Documenting America’s Path to Recovery: May 21, 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:

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The next two days

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

May 22

  • Alaska (divided government): Gov. Mike Dunleavy (R) announced on May 19 that Alaska will move to Phase Three of its reopening plan on May 22 at 8 a.m. Phase Three will lift all coronavirus restrictions on businesses and allow them to operate at full capacity. “It will all be open, just like it was prior to the virus,” Dunleavy said. Local governments may choose to open at a different pace than the statewide order.
  • Indiana (Republican trifecta): Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) announced on May 20 that, effective May 22, 89 of Indiana’s 92 counties will advance to the third phase of reopening, two days earlier than the original target date of May 24. The following businesses will be allowed to reopen or expand their operations: retail stores (at 75% capacity); mall common areas (at 50% capacity); gyms and fitness centers; playgrounds and other outdoor recreation facilities; community pools; campgrounds; and movie theaters (at 50% capacity). Social gatherings of up to 100 people will be permitted. Cass, Lake, and Marion counties will be eligible to move into the third phase on June 1.
  • Iowa (Republican trifecta): Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) announced that the following businesses will be allowed to resume operations effective May 22: movie theaters (at 50% capacity); museums, aquariums, and zoos; swimming pools; and wedding reception venues. Reynolds also said that bars and other alcohol-related establishments would be permitted to reopen on May 28. Public and private summer school activities, including baseball and softball, will be allowed to resume effective June 1.
  • Kansas (divided government): Gov. Laura Kelly (D) signed an executive order on May 19 implementing the second phase of Kansas’ reopening, effective May 22. The following businesses will be allowed to reopen: recreational organized sports facilities; community centers; indoor leisure spaces (e.g., arcades, theaters, museums, and bowling alleys); state-owned casinos (subject to approval by the state health department); and in-person group exercise classes. The following businesses and activities will remain closed: bars and nightclubs; outdoor and indoor large entertainment venues; fairs, festivals, carnivals, and parades; swimming pools; and summer camps. Phase 2 is set to last through June 7.
  • Kentucky (divided government): Gov. Andy Beshear (D) signed an executive order on May 20 allowing restaurants to resume indoor service at 33% capacity, plus outdoor seating, effective May 22. Social gatherings of up to 10 people will also be allowed.
  • Maine (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Janet Mills (D) announced on May 19 that campgrounds will be allowed to reopen on May 22.
  • Michigan (divided government): Gov. Gretch Whitmer (D) announced on May 18 that, effective May 22, retail businesses, offices, restaurants, and bars in 32 counties will be allowed to reopen. Restaurants and bars will be subject to a 50% capacity limit.
  • Nebraska (Republican trifecta): The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission will open first-come, first-serve camping at 35 state recreation and wildlife management areas and Smith Falls State Park on May 22.
  • North Carolina (divided government): Gov. Roy Cooper (R) announced the state was ready to move into Phase 2 of its reopening plan. Cooper’s stay-at-home order will end at 5:00 p.m. on May 22. Replacing it is a safer-at-home order that will remain in effect through at least June 26. Under phase 2, the following businesses and activities are permitted to resume: retail (50 percent capacity), in-restaurant dining (50 percent capacity), personal services such as salons and barbershops (50 percent capacity), indoor and outdoor pools (50 percent capacity), child care facilities, and day and overnight camps. Under the order, limits on gatherings are increased to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors.
  • Ohio (Republican trifecta): Effective May 22, horse racing can resume with no spectators. On May 20, Gov. Mike DeWine (R) announced that Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Action signed three new health orders. One order partially rescinded the state’s stay-at-home order, “Stay Safe Ohio,” and another issued a series of health advisories, including urging, but not requiring, high-risk individuals to remain in their homes. A third order, “Camp Safe Ohio”, specifies how campgrounds can reopen safely. Campgrounds were permitted to open on May 21.
  • Oregon (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Kate Brown announced that Marion and Polk counties will be able to join 31 other counties in the first phase of reopening beginning May 22. In Phase 1, gathering sizes are limited to 25, and restaurants and bars can open for dine-in. Retailers, malls, personal service businesses (like hairdressers and salons), and fitness centers can also reopen, contingent on their compliance with state guidelines.
  • South Carolina (Republican trifecta): On May 20, Gov. Henry McMaster announced that attraction facilities will be able to partially reopen starting on May 22. According to the press release, eligible businesses include zoos, museums, aquariums, planetariums, historic sites, waterparks, amusement park rides, go-kart tracks, and miniature golf courses. The reopening does not include bowling alleys, nightclubs, spectator sports venues, or movie theaters. McMaster also said adult and youth sports leagues will be allowed to begin practicing starting May 30 if they comply with state guidelines.
  • Tennessee (Republican trifecta): According to updated guidelines issued on May 20, capacity restrictions will be lifted for retail businesses and restaurants in 89 counties effective May 22. Six counties, including Shelby and Hamilton, will continue to follow guidelines issued by local health departments. The updated guidelines also allow large attractions and venues in all but six counties to reopen with restrictions, including amusement parks, theaters, and museums. Businesses must allow for six feet of space between individuals or groups from within the same household, and the number of guests within an attraction should be capped at 50% occupancy.
  • Texas (Republican trifecta): Bars, breweries, and wine rooms can reopen at 25% capacity and restaurants can operate at 50% capacity on May 22. Bowling alleys, skating rinks, and aquariums can also reopen at 25% capacity.
  • Vermont (divided government): Beginning Friday, May 22, campgrounds, marinas, and lodging, including short-term rentals, can reopen with restrictions, and restaurants can reopen to offer outdoor dining. Hotels and short-term rentals can only accept reservations from out-of-state travelers who have completed the 14-day quarantine requirement or Vermont residents. Campgrounds and multi-room lodging businesses may only book 25% of rooms or sites. All guests must complete a health questionnaire. Restaurants offering outdoor dining must space tables at least 10 feet apart. Customers are required to make reservations or call ahead.
  • Northeastern states – Effective May 22, beaches in Connecticut, Delaware, New Jersey, and New York can reopen, with limitations. Capacity will be capped at 50 percent. The reopenings follow a May 15 joint press release from Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont (D), Delaware Gov. John Carney (D), New Jersey Gov. Phl Murphy (D), and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D).

