A look back at government responses to the coronavirus pandemic, July 13-17, 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 the year, states issued stay-at-home orders, closed schools, restricted travel, issued mask mandates, and changed election dates.

Here are the policy changes that happened July 13-17, 2020. To read more of our past coverage of the coronavirus pandemic, click here

Monday, July 13, 2020

  • Stay-at-home orders and reopening plans:
    • New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) reimposed some coronavirus restrictions due to increasing coronavirus cases, including once again prohibiting indoor dining at bars and restaurants. Indoor dining had been permitted since June 1. The state also closed state parks to out-of-state visitors and visitors who cannot prove their residency. The state’s mask requirement expanded to include anyone exercising in a public space.
  • Travel restrictions:
    • Hawaii Gov. David Ige (D) announced he was extending the quarantine requirement for out-of-state travelers through Sept. 1. Previously, Ige had said a new program would take effect Aug. 1 that would allow visitors to avoid the quarantine requirement by presenting a negative coronavirus test. The program would not start until Oct. 15.
  • Mask requirements:
    • Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) issued an executive proclamation establishing a statewide face-covering requirement in any indoor or outdoor public space. The order exempted children under the age of eight, as well as individuals with medical conditions preventing them from wearing face coverings, and allowed parishes to opt out if they maintained a COVID-19 incidence rate of fewer than 100 cases per 100,000 people for the previous two weeks.
  • State court changes:
    • Iowa courtrooms reopened to in-person proceedings with restrictions. Social distancing of at least six feet was required. The state set a goal of resuming jury trials on Sept. 14.

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

  • Stay-at-home orders and reopening plans:
    • North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D) announced that the state would remain in Phase Two of reopening until Aug. 7. Previously, the state had been scheduled to enter Phase Three on July 17. 
    • West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (R) reduced the statewide limit on gatherings from 100 people to 25. He also announced that bars in Monongalia County will also be closed for 10 days in response to rising coronavirus cases.
  • Travel restrictions:
    • Govs. Ned Lamont (D-Conn.), Phil Murphy (D-N.J.), and Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.) announced that New Mexico, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Minnesota had been added to the joint travel advisory originally announced June 24, requiring travelers from those states to self-quarantine for 14 days upon arriving in the tristate area. 
  • Election changes:
    • Vermont Secretary of State Jim Condos (D) announced that the state would send mail-in ballot request forms to all eligible voters in the Aug. 11 primary election.

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

  • Election changes:
    • United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia Judge John A. Gibney reduced petition signature requirements for unaffiliated and minor-party candidates for federal office in Virginia as follows: 2,500 signatures for presidential candidates; 3,500 signatures for U.S. Senate candidates; and 350 signatures for U.S. House candidates. He extended the filing deadline for unaffiliated and minor-party congressional candidates to Aug. 1.
  • Mask requirements
    • Montana Gov. Steve Bullock (D) announced a statewide mask order requiring individuals to wear masks inside certain businesses and at outdoor gatherings of greater than 50 people where social distancing was not possible.
    • Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) expanded the statewide face-covering mandate to require masks in outdoor public spaces when six-foot distancing could not be maintained.

Thursday, July 16, 2020

  • Mask requirements: 
    • Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R) issued a mask order that required face coverings in public when social distancing with non-household members could not be kept.
  • Federal government responses:
    • Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf announced on Twitter that the Department of Homeland Security would extend its prohibition on nonessential travel with Canada and Mexico through Aug. 20.
  • State court changes:
    • North Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley announced she was maintaining the pause on jury trials through the end of September. She also announced that masks would be required in courthouses going forward.
  • Eviction and foreclosure policies:
    • Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) allowed the statewide moratorium on evictions to expire. She first issued the moratorium on March 20.

Friday, July 17, 2020 

  • Election changes:
    • United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas Judge Lynn Hughes ruled the Republican Party of Texas could proceed as planned with its in-person state convention, overturning the cancellation issued by Houston officials on July 8.
    • New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu (R) signed HB1266 into law, which formally established concern over COVID-19 as a valid reason for voting absentee in both the September 8 primary and November 3 general elections. The legislation also temporarily allowed voters to submit one absentee ballot application for both elections.
    • Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate (R) announced that absentee ballot application forms would be sent automatically to all active registered voters in the November 3 general election.
    • Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill (R) issued an emergency rule allowing any qualified voter to cast an absentee ballot in the November 3 general election.
  • Mask requirements: 
    • Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) issued a mask mandate requiring individuals older than 10 to wear a mask inside buildings that are open to the public.
  • School closures and reopenings:
    • California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) announced that counties on the state’s coronavirus watch list would begin the public school year with online education only. At the time of the announcement, 33 of the state’s 58 counties were on the watch list. 
    • Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) ordered that students in public and accredited nonpublic schools spend at least half of their schooling in-person. She said districts could seek waivers to the requirement from the state Department of Education. 

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