TagCoronavirus coverage

Tag for Ballotpedia stories covering coronavirus. Used for RSS feed email alerts.

New York City Council Member Barry Grodenchik tests positive for coronavirus

On April 2, 2020, New York City Council Member Barry Grodenchik announced he tested positive for coronavirus. Grodenchik’s is the fourth New York City council member to be diagnosed. Two other members, Mark Levine and Costa Constantinides, are experiencing symptoms but have declined testing to preserve supplies for others.

Ballotpedia tracks politicians and government officials who have been diagnosed or tested for coronavirus, or become quarantined.

As of April 3, we have tracked:
• Six federal politicians diagnosed with coronavirus and 40 federal politicians self-quarantined
• Twenty-nine state politicians diagnosed with coronavirus and 71 state politicians self-quarantined

Yesterday, we reported three politicians tested positive for the virus and one politician announced a self-quarantine.

To see a history of these announcements, click here.



Arizona ballot initiative campaigns ask state Supreme Court to allow electronic signatures due to coronavirus pandemic

On April 2, 2020, four ballot initiative campaigns filed a petition asking the Arizona Supreme Court to allow the campaigns to gather signatures through E-Qual, which is the state’s online signature collection platform, during the coronavirus pandemic. E-Qual is available for federal, statewide, and legislative candidates but not ballot initiatives.

The legal petition stated, “The Novel Coronavirus 2019 (“COVID-19”) pandemic changed, quite literally, everything. … Although this new reality is essential for public health, it is catastrophic to the Initiative Proponents’ exercise of their fundamental constitutional right. … In short, signature gathering will halt, and the Initiative Proponents’ hard work and investment is in jeopardy. … This Petition presents an important legal question of first impression: whether the fundamental constitutional rights of the Initiative Proponents are violated by their exclusion from an online petition signature gathering system maintained by the Secretary in the middle of a public health emergency that severely limits (or outright bars) their ability to otherwise collect initiative petition signatures.”

The four ballot initiative campaigns that filed the petition are:

  1. Arizonans for Second Chances, Rehabilitation, and Public Safety, which is behind the Criminal Justice Procedures for Offenses Defined as Non-Dangerous Initiative.
  2. Smart and Safe Arizona, which is behind the Marijuana Legalization Initiative.
  3. Invest in Education, which is behind the Tax on Incomes Exceeding $250,000 for Teacher Salaries and Schools Initiative.
  4. Save Our Schools Arizona, which is behind the Limits on Private Education Vouchers Initiative.

The Arizona Republic reported that the office of Secretary of State Katie Hobbs (D), who was named as the defendant, was reviewing the petition and could not comment as of April 2.

At least 15 statewide ballot initiative campaigns in eight states had suspended their signature drives by April 2 due to the coronavirus pandemic. No states currently allow ballot initiative campaigns to collect signatures electronically.

Additional reading:


