Coronavirus weekly update: October 2 – October 8, 2020

Ballotpedia, The Encyclopedia of American Politics: Coronavirus Weekly Updates
The Coronavirus Weekly Update summarizes major changes due to the coronavirus pandemic in politics, government, and elections. Today, you will find updates on the following topics, with comparisons to our previous edition released on Oct. 1:

  • Election changes
  • School closures and reopenings
  • Lawsuits about state actions and policies
  • Travel restrictions
  • Ballot measure changes
  • 1918 story
  • Federal responses
  • Stay-at-home orders
  • Eviction and foreclosure policies
  • Diagnosed or quarantined public officials
  • State legislation
  • State courts


For daily news on state reopening plans and which industries and activities are permitted across the country, subscribe to Documenting America’s Path to Recovery.
Election changes

Read more: Changes to election dates, procedures, and administration in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview: 

  • Thirty-nine states have made modifications to their voting procedures. 
    • Seven states have made voting procedure modifications since Oct. 1.
  • Twenty states have modified their candidate filing requirements. 
    • No states have made candidate filing modifications since Oct. 1.

Details:

  • Arizona
    • On Oct. 6, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed a lower court’s order that would have allowed Arizona voters up to five days to provide missing signatures for absentee/mail-in ballots.
    • On Oct. 5, Judge Steven Logan of the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona ordered the state’s voter registration deadline be extended to 5 p.m. on Oct. 23.
  • Florida: On Oct. 6, Secretary of State Laurel Lee (R) announced the state’s voter registration would be extended to 7 p.m. on Oct. 6.
  • Georgia: On Oct. 2, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit reinstated Georgia’s Nov. 3 receipt deadlines for absentee/mail-in ballots.
  • Iowa: On Oct. 6, the Iowa Supreme Court blocked a state court’s order that had allowed county election officials to send pre-filled absentee/mail-in ballot request forms to voters.
  • Ohio: On Oct. 2, a three-judge panel of the Ohio 10th District Court of Appeals ruled that Secretary of State Frank LaRose (R) could direct counties to offer multiple drop-box locations for returning absentee/mail-in ballots. The panel stopped short of requiring LaRose to do so, overturning a lower court decision to that effect.
  • South Carolina: On Oct. 5, the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated South Carolina’s witness signature requirement for absentee/mail-in ballots.
  • Texas: On Oct. 1, Gov. Greg Abbott (R) issued an order limiting the number of return locations for absentee/mail-in ballots to one per county.

School closures and reopenings

Read more: School reopenings in the 2020-2021 academic year after the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic

The current status of school reopenings is as follows:

  • Washington, D.C., has a district-ordered school closure
    • 2016-17 enrollment: 85,850 students (0.17% of students nationwide)
  • Seven states (Calif., Del., Hawaii, N.C., N.M., Ore., W.V.) have state-ordered regional school closures, require closures for certain grade levels, or allow hybrid instruction only.
    • 2016-17 enrollment: 9,366,079 students (18.51% of students nationwide)
  • Four states (Ark., Fla.*, Iowa, Texas) have state-ordered in-person instruction
    • 2016-17 enrollment: 9,180,918 students (18.15% of students nationwide)
    • *Note: Three counties in South Florida are not at the same phase of reopening as the rest of the state and the emergency order to reopen schools does not affect them. 
  • Thirty-nine states have reopenings that vary by school or district
    • 2016-17 enrollment: 31,955,012 students (63.17% of students nationwide)

Details:

  • Oregon – The Oregon Department of Education announced the state would disregard positivity rate data from September in determining whether school districts could reopen. The announcement meant school districts could reopen for in-person instruction if their counties met the state’s case count criteria until October positivity data was available.

