Governor Texas

Texas governor orders residents to wear face masks as coronavirus cases surge – The Guardian

Republican Greg Abbott had previously said government could not order people to wear masks

Greg Abbott adjusts his mask after speaking in Austin, Texas, in June.

Greg Abbott adjusts his mask after speaking in Austin, Texas, in June.
Photograph: Ricardo B Brazziell/AP

The governor of Texas has ordered that face coverings must be worn in public across most of the state, in a dramatic ramping up of efforts to control a surge in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations.

The move marks a major reversal for Republican Greg Abbott, who had pushed Texas’s aggressive reopening of the state economy in May, and had previously said the government could not order individuals to wear masks. His prior virus-related orders had undercut efforts by local governments to enforce mask requirements.

But faced with rising numbers of newly confirmed cases of the Covid-19 virus and a wave of hospitalizations, Abbott changed course with Thursday’s mask order. It requires “all Texans to wear a face covering over the nose and mouth in public spaces in counties with 20 or more positive Covid-19 cases, with few exceptions”.

“We are now at a point where the virus is spreading so fast, there is little margin for error,” Abbott said.

Texas reported 7,915 newly confirmed cases, a slight dip after passing the 8,000 mark for the first time on Wednesday. The 7,382 hospitalizations means the state has more than quadrupled its numbers in that category since the end of May.

The mask order takes effect Friday. Mask order violators can be fined up to $250. There are exceptions for people who have a medical condition or disability, who are exercising outdoors, or who are participating in a religious service or voting. Texas this week began its monthlong early voting period for its primary elections.

Mask orders have become a source of controversy in Texas and elsewhere in the US. Public health experts unanimously agree that masks help slow the spread of Covid-19, but many Americans argue they impair individual freedom.

Abbott also gave mayors and county authorities the ability to ban outdoor gatherings of more than 10 people.

In his order and a statement, Abbott said wearing a mask was a proven method to slowing down the virus’ spread and said if Texans comply “more extreme measures may be avoided”.

Abbott has said he doesn’t want to roll back his previous orders to reopen the economy. But last week he moved to re-close bars and limit dine-in capacity in restaurants to 50%.

Abbott has been under extreme pressure from both Democrats and Republicans on his reopening plans. Democrats, most notably the leadership of the state’s largest cities, have complained Abbott reopened Texas too quickly and have pointed to the record numbers of confirmed new cases and hospitalizations. Conservative lawmakers, meanwhile, have battered Abbott’s early moves to combat the virus, including business, school and childcare closures and a stay-at-home order that expired in May.

The move was applauded by the Texas Medical Association. “There is no question about it, face masks reduce the spread of Covid-19,” said the association’s president, Dr Diana L Fite.

Texas’s order comes as the virus continues to surge around the country, with cases rising significantly in more than 40 states, particularly in the south and west. On Thursday, Georgia added nearly 3,500 new cases, its largest single-day increase yet. Florida, meanwhile, reported 10,000 new confirmed coronavirus cases for the first time.

Overall, the US climbed to an all-time high of more than 50,000 new daily cases on Thursday, according to Johns Hopkins figures.

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California Governor

California Governor Gavin Newsom orders movie theaters, indoor restaurants to close – Daily Mail

California Governor Gavin Newsom has ordered all bars, indoor restaurant operations and movie theaters to shut down immediately in most parts of the state as coronavirus cases continue to spike.

Newsom announced the revised stay-at-home order on Wednesday, nearly three weeks after California bars, stores, restaurants and salons reopened for the first time after a three-month lockdown. 

Since then, the number of COVID-19 cases have begun to rise again, increasing nearly 50 per cent over the last two weeks, with a 43 per cent spike in hospitalizations. 

As of Monday, there were 222,917 confirmed cases in the state and 5,980 deaths, according to state’s public health department. 

The shutdown, which will last for at least three weeks, applies to 19 counties where nearly three-quarters of the state’s roughly 40 million population lives – including Los Angeles County.

Governor Gavin Newsom announced the shutdown on Wednesday, days after imposing a statewide order requiring all residents to wear masks in most public places 

Under the new measure, restaurants are permitted to continue with outdoor dining service but must shut down indoor operations.

It also applies to other indoor business operations including museums, entertainment centers, movie theaters, zoos, and cardrooms.   