Coroanvirus daily update: April 2, 2020

As part of Ballotpedia’s coverage on the coronavirus pandemic, we are compiling a daily summary of major changes in the world of politics, government, and elections happening each day. Here is the summary of changes for April 2, 2020.
Federal responses
  1. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-N.Y.) announced she was creating a special House committee to oversee implementation of the $2 trillion coronavirus relief package. She tapped Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) to chair the committee. At the time of the announcement, no other committee members were announced.
Election changes
Overview to date:
  1. Seventeen states and one territory postponed state-level elections. Another five states postponed or authorized postponements of municipal election dates on a statewide basis.
  2. Eight states modified candidate filing requirements.
  3. Eighteen states implemented changes to their absentee voting procedures.
  4. Political parties in 10 states made changes to party events on a statewide basis.
Details:
  1. Puerto Rico – Puerto Rico’s Democratic Party announced a further postponement of its primary election to an unspecified future date. The primary had originally been scheduled for March 29 before being postponed to April 26.
  2. West Virginia – On April 1, Gov. Jim Justice (R) issued an executive order postponing West Virginia’s statewide primary, including its presidential preference primary, to June 9. The primary was originally scheduled to take place on May 12. Details on adjustments to related dates are pending.
  3. Wisconsin – Judge William Conley, of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin, issued an order extending absentee voting deadlines in Wisconsin’s April 7 election. Under Conley’s order, the absentee ballot request deadline was extended to 5:00 p.m. April 3. The ballot return deadline was extended to 4:00 p.m. April 13. The primary date itself was unchanged.
Ballot measure changes
Overview to date:
  1. Ballotpedia tracked 15 statewide initiative petition drives that suspended signature gathering.
  2. Three states changed ballot measure procedures.
Details:
  1. Idaho – The Idaho Cannabis Coalition, which is the sponsor of a medical marijuana ballot initiative, announced that the campaign was suspending in-person signature gathering.
State legislative responses
Overview to date:
  1. To date, 309 bills related to the coronavirus pandemic have been introduced in state legislatures.
  2. Fifty-one significant bills have been enacted into law, about 17 percent of the total number that have been introduced. This total omits ceremonial resolutions and legislation providing for procedural changes to legislative business.
State legislative session changes
Overview to date:
  1. Twenty-five state legislatures suspended their sessions. Three of those (Louisiana, New York, and Vermont) have since reconvened.
  2. Nineteen legislatures either adjourned or are not scheduled to be in regular session this year.
  3. Five state legislatures are in regular session.
  4. One state (Minnesota) partially suspended legislative activity.
Details:
  1. Colorado – According to an article in the The Denver Post on April 1, 2020, “House Majority Leader Alec Garnett said lawmakers will presume they are adjourned day to day based on legal advice and for everyone’s safety as the Senate had called for earlier this week.” The suspension of legislative activity was originally set to expire March 30; it was then extended to April 2.
State court changes
Overview to date:
  1. Thirty-four states suspended in-person proceedings statewide.
  2. Sixteen states suspended in-person proceedings on the local level.
Details:
  1. Connecticut– The Judicial Branch announced the closure of three courthouses, Stamford, Middletown, and Milford, until further notice. Stamford and Milford’s business was transferred to the courthouse in Bridgeport. Middletown’s business was transferred to the New Britain courthouse.
  2. Pennsylvania– The Pennsylvania Supreme Court extended its original order closing all Pennsylvania courts to the public through April 30.
  3. Missouri- The Missouri Supreme Court extended their previous order suspending in-person proceedings through May 1.
  4. Wyoming – The Wyoming Supreme Court extended their previous orders suspending in-person and jury trials through May 31.
Prison inmate responses
Overview to date:
  1. 11 states ordered the release of inmates at the state level.
  2. 21 states ordered the release of inmates on the local level.
  3. 17 states have not released inmates due to coronavirus.
  4. One state prohibited the release of certain inmate populations.
Details:
  1. New York– On March 27, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) ordered the release of 1,100 people who violated parole from jails and prisons across the state.
State stay-at-home orders
Overview to date:
  1. So far, 39 states issued statewide stay-at-home orders. Seven of those orders are set to last until modified or rescinded by the governor, while the other 32 announced end dates.
Details:
  1. Mississippi – Gov. Tate Reeves (R) issued a shelter-in-place order effective April 3 through April 20.
  2. Oklahoma – Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) issued a stay-at-home order effective April 1 through April 30.
School closures
Overview to date:
  1. Forty-nine states ordered a statewide school closure. The remaining states are leaving school closures up to local officials. Those 49 states served 50.1 million students during the 2016-2017 school year, accounting for 99% of the 50.6 million public school students in the United States.
  2. Ten states closed schools for the remainder of the academic year: Alabama, Arizona, California, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Vermont, and Virginia.
Details:
  1. California – Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) announced that schools would remain physically closed for the rest of the academic year. Schools had been closed statewide since March 20 as a result of Newsom’s shelter-in-place order.
  2. Colorado – Gov. Jared Polis (D) announced that the statewide school closure, scheduled to end April 17, was extended through April 30.
  3. Georgia – Gov. Brian Kemp (R) announced that 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.
  4. Indiana – Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) announced that schools in the state would remain closed through the end of the academic year. Prior to this order, schools were scheduled to be closed through May 1.
  5. Kentucky – Gov. Andy Beshear (D) announced that the statewide school closure, originally scheduled to end on April 20, would extend until May 1.
  6. Nebraska – Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) directed schools to operate without students through May 31.
  7. West Virginia – Gov. Jim Justice (R) announced that the statewide school closure, scheduled to end April 17, was extended through April 30.
Diagnosed or quarantined politicians identified by Ballotpedia in the last 24 hours
State politicians who tested positive for coronavirus
  1. State Rep. Vivian Flowers (D-AR)
Local politicians who tested positive for coronavirus
  1. New York City council member Paul Vallone (D)
  2. Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones (D)
Local politicians who self-quarantined for coronavirus
New York City council member Mark Levine (D)


