TagCoronavirus

Ballotpedia stories covering coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in 2020.

Documenting America’s Path to Recovery: October 19, 2020

Welcome to Documenting America’s Path to Recovery, where we track the status of reopening in all 50 states. Today we look at agricultural relief in Minnesota and Maryland, gathering limits in Wisconsin, mask mandates, and more. Want to know what happened Friday? Click here.

Since our last edition

What is open in each state? For a continually updated article on reopening status in all 50 states, click here.

  • Hawaii (Democratic trifecta): Gov. David Ige (D) released a list of eight organizations that will be able to administer the coronavirus tests required for interisland travelers to avoid the 14-day mandatory self-quarantine.
  • Iowa (Republican trifecta): On Friday, Oct. 16, Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) signed an order extending the statewide emergency through Nov. 15. The emergency order includes the state’s COVID-19 restrictions, including a new provision requiring bars and restaurants to keep customers seated and to maintain 6 feet of distance between groups.
  • Maryland (divided government): On Monday, Oct. 19, Gov. Larry Hogan (R) announced the creation of the Maryland Farmer COVID-19 Relief Program, which will offer $10 million in relief to Maryland farmers.
  • Massachusetts (divided government): The statewide moratorium on evictions expired Saturday, Oct. 17, after Gov. Charlie Baker (R) said he would not extend it.
  • Michigan (divided government): On Friday, Oct. 16, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) signed Senate Bill 1108, which makes permanent an executive order that allows public bodies to conduct public meetings remotely during the pandemic.
  • Minnesota (divided government): On Monday, Oct. 19, Gov. Tim Walz (D) announced $7.7 million in federal CARES Act support to farmers, agricultural producers, and meat processors.
  • New York (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced movie theaters can reopen at 25% capacity everywhere except New York City if a county’s positivity rate is below 2% on a 14-day rolling average, starting Oct. 23. Cuomo also said ski resorts can reopen starting Nov. 6.
  • Wisconsin (divided government): On Monday, Oct. 19, Judge James Babler allowed Gov. Tony Evers’ Oct. 6 order limiting public gatherings in bars and restaurants to go into effect, overturning a court ruling last week that blocked enforcement of the order while the case was being litigated. The Tavern League of Wisconsin, which filed the lawsuit along with two bars, said it would not appeal the decision.

Daily feature: Face coverings

We last looked at face coverings in the Oct. 12 edition of the newsletter. Since then, no states have adopted a new statewide public mask mandate or let a face-covering requirement expire.

Additional activity

In this section, we feature examples of other federal, state, and local government activity, private industry responses, and lawsuits related to the pandemic.

  • On Oct. 16, three Oregon state lawmakers and a local businessman filed suit in Multnomah County Circuit Court against Gov. Kate Brown (D), alleging the governor’s stay-at-home orders and business closures exceeded her authority. The plaintiffs – state Reps. Werner Reschke (R) and Mike Nearman (R), state Sen. Dennis Linthicum (R), and Washington County businessman Neil Ruggles – argue that Brown “has arrogated unto herself legislative powers of sweeping scope to reorder social life and destroy the livelihoods of residents across the state, which powers are reserved exclusively for the Legislative Assembly by the Oregon Constitution.” The plaintiffs are seeking an injunction blocking Brown’s state-of-emergency declaration and any rules emanating from it, as well as a judgment settling their state constitutional claims. Charles Boyle, a representative for Brown, said, “The governor is focused on implementing measures to keep Oregonians healthy and safe, based on the advice of doctors and health experts and what the data shows will limit the spread of Covid-19.”


Documenting America’s Path to Recovery: October 16, 2020

Welcome to Documenting America’s Path to Recovery, where we track the status of reopening in all 50 states. Today we look at new restrictions in Nebraska and New Mexico, the extension of the state of emergency in Vermont, travel restrictions, and more. Want to know what happened yesterday? Click here.

The next 72 hours

What is changing in the next 72 hours?

  • Massachusetts (divided government): The statewide moratorium on evictions is scheduled to expire Saturday, Oct. 17. Gov. Charlie Baker (R) said he would not extend it.

Since our last edition

What is open in each state? For a continually updated article on reopening status in all 50 states, click here.