Newsom had closed bars in seven counties on Sunday but Wednesday’s order extends across the state. 

‘This doesn’t mean restaurants are shut down,’ Newsom said in a press conference. 

‘It means that we’re trying to take the activities, as many activities as we can – these mixed activities, these concentrated activities – and move them outdoors, which is a way of mitigating the spread of this virus.’ 

He added: ‘The bottom line is the spread of this virus continues at a rate that is particularly concerning.’

It marks the latest coronavirus measure imposed in the California in recent weeks and follows Newsom’s statewide order requiring all residents to wear masks or protective face coverings in most public areas. 

California has joined a small but growing list of states that have been forced to roll back reopening plans after cases began to spike again.

Under the new measure, restaurants are permitted to continue with outdoor dining service but must shut down indoor operations 

California has joined a small but growing list of states that have been forced to rollback reopening plans amid a troubling surge in coronavirus cases 

COVID-19 cases have begun spike again in California, increasing nearly 50 per cent over the last two weeks


  1. Contra Costa
  2. Fresno
  3. Glenn
  4. Imperial
  5. Kern
  6. Kings
  7. Los Angeles
  8. Merced 
  9. Orange
  10. Riverside
  11. Sacramento
  12. San Bernardino
  13. San Joaquin
  14. Santa Barbara
  15. Santa Clara
  16. Solano
  17. Stanislaus
  18. Tulare
  19. Ventura 

Texas and Florida, which were among the first states to begin reopening after a three-month lockdown, closed bars for a second time last week after seeing record highs in the number of infections. 

Dr Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert earlier this week warned that gathering at indoor bars was one of the most dangerous activities Americans could do.

The order came just days ahead of what was expected to be a busy Fourth of July weekend for the state, sparking fears people would gather in mass for celebrations.  

Newsom did not order beaches to close, but said parking lots at all beaches in Southern California and the San Francisco Bay area would close to limit crowds. 

State parks – which include some beaches – will remain open, but with measures in place to reduce overcrowding. 

Newsom said the new business closure order applies to counties that have been on the state’s monitoring list because of increasing coronavirus cases for three consecutive days: Contra Costa, Fresno, Glenn, Imperial, Kern, Kings, Los Angeles, Merced, Orange, Riverside, Sacramento, San Bernardino, San Joaquin, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara, Solano, Stanislaus, Tulare and Ventura.

But enforcing the new rules will be difficult, Newsom said. 

He said seven state agencies with regulatory authority would target non-compliant businesses, including the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, the Department of Consumer Affairs and the California Highway Patrol.

The order applies to 19 counties, where nearly three-quarters of the state’s 40 million population lives, including Los Angeles County 

COVID-19 cases across the US increased by 46 percent in the week ending June 28, compared to the previous seven days, with the majority of rises occurring in the West and South of the country

And he suggested that state officials would first try to convince non-compliant businesses to cooperate instead of penalizing them.

‘It’s more education. I’m not coming out with a fist. We want not come out with an open heart, recognizing the magnitude of some of these modifications,’ Newsom said.

Many local California governments have delayed reopening or have imposed extra restrictions as cases rose. 

Officials in Los Angeles County closed beaches for the Fourth of July weekend before Newsom announced his restrictions and Fresno County in the state’s Central Valley agricultural heartland had already ordered all bars to close.

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Governor signs

Governor signs historic bill to remove Confederate symbol from Mississippi flag – The Guardian

Lawmakers have seen increasing pressure to change the flag amid a nationwide reckoning with systematic racism

Mississippi state employees Willie Townsend, left, and Joe Brown raise the state flag over the Capitol grounds.

Mississippi state employees Willie Townsend, left, and Joe Brown raise the state flag over the Capitol grounds.
Photograph: Rogelio V Solis/Associated Press

Mississippi has officially retired the last state flag in the US with the Confederate battle emblem, a racist symbol that has served as a source of division for generations.

Republican governor Tate Reeves signed a historic bill withdrawing the state’s 126-year-old flag on Tuesday.

“This is not a political moment to me but a solemn occasion to lead our Mississippi family to come together, to be reconciled, and to move on,” Reeves said in a statement. “We are a resilient people defined by our hospitality. We are a people of great faith. Now, more than ever, we must lean on that faith, put our divisions behind us, and unite for a greater good.”

