Welcome to the first edition of Ballotpedia’s Coronavirus Weekly Update. Since March 18, 2020, Coronavirus Daily Update provided a daily summary of major changes due to the coronavirus pandemic in politics, government, and elections. Starting June 11, we’ll cover those same stories in a weekly format sent out on Thursday afternoons.
Today, you will find updates on the following topics, with comparisons to our previous edition released on June 5:
- Stay-at-home orders
- Federal responses
- Lawsuits about state actions and policies
- Election changes
- Ballot measure changes
- School closures and reopenings
- Travel restrictions
- State courts
- Prison policies
- Eviction and foreclosure policies
- State legislative sessions
- Diagnosed or quarantined public officials
For a free, daily summary of reopening activities and plans, please subscribe to Documenting America’s Path to Recovery.
State stay-at-home orders
As of June 11, stay-at-home orders have ended in 37 states. Eighteen of those states have Republican governors and 19 have Democratic governors (including Wisconsin, where the state Supreme Court invalidated the stay-at-home order). Since the last coronavirus daily update on June 5, one state (New Jersey) ended its stay-at-home order.
Of the six states with active stay-at-home orders, five have Democratic governors and one has a Republican governor. They are (with expiration date):
- 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)
- Oregon (no set expiration date, Democratic governor)
- New Jersey – On June 9, Gov. Phil Murphy (D) announced he was lifting the stay-at-home order, effective immediately. Murphy issued the order on March 21. It had no set expiration date. New Jersey was the third state to issue a stay-at-home order and the 37th to lift one.
The 1918 influenza pandemic
The United States held midterm elections as scheduled during the 1918-1919 influenza pandemic. More than 50 million people perished from the disease worldwide, including about 675,000 in the U.S., making it one of the deadliest pandemics in recorded history. Each week, 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.
“Heated discussion of election returns is not in violation of law, provided the participant keeps his flu mask properly adjusted; but should he overlook that important matter trouble awaits him. That is the verdict of ten or twelve men fined $10 each after being arrested in the county clerk’s office. Many alibis were offered by the offenders, who maintained that they were seriously handicapped by their masks in arguments over election returns with more fluent talkers. The arm of the law refused to accept any excuses, contending that epidemics could not be checked through the wearing of masks for bibs.”
- On June 9, the Department of Defense announced it was lifting travel restrictions on installations in 38 states, Washington D.C., and five countries (Bahrain, Belgium, Germany, the U.K., and Japan). Service members could travel between those areas without needing permission. Travel restrictions remain in place in 12 states.
Lawsuits about state actions and policies
- To date, Ballotpedia has tracked 204 lawsuits in 37 states on government actions undertaken in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Court orders have been issued, or settlements have been reached, in 41 of those lawsuits.
- Since June 5, we tracked 102 new lawsuits. Orders were issued, or settlements reached, in seven lawsuits.
- Ballotpedia has separately tracked another 95 lawsuits in 33 states, dealing with election administration. Court orders have been issued, or settlements have been reached, in 43 of those lawsuits.
Here are two noteworthy decisions:
- Talleywhacker, Inc. d/b/a Arizona Pete’s Country Music Saloon et al v. The Honorable Roy A. Cooper, III – On June 8, Judge Louise Wood Flanagan for the Eastern District of North Carolina denied a temporary restraining order filed on behalf of at least 28 strip clubs in seven counties. The restraining order would have allowed clubs to reopen during litigation. The clubs filed a complaint challenging Cooper’s Executive Order 141, which authorized the state to move into Phase 2 of Cooper’s reopening plan. Under that phase, gyms, bars, or entertainment venues remain closed. Flanagan ruled that the plaintiffs lacked the same urgency to reopen as restaurants. Flanagan wrote: “(Gov. Roy Cooper) has taken intricate steps to craft reopening policies to balance the public health and economic issues associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, while recognizing the continued severe risks associated with reopening, and where neither the court nor plaintiffs are better positioned to second-guess those determinations, the public interest does not weigh in favor of injunctive relief.”
