Documenting America’s Path to Recovery: October 7, 2020 Edition #112

Welcome to Documenting America’s Path to Recovery, where we track the status of reopening in all 50 states. Today we look at new restrictions on indoor gatherings in Wisconsin, the easing of restrictions on certain businesses and youth sports in Washington, 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?


  • Connecticut (Democratic trifecta): The state is scheduled to move to the third phase of reopening on Oct. 8. Phase 3 will allow businesses like restaurants and barbershops to operate at 75% capacity. Outdoor event venues (like amphitheaters and racetracks) and indoor performing arts venues will be able to operate at 50% capacity. Private indoor gatherings of up to 25 people and outdoor gatherings of up to 150 people will be allowed.


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): The Department of Health moved Tehama County back to the purple reopening tier (the most restrictive classification) and Shasta County back to red after coronavirus cases increased. Ventura, Merced, and Yuba counties moved from purple into the red tier of reopening. Inyo County moved from red to orange, and Humboldt, Plumas, Siskiyou, and Trinity counties moved from orange to yellow.



  • Minnesota (divided government): On Wednesday, Oct. 7, Gov. Tim Walz (D) announced that he planned to extend the state of emergency another 30 days. The extension will trigger a special session of the legislature. The state of emergency is the basis for many coronavirus restrictions, including the statewide mask mandate. 


  • New York (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced the state will impose new restrictions on areas of New York City where coronavirus cases are rising, starting no later than Oct. 9. Mayor Bill De Blasio said enforcement of these restrictions will start on Oct. 8. In areas designated as red zones, state-defined non-essential businesses will have to close, religious gatherings will be limited to 10 people, and restaurants will only be able to offer takeout service.


  • Ohio (Republican trifecta): On Tuesday, Oct. 6, Gov. Mike DeWine (R) announced that he would provide details on an aid package to small businesses, nonprofits, and individuals using federal pandemic aid money. The package would also provide rent assistance to individuals.



  • Texas (Republican trifecta): On Wednesday, Oct. 7, Gov. Greg Abbott (R) announced on Facebook that country judges can allow bars and similar establishments to reopen at 50% capacity in regions with low COVID-19 hospitalization rates beginning Oct. 14. Bars in counties that opt in will be required to keep patrons seated while indoors. Additionally, businesses like amusement parks and movie theaters in low hospitalization counties will be permitted to reopen at 75% capacity on Oct. 14. 



  • Washington (Democratic trifecta): On Tuesday, Oct. 6, Gov. Jay Inslee (D) announced that he was easing coronavirus restrictions on restaurants, businesses, and youth sports. The new rules allow theaters in counties in Phase 2 of reopening to operate at 25% capacity and theaters in Phase 3 of reopening to operate at 50% capacity. Additionally, restaurants in Phase 2 counties can allow up to six people to sit together at a table, while restaurants in Phase 3 can allow up to eight. Libraries in counties in Phase 2 can reopen at 25% capacity. The state also set out new, tiered guidelines for youth sports that connect the types of sports permitted to the level of new cases in counties over a 14-day period.



  • Wisconsin (divided government): On Tuesday, Oct. 6, Department of Health Services Secretary Andrea Palm issued an order limiting indoor gatherings to 25% capacity. Colleges, schools, churches, polling locations, rallies, and outdoor venues are exempt from the order. 


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. 4, the Los Angeles Evening Herald reported on the arrest of a member of the Ninth Church of Christ, Scientist, who challenged a public health order closing churches.

H.P. Hitchcock, a director of the Ninth Church of Christ, Scientist, was today remanded to the city jail on a charge of having violated the city health ordinance yesterday when the Christian Scientists held a meeting to test the validity of the influenza epidemic rules closing all churches and places of public assembly.

Judge Hugh Crawford made the order placing Mr. Hitchcock in the custody of the jailer after Mr. Hitchcock had refused to put up $6 bail in order to make a test case of the city health ordinance.

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.