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California monsoon, popular ports, Disney meets Elvis: News from around our 50 states

USA TODAY logo USA TODAY 7/28/2021 From USA TODAY Network and wire reports
Vehicles stop on Dillon Road about a mile east of Thousand Palms Canyon Road in the Coachella Valley in California after heavy rain deposited mud and rocks there, making the road largely impassable. © Jay Calderon/The Desert Sun Vehicles stop on Dillon Road about a mile east of Thousand Palms Canyon Road in the Coachella Valley in California after heavy rain deposited mud and rocks there, making the road largely impassable.

Alabama

Montgomery: The number of COVID-19 patients in Alabama hospitals climbed to more than 900 on Monday – a number the state has not seen since February. There were 947 COVID-19 patients in state hospitals Monday, up from 204 at the beginning of July, according to numbers from the Alabama Hospital Association. The latest number is about a third of where the state was at the peak of the pandemic, when there were 3,000 virus patients in state hospitals in January. Dr. Scott Harris, who serves as Alabama’s health officer, said he is “extremely concerned” about the rise in cases. “It’s the perfect storm of large numbers of unvaccinated people and the delta variant which is highly infectious and much more transmissible than anything we saw before,” Harris said. Dr. Don Williamson, the former state health officer who now heads the Alabama Hospital Association, said the concern is the steep upward trajectory in numbers. Williamson said the state has the solution in the form of the vaccine, but “there is not a long line of people wanting to be vaccinated.” Health officials say the latest spike is associated with the delta variant which is exploiting low immunization rates, summer crowds and the end of cautionary measures like mask wearing.

Alaska

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Juneau: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced plans to review whether a southeast Alaska wolf population merits Endangered Species Act protections. The plans are outlined in a document set to be published in the Federal Register on Tuesday. The document stated that a petition from conservation groups to protect the Alexander Archipelago wolf included information indicating protections might be warranted because of potential threats associated with logging, illegal and legal trapping and hunting, climate change and loss of genetic diversity. The agency said it is initiating a status review to determine if protections are warranted. An email seeking comment was sent to an agency spokesperson Monday. The wolves are found in the coastal rainforests of southeast Alaska and British Columbia and a petition filed last year by the Center for Biological Diversity, Alaska Rainforest Defenders and Defenders of Wildlife raised particular concerns about the wolves in Alaska and on southeast Alaska’s Prince of Wales Island. In 2016, the Fish and Wildlife Service determined the wolf did not warrant Endangered Species Act protections.

Arizona

Phoenix: Civil rights leaders, including the Revs. Jesse Jackson and William Barber, were among 39 people arrested Monday after refusing to leave the Phoenix office of Democratic U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, who has faced unrelenting pressure from liberal activists over her opposition to ending the filibuster to pass voting rights legislation. Jackson, one of the nation’s most prominent civil rights leaders, said the U.S. is in a “civilization crisis” with “battle lines drawn,” and he urged activists to fight nonviolently for their rights. Sinema is among moderate Democratic senators who have ruled out changes to the filibuster, which she said encourages bipartisan cooperation and more lasting legislative compromises. Several hundred activists marched about a mile from a park to Sinema’s office in Phoenix’s Biltmore neighborhood, chanting “end the filibuster now.” Eliminating the filibuster would open the door for Democratic senators to enact voting rights bills and raise the federal minimum wage to $15, they said.

Arkansas

Little Rock: Gov. Asa Hutchinson said he planned to meet with House and Senate leaders about growing calls to allow schools to require face masks as the state reported 23 more deaths from COVID-19. The Republican governor said he planned to discuss the issue Tuesday with the GOP leaders of the state House and Senate, following calls from Democratic lawmakers and others to lift a state law banning mask mandates by state and local governments. The Little Rock School Board on Monday night passed a resolution urging a change in the law so districts could decide whether to require students and employees wear masks. Arkansas’ virus cases have been surging in recent weeks, fueled by the delta variant and the state’s low vaccination rate. The state’s deaths rose to 6,077. The number of people hospitalized rose by 61 to 980. University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Chancellor Dr. Cam Patterson tweeted that the hospital had 66 COVID-19 patients, surpassing the record it reached in January when it had 63.

California

Palm Springs: Monsoonal thunderstorms drenched the Coachella Valley early Monday, bringing flooded roadways, power outages and the wettest day for Palm Springs in more than 15 months. The Palm Springs International Airport collected nearly a half-inch of rain, setting a daily record. Monday's heavy rain was the largest single-day accumulation in the city since 0.46 fell on April 8, 2020. The heavy rain also impacted Monday's morning commute as intersections saw minor flooding. In Palm Springs, Indian Canyon Drive was closed between Sunrise Parkway and Garnet for several hours because of water washing over the roadway, but the road was reopened about 3:15 p.m. Monday, with the exception of one southbound lane. Near Mecca, Box Canyon Road was closed near Interstate 10 because of debris and flooding. Across the valley, the California Highway Patrol reported a sinkhole at Dillon Road and Thousand Palms Canyon Road, with residents advised to avoid the area. The weather also left several thousand residents in the Coachella Valley without power. Southern California Edison reported power outages impacted roughly 6,800 customers in the valley at the height of the storm, but that number dropped to approximately 1,500 customers by afternoon.

Colorado

a group of people in a room: The new kitchen at the Larimer County Jail in Fort Collins, Colo., features a more open design, as well as more space. © Bethany Baker / The Coloradoan The new kitchen at the Larimer County Jail in Fort Collins, Colo., features a more open design, as well as more space.

