Since our last edition
What rules and restrictions are changing in each state? For a continually updated article, click here.
- Connecticut (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Ned Lamont (D) announced individuals age 65 and older can register for vaccination appointments starting Feb. 11. Currently, only people age 75 and older are eligible for vaccinations.
- Missouri (Republican trifecta): Gov. Mike Parson (R) announced the launch of the COVID-19 Vaccine Navigator tool. Residents can register to be notified when they become eligible to receive a vaccine and schedule appointments at local vaccination sites.
- New York (Democratic trifecta):
- Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced indoor dining will be able to reopen at 25% capacity in New York City starting Feb.12.
- Cuomo also announced all adults with certain underlying conditions will be eligible for vaccination starting Feb. 15. Qualifying conditions include cancer, moderate to severe asthma, obesity, and hypertension.
- Texas (Republican trifecta): On Tuesday. Feb. 9, Gov. Greg Abbott (R) announced the Texas Rent Relief Program, which will help qualified households with rent and utility payments. The program will administer more than $1 billion in federal COVID-19 funding provided to Texas.
Lawsuits about state actions and policies
- To date, Ballotpedia has tracked 1,649 lawsuits in 50 states dealing in some way with the COVID-19 outbreak. Court orders have been issued, or settlements have been reached, in 476 of those lawsuits.
- Since Feb. 2, we have added 26 lawsuits to our database. We have also tracked an additional eight court orders and/or settlements.
- South Bay United Pentecostal Church v. Newsom: On Feb. 5, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that California churches could resume indoor services at 25 percent capacity. The court did, however, uphold a state prohibition against singing and chanting. South Bay United Pentecostal Church alleged that California had imposed more stringent regulations on churches than secular businesses. Referencing the court’s decision in Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn v. Cuomo, which struck down New York’s occupancy restrictions in places of worship, South Bay argued the court should intervene because the lower courts “refused to recognize Brooklyn Diocese’s ‘seismic shift’ in COVID-19 jurisprudence.”
- There were four separate opinions and a dissent. Justices Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch said they would strike down all challenged restrictions: “If Hollywood may host a studio audience or film a singing competition while not a single soul may enter California’s churches, synagogues, and mosques, something has gone seriously awry.” Justice Samuel Alito said he would prefer to give California 30 days to provide evidence supporting its restrictions before striking them down. Chief Justice John Roberts, in voting to grant the church partial relief, said, “Federal courts owe significant deference to politically accountable officials with the ‘background, competence, and expertise to assess public health.’” In her first signed opinion, Justice Amy Coney Barrett, joined by Justice Brett Kavanaugh, voted to uphold the ban on singing, finding that California applies the restriction neutrally. Justice Elena Kagan, joined by Justices Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor, dissented, arguing that all the challenged restrictions should be upheld.
State mask requirements
We last looked at face coverings in the Feb. 2 edition of the newsletter. Since then, Iowa’s statewide public mask mandate expired on Feb.7. Iowa is the third state to allow a face-covering requirement to expire, after Mississippi and North Dakota.
On Feb. 4, the Wisconsin State Assembly voted 52-42 on a resolution to end the statewide mask mandate and coronavirus public health emergency. In response, Gov. Tony Evers (D) immediately issued two new orders reestablishing the public health emergency and mask mandate. All Democrats and seven Republicans voted against the resolution. Republican legislative leadership is challenging the mandate in the state Supreme Court. The Wisconsin State Senate voted 18-13 to overturn Gov. Tony Evers’s (D) coronavirus emergency order on Jan. 26.
Diagnosed or quarantined politicians identified by Ballotpedia
- Three federal officials have died of COVID-19.
- Fifty-eight members of Congress have been diagnosed with COVID-19.
- Forty-one federal officials have quarantined after possible exposure to COVID-19.
- Eight state-level incumbents or candidates have died of COVID-19.
- One-hundred and ninety-four state-level incumbents or candidates have been diagnosed with COVID-19
- Eighty-four state-level incumbents or candidates have quarantined after possible exposure to COVID-19.
- At least five local incumbents or candidates have died of COVID-19.
- At least 43 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 Feb. 2, one U.S. Representative died from COVID-19 related complications, while one U.S. Representative tested negative for the virus. Two state senators, three state representatives, one state treasurer, one city councilmember, and one city council candidate announced positive COVID-19 test results.
- On Tuesday, Feb. 2, San Antonio City Councilmember Clayton Perry, who represents District 10, announced he tested positive for COVID-19.
- On Tuesday, Feb. 2, New York City Council candidate Jessica Haller (New Leadership) announced she tested positive for COVID-19.
- On Thursday, Feb. 3, North Carolina state Sen. Natasha Marcus (D), who represents District 41, announced she tested positive for COVID-19.
- On Thursday, Feb. 3, Rep. Cindy Axne (D-Iowa) announced she tested negative for COVID-19 after being exposed to an infected staffer.
- On Sunday, Feb. 7, Montana state Rep. Brian Putnam (R) announced he tested positive for COVID-19.
- On Sunday, Feb. 7, Massachusetts Treasurer Deb Goldberg (D) announced she tested positive for COVID-19.
- On Sunday, Feb. 7, Rep. Ronald Wright (R-Texas) died from complications related to COVID-19. Wright was the first incumbent House member to die from the virus.
- On Monday, Feb. 8, Florida state Sen. Jim Boyd (R) announced he tested positive for COVID-19.
- On Monday, Feb. 8, South Dakota state Rep. Aaron Aylward (R) announced he tested positive for COVID-19.
- On Monday, Feb. 8, South Dakota state Rep. Chris Karr (R) announced he tested positive for COVID-19.