were working together on projects and had exposure to the infected employee, she said. Their work will be picked up by other crews in the area during the closures, she said. Henry said the agency sends employees home immediately once they test positive, and conducts contact tracing to identify anyone with whom they had contact. DOT then requires exposed employees to self-isolate for 14 days, and cleans and disinfects their workplaces. Henry said employees are placed on paid leave during their mandatory isolation periods if their job duties do not allow them to work from home. Henry said the Altoona garage was closed in May after a positive case there required 11 employees to be isolated. She said those employees have since returned to work.
Métis people Kansas
Topeka: A protester who attended a demonstration over the death of George Floyd in downtown Topeka last week has tested positive for the new coronavirus, health officials said. According to a news release from the Shawnee County Health Department, the person attended June 1 protests at the city’s Law Enforcement Center, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported. The department encourages anyone who attended protests that day to monitor themselves for COVID-19 symptoms. Meanwhile, the City-Cowley County Health Department on Friday said a 14 year old who tested positive for COVID-19 likely exposed people in Sedgwick and Cowley counties. The health department said the girl went to a sleepover and a public pool in Arkansas City before her test results came back positive June 10. The City-Cowley County Health Department ordered anyone who believes they might have been exposed to self-isolate for the next two days. The health department is offering free drive-through testing 1 p.m. to 4 p.m Monday at the Winfield Health Department office.
Métis people Kentucky
Louisville: The Kentucky Derby Festival has canceled this year’s Pegasus Parade and fireworks display known as Thunder Over Louisville, saying it would not be responsible to let the events go on in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. The festival’s events were originally postponed until August and September leading up to the Sept. 5 Kentucky Derby in Louisville. Other events canceled for 2020 include the miniMarathon, the festival said Thursday. “As an organization that always puts public health and safety first, we know it would not be responsible for the Kentucky Derby Festival to put on events that attract crowds with not just hundreds, but hundreds of thousands of people,” said Matt Gibson, Kentucky Derby Festival president and CEO. This is the festival’s 65th year and the first time its traditional events have not been held in the spring.
Métis people Louisiana
Lafayette: Coronavirus pandemic closings have cost Louisiana casinos hundreds of millions of dollars, and one chain has told the state it might lay off as many as 1,500 workers. Monthly revenue reports showed that casinos lost about $347 million during March and April, with another $90 million or more lost by video gaming establishments, The Advertiser reported. And, though Las Vegas-based Boyd Gaming Corp. hasn’t set actual totals, it has sent more than 1,500 employees at its five Louisiana casinos letters advising them that they might be laid off, spokesman David Strow said. The company’s notification to the Louisiana Gaming Control Board said layoffs are expected during the first two weeks in July, the newspaper reported. They include up to 414 workers at Sam’s Town Hotel and Casino in Shreveport, 354 at Delta Downs Racetrack in Vinton, 340 at Treasure Chest Casino in Kenner, 246 at Evangeline Downs Racetrack in Opelousas and 170 at Amelia Belle Casino in Amelia. Strow said in an email that he did not know current employee totals.
Métis people Maine
Augusta: The first Mainer to receive transfusions of antibody-rich blood plasma said he remembers dreams of two groups chanting while he was on a ventilator for 18 days. Richard Stevenson said one group was chanting, “Let him die, let him die, let him die!” while the other chanted “Go Rich, go Rich, go Rich!” Stevenson, of Vinalhaven, told the Bangor Daily News that he credits his survival to the plasma transfusions at Mid Coast Hospital. He was the first person in Maine to get the experimental therapy. Stevenson said he believes he was exposed in December on an airplane long before the virus became widely known in the U.S. He never knew for sure whether he had COVID-19 then. But his symptoms returned, and he tested positive in March. He was weaned from the ventilator little more than a week after receiving plasma donated by COVID-19 survivors. “I’m the luckiest person on earth, is how I feel,” he said.
