CDC not shifting guidelines for schools

Despite President Donald Trump’s sharp criticism, federal guidelines for reopening schools are not being revised, the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday. Dr. Robert Redfield said the agency would be issuing “additional reference documents” for parents and schools to facilitate the reopening and deal with safety concerns in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. But he said there would be no changing of the overall guidance. Redfield commented a day after Trump complained the reopening guidelines were “very tough and expensive” and the CDC was “asking schools to do very impractical things.” Speaking of CDC officials, he tweeted, “I will be meeting with them!!!” Redfield said, “It’s really important, it’s not a revision of the guidelines, it’s just to provide additional information to help schools be able to use the guidance that we put forward.” He made his comments on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” Trump is pressuring state and local officials to reopen schools this fall, threatening to withhold federal funds from those that keep their learning remote.

Virus disrupting state lotteries nationwide

The coronavirus pandemic has been a roller coaster for state lotteries across the country, with some getting a boost from the economic downturn and others scrambling to make up for revenue shortfalls. Since March, Texas, Arkansas and Montana and several other states have seen an increase in sales, in part, driven by housebound residents putting cash down for scratch-off tickets. But lottery officials say other states, like Massachusetts and Oregon, faced revenue drops due to stay-at-home orders that forced the closure of restaurants, bars and some retailers selling tickets. Some also blamed a lack of an online presence, something only a handful of states currently allow. “We got used to lottery as a constant companion supporting the system, and it was a gut punch to realize we don’t have the time to react,” said Chris Havel, spokesperson for Oregon Parks and Recreation, which laid off 47 people and closed more than two dozen parks due to a $22 million projected budget shortfall through next year driven in part by a drop in lottery revenue. The pandemic and the subsequent economic downturn were expected to be a good thing for lottery sales. Past studies have shown a correlation between a rise in unemployment and increase in lottery sales — a trend that prompted an anti-gambling group to unsuccessfully call for states to shut down their lotteries until the coronavirus pandemic ended.

Mississippi hit by outbreak at Capitol

Packed elevators and crowded committee rooms. Legislators sitting shoulder-to-shoulder on the House and Senate floor. People standing close to each other and talking, sometimes leaning in to whisper, without a mask in sight. Those were common scenes at the Mississippi Capitol in June — a month that saw a historic vote to remove the Confederate emblem from the state flag — and now at least 26 lawmakers have been diagnosed with the corona­virus in the biggest known outbreak in any state legislature in the nation. That works out to about 1 in 7 Mississippi legislators. Among those testing positive in the heavily Republican body are the GOP presiding officers, House Speaker Philip Gunn and Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann. None of the lawmakers has been hospitalized. In addition to the legislators, at least 10 people who work in the Capitol have been diagnosed with the virus.

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