Documenting America’s Path to Recovery: May 19, 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 Monday? Click here.

The next two days

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

May 20:

  • Delaware (Democratic trifecta): Gov. John Carney (D) announced that beginning at 8:00 a.m. on May 20, all retail businesses in the state can reopen by appointment only. Businesses can accept two appointments per half hour and must enforce social distancing and cleaning guidelines. Carney also released updated guidelines, effective immediately, for houses of worship that encourage virtual services but allow for in-person services if limited to 30% occupancy and social distancing is followed. In-person services had previously been limited to 10 people.
  • Connecticut (Democratic trifecta): Phase one of Connecticut’s reopening plan will begin, affecting offices, restaurants, retailers, museums, and zoos. Phase one was originally set to include hair salons and barbershops, but Gov. Ned Lamont (D) delayed those changes until early June on May 18. Also on May 18, Lamont signed an executive order extending the state of emergency through June 20 and expanding the authority of municipalities to enforce compliance with state orders. Under the order, many businesses are classified as “public health facilities,” such as restaurants, clubs, and salons. The order authorizes the local health director to close these facilities until they comply with reopening regulations defined by the Department of Economic and Community Development. As part of the order, gatherings of more than five are prohibited, and off-track betting facilities, movie theaters, and gyms must remain closed through June 20.
  • Kentucky (divided government): Retail businesses will be permitted to reopen at 33% capacity. Funeral and memorial services will also be permitted to resume at 33% capacity.
  • Nebraska (Republican trifecta): RV camping at state parks where social distancing and group size limits can be maintained is permitted effective May 20.
  • New York (Democratic trifecta): On May 20, the Capital Region (one of 10 regions in the state) will have met reopening criteria and will enter phase one of the state plan. The following businesses in the region can reopen: construction, manufacturing, and wholesale supply chains. Agriculture, forestry, and fishing activities can resume. Retail stores can open for curbside pickup. Western New York entered the first phase of New York’s reopening plan on May 19. Also on May 19, Cuomo announced that the state will allow Memorial Day ceremonies with 10 people or less, at the discretion of local governments. In addition, Cuomo announced a two-week pilot program, coordinated by the Greater New York Hospital Association and the Healthcare Association of New York State, to test bringing visitors back to New York hospitals. Sixteen hospitals statewide will participate in the program, including nine New York City hospitals.

May 21:

  • Missouri (Republican trifecta): State park beaches are set to open to the public on May 21. Visitors will be required to practice social distancing.
  • West Virginia (Republican trifecta): Gov. Jim Justice (R) added indoor shopping malls to the list of West Virginia businesses and state functions that can reopen on May 21. That list includes large retail stores, outdoor recreation rental businesses, tanning businesses, and state park campgrounds for in-state residents only. Additionally, indoor dining at restaurants will be permitted to resume. The Governor’s Office has released industry-specific guidance businesses must follow.