- Martinko et al v. Whitmer – On June 5, U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman for the Eastern District of Michigan dismissed a lawsuit challenging Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s (D) executive orders which directed individuals to stay home unless performing essential activities and placed restrictions on non-essential businesses. Friedman said the U.S. Constitution prevents citizens from suing states in federal court. This means plaintiffs could not sue Whitmer in her role as governor. Friedman also said the case was moot, as the orders in question had been rescinded and that possibilities of Whitmer reimposing restrictions were speculation. Whitmer lifted the stay-at-home order on June 1.
- Twenty states have postponed state-level primary or special elections.
- No new states have postponed state-level primary or special elections since June 5.
- Sixteen states have modified their candidate filing requirements.
- No new states have modified their requirements since June 5.
- Twenty-nine states have made modifications to their voting procedures.
- No new states have made modifications since June 5.
- Political parties in 19 states have made changes to party events on a statewide basis.
- No state parties have made changes since June 5.
Ballot measure changes
- At least 15 lawsuits were filed in 12 states seeking court orders suspending or changing signature requirements and deadlines.
- Two new lawsuits have been filed since June 5.
- Rulings or settlements have been issued in 12 cases.
- One ruling has been issued since June 5.
- Ballotpedia has tracked 23 statewide initiative petition drives that suspended signature gathering.
- No new petition drive suspensions since June 5.
- Seven states and D.C. changed ballot measure procedures through executive orders or legislative action.
- No new changes have been enacted since June 5.
- At least two initiative campaigns reported they had enough signatures to qualify for the November ballot, but are delaying submitting those signatures in order to appear on their state’s 2022 ballot.
- Michigan – Court of Claims Judge Cynthia D. Stephens granted Fair and Equal Michigan—the campaign behind an initiative to prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender, sexual orientation, and gender identity or expression—an additional 69 days to collect signatures to qualify for the 2022 ballot. Michigan’s stay-at-home order was in place for 69 days. In Michigan, initiative campaigns have 180 days to collect signatures, with a requirement of 340,047 valid signatures for 2020/22. Judge Stephens did not grant the campaign’s other requests to reduce the signature requirement or to extend the submission deadline of May 27 to make the 2020 ballot, which was the campaign’s initial target.
- California – The Coalition to Authorize Regulated Sports Wagering, which is backing the California Legalize Sports Betting on American Indian Lands Initiative for the 2022 ballot, sued Secretary of State Alex Padilla (D) on June 9. The lawsuit seeks to extend the deadline to file signatures beyond July 20, 2020. In California, campaigns have 180 days to collect signatures. The campaign suspended paid signature gathering in March 2020 in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
- Idaho – Reclaim Idaho, sponsors of the Idaho Income Tax Increases for Education Funding Initiative, filed a lawsuit on June 6 against Gov. Brad Little (R) seeking a preliminary injunction to grant the campaign 48 more days to gather signatures and temporary permission to use electronic signatures.
- In March and April 2020, 48 states closed schools to in-person instruction for the remainder of the 2019-2020 academic year. Those states accounted for 99.4% of the 50.6 million public school students in the country. The two states that did not close schools to in-person instruction for the academic year were Montana and Wyoming. Montana schools were allowed to reopen on May 7 and Wyoming schools were allowed to reopen on May 15.
- Five states (Alabama, Montana, North Dakota, Nevada, and Wyoming) have reopened their campuses for students and staff.
- Seven states have announced their intentions to reopen schools in the fall.
- Officials in seven other states have released guidance for reopening schools to in-person instructions, but have not indicated when or whether they plan to do so.
- California – On June 8, the California Department of Education released a 55-page guidance document for reopening schools to public instruction. The guidance includes temperature checks before entering schools or buses, face coverings for staff and students, and physical distancing requirements.
- Florida – On June 11, Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) announced that he expected schools to reopen at full capacity in August. The Florida Department of Education released guidance for schools including social distancing guidelines, the conversion of common spaces (such as libraries, gyms, and auditoriums) into classroom areas, and disinfection protocols.
