Connecting state and local government leaders
STATE AND LOCAL ROUNDUP | Supreme Court rejects request to overturn Pennsylvania election results … GAO finds EPA air monitoring of pollution is faulty … Seattle mayor won’t run again after one term.
About three out of four people in New Jersey who are diagnosed with Covid-19 are refusing to cooperate with contact tracers, Gov. Phil Murphy said this week. “Quite frankly, this is unacceptable, and we need to turn it around,” he said. "It is extremely critical for contact tracers to get in touch with the close contacts of those who test positive." Murphy said the state has succeeded in beefing up contact tracing staff, with almost all counties now exceeding the 30 tracers per 100,000 residents. But the failure of people to cooperate with tracers, who reach out to people who were potentially exposed to the sick person, is widespread. In North Dakota, Covid has spread so much that the state is now telling ill people to just reach out to their contacts themselves. [NJ.com; Idaho Statesman; Washington Post]
SUPREME COURT | In a one-sentence order, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected Pennsylvania Republicans’ request to overturn the state’s election results. President-Elect Joe Biden won the state. [New York Times]
AIR MONITORING | Funding for the Environmental Protection Agency’s air monitoring network has declined by 20% since 2004, creating funding challenges for state and local agencies that oversee and operate the network. The network is in poor condition, with agencies reporting termite damage and leaky roofs at shelters housing sensitive but aging pollution monitoring equipment, according to a U.S. Government Accountability Office report. One state agency even had to resort to shopping on eBay to find used monitor parts because a manufacturer no longer made them. “Officials from some state and local agencies said that, with the funding challenges, they struggled to maintain the minimum level of monitoring required by the EPA,” the report said. [Reuters]
SEATTLE MAYOR | Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan announced she will not run for reelection next year. Her decision to leave office after serving one term is expected to spur an active mayoral contest in 2021. Durkan was the city’s first lesbian mayor and the first woman to hold the office in almost a century. During her final year in office, Durkan said in a video statement that she will focus on addressing the city’s challenges, rather than campaigning. “We know stopping the spread of the virus, protecting jobs and focusing on the economic recovery — especially for downtown — is going to take everything we’ve got,” Durkan said. [Seattle Times]
RURAL BROADBAND | The Federal Communications Commission awarded $9.2 billion to internet-service providers to help pay for the construction of rural broadband networks. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said the awards were the “single largest step ever taken to bridge the digital divide.” The funding will go to companies ranging from LTD Broadband LLC, which primarily uses tower-mounted, “fixed wireless” technology to Elon Musk’s SpaceX, which is launching a network of satellites. The FCC said the awards will cover more than five million homes and businesses in 49 states. [Wall Street Journal, Washington Post]
Andrea Noble is a staff correspondent at Route Fifty and Laura Maggi is the managing editor.