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, August 31-September 4, 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 31-September 4, 2020. To read more of our past coverage of the coronavirus pandemic, click here

Monday, August 31, 2020

Election changes:

  • Utah Governor Gary Herbert (R) signed into law legislation making several changes to administration procedures for the Nov. 3 general election (including the requirement that counties provide some form of in-person Election Day and early voting).
  • U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia Judge Eleanor L. Ross issued an order extending the return deadlines for absentee ballots in the general election. Ross ordered officials to accept as valid any absentee ballots postmarked Nov. 3 and received by 7:00 p.m. on Nov. 6.

School closures and reopenings:

  • Connecticut schools were allowed to reopen for in-person instruction. Classrooms had been closed since March 16.
  • Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) announced every public school district in the state except Providence and Central Falls would be permitted to resume in-person instruction when schools reopen for the 2020-2021 academic year. Raimondo said in-person classes were scheduled to start Sept. 14.

Eviction and foreclosure policies

  • Pennsylvania’s statewide moratorium on evictions and foreclosures expired.
  • Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) extended the statewide moratorium on evictions and foreclosures through Oct. 1. DeSantis’ order allowed landlords to seek an eviction judgment in court, but said final judgments could not happen until the moratorium had ended.
  • California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signed a bill preventing evictions for nonpayment of rent through Jan. 31, 2021. 
  • Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) issued an order extending the statewide foreclosure moratorium through December.

State court changes:

  • Maryland Court of Appeals Chief Judge Mary Ellen Barbera allowed courts to move into Phase IV of the state court’s reopening plan on Aug. 31. Phase IV allowed most in-person proceedings to resume, with the exception of jury trials. 

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Stay-at-home orders and reopening plans:

  • New Mexico Health Secretary Kathyleen Kunkel extended the state’s stay-at-home public health order through Sept. 18.

Federal government responses:

  • White House spokesman Judd Deere announced that the U.S. would not join an international initiative called the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (Covax) Facility, the goal of which was to develop and distribute COVID-19 vaccines. The World Health Organization (WHO), Gavi, and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) spearheaded the initiative.

School closures and reopenings:

  • The Maryland Board of Education approved new minimum requirements for instruction. The Board required schools to be open for at least 180 days and offer at least six hours of instruction, of which 3.5 hours had to be synchronous (e.g., all students taught at the same time) for grades K-12.
  • The Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development issued new guidance that required student-athletes to wear face coverings during games and practices when social distancing wasn’t possible.

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Stay-at-home orders and reopening plans:

  • West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (R) closed bars in Monongalia County, two days after allowing them to reopen. He first closed bars in Monongalia in July following a spike in coronavirus cases in that area. 

Election changes:

  • New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) announced an online absentee ballot request portal for the Nov. 3 general election.
  • Hinds County Chancery Court Judge Denise Owens ordered Mississippi officials to expand absentee voting eligibility in the Nov. 3 general election to individuals with “pre-existing conditions that cause COVID-19 to present a greater risk of severe illness or death.”

School closures and reopenings:

  • The Indiana Board of Education voted to update its definition of what counts as a virtual student for use in the state’s school funding formula. As a result, students who opted for virtual learning during the pandemic were still counted in their school’s funding formula.

Thursday, September 3, 2020 

Stay-at-home orders and reopening plans:

  • Idaho Gov. Brad Little (R) announced the state would remain in Phase Four of reopening for at least two more weeks. Idaho entered Phase Four on June 13.

Friday, September 4, 2020

Stay-at-home orders and reopening plans:

  • North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D) moved the state into Phase 2.5 of reopening. Under Phase 2.5, the limit on gatherings increased to 25 people indoors and 50 people outdoors. Museums and aquariums were allowed to reopen at 50% capacity, while gyms and indoor exercise facilities could reopen at 30% capacity.
  • New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) announced that indoor dining services and movie theaters could reopen with restrictions. 

Travel restrictions:

  • New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) announced that out-of-state travelers from states with a 5% positivity rate or greater or a new case rate greater than 80 per 1 million residents would be required to self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival. Additionally, she announced that travelers from any state could avoid the quarantine requirement with a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours before or after entry into the state. Travelers waiting for a test result were required to self-quarantine.

Election changes:

  • Virginia Governor Ralph Northam (D) signed into law legislation providing for the use of drop-boxes to return absentee/mail-in ballots. The legislation also provided for prepaid return postage.