- Indiana – On June 5, Health Commissioner Dr. Kris Box released guidelines for schools to consider before reopening. The guidelines include requiring face coverings and social distancing rules. Schools in Indiana are allowed to reopen for in-person instruction beginning July 1.
- Kansas – On June 10, the Kansas State Board of Education announced that it was expecting to reopen schools in August and that it would deliver guidance to schools in early July.
- Massachusetts – On June 8, the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education released preliminary guidance for reopening schools. The memo outlined a face-covering requirement for both teachers and students, desks spaced six feet apart, and classroom size restrictions of 12.
- Mississippi – On June 10, the Mississippi Department of Education released optional guidance for schools reopening in the fall. It contained recommendations for school districts to choose and implement one of three learning schedules: traditional, hybrid, or online.
- Missouri – On June 9, Missouri Education Commissioner Margie Vandeven announced fall reopenings for schools would occur at the discretion of county and school board officials.
- Nevada – On June 9, Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) signed an executive order allowing schools to reopen buildings and athletic facilities effective immediately.
- North Carolina – On June 8, the North Carolina State Board of Education released guidance for reopening schools to in-person instruction. The guidance includes more frequent cleanings, a temperature check for all individuals entering buildings or buses, and physical distancing guidelines.
- Oregon – On June 10, The Oregon Department of Education released guidelines for schools to reopen for the 2020-2021 school year. Under the plan, individual public and private schools will need to submit an Operational Blueprint for Reentry to their local public health authority before they reopen.
- Virginia – On June 9, Gov. Ralph Northam (D) announced that schools would reopen to in-person instruction for the 2020-2021 school year. The state released guidance for a three-phase reopening. Phase One has remote learning as the dominant teaching strategy, while Phase Two allows in-person instruction for preschool through third grade, and Phase Three allows in-person instruction for all students.
- Governors or state agencies in 21 states issued executive orders placing restrictions on out-of-state visitors. At least nine have been rescinded.
- These totals did not change since June 5.
- Florida – Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) announced on June 5 that travelers from Louisiana no longer need to self-quarantine for 14 days. The requirements remained in effect for visitors from Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey.
- Maine – Maine Gov. Janet Mills (D) announced on June 8 that out-of-state visitors from New Hampshire and Vermont were no longer required to self-quarantine for 14 days. Beginning June 12, visitors from those states can stay in lodging establishments throughout Maine. Mills also announced that effective July 1, visitors from all other states will need to quarantine for 14 days unless they have recently received a negative COVID-19 test. Travelers will need to fill out a Certificate of Compliance at lodging establishments, including hotels and short-term rentals.
- Vermont – Gov. Phil Scott (R) announced that the quarantine requirement will be lifted for out-of-state travelers from counties across New England with similar COVID-19 caseloads to Vermont starting June 8.
State court changes
- Thirty-four states suspended in-person proceedings statewide.
- Sixteen states suspended in-person proceedings on the local level.
- One court extended the suspension of jury trials since June 5.
- Florida – On June 8, Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Charles Canady issued an order extending the suspension of civil and criminal jury trials through July 17. Jury trials were first suspended on March 13. The court subsequently extended that order, first through April 17, then through May 29, and again through July 2.
Prison inmate responses
- Twenty-one states have released inmates at the state level.
- Twelve states have released inmates at 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.
- Since June 5, two states have announced the release of inmates on the state-level.
- In two states, judges denied temporary restraining orders compelling the release of inmates from state facilities.
- One state reached a settlement to expedite the release of certain inmates.
- Connecticut – As part of a settlement from a federal lawsuit, the Connecticut Department of Corrections is required to identify inmates who are 65 years or older who meet specific medical criteria to expedite release consideration.
- Maine – U.S. District Judge John Woodcock denied a temporary restraining order requested by two inmates at the Mountain View Correctional Facility. Woodcock wrote, “The Court is not prepared — prior to an evidentiary hearing and without a showing that disaster is truly imminent — to substitute its judgment for that of the MDOC and Commissioner Liberty when it comes to administration of their facilities.” The temporary restraining order would have required Maine Department of Corrections officials to review cases of all medically vulnerable inmates for release to allow them the ability to social distance due to the coronavirus pandemic.
