A look back at government responses to the coronavirus pandemic, May 3-8, 2020

Although the first case of COVID-19 in the U.S. was confirmed on Jan. 21, 2020, it wasn’t until March when the novel coronavirus upended life for most Americans. Throughout that spring, states issued stay-at-home orders, closed schools, restricted travel, issued mask mandates, and changed election dates. Many of those policies remain in place today. 

Here are the policy changes that happened May 3-8, 2020. This list is not comprehensive. To see a list of all policy changes in each category, click the links below.

Sunday, May 3, 2020:

  • Stay-at-home orders:
    • Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly (D) allowed the statewide stay-at-home order to expire. She issued the order on March 30 and extended it through May 3 on April 15. 
    • Missouri Gov. Mike Parsons (R) allowed the statewide stay-at-home order to expire. He issued the order on April 6 and extended it through May 3 on April 16. 

Monday, May 4, 2020

  • Stay-at-home orders:
    • Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) allowed the statewide stay-at-home order to expire. The order first took effect on April 2 and was set to expire on April 30. On April 29, DeSantis extended the order to May 4 to coincide with the planned economic reopening of the state.
    • South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster (R) allowed the statewide stay-at-home order to expire. McMaster first implemented the order on April 6.
    • West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (R) allowed the statewide stay-at-home to expire. Justice replaced the state’s stay-at-home order with a safer-at-home order that encouraged people to stay home unless engaged in essential activities but did not require them to do so. Justice issued the stay-at-home order on March 24.
  • Travel restrictions
    • The Virginia Department of Health recommended that visitors or residents self-quarantine for 14 days if they had traveled internationally, on a cruise ship or river boat, or to an area of the U.S. with high rates of community spread.
  • School closures:
    • New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) announced that schools would remain closed to in-person instruction for the rest of the academic year. The order applied to public and private schools. Private schools were required to remain closed through June 30.
  • Election changes:
    • The Oklahoma Supreme Court struck down a requirement that absentee ballots be notarized, finding that the requirement did not qualify as an exception under a state law establishing that statements signed and dated under the penalty of perjury carry the force of an affidavit.
    • Connecticut Secretary of State Denise Merrill (D) announced that all eligible voters in the Aug. 11 statewide primary and Nov. 3 general election would automatically receive absentee/mail-in ballot applications.
  • Federal government responses:
    • The Supreme Court heard arguments for the first time by conference call.

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

  • School closures:
    • Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont (D) announced that K-12 public schools would remain closed to in-person instruction for the rest of the academic year. Before the announcement, schools were closed through May 20.
  • Election changes:
    • Washington Governor Jay Inslee (D) issued an executive order waiving the petition requirement for candidates who cannot afford to pay the filing fees associated with the offices being sought.
    • Judge Norman Moon, of the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia, approved a settlement between the parties in League of Women Voters of Virginia v. Virginia State Board of Elections. As a result, the witness requirement for absentee voting in the June 23 primary was suspended.
    • Judge Analisa Torres, of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, ordered the New York State Board of Elections to reinstate the June 23 Democratic presidential preference primary, which the board had previously canceled.

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

  • Stay-at-home orders:
    • Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) allowed the statewide stay-at-home order to expire. Stitt first issued the order on April 1. 
  • Travel restrictions
    • Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) lifted an April 4 order that restricted hotels and short-term rentals to essential workers. The order was enacted to discourage recreational travel into Arkansas.
  • Mask requirements:
    • A Massachusetts order requiring individuals to wear masks in public places where social distancing is not possible took effect. Gov. Charlie Baker (R) issued the order May 1. Massachusetts was the 12th state to issue a statewide mask mandate.  

Thursday, May 7, 2020

  • Travel restrictions
    • Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon (R) ended a requirement that out-of-state travelers quarantine for 14 days upon entering the state. 

Friday, May 8, 2020

  • Stay-at-home orders:
    • Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) allowed the stay-at-home order to expire. She first implemented the order on March 28 and extended it through May 8 on April 7. 
  • Travel restrictions
    • The quarantine requirement for out-of-state visitors to North Dakota expired. International visitors were still required to self-quarantine for 14 days. 
  • Election changes:
    • California Governor Gavin Newsom (D) signed an executive order directing county election officials to send mail-in ballots to all registered voters in the Nov. 3 general election.

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