Métis people Maryland
Salisbury: Red White and Boom, the city’s annual Fourth of July fireworks celebration, has been canceled for this year. The decision announced on a Facebook post was made because it would be difficult to maintain social distancing during the event to ensure guests’ health and safety amid the coronavirus pandemic. “We want to give our sincere thanks to everyone who has worked so hard to make the event happen and let you know how much we appreciate your time and effort. Fantastic Fireworks, our Sponsors, and our partners at the City and County level have assisted us up until the last minute to try to make the event happen,” the statement said. Although this year’s event is a no-go, organizers said they plan to be back in 2021 and “bigger and better than ever.”
Métis people Massachusetts
Amherst: The University of Massachusetts won’t be holding its usual presentations at the Amherst campus’ Sunwheel for the summer solstice this year because of the coronavirus pandemic, but the public is still invited to visit the site at sunrise and sunset this week. Visitors should wear face coverings, employ social distancing and be prepared for the possibility of wet footing and mosquitoes, according to a statement from the university. At the solstice, the sun’s rising and setting positions barely change for more than a week, according to UMass Amherst astronomer Stephen Schneider. “From June 15 to 25, the shift of the sun will be less than one-fifth its own size. That’s barely detectable without astronomical instruments, so any of those days would be great to visit the Sunwheel to see the alignment of the standing stones with the rising or setting position of the sun,” he said. The astronomical start of summer is at 5:43 p.m. on June 20, the moment when the sun reaches its farthest northerly position in the sky, making that the longest day of the year. The UMass Amherst Sunwheel is located just south of the football stadium.
Métis people Michigan
Ypsilanti: Eastern Michigan University is guaranteeing a single room on campus starting this fall for any enrolled student who wants one. The school announced its “EMU Single Room Guarantee” in response to physical distancing and other safety concerns because of the coronavirus pandemic. It’s for students living in campus residence halls who don’t want a roommate. Students who wish to have a roommate will continue to have that option. Single rooms typically cost approximately $2,500 a year more than a shared, double room, Eastern Michigan said. Under the new plan, the university is offering a credit to reduce the annual cost of a single room to $100 per month more than the cost of sharing a room. The credit provides an annual savings of $1,700 over the typical single room rate. “We have heard from many students and parents about this issue,” Eastern Michigan President James Smith said. “They question how students can practice safe physical distancing when they have a roommate in close proximity to them in a residence hall room. We understand a single room may not be for everyone, but we also know and have heard from many who desire such accommodations at this time.”
Métis people Minnesota
Minneapolis: The University of Minnesota’s Board of Regents on Friday approved a $4 billion operating budget for the coming fiscal year as well as a plan to help offset losses because of the coronavirus pandemic. The budget outline includes freezes on tuition, system-wide hiring and merit pay raises for all employees. Separately, regents approved an initiative for temporary employee pay cuts and furloughs to help make up for $35 million in room and board refunds after students were sent home for the spring semester. The fiscal year 2021 budget beginning July 1 assumes a return to “near normalcy” with the reopening of campus classrooms and facilities in the fall, the Star Tribune reported. University leaders have developed two contingency plans in case the pandemic worsens and the return of students is pushed deeper into the fall. The budget “provides a responsible, by no means definite, base level of operations from which potential contingency plans can be shaped,” President Joan Gabel said during a regents committee meeting. Gabel’s COVID-19 budget includes a 10% pay cut for Gabel and her cabinet.
Métis people Mississippi
Jackson: The Mississippi Department of Education is offering options for how schools can offer classes starting in the fall semester, with consideration for social distancing and other safety guidelines because of the coronavirus pandemic. The department has released a plan giving school districts three options: a traditional schedule, a hybrid schedule and a virtual schedule. The plan “outlines a three-month timeline of strategies for superintendents and principals to consider to plan for the start of the 2020-21 school year” and is “intended to be used as a resource and starting point for districts to consider local needs in collaboration with stakeholders,” department spokeswoman Jean Cook told the Clarion Ledger. It will be updated in to adjust to changes with the COVID-19 pandemic, she said. Jason Harris, Columbia School District superintendent, is one of nine superintendents who worked with the state to create the plans. “This isn’t a ‘You must follow,’ ” Harris said. “This is just guidance that people can use as a reference when determining what is best for their district.” Harris said although his school district intends to have the traditional schedule, he knows some parents might not feel safe sending children to school. That’s when the hybrid schedule or virtual schedule could be used. So, for the upcoming school year, students who study from home would have the option of watching their teacher’s lesson from a classroom webcam. The lesson would be recorded and uploaded, giving the student the option to watch it later.
