Coronavirus weekly updates: July 2, 2020

Ballotpedia, The Encyclopedia of American Politics: Coronavirus Weekly Updates
From March 18 to June 10, Coronavirus Daily Update provided a daily summary of major changes due to the coronavirus pandemic in politics, government, and elections. Now, we 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 25:

  • Stay-at-home orders
  • Federal responses
  • Lawsuits about state actions and policies
  • Election changes
  • Ballot measure changes
  • School closures and reopenings
  • Travel restrictions
  • State legislation
  • State legislative sessions
  • State courts
  • Prison policies
  • Eviction and foreclosure policies
  • Diagnosed or quarantined public officials

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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:

As of July 2, stay-at-home orders have ended in 41 states. Nineteen of those states have Republican governors and 22 have Democratic governors (including Wisconsin, where the state Supreme Court invalidated the stay-at-home order).

The two states with active stay-at-home orders have Democratic governors. They are (with expiration date):

  • New Mexico (July 15)
  • California (no set expiration date)

Details:

  • New Mexico – On July 1, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s office announced the health order was extended on June 30 through July 15. The order was initially set to expire on June 30

1918 influenza pandemic (Spanish Flu) and the 1918 midterm election cycle

Read more: 1918 influenza pandemic (Spanish Flu) and the 1918 midterm election cycle

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.

On Nov. 5, 1918, the Toledo News – Bee reported that while orders closing businesses were beginning to lift, saloons and entertainment would remain closed on Election Day.  Officials believed lack of crowding on election night would slow the spread of the influenza.

“The gradual abatement of the flu and the gradual resumption of business thru the suspension of the influenza quarantine are moving along together…

“On Thursday the closing order is lifted from everything except schools, which open Monday morning, and except for ‘airing’ houses for movies and theaters some time between shows.

“The order of Mayor [Cornell] Schreiber and Health Commissioner Waggoner, to close all eating places between 8 and 11 on Tuesday night will be obeyed generally.

“There will be no places of amusement or entertainment open, and consequently no great reason for election night crowds, officials say, a fact which they believe will give further aid to the elimination of the flu through nonassemblage.”

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

  • On July 1, the U.S. Department of the Interior released public health guidance for the Independence Day celebrations on the National Mall on July 4. The Department recommends people who are not members of the same household keep six feet apart and asks people to wear masks. The Department is providing 300,000 cloth masks at the event.
  • On June 30, the Treasury Department and the IRS announced that the tax deadline would not be extended beyond July 15. The deadline was postponed from April 15 to July 15 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
  • On June 29, the Defense Department announced it had lifted travel restrictions on military installations in ten more states, allowing service members to resume recreational travel and change-of-station moves. Restrictions were also lifted on troops in Guam, Puerto Rico, and South Korea.

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 320 lawsuits, across 45 states, dealing in some way with the COVID-19 outbreak. Court orders have been issued, or settlements have been reached, in 121 of those lawsuits.
    • Since June 25, we have added 42 lawsuits to our database. We have also tracked an additional 28 court orders and/or settlements.
  • Ballotpedia has separately followed another 119 lawsuits, in 36 states, dealing with election issues during the COVID-19 outbreak. Court orders have been issued, or settlements have been reached, in 59 of those lawsuits.

Here are three recently tracked lawsuits that have either garnered significant national media attention or involve major advocacy groups.

