Documenting America’s Path to Recovery: January 5, 2021

Documenting America's Path to Recovery by Ballotpedia

The next 24 hours

What is changing in the next 24 hours?

  • Indiana (Republican trifecta): On Monday, Jan. 4, Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) announced he would lift the Dec. 16 ban on non-emergency, elective surgeries effective Jan. 6. 

Since our last edition

What rules and restrictions are changing in each state? For a continually updated article, click here.

  • Kentucky (divided government): 
    • Gov. Andy Beshear (D) announced a four-phase vaccine distribution outline. The state is currently in Phase 1a, which includes health care workers and residents and staff at nursing homes and assisted living facilities. 
    • The state’s Healthy at School guidelines became mandatory and middle and high schools were allowed to reopen for in-person instruction on Jan. 4. The guidelines include rules for social distancing, mask-wearing, sanitization, and other in-person activities (like food service in lunch rooms).
  • Massachusetts (divided government): On Monday, Jan. 4, Gov. Charlie Baker (R) announced that vaccinations for first responders would begin Jan. 11 as part of the first phase of the state’s vaccine distribution plan.
  • New York (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced expanded vaccine availability, effective Jan. 4. All frontline healthcare workers who provide in-person care (regardless of age) are now eligible to receive the vaccine. Home care providers, hospice workers, and nursing home workers who were not previously vaccinated under the CDC’s Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care Program are also eligible for vaccinations.
  • North Dakota (Republican trifecta): On Monday, Jan. 4, Gov. Doug Burgum (R) announced he would shift the state’s COVID-19 risk designation on Jan. 8 from high to moderate, allowing bars and restaurants to operate at up to 65% of their normal capacity. Event venues will also be permitted to operate at 50% capacity. 

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 1,336 lawsuits, in 50 states, dealing in some way with the COVID-19 outbreak. Court orders have been issued, or settlements have been reached, in 413 of those lawsuits. 
    • Since Dec. 22, we have added 18 lawsuits to our database. We have also tracked an additional six court orders and/or settlements. 

Noteworthy cases:

  • Texas v. City of Austin: On Jan. 1, the Texas Supreme Court halted Travis County and Austin restaurant restrictions. The restrictions, which took effect on New Year’s Eve, aimed to limit restaurants to take-out only over the holiday weekend. In its unsigned order, the court conditionally granted Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s (R) request, directing the Third Court of Appeals to block enforcement of the restrictions “pending final resolution of the appeal.” The decision follows defeats at both the trial and appellate levels for Paxton, who initially challenged the restrictions on Dec. 30, 2020, hoping to block their enforcement in time for New Year’s Eve. In his initial complaint in the Travis County District Court, Paxton argued that the local orders conflicted with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s (R) Executive Order GA-32, which both allows restaurants and bars to operate at reduced capacity and prohibits “any conflicting order issued by local officials in response to the COVID-19 disaster.” The trial court disagreed, and the Third Court of Appeals initially rejected Paxton’s appeal. Following the Texas Supreme Court’s ruling, Paxton thanked the court “for upholding the rule of law,” saying that the court “was right to end these oppressive, illegal city and county declarations.” Travis County Judge Andy Brown said he was disappointed by the decision “as it limits our ability to slow the spread of COVID-19 in our community.” Because the restrictions expired at 6:00 a.m. on Jan. 3, the future of the litigation is uncertain.

State mask requirements

We last looked at face coverings in the Dec. 22 edition of the newsletter. Since then, no new states have adopted a statewide public mask mandate or let a face-covering requirement expire.

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
    • Two federal officials have died of COVID-19.
    • Forty-eight members of Congress have been diagnosed with COVID-19.
    • Forty-one federal officials have quarantined after possible exposure to COVID-19.
  • State
    • Eight state-level incumbents or candidates have died of COVID-19.
    • One hundred sixty state-level incumbents or candidates have been diagnosed with COVID-19
    • Eighty-three state-level incumbents or candidates have quarantined after possible exposure to COVID-19.
  • Local
    • At least five local incumbents or candidates have died of COVID-19.
    • At least 35 local incumbents or candidates have been diagnosed with COVID-19.
    • At least 26 local incumbents or candidates have quarantined after possible exposure to COVID-19.

Since Dec. 22, four representatives, one governor, two state representatives, one state auditor, and one mayor announced positive COVID-19 test results. One senator announced a negative test result. One representative-elect and one state senator died from COVID-19. 

Details:

  • On Dec. 22, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster (R) announced he tested positive for COVID-19. 
  • On Dec. 22, Kentucky state Rep. Thomas Huff (R) announced on Facebook he was in the hospital with COVID-19. 
  • On Dec. 27, Texas state Rep. Dennis Bonnen (R) announced he tested positive for COVID-19. 
  • On Dec. 28, Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Wis.) announced she tested positive for COVID-19. 
  • On Dec. 29, Rep.-elect Luke Letlow (R-La.) died from complications related to COVID-19.
  • On Dec. 30, Birmingham, AL, Mayor Randall Woodfin’s office announced he tested positive for COVID-19. He was hospitalized Jan. 4. 
  • On Dec. 31, Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar (R-Fla.) announced she tested positive for COVID-19.
  • On Dec. 31, Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) announced he and his wife tested negative for COVID-19 after coming into contact with someone who tested positive for the virus. 
  • On Jan. 1, Virginia state Sen. Ben Chafin (R) died from complications related to COVID-19. 
  • On Jan. 1, Rep. David Valadao (R-Calif.) announced he tested positive for COVID-19. 
  • On Jan. 2, Kentucky Auditor of Public Accounts Mike Harmon (R) announced he tested positive for COVID-19. 
  • On Jan. 4, Rep. Kay Granger (R-Texas) announced she tested positive for COVID-19.



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