After this Friday, June 5, Coronavirus Daily Updates will become Coronavirus Weekly Updates. Every Thursday afternoon, starting on June 11, we’ll give you updates on all of the same topics you’ve found here. For daily news on state reopening plans and which industries and activities are permitted across the country, subscribe to Documenting America’s Path to Recovery.
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 June 4, 2020.
State stay-at-home orders
As of June 4, stay-at-home orders have ended in 35 states. Eighteen of those states have Republican governors and 17 have Democratic governors (including Wisconsin, where the state Supreme Court invalidated the stay-at-home order). Pennsylvania’s stay-at-home order ends at 11:59 p.m. on June 4. Pennsylvania will become the 36th state to end a stay-at-home order when it expires.
Of the eight states with active stay-at-home orders, seven have Democratic governors and one has a Republican governor. They are (with expiration date):
- Pennsylvania (June 4, Democratic governor)
- New Hampshire (June 15, Republican governor)
- New York (June 27, Democratic governor)
- New Mexico (June 30, Democratic governor)
- California (no set expiration date, Democratic governor)
- Kentucky (no set expiration date, Democratic governor)
- New Jersey (no set expiration date, Democratic governor)
- Oregon (no set expiration date, Democratic governor)
The chart below shows when stay-at-home orders ended in other states.
1918 Spanish Flu Pandemic:
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 23, 1918, the Indianapolis Star published an article titled, “Politics Seem Doomed By Flu.” The article discussed how a ban on public gatherings would affect political campaigning ahead of the 1918 midterm elections.
“On the heels of information from the Republican national organization yesterday that a number of prominent speakers have been assigned to Indiana for the closing week of the campaign came the doleful word from the state health authorities that more than likely the order prohibiting all public meetings until midnight, October 20 will be extended for at least another week.
An extension of one week would make it impossible for politicians to run up the curtain for the brief but spectacular closing speeches they have been planning. They have been setting the rival stages with feverish haste hoping all the while that the ‘flu’ epidemic would subside so that they could go before the voters with the arguments they have prepared.”
- United States Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette announced Monday that the Department of Energy will enter the first phase of its reopening plan June 8, allowing some mission-critical personnel to return to work at facilities in Washington and Maryland.
Lawsuits about state actions and policies
- To date, Ballotpedia has tracked 99 lawsuits, spanning 34 states, relating to governmental actions undertaken in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Orders have been issued, or settlements have been reached, in 34 of those lawsuits.
- Ballotpedia has separately tracked another 90 lawsuits, spanning 32 states, dealing with the administration of elections in light of the pandemic. Orders have been issued, or settlements have been reached, in 39 of those lawsuits.
- Twenty states have postponed state-level primary or special elections.
- Sixteen states have modified their candidate filing requirements.
- Twenty-eight states have made modifications to their voting procedures.
- Political parties in 19 states have made changes to party events on a statewide basis.
Ballot measure changes
Ballotpedia has tracked 23 statewide initiative petition drives that suspended signature gathering.
- Seven states and D.C. changed ballot measure procedures.
- At least 12 lawsuits were filed in ten different states seeking court orders suspending or changing signature requirements and deadlines. Rulings or settlements have been issued for eight.
- At least two initiative campaigns reported they had enough signatures but are delaying signature submission so their measures appear on the ballot in 2022 instead of 2020.
- Arkansas – Arcade Arkansas, sponsors of the Arkansas Coin-Operated Amusement Machines Initiative, announced that they were ending their signature-gathering campaign.
- 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.
- Oklahoma – The state Department of Education released a plan for reopening schools for the 2020-2021 academic year. The plan provides guidance for four categories: school operations, academics & growth, whole child & family supports, and school personnel.
- Pennsylvania – The state Department of Education announced that schools in green and yellow reopening zones could resume in-person instruction on July 1. Schools would need to develop plans in consultation with local health agencies and be approved by the department.
- Of the 21 executive orders issued by governors or state agencies placing restrictions on out-of-state visitors, at least nine have been rescinded.
State court changes
- Thirty-four states suspended in-person proceedings statewide.
- Sixteen states suspended in-person proceedings on the local level.
Prison inmate responses
- 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.
- Massachusetts – The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court declined a request to release sentenced inmates due to coronavirus. The court said that while incarceration increases the risk of contacting coronavirus, it does not violate the Eighth Amendment’s provisions against cruel and unusual punishment. The court did rule that those committed to addiction treatment involuntarily could seek immediate release. The court’s decision follows a request for a preliminary injunction filed by Prisoners’ Legal Services of Massachusetts.
Eviction and foreclosure policies
- Forty-one states have implemented policies related to evictions or foreclosures on either the state or local level.
- Kansas – Gov. Laura Kelly’s (D) executive order temporarily prohibiting evictions and foreclosures in Kansas expired on May 26, the governor’s office confirmed on June 1. Gov. Kelly originally issued an executive order suspending evictions and foreclosures through May 1 and extended the order on April 30 through May 26.
State legislative responses
- To date, 1,741 bills related to the coronavirus pandemic have been introduced in state legislatures.
- Of these, 143 significant bills have been enacted into law, 8.2 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
- Sixteen state legislatures have suspended their sessions. Twelve of those have since reconvened.
- Twenty-eight legislatures have either adjourned or are not scheduled to be in regular session this year.
- Five state legislatures are in regular session. One state (Kansas) is in special session.
- Iowa – The Iowa legislature reconvened on June 3.
- Kansas – The Kansas legislature convened a special session on June 3.