  • Georgia (Republican trifecta): On Thursday, Oct. 15, Gov. Brian Kemp (R) extended the executive order outlining the state’s coronavirus restrictions through Oct. 31. The order includes requirements for businesses, including bars and restaurants, and a cap on gatherings larger than 50 people where social distancing can’t be followed.
  • Illinois (Democratic trifecta): The Illinois Department of Public Health added eight more counties to the state’s warning level classification, bringing the total number of warning-level counties to 34. The state uses the classification system to identify counties that may need additional mitigation measures.
  • Nebraska (Republican trifecta): On Friday, Oct. 16, Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) said new restrictions would take effect statewide on Oct. 21 in response to increasing coronavirus-related hospitalizations. Restrictions include a reduction in the indoor gatherings limit from 75% capacity to 50%, and a requirement that restaurants and bar patrons remain seated unless ordering, going to the bathroom, or playing a game.
  • New Mexico (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) added additional restrictions to the state’s public health order, effective Oct. 16. Bars and restaurants that serve alcohol have to close by 10 p.m. every evening, and gatherings are limited to a maximum of five individuals.Travelers from states with COVID-19 positivity rates exceeding 5% can no longer present a recent negative coronavirus test to avoid New Mexico’s 14-day self-quarantine requirement. Health Secretary Kathyleen Kunkel extended the state’s stay-at-home order through Nov. 13.
  • North Dakota (Republican trifecta): On Wednesday, Oct. 14, Gov. Doug Burgum (R) announced he would move 16 counties into the “high risk” category on Oct. 16 at 5:00 p.m. due to a spike in coronavirus cases. Bars, restaurants, and large venues in “high risk” areas are advised to cap capacity at 25% or 50 people in total.
  • Oregon (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Kate Brown (D) announced Lane County was added to the state’s County Watch List.
  • Vermont (divided government): On Thursday, Oct. 15, Gov. Phil Scott (R) extended the state of emergency through Nov. 15.

Daily feature: Travel restrictions

Every Friday, we take a closer look at the restrictions governors and state agencies have placed on interstate travelers, including a recap of the week’s travel-related news. To see our full coverage of travel restrictions enacted in response to the coronavirus pandemic, click here.

Overview

To date, 25 states issued at least one executive order restricting interstate travel. Of the 25 executive orders governors or state agencies issued restricting out-of-state visitors, at least 14 have been rescinded. Eleven states have active travel restrictions.

Weekly recap

  • On Oct. 15, Hawaii’s pre-travel testing program went into effect, allowing visitors to avoid a 14-day quarantine requirement if they can present a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of arrival. Travelers who test positive or whose results are pending will need to quarantine.
  • On Oct. 14, the Ohio Department of Health updated its travel advisory to include travelers from Indiana. The advisory asks visitors from states reporting positive testing rates of 15% or higher to self-quarantine for two weeks.
  • On Oct. 13, Govs. Ned Lamont (D-Conn.), Phil Murphy (D-N.J.), and Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.) announced that Michigan, Virginia, and Ohio had been added to the tristate quarantine list. The list includes 38 states and territories.

Additional activity

In this section, we feature examples of other federal, state, and local government activity, private industry responses, and lawsuits related to the pandemic.

  • On Oct. 15, Judge Edward Scott of Florida’s Marion County Circuit Court declined to block President Donald Trump (R) from holding a campaign rally at the Ocala International Airport on Oct. 16. Chanae Jackson, a Marion County resident whose two teenage children had been diagnosed with Covid-19, filed suit against Trump’s campaign on Oct. 14, alleging “her family cannot afford to experience Covid-19 again.” Jackson alleged “Trump’s appearance while infected – in defiance of his own experts’ guidance – will embolden hundreds of his supporters to attend unmasked and undistanced.” In his ruling, Scott ruled Jackson had failed to meet the standard for issuance of an injunction, writing that “a prospective injury must be more than a remote possibility.” Trump’s campaign did not comment on the lawsuit, and the event was expected to proceed as planned.


Documenting America’s Path to Recovery: October 15, 2020

Welcome to Documenting America’s Path to Recovery, where we track the status of reopening in all 50 states. Today we look at Hawaii’s new testing program for travelers, changes in county risk designations in North Dakota, a featured lawsuit, and more. Want to know what happened yesterday? Click here.

The next 24 hours

What is changing in the next 24 hours?

  • New Mexico (Democratic trifecta): The state’s stay-at-home order is scheduled to expire at 11:59 p.m. MT on Oct. 16. We will provide an update if the order is extended in a future edition.
  • North Dakota (Republican trifecta): On Wednesday, Oct. 14, Gov. Doug Burgum (R) announced that he would move 16 counties into the “high risk” category on Oct. 16 at 5:00 p.m. due to a spike in coronavirus cases. Bars, restaurants, and large venues in “high risk” areas are advised to cap capacity at 25% or 50 people in total.

Since our last edition

What is open in each state? For a continually updated article on reopening status in all 50 states, click here.

  • Connecticut (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Ned Lamont issued an executive order allowing towns to opt out of Phase 3 and remain in the more restrictive Phase 2 of the state’s reopening plan if they have more than 15 coronavirus cases per 100,000 people over a two-week rolling average.
  • Hawaii (Democratic trifecta): Starting Oct. 15, travelers to the state can present a negative COVID-19 test upon arrival and avoid the 14-day self-quarantine requirement. The tests need to have been taken within 72 hours of when travelers arrive on the islands. Gov. David Ige (D) extended the state’s coronavirus emergency through Nov. 30.
  • Idaho (Republican trifecta): Gov. Brad Little (R) announced the state will remain in Phase Four for at least two more weeks. Idaho entered Phase Four on June 13.
  • New Hampshire (divided government): On Thursday, Oct. 15, Gov. Chris Sununu (R) announced he was banning hockey and skating events for two weeks after a rash of coronavirus cases connected to ice sports.
  • Ohio (Republican trifecta): The Department of Health updated its travel advisory on Wednesday, Oct. 14, to include travelers from Indiana. The advisory asks visitors from states reporting positive testing rates of 15% or higher to self-quarantine for two weeks.
  • Rhode Island (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) issued an executive order requiring businesses to close break rooms for 90 days.