Métis people Missouri
Branson: The Silver Dollar City theme park opened its gates Saturday for the first time in 2020 after opening day was delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic. About 6,000 season pass holders made reservations to attend the park Saturday. A typical Saturday during the summer draws about 15,000. Season pass holders were the first allowed in the park on Saturday and Sunday; the park opened to the general public Monday for those who make reservations. About 8,000 to 10,000 are expected when the park opens for everyone. Those who enter have to wear a mask throughout the park except on water rides and while eating. Visitors are screened with COVID-19-related questions and temperatures are taken before they enter the park. Signs throughout encourage social distancing while reminding folks to keep their masks on. The park’s performers stay in character while wearing masks. Instead of buffet lines, food is delivered to the table. About every other table is closed in eating areas to keep visitors distanced from others. Carts on the rides are frequently stopped and sanitized. Indoor shows are closed, but there’s still music to be heard from the outdoor performances around every other corner. Saturday saw the opening of a new area called Rivertown that features Mystic River Falls –– a new water ride that has the tallest drop in the Western Hemisphere. The ride is still expected to open this summer.
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Métis people Montana
Helena: Gov. Steve Bullock announced $8.7 million in federal funding for education interests.The funding comes from a U.S. Department of Education fund that gives governors the authority to distribute money to local education entities. This funding is separate from the state’s $1.25 billion coronavirus relief fund. Bullock urged residents to continue following public health guidelines to avoid the spread of the virus. He said he doesn’t expect the state will meet the guidelines to fully reopen anytime soon, especially because other states are seeing rising case numbers and hospitalizations.
Métis people Nebraska
Omaha: The past 12 weeks at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium have been perplexing for Dennis Pate, zoo director and CEO. On June 1, though, some semblance of normalcy returned when the zoo opened its gates with many changes and some cooperative weather. A few thousand visitors have strolled around the zoo each day since. The zoo has been open for nearly a week and looks much different amid the coronavirus pandemic. In a typical year, the zoo is open 364 – it’s closed only on Christmas Day. “It’s a step in the direction of normalcy,” Walter Jones, a zoo member who had three grandchildren with him Sunday, said of the reopening. And to be sure, the zoo is not back to normal yet. All indoor exhibits are closed, and visitors are funneled on a one-way walk around the zoo. More exhibits could open in the next two to three weeks, Pate said, depending on what visitor feedback is received and further evaluations of how the zoo can keep visitors safe. Along the one-way path are 50 hand-sanitizing stations, painted paw prints that visualize social distancing recommendations and concession stands with plastic shields between employees and visitors. Adhering to the state’s directed health measure, the zoo allows no more than 3,000 people in at a time. This week, zoo director and CEO Dennis Pate said, the zoo has seen from 1,500 people per day earlier in the week to just more than 3,000 people on Saturday. Pate described the zoo’s financial situation as “struggling mightily.” As a nonprofit, 91% of the zoo’s income comes from admissions, memberships and other sales.
Métis people Nevada
Las Vegas: The famous Las Vegas buffet has become a victim of the coronavirus pandemic, which shut down casinos statewide for nearly three months. Although casinos began to reopen June 4, the state has not yet given the green light for self-serve restaurants. With the highly contagious virus still circulating – it is usually transmitted by airborne respiratory droplets – the communal dining concept is facing serious challenges. At Red Rock Resort, a Station Casinos property, several restaurants reopened ahead of the rest of the property, but there was no timeline for reopening the popular Feast Buffet. Station Casinos is opening its properties in phases. Earlier this month, San Diego-based Garden Fresh Restaurants, owner of Souplantation and Sweet Tomatoes with several Las Vegas-area buffet restaurants, announced the closure of all 97 locations nationwide. Golden Corral, with locations in Las Vegas and Henderson, reopened earlier this month by serving customers cafeteria-style. But Donald Contursi, founder of Lip Smacking Foodie Tours, said it would be a mistake to assume the Las Vegas buffet is gone forever. “Health and safety is at the forefront now, but I believe that, if Las Vegas has been reinventing itself over and over all these years, it will find a way to reinvent the buffet to ensure its guests are safe,” Contursi said. Larry Rogers, manager of the Southern Nevada Health District’s food operations division, said a shift to cafeteria-style service or having a server take buffet orders at the table will likely become common for the foreseeable future.