  • Flores v. Barr: On June 26, Judge Dolly Gee of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California ordered Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to transfer migrant children held at ICE Family Residential Centers (FRCs) to their families or sponsors by July 17. The order is the result of a complaint filed on March 26, in which plaintiffs, representing detained minors in a longstanding class action, alleged that continued detention of the minors “in congregate detention facilities in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic and public health national emergency” violated the Flores settlement. The Flores settlement is a 1997 court-supervised stipulated settlement agreement which governs the detention conditions and treatment of noncitizen migrant children held in federal custody. Gee’s order is limited to minors held at FRCs for more than 20 days. It provides that removal “shall be undertaken with all deliberate speed.” The order goes on to state that before removal, “ICE shall urgently enforce its existing COVID-19 protocols,” including social distancing, masking, and enhanced testing at all detention centers. On April 24, Gee ordered the federal government to “continue to make every effort to promptly and safely release” the minors, an order ICE appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit on June 23. Gee was appointed to the court by President Barack Obama (D).
  • In re: American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations: On June 11, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit denied an emergency petition filed by the AFL-CIO. The labor union had sought a court order (a writ of mandamus) to compel the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to issue an Emergency Temporary Standard for Infectious Diseases (ETS) to protect working people from occupational exposure to COVID-19. On March 6, the union petitioned Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia to issue the ETS, but Scalia did not act on the petition, prompting the AFL-CIO to take the matter before the D.C. Circuit. The union cited a federal law requiring the issuance of an ETS when “employees are exposed to grave danger from exposure to substances or agents determined to be toxic or physically harmful or from new hazards.” The D.C. Circuit refused to compel action, saying OSHA is “entitled to considerable deference” and the agency had “reasonably determined that an ETS is not necessary at this time.” Judges Karen Henderson, an appointee of George H.W. Bush (R), Robert Wilkins, an appointee of Barack Obama (D), and Neomi Rao, an appointee of Donald J. Trump (R), made the per curiam decision. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka issued a statement the day of the decision, saying, “the court’s action today fell woefully short of fulfilling its duty to ensure that the Occupational Safety and Health Act is enforced.”
  • League of Independent Fitness Facilities and Trainers, Inc. v. Whitmer: On June 24, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit granted an emergency stay in favor of Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D), barring indoor gyms from reopening due to continued risks associated with COVID-19. Whitmer had appealed Judge Paul Maloney’s June 19 preliminary injunction, which barred enforcement of Executive Order 2020-110, Section 12(b). The executive order closed “indoor gymnasiums, fitness centers, recreation centers, sports facilities, exercise facilities, exercise studios, and the like” in an attempt to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. While Maloney prevented the order from taking effect, saying  Whitmer had offered “nothing in support of the restriction” nor “any set of facts on which the gym restriction has a rational relation to public health.” The Sixth Circuit ruled Whitmer used “rational speculation” that “heavy breathing and sweating in an enclosed space containing many shared surfaces creates conditions likely to spread the virus.” The Sixth Circuit found that the “public interest weighs in favor of a stay” of Maloney’s injunction. The unanimous three-judge panel, comprised Judges Julia Gibbons and Deborah Cook, both appointed by George W. Bush (R), and Chad Readler, who was appointed by Donald Trump (R). Following the Sixth Circuit’s ruling, Whitmer’s office said: “In the fight against a global pandemic, courts must give governors broad latitude to make quick, difficult decisions.” An attorney for the plaintiffs said they were exploring their options regarding an appeal.

Election changes

Read more: Changes to election dates, procedures, and administration in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview: 

  • Twenty states have postponed state-level primary or special elections.
    • No new states have postponed elections since June 25.
  • Eighteen states have modified their candidate filing requirements.
    • No new states have made modifications since June 25.
  • Thirty-six states have made modifications to their voting procedures.
    • One new state has made modifications since June 25.
  • Political parties in 19 states have made modifications to party events on a statewide basis.
    • No state parties have made modifications to party events since June 25.

Details:

  • New Mexico – On June 26, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) signed SB4 into law, authorizing county clerks to automatically mail absentee ballot applications to registered, mailable voters in the Nov. 3 general election.
  • Texas – On June 26, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to reinstate a district court order that had expanded absentee voting eligibility in Texas. An appeals court stayed the district court’s order, a decision that was allowed to stand as a result of the Supreme Court’s decision not to intervene.

Ballot measure changes

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

Overview:

  • At least 15 lawsuits were filed in 12 states seeking court orders suspending or changing signature requirements and deadlines.
  • Rulings or settlements have been issued in 14 cases.
    • Last week, at least one appeal was filed, and two rulings were issued in cases previously appealed.
  • Ballotpedia has tracked 25 statewide initiative petition drives that suspended signature gathering.
  • Seven states and D.C. changed ballot measure procedures through executive orders or legislative action.
  • At least three initiative campaigns initially targeting 2020 reported they would shift their focus to 2022.

Details:

School closures

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

Overview:

  • In March and April, 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 nation’s 50.6 million public school students. Montana and Wyoming did not require in-person instruction for the year. Montana schools were allowed to reopen on May 7 and Wyoming schools were allowed to reopen on May 15.
  • Seven states (Alabama, Indiana, Iowa, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, and Wyoming) have reopened their campuses for students and staff.
    • Two new states have reopened campuses since June 25.
  • Ten states have released reopening guidance and also announced a scheduled reopening.
    • Five new states have done so since June 25.
  • Three states have announced schools will reopen in the fall but have not released reopening guidance.
    • One new state has made a reopening announcement since June 25.
  • Officials in 13 other states have released guidance for reopening schools to in-person instruction, but have not indicated when or whether they plan to do so.

