Author

Samuel Wonacott

Samuel Wonacott is a staff writer at Ballotpedia. Contact us at editor@ballotpedia.org.

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.

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.



A look back at government responses to the coronavirus pandemic, April 27-May 1, 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 March and April, states issued stay-at-home orders, closed schools, restricted travel, and changed election dates. Many of those policies remain in place today. 

Here are the policy changes that happened April 27-May 1, 2020. This list is not comprehensive. To see a list of all policy changes in each category, click the links below.

Monday, April 27, 2020:

Stay-at-home orders:

  • Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves (R) allowed the statewide stay-at-home order to expire. He first enacted it on April 3. Mississippi’s stay-at-home order was the fourth to expire. Alaska ended its stay-at-home order first on April 24, while Montana and Colorado each ended theirs on April 26. 

Election changes:

  • The New York State Board of Elections canceled the Democratic presidential preference primary, which had been scheduled to take place on June 23, 2020.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Federal government responses:

  • President Trump (R) signed an executive order aimed at keeping meat processing plants open throughout the country. Trump invoked the Defense Production Act to designate meat processing plants as critical infrastructure.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

School closures:

  • Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon (R) extended the statewide closure of schools to in-person instruction from April 30 to May 15.

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Stay-at-home orders:

  • Stay-at-home orders in Texas, Tennessee, Idaho, Georgia, and Alabama expired. By this point, governors had lifted nine stay-at-home orders. Thirty-four stay-at-home orders remained in place.  

Friday, May 1, 2020

Travel restrictions

  • South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster (R) announced he was ending the executive order requiring visitors from Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, and New Orleans to self-quarantine for two weeks.

School closures:

  • New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced that public, private, and collegiate schools would remain closed for in-person instruction for the remainder of the academic year. Before the announcement, schools were closed through May 15.
  • North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum (R) announced that public schools would remain closed for in-person instruction for the remainder of the academic year. Before the announcement, schools were closed indefinitely.

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



A look back at government responses to the coronavirus pandemic, April 20-24, 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 March and April, states issued stay-at-home orders, closed schools, restricted travel, and changed election dates. Many of those policies remain in place today. 

Here are the policy changes that happened April 20-24, 2020. This list is not comprehensive. To see a list of all policy changes in each category, click the links below.

Monday, April 20, 2020:

School closures:

  • Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D) announced that schools would not reopen for in-person instruction for the rest of the academic year. Prior to the announcement, schools were closed through May 1.
  • Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) announced that schools would not reopen for in-person instruction for the rest of the academic year. Prior to the announcement, schools were closed through May 1.

Election changes:

  • United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan Judge Terrence Berg issued an order reducing the petition signature requirements for primary candidates in Michigan to 50 percent of their statutory requirements. Berg also extended the filing deadline from April 21 to May 8, and directed election officials to develop procedures allowing for the collection and submission of electronic petition signatures.

Federal government responses:

  • Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf announced that travel restrictions with Canada and Mexico would be extended another 30 days. The restrictions, implemented in agreement with Canada and Mexico in late March, prohibited nonessential travel.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Travel restrictions

  • Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy (R) extended the 14-day quarantine requirement for international and out-of-state travelers through May 19.

School closures:

  • Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) announced that schools would not reopen for in-person instruction for the rest of the academic year. Prior to the announcement, schools were closed through April 30.
  • Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) announced that schools would not reopen for in-person instruction for the rest of the academic year. Prior to the announcement, schools were closed through May 1.
  • West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (R) announced that schools would not reopen for in-person instruction for the rest of the academic year. Prior to the announcement, schools were closed through April 30.

Federal government responses:

  • The U.S. Senate passed the $484 billion Paycheck Protection and Health Care Act. The package included renewed funding for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and funding for hospitals and testing. 

