Coronavirus Daily Update: April 29th, 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 29, 2020.

Plans to reopen
Read more: State government plans to reopen after the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

  • Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) was expected to hold a press conference Wednesday at 5 p.m. ET to discuss the first phase of reopening the state. Florida’s stay-at-home order is scheduled to expire on Thursday.
  • New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced the creation of the New York Forward Re-Opening Advisory Board. Former Cuomo aides Steve Cohen and Bill Mulrow will lead the group of more than 100 business, community, and civic leaders from the state. A full list of board members is available here.
  • North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum (R) released the ND Smart Restart protocols. These guidelines will apply to businesses in the state beginning May 1, when the phased reopening of the state’s economy will begin.
  • South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R) outlined her Back to Normal plan for the state. The plan includes guidelines for individuals, employers, retailers, schools, healthcare providers, and local governments for resuming normal operations. The guidelines are not requirements and do not go into effect on a specific date (though the plan has a list of criteria to initiate) as South Dakota never issued a stay-at-home order or required businesses to close.

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

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

Today, we feature two arguments regarding the best way to achieve herd immunity to stop the coronavirus.

“The question is not whether to aim for herd immunity as a strategy, because we will all eventually get there. The question is how to minimise casualties until we get there. Since Covid-19 mortality varies greatly by age, this can only be accomplished through age-specific countermeasures. We need to shield older people and other high-risk groups until they are protected by herd immunity.

Among the individuals exposed to Covid-19, people aged in their 70s have roughly twice the mortality of those in their 60s, 10 times the mortality of those in their 50s, 40 times that of those in their 40s, 100 times that of those in their 30s, and 300 times that of those in their 20s. The over-70s have a mortality that is more than 3,000 times higher than children have. For young people, the risk of death is so low that any reduced levels of mortality during the lockdown might not be due to fewer Covid-19 deaths, but due to fewer traffic accidents.

Considering these numbers, people above 60 must be better protected, while restrictions should be loosened on those below 50.”

– Martin Kulldorff, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, Spiked, “Delaying herd immunity is costing lives,” April 29, 2020

“Experts estimate that for a population to reach herd immunity, up to 80 percent of it would have to be exposed to the coronavirus. Even if the virus has a fatality rate of a little less than 1 percent, this means that letting it spread through the population of the United States would cause about 2 million deaths. …

We won’t get to herd immunity in the near future. A miracle drug is not in sight. The only way to restart the economy, then, is to put a highly effective system in place to test millions of people, trace their movements, and quickly quarantine those who might have been infected.”

– Yascha Mounk, associate professor at Johns Hopkins University and senior fellow at the German Marshall Fund, The Atlantic, “No Testing, No Treatment, No Herd Immunity, No Easy Way Out,” April 28, 2020

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 March 14, 2020, The Washington Post published an article titled, “In 1918, the Spanish flu infected the White House. Even President Wilson got sick.” The article discussed the impact the 1918 influenza had on the Whte House. 

“In the fall of 1918, as President Woodrow Wilson scrambled to end World War I, the Spanish flu slithered its way through D.C., unsettling daily life in the same ways covid-19 is upending America today…Churches were closed. Public dance halls were shuttered. No corner of the nation’s capital was spared — not even the White House.”

“Wilson’s personal secretary was among the first in his administration to be sickened by a pandemic that would ultimately infect 500 million people. Margaret, his eldest daughter, got it. Secret Service members did, too. Even the White House sheep were not spared…Also not spared: the President of the United States.”

Click here to read the full article, courtesy of The Washington Post.

Federal responses

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

  • President Trump (R) signed an executive order aimed at keeping meat processing plants open throughout the country. Trump invoked the Defense Production Act to designate meat processing plants as critical infrastructure.

Lawsuits about state actions and policies

Read more: Lawsuits about state actions and policies in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview:

  • To date, Ballotpedia has tracked 53 lawsuits, spanning 29 states, relating to governmental actions undertaken in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Rulings have been issued, or settlements have been reached, in 14 of those lawsuits.
  • Ballotpedia has separately tracked another 33 lawsuits, spanning 20 states, dealing with the administration of elections in light of the pandemic. Rulings have been issued, or settlements have been reached, in nine of those lawsuits.

Details:

  • Yang v. New York State Board of Elections: On April 28, Andrew Yang, a former candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, and several candidates for New York’s delegation to the Democratic National Convention filed suit against the New York State Board of Elections over its decision to cancel the state’s Democratic presidential preference primary. The suit was filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.