May 23

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.

  • Illinois (Democratic trifecta): Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced additional guidance for Phase Three of the state’s reopening plan. He said restaurants will be able to offer limited outdoor seating, campgrounds and state parks will be allowed to open, and golfers will be allowed to play in groups of up to four. Other outdoor recreational activities like paintball will be permitted to resume operations with distancing and gathering limits. On May 19, Pritzker said the state was on track to enter Phase Three starting May 29.
  • Minnesota (divided government): On May 20, Gov. Tim Walz (D) announced that restaurants and bars would be allowed to offer limited outdoor seating effective June 1 (outdoor spaces can accommodate no more than 50 people at a time). Salons and barber shops will also be permitted to reopen on June 1 at 25 percent capacity.
  • New Hampshire (divided government): Gov. Chris Sununu (R) announced on Wednesday, May 20 that he hopes the state can reopen coastal beaches, such as Hampton Beach, by June 1.
  • New York (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced that religious groups of up to 10 are permitted starting May 21. Memorial Day celebrations with the same group restrictions are also permitted. Cuomo also announced that New York schools would not open for in-person summer instruction. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that the City was on track to begin its phased reopening, including opening retail stores for curbside pick up and resuming construction, during the first half of June.
  • Utah (Republican trifecta): Gov. Gary Herbert (R) announced that Utah would advance to the third phase of the state’s reopening plan. Utah Leads Together 3.0 will focus on protecting high-risk individuals and minority communities. The color-coded reopening plan for jurisdictions adopted in Utah Leads Together 1.0—high (red), moderate (orange), low (yellow), and new normal (green)—will continue in the latest version. On Saturday, May 16, much of the state moved from the orange phase to the yellow phase, allowing for fewer restrictions on businesses and individuals. Three counties and three cities remain in the orange phase. Herbert did not give a timeline for when parts of the state can move to green, the phase with the fewest restrictions.
  • West Virginia (Republican trifecta): Indoor dining at restaurants, large retail stores, outdoor recreation rental businesses, tanning businesses, state park campgrounds for in-state residents only, and indoor shopping malls may all reopen, with restrictions, effective May 21. West Virginia is in the fourth week of its reopening plan. Gov. Jim Justice (R) announced that swimming pools, bowling alleys and other forms of indoor entertainment, and spas and massage parlors can reopen in Week 5, which starts on May 25. Justice also announced that movie theaters can reopen on June 5.

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 21, stay-at-home orders have ended in 27 states. Eighteen of those states have Republican governors and nine have Democratic governors (including Wisconsin, where the state Supreme Court invalidated the stay-at-home order). Of the 16 states with active stay-at-home orders, one has a Republican governor and 15 have Democratic governors.

