Documenting America’s Path to Recovery: September 16, 2020

Welcome to Documenting America’s Path to Recovery, where we track the status of reopening in all 50 states. Today we look at Connecticut adding a fine to its mask mandate, legislation in Ohio limiting the governor’s powers to move election dates, a featured story from the 1918 influenza pandemic, and 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.

  • California (Democratic trifecta): Inyo, Marin, and Tehama counties moved from the most restrictive purple tier to the red tier of reopening, which is the next most restrictive. Moving to the red tier means that movie theaters in those counties may partially reopen. Thirty of the state’s 58 counties remain in the purple tier.
  • Connecticut (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Ned Lamont (D) signed an executive order imposing a fine of up to $100 for violating the state’s mask mandate. The order also imposes a $250 fine for attending indoor events with more than 25 people or outdoor gatherings with more than 100 people and a $500 fine for individuals organizing such events. The order takes effect at midnight on Sept. 17.
  • Georgia (Republican trifecta): Gov. Brian Kemp (R) signed an executive order creating a three-phase system for reopening nursing homes to in-person visitation. The phases are based on the rate of testing, length of time since a new case, and community spread.
  • Iowa (Republican trifecta): Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) announced that bars could reopen in Black Hawk, Dallas, Linn, and Polk counties. On Aug. 27, Reynolds closed bars and prohibited restaurants from serving alcohol past 10 p.m. in those counties.
  • Kentucky (divided government): Gov. Andy Beshear (D) announced bars and restaurants can move their last call from 10 p.m. to 11 p.m. and remain open until midnight starting on Sept. 15.
  • Ohio (Republican trifecta): On Sept. 15, Gov. Mike DeWine (R) signed legislation that bans public officials from causing elections “to be conducted other than in the time, place, and manner prescribed by the Revised Code,” and bans public officials from closing places of worship.
  • Oregon (Democratic trifecta): During the week of Sept. 6 to Sept. 12, Oregon’s positivity rate was 5.6%. In order for schools to reopen for in-person instruction, the state has to maintain a positivity rate of 5% or less for at least three consecutive weeks.
  • Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York (Democratic trifectas): On Sept. 15, Govs. Ned Lamont (D-Conn.), Phil Murphy (D-N.J.), and Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.) announced that Puerto Rico had been placed back on the joint travel advisory requiring visitors to the tristate area to self-quarantine for 14 days. California, Hawaii, Maryland, Minnesota, Nevada, and Ohio were removed from the list.

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 Oct. 17, 1918, the Baltimore Sun reported on an early influenza vaccine trial.

Vaccine originated by Dr. E.C. Rosenow, of the Mayo clinic, Rochester, Minn., will be used in Chicago’s campaign against influenza.

Dr. Rosenow told the Chicago Influenza Emergency Commission of his experiments with the vaccine, with which he has treated 20,000 persons. The commission at once named a committee of physicians to take charge of the manufacture and use of all vaccines and […] in Chicago, including the Rosenow vaccine. Another committee was named to raise funds for its manufacture and distribution.

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 Big Ten voted to begin a nine-game football season on Oct. 24. The conference had announced on Aug. 11 that fall sports would be postponed until the spring.
  • Jeffrey J. Zayach, executive director of Boulder County Public Health, ordered students at the University of Colorado to self-quarantine for two weeks beginning Sept. 16.
  • On Sept. 8, two families filed suit against Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) in the Travis County District Court challenging COVID-19 visitation restrictions for nursing homes and assisted living facilities. The plaintiffs, who have been unable to visit their family members in care facilities, argue that Abbott and the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) are violating their constitutional and statutory rights “by prohibiting essential family visitors, damaging the health of residents in these facilities, and costing precious time to the residents and their families.” Citing the Texas Human Resources Code, which guarantees an elderly individual “a private place for receiving visitors,” with limited exceptions, plaintiffs argue that officials are “impeding this right and … suspending this portion of the law without authority.” The plaintiffs are asking for the court to “issue a temporary and permanent injunction allowing for safe and limited family visits for essential family caregivers.” Abbott’s office has not commented on the lawsuit, and HHSC has declined to comment on the pending lawsuit.