Coronavirus daily updates: April 10, 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 10, 2020.
Debate over government responses to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic
Today, the University of Washington Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation projected that daily deaths resulting from COVID-19 would peak in the United States on or about April 10. Its model presumes that existing social distancing measures will remain in place through the end of May. At some point, Americans will begin getting back to regular activities. Stay-at-home orders will be lifted, schools will reopen, courts will resume activities, etc. When and how that should happen will be subject to debate. President Trump has said that the federal government will leave these particulars up to governors and the states.
Policymakers, public health professionals, and other stakeholders are debating both the timetables and methods for rolling back current restrictions and resuming more typical governmental, business, and social activities. Moving forward, we will be presenting some of the statements and arguments being made in this debate as a regular part of this briefing. We will publish articles on these topics next week.
  1. On April 8, at the daily White House Coronavirus Task Force briefing, President Donald Trump (R) responded to a question about what has to happen in order to reopen the country: “I think we can say that we have to be on that downside of that slope and heading to a very strong direction that this thing has gone. And we could do it in phases. We can go to some areas which you know, some areas are much less effective than others. But it would be nice to be able to open with a big bang and open up our country or certainly most of our country. And I think we’re going to do that soon.”
  2. In an interview today with Fox News, Surgeon General Jerome Adams said, “There are places around the country that have seen consistently low levels. And as we ramp up testing and can feel more confident that these places actually can do surveillance and can do public health follow-up, some places will be able to think about opening on May 1. Most of the country will not, to be honest with you, but some will. And that’s how we’ll reopen the country: place by place, bit by bit, based on the data.”
  3. In an interview today with CNBC, U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D) said, “The shelter-in-place is making a big difference, but we really don’t have an evaluation until we know the extent of the problem: testing, testing, testing. … Data, data, data, evidence, science — that is the answer to when we can go back.”
  4. In an interview today with MSNBC, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) said, “If we’re not expecting a second wave or a mutation of this virus, then we have learned nothing. I think this is one of the new normals now in public health, like we go through the environment, like we’ve gone through the economy. That is why it is such an important period for government.”
  5. Yesterday, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine said the following during a press conference, “I will guarantee you, we’re not going to keep these orders on one day longer than we have to. What I’m asking Ohioans to do is hang in there. All the evidence that we have indicates if we don’t hang in there, if we don’t continue to do what we’re doing, it’s going to cost a lot of lives and it’s going to delay our ability to economically recover.”
Federal responses
  1. President Donald Trump (R) announced he was forming a new council to discuss the process of reopening the U.S. economy. Trump referred to the group as the Opening Our Country Council and said members would be announced on April 14.
Election changes
Overview to date:
  1. Nineteen states and one territory have postponed state-level primary or special elections. Another five states have postponed, or authorized the postponement of, municipal election dates on a statewide basis.
  2. Nine states have modified their candidate filing requirements.
  3. Nineteen states have made modifications to their voting procedures.
  4. Political parties in 15 states have made changes to party events on a statewide basis.
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, 396 bills related to the coronavirus pandemic have been introduced in state legislatures.
  2. Seventy-two 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-five state legislatures have suspended their sessions. Five of those have since reconvened.
  2. Nineteen legislatures have either adjourned or are not scheduled to be in regular session this year.
  3. Four state legislatures are in regular session.
  4. One state legislature (Oklahoma) is in special session.
  5. One state (Minnesota) has partially suspended legislative activity.
Details:
  1. Wisconsin – The legislature has adjourned the special session called by Gov. Tony Evers (D) to consider modifications to the spring election, although the legislature is expected to convene sometime in the not-too-distant future to consider a COVID-19 relief bill.
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. Vermont – The Vermont Supreme Court extended restrictions on in-person proceedings and suspension of jury trials through May 31.
State executive orders
  1. Kansas – Gov. Laura Kelly (D) filed a lawsuit against the Legislative Coordinating Council, a seven-member group of the state’s legislative leaders. On Wednesday, the council voted to revoke Kelly’s order limiting religious gatherings to 10 people. Her lawsuit argues that only the full legislature may vote to revoke executive orders. The Kansas Supreme Court announced it would hear the case via video conferencing on April 11.
Prison inmate responses
Overview to date:
  1. Fourteen states ordered the release of inmates at the state level.
  2. Sixteen 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.
  5. Two states temporarily released certain populations of inmates.
Details:
  1. New York – New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that more than 1,500 inmates were released from city jails since March 16.
  2. Pennsylvania – Gov. Tom Wolf (D) announced that certain inmate populations would be released temporarily due to the coronavirus pandemic. Nonviolent inmates due to be released within the next nine months, or vulnerable inmates who are within 12 months of their release date are being considered. Inmates would return to prison upon the expiration of the state of emergency to serve the remainder of their sentences.
  3. Illinois – On April 6, Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) signed an order allowing the Illinois Department of Corrections to temporarily release “medically vulnerable” inmates as long as the governor’s disaster proclamation is in effect.
  4. New Mexico –  On April 6, New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) issued an executive order which would allow early release for inmates convicted of nonviolent crimes and scheduled to be released in the next 30 days. The order requires inmates to have parole in place prior to release.
State stay-at-home orders
Overview to date:
  1. Forty-three 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. Vermont – Gov. Phil Scott (R) extended Vermont’s stay-at-home order. The order is set to expire on May 15.
School closures
Overview to date:
  1. Nineteen states closed schools for the remainder of the academic year: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington. Those states account for 41.5% 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. Alaska – On Thursday evening, Gov. Mike Dunleavy (R) closed schools for the remainder of the academic year. Prior to the announcement, schools were closed through May 1.
Travel restrictions
Overview to date:
  1. Eighteen governors or state agencies have issued an executive order.
Eviction and foreclosure policies
Overview:
  1. Thirty-one states have implemented policies related to evictions or foreclosures.
Details:
  1. Connecticut – Gov. Ned Lamont (D) announced a grace period for rents due in April and May. His executive order allowed an automatic 60-day grace period for April rent and a 60 day grace period for May rent, upon request, for tenants who lost their jobs or income due to the coronavirus pandemic. The order also prohibits landlords from serving “notice to quit” or “service of summary process” before July 1, with an exception for “serious nuisance.”



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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