Documenting America’s Path to Recovery: April 28, 2020

Welcome to Documenting America’s Path to Recovery, our daily update on the plans federal, state, and local officials are making to set America on a path to recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

Each day, this newsletter will:

  • Track the status of reopening in all 50 states and describe the relevant political context.
  • Provide in-depth summaries of some of the latest reopening plans, beginning with state plans and eventually moving to local government or private industry plans.
  • Link to the latest stories on other reopening plans and ideas. We’ll keep you up to date on all of the most recent developments coming out of state capitals.
  • Highlight commentary laying out key arguments in the debate over how and when to reopen.

For a look at the updates from Monday’s debut edition, click here.

In today’s edition:

  • A roundup of reopenings and plans from state governments.
  • The debate over how and when states should reopen.
  • Tracking the status of reopenings in the states.
  • Featured Plan: Colorado: Safer at Home.
  • Additional state and local activity.

Recent developments

The latest news in state reopening plans. This section includes state updates that have occurred since yesterday’s edition. For the most recent and up-to-date reopening status in all 50 states, visit our article here.

  • Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R) announced the state would transition from a “Stay At Home” order to a “Safer At Home” order beginning on April 30 at 5 p.m. and lasting until May 15. The new order will allow some businesses to reopen under sanitation and social-distancing guidelines, retail stores to open at 50% max occupancy, and beaches to reopen with gatherings limited to 10 and required social distancing. Restaurants will remain limited to takeout and delivery. Alabama is a Republican trifecta.
  • Maine Gov. Janet Mills (D) is scheduled to hold a press conference this afternoon to outline the state’s plan to reopen the economy. Maine is a Democratic trifecta.
  • Nevada joined the Western States Pact with California, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington to coordinate on a regional response to the pandemic. All four states are Democratic trifectas.
  • Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) issued an executive order allowing retail stores, malls, restaurants, and theaters to reopen on May 1 at 25% max occupancy. The order also allows libraries and museums to open. The new order supersedes any local orders. Abbott said he wants personal care businesses, gyms, and bars to open “as soon as possible” and said he expected that to happen by mid-May.
  • Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D) announced on Monday that nonessential businesses can begin to offer curbside pickup for goods or animals on Wednesday. Outdoor recreational rentals and entirely automatic car washes may also open if free of contact with customers.


Key arguments in the debate over how and when to reopen.

Tracking reopenings

The table and maps below show the status of plans to lift restrictions on activities because of the pandemic. We’ll update them daily.

We’re placing states into five categories of reopenings. Here’s what they mean:

  • Reopenings in progress: the state has already lifted restrictions on some industries put in place because of the pandemic.
  • Announced reopenings, effective date: the state will reopen or partially reopen three or more industries on a set date.
  • Announced reopenings, contingent date: the state will reopen or partially reopen three or more industries on a targeted date, dependent on other conditions.
  • Announced reopenings, no date: the state has a plan to reopen three or more industries entirely dependent on conditions.
  • Limited or no announced reopening plan: the state has not yet put forth a plan to reopen three or more industries.

Featured plan 

An in-depth summary of one of the latest state reopening plans. Is there a plan you’d like us to feature? Reply to this email and let us know.

Colorado enters Level 2 of state reopening plan

On Sunday, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) issued an executive order, “Safer At Home,” that outlines how the state will reopen portions of its economy over the next week.

Polis said, “Together, Coloradans have been effective in leveling and flattening the curve, but life will remain much more dangerous than usual these next few months and we should all wear masks when in public. Safer at Home is by no means a free-for-all.”

Under the order, retail businesses were permitted to open for curbside delivery Monday. Real estate home showings and elective medical procedures were also allowed to resume.

On May 1, retail and personal service businesses can reopen if they are using best practices outlined by the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment.

On May 4, offices and childcare facilities can reopen with restrictions.

The executive order allows local governments to implement more restrictive conditions than the state order provides or loosen restrictions if certain public health conditions are met.

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, for example, extended his city’s stay-at-home order until May 8. Restrictions on restaurants and other non-essential businesses are set to run until May 11. “When we think about where we are in terms of testing and contact tracing, we realize we are not anywhere near close to being ready to do this,” Hancock said.

Polis called this Level 2 of the state’s reopening. The next level—which would see bars, restaurants, and clubs reopen with social distancing measures—does not have an effective date. While Polis said he would like to see these businesses reopen by mid-May, that will depend on data and modeling.