The map below details states that have released guidance for school reopenings, announced the future reopening of schools to in-person instruction, or have allowed schools to reopen to in-person instruction. States are categorized in the following manner.

  • No announcements – Ballotpedia has not identified a key state official that has made an announcement about reopening schools or released reopening guidance.
  • Reopening guidance released – A key state official has released reopening guidance for schools but not made a statement on when schools would reopen.
  • Reopening announcement made – A key state official has announced when schools would reopen but there had not been any reopening guidance released.
  • Guidance and announcement – Reopening guidance for schools has been released and a key government official has announced when schools would reopen.
  • Schools allowed to reopen – Schools in the state are currently allowed to reopen.
  • Local decision – State officials are delegating reopening decisions to local officials.

Details:

  • Alabama – On June 26, Superintendent of Education Eric Mackey released reopening guidance for schools. The guidance allows local school officials to determine face-covering requirements and physical distancing protocols.
  • Connecticut – On June 25, Education Commissioner Miguel Cardona said his department was proposing all schools reopen to students in the fall.
  • Hawaii – The Department of Education announced public schools would begin reopening starting Aug. 4.
  • Indiana – Schools in the state were allowed to reopen beginning July 1. The reopening was announced on June 5.
  • Iowa – The Iowa Department of Education announced schools would be allowed to reopen beginning July 1. Officials announced there would be no requirement for students or staff to wear face coverings, undergo health checks, or social distance.
  • Michigan – On June 30, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) released the “MI Safe Schools Return to School Roadmap,” a set of guidelines local districts can use to draft their own reopening plans for the fall. The guidelines, which include both requirements and recommendations, are tiered to the phases in the state’s broader reopening plan. The state is currently in Phase 4 of its reopening plan. Full details on requirements and recommendations by reopening phase can be accessed here.
  • New Jersey – On June 26, the New Jersey Department of Education released a 104-page reopening plan that includes social distancing guidelines and a face-covering requirement for teachers and staff. Gov. Phil Murphy (D) said schools would reopen to in-person instruction this fall.
  • Ohio – On July 2, Gov. Mike DeWine (R) released guidelines for reopening schools in the state. The guidelines include a requirement that all staff wear masks and a recommendation that students in third grade or higher wear masks.
  • Utah – On June 29, Gov. Gary Herbert (R) approved a Utah State Board of Education plan for reopening schools in the fall. The Board is requiring all public schools to create and post a reopening plan online by August 1.
  • Wyoming – On July 1, the Wyoming Department of Education released guidance for reopening schools in the state. The state’s 48 school districts are responsible for developing reopening plans in accordance with the guidance and submitting those plans for state approval. Each plan must account for three scenarios: traditional learning, hybrid learning (a mix of in-person and distance learning), and distance-only learning. Schools were allowed to reopen facilities on May 15.

Travel restrictions

Read more: Travel restrictions issued by states in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview:

  • Governors or state agencies in 24 states issued executive orders placing restrictions on out-of-state visitors. At least 12 of those orders have been rescinded.
    • Since June 25, no new states have implemented travel restrictions.  Eight states altered their existing travel restrictions.

Details:

  • Kansas – The Kansas Department of Health and Environment updated its travel-related quarantine guidelines to include South Carolina and Florida. Travelers to Kansas, as well as Kansas residents who have recently traveled to South Carolina and Florida will need to self-quarantine for 14 days.
  • Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York – Govs. Ned Lamont (D-Conn.), Phil Murphy (D-N.J.), and Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.) announced that eight more states had been added to a joint travel advisory requiring out-of-state visitors to self-quarantine for 14 days. The governors announced the travel advisory June 24 and originally included Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, and Utah. The list was expanded to include California, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, and Tennessee.
  • Maine – Gov. Janet Mills (D) announced she was lifting the quarantine requirement on travelers from New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. Restrictions remain in place for travelers from Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
  • Massachusetts – Gov. Charlie Baker (R) announced that visitors to Massachusetts from Rhode Island, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, New York, and New Jersey will no longer need to self-quarantine for 14 days. The advisory to self-quarantine remains in effect for visitors from other parts of the country.
  • Rhode Island – Out-of-state visitors and Rhode Island residents traveling to Rhode Island from parts of the country with a positive coronavirus test rate of 5% or higher will need to provide a negative test result or quarantine for 14 days.
  • Vermont – Beginning July 1, out-of-state visitors arriving from low-risk counties in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Washington D.C., Virginia, and West Virginia in a personal vehicle will no longer need to quarantine for 14-days after arriving in Vermont. Vermont residents who visit those counties and then return home will also no longer need to quarantine.