Daily feature: Featured lawsuit

Once a week, we take a closer look at a noteworthy lawsuit involving governmental responses to the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States. We define a noteworthy lawsuit as one that has garnered significant media attention, involves major advocacy groups, or deals with unique legal questions. This week, we look at a lawsuit involving indoor capacity restrictions in Wisconsin.

Tavern League of Wisconsin, Inc. v. Palm

On Oct. 14, Judge John M. Yackel of Wisconsin’s Sawyer County Circuit Court temporarily blocked emergency indoor capacity restrictions issued in response to an uptick in statewide COVID-19 infections.

What was at issue?

Upon Gov. Tony Evers’ (D) direction, Wisconsin Health Secretary Andrea Palm issued Emergency Order #3, limiting indoor public gatherings to no more than 25% capacity, with certain limitations. In its complaint, the Tavern League of Wisconsin argued Executive Order #3 “purports to regulate businesses and public gatherings in a manner nearly identical to portions of Emergency Order #28,” which the Wisconsin Supreme Court struck down on May 13.

How did the court rule, and what comes next?

In his order, Yackel wrote that Evers and his administration “are immediately restrained, until further order from the Court, from enforcing Emergency Order #3.” Britt Cudaback, a representative for Evers, said: “This is a dangerous decision that leaves our state without a statewide effort to contain this virus.”

Yackel scheduled oral arguments for Oct. 19 to discuss whether the temporary injunction should be lifted or extended.



Coronavirus weekly update: October 9 – October 15, 2020

Ballotpedia, The Encyclopedia of American Politics: Coronavirus Weekly Updates
The Coronavirus Weekly Update summarizes major changes due to the coronavirus pandemic in politics, government, and elections. Today, you will find updates on the following topics, with comparisons to our previous edition released on October 8:

  • Election changes
  • School closures and reopenings
  • Lawsuits about state actions and policies
  • Travel restrictions
  • Ballot measure changes
  • 1918 story
  • Federal responses
  • Stay-at-home orders
  • Eviction and foreclosure policies
  • Diagnosed or quarantined public officials
  • State legislation
  • State courts

For daily news on state reopening plans and which industries and activities are permitted across the country, subscribe to Documenting America’s Path to Recovery.Election changes

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

Overview: 

  • Thirty-nine states have made modifications to their voting procedures. 
    • Ten states have made voting procedure modifications since Oct. 8.
  • Twenty states have modified their candidate filing requirements. 
    • No states have made candidate filing modifications since Oct. 8.

Updates:

  • Alabama: On Oct. 14, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit reversed a district court order suspending Alabama’s witness requirement for absentee/mail-in voters with underlying medical conditions. The panel also reversed the lower court’s order waiving photo identification requirements for voters 65 and older.
  • Alaska: On Oct. 12, the Alaska Supreme Court affirmed a lower court’s order suspending the state’s witness requirement for absentee/mail-in ballots.
  • Arizona: On Oct.13, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed a lower court’s order that had extended the state’s voter registration deadline. The Ninth Circuit set Oct. 15 as the new registration deadline.
  • Indiana: On Oct. 13, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit blocked a lower court’s order that had extended the state’s return deadlines for absentee/mail-in ballots. As a result, the original receipt deadline (noon on Nov. 3) was reinstated.
  • Missouri: On Oct. 9, Judge Brian C. Wimes of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri issued an order requiring Missouri election authorities to accept mail-in ballots returned in person. However, on Oct. 10, Wimes suspended his order pending appeal, leaving the requirement that mail-in ballots be returned by mail in place.
  • North Carolina: On Oct. 14, Judge William Osteen of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina ordered election officials to enforce the state’s witness requirement for absentee/mail-in ballots. Osteen allowed other ballot curing provisions, and the absentee/mail-in ballot receipt deadline (Nov. 12 for ballots postmarked on or before Election Day), to stand.
  • Ohio: On Oct. 9, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit overturned a district court’s order directing Secretary of State Frank LaRose (R) to allow counties to install absentee/mail-in ballot drop boxes at locations other than election board offices. As a result, LaRose’s initial order limiting drop boxes to one site per county was reinstated.
  • Texas: On Oct. 12, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit unanimously upheld Gov. Greg Abbott’s (R) order restricting the number of absentee/mail-in ballot return locations to one per county.
  • Virginia: On Oct. 14, Judge John A. Gibney of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia ordered that Virginia’s voter registration deadline be extended from Oct. 13 to Oct. 15 after the state’s voter registration system went offline for several hours on Oct. 13 when a fiber cable was accidentally cut.
  • Wisconsin: On Oct. 8, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit voted 2-1 to block a lower court order that had extended registration and absentee/mail-in ballot return deadlines in Wisconsin.