Since our last edition

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

  • California (Democratic trifecta): On May 18, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) announced that roughly 53 of California’s 58 counties could move into Phase 2 of reopening. To reopen, each county must notify the California Department of Public Health in writing that they have met the state’s reopening criteria, including fewer than 25 coronavirus cases per 100,000 residents in the county over a 14-day period.
  • Colorado (Democratic trifecta): On May 18, Gov. Jared Polis (D) announced that his office was drafting guidelines for reopening restaurants. Polis said he hopes to announce a date for restaurants to reopen on May 25.
  • Hawaii (Democratic trifecta): Gov. David Ige announced a phased reopening outline for Hawaii on May 18. According to the plan, the state will begin reopening medium-risk businesses and activities in June, including in-person religious services, indoor exercise facilities, museums, theaters, personal services, and dine-in at restaurants. No specific dates were set for each industry. Ige also extended the state’s travel restrictions through June 30, which require visitors from outside the state and inter-island travelers to self-quarantine for 14 days.
  • Michigan (divided government): On May 18, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) signed an executive order allowing retail businesses, offices, restaurants, and bars to reopen effective May 22 in the following 32 counties: Alger, Alpena, Antrim, Baraga, Benzie, Charlevoix, Cheboygan, Chippewa, Crawford, Delta, Dickinson, Emmet, Gogebic, Grand Traverse, Houghton, Iron, Kalkaska, Keweenaw, Leelanau, Luce, Mackinac, Manistee, Marquette, Menominee, Missaukee, Montmorency, Ontonagon, Otsego, Presque Isle, Roscommon, Schoolcraft, and Wexford. Restaurants and bars will be subject to a 50% capacity limit.
  • New Hampshire (divided government): On May 18, Gov. Chris Sununu (R) approved the immediate reopening of the following businesses, with limitations: fishing charters, horse riding and boarding, mini-golf, driving and shooting ranges, and bike, canoe, and kayak rentals. Outdoor attractions are limited to groups of 10 or less. Sununu also announced that beaches in the state would not reopen for Memorial Day. On beaches, Sununu said, “If we can open by June 1st, that’s a goal, but it’s by no means a promise.”
  • New Jersey (Democratic trifecta): On May 18, Gov. Phil Murphy (D) announced a new three-stage reopening plan titled, “The Road Back: Restoring Economic Health Through Public Health.” Stage 1 allows for relaxed restrictions on low-risk activities with appropriate safety measures in place, such as curbside retail. The state is currently in this stage. Stage 2 would relax restrictions on additional activities, such as expanded retail, with safety measures. Stage 3 would relax restrictions on most activities, with safety measures, and may include reopening bars with limited capacity. Murphy’s earlier reopening plan was issued on April 27. Also on May 18, Murphy signed an order allowing the following businesses to reopen effective May 22 at 6:00 a.m.: outdoor recreation, including archery ranges and batting cages, community gardens, all-terrain vehicle and dirt bike rentals, and golf courses.
  • Ohio (Republican trifecta): On May 19, Gov. Mike DeWine announced that the state’s stay-at-home order and 14-day quarantine period for travelers entering the state would be replaced by recommendations and would no longer be mandatory. No effective date was announced, and the text of the Urgent Health Advisory Order was not yet available as of 3:30 p.m. EST. The state’s ban on large gatherings and restrictions on businesses like bars and restaurants will remain mandatory under the new order. Campgrounds and in-restaurant dining are set to reopen on May 21.
  • Oregon (Democratic trifecta): On May 18, the Oregon Supreme Court stayed a lower court ruling that overturned the state’s stay-at-home order until it could review the case. Earlier in the day, Baker County Circuit Judge Matt Shirtcliff issued a preliminary injunction blocking the enforcement of the state’s stay-at-home order and other executive orders issued by Gov. Kate Brown in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Shirtcliff concluded state law only authorized Brown’s restrictions on individuals, businesses, and houses of worship for a maximum of 28 days without input from the legislature. Ten churches sued Brown’s restrictions preventing them from gathering. Shirtcliff said the restrictions on places of worship weren’t necessary for public safety because congregants could engage in social distancing.
  • Rhode Island (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Gina Raimondo announced that the Scarborough and East Matunuck state beaches would reopen to the public at limited capacity on May 25. She also set a target of May 30 for in-person religious services to resume under state guidelines.
  • Virginia (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Ralph Northam (D) announced that Virginia Beach would reopen on May 22. Northam said group activities, like volleyball, would not be allowed. Beach parking garages and lots will be limited to 50% capacity.
  • Washington (Democratic trifecta): On May 18, Gov. Jay Inslee (D) announced that medical services like dentists and family practices may reopen immediately if they meet certain requirements: maintain enough personal protective equipment for staff, enforce social distancing, and check patients for COVID-19 symptoms. Asotin County became the 10th county to move into the second phase of Inslee’s (D) reopening plan.

Update on stay-at-home orders

Forty-three states issued orders directing residents to stay home except for essential activities and the closure or curtailment of businesses each state deemed nonessential. Seven states did not.

