VIRUS OUTBREAK-NATIONAL PARKS
National parks hope visitors comply with virus measures
CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — As Yellowstone and other national parks end a two-month shutdown due to the coronavirus, park officials want visitors to take precautions, such as washing their hands, keeping a safe distance from other people and wearing masks in public. It’s unclear whether tourists who often disobey park rules will comply. If not, popular national parks known for drawing shoulder-to-shoulder summer crowds could become the next U.S. hot spots. Park officials say they plan is to let folks guard themselves against COVID-19, just as they do for the usual national park dangers that range from altitude sickness to grizzly bears.
States give few details on billions spent on virus supplies
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — U.S. states are spending billions of dollars buying protective medical supplies amid the coronavirus crisis, but many aren’t sharing details. Two months into a buying binge, it’s unclear how much many states are paying, which businesses they’re using and what they’re getting in return. The Associated Press asked all 50 states for the total amount they spent on protective equipment and ventilators. A few provided vendor-specific details. Some even have posted that online. But many provided only pieces of the puzzle. Those details are important because many states set aside purchasing safeguards amid competition for supplies, quickly closing emergency deals.
Police investigate fatal shooting of man at Cheyenne motel
CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Police say they have identified a person of interest in connection with the death of a man who was shot at a Cheyenne motel. They say 36-year-old Aaron Briggs of Cheyenne was found wounded on Friday night about a block from the Lariat Motel. He was taken to Cheyenne Regional Medical Center were he died. Police say they can’t release the name of the person they are looking for yet. The Cheyenne Police Department is asking anyone with information about the shooting to contact the Laramie County Combined Communications Center.
Rural areas, tribal lands hit hardest by census interruption
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Even before the pandemic, people living in rural communities and on tribal lands are among the toughest to count in the 2020 census. The U.S. Census Bureau suspending work this spring pushed those efforts even further behind. That concerns advocates in rural America and Indian Country. Alaska, West Virginia, New Mexico and other states with large rural populations are lagging behind the rest of the nation in answering the once-a-decade questionnaire. Those states have the largest concentration of households that rely on getting the forms from visiting census workers. Ultimately, it could cost them congressional seats and federal funding for highways, schools and health care.
YELLOWSTONE PARK-COOKE CITY
Yellowstone’s North Entrance open for travel to Cooke City
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Yellowstone National Park has opened its North Entrance at Gardiner, but only for motorists traveling to Silver Gate or Cooke City, which are at the park’s Northeast Entrance. Park Superintendent Cam Sholly said Saturday that Cooke City has been isolated because of the park’s closure due to the coronavirus and the fact that the scenic Beartooth Highway hasn’t been plowed on the Wyoming side. Sholly says the opening that began Thursday offers a chance to help Cooke City get back on its feet as the expected June 1 opening of Montana’s three entrances to Yellowstone nears. The road is only open to through traffic. Anyone who stops could be cited.
Judge nixes bid to stop coal sales that Trump revived
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A judge has dismissed a lawsuit from a coalition of states, environmental groups and American Indians that sought to revive an Obama-era moratorium against U.S. government coal sales on public lands in the West. The judge said President Donald Trump’s administration had fixed its initial failure to consider the climate change impacts of ending the moratorium. Opponents of the leasing program included the Democratic attorneys general of California, New York, New Mexico and Washington state. The mining industry and two coal states, Wyoming and Montana, joined the case on the side of the federal government.