Documenting America’s Path to Recovery: October 12, 2020

Welcome to Documenting America’s Path to Recovery, where we track the status of reopening in all 50 states. Today we look at a mask mandate in Wisconsin, plus similar mandates in other states, Maine’s next phase of reopening, and more. Want to know what happened Friday? Click here.

The next 24 hours

What is changing in the next 24 hours?

  • Maine (Democratic trifecta): The state will enter Stage 4 of reopening starting Oct. 13. Stage 4 will allow indoor activities and businesses like restaurants, movie theaters, and religious gatherings to expand operations to 50% capacity or up to 100 people (whichever is less). The order also requires masks in municipal buildings and private schools and expands enforcement of the face-covering mandate. Gov. Janet Mills (D) said the state was targeting Nov. 2 for bars and tasting rooms to resume indoor service.
  • West Virginia (Republican trifecta): Bars in Morgantown, where West Virginia University is located, can reopen on Oct. 13. Gov. Jim Justice (R) ordered bars closed in the area on Sept. 2.

Since our last edition

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

  • Michigan (divided government): On Monday, Oct. 12, the Michigan Supreme Court voted 6-1 to deny Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s (D) request to delay enforcing its Oct. 2 decision that found her emergency powers used in response to the coronavirus pandemic were unconstitutional. Whitmer had asked the court to delay its decision for 28 days so her administration could negotiate new restrictions with the legislature.
  • Minnesota (divided government): On Monday, Oct. 12, Gov. Tim Walz (D) issued an order extending the statewide emergency through Nov. 12.
  • Ohio (Republican trifecta): Effective Monday, Oct. 12, nursing homes are allowed to resume indoor visitations if they choose. Facilities that resume visitations are required to screen visitors and report their names to state authorities. Only two visitors are allowed at a time for a maximum of 30 minutes.
  • New Hampshire (divided government): On Oct. 9, Gov. Chris Sununu (R) extended the state’s coronavirus emergency order an additional 21 days.
  • Wisconsin (divided government): On Monday, Oct. 12, St. Croix County Circuit Judge R. Michael Waterman ruled that Gov. Tony Evers (D) had not exceeded his authority when he issued a mandate requiring face coverings in enclosed spaces.

Daily feature: Face coverings

We last looked at face coverings in the Oct. 5 edition of the newsletter. Since then, no new states have adopted a statewide public mask mandate or let a face-covering requirement expire.

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 Oct. 8, the Georgia Association of Educators (GAE), the state’s largest teachers’ union, sued Gov. Brian Kemp (R) and other state officials in Fulton County Superior Court. The GAE is seeking a court order that would require the state to issue statewide school reopening plans that are “reasonably calculated to ensure that schools operate safely in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and consistent with the guidelines issued by recognized public health authorities such as the CDC.” The GAE alleges that Kemp’s delegation of reopening protocols to local districts constitutes a failure to provide an adequate public education as required under the Georgia Constitution. Georgia State Superintendent Richard Woods, who is a defendant in the case, said, “Unlike several states, Georgia schools retain the authority to remain fully virtual instead of being required to offer in-person instruction.”