Documenting America’s Path to Recovery: May 4, 2020

This is our daily update on how federal, state, and local officials are planning to set America on a path to recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

Each day, we:

Want to know what happened Friday? Click here.

The next 24 hours

What is reopening in the next day? Which stay-at-home orders will expire?

  • Washington is set to begin Phase 1 of Gov. Jay Inslee’s (D) four-phase reopening plan Tuesday. It will allow for some outdoor recreation, such as golf, fishing, and hunting. Retail businesses will be allowed to open for curbside pickup. Drive-in spiritual services may resume with one household per vehicle. Washington is a Democratic trifecta.

The last 72 hours

Have any states opened in the last 72 hours? For a continually updated article on reopening status in all 50 states, click here.

  • Alabama Superintendent of Schools Eric Mackey released a phased reopening plan for public schools in the state. The plan allows children older than 13 to hold athletic practice or summer school in groups smaller than 10 starting June 8. Summer literary camps could start July 6, and full band and athletic practices could begin in early August. Alabama is one of 46 states that closed schools to in-person instruction for the remainder of the 2019-2020 academic year. It is a Republican trifecta.
  • In Arkansas, gyms and fitness centers can reopen Monday. Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) said gyms must screen staff before work and require patrons to maintain a distance of 12 feet. Arkansas is a Republican trifecta.
  • Florida Gov. Ron Desantis’ (R) April 29 executive order allowed restaurants, retail stores, libraries, and museums to open to 25% of their building occupancy under certain guidelines Monday. The order also allowed elective medical procedures under certain conditions. These allowances did not apply to Broward, Miami-Dade, or Palm Beach counties. The stay-at-home order expired Monday. Florida is a Republican trifecta.
  • In Indiana, most parts of the state moved Monday to Stage 2 of Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) five-stage plan. In Stage 2, various restaurants, retail, and commercial businesses can open, subject to capacity restrictions and social distancing guidelines. Stage 1 started March 24. Indiana is a Republican trifecta.
  • In Kansas, Phase 1 of the Gov. Laura Kelly’s (D) reopening plan began Monday, when most businesses can reopen if they adhere to certain guidelines. The following businesses were excluded: bars and night clubs; casinos (non-tribal); theaters, museums, and other indoor leisure spaces; fitness centers and gyms; and nail salons, barber shops, and other personal service businesses. Kansas is under divided government, with a Democratic governor and Republican majorities in the state House and Senate.
  • In Missouri, retail businesses can reopen their physical locations Monday, provided the locations limit the number of persons to either 25 percent or less of maximum occupancy for buildings with square footage of less than 10,000 sq. ft., or 10 percent or less of maximum occupancy for buildings with square footage of 10,000 sq. ft. or more. The order, which Director of the Department of Health and Senior Services Randall W. Williams issued, also allowed restaurants to resume dine-in services, provided they abide by social distancing guidelines. Missouri is a Republican trifecta.
  • Restrictions were loosened in 10 of Nebraska’s 19 health department regions beginning Monday. These reduced measures allow for the limited reopening of dine-in services at restaurants and personal care businesses. Nebraska is a Republican trifecta.
  • New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu (R) announced Friday that certain healthcare services could begin to phase in operations Monday. The change is part of a modified stay-at-home order now in place through May 31. The original order, which went into effect March 27, expired Monday. New Hampshire is under divided government, with a Republican governor and Democratic majorities in both chambers of the state legislature.
  • Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) extended an executive order restricting certain businesses from May 8 to May 14 Monday afternoon. He said his administration will monitor data on new cases, hospital bed capacity, and personal protective equipment to determine whether the state will enter Phase 1 of reopening May 15. Phase 1 will allow retail establishments, gyms, churches, and more to reopen under physical distancing, cleaning, and workplace safety guidelines. Virginia is a Democratic trifecta.
  • West Virginia began Week Two of its reopening plan Monday. Personal care businesses were allowed to reopen by appointment only, while outdoor dining at restaurants could also resume under social distancing restrictions. Churches and funeral homes were allowed to resume in-person services under guidelines for limited seating, physical distancing, and face covering restrictions. West Virginia is a Republican trifecta.

Tracking reopenings

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

We place states into six categories. How does your state stack up?

