Documenting America’s Path to Recovery: September 18, 2020

Welcome to Documenting America’s Path to Recovery, where we track the status of reopening in all 50 states. Today we look at Hawaii’s pre-travel testing program, Ohio’s guidelines for Halloween celebrations, travel restrictions, and more. Want to know what happened yesterday? Click here.

The next 72 hours

What is changing in the next 72 hours?

  • Colorado (Democratic trifecta): Schools districts have until Sept. 21 to decide whether they will play football during the fall or spring seasons. The Colorado High School Activities Association announced that each season will have at least six games.
  • New Mexico (Democratic trifecta): The state’s stay-at-home order is scheduled to expire at 11:59 p.m. MT on Sept. 18. We will provide an update if the order is extended in a future edition. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) also announced a new public health order “will permit youth sports conditioning and skills development, with no more than 10 individuals in any one group.” Swimming pools, ice skating rinks, and pick-your-own pumpkin patches will also be able to reopen with limits.
  • Texas (Republican trifecta): On Sept. 17, Gov. Greg Abbott (R) announced that several types of businesses, including retail stores, restaurants, and office buildings in 19 out of the state’s 22 hospital regions will be permitted to expand operating capacity to 75% on Sept. 21. Those businesses are currently limited to 50% capacity. Abbott did not say when bars would be allowed to reopen.

Since our last edition

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

  • Delaware (Democratic trifecta): The Delaware Board of Education voted 4-2 to reinstate fall sports. Practices may begin on Sept. 28, with games for all non-football sports starting Oct. 19. Football games will begin Oct. 23.
  • Hawaii (Democratic trifecta): Gov. David Ige (D) announced that beginning Oct. 15, travelers can present a negative COVID-19 test upon arrival and avoid the 14-day quarantine requirement. The tests will need to have been taken within 72 hours before travelers arrive in the islands.
  • Idaho (Republican trifecta): Gov. Brad Little (R) announced the state will remain in Phase Four for at least two more weeks. Idaho entered Phase Four on June 13.
  • Illinois (Democratic trifecta): Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) announced Region 7 (Will and Kankakee counties) can resume indoor dining at bars and restaurants starting on Sept. 18. The Illinois Department of Public Health announced 24 counties are still at the state’s warning level for coronavirus infections.
  • Louisiana (divided government): Gov. John Bel Edward (D) announced bars, restaurants, and casinos can extend on-premise consumption of alcoholic beverages to 11 p.m. in parishes where bars are allowed to reopen. The order takes effect Sept. 18.
  • Nevada (Democratic trifecta): The COVID-19 Mitigation and Management Task Force voted to allow bars in Las Vegas to reopen beginning at midnight on Sept. 20. Bars in Reno were previously allowed to reopen at midnight on Sept. 18.
  • Ohio (Republican trifecta): On Sept. 18, Gov. Mike DeWine (R) released guidelines for celebrating Halloween. The guidelines include a range of recommendations, including canceling hayrides and haunted houses, leaving treats in mailboxes or holding drive-through trick-or-treat events to maintain social distancing, wearing face coverings, and using video conferencing to host costume parties.
  • Utah (Republican trifecta): On Sept. 17, the Utah Department of Health confirmed that it had begun offering free, voluntary COVID-19 tests on a limited basis to teachers and staff at public schools in Utah County. A representative for the Department said it was planning on expanding the program to public schools statewide.
  • Vermont (divided government): On Sept. 18, The Agency for Commerce and Community Development released updated reopening guidance for lodgings and campgrounds and restaurants and bars. Effective immediately, multi-room lodging operations can book 100% of rooms. Restaurants and bars can allow a maximum of 75 people indoors and 150 people outdoors, or their maximum licensed seating capacity, whichever is less. Bar seating can reopen if there is a physical barrier separating patrons from the drink preparation area.

Daily feature: Travel restrictions

Every Friday, we take a closer look at the restrictions governors and state agencies have placed on interstate travelers, including a recap of the week’s travel-related news. To see our full coverage of travel restrictions enacted in response to the coronavirus pandemic, click here.


To date, 25 states issued at least one executive order restricting interstate travel. Of the 25 executive orders governors or state agencies issued restricting out-of-state visitors, at least 14 have been rescinded. Eleven states have active travel restrictions.

Weekly recap

  • Hawaii Gov. David Ige (D) announced that beginning Oct. 15, travelers can present a negative COVID-19 test upon arrival and avoid the 14-day quarantine requirement. The tests will need to have been taken within 72 hours before travelers arrive in the islands.
    • The pre-travel testing program was first scheduled to begin on Aug. 1, but Ige postponed implementation following a spike in coronavirus cases and concerns about a shortage of testing supplies.
  • Govs. Ned Lamont (D-Conn.), Phil Murphy (D-N.J.), and Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.) announced on Sept. 15 that Puerto Rico had been re-added to the joint travel advisory, while California, Hawaii, Maryland, Minnesota, Nevada, and Ohio had been removed. Travelers from states on the advisory are required to self-quarantine for 14 days upon arriving in the tristate area.
    • Puerto Rico was removed from the list on Sept. 8.
  • On Sept. 13, the Pennsylvania Department of Health removed California and Texas from its travel advisory and added Illinois. Travelers and returning residents from states on the list are urged to self-quarantine for 14 days upon arriving in Pennsylvania.
  • On Sept. 12, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health removed Pennsylvania, Delaware, and West Virginia from the list of low-risk states. The state had designated Pennsylvania, Delaware, West Virginia, and Colorado low risk at the end of August. Travelers from low-risk states are exempt from the 14-day quarantine requirement.

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.

  • Looney v. Newsom: On Sept. 11, a group of parents filed suit in Shasta County Superior Court against California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) and other state and local school officials, seeking to open schools for full-time in-person instruction. The plaintiff’s children attend public schools that are currently following hybrid schedules that mix on-campus and distance learning. Plaintiffs allege these instruction methods violate portions of the state constitution. The plaintiffs allege the hybrid model violates the “right to basic educational equality” and has “led to substantial disparities in the quality and availability of opportunities.” The plaintiffs also contend Newsom’s emergency actions, and the statutory authority granting him the discretion to issue such actions violate the state constitution. Plaintiffs say “the legislature cannot delegate legislative power to the Governor or executive branch to restrict civil liberties” absent distinct limitations not included in the challenged actions. Newsom and the other defendants have not commented publicly on the suit. The case is currently assigned to Judge Stephen H. Baker.