School closures and reopenings

Read more: School reopenings in the 2020-2021 academic year after the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic

The current status of school reopenings is as follows:

  • Washington, D.C., has a district-ordered school closure
    • 2016-17 enrollment: 85,850 students (0.17% of students nationwide)
  • Seven states (Calif., Del., Hawaii, N.C., N.M., Ore., W.V.) have state-ordered regional school closures, require closures for certain grade levels, or allow hybrid instruction only.
    • 2016-17 enrollment: 9,366,079 students (18.51% of students nationwide)
  • Four states (Ark., Fla.*, Iowa, Texas) have state-ordered in-person instruction
    • 2016-17 enrollment: 9,180,918 students (18.15% of students nationwide)
    • *Note: Three counties in South Florida are not at the same phase of reopening as the rest of the state and the emergency order to reopen schools does not affect them. 
  • Thirty-nine states have reopenings that vary by school or district
    • 2016-17 enrollment: 31,955,012 students (63.17% of students nationwide)

Lawsuits about state actions and policies

Read more: Lawsuits about state actions and policies in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview:

  • To date, Ballotpedia has tracked 1,034 lawsuits, in all 50 states. dealing in some way with the COVID-19 outbreak. Court orders have been issued, or settlements have been reached, in 362 of those lawsuits. 
    • Since Oct. 8, we have added two lawsuits to our database. We have also tracked an additional two court orders and/or settlements. 
  • Ballotpedia has separately tracked another 397 lawsuits, in all 50 states, dealing with election issues during the COVID-19 outbreak. Court orders have been issued, or settlements have been reached, in 265 of those lawsuits.

Here are three lawsuits that have either garnered significant national media attention or involve major advocacy groups.

  • A.M. v. Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association, Inc.: On Oct. 1, Judge Susan Paradise Baxter of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania dismissed a lawsuit four student-athletes filed against the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) claiming the group would not allow them to participate in a golf tournament. The plaintiffs alleged that eight days before the tournament, the PIAA “arbitrarily and capriciously reduced the number of qualifiers.” The students argued that “the reduction of numbers has no quantifiable relationship on the spread of Covid-19 as it relates to outdoor activities such as golf.” Plaintiffs sought a court order requiring the PIAA to allow them to participate in the tournament. Baxter denied that request, writing: “It is not the court’s job to decide the better course, but to ensure the one taken was not arbitrary and capricious, or for a wrongful purpose. Although the decision was a painful one for the plaintiffs, it was done with a rational basis and passes muster under the law.” Baxter was appointed to the court by President Donald Trump (R).
  • Georgia Association of Educators v. Kemp: On Oct. 8, the Georgia Association of Educators (GAE), the state’s largest teachers’ union, sued Gov. Brian Kemp (R) and other state officials in Fulton County Superior Court. The GAE is seeking a court order that would require the state to issue statewide school reopening plans that are “reasonably calculated to ensure that schools operate safely in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and consistent with the guidelines issued by recognized public health authorities such as the CDC.” The GAE alleges that Kemp’s delegation of reopening protocols to local districts constitutes a failure to provide an adequate public education as required under the Georgia Constitution. Georgia State Superintendent Richard Woods, who is a defendant in the case, said, “Unlike several states, Georgia schools retain the authority to remain fully virtual instead of being required to offer in-person instruction.”
  • Turturro Law, P.C. v. Cuomo: On Oct. 8, New York officials closed a Brooklyn law firm after an increase in Covid-19 infection rates near its office. The law firm sued Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York. The firm, which is in an area deemed a “red-zone” under the state’s “cluster action initiative,” alleges there is “no scientific or other rational basis” for classifying certain parts of the state in this manner. The suit “seeks recovery for deprivations sustained by Plaintiff, and for violations committed by Defendants while acting under color of state law against Plaintiff’s rights and privileges guaranteed by” the U.S. Constitution. In a statement, Richard Azzopardi, a representative for Gov. Cuomo, said, “We’re focused on breaking this cluster and saving lives. Being unhappy is better than being sick or dead.” The case has not yet been assigned to a judge.

Travel restrictions

Read more: Travel restrictions issued by states in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview:

  • Governors or state agencies in 25 states issued executive orders placing restrictions on out-of-state visitors. At least 14 of those orders have been rescinded.
    • Since Oct. 8, four states have modified their travel restrictions.

Details:

  • Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York – On Oct. 13, Govs. Ned Lamont (D-Conn.), Phil Murphy (D-N.J.), and Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.) announced that Michigan, Virginia, and Ohio had been added to the tristate quarantine list. The list includes 38 states and territories.
  • Ohio – On Wednesday, Oct. 14, the Department of Health updated its travel advisory to include travelers from Indiana. The advisory asks visitors from states reporting positive testing rates of 15% or higher to self-quarantine for two weeks. The list currently includes South Dakota, Idaho, Wisconsin, Iowa, Wyoming, Kansas, Nevada, and Indiana. 

Ballot measure changes

Read more: Changes to ballot measure campaigns, procedures, and policies in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview:

  • At least 19 lawsuits were filed in 13 states seeking court orders suspending or changing signature requirements and deadlines. 
  • Rulings or settlements have been issued in at least 18 cases. 
  • Ballotpedia has tracked 27 statewide initiative petition drives that suspended signature gathering. 
  • Seven states and D.C. changed ballot measure procedures through executive orders or legislative action. 
  • At least four initiative campaigns initially targeting 2020 reported they would shift their focus to 2022.

