Documenting America’s Path to Recovery: October 15, 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 new testing program for travelers, changes in county risk designations in North Dakota, a featured lawsuit, and more. Want to know what happened yesterday? Click here.

The next 24 hours

What is changing in the next 24 hours?

  • New Mexico (Democratic trifecta): The state’s stay-at-home order is scheduled to expire at 11:59 p.m. MT on Oct. 16. We will provide an update if the order is extended in a future edition.
  • North Dakota (Republican trifecta): On Wednesday, Oct. 14, Gov. Doug Burgum (R) announced that he would move 16 counties into the “high risk” category on Oct. 16 at 5:00 p.m. due to a spike in coronavirus cases. Bars, restaurants, and large venues in “high risk” areas are advised to cap capacity at 25% or 50 people in total.

Since our last edition

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

  • Connecticut (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Ned Lamont issued an executive order allowing towns to opt out of Phase 3 and remain in the more restrictive Phase 2 of the state’s reopening plan if they have more than 15 coronavirus cases per 100,000 people over a two-week rolling average.
  • Hawaii (Democratic trifecta): Starting Oct. 15, travelers to the state can present a negative COVID-19 test upon arrival and avoid the 14-day self-quarantine requirement. The tests need to have been taken within 72 hours of when travelers arrive on the islands. Gov. David Ige (D) extended the state’s coronavirus emergency through Nov. 30.
  • 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.
  • New Hampshire (divided government): On Thursday, Oct. 15, Gov. Chris Sununu (R) announced he was banning hockey and skating events for two weeks after a rash of coronavirus cases connected to ice sports.
  • Ohio (Republican trifecta): The Department of Health updated its travel advisory on Wednesday, Oct. 14, to include travelers from Indiana. The advisory asks visitors from states reporting positive testing rates of 15% or higher to self-quarantine for two weeks.
  • Rhode Island (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) issued an executive order requiring businesses to close break rooms for 90 days.

Daily feature: Featured lawsuit

Once a week, we take a closer look at a noteworthy lawsuit involving governmental responses to the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States. We define a noteworthy lawsuit as one that has garnered significant media attention, involves major advocacy groups, or deals with unique legal questions. This week, we look at a lawsuit involving indoor capacity restrictions in Wisconsin.

Tavern League of Wisconsin, Inc. v. Palm

On Oct. 14, Judge John M. Yackel of Wisconsin’s Sawyer County Circuit Court temporarily blocked emergency indoor capacity restrictions issued in response to an uptick in statewide COVID-19 infections.

What was at issue?

Upon Gov. Tony Evers’ (D) direction, Wisconsin Health Secretary Andrea Palm issued Emergency Order #3, limiting indoor public gatherings to no more than 25% capacity, with certain limitations. In its complaint, the Tavern League of Wisconsin argued Executive Order #3 “purports to regulate businesses and public gatherings in a manner nearly identical to portions of Emergency Order #28,” which the Wisconsin Supreme Court struck down on May 13.

How did the court rule, and what comes next?

In his order, Yackel wrote that Evers and his administration “are immediately restrained, until further order from the Court, from enforcing Emergency Order #3.” Britt Cudaback, a representative for Evers, said: “This is a dangerous decision that leaves our state without a statewide effort to contain this virus.”

Yackel scheduled oral arguments for Oct. 19 to discuss whether the temporary injunction should be lifted or extended.