Documenting America’s Path to Recovery: August 20, 2020

Each day, we:

Want to know what happened yesterday? Click here.

The next 24 hours

What is changing in the next 24 hours?

  • Oregon (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Kate Brown (D) announced Umatilla County will move from Baseline Stay Home status and re-enter Phase 1 of the state’s reopening plan starting on Aug. 21. Brown ordered the county to move from Phase 2 back to baseline status on July 31.

Since our last edition

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

  • Arizona (Republican trifecta): The Arizona Department of Health Services approved reopening plans for two movie theaters, 31 fitness centers, and five bars. Businesses in these industries are allowed to reopen in counties based on community spread metrics.
  • California (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) announced that the state would release guidelines for reopening businesses and ending stay-at-home orders within the next week. Newsom said the guidelines would vary by sector and counties could potentially reopen at different rates based on health statistics.
  • Florida (Republican trifecta): Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) said an improvement in coronavirus statistics meant Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties in South Florida could soon move to Phase Two of reopening. The three counties have trailed the rest of the state in reopening.
  • Michigan (divided government): On Aug. 20, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) signed an education package consisting of three bills that guide how school districts can reopen for the school year. The bills stipulate that although school districts aren’t required to offer in-person education, school boards must review their district’s instructional plans each month. Schools that do reopen to in-person instruction must prioritize that option for K-12 students. The legislation also weights per-pupil funding based on 75% of last year’s enrollment and 25% of the current enrollment.
  • New Jersey (Democratic trifecta): The New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association released plans for conducting high school sports. Outdoor sports like football, soccer, and cross country will be allowed to start practicing on Sept. 14 and competing at the beginning of October. Indoor sports (like gymnastics) will not reopen until Feb. 16, 2021.
  • Ohio (Republican trifecta): Gov. Mike DeWine (R) announced on Aug. 20, that all assisted living facilities in the state would be required to participate in a coronavirus testing initiative. According to the plan, the state will offer saliva testing to staff and residents at over 765 facilities for free.

Featured lawsuit

Once a week, we take a closer look at a noteworthy lawsuit involving governmental responses to the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States. We define a noteworthy lawsuit as one that has garnered significant media attention, involves major advocacy groups, or deals with unique legal questions. This week, we look at a lawsuit involving travel restrictions in New York, Page v. Cuomo.

Page v. Cuomo

On Aug. 11, Judge David N. Hurd of the U.S. District Court for the District of Northern New York dismissed a lawsuit challenging New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s (D) executive order requiring travelers entering New York from states with high COVID-19 infection rates to self-quarantine.

What is at issue?

Arizona-resident Cynthia Page brought the suit after she had to cancel a planned trip to Brooklyn, New York, because she could not fulfill the quarantine requirements. In her complaint, Page alleged the mandatory quarantine violated her Fourteenth Amendment rights to equal protection and due process. Page also alleged the quarantine requirement violated the Privileges and Immunities Clause, which guarantees legal protections related to national citizenship, such as the right to interstate travel.

How did the court rule?

Hurd, who was appointed to the court by President Bill Clinton (D), rejected these arguments: “The state is not drawing a distinction between residents and non-residents but between individuals with and without a mathematically heightened risk of spreading COVID–19.” Hurd said, even if the order “infringed her liberty interest in the right to travel, the COVID–19 pandemic is precisely the scenario for which emergency action would be expected.”

What comes next?

Page has filed a notice of appeal in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.