Mississippi flag comes down after vote to remove Confederate emblem – video

Mississippi lawmakers have faced increasing pressure to change the flag, which features the Confederate battle emblem – a red field topped by a blue X with 13 white stars, amid a nationwide reckoning with systematic racism.

On Sunday a coalition of legislators passed a bill removing the state’s flag, and calling for a commission to design a new one, which voters will be asked to approve in the 3 November election.

The move capped days of emotional debate and decades of effort by Black lawmakers and others to remove the rebel emblem, arguing it cannot represent a state where 38% of the population is Black. White supremacist lawmakers placed the symbol on the Mississippi flag in 1894, – thirty years after the civil war.

Mississippi voters chose to keep the flag in a 2001 statewide election, with supporters saying they saw it as a symbol of southern heritage. But since then, a growing number of cities and all the state’s public universities have abandoned it.

In 2015, the state’s Republican House speaker Philip Gunn endorsed the idea of changing the state flag after a white supremacist massacred nine Black parishioners in Charleston. After it was revealed that the gunman’s manifesto contained images of the Confederate battle flag, South Carolina took down the one that was displayed on statehouse grounds.

Still, the issue was broadly considered too volatile for legislators in Mississippi to touch until the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis set off weeks of sustained protests against racial injustice, followed by calls to take down Confederate symbols.

A groundswell of young activists, college athletes and leaders from business, religion, education and sports called on Mississippi to make this change, finally providing the momentum for legislators to vote. Before the governor signed the bill Tuesday, state employees raised and lowered several of the flags on a pole outside the Capitol.

The idea faced resistance up until the end. Republican state senator Chris McDaniel said changing the flag was a challenge to the founding values of the country, and warned that the American flag would be next.

Democratic representative Edward Blackmon Jr, who is Black, argued that the state flag, “ought to be something that we all feel a sense of pride that when we see it, we know that that’s about us. Not just some of us.”

Reeves said on Tuesday: “The people of Mississippi, Black and white, and young and old, can be proud of a banner that puts our faith front and center. We can unite under it. We can move forward together.”

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Governor Virginia

Virginia governor allows reopening of K-12 schools as soon as this summer – POLITICO

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam. | Steve Helber/AP Photo

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam on Tuesday said that the state will allow schools to slowly resume in-person classes this summer and in the fall.

But school districts also will have discretion on how to implement Northam’s plans and may decide their schools will have additional restrictions, depending on local public health conditions. So, for example, schools in Northern Virginia worried about continued Covid-19 infections could decide to hold physical classes but also continue some remote learning.

Northam’s announcement means that by Friday, all public school districts and private schools in the Commonwealth can begin submitting to the state Department of Education their required plans for mitigating the spread and public health risk of Covid-19.

That must happen before they launch in-person instruction for certain student groups as part of Virginia’s phased reopening. But districts can expect they will be able to move forward once they send in their plans.

“Certainly these plans will be reviewed and if there are aspects to a plan that are at variance with social distancing requirements and all of the mitigation factors and best practices identified by the state health department and the CDC, there will be a follow up with the school division to provide support,” said Charles Pyle, Virginia Department of Education spokesperson. “But it is not an approval process.”

Northam in March had ordered school buildings closed through the end of the this academic year and schools shifted to remote learning.

The phased approach to reopening K-12 schools aligns with Virginia’s plan for reopening the economy. Most of the Commonwealth is in phase two, and by Friday, all locations will be. In that phase, social gatherings continue to be limited but business restrictions are eased.

“Resuming in-person instruction is a high priority, but we must do so in a safe, responsible, and equitable manner,” Northam said in a statement.

Here are the the phases for offering in-person instruction in schools:

—One: Special education programs and child care for working families may be offered.

—Two: Phase One plus preschool through third grade students may attend school as well as English learners, and summer camps in school buildings may operate.

—Three: All students may receive in-person instruction with strict social distancing, which may require alternative schedules that blend in-person and remote learning for students.

—Beyond three: Districts resume “new-normal” operations under future guidance.

All PreK-12 schools in Virginia will be required to deliver new instruction to students for the 2020-2021 academic year, regardless of the operational status of school buildings, according to Northam’s office.