This time last year: Friday, April 3, 2020
The first case of COVID-19 in the U.S. was confirmed on Jan. 21, 2020. But it wasn’t until March when the novel coronavirus upended life for most Americans. Throughout March and April, many states issued stay-at-home orders, closed schools, restricted travel, and changed election dates. Many of those policies remain in place today. Each week, we’ll look back at some of the defining policy responses of the early coronavirus pandemic.
Here’s what happened this time last year. To see a list of all policy changes in each category, click the links below.
Friday, April 3, 2020:
- Stay-at-home orders:
- Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves’ (R) Executive Order 1466 took effect. It directed people to stay home except for essential activities and closed nonessential businesses in the state. Reeves issued the order April 1.
- Travel restrictions:
- Maine Gov. Janet Mills (D) issued an executive order requiring all out-of-state travelers to self-quarantine for two weeks. Individuals providing essential services were exempt. The order directed state agencies, such as the Maine Department of Transportation and the Maine Turnpike Authority, to post the order at all major points of entry into the state.
- Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon (R) issued an order requiring out-of-state travelers to self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.
- School closures:
- Missouri Gov. Mike Parson (R) extended the statewide school closure from April 3 through April 24 as part of a stay-at-home order.
- Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon (R) extended the statewide school closure from April 17 to April 30
- Election changes:
- Florida Secretary of State Laurel Lee (R) signed two orders authorizing candidates to submit qualifying documents, including signed petitions, electronically.
- The Democratic Party of Maine canceled its state convention, originally scheduled for May 29-30, 2020.
- Federal government responses:
- The U.S. Supreme Court postponed the oral arguments scheduled for its April sitting. The court was scheduled to hear eight cases from April 20 to April 29.
1918 influenza pandemic
As part of our coverage of the coronavirus pandemic last year, we looked back at stories from the 1918-1919 influenza pandemic to see how America met the challenges of a national health emergency. More than 50 million people perished from the disease worldwide, including about 675,000 in the U.S., making it one of the deadliest pandemics in recorded history. To see a complete list of 1918 stories on Ballotpedia, click here.
On Jan. 31, 1919, the San Antonio Express reported on the decline in influenza cases in the city and efforts to keep another wave at bay.
That the influenza pandemic in San Antonio now is a matter of history was the statement Thursday afternoon of City Health Officer King. Dr. King based his opinion on the reports of new cases during the present week. Thursday’s report indicated only eight new cases, which has been the average maintained this week.
“The epidemic is over as far as this season is concerned,” said Dr. King. “Recent reports indicate that as a certainty, but we cannot afford to let up on our health regulations. People should continue to exercise the greatest precautions to prevent a recurrence of the disease.”
On Feb. 10, 1919, the Oregon Daily Journal reported on the suspension of a mask mandate in Portland in response to a decline in influenza cases.
Influenza masks will not be worn in Portland, according to a proclamation issued Saturday by John G. Abele, city health officer. An ordinance was recently passed by the city council requiring the wearing of masks in certain places under heavy penalty while the epidemic was prevalent.
Since there has been such a decided decrease in the number of influenza cases, the edict has been issued that it is no longer considered epidemic and that the ordinance shall, therefore, be suspended. Health bureau officers recommend that the vigilance of the people be continued and no further drastic measures will then be necessary.
The consolidated health bureau, under the direction of Dr. Sommers, closed its doors Saturday afternoon. Any further cases developing in Portland will be handled by the city or county health officers. In ordering the close of the office, Dr. Sommers believes the epidemic practically over.