Fort Collins: The first phase of the Larimer County Jail’s multimillion-dollar expansion project has wrapped up. Larimer County commissioners and other county officials toured the completed parts of the $80 million project last week, including a new kitchen, laundry area and boiler room. Construction on the first phase of the project was completed July 9. The new kitchen is about double the size and more open than the old kitchen, which jail Capt. Bobby Moll said will make it easier for jail staff to supervise those assigned to work in the kitchen. The jail works to provide meal options to accommodate religious and dietary needs, and the extra space in the new kitchen will give workers more space for food prep, Lt. Staci Shaffer said.

Connecticut

Hartford: Dr. Manisha Juthani, an infectious disease specialist at Yale School of Medicine, was nominated by Gov. Ned Lamont to serve as the next commissioner of the Department of Public Health. Juthani will succeed Dr. Deidre Gifford, the state social services commissioner who has also been leading the health agency since the departure of Renee Coleman-Mitchell in the early months of the coronavirus pandemic. Juthani was among the doctors who signed a letter in November to Lamont urging him to prohibit indoor dining, close gyms and ban nonessential social gatherings to slow the spread of the virus. Juthani will begin the new role on Sept. 20. At a news conference, she said she was eager to work on issues including health care equity and disparities in access to treatment. She also commended the health care workers and others who have helped the state through the pandemic.

Delaware

Wilmington: State Rep. Gerald Brady will not seek reelection when his term ends in 2022, he said Monday. The announcement came after a week of criticism and calls for his resignation after a an email sent by Brady using an anti-Asian racial slur.was published by The News Journal. The comments from Brady came from an email exchange with an out-of-state advocate regarding legislation intended to protect sex workers. That June 27 email was intended for a private citizen Brady knows, asking if they could read and summarize the study, said Drew Volturo, spokesman for the House Democratic Caucus. Instead, Brady hit reply and emailed the original sender. In Delaware, lawmaker emails are not considered public record. The response was shared with The News Journal. Brady’s actions “make it more difficult to effectively provide the kind of representation” constituents of his district deserve, he said in a statement on Monday.

District of Columbia

Washington: D.C. neighbors are calling for action from the city after three young men were shot on Q Street northwest Sunday afternoon, two of whom died, WUSA-TV reported. D.C. Police identified the two men killed as 22-year-old Javon Hill, Jr. and 19-year-old Tariq Riley. The third young man hit is recovering from gunshot injuries, according to police. Resident Brenda Stewart and her Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner, Karla Lewis, said they had been pressing the city to do more – to be more proactive – to no avail. “I don't have any answers, I just want some solutions," Stewart said. "I like to see some real masterminds in our community that can come up with some solutions.” Stewart said she's proud of her home and wants the city to take care of it. Lewis said they're working with Councilmember McDuffie's office to set up a community meeting to discuss solutions.

Florida

Orlando: Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings said “we are now in crisis mode” when it comes to dealing with soaring numbers of COVID-19 infections. Florida accounted for a fifth of the nation’s new infections last week, more than any other state, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Now Orange County, the home to Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando Resort is seeing about 1,000 new cases a day, Demings said. “A thousand a day is extraordinary,” Demings said. “We are now in crisis mode … We as a community need to work together to slow this rate.” The positivity rate for the virus in the county of 1.4 million residents has tripled to 14% from about 4.3% a month ago. More than 61% of county residents have had at least one vaccination shot, and the mayor urged unvaccinated residents to get theirs as soon as possible. Demings said central Florida hospitals are approaching capacity. A medical officer at one of the state’s largest health systems said its number of COVID-19 patients is nearing a record high: 862, approaching the peak of 900 hospitalized patients with the virus in January.

Georgia

Savannah: For the first time, the Port of Savannah has moved 5.3 million 20-foot equivalent container units in a fiscal year, the Georgia Ports Authority said. That means it has grown its cargo volumes by 20% in fiscal year 2021. American companies are continuing to choose the Port of Savannah as a gateway to global trade, Gov. Brian Kemp said. Georgia’s ports are a key reason that it remains a strong state for business, the governor said. Georgia Ports Authority Executive Director Griff Lynch said the project to deepen Savannah Harbor, the Mason Mega Rail terminal and other capacity upgrades are preparing Georgia for future cargo demand. The Savannah Harbor Expansion Project is now nearly 90% complete, the Ports Authority said. The project is expected to finish in December. With a high-tide depth of 54 feet, the deeper harbor will allow vessels to take on heavier loads with fewer tidal restrictions.

Hawaii

Lihue: Kauai utility officials are installing glow-in-the-dark devices to prevent endangered nocturnal seabirds from crashing into power lines. The diverters help Newell’s shearwater, Hawaiian petrel and band-rumped storm petrel avoid power lines after dark. Kauai is considered an important breeding habitat for all of those species. The Kauai Island Utility Cooperative installed diverters on 109 power line spans last year and expects to install diverters on another 628 spans by the end of 2021, The Garden Island reported Monday. The cooperative said it is using reflective diverters that glow in the dark near residential areas, commercial districts and public roads. In remote areas, it’s using LED diverters that charge via a solar panel during the day to produce light that’s visible to birds at night. Bird diverters are estimated to be 40% to 90% effective in minimizing power-line collisions, depending on type and location.