State court changes:

  • Delaware Supreme Court Chief Justice Collins Seitz Jr. extended the judicial emergency through Oct. 5, and announced that the judiciary would move into a modified Phase 3 of reopening on that date. Under the modified Phase 3 plan, the Delaware Supreme Court permitted jury trials to resume and allowed courts to increase capacity from 50% to 75%.

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



Washington school board candidate who suspended campaign gets most primary votes, re-enters race

Kristi Schmeck, who suspended her campaign for a seat on the five-member Sequim School District Board of Directors in the late spring, rejoined the race after receiving the most votes in the Aug. 2 primary. Schmeck received 28.85% of the vote for the Director at Large, Position No. 4 seat, while Virginia R. Sheppard, the candidate with the second most votes, received 28.58%. In Washington, the top two vote-getters in a primary advance to the general election.

Incumbent Brandino Gibson did not file to run for re-election.

The Sequim School District spans Clallam and Jefferson counties in Washington and is located in the westernmost part of the state on the Olympic Peninsula. Clallam County has the nation’s longest unbroken record of voting for the winning presidential candidate, going back to 1980.

According to the Sequim Gazette, Schmeck said on June 1 that she was attempting to remove her name from the ballot for personal reasons. S

he was unsuccessful, as she tried to withdraw her name after the May 21 filing deadline.

The Peninsula Daily News reported on Aug. 23 that Schmeck wrote in an email that she changed her mind about the race after seeing the primary results.

Schmeck and Sheppard will appear on the general election ballot on Nov. 2. In a candidate statement submitted to the Washington Secretary of State, Schmeck said she’d been an “educator/coach for over 25 years” and Athletic Director at a charter school. She received a bachelor’s in physical education and completed a teaching credential program and health science credential at Chico State University in California.

Schmeck wrote, “As a Mother and Grandmother, I’m committed to the health and future success of our youth. For over 25 years, I have worked as a school teacher, basketball and track coach. Empowering student’s success is the driving force in my life. Running for School Board gives me the opportunity to bring my passion and years of experience to the next level, and collaborate to make positive changes that are visibly needed in our schools.”

In her candidate statement, Sheppard said she operates Generations Boutique, a small business, and has worked as a corporate collections coordinator and construction assistant. She attended Santa Monica City College and Port Angeles High School.

Sheppard wrote, “Experience matters! I am a mother, grandmother, and a great grandmother. I find the need to step up and speak for the children of today and the future. I have had to sit back and watch our schools fail to teach our children the full history of America. Now we are told that American History must give way to Critical Race Theory, a largely untested proposition that assigns blame for many of society’s ills to one race of people, as if the cure for racism was another type of racism.”

In an email to the Peninsula Daily News, Schmeck wrote “[a]s a school board member our responsibility is to represent the community, parents and our students. My main concerns are the implementation of Critical Race Theory, the new adopted sex education program (CSE), and parents rights.”

The Director at Large, Position No. 4 seat is one of two seats on the Board up for election in 2021. Brian Kuh, the Director District No. 2 incumbent, declined to file for re-election. One candidate—Patrice Johnston—filed to enter that race.



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



Clallam County municipal primary results certified

The Clallam County Auditor certified Aug. 3 primary elections Tuesday. Top-two primaries took place in three cities in the county—Port Angeles, Sequim, and Forks. Eight offices appeared on primary ballots.

Clallam County, on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula, has the nation’s longest unbroken record of voting for the winning presidential candidate, going back to 1980. Clallam County became a Boomerang Pivot County in 2020, meaning voters voted for Obama in 2008 and 2012, voted for Trump in 2016, and then voted for Biden in 2020.

Ballotpedia is covering elections for 26 total offices in Port Angeles, Sequim, and Forks in 2021. In Clallam County, nonpartisan elections skip the primary and appear only on the general election ballot when fewer than three candidates file for the election or the office is a cemetery or parks and recreation district.

