Coronavirus Daily Update: April 15, 2020

Ballotpedia, The Encyclopedia of American Politics

Debate over government responses to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic

Read more: Arguments in support of and opposition to government responses to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Today, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) announced he would issue an executive order requiring people who cannot maintain a six-foot distance from others in public settings to wear face masks. Maryland Governor Larry Hogan (R) announced he would issue an order requiring people to wear face coverings in retail establishments and grocery stores and when using public transit. There is debate within the public health community over the effectiveness of face coverings in mitigating the spread of COVID-19.

  • On April 3, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revised its guidance on the use of face coverings: “We now know from recent studies that a significant portion of individuals with coronavirus lack symptoms (‘asymptomatic’) and that even those who eventually develop symptoms (‘pre-symptomatic’) can transmit the virus to others before showing symptoms.  This means that the virus can spread between people interacting in close proximity—for example, speaking, coughing, or sneezing—even if those people are not exhibiting symptoms. In light of this new evidence, CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies) especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.”

  • On April 6, the World Health Organization released guidance on the use of face coverings: “There is limited evidence that wearing a medical mask by healthy individuals in the households or among contacts of a sick patient, or among attendees of mass gatherings may be beneficial as a preventive measure. However, there is currently no evidence that wearing a mask (whether medical or other types) by healthy persons in the wider community setting, including universal community masking, can prevent them from infection with respiratory viruses, including COVID-19.

The 1918 influenza pandemic

Read more: 1918 influenza pandemic (Spanish Flu) and the 1918 midterm election cycle

The 1918 midterm elections occurred during the 1918 flu pandemic, one of the most severe in history. Each day, we’ll look back at a story from the 1918 elections to see how America met the challenges of holding elections during a national health emergency.

On November 2, 1918, the Oakland Tribune published an article titled, “Voting is Safe If You Wear Your Mask.”

“Voters are receiving assurances from the state and local health authorities that there is no danger of contracting the influenza by going to the polls on Tuesday…

There is not the slightest danger in voting if you wear your mask.  If you are staying at home, you are not being benefited by the fresh air and sunshine that you will enjoy, performing your patriotic duty as an American citizen.”

Click here to read the original article, courtesy of the University of Michigan Center for the History of Medicine and Michigan Publishing’s Influenza Encyclopedia.

Federal responses

Read more: Political responses to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

  • On Tuesday afternoon, President Donald Trump (R) announced that the U.S. was suspending funding to the World Health Organization pending a review of the group’s actions in response to the coronavirus.

Election changes

Read more: Changes to election dates, procedures, and administration in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview:

  • Twenty states and one territory have postponed state-level primary or special elections.

  • Ten states have modified their candidate filing requirements.

  • Twenty-two states have made modifications to their voting procedures.

  • Political parties in 16 states have adjusted party events on a statewide basis.

Details:

  • Louisiana – Louisiana postponed its presidential preference primary to July 11. This marks the second postponement of the presidential preference primary, which was first postponed to June 20. It was originally scheduled to take place on April 4.

  • Maryland – Limited in-person voting will be permitted in the April 28 special election in Maryland’s 7th Congressional District. In-person voting will be limited to those who cannot vote by mail.

  • Washington, D.C. – Washington, D.C., will send absentee ballot applications to every registered voter in advance of the district’s June 2 primary election.

Ballot measure changes

Read more: Changes to ballot measure campaigns, procedures, and policies in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview:

  • Ballotpedia tracked 19 statewide initiative petition drives that suspended signature gathering.

  • Five states changed ballot measure procedures.

  • At least five lawsuits have been filed seeking court orders suspending or changing ballot measure requirements and deadlines.

State legislative responses

Read more: State laws in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview:

  • To date, 506 bills related to the coronavirus pandemic have been introduced in state legislatures.

  • Seventy-eight significant bills have been enacted into law, 15 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

Read more: Changes to state legislative session dates in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview:

  • Twenty-five state legislatures have suspended their sessions. Four of those have since reconvened.

  • Nineteen legislatures have either adjourned or are not scheduled to be in regular session this year.

  • Four state legislatures are in regular session.

  • One state legislature (Oklahoma) is in special session.