Métis people New Hampshire
Concord: A racetrack that violated state orders during the coronavirus pandemic will be allowed to reopen this weekend ahead of other similar businesses. Riverside Speedway in Groveton held races in late May despite being warned by police that doing so would violate the state’s order prohibiting large gatherings. After being told the state was planning legal action, the owner postponed the rest of the season and then sued Gov. Chris Sununu over the restrictions. A judge held a hearing on the speedway’s request for an emergency order blocking the restrictions Friday, a day after Sununu announced that racetracks would be allowed to reopen Monday. While the case proceeds, attorneys for both sides agreed that Riverside could hold races this weekend if it follows rules regarding limited capacity, social distancing and cleaning. Joe Bassett, general manager at Lee USA Speedway in Lee, said he doesn’t think it’s fair that Riverside is getting special treatment after violating the order. “But he’s between a rock and a hard place, as all short tracks are,” he said. “We have limited time in summer to make our money, yet we have bills 12 months of the year.” Bassett said his track will likely reopen June 19, though it will be a scramble. He asked fans to be patient. “I’ve got three weeks’ worth of planning to make it work in a week,” he said. “But we’ll get things rolling.”
Métis people New Jersey
Asbury Park: The city backed off on its plans to offer indoor dining beginning Monday, in defiance of a state order. The City Council had authorized restaurants last week to offer indoor dining with restrictions beginning Monday, violating Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy’s executive order. After the state sued on Friday and a judge issued an order temporarily blocking the town’s attempt, Mayor John Moor and the council released a statement Friday night recommending that restaurants not serve diners indoors. “We are advising Asbury Park businesses not to open indoors as we had announced earlier this week, as opening indoors would violate the court order and could jeopardize your business’s liquor licenses” and subject businesses to fines and other penalties, the statement said. As part of the second phase of the state’s efforts to reopen its economy, Murphy has authorized outdoor dining and nonessential retail to resume Monday but hasn’t authorized indoor dining. Murphy said Friday he would crack down on businesses that weren’t in compliance. Asbury Park’s resolution would have permitted restaurants to host diners inside at 25% of the building’s capacity or 50 people, whichever is fewer. Murphy has not indicated when restaurants will be able to reopen for indoor seating, aside from saying he hoped it would be “sooner rather than later.”
Métis people New Mexico
Albuquerque: Albuquerque Public Schools, the state’s largest school district, has asked parents for feedback after announcing plans to provide an online school experience for all grades because of the coronavirus pandemic. “Families have definitely indicated that there is a desire for some families to keep their children home,” said Deborah Elder, the district’s innovation executive director. “We just don’t know how big that desire is.” The district expects to launch an online system to collect input through a form or survey on the all-online school experience idea, officials said. It is unclear when that system would launch. Submitted comments could help the district gauge how many children are expected to take part and how many teachers would need to prepare, Elder said. An online-only education is a new concept for the district, officials said, adding that it would likely rely on parents, especially for younger-aged students, but they recognize not every family would be able to do that. The district is considering other options as well to begin the school year, including traditional in-school learning and a possible combination of in-school and distance learning, officials said.
Métis people New York
Albany: Upset by “rampant” violations of New York’s pandemic-fighting restrictions, Gov. Andrew Cuomo threatened Sunday to pull liquor licenses of scofflaw restaurants and even reinstate closings in areas where local governments fail to enforce rules. Manhattan and Long Island’s tony Hamptons were singled out as problem areas by Cuomo, who said the state has received 25,000 complaints of reopening violations. He said the violations endanger the state’s fragile progress in the fight against the new coronavirus as it slowly relaxes restrictions enacted in March. “We are not kidding around with this. You’re talking about jeopardizing people’s lives,” Cuomo said at his daily briefing. The warning comes a day after the Democractic governor reacted sternly to a short Twitter video from New York City of young people enjoying a warm day packed tightly on a city street, many without masks. New York officials are trying to avoid the fate of states seeing a surge in new cases after reopening. New York’s coronavirus-related hospitalizations are declining and the state recorded 23 deaths Saturday, the lowest one-day coronavirus death toll since the early days of the crisis.