Idaho

Boise: A federal court has temporarily halted a northern Idaho logging project in grizzly bear habitat following a lawsuit contending the U.S. Forest Service violated environmental laws. U.S. District Court Judge B. Lynn Winmill ruled Friday in favor of the Alliance for the Wild Rockies and issued a preliminary injunction on the 2,500-acre Hanna Flats Logging Project in the Idaho Panhandle National Forest. The Forest Service and Idaho Department of Lands are partnering on the project under a program called the Good Neighbor Authority intended to speed up logging and forest restoration projects on U.S. Forest Service land by allowing state officials to take care of some of the work. The Forest Service said it doesn’t have to follow certain environmental laws because the project qualifies for a categorical exclusion under the Healthy Forest Restoration Act. The act allows the Forest Service to avoid some environmental studies if an area is designated as “wildland urban interface,” an area where homes and wildland intermingle, and that can leave homes vulnerable to wildfires. The Forest Service cited Bonner County’s wildfire protection plan that designates the area as wildland urban interface in saying the logging project qualified for the categorical exclusion. However, Winmill ruled that the project does not appear to qualify for an exclusion and halted logging until it rules on the merits of the case. The U.S. Department of Justice, which represents federal agencies in court cases, didn’t immediately respond to an inquiry sent through its online portal on Monday.

Illinois

Chicago: The city of Chicago and its police union announced they have reached a tentative contract agreement after four years of negotiations. The tentative contract is aligned with the consent decree entered into in 2019 that calls for reforms to how the Chicago Police Department operates, according to officials. The 236-page plan negotiated between Illinois and Chicago officials calls for more community policing, more data collection on how officers work and expanded training on the use of force. One provision will require officers to file paperwork each time they point a gun at someone, even if they don’t fire. The reforms in the contract includes the end to a ban on investigation of anonymous complaints and the changing of officer testimony after viewing video. In addition, officers can now be rewarded for reporting misconduct of other officers. The tentative contract calls for rank-and-file police officers to receive a 10.5% retroactive pay raise and 9.5% more through January 2025. The proposal represents an average annual increase of 2.5%.

Indiana

Indianapolis: The Department of Environmental Management forecasted high ozone levels Tuesday for four regions in the central, southern and western parts of the state. The alert covered Clark and Floyd counties in southeastern Indiana; Vigo, Carroll and Tippecanoe counties in west-central Indiana; Marion, Bartholomew, Boone, Brown, Delaware, Hamilton, Hendricks, Howard, Madison and Shelby counties in central Indiana; and Daviess, Dubois, Gibson, Greene, Knox, Perry, Pike, Posey, Spencer, Vanderburgh and Warrick counties in southwestern Indiana. Anyone sensitive to changes in air quality could be affected when ozone levels are high. Children, the elderly, and anyone with heart or lung conditions were advised to reduce or avoid exertion and heavy work outdoors. Ground-level ozone is formed when sunlight and hot weather combine with vehicle exhaust, factory emissions, and gasoline vapors. It can irritate lungs and can cause coughing and breathing difficulties for sensitive populations. The agency encouraged everyone to help reduce ozone by driving less; not refueling vehicles or using gasoline-powered lawn equipment until after 7 p.m.; and conserving energy by turning off lights and setting thermostats to 75 degrees or above.

Iowa

Des Moines: The Des Moines Metropolitan Wastewater Reclamation Authority has begun sampling sewage as part of a national program to track the spread of the coronavirus and its variants. The agency announced its participation Monday, the Des Moines Register reported. Agency workers began collecting samples last week and shipping them to a national lab in Maine. The effort is being funded by the federal government and is expected to continue for eight or nine weeks. Larry Hare, manager of the southeast Des Moines sewage treatment plant, said sewage sampling can inform officials if a dangerous virus or germ is circulating in a community. “It will tell us whether we’re behind the curve or ahead of the curve,” Hare said. He said the sampling is the first time the Des Moines agency has participated in a search for a virus, but it has previously provided samples for researchers looking for opioid drug use and other information.

Kansas

Overland Park: One of Kansas’ largest public school districts plans to require elementary students to wear masks this fall after a health official warned that the faster-spreading delta variant would lead to widespread infections among unmasked children. The Shawnee Mission district joins the Kansas City, Kansas, and Kansas City, Missouri, schools in requiring masks for some students. But Shawnee Mission is the only district to plan on mandating masks among the six in Johnson County, the state’s most populous county, The Kansas City Star reported. Shawnee Mission’s board voted 6-1 to require masks in elementary schools but keep them optional for middle and high schools. The district has 26,000 students, making it the third-largest in Kansas behind Wichita and Olathe. Johnson County Epidemiologist Elizabeth Holzschuh warned the board that the delta variant would become widespread in classrooms of unmasked elementary-aged students. The federal government has not authorized any vaccine for children under 12.

Kentucky

Frankfort: The Kentucky Department for Public Health is offering a coronavirus testing program for schools to assist with safe in-person learning for the upcoming academic year, Commissioner Steven Stack said. It is limited to staff and students of Kentucky K-12 public, private and charter schools. “We’ve been given $134 million by the federal government to create a testing program for K-12 schools, public and private, throughout the entire commonwealth,” Stack said. “I urge everyone who operates a school out there to explore the options and make testing available to keep yourselves safe.” Superintendents and school administrators can learn more at govstatus.egov.com/K-12-kentucky-school-testing-program.