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

School closures:

  • Montana Gov. Steve Bullock (D) announced that he would rescind the statewide school closure order on May 7, but that individual districts would be allowed to decide whether to reopen for in-person instruction.
  • Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) announced that schools would not reopen for in-person instruction for the rest of the academic year. Prior to the announcement, schools were closed through April 30.
  • South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster (R) announced that schools would not reopen for in-person instruction for the rest of the academic year. Prior to the announcement, schools were closed through April 30.

Election changes:

  • The Republican Party of Wisconsin postponed its state convention, originally scheduled to take place in May, to July 10-11.
  • Utah Governor Gary Herbert (R) signed HB3005 into law, canceling in-person Election Day voting, in-person early voting, and in-person voter registration in the June 30 election.

Federal government responses:

  • President Donald Trump (R) signed an executive order temporarily suspending the issuance of new green cards. The order only covered applicants residing outside of the country at the time Trump issued the order.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

School closures:

  • Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz (D) announced that schools would not reopen for in-person instruction for the rest of the academic year. Prior to the announcement, schools were closed through May 1.
  • Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) announced that schools would not reopen for in-person instruction for the remainder of the academic year. Prior to the announcement, schools were closed through April 30.

Federal government responses:

  • The U.S. House passed the $484 billion Paycheck Protection and Health Care Act 388-5. The bill increased funding for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), as well as for hospitals and testing.

Friday, April 24, 2020

Stay-at-home orders:

  • Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy (R) ended the statewide stay-at-home order, becoming the first state to do so. The new order allowed several types of nonessential businesses to reopen with restrictions, including barbershops, tattoo parlors, and nail salons. 

School closures:

  • North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D) announced that schools would not reopen for in-person instruction for the remainder of the academic year. Prior to the announcement, schools were closed through May 15.
  • Delaware Gov. John Carney (D) announced that schools would not reopen for in-person instruction for the remainder of the academic year. Prior to the announcement, schools were closed through May 15.

Election changes:

  • Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear (D) issued an executive order directing all voters to utilize absentee voting by mail for the June 23 primary election if they are able to do so.
  • New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) issued Executive Order No. 202.23, requiring that all eligible voters in the June 23 election be sent absentee ballot applications.

Federal government responses:

  • President Donald Trump (R) signed the $484 billion Paycheck Protection and Health Care Act passed by Congress earlier in the week. The law included renewed funding for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and funding for hospitals and testing.  

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.



Eight states have enacted laws limiting governors’ emergency powers since the start of the pandemic

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, governors and state agencies in all 50 states relied on emergency power authority to enact stay-at-home orders, mask mandates, and other restrictions on businesses and individuals. Since March 2020, 10 bills in eight states have been signed into law that are aimed at increasing legislative oversight of governors’ emergency powers. These laws were enacted in Arkansas, Colorado, Kansas, Kentucky, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Utah.

Additionally, voters in Pennsylvania will have a chance on May 18, 2021, to approve a measure the Pennsylvania State Legislature certified for the ballot that would limit the governor’s emergency powers.

Laws limiting the governor’s emergency powers have been enacted in five states where one party controls the governorship and both branches of the state legislature—Arkansas (Republican trifecta), Colorado (Democratic trifecta), New York (Democratic trifecta), Ohio (Republican trifecta), and Utah (Republican trifecta). Laws limiting the governor’s authority have been enacted in three states with divided governments. In Kansas, Kentucky, and Pennsylvania, the governorship is controlled by a Democrat, while Republicans hold majorities in the state legislature’s chambers.

The laws generally allow legislators to terminate emergency declarations and orders or restrict a governor’s authority to regulate city and county-level public health decisions.

• In Kansas, Gov. Laura Kelly (D) signed Senate Bill 50 into law on March 24, 2021. Under the law, anyone burdened by an executive order, school board policy, or county health directive can file a lawsuit, and courts must respond to the lawsuit within 72 hours to determine if the order or policy is narrowly tailored to the emergency. The law also expanded the Legislative Coordinating Council from seven to eight members and empowered it to override gubernatorial executive orders. On Thursday, April 1, the Legislative Coordinating Council voted 5-2 (with one absence) to end Kelly’s statewide mask mandate.

