Felons No Longer Banned From Food Stamps In Michigan

Advocates hailed the decision impacting people with histories of drug crimes. News is from Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maine and other states, as well.

Detroit Free Press:
Michigan To Repeal Ban On Food Stamps For People With Drug Convictions

Michiganders with two or more felony drug convictions will no longer be banned for life from receiving food stamps under a change in the state budget. The move comes after a coalition of organizations across the state advocated for repealing the ban, arguing that the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services policy arbitrarily punished people with histories of drug crimes. (Jackson, 9/25)

In news from Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Maine —

Boston Globe:
2 Former Leaders Charged In COVID-19 Outbreak At Holyoke Soldiers’ Home That Left 76 Dead 

Two former leaders of the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home were indicted on criminal neglect charges in what is believed to be the first US prosecution of nursing home caregivers over their handling of the coronavirus pandemic. The indictments against former superintendent Bennett Walsh and ex-medical director Dr. David Clinton stemmed from the “horrific circumstances” that claimed the lives of at least 76 veterans who contracted COVID-19 at the state-run facility, said Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey Friday in announcing the charges. (Crimaldi and Krueger, 9/25)

Boston Globe:
Governor Baker And His Staff Continue To Withhold Key Pandemic Data 

Governor Charlie Baker’s administration continues to withhold key details about COVID-19 cases and deaths at many nursing homes and other senior-care facilities, despite Baker signing a law three months ago that requires greater disclosure about infections at the institutions. The law specifically orders the Massachusetts Department of Public Health to issue a daily report with the number of cases and deaths for staff and residents at nursing homes, assisted living centers, and other health care and housing facilities catering to the elderly. (Wallack, 9/27)

Firefighters’ Union Sues State, City Over Virus Handling

The Atlantic City firefighters’ union filed a lawsuit against the city and state over their handling of the coronavirus pandemic, saying scores of firefighters have been exposed to the virus. The Press of Atlantic City reports that lawyers for Local 198 allege in a complaint in Atlantic County Superior Court that the “ineffective approach” of government officials to containing the virus spread has jeopardized the health and safety of firefighters, their families and the public. (9/27)

Philadelphia Inquirer:
How Well Are Pa. And N.J. Controlling The Coronavirus? We Did The Math. Here’s What We Found.

Since May, COVID-19 diagnostic testing in Pennsylvania has steadily increased, while the percentage of tests that come back positive has steadily fallen. These reassuring trends are even more striking in New Jersey, which was a national hot spot for coronavirus in the spring. Both states now report that their proportion of positive tests, called the positivity rate, has been below 5% for at least 14 days. That’s the World Health Organization’s benchmark for having infection transmission under control. (McCullough, 9/25)

Maine CDC Among First To Participate In Dementia Help Act

The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention will be among the first public health organizations in the country to receive federal money to expand services for people with dementia under a new nationwide program. The program is called the Building Our Largest Dementia Infrastructure for Alzheimer’s Act, or the BOLD Act. Maine CDC said it’s set to get $200,000, which can be renewed every year through 2023. (9/27)

In news from Georgia, Iowa, Texas, North Dakota and California —

Des Moines Register:
Coronavirus: Iowa Adding 27,000 Antigen Tests To State Website

The Iowa Department of Public Health will add the results of nearly 27,000 antigen tests to its coronavirus website over the weekend. The new batch of test results come from long-term care facilities that have been conducting surveillance testing on staff members during the month of September, according to an IDPH news release. (Richardson, 9/25)

Fox News:
North Dakota Rescinds Coronavirus Quarantine Order For Close Contacts Of Known COVID-19 Cases

Breaking from federally recommended guidelines, North Dakota will no longer require close contacts of known coronavirus cases to self-quarantine for 14 days. Interim State Health Officer Paul Mariani announced the order was rescinded in a news release on Thursday. “This pandemic remains a threat. Nationally, 2.9% of reported COVID-19 cases have resulted in death. While that percentage is just over 1% in North Dakota thanks to strong coronavirus response efforts at the state and local levels, cases continue to rise and our state is on track for a record number of deaths of individuals with COVID-19 in September,” Mariani said in a statement. “While this order is being rescinded, we continue to stress the importance of quarantining and isolation to bend the curve back in the right direction in North Dakota. Whenever possible, all close contacts of individuals infected with COVID-19 should avoid contact with others for 14 days past the last day they were in contact with the person who tested positive.” (Farber, 9/26)

Sacramento Bee:
Sacramento County Free Flu Shot Clinics Offered

Sacramento County public health officials kicked off the first in a series of free flu shot clinics Saturday as they urge residents to get flu vaccinations, which are even more important this year as COVID-19 continues to spread. The Sacramento County Immunization Assistance Program is hosting flu shot clinics for adults and children throughout Sacramento County from late September through late November. (Ahumada, 9/25)

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.

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