Connecticut closes three courthouses due to coronavirus

On April 1, 2020, Connecticut’s Judicial Branch announced the closure of three courthouses in response to the pandemic. Closure of courts in Stamford were prompted by concern about an employee who may be ill with COVID-19. In addition to Stamford, the Judicial Branch announced that the courts in Milford and Middletown would also close until further notice. Court business from Stamford and Milford will transfer to the court in Bridgeport, and Middletown’s business will transfer to the court in New Britain.

Ballotpedia is tracking how state courts are responding to the coronavirus pandemic.

Other recent updates include:

  • The Pennsylvania Supreme Court extended its original order closing all Pennsylvania courts to the public through April 30.
  • The Missouri Supreme Court extended its previous order suspending in-person proceedings through May 1.
  • The Wyoming Supreme Court extended its previous orders suspending in-person and jury trials through May 31

State court closures in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020



California governor closes schools for the remainder of the year

On April 1, California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) announced that schools would remain physically closed for the remainder of the academic year. Prior to the announcement, schools were closed statewide as a result of Newsom’s shelter-in-place order beginning March 20. Local school officials were responsible for determining school closures before the March 20 order.

Nine states have closed schools for the remainder of the academic year: Alabama, Arizona, California, Georgia, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Vermont, and Virginia.

Iowa is the only state that has not issued a statewide school closure order in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Iowa school closures are left up to local officials rather than ordered by the state.

Additional Reading:
School closures in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020



West Virginia postpones statewide primary to June 9, 2020

On April 1, 2020, Governor Jim Justice (R) issued an executive order postponing West Virginia’s statewide primary, including its presidential preference primary, to June 9, 2020. The primary was originally scheduled to take place on May 12, 2020.

According to the press release announcing the postponement, “Secretary of State [Mac] Warner said his office continues to work in conjunction with county clerks across the state and that details for the new election day are being finalized.”

Seventeen states and one territory have postponed state-level elections. In another five states, officials at the state level have either directly postponed or authorized the postponement of municipal elections.