• In Ohio, Republican majorities in the General Assembly voted on March 24 to override Governor Mike DeWine’s (R) veto of Senate Bill 22, which placed a 90-day limit on states of emergency and authorized lawmakers to pass resolutions to terminate a state of emergency after 30 days.

• In Kentucky, Republican majorities in the General Assembly voted to override Gov. Andy Beshear’s (D) vetoes of Senate Bill 1 and Senate Bill 2. The bills limit the governor’s emergency orders to 30 days unless extended by the legislature and grant legislative committees more oversight of the governor’s emergency administrative regulations. However, Franklin Circuit Court Judge Phillip Shepherd temporarily blocked parts of both bills from taking effect on March 3, after Beshear filed a lawsuit arguing the bills would undermine public health measures meant to protect people in Kentucky from the coronavirus pandemic. Those injunctions remain in effect.

As of April 2020, legislatures in 33 states can vote to terminate a governor’s emergency declarations. Legislatures in Alaska, Kansas, Michigan, and Minnesota are required to vote on extending or terminating a governor’s emergency declarations.

To read more about laws limiting governors’ emergency powers, click below.

Changes to state emergency power laws in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020-2021

Additional reading:



A look back at government responses to the coronavirus pandemic, April 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 March and April, states issued stay-at-home orders, closed schools, restricted travel, and changed election dates. Many of those policies remain in place today. 

Here are the policy changes that happened April 13-17, 2020. This list is not comprehensive. To see a list of all policy changes in each category, click the links below.

Monday, April 13, 2020:

  • Travel restrictions
    • The Pennsylvania Department of Health recommended that out-of-state travelers, especially those from areas with high rates of infection or community spread, self-quarantine for 14 days.
  • School closures:
    • Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) closed schools for the remainder of the academic year. Before the announcement, schools were closed through April 30.
  • Federal government responses:
    • The Supreme Court of the United States announced it would hear 13 cases by teleconference in May. The court announced it would broadcast live audio of the proceedings to the public for the first time in history.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

  • School closures:
    • Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves (R) closed schools for the remainder of the academic year. Before the announcement, schools were closed through April 17.
    • Utah Gov. Gary Herbert (R) closed schools for the remainder of the academic year. Before the announcement, schools were closed through May 1.
  • Election changes:
    • Judge Bradley B. Cavedo, of Virginia’s 13th Judicial Circuit, extended the deadline for the Republican Party of Virginia to select its nominee for the 7th Congressional District election to July 28, 2020.
    • Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards (D) issued Proclamation Number 46 JBE2020, postponing the state’s presidential preference primary election to July 11, 2020.
    • The Democratic Party of Indiana announced that it would cancel its in-person state convention, which had been scheduled to take place on June 13, 2020. Instead, the party opted to conduct convention business virtually and by mail.
  • Federal government responses:
    • Trump announced that the U.S. was suspending funding to the World Health Organization pending a review of the group’s actions in response to the coronavirus.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

  • Travel restrictions
    • Idaho Gov. Brad Little (R) issued an order requiring out-of-state visitors to self-quarantine for 14 days. The restriction was included in Little’s extension of the stay-at-home order that went into effect March 25 and was set to expire on April 15. The travel restriction exempted essential workers. 
  • School closures:
    • Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee (R) recommended that schools close for the remainder of the academic year. Schools in the state were previously ordered closed from March 20 through April 24.
  • Election changes:
    • Susan Swecker, chairwoman of the Democratic Party of Virginia, announced that the party would conduct its state convention, scheduled to take place on June 20, 2020, remotely on that day.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

  • School closures:
    • New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu (R) closed schools for the remainder of the academic year. Before the announcement, schools were closed through May 1.
    • New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) announced that schools would be closed until at least May 15. Before the announcement, schools had been under an indefinite closure since March 18.
    • New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) extended the state’s stay-at-home order through May 15, extending the statewide school closure.
    • Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D) closed schools for the remainder of the academic year. Before the announcement, schools were closed through April 23.
  • Federal government responses:
    • The White House released the Guidelines for Opening Up America Again, offering guidance to state and local officials on a three-phase approach to reopening their economies.

