Music City moves, cannabis boost, bag ban delay: News from around our 50 states – USA TODAY

Alabama

Birmingham: Mayor Randall Woodfin was released from a hospital Wednesday after being treated for COVID-19 and planned to continue recovering from the illness and quarantining at home. Woodfin, 39, was admitted to Princeton Baptist Medical Center on Monday with pneumonia in his left lung caused by COVID-19. He said a grandmother who died of the illness caused by the new coronavirus was being laid to rest as he was being discharged. “That pains me. I can’t be there, and I miss her. She was 87 years old and she died of COVID-19,” he said in a statement. “If you don’t have to be out, don’t be out. Wash your hands. Wear your masks and practice social distancing.” Woodfin received Remdesivir and convalescent plasma therapy during his stay in the hospital. Woodfin fell ill at the same time three other Alabama mayors from Auburn, Decatur and Florence were fighting the illness. Meanwhile, state health officials urged patience Wednesday amid a slow rollout of COVID-19 vaccinations, saying it plans soon to expand who is eligible to get the shots. The state is in the first phase of its vaccination plan, which prioritizes health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities, about 377,000 altogether.But it has only received 226,000 vaccines so far.

Alaska

Bethel: A school district established a limited intranet system in an attempt to provide students with more reliable distance learning amid the pandemic. The Lower Kuskokwim School District said every student has now received the hardware necessary for the intranet system, although a teacher said some homes are still not connected, KYUK-AM reports. “It’s a slow process because the actual hardware that families need to install on their home, it’s a self-install because of COVID, because of health mandates,” said Jeffrey Behselich, a science teacher in the village of Atmautluak. He said about a quarter of homes in the community are still not connected to the intranet system, which functions like a limited internet. Lockdowns of communities in the southwestern Alaska district to slow the virus’s spread left students and families navigating the new technology without assistance. Teachers also had to learn the software and remotely provide instruction to students about its use, Behselich said. Deployment of the district’s intranet was delayed for months, forcing schools to rely on paper packets. Many students withdrew from school activities as a result.

Arizona

As COVID-19 brutalizes Arizona, a look inside Tucson Medical Center provides a snapshot of what hospitals in the state are experiencing during the pandemic.

Phoenix: Five months after President Donald Trump hailed Arizona as a model for how it dealt with the COVID-19 pandemic, public health experts warned Wednesday that the state has become “the hot spot of the world” and that health restrictions the governor has been hesitant to impose could have tamped down the crisis. “It’s way worse than July already, and it’s going to continue to get worse. We’re probably two weeks behind LA in terms of our situation,” said Will Humble, head of the Arizona Public Health Association, referring to Los Angeles County, where a COVID-19 surge has created a shortage of oxygen and led ambulance crews to stop transporting patients they can’t revive in the field. Arizona on Thursday reported nearly 300 more coronavirus deaths, a pandemic-high number of fatalities for the second time this week, along with nearly 10,000 additional known COVID-19 cases. The surge has stressed Arizona’s health care system, and the state’s coronavirus dashboard reported a record high of 4,920 COVID-19 patients occupying inpatient hospital beds as of Wednesday. The 1,101 patients in intensive care beds also set a record. Arizona has the worst coronavirus diagnosis rate in the country, with 1 of every 119 people in the state testing positive in the past week.

Arkansas

Little Rock: The state reported a near-record increase in coronavirus deaths Wednesday as cases continued to mount. The Department of Health reported 65 new deaths from COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus, bringing the state’s total fatalities since the pandemic began to 3,901. The increase was the state’s highest since it reported a record 66 deaths Dec. 29. The state’s virus cases rose by 3,705 to 242,593. Its hospitalizations, which had hit record levels in recent days, dropped by two to 1,321. “It has been a tough day with the loss of another 65 of our friends and neighbors to COVID-19,” Gov. Asa Hutchinson said in a statement released by his office. “Vaccine doses continue to be distributed across the state to those in Category 1-A, and we are also receiving additional doses each week.” Nearly 4% of the state’s intensive care unit beds and 21% of its hospital beds are available, according to the Department of Health. There are 427 COVID-19 patients in ICUs around the state.

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