Louisiana

New Orleans: Officials suspended visitation and volunteer programs in Louisiana’s eight state-run prisons Tuesday to guard against the spread of COVID-19. The action came in response to a fourth surge of the disease in the state, where hospitalizations – at more than 1,200 as of Monday – have more than doubled in 10 days. The suspension is effective immediately and will be reevaluated on Aug. 16, the Department of Corrections said in a news release. “In lieu of visitation, the Department will continue to offer two free phone calls per week to ensure inmates have continued connection to family and friends during this event,” the department said. “In addition, video calling remains available for a fee.” At least two major hospital systems in the state have announced the suspension of nonemergency surgeries that might require hospital admissions as COVID-19 hospitalization numbers grow. In the New Orleans suburb of Jefferson Parish, officials held a morning news conference to again urge people to get vaccinated. Parish President Cynthia Lee Sheng, accompanied by the parish coroner and doctors from two local hospital systems, said new cases are evident in areas of the parish where vaccination rates are low.

Maine

Augusta: Public health authorities said a second case of a rare tick-borne infection has been located in the state. The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention said laboratory tests confirmed a case of Powassan virus in a resident of Knox County. A Waldo County resident who is still recovering from the virus contracted it in June. The agency said about 25 cases of the disease are reported in the U.S. every year. Maine has had 10 cases since 2010. Symptoms of the disease can include fever, headache, weakness, confusion and memory loss. Severe infection can also lead to death. The Maine CDC said residents should take precautions, such as wearing repellent and protective clothing to avoid Powassan and other tick-borne infections.

Maryland

Annapolis: Gov. Larry Hogan honored deaf and blind swimmer Becca Meyers for courage in championing the disabled, after the three-time gold medalist withdrew from the Paralympics in Tokyo when told her mother couldn’t travel as her personal care assistant. Hogan presented a citation to Meyers during a news conference commemorating the 31st anniversary of the American with Disabilities Act. The certificate honored her “bravery for highlighting the issue of inequality and access for people with disabilities.” Hogan also signed an executive order declaring that Maryland will annually celebrate July as Disability Culture and Achievements Month. “Becca deserved to be able to compete, and while we’re all so disappointed for her, I got the chance to tell her just a moment before this started that I’m unbelievably proud of her for having the courage to speak up and to speak out about this injustice,” Hogan said. Meyers, 26, said the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee approved her mother to act as her assistant at all international meets since 2017 but the committee said her request to bring her mother this time was denied because of restrictions put in place by the Japanese government because of COVID-19. Meyers said she made the decision to withdraw to stand up for future Paralympic athletes, saying she didn’t want them to have to experience what she’s been through. “I hope to work with others to effect change so that no one ever feels afraid to travel with Team USA,” Meyers said.

Massachusetts

Provincetown: City officials have approved an indoor mask mandate to fight an outbreak of more than 500 new confirmed coronavirus cases in the vacation haven at the tip of Cape Cod. The town’s Select Board and Board of Health unanimously voted in favor of the mandate during an emergency joint meeting Sunday. “We are entering a new stage of COVID,” Town Manager Alex Morse said. “COVID, while depressing for many of us, is not going away anytime soon.” The boards had approved an indoor mask advisory last week, but it had not adequately succeeded in slowing the spread, he said. The new cases stem from a busy Fourth of July weekend, officials have said. The indoor mask mandate will become an advisory again when positivity rates drop lower than 3% over five days. The advisory can be lifted when the positivity rate drops lower than 2%.

Michigan

St. Ignace: Enbridge said it had retrieved an anchor that broke away from a maintenance vessel while on the bottom of the Straits of Mackinac. The mishap occurred June 21 as a contractor for the pipeline company was doing seasonal work on the underwater section of Line 5, an oil line that runs between Superior, Wisconsin, and Sarnia, Ontario. The section in the straits, which connects Lake Michigan and Lake Huron, is divided into two pipes about 1,200 feet apart. The anchor was deployed about midway between them. When the crew tried to raise it, the shackle connecting it to the cable failed, Enbridge spokesman Michael Barnes said. The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy ordered the company to remove the anchor, which took place Sunday. A crane on a barge was used to lift the 15,000-pound object to the surface, Barnes said. Pipeline operations weren’t affected, he said.

Minnesota

Fairmont: An announcer who was fired by an Iowa racetrack after a racist rant was back behind the microphone in southern Minnesota last weekend, but he did not receive a standing ovation as promised because he was apparently uncomfortable with that plan, according to the promoter of Fairmont Raceway. Lon Oelke is the full-time announcer at Fairmont Raceway, where he worked Friday – days after the Kossuth County Speedway in Algona, Iowa, cut ties with him after he went on a racist rant this month against Black fans and athletes who kneel during the national anthem as a protest against racial inequality. The Kossuth County Speedway said in a statement that its leaders “do not condone” Oelke’s comments, adding that management did not hear them during the race, but only after they gained attention on social media. “I think perhaps the whole thing is taken a little out of context with social media these days,” Fairmont track promoter Jon McCorkell told the Star Tribune, adding that he’ll “stick by my guy.”

Mississippi

Vicksburg: The Mississippi Department of Public Safety said it wants local officials to find a larger building for the state driver’s license office in Vicksburg. The department’s director of driver services, Kevin Raymond, told Warren County supervisors Monday that the county-owned building is too small to accommodate workers and visitors, the Vicksburg Post reported. Raymond said the driver’s license office needs an additional entrance, a second bathroom, a break room and more square footage. However, he said the state doesn’t provide money for those needs. Warren County pays most expenses for the building where the driver’s license office is housed, including cleaning services and utilities. The new space being considered is in the former Outlets of Vicksburg. It would be larger, have two restrooms, multiple entrances and a large parking lot. The lot would provide space for commercial driver’s license training, and the manager of the Vicksburg driver’s license office, Rhonda Howard, said that would make a big difference. Performing a commercial driver’s license road test now requires 11/2-hour round trip to Pearl.