In Port Angeles, the county seat, the following candidates advanced to the Nov. 2 general election:

Port Angeles School District Director Position No. 2

  1. Mary Hebert (34.37%)
  2. Gabi Johnson (33.1)

Port Angeles City Council Position No. 1

  1. LaTrisha Suggs (incumbent) (46.9%)
  2. Adam Garcia (41.23%)

Port Angeles City Council Position No. 2

  1. Mike French (incumbent) (56.85%)
  2. John Madden (35.75%)

Port Angeles City Council Position No. 3

  1. Lindsey Schromen-Wawrin (incumbent) (41.4%)
  2. Jena Stamper (37.34%)

Port Angeles City Council Position No. 4

  1. Kate Dexter (incumbent) (53.33%)
  2. John W. Procter (41.1%)

In Sequim, the following candidates advanced to the Nov. 2 general election:

Sequim School District Director at Large, Position No. 4 (multi-county race includes votes from Jefferson County)

  1. Virginia R. Sheppard (28.58%)
  2. Kristi Schmeck (28.85%)

Fire District #3, Commissioner Position No. 1 (multi-county race includes votes from Jefferson County)

  1. Duane Chamlee (34.94%)
  2. Jeff Nicholas (56.68%)

In Forks, the following candidates advanced to the Nov. 2 general election:

Forks City Council Position No. 2

  1. Josef Echeita (31.1%)
  2. Clinton W. Wood (58.74%)


A look back at government responses to the coronavirus pandemic, Aug. 17-21, 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 Aug. 17-21, 2020. To read more of our past coverage of the coronavirus pandemic, click here

Monday, Aug. 17, 2020

Stay-at home orders and reopening plans:

  • Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) issued an order to move Malheur County in eastern Oregon from Phase 2 to Phase 1. Malheur County was the third county Brown returned to a previous phase of reopening because of a rise in coronavirus cases.

School closures and reopenings:

  • Arizona school districts were allowed to reopen to in-person instruction if they met state Department of Health metrics released the week of Aug. 3. A district could reopen if its county experienced a two-week drop in the number of COVID-19 cases and a two-week period where the percent of positive cases was below 7%. Additionally, a district could not reopen if more than 10% of hospital visits were COVID-19 related.

Eviction and foreclosure policies:

  • Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly (D) issued an order prohibiting evictions and foreclosures for non-payment of rent due to COVID-19 related financial hardship. The order was set to last through Sept. 15.

Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020

Travel restrictions:

  • Hawaii Gov. David Ige (D) extended restrictions requiring travelers to self-quarantine for 14 days through Oct. 1. The restrictions had previously been scheduled to expire on Sept. 1.

Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2020

Stay-at-home orders and reopening plans:

  • West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (R) announced that bars in Monongalia County could reopen on Aug. 31. Justice closed bars in that county on July 13 because of rising coronavirus cases. Justice said bars that reopen could not allow live entertainment or dancing. 

Election changes:

  • Nebraska Secretary of State Bob Evnen (R) announced that his office would automatically send early/mail-in ballot applications to all registered voters in the Nov.  3 general election whose home counties had not already done so.

Federal government responses:

  • The Department of Labor and the Food and Drug Administration released a checklist designed for food manufacturers to decide when to safely resume operations.

Pandemic unemployment programs:

  • Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) announced that the Federal Emergency Management Agency approved the state’s application to participate in the Lost Wages Assistance program. The program provided states with up to $300 in additional unemployment benefits to recipients. 

School closures and reopenings:

  • The Pennsylvania Department of Education announced that the statewide mask requirement for everyone over the age of two applied to all public and private schools. Students were allowed to remove their face coverings when they were eating and drinking.

Thursday, Aug. 20, 2020 

Stay-at-home orders and reopening plans:

  • Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) announced that all assisted living facilities in the state would be required to participate in a coronavirus testing initiative.

Election changes:

  • New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) signed into law legislation extending absentee voting eligibility in the Nov. 2 general election to any voter who is “unable to appear personally at the polling place of the election district in which they are a qualified voter because there is a risk of contracting or spreading a disease causing illness to the voter or to other members of the public.”

School closures and reopenings:

  • Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) signed a package of three bills guiding how schools would reopen for the school year. The bills said that although school districts weren’t required to offer in-person education, school boards were required to review their district’s instructional plans each month. Schools that concluded it was safe to reopen to in-person instruction were required to prioritize that option for K-5 students. The legislation also weighted per-pupil funding based on 75% of last year’s enrollment and 25% of the current enrollment.

Eviction and foreclosure policies:

  • New York Gov. Cuomo extended the statewide moratorium on commercial evictions and foreclosures through Sept. 20.
  • Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont (D) extended the statewide moratorium on evictions through Oct. 1.
  • Hawaii Gov. Ige extended the eviction moratorium through Sept. 30.