Coronavirus daily update: April 1, 2020

As part of Ballotpedia’s coverage on the coronavirus pandemic, we are compiling a daily summary of major changes in the world of politics, government, and elections happening each day. Here is the summary of changes for April 1, 2020.
Federal responses
  1. No updates today.
Election changes
Overview to date:
  1. Sixteen states and one territory altered state-level primary or general election dates. Six states postponed municipal election dates on a statewide basis.
  2. Seven states adjusted their candidate filing procedures.
  3. Eighteen states implemented changes to their voting procedures. In 17 of those states, the changes involve absentee voting.
  4. Political parties in 10 states made changes to party events on a statewide basis.
Details:
  1. Idaho – On March 30, Gov. Brad Little (R) and Secretary of State Lawerence Denney (R) announced that Idaho’s May 19 primary election would be conducted entirely by mail.
  2. Vermont – On March 30, Gov. 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: suspending candidate petition signature gathering requirements for both the August primary and the November general elections; authorizing local legislative bodies to transition upcoming local elections from floor meetings to Australian ballot (i.e., secret ballot) elections; and authorizing the secretary of state, with the consent of the governor, to enact temporary changes to election procedures (e.g., expanding voting by mail).
  3. Wisconsin – On March 31, in a brief filed in response to a federal lawsuit seeking postponement of the April 7 election, Assistant Attorney General Hannah Jurss indicated that Gov. Tony Evers (D) would deploy members of the National Guard as poll workers.
Ballot measure changes
Overview to date:
  1. Ballotpedia tracked 13 statewide initiative petition drives that suspended signature gathering.
  2. Three states changed ballot measure procedures.
Details:
  1. No updates today.
State legislative responses
Overview to date:
  1. To date, 279 bills related to the coronavirus pandemic have been introduced in state legislatures.
  2. Fifty significant bills have been enacted into law, about 18 percent of the total number that have been introduced. This total omits ceremonial resolutions and legislation providing for procedural changes to legislative business.
State legislative session changes
Overview to date:
  1. Twenty-five state legislatures suspended their sessions. Three of those (Louisiana, New York, and Vermont) have since reconvened.
  2. Nineteen legislatures either adjourned or are not scheduled to be in regular session this year.
  3. Five state legislatures are in regular session.
  4. One state (Minnesota) partially suspended legislative activity.
Details:
  1. Alabama – The Alabama legislature suspended all legislative activity through April 28.
  2. Arkansas – The Arkansas legislature, after adjourning a special session on March 28, suspended its session through April 8.
  3. Louisiana – The suspension implemented by the Louisiana legislature concluded on March 31.
State court changes
Overview to date:
  1. Thirty-four states suspended in-person proceedings statewide.
  2. Sixteen states suspended in-person proceedings on the local level.
Details:
  1. No updates today. 
Prison inmate responses
Overview to date:
  1. Ten states ordered the release of inmates at the state level.
  2. Twenty-two states ordered the release of inmates on the local level.
  3. Seventeen states have not released inmates due to coronavirus.
  4. One state prohibited the release of certain inmate populations.
Details:
  1. California – According to court filings from California state lawyers, the state plans to release 3,500 inmates early within a few weeks. The inmates considered for early release are serving terms for nonviolent crimes and were due to be released within 60 days.
  2. Missouri – On March 30, Missouri Supreme Court Chief Justice George Draper issued a letter to trial court judges clarifying statutes for pre-trial, post-conviction release, and the court’s authority to release an offender sentenced to a term in county jail or on parole.
  3. New York – New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on March 31 that 900 inmates have been released to slow the spread of coronavirus in the city’s jails.
  4. Texas – Gov. Greg Abbott (R) signed an executive order on March 29 prohibiting the release of inmates accused or previously convicted of violent crimes without paying bail.
State stay-at-home orders
Overview to date:
  1. So far, 37 states issued statewide stay-at-home orders. Seven of those orders are set to last until modified or rescinded by the governor, while the other 30 announced end dates.
Details:
  1. Florida – Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) issued a stay-at-home order effective from April 2 to April 30. This does not impact schools in the state, which are closed until May 1. DeSantis previously announced a similar order for four counties in southeast Florida.
  2. Illinois – Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) announced that the statewide stay-at-home order, initially scheduled to end April 7, was extended through April 30.
  3. Maine – Gov. Janet Mills (D) issued a stay-at-home order, effective April 2 through April 30. The order extended the statewide school closure, which was scheduled to end on April 27.
  4. Nevada – Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) issued a stay-at-home order, effective immediately and lasting until April 30. The order extended the statewide school closure, which was scheduled to end on April 16.
  5. Pennsylvania – Gov. Tom Wolf (D) issued a stay-at-home order statewide. Previously, he issued orders on a county-by-county basis. The order is effective from April 1 through April 30. The order does not affect schools, which were already closed indefinitely.
  6. Texas – Gov. Greg Abbott (R) issued a stay-at-home order, effective April 2 through April 30. As part of the order, Abbott extended the statewide school closure through May 4.
School closures
Overview to date:
  1. Forty-eight states ordered a statewide school closure. The remaining states are leaving school closures up to local officials. Those 47 states served 49.8 million students during the 2016-2017 school year, accounting for 98% of the 50.6 million public school students in the United States.
  2. Seven states closed schools for the remainder of the academic year: Alabama, Arizona, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Vermont, and Virginia.
Details:
  1. Maine – Gov. Janet Mills (D) issued a stay-at-home order effective from April 2 to April 30. Although schools in Maine had handled closures at a local level, this order extended closures statewide through April 30.
  2. Nevada – Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) issued a stay-at-home order effective from April 1 to April 30. This extended the statewide school closure, scheduled to end on April 16, through April 30.
  3. Texas – Gov. Greg Abbott (R) announced that the statewide school closure, scheduled to end April 3, was extended through May 4.
Diagnosed or quarantined politicians identified by Ballotpedia in the last 24 hours
Federal politicians who tested negative for coronavirus
  1. Rep. Ronald Wright (R-TX)
State politicians who tested positive for coronavirus
  1. State Rep. Reggie Bagala (R-LA)
  2. State Rep. Reginald Murdock (D-AR)
State politicians who tested negative for coronavirus
  1. Gov. Kate Brown (D-OR)