Lawsuits about state actions and policies

Read more: Lawsuits about state actions and policies in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview:

  • To date, Ballotpedia has tracked 1,032 lawsuits, across all states, dealing in some way with the COVID-19 outbreak. Court orders have been issued, or settlements have been reached, in 360 of those lawsuits. 
    • Since Oct. 1, we have added 19 lawsuits to our database. We have also tracked an additional eight court orders and/or settlements. 
  • Ballotpedia has separately followed another 262 lawsuits, in 45 states, dealing with election issues during the COVID-19 outbreak. Court orders have been issued, or settlements have been reached, in 188 of those lawsuits.

Travel restrictions

Read more: Travel restrictions issued by states in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview:

  • Governors or state agencies in 25 states issued executive orders placing restrictions on out-of-state visitors. At least 14 of those orders have been rescinded.
    • Since Oct. 1, three states have modified their travel restrictions. 

Details:

  • Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York – On Oct. 6, Govs. Ned Lamont (D-Conn.), Phil Murphy (D-N.J.), and Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.) announced that New Mexico had been added to the tristate quarantine list. 
  • Hawaii – On Oct. 7, Gov. David Ige (D) said that a pre-test program would launch for out-of-state travelers Oct. 15. This will allow visitors to avoid the 14-day quarantine if they can present a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of arrival. Travelers who test positive or whose results are pending will still need to quarantine.

Ballot measure changes

Read more: Changes to ballot measure campaigns, procedures, and policies in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview:

  • At least 19 lawsuits were filed in 13 states seeking court orders suspending or changing signature requirements and deadlines. 
  • Rulings or settlements have been issued in 18 cases. 
  • Ballotpedia has tracked 27 statewide initiative petition drives that suspended signature gathering. 
  • Seven states and D.C. changed ballot measure procedures through executive orders or legislative action. 
  • At least four initiative campaigns initially targeting 2020 reported they would shift their focus to 2022.

1918 influenza pandemic (Spanish Flu) and the 1918 midterm election cycle

Read more: 1918 influenza pandemic (Spanish Flu) and the 1918 midterm election cycle

The United States held midterm elections as scheduled during the 1918-1919 influenza pandemic. More than 50 million people perished from the disease worldwide, including about 675,000 in the U.S., making it one of the deadliest pandemics in recorded history. Each week, we’ll look back at a story from the 1918 elections to see how America met the challenges of holding elections during a national health emergency.

On Nov. 4, 1918, the Chicago Herald and Examiner reported on the removal of restrictions on outdoor sports in Chicago. 

Outdoor sports in Chicago will resume the even tenor of their way today, when the restrictions that were placed on athletes three weeks ago because of the influenza epidemic will be withdrawn by the health department. The lifting of the ban comes just in time to give college football fans an opportunity to watch the Maroons and Michigan play for the first time in thirteen years, but high school and semipro gridiron teams also will resume their schedules immediately.

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

Federal responses

Read more: Political responses to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

  • On Oct. 1, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced it would return control of supplies of Remdesivir to Gilead Sciences, the biopharmaceutical company that manufactures the drug. Previously, HHS had distributed the drug to states and territories, but a representative for the agency said demand has fallen. Gilead will sell the drug to hospitals. Remdesivir was granted an emergency use authorization (EAU) from the Food and Drug Administration in May.
  • On Oct. 3, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced the U.S. Senate will not return to session until Oct. 19 after Sens. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.)  tested positive between Oct. 2 and Oct. 3 for the coronavirus. McConnell said Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearings for U.S. Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett will still begin Oct. 12.
  • On Oct. 3, the Federal Bureau of Prisons allowed non-contact social visits to resume at federal prison facilities. Each facility must create a plan for inmate visitations, which included physical distancing and physical barriers.
  • On Oct. 6, the Department of Homeland Security published “Homeland Threat Assessment.” The report covers threats from state and non-state actors, including how the coronavirus pandemic has affected U.S. national security and benefitted foreign rivals.

State stay-at-home orders

Read more: States with lockdown and stay-at-home orders in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview:

As of Oct. 8, stay-at-home orders have ended in 41 states. Nineteen of those states have Republican governors and 22 have Democratic governors (including Wisconsin, where the state supreme court invalidated the stay-at-home order). Seven states never issued stay-at-home orders.