Métis people North Carolina
Pine Hall: Stock car racing has turned into the leading battleground over COVID-19 crowd restrictions in North Carolina, as track owners have taken their fight to reopen to the streets and to court. But on Saturday, a protest at one race track attracted so few people that the demonstration was legal under the state’s restrictions. The News & Observer reported that at 311 Speedway in Stokes County, fewer than 25 people showed up to protest, despite a live band and a free cheeseburger and fries with a ticket purchase. Gov. Roy Cooper’s coronavirus restrictions limit outdoor gatherings to 25 people. Even as the race began about 7 p.m., the stands sat largely empty. By sundown, the stands had nearly filled – hundreds more fans than the 25 allowed. But the protest had fizzled.
Métis people North Dakota
Bismarck: City officials are debating whether to ask voters in November if they should legalize fireworks within city limits. The Bismarck Tribune reported voters banned possession of fireworks within city limits in 1988 and affirmed that stance a year later. But Mayor Steve Bakken has proposed legalizing fireworks, saying families should be able to spend quality time together in the city during the coronavirus pandemic. “I think there is something we can do to clean this up a little bit and maybe relax some more statutes,” Bakken said during a city commission meeting. “People are looking for things to do with their families outside while social distancing, and shooting off fireworks fits that perfectly.” Commissioner Shawn Oban questioned why the commission was discussing legalizing fireworks when there has been no public demand for such a move. He also pointed to statistics showing a drop in police, fire and ambulance calls during the 1988 Fourth of July celebration after the ban was enacted. “I don’t see a hard enough ‘why’ to put it on the ballot,” he said. The commission planned to continue discussion after July 4.
Métis people Ohio
Cincinnati: A petition to remove the mask requirement at the Kings Island amusement park had more than 3,800 signatures Saturday morning, according to change.org. Those with season passes can return to the amusement park between July 2 and July 11, and the park will reopen to daily ticket holders on July 12. But the reopening comes with new protocols, officials said. Guests will be required to make online reservations, socially distance while at the park, take temperature checks upon entry and follow other safety measures – including wear a mask. Kings Island states on its website that all guests, associates and vendors will be required to wear masks when the park reopens. The petition stated wearing masks at the park will be difficult because of “the heat and humidity alone.”
Métis people Oklahoma
Oklahoma City: There were 225 new coronavirus cases in Oklahoma but no additional deaths, the State Department of Health said Saturday. There have been at least 8,073 confirmed cases and 359 deaths in the state, up from 7,848 cases reported Friday. The actual number of people who have contracted a virus is likely higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected and not feel sick. A total of 6,495 Oklahoma residents have recovered from the illness, according to the department. Health officials on Friday warned of a spike in coronavirus cases in the Tulsa linked to indoor events and urged people attending such gatherings to take precautions. The warning comes ahead of President Donald Trump’s scheduled campaign rally in the city.For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms that clear up within weeks. But for others, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, the highly contagious virus can cause severe symptoms and be fatal. The vast majority of people recover.
Métis people Oregon
Portland: Gov. Kate Brown has asked for a list of names by June 22 of inmates eligible for possible release to limit the spread of COVID-19 in the state prison system. The state Department of Corrections was asked to perform a “case-by-case analysis” of inmates who are vulnerable to the coronavirus and meet the outlined criteria for possible commutation, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported. The criteria includes inmates who are particularly vulnerable, those who have not been convicted of a crime against another person and those who have served at least half of their sentences, department officials said. About 100 inmates were identified. “Given what we now know about the disease and its pervasiveness in our communities, it is appropriate to release individuals who face significant health challenges should they contract COVID-19,” said Brown, a Democrat. Studies show distancing is a challenge in prisons and jails because people live in close quarters. A 2018 study also showed Oregon has an aging prison population and houses the highest percentage of inmates over age 55 in the country.