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

Tracking industries: Gyms and fitness centers

All 50 states began to reopen in some way. Beginning today, we’ll give the status of one industry or activity across the states. First up: in which states are gyms permitted to reopen?

Gyms may open in 25 states. They may not open in 25 states. The chart and map below indicate which states permit gyms to open in some form, even with restrictions (like capacity) or only in certain regions.

In at least nine states, gyms may open but are subject to capacity restrictions.

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. Click here for previous editions.

On May 9, Gov. Ralph Northam (D) issued Executive Order 61, providing for the first phase of Virginia’s reopening effective May 15.

Northam said, “I am proud of the millions of Virginians who have stayed home and helped to flatten the curve, but our work is not done. These guidelines represent one step forward in a gradual process, establishing the necessary modifications to business operations to minimize the risk of COVID-19 exposure for employees and customers. When we move into this first phase, it will be important for Virginians to act cautiously—especially our most vulnerable populations, the elderly, and those with underlying medical conditions.”

On May 12, Northam issued an executive order delaying Phase 1 reopening to May 28 for the following northern Virginia municipalities: the counties of Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun, and Prince William; the cities of Alexandria, Fairfax, Falls Church, Manassas, and Manassas Park; and the towns of Dumfries, Herndon, Leesburg, and Vienna. On May 14, he issued a similar order for Accomack County and the city of Richmond.

As of May 21, Northam has not provided details on subsequent phases of the state’s reopening.


  • On March 23, Northam issued Executive Order 53, which closed, or otherwise limited the operations of, nonessential businesses in Virginia. That order also barred gatherings of more than 10 people and closed K-12 schools for the remainder of the academic year. It was initially set to expire on April 23, but Northam extended it on April 15.
  • On March 30, he issued Executive Order 55, which directed all individuals to stay home unless performing essential tasks. The stay-at-home order was initially set to expire at 11:59 p.m., June 10. Parts of the state that have moved into the first phase of reopening are no longer subject to the order. Parts of the state that have not, however, remain subject to it.
  • As of May 21, Virginia has recorded 34,137 reported cases of COVID-19 (32,428 confirmed and 1,709 probable cases) and 1,099 fatalities (1,064 confirmed and 35 probable fatalities). This amounts to 399.9 reported cases and 12.9 fatalities per 100,000 residents.
  • Virginia is a Democratic trifecta, with a Democratic governor and Democratic majorities in both chambers of the General Assembly.

Plan details

Guidelines for individuals

  • Individuals from parts of the state that have moved into the first phase of reopening are not required to stay home, although they are still encouraged to do so, particularly if they belong to vulnerable population groups. Individuals in parts of the state that have not advanced to Phase 1 are still directed to remain at home unless performing essential tasks.
  • Gatherings of more than 10 people are prohibited. This includes, but is not limited to, parties, celebrations, and other social events.

Guidelines for businesses

Northam’s executive order establishes guidelines and operating requirements for the following industry groups. Violations are punishable as Class 1 misdemeanors.

Restaurants and other dining establishments (including breweries, microbreweries, distilleries, wineries, and tasting rooms)

  • 50% capacity.
  • No more than 10 customers seated together as a group.
  • Tables positioned six feet apart.
  • No self-service for food or condiments.
  • Bar seating and other congregant areas closed.
  • Employees in customer-facing areas required to wear face coverings.
  • Cleaning and disinfection of frequently contacted surfaces required every 60 minutes; cleaning of tabletops, chairs, and credit card/bill folders cleaned required between customers.

Religious services

  • 50% capacity.
  • Individuals not belonging to the same family group required to be seated six feet apart.
  • No items to be passed between attendees who do not belong to the same family group.
  • Disposable, single-use items required to distribute food or beverages.
  • Cleaning and disinfection of frequently contacted surfaces required after each service.

Farmers markets

  • Sites organized to avoid congestion and congregation points.
  • Employees and vendors in customer-facing areas required to wear face coverings.
  • Vendors required to supply hand sanitizer or hand-washing stations.
  • Cleaning and disinfection of frequently contacted surfaces required every 60 minutes.

Physical retail establishments

  • 50% capacity.
  • Employees in customer-facing areas required to wear face coverings.