State court changes:

  • The Vermont Supreme Court extended the judicial emergency through Jan. 1, 2021. The court declared the judicial emergency in March. The emergency prohibited jury trials and required most proceedings to happen remotely. 

Friday, Aug. 21, 2020

Stay-at-home orders and reopening plans:

  • The Michigan Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 that Gov. Whitmer was within her authority when she extended the state of emergency related to the coronavirus pandemic without the legislature’s approval. In their lawsuit, Republican lawmakers alleged Whitmer’s state of emergency order was unconstitutional.

Federal government responses:

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention removed a recommendation that travelers quarantine for 14 days after returning from overseas or areas with high rates of COVID-19 spread.
  • The Department of Defense announced agreements made under the 1950 Defense Production Act with four companies. The agreements totaled $17.4 million, and covered molecular diagnostic testing, satellite communications, laser electronics, and aircraft engine repair.

Eviction and foreclosure policies:

  • Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) extended the statewide moratorium on evictions through Sept. 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



Port Angeles, Forks city council candidates advance to the general election

Ten city council candidates running for five seats in the cities of Port Angeles and Forks, in Clallam County, Wa., advanced to the Nov. 2 general election. The primary was Aug. 3.

Clallam County, on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula, has the nation’s longest unbroken record of voting for the winning presidential candidate, going back to 1980. Since 1920, voters in the county backed the winning presidential candidate in every election except 1968 and 1976.

Washington uses a top-two primary system, in which all candidates are listed on the same ballot and the top two vote-getters advance to the general election. In total, 15 city council candidates appeared on the primary ballot. In Clallam County, nonpartisan elections skip the primary and appear only on the general election ballot when fewer than three candidates file for the election or the office is a cemetery or parks and recreation district.

Eleven city council seats are up for election in Port Angeles, Sequim, and Forks in 2021. Five city council seats appeared on primary ballots, while the other six will appear on general election ballots.

Vote totals below are current as of Aug. 12. The Clallam County Auditor’s office plans to conduct the next ballot count on Aug. 17.

In Port Angeles, the county seat, four of the seven city council positions are up for election in 2021, and all four appeared on the primary ballot.

Incumbent LaTrisha Suggs, who holds the Council Position No. 1 seat, and Adam Garcia advanced to the general election. Suggs won 47.02% of the vote, while Garcia won 41.07%. In the race for Council Position No. 2, incumbent Mike French and John Madden advanced to the general, with French winning 56.94% of the vote to Madden’s 35.67%. Council Position No. 3 Incumbent Lindsey Schromen-Wawrin advanced to the general after winning 41.48% of the vote, alongside Jena Stamper who won 37.25%. In the race for Council Position No. 4, Mayor Kate Dexter won 53.45% of the vote to John W. Procter’s 41.02%.

Port Angeles council members are elected to four-year terms. The council elects a mayor and deputy mayor from among the seven members.

In Forks, two of the five city council seats are up for election in 2021, and one of them appeared on the primary ballot.

Josef Echeita and Clinton W. Wood advanced to the general election in the City Council Position No. 2 race. Wood won 58.81% of the vote to Echeita’s 30.94%.

Forks city council members are elected for four-year terms. Voters also elect the mayor. The mayor’s office will appear on the general election ballot.  

In Sequim, five of the seven city council seats are up for election, but because only two candidates filed to run in each race, all five skipped the primary and will appear in the general election.



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.

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.



Voters decide municipal primary elections in Clallam County, WA

Clallam County, Washington, has the nation’s longest unbroken record of voting for the winning presidential candidate, going back to 1980. Since 1920, voters in the county backed the winning presidential candidate in every election except 1968 and 1976.

Top-two primaries took place on Aug. 3 in three cities in Clallam County—Port Angeles, Sequim, and Forks. In total, 26 offices are up for election in those cities this year.

Results of the races are pending. Elections in Washington are conducted primarily by mail, though ballots may also be deposited in drop boxes or returned in person. Ballots postmarked by Aug. 3 will be counted. The Clallam County Auditor’s office releases updated vote totals on a daily basis until all ballots are counted.

In Clallam County, nonpartisan elections skip the primary and appear only on the general election ballot when fewer than three candidates file for the election or the office is a cemetery or parks and recreation district. Below are the preliminary results from races where primaries took place in Port Angeles, Sequim, and Forks as of Aug. 4. The top two vote-getters in each race will advance to the general election on Nov. 2, when the other 20 offices will also be on the ballot.