- Michigan – According to the Prison Policy Initiative, the number of inmates paroled from Michigan state prisons reportedly increased by about 1,000 people per month to curb the spread of coronavirus. The Michigan Department of Corrections reported June 5 that the overall inmate population has been reduced five percent since March 20.
- New York – On June 8, the New York Department of Corrections and Community Supervision reported that 898 inmates had been released due to the coronavirus pandemic. The releases follow a March 28 announcement from Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) that up to 1,100 people being held in jails and prisons in the state could be released with community supervision.
- North Carolina – On June 8, Wake County Superior Court Judge Vince M. Rozier Jr. issued a preliminary injunction against prison officials in North Carolina. In his ruling, Rozier stated, “…this Court finds that [the] Defendant’s acted in violation of the Eighth Amendment’s ‘deliberate indifference test’…The Court notes that [the] Defendant failed to provide substantial COVID-19 testing to accompany the crowded and communal social distancing protocols, transferring inmates between facilities without properly protecting those inmates or preventing the spread of COVID-19 in contradiction to CDC guidelines, and providing disparate levels of COVID-19 protection as between different facilities. These actions, at the very least, lie ‘somewhere between the poles of negligence at one end and purpose or knowledge at the other.’” Rozier outlined steps for prison officials to implement “until the substantial risk of COVID-19 has been satisfactorily diminished.” Steps include reopening the application process for homes, facilities, and programs willing to participate as partners in early release for approved inmates, and requiring coronavirus testing before transferring inmates between facilities.
Eviction and foreclosure policies
- Forty-one states have implemented policies related to evictions or foreclosures on either the state or local level.
- This total did not change since June 5.
- This total did not change since June 5.
- California – The San Francisco Board of Supervisors approved a measure on June 9 permanently prohibiting landlords from evicting tenants for failing to pay rent due to the coronavirus pandemic. The law only applies to payments missed while the city is actively under the state of emergency Mayor London Breed declared in February.
- Maryland – On June 9, Baltimore County announced it was launching a new eviction prevention program using $1 million in federal and state emergency assistance funds. The program will help pay the past-due rent for tenants facing eviction after the expiration of Maryland’s state of emergency and the end of the temporary statewide ban on evictions and foreclosures.
- Virginia – On June 8, Virginia Supreme Court Chief Justice Donald Lemons issued a statewide order pausing evictions and foreclosures through June 28. The order follows a letter Gov. Ralph Northam (D) sent to Lemons requesting that the court suspend eviction proceedings due to the coronavirus pandemic.
State legislative session changes
- Sixteen state legislatures have suspended their sessions. Thirteen 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.
- Kansas – The Kansas legislature adjourned a special session on June 4 that began on June 3.
- New Hampshire – The House reconvened June 11, ending its suspension.
Diagnosed or quarantined politicians identified by Ballotpedia in the last week
We have tracked the deaths, diagnoses, and quarantines of political incumbents, candidates, and government officials resulting from COVID-19. At this time, tracked incumbents, candidates, and government officials are limited to those within Ballotpedia’s scope of coverage.
- Six members of Congress have been diagnosed with COVID-19.
- Forty federal officials quarantined after possible exposure to COVID-19.
- Four state-level incumbents or candidates have died of COVID-19.
- Thirty-four state-level incumbents or candidates have been diagnosed with COVID-19
- Sixty-seven state-level incumbents or candidates quarantined after possible exposure to COVID-19.
- At least one local incumbent or candidate has died of COVID-19.
- At least twelve local incumbents or candidates have been diagnosed with COVID-19.
- At least 23 local incumbents or candidates quarantined after possible exposure to COVID-19.
Since June 5, one state-level candidate has tested positive for coronavirus. One state officeholder announced he had tested positive for coronavirus antibodies.
State politicians who tested positive for coronavirus
- Jon Huntsman (R), candidate for Utah governor, announced on June 10 that he tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
- Utah Senate President Stuart Adams (R) announced that he had tested positive for COVID-19 antibodies, though he said he never realized he was infected with the novel coronavirus.