Missouri

Jefferson City: Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt has sued to halt a mask mandate that took effect Monday in the St. Louis area amid a rise in COVID-19 cases that are burdening a growing number of hospitals across the state. The mandate, one of the first to be reinstated in the country, requires everyone age 5 or older to wear masks in indoor public places and on public transportation in St. Louis city and St. Louis County, even if they are vaccinated. Wearing masks outdoors is strongly encouraged, especially in group settings. But the lawsuit said the mandates are “arbitrary and capricious because they require vaccinated individuals to wear masks, despite the CDC guidance that this is not necessary.” It also questions mandating children to wear masks in school, noting they are less likely to become seriously ill. “This continued government overreach is unacceptable and unconstitutional, especially in the face of a widely available vaccine,” Schmitt said in a news release. St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones said Schmitt would not be successful in his legal challenge. She noted that he filed an unsuccessful lawsuit last year against the Chinese government over the coronavirus, alleging that nation’s officials are to blame for the pandemic.

Montana

Livingston: Authorities in south-central Montana continued searching Tuesday for an inmate who overpowered a county jail guard, took the guard’s gun and car keys and escaped in a stolen minivan. Jordon Earl Linde, 34, is believed to have stayed in the Livingston-Shields Valley area after escaping from custody in Park County at about 11 p.m. Sunday, Sheriff Brad Bichler said in a social media post. Bichler encouraged Linde to no longer “prolong the inevitable” and turn himself in, or for anyone who has contact with him to do the same. Linde was arrested Saturday for felony drug charges and other alleged offenses. After stealing a Park County Detention Center minivan during his escape, he abandoned the vehicle and was believed to have stolen another – a gold Chrysler Town and Country minivan. Linde had a pistol and was considered armed and dangerous.

Nebraska

Omaha: An Omaha man has been indicted on a federal charge of bank fraud after prosecutors said he lied to get a loan through a federal program meant to help businesses struggling in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. M.A. Yah faces court next month and could get up to 30 years in prison if convicted, the office of the U.S. Attorney for Nebraska said in a news release. The indictment against Yah said he was director of The Heartland News – a nonprofit newspaper with a mission to end poverty and homelessness in the region – when he requested a Paycheck Protection Program loan of more than $100,000 for the business in April 2020. Paperwork filed by Yah said the loan was to support the newspaper’s payroll, but prosecutors said he lied about the number of employees and payroll of the nonprofit from the previous year. Reached by phone Tuesday, Yah denied the allegations, ut said he could not yet comment further on the charges. Yah said he planned to hire an attorney this week to fight the charge.

Nevada

Reno: A federal judge has denied environmentalists’ request for a court order temporarily blocking the government from digging trenches for archaeological surveys at a mine planned near the Nevada-Oregon line with the largest-known U.S. deposit of lithium. U.S. District Judge Miranda Du said in an 11-page ruling late Friday in Reno that four conservation groups failed to prove the trenches planned across a total of one-quarter acre would cause irreparable harm to sage brush that serves as crucial habitat for imperiled sage grouse. She said she plans to rule later this week on a request from a Nevada tribe to join the legal fight as a co-plaintiff and seek a similar restraining order based on claims the digging would disturb sacred burial grounds.Du emphasized she has placed the overall case on an expedited schedule and intends to issue a ruling on the merits by early next year. She noted any construction of the mine itself is unlikely to begin before the snow melts in the spring of 2022. Lithium Nevada Corp.’s proposed Thacker Pass mine is emerging as a key battleground in the debate over environmental trade-offs tied to President Joe Biden’s push for renewable energy. Lithium is a key component in electric vehicle batteries.

New Hampshire

Concord: Fine-particle air pollution concentrations have reached unhealthy levels statewide for people with lung diseases and those who are active outdoors as smoke from wildfires in the West and Canada reaches the area, the Department of Environmental Services said. The department said people should take precautions by limiting prolonged outdoor exertion. Current wind patterns are transporting waves of smoke from fires in the West and parts of Canada across much of the country, including New Hampshire, the department said. The smoke plumes also diffract light, causing a hazy appearance in the sky and reducing visibility of distant objects, the department said. Sensitive individuals include children, older adults and anyone with lung disease such as asthma, emphysema, and bronchitis. The air quality is expected to improve Wednesday as the wind is forecast to move the smoke plumes out of the area.

New Jersey

Newark: A $44 million federal grant announced Monday will be used to modernize, expand and reconfigure the road system at the port complex in Newark and Elizabeth, making it safer and cutting down on delays. Some of the most congested roads in New Jersey are at the port complex, where trucks roll through nonstop to pick up and drop off shipping containers at the nation’s second-busiest port. With container volume in the New York/New Jersey port system setting a record last year despite the disruptions to the global supply chain caused by the pandemic, the aging roads and interchanges in Newark figure to continue taking a beating. It’s estimated that 15,000 trucks use the roads each day at the northern access points to the port, which sit at the intersection of Interstate 78 and the New Jersey Turnpike across from Newark Liberty International Airport. The Port Authority, which operates the ports, said there were more than 400 truck accidents and three fatalities between 2005 and 2018. The grant comes from the Department of Transportation’s Infrastructure for Rebuilding America program, and will be used as part of the Port Authority’s 10-year, $176 million road network modernization project.