    • The Democratic presidential preference primary, originally scheduled to take place on April 28, had been postponed to coincide with the statewide primary for congressional, state, and local offices scheduled to take place on June 23. Senator Bernie Sanders (I) suspended his presidential campaign on April 8, making former Vice President Joe Biden (D) the presumptive Democratic nominee. On April 27, the state board of elections moved to cancel the Democratic presidential preference primary. A law enacted earlier in April authorized the board to remove candidates from ballots upon the suspension or termination of their campaigns

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:

  • So far, 43 of the 50 states issued statewide shutdown orders. Eight of those orders are set to last until modified or rescinded by the governor, while the other 35 announced end dates.

Details:

  • Maine – Gov. Janet Mills (D) announced that the state’s stay-at-home order, scheduled to end April 30, was extended through May 31.

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.
  • Twelve states have modified candidate filing requirements.
  • Twenty-four states have made modifications to voting procedures.
  • Political parties in 18 states have adjusted party events on a statewide basis.

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 20 statewide initiative petition drives that suspended signature gathering.
  • Five states changed ballot measure procedures.
  • At least seven lawsuits seeking court orders suspending or changing requirements and deadlines.

School closures

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

Overview:

  • Forty-three states have closed schools to in-person instruction for the remainder of the academic year: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. Those states account for 88.1% of the 50.6 million public school students in the country.
  • Of the seven states that have not announced that schools will for the remainder of the year, three have Democratic trifectas, two have Republican trifectas, and two have divided governments.
  • All 50 states ordered a statewide school closure in some form.

Details:

  • Wyoming – Gov. Mark Gordon (R) announced that the statewide closure of schools to in-person instruction was extended from April 30 to May 15.

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 issued an executive order restricting out-of-state travelers. 

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:

  • Michigan – The Michigan Supreme Court extended restrictions on in-person proceedings until further notice. Prior to the order, in-person proceedings were restricted through April 30.  In a prior April 23 order, the court suspended jury trials through June 22. The court also issued an order which authorizes courts to collect contact information from any party or witness to a case to facilitate scheduling and participation in remote hearings or to facilitate case processing.
  • New Mexico – The New Mexico Supreme Court extended the suspension of jury trials through May 29.  In their order, the court announced that they will limit the number of people to no more than 15 in courtrooms and other locations in the courthouse to promote social distancing. They further ordered judges to conduct civil and criminal proceedings remotely via video or phone conferences, except in cases where an emergency appearance is required.
  • Pennsylvania – The Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued an order that allows courts to be generally open beginning May 4. The order also extended restrictions on in-person proceedings and suspension of jury trials through June 1.
  • Wisconsin – Wisconsin Chief Judge Patience Drake Roggensack announced that she had created a statewide Wisconsin Courts COVID-19 Task Force.  According to a press release, the goal of the task force is “to recommend a framework of criteria under which Wisconsin courts throughout the state can safely continue court proceedings, including jury trials.”    

Prison inmate responses

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

Overview:

  • Seventeen states have ordered the release of inmates at the state level.
  • Fifteen states have ordered the release of inmates on the local level.
  • Thirteen states have not released inmates due to coronavirus.
  • Two states have prohibited the release of certain inmate populations.
  • Three states have temporarily released certain populations of inmates.

Details:

  • New Jersey – The New Jersey Department of Corrections announced that 54 inmates have been placed on emergency medical-home confinement due to the coronavirus pandemic. The temporary releases follow an April 10 order from Gov. Phil Murphy, who authorized the temporary release of certain inmates to slow the spread of the pandemic.

Eviction and foreclosure policies

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

Overview:

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

Details:

  • Texas – The Texas Supreme Court extended the moratorium on evictions in foreclosures in the state through May 18. Prior to the order, evictions and foreclosures were paused through April 19.

State legislative responses

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

Overview: 

  • To date, 724 bills related to the coronavirus pandemic have been introduced in state legislatures.
  • Ninety-four significant bills have been enacted into law, about 13 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-four state legislatures have suspended their sessions. Four of those have since reconvened.
  • Eighteen legislatures have either adjourned or are not scheduled to be in regular session this year.
  • Four state legislatures are in regular session.
  • Four state legislatures are in special session.

Details:

  • Mississippi – The Mississippi State Legislature is scheduled to reconvene on May 18. Its suspension had previously been scheduled to continue indefinitely. 
  • North Carolina – The North Carolina General Assembly convened its regular session on April 28.



About the author

Cory Eucalitto

Cory Eucalitto is a managing editor at Ballotpedia and can be reached at cory.eucalitto@ballotpedia.org

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