Coronavirus daily update: March 24, 2020

As part of Ballotpedia’s coverage on the coronavirus pandemic, we are compiling a daily summary of major changes in the world of politics, government, and elections happening each day. Here is the summary of changes for March 24, 2020.
Federal responses
  • The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced it would officially use the Defense Production Act to acquire 60,000 coronavirus testing kits.
Election changes
Overview to date:
  • Thirteen states and one territory changed state-level primary or general election dates. Four states changed municipal election dates on a statewide basis.
  • Five states adjusted their candidate filing procedures.
  • Six states implemented changes to their voting procedures.
  • Political parties in seven states made changes to party events on a statewide basis.
Details:
  • Georgia’s secretary of state announced that election officials would mail absentee ballot request forms to all active voters for the May 19 primary election.
  • Illinois exempted candidates for state-level office from filing statements of economic interests for the duration of the governor’s disaster proclamation period and for 30 days thereafter.
  • Massachusetts postponed four special state legislative elections, originally scheduled for March 31: Senate 2nd Hampden and Hampshire District and Senate Plymouth and Barnstable District were postponed to May 19; House 3rd Bristol District and House 37th Middlesex District were postponed to June 2.
  • Texas’ secretary of state extended the petition deadline for independent candidates for non-presidential office to August 13.
Ballot measure changes
Overview to date:
  • Ballotpedia tracked nine statewide initiative petition drives that suspended signature gathering.
State legislative responses
Overview to date:
  • To date, 222 bills related to the coronavirus pandemic have been introduced in state legislatures.
  • Twenty-seven significant bills have been enacted into law, 12 percent of the total number that have been introduced. This total omits ceremonial resolutions and legislation providing for procedural changes to legislative business. For a complete list of enacted legislation, see here.
State legislative session changes
Overview to date:
  • Twenty-one state legislatures suspended sessions in at least one chamber.
  • Two states (Maine and Maryland) adjourned early.
  • Five states implemented partial suspensions.
Details:
  • Alabama’s House of Representatives announced a partial suspension of legislative activity, canceling all meetings scheduled for March 25. The House was scheduled to meet on March 26, but a quorum was not expected.
  • Minnesota’s state legislature suspended legislative business until April 14.
  • South Carolina’s state legislature suspended its session, effective this week and continuing indefinitely.
  • Tennessee’s state legislature suspended its session until June 1.
State court changes
Overview to date:
  • Thirty-three states suspended in-person proceedings statewide.
  • Sixteen states suspended in-person proceedings on the local level.
  • One state had no change to their court schedule.
Details:
  • The Louisiana State Supreme Court instructed all courts to limit access to courtrooms and other spaces to the maximum number of people allowed per guidelines set by the CDC, President Donald Trump, and Gov. John Bel Edwards. They further ordered that all essential court functions be conducted through video or telephone whenever possible.
  • The New Jersey Supreme Court issued an order that will suspend or commute county jail sentences for low-risk inmates due to the public health emergency caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
  • The New Mexico Supreme Court ordered all judges to conduct civil and criminal proceedings by video and teleconference, except in cases where an emergency in-person appearance is required.
State shutdowns
Overview to date:
  • So far, 17 of the 50 states have issued statewide shutdown orders. Six of those orders are set to last until modified or rescinded by the governor, while the other 11 have announced end dates.
Details:
  • Hawaii – Gov. David Ige (D) issued a stay-at-home order from March 25 through April 30. Local news reports said that no decision had been made yet on schools, although they are scheduled to open April 7, and the governor sees education as essential according to reports.
  • Pennsylvania – Gov. Tom Wolf (D) issued a stay-at-home order for seven counties, which includes some of the states largest. Residents of Allegheny, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Monroe, Montgomery, and Philadelphia counties were ordered to stay home from March 23 to April 6.
School closures
Overview to date
  • 46 of 50 states have ordered a statewide school closure. The remaining states are leaving school closures up to local officials. Those 46 states served 48.7 million students during the 2016-2017 school year, accounting for 96.2% of the 50.6 million public school students in the United States.
Details:
  • Idaho – The Idaho State Department of Education ordered schools statewide to close to students from March 24 to April 20. This made Idaho the 46th state to order a statewide school closure.
  • Pennsylvania – Gov. Tom Wolf (D) announced that the statewide school closure, scheduled to end March 31, was extended to April 10.
  • South Carolina – Gov. Henry McMaster (R) announced that the statewide school closure, scheduled to end March 30, was extended to April 30.
  • Utah – Gov. Gary Herbert (R) announced that the statewide school closure, scheduled to end March 31, was extended to May 1.
Diagnosed or quarantined politicians
Federal officials and noteworthy figures who tested negative
  • First lady Melania Trump
  • Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT)
State officials who have tested positive for coronavirus
  • State Sen. Jim Smallwood (R-CO)
Here is a list of political figures not detailed in this project, due to the scope of our coverage, that did self-quarantine or test for the virus:
  • Rancho Palos Verdes, California, Mayor John Cruikshank tested positive.
  • Snoqualmie, Washington, Mayor Matt Larson tested positive.
  • Grovetown, Georgia, Mayor Gary Jones entered a self-quarantine.



About the author

Kelly Caldwell

Kelly Caldwell is a staff writer at Ballotpedia. Contact us at editor@ballotpedia.org.

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