State legislation

Read more: Changes to state legislative session dates in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview: 

  • Seven state legislatures have suspended their sessions. Six of those have since reconvened.
    • Four legislatures that had suspended their sessions have adjourned since June 25.
  • Thirty-seven legislatures have either adjourned or are not scheduled to be in regular session this year.
    • Four legislatures have adjourned since June 25.
  • Five state legislatures are in regular session.
  • One state legislature is in special session.

Details:

  • Delaware – The Delaware legislature adjourned on June 30.
  • Georgia – The Georgia legislature adjourned on June 26.
  • Louisiana – The Louisiana legislature adjourned on June 30.
  • New Hampshire – The New Hampshire legislature adjourned on June 30.

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.
    • Since June 25, one court has extended restrictions on in-person proceedings and the suspension of jury trials.
  • 16 states suspended in-person proceedings at the local level

Details:

  • Texas – The Texas Supreme Court extended the prohibition on jury trials through Sept. 1. The Southern District of Texas courthouse and the federal courthouse in Galveston County closed on Friday, June 26 through July 10. The Laredo Division of the Southern District of Texas extended an order that closed the courthouse to the public through Aug. 3.

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.
    • No states have released inmates at the state level since June 25.
  • 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:

  • California – On June 29, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) announced that officials had identified 3,500 inmates who could potentially be released from prison. The inmates meet the same criteria as 3,500 other inmates released earlier this year. Each is within 150 days of release and considered medically vulnerable to coronavirus.

Eviction and foreclosure policies

Read more: Changes to rent, mortgage, eviction, and foreclosure policies in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview:

  • Twenty-six states have current moratoriums on evictions and foreclosures.
    • New Hampshire ended one moratorium on evictions.
  • Sixteen states have ended moratoriums on evictions and foreclosures.
  • California has current local moratoriums on evictions and foreclosures.
  • Seven states did not issue a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures on the state or local level.

Details:

  • California – Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) extended an authorization allowing local governments to stop evictions through Sept. 30.
  • Florida – Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) extended a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures through Aug. 1.
  • Nevada – Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) signed an order that allows residential summary evictions to resume for actions that do not include the non-payment of rent, including violations of controlled substance laws and nuisance, on July 1. Evictions for non-payment of rent will resume Sept. 1. The order allows landlords and lenders to begin eviction actions on commercial tenancies and mortgages beginning July 1.
  • New Hampshire – Gov. Chris Sununu’s (R) moratorium on evictions ended July 1. Sununu said he would use CARES Act funds to help people who were struggling to pay rent or make payments on a mortgage.
  • Oregon – The Oregon Legislature voted to extend the state’s moratorium on commercial and residential evictions Sept. 30. The bill also gives renters until March 31, 2021, to pay back nonpayment balances. Gov. Kate Brown (D) signed the bill on June 30.

Diagnosed or quarantined politicians identified by Ballotpedia

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

  • Federal
    • Seven members of Congress have been diagnosed with COVID-19.
    • Forty federal officials quarantined after possible exposure to COVID-19.
  • State
    • Four state-level incumbents or candidates have died of COVID-19.
    • Forty-three state-level incumbents or candidates have been diagnosed with COVID-19
    • Seventy-four state-level incumbents or candidates quarantined after possible exposure to COVID-19.
  • Local
    • At least two local incumbents or candidates have died of COVID-19.
    • At least 16 local incumbents or candidates have been diagnosed with COVID-19.
    • At least 26 local incumbents or candidates quarantined after possible exposure to COVID-19.

Since June 25, two state politicians have tested positive for coronavirus.

Details:

  • Florida State Rep. Shevrin Jones (D), who represents District 101, announced on June 30 that he tested positive for COVID-19.
  • Oklahoma State Rep. Cynthia Roe (R), who represents District 42, announced on June 26 that she had tested positive for COVID-19.

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About the author

Joel Williams

Joel Williams is a staff writer at Ballotpedia. Contact us at editor@ballotpedia.org.

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