Port Angeles

Port Angeles School District Director Position No. 2

Jesse Charles – 25.45%

Mary Hebert – 36.08%

Jean M. Stratton – 6.06%

Port Angeles City Council Position No. 1

LaTrisha Suggs (incumbent) – 47.05%

John DeBoer – 11.43%

Adam Garcia – 41.44%

Port Angeles City Council Position No. 2

Mike French (incumbent) – 57.02%

John Madden – 35.42%

Samantha Rodahl – 7.54%

Port Angeles City Council Position No. 3

Lindsey Schromen-Wawrin (incumbent) – 41.65%

Jason Thompson – 21.06%

Jena Stamper – 37.26%

Port Angeles City Council Position No. 4

Kate Dexter (incumbent) – 53.9%

Jon Bruce – 5.4%

John W. Procter – 40.65%

Sequim

Sequim School District Director at Large, Position No. 4 (multi-county race)

Derek Huntington – 16.02%

Kristi Schmeck – 29.07%

Virginia R. Sheppard – 28.17%

Rachel Tax – 26.56%

Forks

Forks City Council Position No. 2

Josef Echeita – 31.22%

Barbara Neihouse – 9.26%

Clinton W. Wood – 58.2%

Clallam County is located in the northwestern corner of Washington. The estimated population in 2020 was 76,770. The county sits at the westernmost point in the contiguous United States, on the Olympic Peninsula.



A look back at government responses to the coronavirus pandemic, August 3-7, 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 3-7, 2020. To read more of our past coverage of the coronavirus pandemic, click here

Monday, August 3, 2020

  • Stay-at-home orders and reopening plans:
    • Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) allowed high school football and volleyball practices to resume.
    • Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) said that private and religious schools could choose when to reopen. Hogan also issued an emergency order preventing county officials from requiring such schools to remain closed after Montgomery County Health Officer Travis Gayles prohibited private schools in the area from resuming in-person classes. 
  • Election changes:
    • Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak (D) signed AB4 into law, directing election officials to distribute mail-in ballots automatically to all active registered voters in the Nov. 3 general election.
    • Minnesota Second Judicial District Judge Sara Grewing approved a consent decree between the plaintiffs and the state defendants in LaRose v. Simon, a lawsuit that challenged state election law. Under the terms of the consent decree, state election officials agreed to waive the witness requirement for mail-in ballots cast in the Nov. 3 general election. The state also agreed to count all mail-in ballots postmarked on or before Nov. 3 and received by official county canvassing dates.
  • Federal government responses:
    • President Donald Trump (R) signed an executive order that made permanent certain regulatory changes expanding telehealth services, especially in rural areas
  • Mask requirements:
    • Maryland Gov. Hogan expanded the statewide mask mandate to require everyone older than five to wear masks in all indoor public spaces, including churches, gyms, and stores. The mandate originally required masks only in retail, food service businesses, and public transit.
    • Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) modified the mask mandate for schools to allow students to remove masks in a classroom if they could maintain three to six feet of distance from other people.
  • School closures and reopenings:
    • The Alabama Department of Public Health released an 85-page school reopening toolkit that contained recommendations and guidelines for school districts to use in their reopening plans.
  • State court changes:
    • In Colorado, jury trials were allowed to resume on a limited basis so long as a Chief Judge of a judicial district determined the jury pool could be safely assembled consistent with health directives and executive orders.

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

  • Stay-at-home orders and reopening plans:
    • Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) issued an order requiring the Michigan State Police and state departments to prioritize enforcement of her COVID-19 orders. She also ordered licensing agencies to consider license suspensions for individuals who violated her orders.
  • Travel restrictions:
    • Govs. Ned Lamont (D-Conn.), Phil Murphy (D-N.J.), and Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.) announced that Rhode Island had been added to the tristate quarantine list, requiring visitors from that state to quarantine for 14 days upon entering New Jersey, Connecticut, or New York. The governors removed Delaware and Washington D.C. from the list.
  • Federal government responses:
    • The Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Defense announced a $2.1 billion deal with French pharmaceutical company Sanofi and British pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline to develop and manufacture up to 100 million doses of a coronavirus vaccine for U.S. use.
    • President Trump announced the federal government would continue to fund the cost of National Guard units deployed to states through the end of the year, though at a lower level than before. Beginning Aug. 21, Trump said the federal government would reduce its level of funding for National Guard units assisting states with their coronavirus responses from 100% to 75% for most states.
  • School closures and reopenings:
    • Delaware Gov. John Carney (D) announced public schools could reopen with a combination of in-person and remote learning in September. 
    • Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves (R) mandated that all students and teachers wear masks on school property. He delayed school reopenings in eight counties to Aug. 17. Previously, the counties had been allowed to set their own start dates for the academic year.
    • Ohio Gov. Mike Dewine (R) announced that all K-12 students would be required to wear face coverings in public schools.