Friday, April 17, 2020

  • School closures:
    • The Hawaii Department of Education closed schools for the remainder of the academic year. Before the announcement, schools were closed through April 30.
    • Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) closed schools for the remainder of the academic year. Before the announcement, schools were closed through April 30.
    • Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) closed schools for the remainder of the academic year. Before the announcement, schools were closed through April 30.
    • Maryland Superintendent of Schools Karen Salmon extended the statewide school closure from April 24 through May 15.
    • Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) closed schools for the remainder of the academic year. Before the announcement, schools were closed through May 4.
  • Election changes:
    • The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court issued an order extending the candidate filing deadlines for district and county races to May 5, 2020, and June 2, 2020, respectively. The high court reduced candidate petition signatures requirements to 50 percent of their statutory requirements. The court also authorized candidates to collect petition signatures electronically.
    • Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont (D) issued an executive order postponing the state’s presidential preference primary to August 11, 2020.

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



A look back at government responses to the coronavirus pandemic, April 6-10, 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 March and April, states issued stay-at-home orders, closed schools, restricted travel, and changed election dates. Many of those policies remain in place today. 

Here are the policy changes that happened April 6-10, 2020. This list is not comprehensive.

Monday, April 6, 2020:

  • Stay-at-home orders:
    • The “Stay Home Missouri” order took effect in Missouri. It directed individuals in the state to stay home unless performing essential activities and placed restrictions on non-essential businesses. Governor Mike Parson (R) and Director of the Department of Health and Senior Services Randall Williams issued the order on April 3, and it was originally set to expire on April 24, 2020.
  • School closures:
    • Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) closed schools for the remainder of the academic year. Prior to this order, schools in the state were closed through April 17.
    • New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) extended the statewide school closure from April 15 to April 29.
  • Election changes:
    • The Wisconsin state supreme court voted 4-2 to block an executive order issued earlier in the day by Governor Tony Evers (D) postponing in-person voting in the spring election, scheduled for April 7, 2020, to June 9. As a result, in-person voting was set to take place as scheduled on April 7.
    • Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R) issued an order authorizing political parties that nominate by convention to postpone those conventions or conduct them remotely.

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

  • Stay-at-home orders:
    • Executive Order 2020-21 took effect in South Carolina. The order directed individuals in South Carolina to stay home except for essential activities and closed nonessential businesses in the state. Gov. Henry McMaster (R) issued the order April 6. South Carolina was the last state to implement a stay-at-home order. In total, 43 states issued stay-at-home orders.
  • School closures:
    • Maine Gov. Janet Mills (D) recommended that schools in the state remain closed for the rest of the academic year.
    • Montana Gov. Steve Bullock (D) extended the statewide school closure from April 10 to April 24.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

  • Travel restrictions
    • Utah Gov. Gary Herbert (R) issued an order requiring all visitors over 18 entering Utah through airports or roadways to complete a travel declaration within three hours. He said drivers entering Utah would receive a text message with a link to the form. Travelers in airports would receive a card from an airport employee with instructions to fill out a form online. The form required travelers to answer a number of questions related to COVID-19 symptoms and travel history.
  • School closures:
    • Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) closed schools for the remainder of the academic year. Prior to the announcement, schools were closed through April 28.
  • Election changes:
    • New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) announced that he would issue an executive order suspending existing eligibility criteria for absentee voting, allowing all voters to cast their ballots by mail in the June 23, 2020, election.
    • Virginia Governor Ralph Northam (D) postponed the statewide primary, originally scheduled for June 9, 2020, to June 23.
  • Federal government responses:
    • The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced a $500 million contract with General Motors to produce 30,000 ventilators under the Defense Production Act.

