Coronavirus Daily Update: May 14th, 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 14, 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 stay-at-home 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 Eight of those orders were set to last until modified or rescinded by the governor, while the other 35 had announced end dates.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 14, stay-at-home orders have ended in 18 states. Governors ended stay-at-home orders in 17 states—13 Republican governors and five Democratic governors. Wisconsin’s state Supreme Court ruled that Gov. Tony Evers’ (D) administration overstepped its authority in extending that state’s stay-at-home order. Of the 25 states with stay-at-home orders in place, six have Republican governors and 19 have Democratic governors.

Details:

  • Wisconsin – The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled 4-3 that Wisconsin Department of Health Services Secretary-designee Andrea Palm had exceeded her authority when she extended the state’s stay-at-home order through May 26 on behalf of Gov. Tony Evers (D). This marks the first instance of a statewide stay-at-home order being struck down by a court of last resort.
  • The suit was brought by the state legislature. Republican lawmakers had asked the court to strike down the stay-at-home order but stay the decision by several days in order to give them and the governor time to develop a replacement plan. The court declined to do this, and restrictions imposed on individuals and businesses were immediately lifted.

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 31, 1918, the Milwaukee Sentinel published an article titled, “Will Keep On Jump Until Polls Close.” The article discussed how the influenza pandemic hadn’t really affected the campaign for county offices. 

“Although old time methods are not being used in the present campaign for county offices, and the usual meetings in halls have been eliminated because of the influenza epidemic, candidates have not been idle. Nor did the republican and democrativ county committee permit any grass to grow under their feet…”

“Republican candidates feel confident of victory. Probably the hottest fight is that for the office of sheriff. Eugene Warnimont, republican, formally connected with the sheriff’s office is working hard and has been for several months. Opposed to him is Conrad Asmuth, who was a “added starter” on the democrativ ticket. 

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

  • The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced that it will publicly post CDC data on all nursing homes across the country by the end of May. The data will include suspected and confirmed cases and deaths at each facility.

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 73 lawsuits, spanning 32 states, relating to governmental actions undertaken in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Orders have been issued, or settlements have been reached, in 21 of those lawsuits.
  • Ballotpedia has separately tracked another 54 lawsuits, spanning 25 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:

  • Wisconsin Legislature v. Palm – The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled 4-3 that Wisconsin Department of Health Services Secretary-designee Andrea Palm had exceeded her authority when she extended the state’s stay-at-home order through May 26 on behalf of Gov. Tony Evers (D). 

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

Details:

  • South Carolina – Gov. Henry McMaster (R) signed into law a bill allowing any eligible South Carolina voter to request an absentee ballot for the state’s June 9 primary and subsequent runoff elections.

Ballot measure changes

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

Overview:

  • Ballotpedia has tracked 21 statewide initiative petition drives that suspended signature gathering.
  • Seven states and D.C. changed ballot measure procedures.
  • At least 11 lawsuits were filed seeking court orders suspending or changing signature requirements and deadlines. Rulings or settlements have been issued for six.
  • 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:

  • Arizona – The campaign Save Our Schools Arizona (SOS Arizona) suspended signature-gathering efforts for a ballot initiative to limit private education vouchers. SOS Arizona suspended efforts after both the Arizona Supreme Court and a federal court rejected lawsuits seeking to allow campaigns to use electronic signatures.

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 99.4% of the 50.6 million public school students in the country. The two states to not close schools to in-person instruction for the remainder of the academic year are Montana and Wyoming.
  • All 50 states ordered a statewide school closure in some form.

Details:

  • North Dakota – On Monday, Gov. Doug Burgum (R) announced that public and private schools in North Dakota could reopen starting June 1 for summer programs, though schools are not required to. Under the order, child care programs, summer school classes and college admissions testing can resume. The order also does not prohibit schools from offering summer distance learning options. 

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:

  • Alabama – The Alabama Supreme Court announced that restrictions on in-person proceedings will end on May 15, and jury trials were suspended through September 14. The order authorized local courts to set local restrictions through August 15. 
  • Connecticut – Connecticut’s Judicial Branch expanded criminal proceedings that could take place.
  • Delaware – The Delaware Supreme Court extended restrictions on in-person proceedings and suspension of jury trials through June 13. 
  • Indiana – The Indiana Supreme Court released “Guidelines for resuming operations of the trial courts,” a four-phased plan to assist local courts in planning to resume full operation after the coronavirus pandemic. Phase one directives included identifying employees who could continue to work remotely, and implementing social distancing and hygiene measures. Phase two would allow for the resumption of non-emergency hearings and operations. Phase three would allow for jury trials to resume. Phase four would allow for normal activity to resume. Trial courts were directed to submit transition plans to the Supreme Court approval by May 30. The court also extended the suspension of jury trials through July 1.
  • Vermont – The Vermont Supreme Court extended restrictions on in-person proceedings through June 1. Criminal jury trials were suspended through September 1, and civil jury trials were suspended through January 1, 2020.

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

Overview:

  • Twenty-one states have released inmates at the state level.
  • Twelve states have released inmates on the local level.
  • Eleven 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

Details:

  • Arkansas – Arkansas state officials announced that 300 inmates had been released from state prisons, and the state’s Board of Corrections have made over 1,200 inmates eligible for parole since April. The releases follow an April 20 directive from Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) to consider the early release of some inmates due to the coronavirus 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 one states have implemented policies related to evictions or foreclosures on either the state or local level.

Details:

  • South Carolina – Some evictions and foreclosures will be permitted to resume in South Carolina on Friday, May 15. In March, South Carolina Supreme Court Justice Donald Beatty put a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures in the state, first through May 1, and then extended the order through May 15. Tenants who qualify under the federal CARES act are under a moratorium through August 23. 
  • Florida – Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) extended a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures in the state through June 2. 

State legislative responses

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

Overview: 

  • To date, 1,170 bills related to the coronavirus pandemic have been introduced in state legislatures.
  • Of these, 110 significant bills have been enacted into law, 9 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. Ten 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.
  • Two state legislatures are in special session.

Diagnosed or quarantined politicians identified by Ballotpedia in the last 24 hours

Read more: Politicians, candidates, and government officials diagnosed with or quarantined due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Local politicians who tested positive for coronavirus

  • Letitia Plummer, a member of the Houston City Council At-large Position 4, announced she tested positive for COVID-19. 

Local politicians who tested negative for coronavirus

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner announced he tested negative for COVID-19. He was tested after a fellow council member tested positive for the virus. 




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