New Mexico

Santa Fe: State education officials released updated guidance on COVID-19 case reporting, masking requirements and vaccine considerations for K-12 schools this fall. The new rules give vaccinated students more chances to take off masks. It also allows them to avoid quarantines if there’s an outbreak on campus. Schools serving only middle or high school students can choose to allow vaccinated children to go without masks in most situations. But deciding which schools can unmask won’t be easy, and could hinge on vaccination rates. Under the new guidelines, local school officials are allowed to require universal masking in any school, even among students who volunteer proof of vaccine status in the form of a card or a screenshot of a Department of Health confirmation.

New York

New York City: Carlos Santana, LL Cool J and Barry Manilow are among the performers who will join previously announced headliners Paul Simon, Bruce Springsteen and Jennifer Hudson at next month’s Central Park concert to celebrate the city’s recovery from the pandemic, Mayor Bill de Blasio said. The Aug. 21 concert will be broadcast worldwide on CNN and will also include performances by Elvis Costello, Andrea Bocelli, Wyclef Jean and Cynthia Erivo, the mayor said. Patti Smith will duet with Springsteen. “This is going to be an historic, monumental moment for all New Yorkers and all Americans,” de Blasio said. “I’ll put it plainly: You’re going to want to be here.” City officials said 80% of the tickets for the concert will be free. Free and for-purchase tickets will be released to the public in batches starting Monday at www.homecoming2021.com. Proof of COVID-19 vaccination will be required for entry, de Blasio said.

North Carolina

Currituck: The Currituck-Knotts Island ferry service is being suspended to alleviate a staffing shortage at the Hatteras terminal, according to the N.C. Department of Transportation’s Ferry Division. In a news release, the division said the Currituck-Knotts Island route will resume its scheduled service on July 31. Earlier this year, the department said its ferry service was facing a shortage of deck hands, seamen and captains. The Virginian-Pilot reported in the spring that there is often a waiting list to get a ferry job. But this year, the service needs to fill an expanded summer schedule. Jed Dixon, deputy director of the North Carolina Ferry Division, said the pandemic prevented an annual job fair that typically helps recruit enough employees. But he said that people could simply be choosing other careers. North Carolina operates 22 ferries on seven routes, and officials said about 2 million people ride the vessels each year. In April, the ferry service said it needed roughly 20 more employees.

North Dakota

Fargo: The Army has awarded a more than $13 million contract to Gast Construction Company, Inc. in Fargo to build a Remotely Piloted Aircraft operations center for the North Dakota Air National Guard’s 119th Wing. Republican U.S. Senator John Hoeven, a member of the Senate Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Committee, was able to secure $17.5 million for the construction of the facility, which is needed to support new advanced technology and equipment that is crucial to the mission’s long-term success, while also preventing interruptions for the wing’s operations. The Air Guard anticipates moving into the new facility sometime in fiscal year 2023.

Ohio

Athens: Ohio University has notified the Delta Pi chapter of Sigma Chi that it has been suspended for four years following an investigation by the school that revealed student code of conduct violations. The fraternity accepted responsibility for providing false information to school officials or law enforcement and two hazing-related counts. The suspension came about two weeks after the university found the Beta Chapter of Delta Tau Delta committed nine violations, including selling and distributing alcohol, reckless behavior and coerced consumption of alcohol. That fraternity was also suspended for four years. Members of the fraternities are prohibited from joining other frats on campus or starting their own, the school said. Both will be eligible to apply for reinstatement in 2025. Gov. Mike DeWine recently signed a measure that put in place tougher penalties for hazing at Ohio universities and colleges starting this fall. “Collin’s Law,” is named after Collin Wiant, an 18-year-old Ohio University freshman who died in 2018 after ingesting nitrous oxide at a different fraternity house, which was expelled in May 2019.

Oklahoma

Tulsa: The remains of 19 bodies exhumed as part of a city search for unmarked burials from the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre will be reinterred during a private ceremony Friday at Oaklawn Cemetery, city officials said. The bodies were exhumed in June and examined at an on-site laboratory by forensic anthropologist Phoebe Stubblefield, whose findings have not been made public, the Tulsa World reported. Efforts to identify the remains through records and possibly DNA are ongoing, according to the city. Stubblefield has said that the remains appeared to include men, women and children. In at least one set of male remains, a bullet was found in a shoulder. Other parts of the man’s remains showed similar signs of trauma, including to the head.

Oregon

Portland: Health officials in Oregon’s most populous county said they strongly recommend that people wear masks in all indoor public spaces regardless of vaccine status. Multnomah County officials said in news release that the advisory was issued in response to COVID-19 cases increasing largely because of the highly contagious delta variant. Public Health Director Jessica Guernsey said if people don’t act, an exponential rise in cases can be expected, especially in pockets with low vaccinations. County health officials are particularly worried about the delta variant, which is roughly twice as contagious as earlier virus strains and might cause more severe illness. Eight counties in Western Washington are also recommending people wear masks in public indoor settings as are officials in Los Angeles County and San Francisco Bay Area counties.

Pennsylvania

Harrisburg: Nearly 1,500 nursing home workers across Pennsylvania canceled a one-day strike Tuesday after they reached contract agreements with their employers. SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania had said that employees at 20 nursing homes were going to hold a one-day strike to draw attention to problems with the industry, such as low wages, short staffing and outdated state regulations. On Monday, the union first announced that workers had come to tentative contract agreements with Guardian Healthcare. Then late Monday afternoon, the union said workers at Priority-owned facilities had also come to preliminary agreements. “Our new agreements move us in the right direction but they are only a first step in an urgent and larger conversation about reforming our long-term care system,” said Matthew Yarnell, SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania’s president, in a statement. Workers will discuss the proposed agreements “over the next few weeks” and hold ratification votes, according to the union’s statement.