Thursday, April 9, 2020

  • Travel restrictions
    • Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) ordered all people traveling to Arizona from areas of the country with widespread COVID-19 cases to self-quarantine for 14 days. The order specifically mentioned Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey as areas with significant community spread. 
  • School closures:
    • Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy (R) closed schools for the remainder of the academic year. Prior to the announcement, schools were closed through May 1.
    • Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) closed schools for the remainder of the academic year. Prior to the announcement, schools had been closed indefinitely from March 16.
  • Election changes:
    • Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) postponed Georgia’s statewide and presidential primaries to June 9, 2020, and its primary runoff to August 11. The state had previously postponed its presidential primary to May 19, the original date of its statewide primary.

Friday, April 10, 2020

  • Election changes:
    • Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) signed B23-0733 into law, directing the district’s election officials to send absentee ballot applications to all registered voters in advance of the June 2, 2020, primary election.
    • New Hampshire Secretary of State William Gardner (D) and Attorney General Gordon MacDonald (R) released a memo to election officials advising them that any voter in the September 8, 2020, primary or November 3, 2020, general election could request an absentee ballot based on concerns related to COVID-19.
    • Maine Governor Janet Mills (D) issued Executive Order No. 39 FY 19/20, postponing the statewide primary election, originally scheduled for June 9 to July 14.
  • Federal government responses:
    • Trump announced he was forming a new council to discuss the process of reopening the U.S. economy. Trump referred to the group as the Opening Our Country Council and said members would be announced on April 14.

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.



A look back at government responses to COVID-19, March 30-April 3, 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 March and April, states issued stay-at-home orders, closed schools, restricted travel, and changed election dates. Many of those policies remain in place today. 

Here are the policy changes that happened March 30-April 3, 2020. This list is not comprehensive. To see a list of all policy changes in each category, click the links below.

Monday, March 30, 2020:

  • Stay-at-home orders:
    • Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) issued Executive Order 55, which directed individuals in Virginia to stay home except for essential activities and closed nonessential businesses in the state.
    • Executive Order 121 took effect in North Carolina. The order directed individuals to stay home except for essential activities and closed nonessential businesses in the state. Gov. Roy Cooper (D) issued Executive Order 121 on March 27. 
  • Travel restrictions
    • Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D) issued an order requiring residents to self-quarantine for any out-of-state travel, unless they traveled to care for a person in need, bought groceries or necessary supplies, went to work, were required to travel by a court order, or obtained healthcare.
    • Montana Gov. Steve Bullock (D) issued an executive order requiring residents and non-residents traveling to Montana, except those traveling for work, to self-quarantine for two weeks. The order also instructed the Montana National Guard to conduct temperature checks and exposure risk inquiries at airports and rail stations in the state.
  • School closures:
    • Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) announced schools would be closed for the remainder of the academic year. Prior to the announcement, schools were scheduled to reopen on April 13.
    • Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) announced the statewide school closure would last indefinitely. It was previously scheduled to end on April 8.
  • Election changes:
    • Idaho Governor Brad Little (R) and Secretary of State Lawerence Denney (R) announced the state’s May 19 primary election would be conducted entirely by mail.
    • Vermont Governor Phil Scott (R) signed H0681 into law, making a series of temporary changes to the state’s election laws in response to the coronavirus outbreak.
  • Federal government responses:
    • Glenn Fine, the acting inspector general of the Department of Defense, was selected to lead the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee, which oversaw the implementation of the Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. He was selected as chair by the other eight members of the committee, who were all inspectors general of various federal departments and agencies.