  • 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
  • No state-mandated closures were issued.

Featured plan

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

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) released an executive order, “Reviving a Healthy Georgia,” April 23 allowing some businesses to open between April 24 and 27 if they follow certain general and industry-specific requirements.

Gyms, bowling alleys, body art studios, and businesses run by barbers, cosmetologists, estheticians, and massage therapists could open April 24. Restaurants and movie theaters could open April 27.

In a press release announcing the reopening guidelines, Kemp said the state was on track to meet criteria laid out in the White House “Opening Up America Again” plan to initiate the first phase of reopening:

“According to the Department of Public Health, reports of emergency room visits for flu-like illnesses are declining, documented COVID-19 cases have flattened and appear to be declining, and we have seen declining emergency room visits in general. By expanding our hospital bed capacity … we have the ability to treat patients without crisis care in hospital settings. …

Now, a key component of the gating criteria is testing. … We partnered with the University System of Georgia, partnered with the private sector to offer drive-thru services, and recently empowered public health departments across Georgia to offer testing for all symptomatic individuals. Today we’re taking this effort to the next level by announcing an even broader partnership with the state’s dedicated health sciences university and its health system to double down on our testing capacity and meet the requirements necessary to move forward with the president’s plan.”

The governor’s office developed the order’s provisions in consultation with the Georgia Coronavirus Task Force and health and emergency preparedness officials.

Kemp said the executive order laying out reopening allowances and requirements preempts local action, meaning “local action cannot be taken that is more or less restrictive.”


  • As of April 24, the state had 22,147 confirmed cases and 892 coronavirus-related deaths. As of 3:30pm EDT May 4, there were 29,343 confirmed cases and 1,217 deaths. As of July 2019, Georgia had 10.6 million residents.
  • Georgia is a Republican trifecta, with a Republican governor and Republican majorities in both chambers of the state legislature.

Plan details

The executive order contains requirements for individuals and for businesses.

Social distancing requirements:

Social distancing requirements for individuals include:

  • Maintaining six feet of distance from others who are not in their household
  • Avoiding gatherings of more than 10 people in a space where six feet of distance between people is not possible
  • Practicing sanitation in accordance with Centers for Disease Control guidelines

The order also encourages people to wear face masks while outside their homes.

Shelter-in-place requirements:

Georgia residents and visitors who meet criteria for being at high risk for severe illness must shelter in place, with the exception of certain activities.

Those criteria include being 65 years of age or older, living in a long-term care facility, and having certain medical conditions.


The order contains 21 guidelines all businesses not deemed critical infrastructure must follow upon reopening and additional industry-specific guidelines. Guidelines for all non-critical businesses include:

  • Screening employees for illness
  • Enhancing sanitation
  • Implementing telework where possible
  • Enforcing social distancing
  • Keeping open cash registers six feet apart

Restaurants & dining services

Restaurants may allow in no more than 10 patrons per 500 square feet.

The order contains 39 additional requirements for restaurants, which supersede any that conflict with the 21 requirements for all non-critical businesses. Restaurant requirements include:

  • “Train all employees on the importance and expectation of increased frequency of handwashing, the use of hand sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol, and provide clear instruction to avoid touching hands to face”
  • “Discontinue use of salad bars and buffets”
  • “Between diners, clean and sanitize table condiments, digital ordering devices, check presenters, self-service areas, tabletops and commonly touched areas, and discarding single-use items”
  • “Update floor plans for common dining areas, redesigning seating arrangements to ensure at least six (6) feet of separation from seating to seating. Utilize physical barriers on booth seating when available”

Gyms and fitness centers

The order contains 16 requirements for gyms and fitness centers, as practicable, including:

  • “Providing sanitation wipes at or near each piece of equipment and requiring users to wipe down the equipment before and after use”
  • “Requiring workers to patrol patron areas to enforce the equipment wipe-down policy and conduct additional cleanings during times when equipment is not being used”
  • “Limiting use of cardio machines to every other machine to maintain acceptable Social Distancing between users”

Body art studios

There are 13 requirements for body art studios, as practicable, including:

