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Stories by Aallyah Wright

Deadly bird flu sweeps states, straining farmers

Consumers will see higher egg and poultry prices - and farmers and their rural communities will face financial hardship - due to a highly contagious strain of bird flu that has spread rapidly across the U.S., killing millions of chickens, turkeys and wild birds.... Read more»0

Parents say mask-optional policies leave out high-risk students

Parents of immunocompromised children fear a new COVID-19 surge could put their kids at risk and bans on school mask mandates - enacted by mostly Republican lawmakers and governors across the country - could put their children at risk.... Read more»0

GOP lawmakers kickstart new wave of transgender athlete bans

In at least seven states—Arizona, South Dakota, Georgia, Indiana, New Hampshire, Tennessee and Virginia—Republican lawmakers have filed legislation that would prohibit transgender girls from participating on sports teams for girls and women in high school and college. ... Read more»0

Teachers 'beaten down' by staff shortages, COVID

With the latest surge of the coronavirus straining an already vulnerable K-12 workforce nationwide and many school officials saying they are struggling to find enough substitutes to cover classrooms, some state officials have exercised their power to alleviate teacher labor challenges.... Read more»0

Rural midwives fill gap as hospitals cut childbirth services

As hospitals across the country are struggling to stay afloat amid the coronavirus pandemic, some have had to cut or suspend obstetric services - but at least 8 states, including Arizona, have passed laws expanding coverage for midwifery and doula services.... Read more»0

Rural leaders fear they’ll miss out on infrastructure money

The $1.2 trillion infrastructure law should provide a huge boost to rural communities struggling to maintain crumbling infrastructure in the face of diminishing resources, but rural leaders worry that they lack the staff and matching dollars to compete with bigger cities for their share.... Read more»0

Biden’s vaccine mandate could further strain rural hospitals

In the broadest sense, President Biden’s vaccine requirement for health care workers will alleviate the strain on health centers by boosting the country’s vaccination rate - but the story may be more complicated in rural America, where resistance to the vaccine remains strongest. ... Read more»0

Take the shot? Schools explore vaccine mandates for student-athletes

COVID-19 outbreaks from last year and this fall that originated in schools often were traced back to sports, leaders say, which led them to mandate vaccines for athletes as opposed to all students - but some parents feel the choice should be left up to them.... Read more»0

Millions of jobless Americans will lose pandemic benefits on Labor Day

Millions of Americans in about half the states will lose federal pandemic weekly unemployment benefits when the program ends Sept. 6, though many Republican-led states one Democratic-led state had already ended the $300-a-week benefit earlier than the federal cutoff date.... Read more»0

Rural hospitals can’t find the nurses they need to fight COVID

Across the country, thousands of hospitals are overwhelmed with critically ill patients, prompting many overburdened nurses to leave the field - and the shortages are particularly dire in rural areas, because of the aging workforce and population, smaller salaries and intense workload.... Read more»0

Federal loophole thwarts state curbs on police seizures of property

Thirty-six states and the District of Columbia have taken steps to scale back their civil asset forfeiture laws since 2014, but civil asset forfeiture continues because legislators have failed to close a giant loophole: the federal equitable sharing program.... Read more»0

Lawmakers tackle 'period poverty' with tax cuts, school supplies

Many states have passed laws to exempt feminine hygiene products from sales taxes or ensure schools are equipped with free products - as financial barriers, stigma and poor education around menstrual cycles have forced many into period poverty - yet 27 states still profit from menstrual product sales taxes.... Read more»0

Parents face dilemma in states that ban school mask mandates

Arizona is one of the latest states to consider a permanent ban on mask mandates in public K-12 schools, charter schools and colleges and universities, despite guidance from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advising schools to continue requiring masks. ... Read more»0

GOP governors' cutoff of COVID benefits hits hard in rural America

In at least 22 states, federal unemployment assistance is being retracted by Republican governors who plan to end the pandemic-related benefits as early as June, yet economists say cutting off federal aid affects people’s livelihoods—especially for people of color and residents of rural areas saddled with slow job growth, lackluster transportation options and limited opportunities.... Read more»0