Tuesday, March 31, 2020:

  • Stay-at-home orders:
    • Executive Order 22 took effect in Tennessee. The order directed individuals in Tennessee to stay home except for essential activities and closed nonessential businesses in the state. Gov. Bill Lee (R) issued the order March 30. 
    • Executive Order 2020-18 took effect in Arizona. The order directed individuals in Arizona to stay home except for essential activities and closed nonessential businesses in the state. Gov. Doug Ducey (R) issued the order March 30.
  • Travel restrictions
    • West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (R) issued an executive order requiring all non-residents traveling to West Virginia from areas with “substantial community spread” to self-quarantine for two weeks. The order instructed West Virginia State Police to monitor roadways for such possible travelers.
  • School closures:
    • Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) extended the statewide school closure from April 7 to April 30.
    • Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) extended the statewide school closure from April 3 to May 4.
  • Election changes:
    • Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate (R) announced that his office would send absentee ballot applications to all active registered voters in the state in advance of the June 2, 2020, primary election.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020:

  • Stay-at-home orders:
    • Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) extended the stay-at-home order to all 67 counties in the state. Previously, the order affected 26 counties. 
    • Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) issued Executive Order 2020-07, which directed individuals to stay home except for essential activities and closed nonessential businesses in the state.
  • School closures:
    • California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) announced schools would be physically closed for the remainder of the school year.
    • Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) announced schools would remain closed for the remainder of the school year. Prior to the order, the state’s school closure was scheduled to end April 24.
  • Election changes:
    • Idaho Governor Brad Little (R) issued a proclamation establishing deadlines for the state’s all-mail primary election.
    • West Virginia Governor Jim Justice (R) issued Executive Order 18-20, postponing West Virginia’s statewide primary election to June 9, 2020. The primary was originally scheduled to take place May 12.
  • Federal government responses:
    • The Bureau of Prisons announced it was instituting a 14-day lockdown of all prison inmates.

Thursday, April 2, 2020:

  • Stay-at-home orders:
    • Executive Order GA-14 went into effect. The order directed individuals in Texas to stay home except for essential activities and closed nonessential businesses in the state. Gov. Greg Abbott (R) issued the order March 31.
    • Executive Order 28 went into effect. The order directed individuals to stay home. Gov. Janet Mills (D) issued the order March 31.
  • School closures:
    • Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) announced schools in the state would remain closed through the end of the academic year.
    • Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) announced schools statewide would remain closed for the rest of the academic year.
    • Maine Gov. Janet Mills’ (D) stay-at-home order closed schools statewide through April 30.
  • Election changes:
    • Judge William M. Conley, of the United States District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin, issued an order extending absentee voting deadlines in Wisconsin’s April 7, 2020, election.

Friday, April 3, 2020:

  • Stay-at-home orders:
    • Executive Order 1466 went into effect. The order directed individuals in Mississippi to stay home except for essential activities and closed nonessential businesses in the state. Gov. Tate Reeves (R) 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:
    • As part of a stay-at-home order issued by Missouri Gov. Mike Parsons (R), extended the statewide school closure from April 3 through April 24.
    • Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon (R) extended the statewide school closur`e 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 Supreme Court of the United States postponed the oral arguments scheduled for its April sitting. The court was scheduled to hear eight cases from April 20 to April 29.

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. To get information on vaccine distribution in your state, click here.  



In four states, no state or federal officials have tested positive for COVID-19

Between the start of the coronavirus pandemic and March 18, 2021, no elected or appointed state or federal officials announced positive COVID-19 test results in four states—Delaware, Maryland, Oregon, and Vermont. In the 46 other states, Ballotpedia has identified at least one COVID-19 positive state or federal official within our coverage scope. State and federal officials include members of Congress, state legislators, and state executive officeholders.

The first COVID-19 positive state officials identified by Ballotpedia were New York state Reps. Helene Weinstein (D) and Charles Barron (D), who announced positive test results on March 14, 2020. The first members of Congress to test positive were Reps. Ben McAdams (D-Utah) and Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fl.), who made their announcements March 18.