California and New Mexico, both of which have a Democratic governor, are the only remaining states with an active stay-at-home order.

Eviction and foreclosure policies

Read more: Changes to rent, mortgage, eviction, and foreclosure policies in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview:

  • Nineteen states have current moratoriums on evictions and foreclosures.
    • Since Oct. 1, no states have announced changes to statewide eviction moratoriums.
  • Twenty-four states have ended moratoriums on evictions and foreclosures.
  • California has current local moratoriums on evictions and foreclosures.
  • Seven states did not issue a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures on the state or local level.

Diagnosed or quarantined politicians identified by Ballotpedia

Read more: Politicians, candidates, and government officials diagnosed with or quarantined due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

  • Federal
    • One federal official has died of COVID-19.
    • Twenty-three members of Congress have been diagnosed with COVID-19.
    • Forty-three federal officials quarantined after possible exposure to COVID-19.
  • State
    • Four state-level incumbents or candidates have died of COVID-19.
    • Ninety-five state-level incumbents or candidates have been diagnosed with COVID-19
    • Eighty state-level incumbents or candidates quarantined after possible exposure to COVID-19.
  • Local
    • At least two local incumbents or candidates have died of COVID-19.
    • At least 23 local incumbents or candidates have been diagnosed with COVID-19.
    • At least 26 local incumbents or candidates quarantined after possible exposure to COVID-19.

Details:

Positive tests:

  • On Oct. 1, Hope Hicks, an assistant and counselor to President Donald Trump (R), announced she had tested positive for coronavirus. 
  • On Oct. 2, President Donald Trump announced on Twitter that he and first lady Melania Trump had tested positive for COVID-19. Trump checked into the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Oct. 2 and returned to the White House Oct. 5.
  • On Oct. 2, Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) announced he had tested positive for coronavirus.
  • On Oct. 2, Republican National Committee (RNC) chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel announced she had tested positive for coronavirus.
  • On Oct. 2, Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) announced on Twitter he had tested positive for coronavirus.
  • On Oct. 2, Kellyanne Conway, a former counselor to President Trump, announced on Twitter she had tested positive for coronavirus.
  •  On Oct. 2, Bill Stepien, President Trump’s campaign manager, announced he had tested positive for coronavirus. 
  • On Oct. 2, Ohio state Rep. Joe Miller (D), who represents District 56, announced on Twitter he had tested positive for coronavirus.
  • On Oct. 3, Sen. Ron Johnson’s (R-Wis.) office announced that he had tested positive for coronavirus.
  • On Oct. 5, Virginia Beach City Councilmember John D. Moss announced he had tested positive for coronavirus.
  • On Oct. 5, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany announced she tested positive for coronavirus.
  • On Oct. 5, the Arizona House Democrats caucus announced state Rep. Lorenzo Sierra (D) had been admitted to the hospital due to complications related to coronavirus.
  • On Oct. 6, California state Sen. Salud Carbajal (D) announced he had tested positive for coronavirus.
  • On Oct. 6, Stephen Miller, a senior policy advisor to President Trump, announced he had tested positive for coronavirus.

Negative tests:

