Documenting America’s Path to Recovery: November 3, 2020

Welcome to Documenting America’s Path to Recovery, where we track the status of reopening in all 50 states. Today we look at new coronavirus restrictions in Connecticut and Massachusetts, guidance for schools in Oregon, school reopenings, and more. Want to know what happened Friday? Click here.

The next 72 hours

What is changing in the next 72 hours?

  • Connecticut (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Ned Lamont (D) announced the state will move backward from Phase 3 to Phase 2 of reopening starting Nov. 6. Restaurants will have to limit capacity to 50% and close indoor dining by 9:30 p.m. every night. Religious gatherings will be limited to the lesser of 50% capacity or 100 people.
  • Illinois (Democratic trifecta): Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) announced mitigation policies will be implemented in Region 2 starting Nov. 4. Bars and restaurants will not be able to offer indoor service, and outdoor service will have to close by 11 p.m. every night. Gatherings will be limited to the lesser of 25 people or 25% of a room’s capacity. All 11 of the state’s regions will have mitigation restrictions once the rules become effective in Region 2.
  • Maine (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Janet Mills (D) announced the state will implement additional mitigation measures starting Nov. 4. Indoor gathering limits will be reduced to 50 people, and Maine’s travel restrictions (that require travelers to quarantine for 14 days or present a recent negative test on arrival) will extend to New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. Mills also postponed reopening bars and tasting rooms until further notice.

Since our last edition

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

  • Massachusetts (divided government): On Monday, Nov. 2, Gov. Charlie Baker (R) issued a series of new coronavirus restrictions that take effect Friday, Nov. 6. The new restrictions include a statewide, stay-at-home advisory between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. and a requirement that businesses like salons, gyms, and event venues close by 9:30 p.m. Baker also issued a new face-covering mandate, which replaces the current one that allows people to remove their masks when social distancing is possible.   
  • New York (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced schools in the state’s red and orange mitigation zones will be able to reopen after all of a school’s students and teachers get tested. Cuomo did not give a timeline for the reopening but said the state will provide the tests. 
  • Oregon (Democratic trifecta): The Oregon Department of Education released updated school reopening guidance. Under the new rules, schools in counties with less than 50 new coronavirus cases per 100,000 residents over 14 days can resume full-time, in-person learning. Previously, the state only allowed full-time, in-person schedules in counties with 10 or fewer new cases per 100,000 residents each week over a three-week rolling average.

Daily feature: Schools

All 50 states closed schools to in-person instruction at some point during the 2019-2020 academic year. Beginning in May 2020, schools in certain states began to reopen. In which states are schools allowed to open? In which states are they ordered to remain closed?

We last looked at school reopenings and closures in the Oct. 27 edition of the newsletter. Since then, the Oregon Department of Education relaxed school reopening guidance. Partial closures are still effective in the state.

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. 30, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) joined a lawsuit challenging El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego’s (D) order closing non-essential businesses and imposing a curfew. The lawsuit, filed in El Paso County’s 34th Judicial District Court by ten El Paso restaurants, claims that Samaniego’s order illegally usurps the governor’s authority. In his motion to intervene, Paxton argues the state “has an intrinsic right to enact, interpret, and enforce its own laws,” including “authority to sue to redress any violations of” public rights. Paxton further argues, “Judge Samaniego has no authority under [state law] to preempt or supersede” Gov. Greg Abbott’s (R) orders. In a statement to the press, Samaniego said, “We received a lawsuit, however until such time that a Court orders otherwise, my order still stands.”