Documenting America’s Path to Recovery: August 19th, 2020

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Since our last edition

What is open in each state? For a continually updated article on reopening status in all 50 states, click here

  • Connecticut (Democratic trifecta): On Aug. 14, Gov. Ned Lamont (D) signed an executive order extending the state’s mask mandate for six months to February 2021. The mandate first took effect on April 17.
  • Florida (Republican trifecta): On Aug. 18, the Florida Education Association and attorneys for the state met for court-ordered mediation over reopening schools. The union filed a lawsuit against the state last week seeking to stop the reopening of public schools to in-person instruction.
  • Hawaii (Democratic trifecta): Gov. David Ige (D) announced he is extending the 14-day self-quarantine requirement for out-of-state travelers through Oct. 1. Previously, a new program was scheduled to take effect on Sept. 1 that would have allowed visitors to avoid the state’s restrictions by presenting a negative coronavirus test. That program will not start before Oct. 1.
  • Indiana (Republican trifecta): Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) announced that the state applied for federal unemployment relief funds through the Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) program. Holcomb said that the state would not provide any additional funds on top of the $300 in weekly federal money. The funds will be retroactive to Aug. 1.
  • Iowa (Republican trifecta): The Iowa State Education Association and the Iowa City Community School District announced that they were filing a lawsuit against the state. The lawsuit argues that local districts and their boards of directors should be able to make decisions about reopening schools.
  • Oklahoma (Republican trifecta): On Aug. 19, Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) announced that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) approved the state’s application to participate in the LWA program. The program allows states to provide up to $300 in additional unemployment benefits to recipients. The state will not provide any matching funds.
  • Ohio (Republican trifecta): On Aug. 18, Gov. Mike Dewine (R) said that contact and non-contact high school sports could proceed this school year. He said spectators would be limited to parents and those with a direct connection to a student.
  • Pennsylvania (divided government): The Department of Education announced the statewide public mask requirement for everyone over the age of two applies to all public and private schools. Students can remove their face coverings when they are eating and drinking (at least six feet apart), in situations when wearing a face covering might be unsafe, and during socially distanced face covering breaks lasting no more than 10 minutes.
  • Virginia (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Ralph Northam (D) signed an executive order on Aug. 18 designed to reduce the strain on hospital bed capacity at state-operated psychiatric hospitals. The order says law enforcement cannot use a state hospital to temporarily detain individuals who aren’t under emergency custody if the facility is operating at 100% of the total bed capacity.
  • West Virginia (Republican trifecta): Gov. Jim Justice (R) announced on Aug. 19 that bars in Monongalia County can reopen on Aug. 31. Justice closed bars in that county on July 13. Bars that reopen will be prohibited from offering live entertainment or dancing on dance floors.

Wednesday feature: the 1918 influenza pandemic

Starting today, every Wednesday we’ll feature a newspaper story written during the 1918 influenza pandemic that illustrates how the country contended with a national health emergency in the midst of an election year. To see more stories from 1918, click here

November 3, 1918 – “School Days To Be Longer”

On Nov. 3, The Oregonian reported on plans by Portland schools to make up for time lost during the influenza pandemic.

“Children of the Portland schools, who have now enjoyed more than three weeks’ freedom from the confines of the schoolroom, will live to pay for every hour of study lost through the epidemic. At a meeting of school authorities yesterday morning it was suggested that 40 minutes be added to the school day for the remaining eight months of the school year, with a possible addition of 10 minutes more should the schools be closed another week or two.”

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.

Additional activity

In this section, we feature examples of other federal, state, and local government activity, private industry responses, and lawsuits related to the pandemic. 

  • The University of Notre Dame suspended in-person classes for two weeks, effective Aug. 19.
  • Michigan State University moved its entire fall class schedule online and asked students intending to live in dorms to stay home.
  • Riverside County submitted a letter to the California Department of Public Health seeking approval to reopen businesses beginning on Sept. 8. The proposed phased reopening would begin with dine-in services at restaurants, wineries, and breweries, along with churches, non-essential indoor offices, and personal care services.
  • On Aug. 17, the Virginia State Board of Health filed suit in the Hanover County Circuit Court, seeking to close a Mechanicsville seafood restaurant for failure to comply with COVID-19 safety requirements. The board alleges that the restaurant, despite having its health permit suspended on July 27, has continued to operate. The board further argues that a court order shuttering the restaurant is necessary because the restaurant continues “operating with little to no mask usage by employees or patrons, allowed bar seating and dance floors, and has made little to no effort to comply with social distancing requirements.” Virginia Attorney General Mark R. Herring (D) said, “We all have a part to play in slowing the spread of COVID, and for restaurant and other business owners, that means following the safety guidelines that will help keep their employees and patrons safe and healthy.” The owners of Calabash Seafood have not commented publicly on the lawsuit.



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