  • One state (Minnesota) has partially suspended legislative activity.

State court changes

Read more: State court closures in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview:

  • Thirty-four states suspended in-person proceedings statewide.

  • Sixteen states suspended in-person proceedings on the local level.

Details:

  • Kentucky – The Kentucky Supreme Court extended their restrictions on in-person proceedings and suspension of jury trials through May 31.

  • Idaho – The Idaho Supreme Court extended their restrictions on in-person proceedings through April 22 and suspension of jury trials through June 1.

  • Washington – The Washington Supreme Court extended their restrictions on in-person proceedings and suspension of jury trials through May 4.

Prison inmate responses

Read more: State and local governments that released prison inmates in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview:

  • Fourteen states ordered the release of inmates at the state level.

  • Sixteen  states ordered the release of inmates on the local level.

  • Fifteen states have not released inmates due to coronavirus.

  • Two states prohibited the release of certain inmate populations.

  • Three states have temporarily released certain populations of inmates.

Details:

  • Massachusetts –  State prisons and county jails in Massachusetts have released 367 inmates due to the coronavirus pandemic. The releases follow an April 3 order from the Massachusetts Supreme Court, which directed officials to release most people being held in jail pretrial.

  • Ohio – Ohio’s Correctional Institution Inspection Committee, at the request of Gov. Mike DeWine, approved the early release of 141 inmates due to the coronavirus pandemic. The inmates considered for release were within 90 days of their original release date and were not convicted of violent or sex offenses.

  • Oregon –  Gov. Kate Brown (D) announced that she would not release inmates due to the coronavirus pandemic. During a press conference on April 14, Brown stated that she was concerned about coronavirus in state prisons and that she had reviewed the Oregon Department of Corrections plan for containment. The governor said, “Whether an adult in custody should be released before the end of their sentence or not is a decision that must be weighed based on the individual merits of their situation…I want to be clear: at this time, I have no specific plans to abandon that case-by-case approach.”

  • Kentucky – The Kentucky Supreme Court issued a new emergency release schedule and emergency drug-testing schedule which temporarily expands its Administrative Release Program to help slow the spread of coronavirus. Kentucky’s Administrative Release Program expedites the pretrial release of low-to-moderate risk defendants charged with nonviolent and nonsexual offenses. The order is in effect through May 31.

State stay-at-home orders

Read more: States with lockdown and stay-at-home orders in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview:

  • Forty-three states issued statewide stay-at-home orders. Eight of those orders are set to last until modified or rescinded by the governor, while the other 35 announced end dates.

Details:

  • Idaho – Gov. Brad Little (R) extended the state’s stay-at-home order through April 30. Prior to the announcement, the order was scheduled to end on April 15.

  • Kansas – Gov. Laura Kelly extended the state’s stay-at-home order through May 3. Prior to the announcement, the order was scheduled to end on April 19.

School closures

Read more: School closures in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview:

  • Twenty-four states closed schools for the remainder of the academic year: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington. Those states account for 44.3% of the 50.6 million public school students in the country.

  • All 50 states ordered a statewide school closure in some form.

Details:

  • Utah – Gov. Gary Herbert (R) closed schools for the remainder of the academic year. Prior to the announcement, schools were closed through May 1.

Travel restrictions

Read more: Travel restrictions issued by states in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview:

  • Nineteen governors or state agencies have placed restrictions on out-of-state travelers

Details:

  • Idaho – Idaho Gov. Brad Little (R) issued an order requiring all out-of-state travelers to self-quarantine for 14 days unless engaged in essential activities.

Eviction and foreclosure policies

Read more: Changes to rent, mortgage, eviction, and foreclosure policies in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview:

  • Thirty-four states have implemented policies related to evictions or foreclosures on either the state or local level.

Details:

  • Kentucky – The Kentucky Supreme Court ordered that eviction filings would not be accepted until 30 days after the expiration of Gov. Andy Beshear’s (D) March 25 order. In his order, Gov. Beshear suspended evictions in the state for the duration of the state of emergency due to coronavirus.



About the author

Cory Eucalitto

Cory Eucalitto is a managing editor at Ballotpedia. Contact us at editor@ballotpedia.org.

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