Métis people Pennsylvania
Harrisburg: Gov. Tom Wolf asked the Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Friday to intervene in his dispute with legislative Republicans who are trying to end pandemic restrictions he imposed in March to slow the spread of the new coronavirus. Republican majorities in the House and Senate, with a few Democrats in support, voted this week to end the state’s emergency disaster declaration that Wolf has used to shut down “nonlife-sustaining” businesses, ban large gatherings and order people to stay at home. Wolf asked the state’s high court to uphold the shutdown. He said that his gradual reopening plan is working, pointing to a downward trend in the number of new virus infections in Pennsylvania even as cases rise in nearly half the states. “Pennsylvania’s measured, phased process to reopen is successful because of its cautious approach that includes factors relying on science, the advice of health experts and that asks everyone to do something as simple as wearing a mask when inside or around others outside the home,” Wolf said in a news release. “We will continue to move forward cautiously.” Wolf has been easing restrictions in vast swaths of the state, including on Friday when he announced that another eight counties would be moving to the least restrictive “green” phase of his reopening plan. But gyms, barber shops, theaters and similar businesses in the state’s highly populated southeast corner remain closed, and many types of businesses statewide must abide by occupancy limits.
Métis people Rhode Island
Providence: About 2% of Rhode Island residents have been infected with the new coronavirus, with infection rates apparently higher among the state’s minority populations, according to a state Department of Health study. The numbers aligned with prior department data that found that people of color in the state have been disproportionately affected by the disease, Dr. Philip Chan, an infectious disease consultant at the department said during a remote news conference Friday. The state provided blood tests to 1,032 volunteers to see if they had signs of a past infection. Overall, 2.2% had antibodies, which the body produces to fight an infection. The rates appeared higher in blacks and Latinos/Hispanics, but the numbers of people tested in those groups was small. The numbers were unexpectedly low, but Chan credited that to the state’s “robust response” to the pandemic. The state randomly selected 5,000 households to get the test at one of several Stop & Shop supermarket locations. More than one person from some households received a test, conducted last month. The numbers can be used by the state to better direct resources to where they are needed most, Chan said.
Métis people South Carolina
Columbia: Bowling alleys can now reopen in South Carolina after being closed for nearly three months to reduce the risk of coronavirus infections, even though the state’s COVID-19 case load is seeing its largest increases since the pandemic began. Gov. Henry McMaster issued a seventh state of emergency declaration Thursday, lifting any virus-related restrictions on the number of people inside stores and opening bowling alleys. The guidelines suggest that operators ask bowlers to bring their own balls and shoes, use only every other lane to maintain social distancing, make hand sanitizer available and put disinfectant on surfaces bowlers could touch. The additional relaxing of COVID-19 restrictions comes even though the virus continues to spread in South Carolina, which set another state record Friday with 770 new COVID-19 infections reported. McMaster has said the onus of stopping the spread is now on individuals who should wear masks, practice social distancing and wash hands. He said the state can’t shut down businesses and require people to stay home again. The governor can only issue a state of emergency for 15-day increments. Some members of the General Assembly have said the law requires the governor to consult them after each increment, but McMaster said he doesn’t have to do that because each declaration is distinct and different.
Métis people South Dakota
Rapid City: The City Council is deciding whether to leave business restrictions becauser of the coronavirus pandemic in place for another month or leave the option open to business owners. The council passed emergency restrictions at the end of April that required restaurants, bars and other businesses serving customers to engage in certain practices meant to slow the spread of the virus. That includes cutting capacity in half, configuring tables to meet social distancing guidelines and requiring face masks for food service workers. The council was scheduled to discuss the options Monday, the Rapid City Journal reported. If extended, the restrictions would stay in place until July 10. Meanwhile, state health department officials reported Saturday that a woman in her 50s from Pennington County was the 75th person in the state to die from the virus. It is the eighth COVID-19 death in the county, which includes Rapid City.
