Documenting America’s Path to Recovery: October 19, 2020

Welcome to Documenting America’s Path to Recovery, where we track the status of reopening in all 50 states. Today we look at agricultural relief in Minnesota and Maryland, gathering limits in Wisconsin, mask mandates, and more. Want to know what happened Friday? Click here.

Since our last edition

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

  • Hawaii (Democratic trifecta): Gov. David Ige (D) released a list of eight organizations that will be able to administer the coronavirus tests required for interisland travelers to avoid the 14-day mandatory self-quarantine.
  • Iowa (Republican trifecta): On Friday, Oct. 16, Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) signed an order extending the statewide emergency through Nov. 15. The emergency order includes the state’s COVID-19 restrictions, including a new provision requiring bars and restaurants to keep customers seated and to maintain 6 feet of distance between groups.
  • Maryland (divided government): On Monday, Oct. 19, Gov. Larry Hogan (R) announced the creation of the Maryland Farmer COVID-19 Relief Program, which will offer $10 million in relief to Maryland farmers.
  • Massachusetts (divided government): The statewide moratorium on evictions expired Saturday, Oct. 17, after Gov. Charlie Baker (R) said he would not extend it.
  • Michigan (divided government): On Friday, Oct. 16, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) signed Senate Bill 1108, which makes permanent an executive order that allows public bodies to conduct public meetings remotely during the pandemic.
  • Minnesota (divided government): On Monday, Oct. 19, Gov. Tim Walz (D) announced $7.7 million in federal CARES Act support to farmers, agricultural producers, and meat processors.
  • New York (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced movie theaters can reopen at 25% capacity everywhere except New York City if a county’s positivity rate is below 2% on a 14-day rolling average, starting Oct. 23. Cuomo also said ski resorts can reopen starting Nov. 6.
  • Wisconsin (divided government): On Monday, Oct. 19, Judge James Babler allowed Gov. Tony Evers’ Oct. 6 order limiting public gatherings in bars and restaurants to go into effect, overturning a court ruling last week that blocked enforcement of the order while the case was being litigated. The Tavern League of Wisconsin, which filed the lawsuit along with two bars, said it would not appeal the decision.

Daily feature: Face coverings

We last looked at face coverings in the Oct. 12 edition of the newsletter. Since then, no states have adopted a new 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. 16, three Oregon state lawmakers and a local businessman filed suit in Multnomah County Circuit Court against Gov. Kate Brown (D), alleging the governor’s stay-at-home orders and business closures exceeded her authority. The plaintiffs – state Reps. Werner Reschke (R) and Mike Nearman (R), state Sen. Dennis Linthicum (R), and Washington County businessman Neil Ruggles – argue that Brown “has arrogated unto herself legislative powers of sweeping scope to reorder social life and destroy the livelihoods of residents across the state, which powers are reserved exclusively for the Legislative Assembly by the Oregon Constitution.” The plaintiffs are seeking an injunction blocking Brown’s state-of-emergency declaration and any rules emanating from it, as well as a judgment settling their state constitutional claims. Charles Boyle, a representative for Brown, said, “The governor is focused on implementing measures to keep Oregonians healthy and safe, based on the advice of doctors and health experts and what the data shows will limit the spread of Covid-19.”



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