Rhode Island

Providence: Public health officials are investigating a rise in the number of cases of Legionnaires’ disease in Rhode Island, the state Department of Health said. There have been 30 cases reported since June 2, the agency said in an emailed statement. Of those, 28 people have required hospitalization. The state has had an average of 10 cases per month in June and July since 2014, the agency said. No common source of exposure has been identified. “We know that Legionella bacteria grow best in complex water systems that are not well-maintained,” department Director Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott said in a statement. “When this water becomes aerosolized in small droplets, such as in a cooling tower, shower, or decorative fountain, people can accidentally breathe in the contaminated water. This is of particular concern now as some buildings’ water systems have been offline for a prolonged period due to the COVID-19 pandemic and are just now returning to service.” Legionella is especially a concern in buildings that primarily house people older than 65, buildings with multiple housing units and a centralized hot water system like hotels or high-rise apartment complexes. Symptoms, which typically start two to 10 days after breathing in the bacteria, can include cough, shortness of breath, fever, muscle aches, and headaches.

South Carolina

Lake Wylie: At least 80 dogs were taken out of a home because they were living in very poor conditions, deputies said. Two monkeys and a bird were also removed Monday from property in Lake Wylie, the York County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement. “The smell about knocked me over. There were feces everywhere,” sheriff’s spokesman Trent Faris told reporters outside the home. The dogs were mostly smaller animals and were living inside and outside the home, deputies said. The animals have been taken to the county animal shelter to determine how healthy they are and if they can be adopted, authorities said. A man in the home was charged with ill treatment of and hoarding of animals and deputies said more charges are possible after a veterinarian examines the animals. Deputies said they found methamphetamine and several guns in the home as well. There were so many animals to examine that the York County Animal Shelter had to stop taking in other animals from the public on Monday.

South Dakota

Rapid City: The Great Plains Tribal Leaders’ Health Board is requiring all of its employees to be vaccinated for COVID-19. The board’s CEO, Jerilyn Church, has sent a memo to staff that said those working under the Health Board banner, including the Great Plains Tribal Epidemiology Center, Oyate Health Center and the We Are Warriors EOC will be required to be fully vaccinated by Sept. 21. “In accordance with GPTLHB’s duty to provide and maintain a workplace that is free of known hazards, GPTLHB has adopted this policy to safeguard the health of our employees and their families, our relatives and visitors, and the community at large from infectious diseases that vaccinations reduce,” Church said. Currently, 74% of the Health Board’s staff has received the vaccine, according to officials. But, with numbers on the rise and the emergence of the delta variant, mandatory vaccinations for all staff is a logical next step for the organization, Church said.

Tennessee

Becky Cline, director of the Walt Disney Archives, gives a tour of collectables as Graceland is set to hold an exhibition celebrating the legacy of The Walt Disney Co. The exhibit is open to the public and is scheduled to run for six months. © Joe Rondone/The Commercial Appeal Becky Cline, director of the Walt Disney Archives, gives a tour of collectables as Graceland is set to hold an exhibition celebrating the legacy of The Walt Disney Co. The exhibit is open to the public and is scheduled to run for six months.

Memphis: An exhibit of artwork, costumes and props from The Walt Disney Co. archives is on display at the Graceland Exhibition Center. The 10,000-square-foot display, “Inside the Walt Disney Archives,” covers multiple Disney properties, ranging from Disney live action to animated films, Walt Disney’s personal effects, items from various Disney Parks and more. The exhibit premiered at D23 Expo Japan in 2018. The items are on loan to Graceland, Elvis Presley’s home in Memphis. Some items include Jack Sparrow’s compass from “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl,” Mary Poppins’ original carpet bag, Wilson from “Cast Away,” Lumiere and Cogsworth props from 2017’s “Beauty and the Beast” and Congo Queen Model Boat from Disneyland’s Jungle Cruise. The exhibit will continue through Jan. 2, with special events planned through the run. Tickets are $15 for ages 11 and older and $8 for ages 5 to 10. There is no charge for children 4 and younger to visit.

Texas

San Antonio: A man elbowed a bailiff who was attempting to handcuff him after the man was convicted of killing a San Antonio police detective. Jurors deliberated about 25 minutes Monday before convicting Otis McKane, 40, of capital murder in the November 2016 fatal shooting of Detective Benjamin Marconi. Prosecutors were seeking the death penalty against McKane; the trial’s punishment phase was set to begin Tuesday afternoon. A bailiff was trying handcuff McKane when McKane elbowed him in the face before several officers pushed him into an adjacent room. District Attorney Joe Gonzales and defense attorney Joel Perez declined comment on the outburst. Gonzales said the bailiff was not seriously injured. Marconi was fatally shot as he sat in his patrol car during a traffic stop that did not involve McKane, authorities said. McKane, as he was being taken to jail following the shooting, told reporters that he “lashed out at someone who didn’t deserve it” because he was upset with the court system. McKane said he was angry because he had not been allowed to see his son during a custody battle.