As of May 19, stay-at-home orders have ended in 25 states. Governors ended stay-at-home orders in 24 states—17 Republican governors and eight 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 18 states with stay-at-home orders in place, two have Republican governors and 16 have Democratic governors.

Here’s which stay-at-home orders have expired, and when the rest are scheduled to expire.

Reopenings status

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: New Mexico

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.

On April 30, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) unveiled New Mexico’s phased reopening plan, each phase of which gradually relaxes restrictions imposed on individuals and businesses by the state’s original stay-at-home order.

Grisham said, “The best defense against this virus, until there is a vaccine, is physical distance from other people. We know those who are infected do not always show symptoms, and we know the virus does not care about county lines; we must all be vigilant. The progress we have made is tenuous – and it is subject to change. But when we reach a place, as we have, where our collective actions have begun to flatten the statewide curve, we can begin to make productive, safe decisions about alleviating some of the awful social and economic pressure this virus has brought down on us all. Today we are willing and able to do that.”

The plan established the following criteria for moving from one phase to another.

  • Reduced virus spread (initial target: 1.15 transmission rate).
  • Testing capacity for both general and targeted populations (initial target: 3,000 tests per day).
  • Timely contact tracing and isolation protocols (initial target: 24 hours from time of positive test result to isolation recommendation for case; 36 hours from positive test result for quarantine recommendation for case contacts).
  • Statewide healthcare system capacity (initial target: availability of general beds, ICU beds, and ventilators; 14-day supply of personal protective equipment).

Grisham said she would make decisions about advancing from one stage to the next in 2-3 week intervals. The criteria will be applied both to the state as a whole and to the state’s five health regions. Certain regions may not be permitted to move from one stage to another if they do not meet criteria. Regions and localities are not permitted to advance to subsequent stages ahead of the rest of the state.


  • New Mexico’s original stay-at-home order was issued on March 23. It was initially set to expire on April 10. The order was subsequently extended, first through April 30, then through May 15, and, most recently, through May 31.
  • As of May 18, there had been 6,096 confirmed COVID-19 cases in New Mexico and 270 confirmed fatalities. For every 100,000 residents, that amounts to 290.7 confirmed cases and 12.9 confirmed fatalities.
  • New Mexico is a Democratic trifecta. Democrats hold the governorship and majorities in both chambers of the state legislature.

Plan details

The Preparation Phase and Phase One have been implemented, to varying extents, via executive orders. Subsequent phases are outlined in Grisham’s April 30 reopening plan. All restrictions are subject to change by executive order.

On May 15, the state released a guidebook outlining best practices for both individuals and employers. The following requirements apply to all employers:

  • Conduct work remotely to the greatest extent possible.
  • Arrange workspaces to provide for six feet of distance between individuals wherever possible.
  • Meetings should occur remotely whenever possible.
  • Employees must wear face coverings at all times when in the presence of others.
  • Employees must be trained in daily cleaning and disinfection processes.
  • Employees must be screened for COVID-19 symptoms upon entering the workplace each day. Employees showing symptoms must be sent home.
  • Employees who have had known close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 cannot return to work until cleared by the state department of health.
  • Non-essential travel should be minimized to the greatest extent possible.

Preparation Phase (effective May 1 through May 16)

  • Individuals:
    • All individuals instructed to remain at home, except to carry out essential activities.
    • Gatherings of more than 5 people prohibited.
  • Businesses:
    • Closed: non-essential retailers and workplaces; dine-in service at restaurants and bars; indoor malls; gyms; salons; theaters; and casinos.
      • Non-essential retailers permitted to operate via curbside and delivery services.
    • Open: essential retailers; state parks; golf courses; pet services; and gun stores (by appointment only).

Phase One (effective May 16 through May 31)

  • Individuals:
    • All individuals instructed to remain at home, except to carry out essential activities.
    • Face coverings required of everyone in public.
    • Gatherings of more than 5 people prohibited.
  • Businesses:
    • Reopening: retailers at 25% capacity; non-essential workplaces at 25% staffing levels; places of worship at 25% capacity.
    • Closed: gyms; salons; indoor malls; tattoo parlors; dine-in service at restaurants and bars; massage parlors; theaters; and casinos.