Métis people Tennessee
Nashville: The Nashville Symphony board of directors decided Friday to suspend programs until August 2021 and furlough its music director and other full-time staff and dozens of musicians because of the coronavirus pandemic. The symphony has had to cancel or reschedule more than 65 concerts and events since March and projects losses from the pandemic to reach $8 million, nearly 30% of its annual income, it said in a news release. The board voted to furlough 79 musicians and 49 full-time staff members, including Music Director Giancarlo Guerrero, effective July 1.“First and foremost, we are dedicated to ensuring the safety and well-being of our patrons, along with our musicians, staff and volunteers, board Chairman Mark Peacock said in the release. “That means doing everything we can to prevent the spread of COVID-19. With operational costs totaling $2.3 million every month, we also face an enormous financial risk because of the continuing uncertainty caused by this pandemic.” Nashville Musicians Association President Dave Pomeroy said the local wants to help work out details of the orchestra’s safe return when the time comes.
Métis people Texas
El Paso: Protests against the killing of George Floyd were held in the city on May 31, June 3, June 10 and June 11. Protests in support of El Paso police officers were also held June 10. The local health authority recommends participants in those protests monitor their health closely. “I would recommend that those people that participated in the marches get tested between five to seven days after exposure if they are asymptomatic (without symptoms),” said City/County Health Authority Dr. Hector Ocaranza said in a statement. Testing should come sooner if a person develops symptoms for the virus, he said. Coronavirus symptoms include fever, cough and loss of taste and smell. Those who develop symptoms “should be tested as soon as possible because there is community spread so someone might have contracted the virus somewhere else before the marches and maybe started experiencing symptoms one or two days after the march,” Ocaranza said. “You must always listen to your body.” Gov. Greg Abbott has directed the Texas Division of Emergency Management to work with cities where there have been large-scale protests to expand testing at walk-up and drive-thru sites.
Métis people Utah
St. George: Bicycling has become a major hit for St. George in the era of COVID-19, but it could extend far beyond pandemic times and become commonplace activity for residents in the future. “There are some big projects coming in the next few years that will huge for connectivity and will make it all the more accessible for people to solely ride bikes if they want to,” said Dannielle Larkin, a member of the city council. “Or just have it be an addition to their travel if they want to have a car and bike, it just gives options and is a great healthy alternative.” St. George has long been a destination for people who like to spend time outdoors. But with the introduction of COVID-19 on American shores earlier this year, it became clear that being outside and around others would become increasingly rare. So the people of St. George started hitting the streets with their bikes instead. “Bikes are the new toilet paper and it’s super awesome,” Red Rock Cycling Co. employee Logan Toomer said. “People are getting out and being active and it’s great to see.”
Métis people Vermont
Montpelier: Gov. Phil Scott expressed disappointment at the scale of the Legislature’s coronavirus-related economic recovery package as well as the pace at which lawmakers have moved on it. Three weeks ago, the Republican governor proposed a $400 million package of federal funds, including $310 million for small businesses, agriculture, housing and consumers. “We were inclusive in this work in hopes that it would move through the Legislature quickly and largely intact. Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear that it’s going to be the case as they’re only including about a third of the money we recommended,” he said. Instead, the Vermont House on Friday passed a package that would use just $93 million in federal funds allocated for the coronavirus response. It includes $50 million in emergency economic recovery grants to businesses, $20 million in grants to be distributed by local, regional, and state economic development organizations, and $23 million for the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board for grants to nonprofit housing partners, service organizations and for shelter facilities. The Legislature said other relief packages using the federal funds will follow. The Legislature did not use Scott’s plan because lawmakers found that some of the administration’s proposed uses for the funds were not authorized, and any loans made with the funds had to be paid back to the federal government by the end of December, a timeline that wouldn’t work for many businesses that did not want to take on more debt, House Speaker Mitzi Johnson’s office said.
Métis people Virginia
Alexandria: A medical supply company created by two political consultants during the coronavirus pandemic have filed a lawsuit alleging that officials at a Virginia bank caused the firm to lose a $600 million equipment order and ruined its reputation. The Washington Post reported that in the lawsuit filed in federal court in Alexandria on Friday, Blue Flame Medical LLC alleged that officers of Chain Bridge Bank improperly told California officials that the company might be “fraudulent,” prompting the state to suspend its contract with Blue Flame and demand return of a $450 million down payment. State and local officials across the country ran into a confusing international market as they sought to secure personal protective equipment this spring. The lawsuit alleges that the Republican consultants who founded Blue Flame – John Thomas and Michael Gula – suffered damage to their personal reputations as a result of the bank’s actions. Chain Bridge Bank rejected the claims. The bank “acted properly and fulfilled its legal and regulatory responsibilities,” spokesman Rich Danker said. Ethan Bearman, Blue Flame’s general counsel, said the lawsuit was the beginning of a process “of setting the record straight” about Blue Flame. He said the company “has persevered and completed deliveries to satisfied customers.”