  • Polis declared a state of emergency on March 10, 2020. On March 25, Polis issued a stay-at-home order scheduled to run through April 11. On April 7, he extended the order to April 26.
  • On Monday, Colorado joined the Western States Pact with California, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington to coordinate on a regional response to the pandemic. The pact lists three shared principles that will govern the states’ reopening plans: (1) residents’ health comes first, (2) health outcomes rather than politics will guide decisions, and (3) each state must work together and with local leaders.
  • As of Tuesday, Colorado had 13,879 coronavirus cases, 2,485 hospitalizations, and 706 total deaths. Eight new deaths were reported on April 24. Four new deaths were reported on both Saturday and Sunday.
  • Colorado is a Democratic trifecta. Democrats control both chambers in the state legislature, and Polis is a Democratic governor.

Plan details

The Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment published guidance on reopening dates and best practices for industries across the state. Social distancing guidelines include physical distancing of 6 feet and gatherings limited to 10 or fewer people.

  • Office-based businesses can reopen May 4 with 50% in-office occupancy and telecommuting maximized.
  • Childcare facilities can reopen May 4 if following the Department’s best practices. This does not apply to summer camps or public preschool on public school campuses.
  • Primary and secondary education will operate through remote learning for the rest of the school year with limited exceptions.
  • Higher education facilities should maximize remote learning. In-person learning may be conducted in certain circumstances with approval from the Department of Higher Education.
  • Field services and real estate and elective medical services reopened with restrictions Monday.
  • Nursing homes must continue to restrict visitation from non-essential individuals. Facilities must submit an isolation plan to the Department of Public Health by May 1.
  • Indoor recreation facilities remain closed.
  • Retail businesses reopened for curbside pick-up and delivery Monday. They can reopen with restrictions on May 1.

Local governments can enhance these restrictions, including extending stay-at-home orders or instituting additional protective measures. They can also relax guidelines if they can show their county’s coronavirus infection rate has declined for 14 consecutive days.

Several counties, including Eagle, Fremont, and Custer, have already planned to or submitted exemption waivers to set their own reopening guidelines.

Polis also established the New Normal Advisory Board by executive order to advise on local and state coordination. The 14-member group consists of 10 local officials representing different municipality sizes. It’s members also include the governor’s chief of staff and the executive directors of the Department of Public Health & Environment, Department of Public Safety, and Department of Regulatory Agencies.


  • Jill Hunsaker Ryan, the executive director of the Colorado Department of Health and Environment, said, “Basically this is a really tricky balance between trying to continue to keep the disease transmission at a level at which it won’t overwhelm our hospital systems and allow people to still try and earn a living, frankly.” She said Colorado did not yet have sufficient testing to detect how widespread the coronavirus is.
  • Rep. Ken Buck (R) said, “It’s important we continue to take measured steps that allow businesses to safely open their doors and get Coloradans back to work. We must also ensure high-risk folks still have the option to work from home.”
  • Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D) said, “Colorado is a diverse state, and local jurisdictions benefit from strong leadership at the state level, as well as the ability to determine what’s best for their resident.”

Additional activity

In this section, we will feature examples of activities by other federal, state, and local governments and influencers relevant to recovering from the pandemic. 

  • Bailey v. PritzkerClay County Circuit Court Judge Michael McHaney granted a restraining order temporarily blocking Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s (D) 30-day extension of the state’s stay-at-home order. According to CBS News Chicago, the restraining order applies only to the plaintiff in the case, state Rep. Darren Bailey (R). This means that Bailey does not have to follow the order past its prior expiration date. The order also gives other state residents the opportunity to join in the lawsuit or file their own. Pritzker said he would appeal the ruling.
  • The Administrative Office of U.S. Courts issued guidance on Monday for how courts should begin to reopen across four phases of operations. The guidelines encourage courts to tailor their timelines based on local and state public health data.
    • Phase 1: Courthouses are closed to the public.
    • Phase 2: Court filings and proceedings may increase. Non-vulnerable employees may return to work, although telework is emphasized.
    • Phase 3: Many employees may return to work if practicing social distancing and other precautionary measures. Six-foot distancing restrictions should be in place in courtrooms, jury rooms, and cafeterias.
    • Phase 4: Courts can resume normal operations.
  • Memphis, Tennessee, released a framework for reopening its economy. It has three phases that will be entered into based on conditions related to new cases, public health capacity, and testing. Phase one would allow non-essential businesses with limited personal contact between staff and visitors, including restaurants and gyms, to reopen, along with manufacturers, offices, and call centers. Phase two would allow non-essential businesses with close personal contact, such as hair and nail salons, and facilities for contact sports to reopen with limited occupancy.  Phase three would allow for groups of up to 50 individuals to gather (the current limit is 10) and allow larger venues to operate under limited capacity and with physical distancing protocols.