Fitness and exercise facilities

  • Only outdoor fitness classes permitted. Individuals required to keep 10 feet apart.
  • Hot tubs, spas, splash pads, spray pools, and interactive play featured closed.
  • Outdoor swimming pools open for lap swimming only; limited to one person per lane.
  • Employees in customer-facing areas required to wear face coverings.
  • Cleaning and disinfection of shared equipment required after each use.
  • Businesses required to supply hand sanitizer or hand-washing stations.

Personal care and grooming services

  • 50% capacity; workstations positioned six feet apart; one appointment per service provider at a time.
  • Employees in customer-facing areas and clients required to wear face coverings.
  • Cleaning and disinfection of frequently contacted surfaces required every 60 minutes; cleaning of tools required between uses.


  • Lots positioned 20 feet apart.
  • Employees in customer-facing areas required to wear face coverings.
  • Businesses required to supply hand sanitizer or hand-washing stations.

Indoor shooting ranges

  • 50% capacity; individuals required to keep six feet apart.
  • Employees in customer-facing areas required to wear face coverings.
  • Cleaning and disinfection of frequently contacted surfaces required every 60 minutes; cleaning of shared equipment required between uses.


  • House Minority Leader Todd Gilbert (R) criticized Northam’s decision to allow some localities to remain subject to the stay-at-home order: “In a matter of hours, and just hours before businesses were set to reopen, Governor Northam has again changed his mind and allowed localities to remain shut down, rather than requiring the regional approach he required after initially refusing requests for the same. This shocking level of inconsistency inspires no confidence in the governor’s ability to lead our commonwealth in its hour of need.”
  • Falls Church Mayor Dave Tarter supported the governor’s decision to delay reopening in northern Virginia: “Based on the latest information from our health directors, the elected leaders of our region have spoken together to request that Governor Northam consider the northern Virginia data separately from the rest of the state. The governor has done so with Executive Order 62, which was issued yesterday. We thank Governor Northam for his willingness to listen and act on our behalf and for recognizing that one size does not fit all when it comes to the complex work of saving lives and livelihood.”
  • On May 13, Del. Lamont Bagby (D), chair of the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus, sent a letter to Northam urging him to delay Virginia’s reopening: “While we understand the valid concerns that non-essential business closure and stay-at-home orders have taken a substantial toll on our Commonwealth’s economy, these concerns must be weighed with the substantial negative impacts on many Virginians, especially Black Virginians and Virginians of Color. … Reopening now will not only increase the incidence of COVID-19 exposure to [essential workers], who remain unprotected and ill-supported, but will also increase the negative economic pressures that they are already experiencing. In addition, reopening would add to the number of Virginia workers who are exposed to these unaddressed issues.”
  • Nicole Riley, state director of the National Federation of Independent Businesses, said her group supported the May 15 reopening target date: “Small business owners are telling us they are willing and able to handle social distancing, require face coverings, and take the necessary steps to protect customers and workers.”

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.

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released guidance for reopening schools and camps. The document includes social distancing and cleaning practices, as well as recommending state and local officials base reopening decisions on local rates of coronavirus transmission.
  • California: Ventura County received approval from the state to proceed with an accelerated reopening. This means that in-person shopping and dine-in services at restaurants will be available beginning today. It is the first county in southern California to receive approval, following seven counties in northern California which were approved last week. To qualify for an accelerated reopening, counties must meet criteria on hospitalization and positive testing rates, contact tracing, PPE, and county plans for containment.
  • Delaware: Fifteen Republican members of the Delaware state Legislature sent a letter to Gov. John Carney (D) asking him to move the state’s reopening date forward to May 22, and allow more businesses to restart. The current reopening date is June 1. Legislators also asked that churches, child care centers, and youth sports be allowed to return to normal.
  • Illinois: The Illinois House of Representatives voted 81-27 to remove Rep. Darren Bailey (R) from the chamber after Bailey refused to wear a face mask during a special legislative session. Legislators had earlier voted to adopt a rule requiring legislators to wear face masks.
  • The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board released reopening criteria for casinos. Casinos still cannot resume operations until the green stage of Pennsylvania’s statewide reopening plan.
  • The Oklahoma Historical Society announced on May 21 that museums and historic sites in the state would begin reopening to the public.
  • The North Dakota State Historical Society announced that most historic sites in the state would open on May 23.
  • The New Jersey Department of Health closed Bellmawr’s, Atilis Gym, on Wednesday.  The gym had reopened despite Gov. Phil Murphy’s (D) stay-at-home order.  Under that order, gyms are closed.