1918 influenza pandemic (Spanish Flu) and the 1918 midterm election cycle

Read more: 1918 influenza pandemic (Spanish Flu) and the 1918 midterm election cycle

The United States held midterm elections as scheduled during the 1918-1919 influenza pandemic. More than 50 million people perished from the disease worldwide, including about 675,000 in the U.S., making it one of the deadliest pandemics in recorded history. Each week, we’ll look back at a story from the 1918 elections to see how America met the challenges of holding elections during a national health emergency.

On Oct. 20, the Albany Knickerbocker Press reported on the effect the influenza pandemic was having on politics in New York.

The most peculiar and perhaps the most incisive political campaign New York state has ever seen will begin throughout the state today. Hampered by bans on public meetings, forced by the spreading influenza, by an apparent lack of interest in politics, because of the greater interest in the doings of American troops in France, political leaders today will start campaigns upon which hinge the control of the state administration, of the legislature and the political complexion of New York’s delegation in congress, as well as scores of local contests for office.

Click here to read the original article, courtesy of the University of Michigan Center for the History of Medicine and Michigan Publishing’s Influenza Encyclopedia.

Federal responses

Read more: Political responses to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

  •  On Oct. 13, the U.S. Supreme Court issued an emergency order granting the U.S. Department of Commerce’s request to pause a lower court decision that required the census to continue through Oct. 31 while the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit looks at the case. The order was unsigned, with the exception of a dissent from Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

State stay-at-home orders

Read more: States with lockdown and stay-at-home orders in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview:

As of Oct. 15, stay-at-home orders have ended in 41 states. Nineteen of those states have Republican governors and 22 have Democratic governors (including Wisconsin, where the state supreme court invalidated the stay-at-home order). Seven states never issued stay-at-home orders.

California and New Mexico, both of which have a Democratic governor, are the only remaining states with active stay-at-home orders.

Eviction and foreclosure policies

Read more: Changes to rent, mortgage, eviction, and foreclosure policies in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview:

  • Eighteen states have current moratoriums on evictions and foreclosures.
    • Since Oct. 8, one state has announced an end date to the state’s eviction moratorium and one state has extended a moratorium.
  • Twenty-five states have ended moratoriums on evictions and foreclosures.
  • California has current local moratoriums on evictions and foreclosures.
  • Seven states did not issue a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures on the state or local level.

Details:

  • Washington – On Oct. 8, Gov. Jay Inslee (D) announced that he would extend the state’s moratorium on evictions through Dec. 31. The moratorium was set to expire on Oct. 15.
  • Nevada – On Oct. 15, Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) allowed the statewide moratorium on evictions to expire.

Diagnosed or quarantined politicians identified by Ballotpedia

Read more: Politicians, candidates, and government officials diagnosed with or quarantined due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

  • Federal
    • One federal official has died of COVID-19.
    • Twenty-five members of Congress have been diagnosed with COVID-19.
    • Forty-three federal officials quarantined after possible exposure to COVID-19.
  • State
    • Four state-level incumbents or candidates have died of COVID-19.
    • Ninety-six state-level incumbents or candidates have been diagnosed with COVID-19
    • Eighty state-level incumbents or candidates quarantined after possible exposure to COVID-19.
  • Local
    • At least two local incumbents or candidates have died of COVID-19.
    • At least 23 local incumbents or candidates have been diagnosed with COVID-19.
    • At least 26 local incumbents or candidates quarantined after possible exposure to COVID-19.

Since Oct. 8, two members of Congress tested positive for coronavirus, one governor entered self-quarantine, one governor tested negative, and one state representative tested negative. President Donald Trump tested negative for the coronavirus.

Details:

  • On Oct. 11, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D) announced he and his family would self-quarantine after a member of his security detail tested positive for coronavirus.
  • On Oct. 9, Connecticut state Rep. Joe Polletta (R) announced he had tested positive for coronavirus.
  • On Oct. 12, White House physician Sean Conley announced that President Donald Trump (R) had tested negative for the coronavirus over several days.
  • On Oct. 8, California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) announced he had tested negative for coronavirus after someone in his office tested positive.
  • On Oct. 12, Rep. Mike Bost (R-ILL) announced he had tested positive for coronavirus. 
  • On Oct. 14,  Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-MI) announced he had tested positive for coronavirus. 

State legislation

Read more: State laws in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview: 

  • To date, 3,432 bills related to the coronavirus pandemic have been introduced in state legislatures.
    • We have tracked 80 additional bills since Oct. 8.
  • Of these, 481 significant bills have been enacted into law, 14 percent of the total number that has been introduced. This total omits ceremonial resolutions and legislation providing for procedural changes to legislative business. 
    • We have tracked 23 additional significant bills since Oct. 8 (also omitting ceremonial resolutions and legislation providing for procedural changes to legislative business.)

