News you might have missed: 9 states expand vote-by-mail for upcoming elections


Also: Pet adoptions are skyrocketing, and a group of high school students in New Hampshire released a video encouraging everyone to stay home.

Scientists have discovered some good news about the shrinking ozone hole over Antarctica, and a phone call between Ellen and former first lady Michelle Obama has captured everyone's hearts.

Read on to see what else you might have missed this week in the news.

Several states expand absentee voting for upcoming elections

Voting by mail may soon become the new normal in many states, and several are already getting a jump start with elections this spring.

In Georgia, every voter will receive an absentee ballot application form for the state's upcoming May 19 primary. Residents will have to return the application to receive either a Democratic or Republican primary ballot, and ballots must be received by election officials by primary day.

Both Michigan and West Virginia have announced similar plans to Georgia.

Maryland's April 28 special election to replace the late Rep. Elijah Cummings will be conducted by mail. The Maryland Board of Elections recommended to Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, that the state's June 2 primary also be held entirely by mail.

On Wednesday, Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, a Democrat, announced that counties can choose to exclusively use absentee ballots for the state's June 2 primary.

The Democratic Parties in Alaska and Hawaii both canceled in-person voting and will rely exclusively on mail for their primaries. Delaware and Massachusetts announced that voters can request an absentee ballot by citing the COVID-19 outbreak. (In 17 states, voters are required to provide an excuse in order to receive an absentee ballot.)

Census Bureau sends second reminder about survey participation

The Census Bureau this week sent out a second reminder in the mail encouraging people to participate in its decennial survey, ABC News reported on Tuesday.

Anyone in the country can fill out the 2020 Census questionnaire online. It may also be filled out via telephone or by mailing back the paper form.

Census data is used by the federal government to determine the amount of funding states and districts receive for a variety of programs. It is also used to determine the number of congressional representatives for each state.

In May, the Census Bureau will send officials to knock on doors of those who have not yet responded, in order to get an accurate population count.

Pet adoptions spike across the country

Animal shelters across the country are seeing an increase in pet adoptions as many Americans stay home amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

Shelters are also "seeing a surge in offers to foster pets," the New Jersey-based Liberty Humane Society said recently.

In New York City, one shelter told Bloomberg that they "definitely don't have any dogs left to match" with foster volunteers, which the shelter said was "a great problem to have."

Bloomberg reported that one group in Los Angeles saw a 70% increase in pets going to foster families.

Evidence shows ozone hole over Antarctica is closing

More than 30 years after the Montreal Protocol was enacted, banning chemicals that were creating a hole in the ozone layer over Antarctica, experts say the effort is working.

According to a study published in the journal "Nature," the ozone hole has not only stopped growing, but it may be shrinking.

"This study adds to growing evidence showing the profound effectiveness of the Montreal Protocol," Antara Banerjee, one of the lead authors of the study, said, according to the Good News Network. "Not only has the treaty spurred healing of the ozone layer, it's also driving recent changes in Southern Hemisphere air circulation patterns."

New Hampshire high schoolers lead outbreak response with stay home, stay healthy video

The New Hampshire High School Democrats created a video this week encouraging people to stay home during the ongoing coronavirus crisis in order to keep themselves and their communities healthy.

"Social distancing, or limiting your interactions with other people and avoiding public gatherings, will save real lives during this COVID-19 crisis," members of the group said in the video. "You may feel fine, but you still could be carrying what to many is a very deadly virus."

In an interview, Lily Coady, communications director for the group, said that the group created the video because "not everyone is taking it as seriously as they need to."

Less than a week after the group released the video, New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu, a Republican, issued a state-wide stay at home order effective until at least May 4.

New documentary about voting rights praised by Stacey Abrams

A new documentary on voter suppression in the 2018 Georgia gubernatorial race, directed by Robert Greenwald, has earned rave reviews from Stacey Abrams, the Democratic candidate who narrowly lost that race.

"Suppressed: The Fight to Vote" highlights issues such as poll closures, voter purges, and the long wait times in the 2018 election, and includes interviews with experts, poll watchers, and Georgia voters.

"Voter suppression is the story of the 2018 election in Georgia, and the documentary 'Suppressed' tells this story in vivid, powerful detail," Abrams said.

The 38-minute documentary can be viewed online.

Watch Ellen and Michelle Obama discuss Netflix, chilling at home

Ellen DeGeneres and former first lady Michelle Obama talked about Netflix, staying at home, and other topics in a video Ellen posted to Twitter on Monday.

Obama said that her two daughters were home from college and spending their time in their rooms "doing their online classes."

As for the former president, she said, "I think Barack — I don't know where he is. He was on a conference call."

"We also have some Netflix and chilling happening," she joked.

The former first lady also said she was glad to be able to spend more time with her family, even as she expressed sympathy to those who were suffering both health-wise and economically during the outbreak.

Check back next week for more news you might have missed.