Utah

Kanosh: A sandstorm caused a 22-vehicle pileup on a highway that left eight people dead, including four children, authorities said. The Sunday afternoon crashes on Interstate 15 near the town of Kanosh came at the end of a holiday weekend for the state that often leads to increased highway traffic. At least 10 people were taken to hospitals, including three in critical condition, according to the Utah Highway Patrol. Ground and air ambulances were used to transport crash victims. The pileup occurred during a period of high winds that caused a dust or sandstorm that reduced visibility, the highway patrol said. Five of the eight people killed were in one vehicle, and two others were in another vehicle, according to a news release. Another fatality was in a third vehicle. I-15 remained partially shut down late Sunday. Traffic was redirected around the crash site. Roadways on Sunday were full of drivers headed home after a long weekend to celebrate a state holiday recognizing Utah history and settlers from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who trekked west in search of religious freedom.

Vermont

Montpelier: Vermont’s congressional delegation sent a letter to the U.S. State Department on Tuesday asking it to direct sufficient resources to work through a backlog of requests for passports and renewals. The lawmakers also wrote they are hearing from a significant number of Vermonters having trouble with the main contact number, sometimes waiting on hold for hours. Earlier this month, the State Department reported a backlog of 1.5 million requests nationwide and said that the wait for a passport is now between 12 weeks and 18 weeks, even if people pay for expedited processing. The delay is because of ripple effects from the coronavirus pandemic that caused extreme disruptions to the process at domestic issuance facilities and overseas embassies and consulates. An email was sent to the State Department on Tuesday.

Virginia

Richmond: The two leading candidates in the closely watched race for governor said they will voluntarily disclose at least some information from recent tax returns before the November election. In response to questions from the Associated Press, the campaigns of Republican Glenn Youngkin and Democrat Gov. Terry McAuliffe made vague pledges to release unspecified details from their tax returns, but neither said they would make the documents available in full. “Glenn Youngkin will release information from his tax returns in recent years when his latest filings are complete, before November,” said spokeswoman Macaulay Porter. Christina Freundlich, a spokeswoman for McAuliffe, said he would share a summary of recent years’ returns before the election. Although it is not required for Virginia gubernatorial candidates to disclose their returns, there is some limited precedent for doing so. The complete documents could give a more nuanced look at a candidate’s income, tax deductions and philanthropy than the state’s mandatory disclosures do.

Washington

Yakima: The federal government has issued big fines against two Yakima County fruit companies for missing the annual deadline for filing forms reporting that their facilities store anhydrous ammonia. Stadelman Fruit LLC was fined $238,875 by the Environmental Protection Agency, and Hollingbery and Sons Inc. and the related Hollingbery CA and Cold Storage LLC were penalized a total of $118,200. The Capital Press reported the federal Emergency Planning and Community Right-To-Know Act required companies that store hazardous chemicals to submit the forms by March 1 to state and local emergency planners, and the local fire department. Bud Hollingbery, president of the Hollingbery companies, said Friday his businesses have been sending in the information for years. In 2020, the employee who files the forms had a family emergency, and the forms weren’t submitted until May 12, he said. By then, according to EPA, the Hollingbery companies had committed 12 violations. Stadelman Fruit also was fined for missing the March 1, 2020, reporting deadline for its four cold-storage facilities in Zillah. Stadelman agreed to settle, but also did not admit to the allegations. Efforts to obtain comment from the company were unsuccessful.

West Virginia

Mount Hope: A new West Virginia highway marker commemorates the Siltix Mine explosion that killed seven people. The marker was unveiled last week in Mount Hope on the 55th anniversary of the blast, the Herald-Dispatch reported. The explosion was caused by the ignition of built-up methane gas, according to the marker, which also noted that 39 miners were able to escape unharmed. The marker is sponsored by Mount Hope Heritage & Hope and the National Coal Heritage Area Authority, along with the city of Mount Hope, the West Virginia Archives and History and the state Division of Highways. More than 1,000 highway markers note significant locations across the state.

Wisconsin

Milwaukee: The Milwaukee Common Council voted Tuesday to approve a $627,000 settlement with former Police Chief Alfonso Morales over his demotion last year. A federal lawsuit by Morales over his ouster would be dropped as part of the agreement. Morales has 21 days to sign off on the negotiated deal. The Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission, a citizen panel, unanimously voted to remove Morales as chief last August, claiming he failed to fulfill a list of directives. But Milwaukee County Judge Christopher Foley in December reversed the civilian commission’s decision to demote Morales to captain, which had prompted Morales to retire and sue. Foley at the time called the commission’s process “fundamentally flawed.” Under the agreement, the city and commission would not admit to any negligence or to having violated any contract or federal, state and local laws. The commission’s vote came days before an Aug. 1 deadline agreed to by both sides to resolve the matter.

Wyoming

Gillette: Recently retired U.S. Sen. Mike Enzi of Wyoming died Monday at 77. Enzi had been hospitalized with a broken neck and ribs three days after a bicycle accident near Gillette on Friday. Enzi was stabilized before being flown to a hospital in Colorado. He remained unconscious and was unable to recover from his injuries, former spokesman Max D’Onofrio said. Police said they have seen no indication anyone else was nearby or involved in the accident. Enzi fell near his home about 8:30 p.m. Friday, about the time Gillette police received a report of a man lying unresponsive in a road near a bicycle. Enzi, a Republican, retired in January after four terms as senator. He previously was a state lawmaker and mayor of Gillette, where he owned a shoe store. Enzi is survived by his wife; two daughters, Amy and Emily; a son, Brad; and several grandchildren.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: California monsoon, popular ports, Disney meets Elvis: News from around our 50 states

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