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

  • Stay-at-home orders and reopening plans:
    • North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D) announced on Aug. 5 that the state would stay in Phase 2 of reopening for five more weeks.
  • Election changes:
    • The parties in League of Women Voters of Virginia v. Virginia State Board of Elections reached a settlement providing for the suspension of the absentee ballots witness requirement in the Nov. 3 general election.
  • Mask requirements:
    • Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves (R) issued an order requiring individuals to wear masks in indoor public spaces and outdoors when social distancing was not possible.
    • South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster (R) issued an order requiring people to wear masks in restaurants, in state government buildings, and at large gathering venues and events like movie theaters, festivals, auditoriums, and concerts.
  • School closures and reopenings:
    • Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) announced a new metric for determining if schools could reopen to in-person instruction. She said schools in any city or town with more than 100 positive cases per 100,000 residents would be prohibited from fully reopening to in-person instruction.

Thursday, August 6, 2020 

  • Stay-at-home orders and reopening plans:
    • Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) announced a phased reopening plan for long-term care facilities. The plan said facilities could submit an application to the state to begin the reopening process on Aug. 12. The plan called for easing restrictions on visitations as facilities move through the phases of reopening. 
  • Election changes:
    • California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signed SB 423 into law, authorizing counties to consolidate polling places in the Nov. 3 general election, among other modifications to administrative procedures.
    • Montana Gov. Steve Bullock (D) issued a directive permitting counties to conduct the Nov. 3 general election entirely by mail. Bullock also authorized counties to expand early voting opportunities for the general election.
  • Travel restrictions:
    • Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) rescinded the executive order requiring travelers from Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York to self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.
    • New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) issued an executive order Aug. 6 updating the state’s quarantine requirement for out-of-state travelers and returning residents. The new order exempted New Mexico residents who left the state to seek medical care or who left the state for less than 24 hours as part of their parenting responsibilities.
  • Mask requirements:
    • Michigan Gov. Whitmer issued an executive order requiring children over the age of two and all employees to wear face masks at Michigan camps and childcare centers.

Friday, August 7, 2020

  • Election changes:
    • Arkansas Gov. Hutchinson issued an executive order extending absentee ballot eligibility to all voters in the Nov. 3 general election “who conclude their attendance at the polls may be a risk to their health or the health of others due to the COVID-19 pandemic.” The order formalized a policy Hutchinson and Secretary of State John Thurston (R) announced on July 2.
  • Eviction and foreclosure policies
    • In a 5-3 ruling, the Virginia Supreme Court granted Gov. Ralph Northam’s (D) request to extend an eviction moratorium. The moratorium was set to last through September 7.
  • School closures and reopenings:
    • California Gov. Newsom released reopening guidance for colleges and universities. The guidance called for requiring students and staff to wear masks in all indoor public spaces. In counties on the state’s monitoring list, the guidance said only courses like labs and studio arts would be allowed to take place in-person.

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, July 27-31, 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. In subsequent months, 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 27-31, 2020. To read more of our past coverage of the coronavirus pandemic, click here

Monday, July 27, 2020

  • Travel restrictions:
    • As part of Phase Two of D.C.’s reopening plan, Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) ordered non-essential travelers from high-risk states to self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in the city. Bowser defined “high-risk states” as areas where the seven-day moving average of daily new COVID-19 case rate was 10 or more per 100,000 persons.
  • Election changes:
    • West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner (R) announced that all voters “concerned about their health and safety because of COVID-19” would be eligible to vote absentee in the Nov. 3 general election.
    • Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R) issued a proclamation extending the early voting period for the Nov. 3 general election by six days. Originally scheduled to begin on Oct. 19, the proclamation moved early voting to Oct. 13.
  • Mask requirements:
    • Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb’s (R) face-covering order went into effect. The order required anyone eight or older to wear a face mask in indoor public spaces, commercial businesses, transportation services, and in outdoor public spaces when social distancing is not possible. He issued the order on July 24.
  • School closures and reopenings:
    • The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education signed an agreement with the state’s teachers unions to reduce the length of the 2020-2021 school year from 180 days to 170 days.
  • State court changes:
    • The Idaho Supreme Court delayed the resumption of criminal jury trials until Sept. 14 and civil jury trials until Dec. 1.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