State court changes

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

Overview:

  • Thirty-four states suspended in-person proceedings statewide
    • Since Oct. 8, one court ended restrictions on jury trials.
  • Sixteen states suspended in-person proceedings at the local level

Details:

  • Georgia – On Oct. 10, Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Harold Melton issued an order extending the statewide judicial emergency and allowing jury trials to resume immediately. The judicial emergency was set to expire on Nov. 9. 

Learn more

Click here to learn more.



Documenting America’s Path to Recovery: October 14, 2020

Welcome to Documenting America’s Path to Recovery, where we track the status of reopening in all 50 states. Today we look at upcoming coronavirus restrictions in New Mexico, to-go cocktails in Ohio, a featured story from the 1918 influenza pandemic, and more. Want to know what happened yesterday? Click here.

The next 24 hours

What is changing in the next 24 hours?

  • Hawaii (Democratic trifecta): Starting Oct. 15, travelers to the state can present a negative COVID-19 test upon arrival and avoid the 14-day quarantine requirement. The tests will need to have been taken within 72 hours of when travelers arrive on the islands. Gov. David Ige (D) extended the state’s coronavirus emergency period through Nov. 30.

Since our last edition

What is open in each state? For a continually updated article on reopening status in all 50 states, click here.

  • Indiana (Republican trifecta): On Wednesday, Oct. 14, Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) announced that the state would stay in Stage 5 of reopening for another month and that the statewide mask mandate would continue.
  • New Mexico (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) announced she will add additional restrictions to the state’s public health order starting Oct. 16. Bars and restaurants that serve alcohol will have to close by 10 p.m. every evening, and gatherings will be limited to a maximum of five individuals. Travelers from states with COVID-19 positivity rates exceeding 5% will not be able to avoid New Mexico’s 14-day self-quarantine requirement by presenting a recent negative coronavirus test.
  • Ohio (Republican trifecta): On Wednesday, Oct. 14, Gov. Mike DeWine (R) signed a bill making permanent a provision allowing restaurants to sell to-go alcoholic beverages. The law went into effect immediately.  Restaurants were allowed to offer to-go alcoholic beverages earlier in the year on a temporary basis to help them stay afloat while the state was under a stay-at-home order.
  • Texas (Republican trifecta): On Wednesday, Oct. 14, Gov. Greg Abbott (R) announced the Texas Education Agency (TEA) and the Texas Division of Emergency Management have partnered to pilot a program for COVID-19 rapid testing in eight school systems.
  • Washington (Democratic trifecta): On Tuesday, Oct. 13, Gov. Jay Inslee (D) announced that he would ease restrictions in five counties, allowing them to advance to Phase 2 of the reopening plan.
  • Wisconsin (divided government): On Wednesday, Oct. 14, Sawyer County Judge John Yackel blocked enforcement of Gov. Tony Evers’s (D) order restricting indoor gatherings while a lawsuit filed by Wisconsin restaurants and bars is litigated. Yackel’s decision requires attorneys for Health Services Secretary Andrea Palm to appear in court on Oct. 19 to argue why the order restricting gatherings should be enforced, pending a conclusion to the lawsuit.

Daily feature: The 1918 influenza pandemic

Every Wednesday, we feature a newspaper story written during the 1918 influenza pandemic that illustrates how the country contended with a national health emergency in the midst of an election year. To see more stories from 1918, click here.

On Sept. 30, the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin reported on the debate in New Jersey over closing schools in the midst of the influenza pandemic.

The schools of Moorestown, Collingswood, and several other New Jersey towns have been closed owing to the growth and seriousness of the Spanish influenza epidemic throughout the section about Camden.

Many school children have contracted the disease, and it is feared it will be spread to nearly every family in the locality if the children are allowed to continue congregating in the school rooms daily.

Click here to read the original article, courtesy of the University of Michigan Center for the History of Medicine and Michigan Publishing’s Influenza Encyclopedia.

Additional activity

In this section, we feature examples of other federal, state, and local government activity, private industry responses, and lawsuits related to the pandemic.

  • On Oct. 1, Judge Susan Paradise Baxter, of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, dismissed a claim by four student-athletes who were refused entry to a golf tournament administered by the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA). The plaintiffs alleged that eight days before the tournament, the PIAA “arbitrarily and capriciously reduced the number of qualifiers.” The students argued that “the reduction of numbers has no quantifiable relationship on the spread of Covid-19 as it relates to outdoor activities such as golf.” They asked the court to order the PIAA to allow them to participate in the tournament. Baxter denied that request, writing in her opinion, “It is not the court’s job to decide the better course, but to ensure the one taken was not arbitrary and capricious, or for a wrongful purpose. Although the decision was a painful one for the plaintiffs, it was done with a rational basis and passes muster under the law.” Baxter was appointed to the court by President Donald Trump (R).


Documenting America’s Path to Recovery: October 13, 2020

Welcome to Documenting America’s Path to Recovery, where we track the status of reopening in all 50 states. Today we look at new guidelines for private gatherings in California, the extension of a mask mandate in Colorado, school reopenings, and more. Want to know what happened yesterday? Click here.

Since our last edition

What is open in each state? For a continually updated article on reopening status in all 50 states, click here.