Since then, Ballotpedia has identified 215 candidates and officials diagnosed with COVID-19 at the state level, and 69 candidates and officials with COVID-19 at the federal level.

The state with the highest number of publicly identified COVID-19 state and federal officials is Pennsylvania, where two U.S. House members, the governor, and 17 members of the state legislature have tested positive since March 2020.

To read more about federal, state, and local officials and candidates affected by COVID-19, click the link below.



A look back at government responses to COVID-19, March 23-27, 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 March and April, states issued stay-at-home orders, closed schools, restricted travel, and changed election dates. Many of those policies remain in place today. 

Here are the policy changes that happened March 23-27, 2020. This list is not comprehensive. To see a list of all policy changes in each category, click the links below.

Monday, March 23, 2020:

Stay-at-home orders:

◦ Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) issued Executive Order No. 20-12, which directed individuals in the state to stay at home unless performing essential activities and placed restrictions on non-essential businesses.

◦ Amy Acton, the Director of the Ohio Department of Health, issued a stay-at-home order on March 22 that directed individuals in the state to stay at home unless performing essential activities and placed restrictions on non-essential businesses. The order went into effect March 23, and was originally set to expire April 6.

School closures:

◦ Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont (D) announced that the statewide school closure, scheduled to end March 31, was extended through April 20.

◦ Utah Gov. Gary Herbert (R) announced that the statewide school closure, scheduled to end March 31, was extended to May 1.

Election changes:

◦ Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) signed S2608 into law, authorizing municipalities to postpone any elections originally scheduled to take place prior to May 30, 2020, to any date on or before June 30, 2020.

◦ Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate (R) announced that absentee voting in the June 2, 2020, primary election would open on April 23, 2020, 40 days before the primary.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020:

Stay-at-home orders:

◦ West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (R) issued Executive Order No. 9-20, which directed all West Virginians to stay at home and limit movements outside of their homes beyond essential needs.

◦ Vermont Gov. Phil Scott (R) issued Addendum 6 to Executive Order 01-20 directing residents to limit normal everyday activities outside of the home and to practice social distancing at all times.

Travel restrictions

◦ Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) ordered travelers flying into Florida from New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut to self-quarantine for two weeks.

School closures:

◦ Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D) announced that schools would remain closed through April 23.

◦ The Hawaii Department of Education announced that the statewide school closure, scheduled to end April 6, was extended through April 30.

Election changes:

◦ Nevada Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske (R) announced plans to conduct all voting in the June 9, 2020, primary election by mail.

Federal government responses:

◦ The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced it would use the Defense Production Act to acquire 60,000 coronavirus testing kits.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020:

Stay-at-home orders:

◦ In Wisconsin, Executive Order #12 took effect. The order directed Wisconsinites to stay at home as much as possible and non-essential businesses and operations to cease, with limited exceptions for minimum basic operations and working from home. Gov. Tony Evers (D) signed the order on March 24.

◦ Idaho Gov. Brad Little (R) issued a proclamation amending the original state of emergency declaration by directing individuals in the state to stay at home unless performing essential activities and placing restrictions on non-essential businesses.

School closures:

◦ The Oklahoma Department of Education announced that schools would remain closed for the remainder of the academic year.

◦ Maryland State Superintendent Karen Salmon announced that the statewide school closure scheduled to end March 27 was extended through April 24.

Election changes:

◦ Montana Governor Steve Bullock (D) issued a directive authorizing counties to conduct upcoming elections entirely by mail.

◦ The Indiana Election Commission authorized the temporary suspension of the state’s statutory absentee voting eligibility requirements, allowing all voters to cast their ballots by mail in the June 2, 2020, primary election.

Federal government responses:

◦ The U.S. Senate voted 96-0 to pass the $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which included individual payments of $1,200 for individuals making up to $75,000 annually.

Thursday, March 26, 2020:

Stay-at-home orders:

◦ In Kentucky, Executive Order 2020-257 took effect. The order directed individuals in Kentucky to stay home except for essential activities and closed nonessential businesses in the state. Gov. Andy Beshear (D) issued the order on March 25.