Florida governor issues stay-at-home order

On April 1, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) issued an executive order closing nonessential businesses and requiring individuals to remain in their homes except for essential activities. DeSantis’ order is effective from April 2 through April 30. It does not impact schools in the state, which were already closed through May 1.

Thirty-five states have issued stay-at-home or shelter-in-place orders to residents. Seven of those orders are set to last until modified or rescinded by the governor, while the other 28 announced end dates. Of those 35 states, 21 have Democratic governors and 14 have Republican governors.

Although the names of the orders—shelter-in-place, stay-at-home, stay home, stay safe—vary from state to state, they include at least two common elements: the closure of nonessential businesses and requesting all residents to stay home except for essential trips.

Additional Reading:
States with shelter in place and stay at home orders in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020



Idaho to conduct May 19, 2020, primary election by mail

On March 30, 2020, Governor Brad Little (R) and Secretary of State Lawerence Denney (R) announced that Idaho’s May 19, 2020, primary election would be conducted entirely by mail.

According to the press release announcing the change, “The Governor and Secretary of State will work with the Attorney General and the clerks of Idaho’s 44 counties to refine the absentee voting process for these unique circumstances, including setting appropriate deadlines for registering to vote, requesting a ballot be sent to your home, and returning the ballot. Governor Little will issue a proclamation addressing the election in the coming days.”

Seventeen states have implemented changes to their absentee voting procedures in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

Additional Reading:
Changes to election dates, procedures, and administration in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020



California considering inmates for early release to slow coronavirus

On March 31, 2020, California announced that inmates will be granted early release to reduce the prison population in an effort to slow the spread of coronavirus within California’s prison system. The inmates being considered for release are currently serving terms for nonviolent crimes and were due to be released within 60 days, and releases will occur over the next few weeks.

Ballotpedia is tracking how state and local governments are responding to the coronavirus pandemic within the prison system.

Other recent updates include:
  • Texas – Gov. Greg Abbott signed an executive order on March 29 prohibiting the release of inmates accused or previously convicted of violent crimes without paying bail.
  • Colorado – Gov. Jared Polis signed an executive order on March 26 granting the director of the Department of Corrections “authority to release people within 180 days of their parole eligibility date, and suspended limits on awarding earned time, to allow for earlier release dates.”


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