Phase Two (early June target date)

  • Individuals:
    • Vulnerable individuals instructed to remain at home.
    • Face covering requirements unspecified.
    • Gatherings restricted (limited, unspecified).
  • Businesses:
    • Reopening: Theaters, bars, and casinos (at unspecified capacity limits).

Phase Three (early July target date)

  • Individuals:
    • Vulnerable individuals instructed to practice social distancing.
    • Face covering requirements unspecified.
    • Gatherings of more than 100 people prohibited.
  • Businesses:
    • Reopening: concerts and spectator sports (at unspecified capacity limits)


  • In a May 13 statement, the New Mexico Republican Party said, “First and foremost, [the New Mexico Republican Party] has always made New Mexicans’ health and safety the top priority and has argued that social distancing can be practiced at small businesses. Now it seems the governor finally recognizes that, but too many New Mexicans have suffered from financial damage and personal pain. Local economies and livelihoods will continue to crash. It seems each day businesses are folding or are poised to shutter their doors. Industries are dying, businesses are crumbling and hope is withering. The governor, as an attorney, should know that equity, justice and fairness should be the goal of government.”
  • Marg Elliston, chair of the New Mexico Democratic Party, said, “We’re proud to see that Governor Lujan Grisham continues to take a science-based approach to address the COVID-19 pandemic. Thanks to her steady and prudent leadership, New Mexico has successfully begun to flatten our curve and we’re able to safely reopen the small businesses that are the backbone of our economy. Throughout this crisis, our statewide leaders have been working to balance the public health and economic impacts of this crisis so that New Mexico can come through it as safely and successfully as possible.”
  • George Gundrey, who owns restaurants in Santa Fe and Albuquerque, said the following, referring to a proposed date for reopening restaurants: “She said May 15 before and some restaurants planned on that. I’m very disappointed. What else is there to say? Disappointing is the lack of clarity, early June. She’s moving the goalposts. It’s going to be devastating for the Santa Fe economy and workforce.”
  • Dr. David R. Scrase, Secretary of the New Mexico Human Services Department, said, “A political divide has emerged between those whose top priority is reopening the economy and those whose top priority is saving lives. The good news is that adopting COVID-19 safe practices supports the goals of both. …I support both groups fully. But let’s go slowly and deliberately, thoughtfully reviewing the data from one step before we move to the next. And let’s remember that because this deadly virus has no politics, we should resist the temptation to think that our methods for fighting it should have politics. Wearing a face covering and keeping our distance are two new evidence-based ways we fight this virus together and express our concern for both our economy and each other’s health and safety.”

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.

  • On May 19, Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson (D) announced that all registered voters in the Aug. 2 primary and Nov. 3 general election would automatically receive mail-in ballot applications.
  • Legal brothels in Nevada are developing plans on how to reopen. Sheri’s Ranch in Pahrump is planning to implement temperature checks for staff and clients and to require masks and mandatory showers before clients interact with independent contractors. They will also only allow 12 independent contractors to work when their location reopens. Bella’s Hacienda Ranch in Wells announced it will integrate PPE, mandatory temperature checks, and questioning clients who plan on entering the establishment. There is no specific state guidance for brothels, but they were not included in Phase One of the state’s reopening plan.
  • The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed a U.S. district court order reinstating the New York Democratic presidential preference primary. The primary will proceed as scheduled on June 23. The New York State Board of Elections had attempted to cancel the election, a move that the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York blocked earlier this month.
  • Bellmawr, New Jersey’s Atilis Gym, reopened on May 18. The owners of the gym were issued a court summons for violating Gov. Phil Murphy’s (D) stay-at-home order but remained open.
  • A North Dakota medical marijuana dispensary, Pure Dakota Health, formally known as The Botanist, reopened on Monday, May 18.
  • A New Hampshire High School, Kennett High School, announced it would hold its graduation ceremony at Cranmore Mountain Resort on a ski lift.