  • Stay-at-home orders and reopening plans:
    • Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D) closed bars and limited restaurant capacity to 25% for two weeks. Beshear also asked schools to avoid reopening for in-person instruction until the third week of August. 
  • Travel restrictions:
    • Govs. Ned Lamont (D-Conn.), Phil Murphy (D-N.J.), and Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.) announced that Illinois, Kentucky Minnesota, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico had been added to the joint travel advisory, bringing the number of states on the list to 37.
  • Election changes:
    • U.S. District Court for the District of New Hampshire Judge Joseph Laplante ordered that nomination petition signature requirements for the Libertarian Party’s candidates in New Hampshire’s general election be reduced by 35 percent. In his ruling, Laplante said he reduced the signature requirements because the risk of contracting COVID-19 and Gov. Chris Sununu’s (R) stay-at-home order imposed a burden on the Libertarian Party’s right to access the ballot.
  • School closures and reopenings:
    • Vermont Gov. Phil Scott (R) announced that schools would not reopen until Sept. 8, when school districts could decide whether to return students to physical classrooms or offer distance learning. 
    • Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) ordered all K-12 students and staff to wear a mask in school at all times. The directive also imposed social distancing guidelines of three feet for preschools through middle schools, and six feet for high schools.
    • Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) announced metrics that would guide school reopening decisions. Brown said counties must have 10 or fewer coronavirus cases per 100,000 people and a 7-day positivity rate of 5% or less for three consecutive weeks before in-person and hybrid instruction could resume. Brown also said the state must have a positivity rate of 5% or less for three consecutive weeks before any in-person or hybrid instruction could resume.
    • Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee (R) released guidelines for reopening schools. The recommendations covered testing and contact tracing, immunizations, and resources necessary for returning students to classrooms or teaching remotely.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

  • Stay-at-home orders and reopening plans:
    • Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) extended Phase 3 of the state’s reopening plan through August 28. Raimondo also reduced gathering limits from 25 people to 15.
    • Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon (R) announced that he was extending three public health orders passed on June 15 that deal with limits on indoor and outdoor gatherings and school reopenings. The order continued to limit indoor gatherings to 50 people and outdoor gatherings to 250 people. The school reopening order included a modification requiring teachers and students to wear masks indoors and outdoors at school when social distancing wasn’t feasible.
  • Travel restrictions:
    • Gov. Larry Hogan (R) issued a travel advisory asking Maryland residents to refrain from traveling to Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Nebraska, South Carolina, and Texas, where the percentage of positive test results was over 10%. Hogan urged people who had traveled to those states to get a coronavirus test.
  • School closures and reopenings:
    • Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R) modified her Safer At Home Order to require students in second grade or higher to wear masks at school.

Friday, July 31, 2020 

  • Stay-at-home orders and reopening plans:
    • Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) issued an executive order placing restrictions on several counties in northern Michigan. The restrictions included capping indoor gatherings at 10 people and closing bars that derived more than 70% of their revenue from the sale of alcohol.
  • Election changes:
    • U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island Judge Mary McElroy approved a consent agreement reached by the parties in Common Cause Rhode Island v. Gorbea. Rhode Island officials agreed not to enforce witness or notary requirements for mail-in ballots in both the September 8 primary and November general elections.
    • Pennsylvania Secretary of the Commonwealth Kathy Boockvar (D) announced that the state would provide prepaid return postage for all mail-in and absentee ballots in the Nov. 3 general election.
    • Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont (D) signed HB6002 into law, allowing voters to cite concern over COVID-19 as a reason for voting by absentee ballot in the November 3 general election.
  • School closures and reopenings:
    • The Maine Department of Education released guidance for reopening schools for the 2020-2021 school year. The guidance required all staff and students age five and older to wear masks.
    • South Carolina Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman announced masks would be required in all public school facilities for staff and students in grades 2-12.

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