A look back at government responses to the coronavirus pandemic, August 10-14, 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 August 10-14, 2020. To read more of our past coverage of the coronavirus pandemic, click here

Monday, August 10, 2020

  1. Stay-at-home orders and reopening plans:
  2. The Minnesota Department of Health released guidance for reopening long-term care facilities. Facilities with no exposure to COVID-19 in the past 28 days were allowed to consider reopening to visitors.
  3. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) issued new guidance for gyms and fitness centers in counties in Phase Two or Phase Three of the state’s reopening plan. The guidance required gyms and fitness centers to allow at least 300 square feet of space per customer. For gyms or fitness centers larger than 12,000 square feet, the guidance limited occupancy to 25%.
  4. Election changes:
  5. Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) issued an executive order authorizing the Maryland State Board of Elections to operate a limited number of centralized voting centers in lieu of precinct polling places for in-person voting in the Nov. 3 general election.
  6. Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont (D) issued an executive order directing election officials to accept absentee ballots postmarked by Aug. 11 and delivered by Aug. 13. The order applied only to the Aug. 11 primary election.
  7. Eviction and foreclosure policies
  8. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) extended the statewide moratorium on evictions and foreclosures through Sept. 5.
  9. Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) extended a requirement that landlords give tenants who were late on their rent 30 days’ notice before beginning eviction proceedings. Polis extended the requirement for 30 days.

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

  1. Travel restrictions:
  2. Govs. Ned Lamont (D-Conn.), Phil Murphy (D-N.J.), and Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.) announced that Hawaii, South Dakota, and the U.S. Virgin Islands had been added to the tristate quarantine list. Travelers from states on the list were required to quarantine for 14 days upon entering New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut. The governors removed Alaska, New Mexico, Ohio, and Rhode Island from the list because of a decline in coronavirus cases. 
  3. Federal government responses:
  4. The Trump administration, including the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Defense, announced a $1.5 billion agreement with pharmaceutical company Moderna Inc. to develop and deliver 100 million doses of a coronavirus vaccine.
  5. State court changes:
  6. Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Harold Melton issued an order extending the state’s judicial emergency, which had been set to expire on Aug. 11, through Sept. 10. Jury trials and most grand jury proceedings remained prohibited.

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

  1. Election changes:
  2. Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose (R) directed each county election board to provide one drop-box for absentee/mail-in ballots in the Nov. 3 general election.
  3. The Maryland State Board of Elections voted to conduct early voting from Oct. 26 through Nov. 2 at approximately 80 voting centers statewide. The board also announced its intention to make at least 127 ballot drop-boxes for absentee/mail-in ballots available statewide.
  4. School closures and reopenings:
  5. New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) signed an executive order on Aug. 12 allowing public and private K-12 schools, colleges, and universities to offer in-person instruction when they reopened. The order allowed schools to decide whether to offer remote learning, in-person instruction, or a hybrid approach. Schools that could meet requirements set out by the New Jersey Department of Education were required to begin the school year remotely.
  6. Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) announced on Aug. 12 she was delaying the start of the school year until Sept. 14. 
  7. Tennessee Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn said on Aug. 12 that the Tennessee Department of Education was encouraging school districts to mandate face coverings for middle and high school students.
  8. Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon (R) issued a revised public health order that extended restrictions on restaurants, bars, gyms, and performance spaces through the end of the month. The order also eased restrictions on outdoor gatherings beginning Aug. 16. The new outdoor gathering restrictions allowed venues to accommodate up to 50% capacity, with a maximum of 1,000 people so long as social distancing was observed.

Thursday, August 13, 2020 

  1. Election changes:
  2. The Supreme Court of the United States denied an application by the Republican National Committee and the Republican Party of Rhode Island to block a consent decree suspending witness/notary requirements for mail-in ballots cast in Rhode Island’s 2020 elections.
  3. Eviction and foreclosure policies
  4. The Judicial Council of California, the policymaking body of California’s court system, voted 19-1 to end its emergency moratorium on evictions and foreclosure lawsuits on Sept. 1. The rules the Council adopted in April suspended all pending judicial foreclosure actions and stopped courts from issuing summonses to tenants.

Friday, August 14, 2020

  1. Election changes:
  2. New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy (D) announced that the state would automatically send mail-in ballots to all voters in the Nov. 3 general election.
  3. Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear (D) and Secretary of State Michael Adams (R) announced several changes for the Nov. 3 general election, including the extension of absentee/mail-in voting eligibility to all voters they said were “concerned with contracting or spreading COVID-19.”
  4. Federal government responses:
  5. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Department of Defense (DoD) announced a partnership with healthcare company McKesson Corporation to help distribute a coronavirus vaccine when one was available.
  6. Eviction and foreclosure policies
  7. Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb’s (R) moratorium on evictions and foreclosures ended, allowing eviction and foreclosure lawsuits to resume. Holcomb originally issued the order on March 20.
  8. School closures and reopenings:
  9. Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) released the Arkansas Ready to Learn Healthy School Guide. The document was a support guide for teachers and administrators created in partnership with Arkansas Children’s Hospital and the University of Arkansas School for Medical Sciences. The guide outlined best practices for in-person learning. Schools were allowed to reopen on Aug. 24.

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