Documenting America’s Path to Recovery: Documenting America’s Path to Recovery: September 23, 2020 Edition #102

Welcome to Documenting America’s Path to Recovery, where we track the status of reopening in all 50 states. Today we look at Indiana’s move into stage 5 of reopening, the return of in-class instruction in Florida’s largest school district, a featured story from the 1918 influenza pandemic, and more. Want to know what happened yesterday? Click here.

The next 24 hours

What is changing in the next 24 hours?

  • Ohio (Republican trifecta): On Sept. 23, Gov. Mike DeWine (R) announced that the Department of Health had released an order allowing self-serve food stations to reopen across the state on Sept. 24.

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): Health and Human Services Director Mark Ghaly announced Riverside, Alameda, San Luis Obispo, San Mateo, and Solano counties could move from purple into the red phase of reopening. Ghaly also said El Dorado, Lassen, and Nevada counties could move into the orange phase, and Mariposa County could enter the yellow phase. The changes were effective Sept. 22.
  • Florida (Republican trifecta): The Miami-Dade County Public Schools board voted Sept. 22 to return students to in-class instruction. Prekindergarten, kindergarten, first grade, and students with special needs will return on Oct. 14. All others will return on Oct. 21. Families can opt for virtual learning. Miami-Dade County Public Schools is the fourth largest district in the United States.
  • Indiana (Republican trifecta): On Sept. 23, Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) announced that Indiana would enter the last stage of reopening, called Stage 5, on Sept. 26. Holcolmb said that the state would announce updated guidelines for Stage 5 on Thursday. Previously, Stage 5 allowed for most types of businesses to operate without restrictions, including restaurants, bars, malls, gyms, and amusement parks. When the state enters Stage 5, masks will still be required in public areas.
  • Louisiana (divided government): Jefferson Parish met state requirements to reopen bars starting Sept. 23.
  • Maine (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Janet Mills (D) amended the state’s Standing Order to allow individuals to be tested for the coronavirus without a written order from a doctor.
  • Maryland (divided government): On Sept. 22, Karen Salmon, the Maryland Superintendent of Schools, announced that she had approved in-person reopening plans for every school district in Maryland.
  • Massachusetts (divided government): On Sept. 23, Gov. Charlie Baker announced that he would ease restrictions on restaurants beginning Sept. 28. On that day, the number of patrons allowed per table will increase from six to 10, and restaurants will be allowed to use bar seating for food service. Bars and nightclubs, however, will remain closed.
  • New Mexico (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) added Colorado, Oregon, and Rhode Island to the list of high-risk states. She moved Michigan and Hawaii to the low-risk classification. Individuals arriving from high-risk states are required to self-quarantine for 14 days.
  • North Carolina (divided government): On Sept. 23, Gov. Roy Cooper (D) announced that stadiums and outdoor event venues can resume operation at 7% capacity on Oct. 2.
  • Pennsylvania (divided government): Gov. Tom Wolf (D) announced the release of a new coronavirus exposure alert app that notifies users if they have been in contact with other users who later test positive for the virus.
  • Vermont (divided government): On Sept. 22, Vermont Education Secretary Dan French announced that schools would advance to step 3 of reopening, which allows for inter-scholastic competitions, on Sept. 26. Step 3 also permits schools to use common areas like gyms and small groups of students.

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 Nov. 5, 1918, the Cincinnati Commercial Tribune reported on a meeting by the local health board to consider lifting an order that prohibited public gatherings.

“Maine public interest relative to the influenza situation in Cincinnati is centered on the meeting of the Board of Health Wednesday and the action the board will take in the matter of lifting the ban on business, amusements, and public gatherings. The public health situation continues to improve, according to the Health Officer Peters, and it is predicted that Cincinnati will be practically free from the malady within a week or ten days.

Dr. Peters is preparing a statement on the influenza in Cincinnati from the time it first appeared to date and is compiling official reports from twenty large cities of the United States showing the ravages of the disease in those centers as compared with Cincinnati. This statement, together with a number of suggestions, will be given Wednesday to the members of the Board of Health and it will rest with that body to when the ban will be lifted.

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 Sept. 17, a joint group of businesses and the parents of public school children filed suit against West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (R) in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia. Plaintiffs are challenging what they call his “never-ending executive orders mandating restrictions of constitutionally protected activities.” The plaintiffs allege Justice’s COVID-19 orders violate the U.S. Constitution’s Takings Clause and encroach on its guarantees of substantive due process, procedural due process, equal protection, freedom of assembly, and freedom of expression. The plaintiffs allege Justice’s “actions in classifying business as ‘non-essential’ are arbitrary and irrational,” as is his “blanket closure of private or public schools.” Neither Justice nor his office has commented. The case has not yet been assigned to a judge.