  • Maine (Democratic trifecta): The state will enter Stage 4 of reopening starting Oct. 13. Stage 4 will allow indoor activities and businesses like restaurants, movie theaters, and religious gatherings to expand operations to 50% capacity or up to 100 people (whichever is less). The order also requires masks in municipal buildings and private schools and expands enforcement of the face-covering mandate. Gov. Janet Mills (D) said the state was targeting Nov. 2 for bars and tasting rooms to resume indoor service.
  • New Hampshire (divided government): On Tuesday, Oct. 13, Superior Court Judge David Anderson ruled Gov. Chris Sununu (R) was not required to obtain the legislature’s approval to spend federal dollars in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Democratic legislative leaders filed the lawsuit, alleging that Gov. Sununu did not have the authority to unilaterally spend CARES Act funds.
  • New Jersey (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Phil Murphy (D) signed an executive order allowing state-classified medium- and high-risk sports practices and competitions (like hockey, basketball, and cheerleading) to resume in indoor venues with capacity limits.
  • Utah (Republican trifecta): On Tuesday, Oct. 13, Gov. Gary Herbert (R) announced the state was replacing the color-coded reopening guidance system with a three-tiered system focused on transmission rates. Counties will be classified as high, moderate, or low depending on COVID-19 spread, and will only be allowed to move to a lower level after 14 days.
  • West Virginia (Republican trifecta): Bars in Morgantown, where West Virginia University is located, can reopen on Oct. 13. Gov. Jim Justice (R) ordered bars closed in the area on Sept. 2.

Daily feature: Schools

All 50 states closed schools to in-person instruction at some point during the 2019-2020 academic year. Beginning in May 2020, schools in certain states began to reopen. In which states are schools allowed to open? In which states are they ordered to remain closed?

The current status of school reopenings is as follows:

  • Washington, D.C., has a district-ordered school closure.
    • 2016-17 enrollment: 85,850 students (0.17% of students nationwide)
  • Seven states (Calif., Del., Hawaii, N.C., N.M., Ore., W.V.) have state-ordered regional school closures, require closures for certain grade levels, or allow hybrid instruction only.
    • 2016-17 enrollment: 9,366,079 students (18.51% of students nationwide)
  • Four states (Ark., Fla.*, Iowa, Texas) have state-ordered in-person instruction.
    • 2016-17 enrollment: 9,180,918 students (18.15% of students nationwide)
    • *Note: Three counties in South Florida are not at the same phase of reopening as the rest of the state and the emergency order to reopen schools does not affect them.
  • Thirty-nine states have reopenings that vary by school or district.
    • 2016-17 enrollment: 31,955,012 students (63.17% of students nationwide)

Additional activity

In this section, we feature examples of other federal, state, and local government activity, private industry responses, and lawsuits related to the pandemic.

  • On Oct. 8, New York officials closed a Brooklyn law firm after an increase in Covid-19 infection rates near its office. The law firm sued Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) and New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio (D) in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York. The firm, which is in an area deemed a “red-zone” under the state’s “cluster action initiative,” alleges there is “no scientific or other rational basis” for classifying certain parts of the state in this manner. The suit “seeks recovery for deprivations sustained by Plaintiff, and for violations committed by Defendants while acting under color of state law against Plaintiff’s rights and privileges guaranteed by” the U.S. Constitution. In a statement, Richard Azzopardi, a representative for Gov. Cuomo, said, “We’re focused on breaking this cluster and saving lives. Being unhappy is better than being sick or dead.” The case has not yet been assigned to a judge.


Learn more about the arguments in the debate over lockdown/stay-at-home orders during the coronavirus pandemic

Discussions about policy responses to the coronavirus are happening at a fast pace. As part of our ongoing coverage Documenting America’s Path to Recovery, Ballotpedia has published a series of articles capturing the regular themes in support of and opposition to these policy responses.

Here’s how it works. First, we identify a topic area, (such as mask requirements or testing). Next, we gather and curate articles and commentary from public officials, think tanks, journalists, scientists, economists, and others. Finally, we organize that commentary into broad, thematic summaries of the arguments put forth.

We’ve identified the following arguments as some of those in favor of lockdown/stay-at-home orders:

  1. The orders are necessary,
  2. The orders are better for the economy long-term,
  3. The orders are legal, and
  4. The orders are limited.

We’ve identified the following arguments as some of those against lockdown/stay-at-home orders:

  1. The orders are unnecessary,
  2. The orders are worse than the coronavirus pandemic itself,
  3. The orders are illegal, and
  4. The orders go too far.

To read more about these issues, click the links below.

Additional reading:



Supreme Court announces it will use teleconferencing to hear oral arguments for November, December sittings

The Supreme Court of the United States announced on October 9, 2020, that it will hear oral arguments via teleconference for its November and December sittings. Currently, eight arguments are set for November, and ten are set for December.

The court previously heard oral arguments via teleconference in May and October of this year after closing to the public indefinitely on March 12, 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The live audio from the arguments was made available to the public for the first time in the court’s history; previously, the court released audio and transcripts of oral arguments on Fridays.

The arguments will follow the same format the court used formerly, including rules dictating which Justices will ask questions based on seniority.

