Coronavirus Daily Update: May 7th, 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 May 7, 2020.

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 shutdown orders. Eight of those orders were set to last until modified or rescinded by the governor, while the other 35 had announced end dates.
  • As of May 7, 15 governors have ended their state’s stay-at-home orders. Twelve of those states have Republican governors and three have Democratic governors. Of the 28 states where governors have not ended their state’s stay-at-home orders, seven have Republican governors and 21 have Democratic governors.

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 October 18, 1918, the Louisville Times published an article titled, “State Board Here To Discuss Quarantine.” The article discussed the possibility of Kentucky’s State Board of Health lifting the ban on theaters, schools and public gatherings. The article also mentioned the possible effect keeping the bans would have on the upcoming campaign season. 

“For the purpose of discussing the influenza epidemic and the question of lifting the ban on theaters, schools and public gatherings the State Board of Health will meet at The Seelbach this afternoon at 2 o’clock…Unless the ban is lifted at the meeting this afternoon, it will be necessary for the campaign committees of both the Democratic and Republican parties to call off all public speaking schedules throughout the State for the next two meweeks. 

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.

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 64 lawsuits, spanning 31 states, relating to governmental actions undertaken in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Orders have been issued, or settlements have been reached, in 18 of those lawsuits.
  • Ballotpedia has separately tracked another 48 lawsuits, spanning 24 states, dealing with the administration of elections in light of the pandemic. Orders have been issued, or settlements have been reached, in 19 of those lawsuits.

Details:

  • Friends of Danny DeVito v. Wolf: On May 6, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to intervene in a lawsuit over Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf’s (D) March 19 order restricting the operations of non-essential businesses in the state. As a result, the state supreme court’s ruling, which upheld the order, was allowed to stand. 

    • On March 24, the plaintiffs (a number of Pennsylvania businesses) petitioned the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania to vacate Wolf’s order, alleging that it violated their constitutional rights to free speech, assembly, and judicial review. The plaintiffs also argued that the order violated their rights by depriving them of their property without due process or just compensation. On April 13, the state supreme court rejected the plaintiffs’ claims. On April 27, the plaintiffs appealed the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court, which on May 6 denied their application without comment.

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-seven states have made modifications to voting procedures.
  • Political parties in 18 states have adjusted party events on a statewide basis.

Details: 

  • Delaware – Gov. John Carney (D) announced a further postponement of the state’s presidential primary, this time to July 7. The presidential primary, which was originally scheduled to take place on April 28, was first postponed to June 2. Carney also announced that the state would mail absentee ballot applications automatically to all eligible voters in the primary.

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.
  • Six states and D.C. changed ballot measure procedures.
  • At least ten lawsuits were filed seeking court orders suspending or changing signature requirements and deadlines.
  • At least one initiative campaign is reporting it has enough signatures but is delaying signature submission so its measure appears on the ballot in 2022 instead of 2020.

Details:

  • North Dakota – North Dakota Voters First—proponents of the North Dakota Top-Four Ranked-Choice Voting, Redistricting, and Election Process Changes Initiative—filed a lawsuit seeking an order that allows signatures to be gathered electronically.
  • Nevada – Fair Maps Nevada—proponents of the Nevada Independent Redistricting Commission Initiative—filed a lawsuit seeking an order that allows electronic signatures and extends signature deadlines.

School closures

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

Overview:

  • Forty-eight states have closed schools to in-person instruction for the remainder of the academic year. Those states account for 99.2% of the 50.6 million public school students in the country.
  • Of the two states that have not announced that schools will for the remainder of the year, one has a Republican trifecta and one has a divided government. Those states are Montana and Wyoming.
  • All 50 states ordered a statewide school closure in some form.

Travel restrictions

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

Overview:

  • Twenty governors or state agencies have issued an executive order placing restrictions on 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 released their “Return to Full Capacity Guide” and accompanying video to assist courts in developing plans and response cycles driven by health data and trends for returning to full capacity on the local level.
  • West Virginia – The West Virginia Supreme Court issued an order and protocols regarding the resumption of operations. Under the order, in-person proceedings may resume on or after May 18. Grand jury proceedings may resume on or after June 15, and petit jury trials may commence on or after June 29. Protocols include the continued use of remote proceedings via video or teleconference where appropriate and require judicial offices and court spaces need to be thoroughly disinfected prior to resuming operations. 

Prison inmate responses

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

Overview:

  • Eighteen states have ordered the release of inmates at the state level.
  • Fourteen states have ordered the release of inmates on the local level.
  • Twelve states have not released inmates due to coronavirus.
  • Two states have prohibited the release of certain inmate populations.
  • Four states have temporarily released certain populations of inmates.

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

Details:

  • New York – Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced that the moratorium on evictions in that state was extended an additional 60 days through August 20 for those individuals impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

State legislative responses

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

Overview: 

  • To date, 951 bills related to the coronavirus pandemic have been introduced in state legislatures.
  • Of these introduced bills, 105 significant bills have been enacted into law, about 11 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-three state legislatures have suspended their sessions. Seven of those have since reconvened.
  • Nineteen legislatures have either adjourned or are not scheduled to be in regular session this year.
  • Five state legislatures are in regular session.
  • Three state legislatures are in special session.

Details:

  • Kansas – The Kansas State Legislature is expected to reconvene on May 21.



About the author

Cory Eucalitto

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

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