Coronavirus daily update: April 7, 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 April 7, 2020.
Federal responses
  1. President Donald Trump (R) replaced Glenn Fine as the acting inspector general of the Defense Department, effectively making him ineligible to serve as chair of the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee. The Pandemic Response Accountability Committee was created to monitor the coronavirus relief money. Fine was selected as chair by the other eight members of the committee, who are all inspectors general of various federal departments and agencies. Trump named Sean O’Donnell, the EPA inspector general, to serve as Fine’s replacement.
Election changes
Overview to date:
  1. Seventeen states and one territory have postponed state-level primary or special elections. Another six states have postponed, or authorized the postponement of, municipal election dates on a statewide basis.
  2. Nine states have adjusted their candidate filing requirements.
  3. Eighteen states have implemented modifications to their voting procedures.
  4. Political parties in 15 states made changes to party events on a statewide basis.
Details:
  1. Arkansas – The Democratic Party of Arkansas has authorized 17 county-level affiliates to conduct their conventions remotely.
  2. Florida – Secretary of State Laurel Lee (R) has signed two orders authorizing candidates to submit qualifying documents, including signed petitions, electronically.
  3. Maine – The Democratic Party of Maine has canceled its state convention, originally scheduled for May 29-30. The party has opted instead to elect delegates to the national convention remotely.
  4. North Carolina – The Republican Party of North Carolina has postponed its state convention, originally scheduled for May 14 to June 4.
  5. Virginia – The Republican congressional committee of Virginia’s 7th Congressional District has voted to postpone its convention, originally scheduled for April 25, indefinitely.
  6. Texas – Governor Greg Abbott (R) has issued an order allowing parties that nominate by convention to postpone such conventions or conduct them remotely.
Ballot measure changes
Overview to date:
  1. Ballotpedia tracked 18 statewide initiative petition drives that suspended signature gathering.
  2. Five states changed ballot measure procedures.
  3. At least four lawsuits seeking court orders suspending or changing requirements and deadlines.
State legislative responses
Overview to date:
  1. To date, 353 bills related to the coronavirus pandemic have been introduced in state legislatures.
  2. Sixty-five significant bills have been enacted into law, 18 percent of the total number that have been introduced. This total omits ceremonial resolutions and legislation providing for procedural changes to legislative business.
State legislative session changes
Overview to date:
  1. Twenty-four state legislatures have suspended their sessions. Two of those (New York and Vermont) have since reconvened.
  2. Eighteen legislatures have either adjourned or are not scheduled to be in regular session this year.
  3. Five state legislatures are in regular session.
  4. Two state legislatures (Oklahoma and Wisconsin) are in special session.
  5. One state (Minnesota) has partially suspended legislative activity.
Details:
  1. California – The California legislature has extended its suspension through May 4. The suspension had originally been scheduled to last through April 13.
  2. Wisconsin – The governor issued an executive order yesterday calling on the Wisconsin legislature to convene a special session on April 7.
State court changes
Overview to date:
  1. Thirty-four states suspended in-person proceedings statewide.
  2. Sixteen states suspended in-person proceedings on the local level.
Details:
  1. Arizona– The Arizona Supreme Court extended the suspension of jury trials through May 1.
  2. Louisiana – The Louisiana Supreme Court extended restrictions on in-person proceedings and suspension of jury trials through May 4.
  3. Massachustts – The Massachusetts Supreme Court ordered emergency matters be handled virtually during normal business hours.
  4. New York – The New York Supreme Court ordered that all proceedings, both essential and emergency, must be held virtually statewide.
Prison inmate responses
Overview to date:
  1. Fourteen states ordered the release of inmates at the state level.
  2. Eighteen states ordered the release of inmates on the local level.
  3. Sixteen states have not released inmates due to coronavirus.
  4. Two states prohibited the release of certain inmate populations.
Details:
  1. Connecticut – Officials from the Connecticut Department of Corrections announced that 727 people had been released from state prisons since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic in early March, the most substantial one-month reduction of the prison population in the state’s history.
State stay-at-home orders
Overview to date:
  1. So far, 43 states issued statewide stay-at-home orders. Seven of those orders are set to last until modified or rescinded by the governor, while the other 36 announced end dates.
Details:
  1. Indiana– Gov. Eric Holcomb issued an executive order on April 6 directing all Indiana residents to limit the number of necessary trips outside of their homes and encouraged people to utilize online shopping and curbside pick up when possible.  The order also allows non-essential businesses to conduct business online with delivery and for curbside pickup.
School closures
Overview to date:
  1. Fifteen states closed schools for the remainder of the academic year: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington. Those states account for 34.4% of the 50.6 million public school students in the country.
  2. All 50 states ordered a statewide school closure in some form.
Details:
  1. Arkansas – Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) closed schools for the remainder of the academic year. Prior to this order, schools in the state were closed through April 17.
  2. New York – Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced that the statewide school closure, scheduled to end April 15, was extended through April 29.
  3. South Dakota – Gov. Kristi Noem (R) closed schools for the remainder of the academic year. Prior to the announcement, schools were closed through May 1.
  4. Washington – Gov. Jay Inslee (D) closed schools for the remainder of the academic year. Prior to the announcement, schools were closed through April 24.
Travel restrictions
Overview to date:
  1. Fifteen governors or state agencies have issued an executive order.
Details:
  1. Maine – Gov. Janet Mills (D) issued an executive order requiring all out-of-state travelers to self-quarantine for two weeks. Individuals providing essential services are exempt. The order directs state agencies, such as the Maine Department of Transportation and the Maine Turnpike Authority, to post the order at all major points of entry into the state. According to the order, individuals in violation of the quarantine restrictions could be subject to a penalty of up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.
Diagnosed or quarantined politicians identified by Ballotpedia in the last 24 hours
Deaths linked to coronavirus
  1. Jersey City Council Ward member Michael Yun
  2. Judge Kevin Duffy, United States District Court for the Southern District of New York



About the author

Stephanie MacGillivary

Stephanie MacGillivary is a staff writer at Ballotpedia and can be reached at stephanie.macgillivary@ballotpedia.org@ballotpedia.org.

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