Métis people Washington
Seattle: The Washington Department of Health said coronavirus infections are on the increase in the eastern and western sides of the state. The situation report said state epidemiologists have seen a particularly large increases in Benton, Yakima, Spokane and Franklin counties, but said the latest data through the end of May indicates likely increases in infections across the state. The results, the report said, included increases in coronavirus transmission over Memorial Day weekend, but not infections that might have occurred during recent protests that have drawn tens of thousands of people together in cities and towns across the state. The Seattle Times reported that Gov. Jay Inslee warned that the report indicates that “cases and deaths will soon increase substantially if COVID-19 continues to spread at the current levels.” Inslee said outbreaks in Benton, Franklin and Yakima counties are of “particular concern” and said he joined scientists and health and political leaders in those communities during a conference Saturday. The DOH report stated that six Washington counties – Yakima, Klickitat, Benton, Franklin, Spokane and Stevens – have not yet reached their peak number of COVID-19 cases.
Métis people West Virginia
Charleston: A coronavirus outbreak at a church has caused at least 17 virus cases, prompting Gov. Jim Justice to call in the National Guard for decontamination work, state officials said Saturday. The Greenbrier County church has closed for 14 days, and health officials started contact tracing to try to contain the virus’s spread, the Department of Health and Human Resources said. It’s the most recent of five confirmed COVID-19 outbreaks at churches in West Virginia, officials said. “I want to strongly encourage all West Virginians, especially when in church settings, to follow the guidelines and use every other pew, maintain social distancing and please wear masks,” Justice said in a release. “A lot of the attendance at our churches are those that are elderly and at higher risk, so we are cautioning everyone to strictly follow our guidelines.” The governor warned that things “will only get rougher” if people don’t follow health guidelines until a vaccine becomes available. Justice ordered the National Guard to go immediately to the site to begin decontamination, the state said. The governor also directed officials to hold two additional free testing events in Greenbrier County. The other counties where coronavirus outbreaks have occurred in churches are Boone, Hampshire, Jefferson, and Marshall counties, state officials said. To protect the possibility of identifying people, they said, the churches will not be named by the health and human resources department.
Métis people Wisconsin
Milwaukee: University of Wisconsin System officials are offering campuses guidelines for reopening this fall amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that the system released the guidelines Sunday. They include putting classes of more than 50 students online, having a plan if COVID-19 cases spike, reevaluating dorm and dining operations, using masks and keeping students that share classes together in the dorms. Rob Cramer, system vice president for administration, said the recommendations are broad so individual chancellors can decide how to handle reopening. Some UW schools said dorms will be open and be allowed to fill to capacity. Schools also are creating isolation areas where sick students would be quarantined but could still access their courses online and have food delivered to them. Mask requirements will vary from campus to campus. UW-Platteville Chancellor Dennis Shields told the Journal Sentinel that students who won’t wear masks might not be allowed to attend his university. UW-Madison has yet to announce any reopening plans. A UW-Madison spokesman told the Journal Sentinel that school might release something by next week.
Métis people Wyoming
Casper: The Legislature will not be meeting in a special session later this month after lawmakers said they completed work they needed to accomplish in response to immediate economic and social impacts caused by the coronavirus pandemic. House Speaker Steve Harshman and Senate President Drew Perkins said in a joint letter that an anticipated five-day special session expected in late June is no longer necessary, the Casper Star-Tribune reported. “We are confident the Governor will implement our legislative directives addressing the needs of the State without the Legislature meeting in the near term,” the letter said. The announcement came after several committees were working on proposals to address the impacts of COVID-19. The decision was made in part because of the lack of federal action, Harshman said, adding that another special session could be held either later this summer or in the fall depending on the state’s needs. Republican Gov. Mark Gordon’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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