Curbside voting, labor at the polls, mask billboards: News from around our 50 states

Curbside voting, labor at the polls, mask billboards: News from around our 50 states
Curbside voting, labor at the polls, mask billboards: News from around our 50 states

Montgomery: Public schools across Alabama reported 723 cases of COVID-19 among students, teachers and employees in the last week, according to a new state dashboard that debuted Friday. It shows the number of cases reported by school systems to the state, but not numbers by individual schools. Some school systems are providing that information on their own sites. The dashboard does not include private schools. The Alabama Department of Public Health and the Alabama State Department of Education collaborated on the tool intended to provide parents with weekly information about the state of the virus outbreak in school systems. The numbers are self-reported by school systems. Not all systems reported cases. State Health Officer Scott Harris said the tool can help parents track the state of the pandemic in their child’s school system.

Juneau: The Alaska Legislative Council approved a measure that requires lawmakers, employees and reporters to be screened for the coronavirus when entering the Capitol and to wear masks or face coverings in the building and other legislative offices. The council also voted Thursday to keep the Capitol building closed to the public until at least January, when the next Legislature convenes. Legislative staff and reporters will still be allowed into the building, KTOO Public Media reports. The council’s chair, Sen. Gary Stevens, said that while the Legislature could change the policies in January, he anticipates it will not as long as the pandemic persists. The council voted 9-1 to mandate face coverings and 8-2 to require screenings to enter the Capitol. Republican Rep. DeLena Johnson was the only lawmaker on the council to vote against both measures. The Republican from Palmer said the mask mandate wouldn’t be enforceable for legislators.

Phoenix: The state reported its biggest spikes in coronavirus cases and deaths in months over the weekend. On Sunday, Arizona health officials reported more than 1,500 new COVID-19 cases for the third consecutive day and two additional deaths as the total death toll nears 6,000. The state Department of Health Services said the 1,527 cases Sunday increased Arizona’s total to 247,473 since the coronavirus pandemic began, with the known death toll now at 5,981. Health officials had reported 1,901 new cases Saturday along with 45 deaths. Saturday’s reported rise in the number of confirmed infections was the largest single-day increase since Aug. 1, following increases that have been growing over the past few days – from 1,044 on Wednesday to 1,315 on Thursday and 1,565 on Friday. The 45 deaths were the most reported in one day since Sept. 3.

Little Rock: A Republican candidate for the state Senate who dressed up like a member of the Ku Klux Klan for a Halloween event when he was in high school is facing criticism from former classmates and advocacy groups. Charles Beckham III is challenging state Sen. Bruce Maloch, D-Magnolia, in Tuesday’s election. Local and statewide groups spoke out against him in a public letter Wednesday in which they urged him to drop out of the race, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports. That same day, six of his former peers from the Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science bought a full-page ad in the Magnolia Banner-News saying his decision to wear a Klan outfit “terrorized Black students.” Beckham did not respond to the Democrat-Gazette’s requests for comment Thursday but previously issued a statement apologizing “for any angst or grievances that I have caused anyone as a minor, as that is not the man that I am today.”

Sacramento: In-person voting started for most of the state’s counties over the weekend as local election officials – many for the first time – opened polling places days early in hopes of avoiding crushing crowds on Election Day. More than 22 million people are registered to vote in California, nearly 88% of all eligible adults. That’s the highest percentage heading into a general election in the past 80 years, according to the secretary of state’s office. This year, all voters got a ballot in the mail, part of the state’s effort to encourage people to vote remotely to avoid spreading the coronavirus that has killed more than 17,500 Californians and infected more than 900,000. So far, more than 9.4 million people have returned their ballots, accounting for nearly two-thirds of all votes Californians cast in the 2016 presidential election. In Los Angeles, voters can cast ballots in places like Dodger Stadium, the Hollywood Bowl and the Hollywood Pantages Theater.

Pueblo: This southern Colorado city is imposing an overnight curfew for the next two weeks to stem a surge in the number of people hospitalized locally for the coronavirus, Mayor Nick Gradisar announced. Residents are banned from walking or driving within the city between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. in the move that started Friday, Gradisar said. Exceptions include essential errands such as shopping at groceries and pharmacies and going to work. Police will enforce the curfew in Pueblo, with a population of more than 110,000, the mayor said. “We haven’t done any modeling to know what differences this would make,” Gradisar told a news conference, according to The Pueblo Chieftain. “We think it will make a difference.” COVID-19 cases have tripled at Parkview Medical Center, which had 33 patients being treated for the virus Thursday – the highest number since March, Gradisar said. Only two intensive care unit beds were available, he said.

Storrs: The University of Connecticut on Friday ordered residential students in Storrs to stay away from all off-campus social gatherings until the middle of next week amid a spike in COVID-19 cases. UConn reported 15 new positive tests for the coronavirus Friday, the highest single-day number since late September. Twelve of those were from students, including nine who live off campus. UConn Dean of Students Eleanor Daugherty sent an email Friday saying that anyone living on campus and caught attending an off-campus party over the Halloween weekend will be subject to school discipline. She said the prohibition, which runs through Wednesday, does not include voting Tuesday. “On campus, we continue to be healthy and there is no indication in the wastewater or in testing results that we are seeing a comparable increase in COVID-19,” she wrote.

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