Additional reading:



Documenting America’s Path to Recovery: October 12, 2020

Welcome to Documenting America’s Path to Recovery, where we track the status of reopening in all 50 states. Today we look at a mask mandate in Wisconsin, plus similar mandates in other states, Maine’s next phase of reopening, and more. Want to know what happened Friday? Click here.

The next 24 hours

What is changing in the next 24 hours?

  • Maine (Democratic trifecta): The state will enter Stage 4 of reopening starting Oct. 13. Stage 4 will allow indoor activities and businesses like restaurants, movie theaters, and religious gatherings to expand operations to 50% capacity or up to 100 people (whichever is less). The order also requires masks in municipal buildings and private schools and expands enforcement of the face-covering mandate. Gov. Janet Mills (D) said the state was targeting Nov. 2 for bars and tasting rooms to resume indoor service.
  • West Virginia (Republican trifecta): Bars in Morgantown, where West Virginia University is located, can reopen on Oct. 13. Gov. Jim Justice (R) ordered bars closed in the area on Sept. 2.

Since our last edition

What is open in each state? For a continually updated article on reopening status in all 50 states, click here.

  • Michigan (divided government): On Monday, Oct. 12, the Michigan Supreme Court voted 6-1 to deny Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s (D) request to delay enforcing its Oct. 2 decision that found her emergency powers used in response to the coronavirus pandemic were unconstitutional. Whitmer had asked the court to delay its decision for 28 days so her administration could negotiate new restrictions with the legislature.
  • Minnesota (divided government): On Monday, Oct. 12, Gov. Tim Walz (D) issued an order extending the statewide emergency through Nov. 12.
  • Ohio (Republican trifecta): Effective Monday, Oct. 12, nursing homes are allowed to resume indoor visitations if they choose. Facilities that resume visitations are required to screen visitors and report their names to state authorities. Only two visitors are allowed at a time for a maximum of 30 minutes.
  • New Hampshire (divided government): On Oct. 9, Gov. Chris Sununu (R) extended the state’s coronavirus emergency order an additional 21 days.
  • Wisconsin (divided government): On Monday, Oct. 12, St. Croix County Circuit Judge R. Michael Waterman ruled that Gov. Tony Evers (D) had not exceeded his authority when he issued a mandate requiring face coverings in enclosed spaces.

Daily feature: Face coverings

We last looked at face coverings in the Oct. 5 edition of the newsletter. Since then, no new states have adopted a statewide public mask mandate or let a face-covering requirement expire.

Additional activity

In this section, we feature examples of other federal, state, and local government activity, private industry responses, and lawsuits related to the pandemic.

  • On Oct. 8, the Georgia Association of Educators (GAE), the state’s largest teachers’ union, sued Gov. Brian Kemp (R) and other state officials in Fulton County Superior Court. The GAE is seeking a court order that would require the state to issue statewide school reopening plans that are “reasonably calculated to ensure that schools operate safely in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and consistent with the guidelines issued by recognized public health authorities such as the CDC.” The GAE alleges that Kemp’s delegation of reopening protocols to local districts constitutes a failure to provide an adequate public education as required under the Georgia Constitution. Georgia State Superintendent Richard Woods, who is a defendant in the case, said, “Unlike several states, Georgia schools retain the authority to remain fully virtual instead of being required to offer in-person instruction.”


Nondelegation doctrine resurfaces in challenge to Michigan coronavirus orders

The Michigan Supreme Court on October 2 revived the nondelegation doctrine in an opinion holding in part that Michigan’s Emergency Powers of the Governor Act (EPGA) unconstitutionally delegates legislative power to the executive branch.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer (D) claimed that the declared states of emergency and disaster in response to the coronavirus pandemic authorized her to issue executive orders instituting coronavirus-related restrictions. Whitmer stated that the EPGA and the Emergency Management Act (EMA) allowed her to extend those emergency declarations without the state legislature’s approval.

Medical groups filed suit in the United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan to challenge an executive order, since rescinded, that placed restrictions on nonessential medical and dental procedures.

The district court asked the Michigan Supreme Court to consider in part whether the EPGA or the EMA violated the nondelegation doctrine.

The majority held that the EMPGA violated the nondelegation doctrine because it delegated lawmaking authority to the executive branch. Justice Stephen Markman wrote in the majority opinion, “[T]he EPGA is in violation of the Constitution of our state because it purports to delegate to the executive branch the legislative powers of state government— including its plenary police powers— and to allow the exercise of such powers indefinitely.”

Justices McCormick, Bernstein, and Cavanagh, and Bernstein disagreed with the majority’s conclusion. The justices claimed that the United States Supreme Court and the Michigan Supreme Court have historically applied the nondelegation doctrine via a “standards” test (i.e. intelligible principle test) that only strikes down delegations of authority without guiding standards for agency discretion. The delegations of authority under the EPGA, the justices argued, contained sufficient guiding standards.

Justice Viviano agreed with the majority’s holding and suggested that the court in future cases adopt the nondelegation doctrine approach put forth by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Gorsuch in _Gundy v. United States_, which focuses on whether Congress delegated lawmaking power to the executive rather than whether Congress provided a guiding standard.

Additional reading:



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