Documenting America’s Path to Recovery: September 2, 2020

Welcome to Documenting America’s Path to Recovery, where we track the status of reopening in all 50 states. Today we look at Maryland’s next phase of reopening, Delaware’s decision to open beach bars for the holiday weekend, a featured story from the 1918 influenza pandemic, and much more. Want to know what happened yesterday? Click here.

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): Gov. Doug Ducey (R) extended an executive order that adds 365 days to a driver’s license expiration date. The executive order now runs through March 2021. Ducey said that the reason for the initial order was to eliminate the need for residents to visit DMV offices for license renewals.
  • Colorado (Democratic trifecta): The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment released a draft of a color-coding system for reopening by county. The system includes five colors (red, orange, yellow, green, and blue) ranging from “stay at home” (red) to “protect our neighbors” (blue).
  • Delaware (Democratic trifecta): Gov. John Carney (D) announced that beach bars could reopen for Labor Day weekend. Patrons must be socially distanced, order food, and make reservations. The reopening will take effect in the towns of Lewes, Rehoboth Beach, Dewey Beach, Long Neck, Bethany Beach, South Bethany, Fenwick Island, West Fenwick Island, Ocean View, and Millville.
  • Florida (Republican trifecta): Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) signed an order reopening long-term care facilities to visitors. All visitors will be required to wear a mask and pass a temperature check and screening for coronavirus symptoms.
  • Indiana (Republican trifecta): The state Board of Education voted to update the definition of “virtual student” for use in the state’s school funding formula. As a result, students who opt for virtual learning during the pandemic will still count in a school’s funding formula.
  • Iowa (Republican trifecta): Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) announced the reopening of the Iowa Small Business Relief Program for bars closed in six counties by Reynolds’ executive order last week. Affected businesses may be eligible for a one-time $10,000 grant.
  • Maine (Democratic trifectas): Gov. Janet Mills (D) extended the coronavirus state of civil emergency through Oct. 1.
  • Maryland (divided government): Gov. Larry Hogan (R) announced that the state would enter Phase Three of reopening on Sept. 4. Retail stores and religious services will be allowed to increase capacity from 50 to 75 percent. Outdoor entertainment venues may reopen with a capacity of 250 people. Movie theaters and indoor entertainment venues may reopen at 50 percent capacity or up to 100 people.
  • Vermont (divided government): On Sept. 1, the Agency of Commerce and Community Development issued new guidance that requires student athletes to wear face coverings during games and practices when social distancing isn’t possible. The guidance takes effect Sept. 8.
  • West Virginia (Republican trifecta): On Sept. 2, Gov. Jim Justice (R) closed bars in Monongalia County, two days after allowing them to reopen. He first closed bars in Monongalia in July following a spike in coronavirus cases in that area. Justice did not provide a timeline for when bars can reopen.
  • Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York (Democratic trifectas): On Sept. 1, Govs. Ned Lamont (D-Conn.), Phil Murphy (D-N.J.), and Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.) announced that Alaska and Montana had been placed back on the joint travel advisory list, after having been removed Aug. 25. The travel advisory requires travelers entering the tristate area to self-quarantine for 14 days.

Daily feature: The 1918 influenza pandemic

Every Wednesday, we 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.

On Sept. 29, 1918, the Spokane Daily Chronicle reported on theater managers’ campaign to convince health officials to remove a ban on theaters.

Spokane theater managers may resort to the courts in an effort to force the health department to raise the influenza ban.

If petitions now being circulated for a reopening are turned down by the city health officer, it is said the matter is to be taken to the state board of health and, if no favorable action is obtained there, legal action may be started.

Theater managers are to meet this afternoon to decide finally on a plan of action.

Health Officer Anderson reiterates that the ban will not be lifted before January 1.

Members of the city health board refuse to make any statements but are expected to abideby the health officer’s recommendations.

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.

  • On Aug. 28, the Colorado Supreme Court refused to hear a challenge against more than three dozen executive orders issued by Gov. Jared Polis (D), including a statewide mask mandate. The denial came two days Colorado House Minority Leader Patrick Neville (R) and activist Michelle Malkin filed the case. Neville and Malkin alleged the Colorado Disaster Emergency Act, which provides the governor with expanded powers during an emergency, is an unconstitutional violation of the separation of powers doctrine: “[The] chief executive by executive order is purportedly making new laws and implementing new public policies which wholly usurp the power of the legislative department to make the laws, a power which has been delegated by the People through their Colorado Constitution exclusively to the legislative department.” Plaintiffs alleged that the various emergency actions taken by Polis, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, and the El Paso and Denver health departments resulted in “unjust injury to [their] fundamental civil rights, liberty interests, and property rights.” After the suit was filed, Polis said, “We are free to be on the side of a deadly virus that has taken the lives of too many friends, parents, and loved ones, or on the side of Coloradans. I’m on the side of Coloradans.” The plaintiffs said they intended to re-file in the trial court for Denver County.