  • On Oct. 2, Rep. Tom Emmer (R-Minn.) announced he had tested negative for coronavirus after flying on Air Force One with President Trump.
  • On Oct. 2, Minnesota state Rep. Kurt Daudt (R), who represents District 31A, announced he had tested negative for coronavirus before meeting with President Trump ahead of a planned rally.
  • On Oct. 2, Rep. Pete Stauber (R-Minn.) announced he had tested negative for coronavirus after flying on Air Force One with President Trump.
  • On Oct. 2, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) announced she and her husband tested negative for coronavirus.
  • On Oct. 2, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) said he had tested negative for coronavirus. Jordan had accompanied President Trump on Air Force One earlier in the week to the first presidential debate in Cleveland, Ohio.
  • On Oct. 2, White House spokesman Judd Deere announced U.S. Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett tested negative for the coronavirus.
  • On Oct. 2, Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) announced he had received a negative test result.
  • On Oct. 2, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) announced he had tested negative for coronavirus. He previously announced that he had tested negative on March 15.
  • On Oct. 2, Wisconsin state Rep. Scott Allen (R), who represents District 97, announced he had tested negative for coronavirus.
  • On Oct. 2, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), the Speaker of the House, announced she had tested negative for coronavirus.
  • On October 2, Minnesota state Rep. Jim Hagedorn (R) announced he had tested negative for coronavirus after flying on Air Force One with President Trump.
  • On Oct. 3, Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Id.) announced he had tested negative for coronavirus.
  • On Oct. 3, Pennsylvania state Rep. Melissa Shusterman (D), who represents District 157, announced she would self-quarantine after state Rep. Paul Schemel (R) tested positive for coronavirus on Oct. 1. 
  • On Oct. 3, Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) announced he had tested negative for coronavirus.
  • On Oct. 3, Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mi.) announced he had tested negative for coronavirus after two senators with whom he worked tested positive for coronavirus.
  • On Oct. 4, Biden’s campaign announced he tested negative for coronavirus for the third time since Oct. 2.
  • On Oct. 4, a Justice Department spokesperson said U.S. Attorney General William Barr was self-quarantining and had tested negative for COVID-19 four times since Oct. 2.
  • Eric Trump, the son of President Trump, announced he and his wife Lara had tested negative for coronavirus.
  • On Oct. 5, New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) announced she had tested negative for coronavirus after a custodial staff member of her residence tested positive. She said she would self-quarantine until she could receive another test.
  • On Oct. 5, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) announced he had tested negative for coronavirus.

Self-quarantined:

  • On Oct. 2, Jason Lewis (R), a U.S. Senate candidate to represent Minnesota, announced that he would self-quarantine after flying on Air Force One with President Trump. Lewis said he would seek a coronavirus test.
  • On Oct. 3, Wisconsin state Rep. Jim Ott (R), who represents District 23, announced he was self-quarantining after attending an event with Sen. Ron Johnson (R), who later tested positive for coronavirus.
  • On Oct. 7, six of the seven members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff entered into self-quarantine after an admiral in the Coast Guard tested positive for coronavirus.​​​​​​

State legislation

Read more: State laws in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview: 

  • To date, 3,352 bills related to the coronavirus pandemic have been introduced in state legislatures.
    • We have tracked 77 additional bills since Oct. 1.
  • Of these, 458 significant bills have been enacted into law, 14 percent of the total number that has been introduced. This total omits ceremonial resolutions and legislation providing for procedural changes to legislative business. 
    • We have tracked 20 additional significant bills since Oct. 1 (also omitting ceremonial resolutions and legislation providing for procedural changes to legislative business.)

State court changes

Read more: State court closures in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview:

  • Thirty-four states suspended in-person proceedings statewide
    • Since Oct. 1, one court ended restrictions on jury trials.
  • Sixteen states suspended in-person proceedings at the local level

Details:

  • Wisconsin – On Oct. 1, the Wisconsin Supreme Court reissued a ban on in-person proceedings whenever a circuit or municipal court reverses any part of its operational plan in response to the coronavirus. Circuit and municipal courts were previously permitted to reopen if the chief judge in each administration district approved the plan.
  • Delaware –  On Oct. 5, Delaware courts advanced into a modified Phase 3 of reopening, allowing jury trials to resume. Phase 3 also allows courts to operate at 75% capacity and increases the number of people allowed in a courtroom to 50.
  • Georgia – On Oct. 5, Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Harold Melton announced that he would jury trials to resume on October 10.

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About the author

Cory Eucalitto

Cory Eucalitto is a managing editor at Ballotpedia. Contact us at editor@ballotpedia.org.

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