◦ In Colorado, an order directing individuals to stay home unless performing essential activities and placing restrictions on non-essential businesses took effect. Gov. Jared Polis (D) and Jill Hunsaker Ryan, the executive director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, issued the order March 25.

Travel restrictions

◦ Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) issued an executive order requiring people flying to Texas from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, or New Orleans self-quarantine for two weeks.

School closures:

◦ Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R) announced that schools would be closed for the remainder of the academic year. 

◦ Vermont Gov. Phil Scott (R) announced that schools would be closed for the remainder of the academic year. 

Election changes:

◦ Utah Gov. Gary Herbert (R) issued an executive order authorizing a candidate and/or campaign to deliver petition sheets to voters electronically. 

◦ The Republican Party of North Carolina postponed its state convention, originally scheduled for May 14, to June 4.

Federal government responses:

◦ President Donald Trump (R) declared major disasters in Maryland and New Jersey.

Friday, March 27, 2020:

Stay-at-home orders:

◦ In Minnesota, an order took effect directing individuals in the state to remain at home unless performing essential activities and placing restrictions on non-essential businesses. Gov. Tim Walz (D) signed the order on March 25.

Travel restrictions

◦ South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster (R) issued an executive order requiring people traveling to South Carolina from Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, and New Orleans to self-quarantine for two weeks. 

◦ New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) signed an executive order requiring all travelers who entered New Mexico through an airport to self-quarantine for 14 days. 

School closures:

◦ New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced that the statewide school closure scheduled to end April 1 was extended through April 15.

◦ Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon (R) announced that the statewide school closure initially scheduled to end April 3 was extended through April 17.

Election changes:

◦ Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) signed a bill postponing the state’s primary to June 2, 2020, into law. It was originally scheduled for April 28, 2020.

Federal government responses:

◦ The U.S. House passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act on an unrecorded voice vote.

◦ President Donald Trump (R) signed the CARES Act.

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. To get information on vaccine distribution in your state, click here.



Biden signs $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act of 2021

Image of the south facade of the White House.

On Thursday, March 11, President Joe Biden (D) signed the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. Here’s a look at some of the provisions contained in the $1.9 trillion package:

• The law provides for a third round of relief checks to eligible individuals and couples. Individuals and dependents earning up to $75,000 and married couples and dependents earning up to $150,000 will receive $1,400 checks. Individuals earning more than $80,000, and married couples earning $160,000, will not receive checks, though they will still receive $1,400 per dependent. The checks phase out at different rates depending on the taxpayer’s filing status and number of dependents for individuals and married couples earning between $75,000 and $80,000 and $150,000 and $160,000, respectively. 

• The law extends a $300-per-week supplement to federal unemployment benefits through September 6. Those benefits were set to expire March 14. 

• The law includes a one-year expansion of the child tax credit and expanded the credit to include 17-year-olds. The credit increases from $2,000 to $3,600 for children under 6 and $3,000 for those between 6 and 17. 

• The law allocates $20 billion for COVID-19 vaccine manufacturing and distribution, $50 billion for COVID-19 testing and tracing, $350 billion to state, local, and tribal governments, and about $130 billion to help K-12 schools reopen to in-person instruction. 

The package passed the U.S. House 219-212 on February 27, with two Democrats joining with all Republicans to vote against it. On March 6, the Senate voted 50-49 along party lines to pass its own version of the bill. The Senate version removed an amendment that would have increased the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025 and lowered the income eligibility for relief checks.  

On March 10,  the House voted 220-211 to approve the changes made in the Senate and send the bill to President Biden’s (D) desk. Rep. Kurt Schrader (D), who was one of two Democrats to oppose the original House bill, voted in favor of the changes. Rep. Jared Golden (D) was the only Democrat to vote against the bill. No Republicans voted for it.