  • “Allowing only one patron per service provider in the business at any one time”
  • “Allowing one parent to be within a facility if a minor child is receiving a haircut”
  • “Requiring patrons to wait in their car until service provider is ready”
  • “Staggering use of every-other workstation or spacing workstations more than ten (10) feet apart, whichever option is practicable given the facility’s configuration”

Bowling alleys

The 11 requirements for bowling alleys include:

  • “Removing items from all self-service bowling ball, bowling shoe, and other bowling accessory stations and have workers provide such items to patrons directly”
  • “Allowing groups of six (6) patrons or less per lane”
  • “Staggering use of lanes so that only every other lane or every third lane is in use to maintain proper Social Distancing between groups of patrons. Each party of patrons must be seated at least six (6) feet apart”

Movie theaters

The following are among eight requirements for movie theaters:

  • “Each party of patrons must be seated at least six (6) feet apart. No party seated together may number more than six (6) individuals”
  • “At least one usher must be used in each theater room before and at some point, during each showing to ensure that proper Social Distancing protocol is enforced”
  • “Seats, armrests, handrails, doors, doorknobs, and door handles in each theater must be thoroughly sanitized before and after each showing”

Retail businesses

  • The order states that retail businesses shall follow seven guidelines, including limiting patrons to 50% fire capacity occupancy or eight patrons per 1,000 square feet.
  • It lays out 13 additional guidelines for grocery stores to follow to the extent practicable.

The order states that bars, swimming pools, amusement parts, and performance venues must remain closed.


  • Georgia Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Kathleen Toomey said in an interview, “We’re still seeing cases, and we’ve expected that. … We want to keep flattening the curve. That doesn’t require a mandate. It requires individuals to make a commitment, continuing these efforts to help themselves and the community.”

At a press conference, Toomey said, “We didn’t meet the [White House’s] full gating criteria, but we met several of them and we were approaching a plateauing, which made us feel that it would be safe to move forward because we had three things in place. We had adequate hospitalization, hospital capacity. … We have adequate testing capacity. … And we are ramping up our contact tracing capacity.”

  • In an op-ed for The Atlantic, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms wrote, “Reopening the state and relaxing social-distancing measures now is irresponsible and could even be deadly. Our hospitals may not be stretched to capacity, but that does not mean we should work to fill the vacant beds. I strongly believe that our health-care system is not overwhelmed because we have been socially distancing. And while staying at home may be inconvenient for many people, there is nothing essential about going to a bowling alley during a pandemic. We need to continue to do whatever it takes to keep the number of cases from rising.

Although Governor Kemp and I have had a good working relationship, mayors across Georgia, including myself, were denied the opportunity to provide input on his decision to ease social-distancing restrictions, which directly affects the towns and cities that we lead. Even in COVID-19 hot spots such as Albany, Georgia, which has per capita infection rates on par with New York City’s, the mayor learned of the governor’s decision with the rest of the public, during an evening press conference last week.”

Additional activity

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

  • In California, the public health officer of Sutter and Yuba counties issued an order effective Monday allowing businesses including restaurants, gyms, retail stores, shopping malls, and spas to open with social distancing modifications and other guidelines. Friday, Modoc County allowed all businesses, schools, and churches to reopen as long as they followed certain guidelines. California has a statewide stay-at-home order with no defined end date. The Sacramento Bee reported, “Legal experts said the governor could deploy the California Highway Patrol or National Guard to enforce his order. But [Gov. Gavin] Newsom, since the day he signed the stay-at-home order, has said he wants to rely on ‘social pressure’ to get Californians to adhere to his directives on the coronavirus.”
  • On Saturday, the sheriffs of Mohave and Pinal counties in Arizona announced that they would not enforce Gov. Doug Ducey’s (R) stay-at-home order. The announcement came after Ducey said those violating his order could face fines or jail time.
  • Ken Turnage II, chairman of the Antioch, California, planning commission, was fired during a public city meeting on Zoom following comments he made about herd immunity on social media.
  • On May 1, Washington Republican gubernatorial candidate Tim Eyman, Franklin County Commissioner Clint Didier, and a group of small business owners filed suit in federal district court against Gov. Jay Inslee, alleging that the governor had exceeded his constitutional authority in implementing the order. The full complaint can be accessed here.