A look back at government responses to the coronavirus pandemic, August 24-28, 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 24-28, 2020.

Monday, August 24, 2020

  • School closures and reopenings:
    • K-12 public schools in Arkansas resumed in-person instruction. Schools were originally supposed to reopen to in-person instruction on Aug. 14, but Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) delayed the reopening date on July 9 to give school officials more time to prepare. 
  • State court changes:
    • North Carolina Chief Justice Cheri Beasley issued an order extending and modifying some directives related to the coronavirus. The directives waived most notary requirements and allowed most court proceedings to occur remotely. Additionally, Emergency Directive 22 required senior resident superior court judges to submit plans for the resumption of jury trials by Sept. 30.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

  • Travel restrictions:
    • Govs. Ned Lamont (D-Conn.), Phil Murphy (D-N.J.), and Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.) announced they had removed Alaska, Arizona, Delaware, Maryland, and Montana from the joint travel advisory list because of a decline in coronavirus infection rates. Travelers from states on the list were required to quarantine upon arrival. 
  • Eviction and foreclosure policies:
    • Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D) lifted the state’s moratorium on evictions and foreclosures. The order required landlords to waive late fees accrued since the pandemic began and give tenants 30 days notice before beginning the eviction process.
  • State court changes:
    • New Hampshire’s first jury trial since the start of the pandemic began in Cheshire County as part of a pilot program. The state’s judicial branch required everyone in the courtroom to wear a mask, and for jurors to be spread out in the gallery.

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

  • Stay-at-home orders and reopening plans:
    • Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) issued an order requiring restaurant and bar patrons to wear a mask anytime they interact with a server, including whenever beverages or food are brought to a table. Additionally, Pritzker enacted new restrictions on Will and Kankakee counties because of rising coronavirus cases. Pritzker’s order prohibited bars and restaurants from offering indoor dining, and limited social events and gatherings to 25 people or 25% of a room’s capacity (whichever was less).
    • Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) announced the state would remain in Phase 4.5 of its reopening plan. Holcomb also extended the statewide mask mandate for another 30 days.
    • Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) extended Phase Two of the state’s reopening plan, including the statewide mask mandate, 50-person indoor gathering size limit, and statewide bar closure to on-premises consumption, through Sept. 11.
    • In Arizona, bars, gyms, movie theaters, and water parks were allowed to begin reopening in Apache, Cochise, Coconino, La Paz, Maricopa, Navajo, Pima, and Yavapai counties. Gyms were allowed to reopen at 25% capacity while the other businesses were allowed to reopen at 50% capacity.
  • Federal government responses:
    • The Pentagon lifted restrictions on the movement of military personnel and their families between military installations at five Air Force bases and three Army bases. The restrictions had been in place since March.
  • School closures and reopenings:
    • Delaware Gov. John Carney (D) signed the 25th modification to his emergency declaration, requiring students in kindergarten and above to wear face coverings inside schools at all times. The order also required school districts and charters to notify parents when a positive coronavirus case was identified in their child’s building.
    • West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (R) announced students would be permitted to participate in marching bands and cheerleading activities at football games this fall.

Thursday, August 27, 2020 

  • Stay-at-home orders and reopening plans:
    • Hawaii Gov. David Ige (D) approved Oahu Mayor Kirk Calwell’s order reimplementing a stay-at-home order in the county for two weeks. Individuals were only allowed to leave their homes to conduct certain essential activities.
    • Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) issued an executive order describing the symptoms an employee must have to stay home from work and avoid disciplinary measures from his or her employer. The order stipulated that employees aren’t shielded from disciplinary measures if known medical conditions could explain the symptoms.
    • Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) closed bars, nightclubs, and breweries in Polk, Linn, Johnson, Story, Dallas, and Black Hawk counties through at least Sept. 5. Reynolds cited high positive test rates among young adults in those counties, which are home to the state’s major universities.
  • Election changes:
    • Maine Governor Janet Mills (D) signed an executive order extending the mail-in voter registration deadline from Oct. 13 to Oct. 19.
  • Federal government responses:
    • Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Dr. Robert Redfield sent a letter to governors across the country asking states to expedite licensing and permitting so that COVID-19 vaccine distribution sites could be operational by November 1.
  • Mask requirements:
    • Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R) extended the state’s mask mandate through Oct. 2.

Friday, August 28, 2020

  • Stay-at-home orders and reopening plans:
    • California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) released a new color-coded reopening plan called “Blueprint for a Safer Economy.” Counties were classified as one of four colors—purple, red, orange, and yellow—based on coronavirus spread. Different business restrictions applied to each of the color levels.
  • Federal government responses:
    • The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that it had authorized the drug remdesivir to be used on all patients hospitalized with COVID-19. Previously, the FDA had permitted the use of remdesivir only on patients with severe cases of COVID-19.

For the most recent coronavirus news, including the latest on vaccines and mask mandates, subscribe to our daily newsletter, Documenting America’s Path to Recovery