TagCoronavirus

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

Documenting America’s Path to Recovery: January 4, 2021

Documenting America's Path to Recovery by Ballotpedia

Since our last edition

What rules and restrictions are changing in each state? For a continually updated article, click here.

  • California (Democratic trifecta): Health Secretary Mark Ghaly extended the stay-at-home order for the Greater Sacramento region. Restrictions will remain effective until the region’s four-week projected available ICU capacity is equal to or greater than 15%.
  • Georgia (Republican trifecta): On Wednesday, Dec. 30, Gov. Brian Kemp (R) announced that first responders, firefighters, law enforcement, and individuals 65 and older can get the COVID-19 vaccine under the state’s distribution plan. Previously, only healthcare workers and residents and staff in long-term care facilities were eligible in the plan’s first phase. 
  • Indiana (Republican trifecta): On Thursday, Dec. 31, Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) extended the coronavirus public health emergency another 30 days. 
  • Louisiana (divided government): Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) announced the state is starting Phase 1-B of the vaccine distribution plan on Jan. 4. Vaccines are available by appointment at participating pharmacies to individuals over the age of 70 and most healthcare workers not covered in Phase 1-A.
  • Maine (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Janet Mills (D) indefinitely extended an order requiring businesses like restaurants, bars, and indoor and outdoor amusement venues to close nightly by 9 p.m. Previously, the order was scheduled to expire on Jan. 3. 
  • Massachusetts (divided government): On Thursday, Dec. 31, Gov. Charlie Baker (R) announced the COVID-19 Small Business Grant Program had awarded 1,366 grants totaling $67.4 million to help offset the economic burden of the pandemic. It was the second round of program grants. 
  • New Hampshire (Republican trifecta): On Jan. 1, Gov. Chris Sununu (R) extended the COVID-19 state of emergency for an additional 21 days. 
  • Ohio (Republican trifecta): On Thursday, Dec. 31, Ohio Department of Health Director Stephanie McCloud issued an order requiring all residents to stay home between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m. unless engaged in work or essential activities. The order expires Jan. 23, 2021. 
  • Oregon (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Kate Brown (D) changed the Jan. 1-14 risk level classification for Baker County to High Risk. Brown earlier said Baker County would be in the Extreme Risk category. To see restrictions in a specific county or risk level, click here. The state’s school reopening metrics, which determine when schools may open, became advisory instead of mandatory on Jan. 1.
  • Pennsylvania (divided government): Gov. Tom Wolf (D) allowed the state’s additional time-limited mitigation measures to expire Jan. 4. Current restrictions on individuals and businesses are the same as they were on Dec. 11, before the time-limited order was implemented. For a list of current restrictions, click here.
  • Washington (Democratic trifecta): On Wednesday, Dec. 30, Gov. Jay Inslee (D) extended statewide coronavirus restrictions through Jan. 11. 
  • West Virginia (Republican trifecta): On Wednesday, Dec. 30, Gov. Jim Justice (R) announced that all elementary and middle schools would reopen to full-time, in-person instruction beginning Jan. 19. Justice also announced that most high schools would reopen unless they are located in counties the Department of Health and Human Resources classified as red. 
  • Wyoming (Republican trifecta): On Saturday, Jan. 2, Gov. Mark Gordon (R) announced he was easing coronavirus restrictions effective Jan. 9. On that day, bars and restaurants will be permitted to resume serving alcohol between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. Gyms will also be permitted to hold fitness classes with up to 25 people, up from 10, under the current restrictions.


Documenting America’s Path to Recovery: December 30, 2020 #Edition #155

Welcome to Documenting America’s Path to Recovery. During this period of rapid change as states issue new restrictions, we are committed to keeping you updated on everything from mask requirements to curfews to vaccine-related policies. We will keep you abreast of major developments—especially those affecting your daily life. Today we look at vaccine distribution in Arizona and Kentucky, a pandemic relief bill in Michigan, and much more. Want to know what we covered Wednesday, Dec. 23? Click here.

Since our last edition

What rules and restrictions are changing in each state? For a continually updated article, click here.

  • Arizona (Republican trifecta): Gov. Doug Ducey (R) announced individuals age 75 and older will be eligible to receive coronavirus vaccines in phase 1B of the state’s distribution plan. School staff and first responders are also included in the phase, which is expected to start in mid- to late Jan. 2021. 
  • California (Democratic trifecta): Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly extended the stay-at-home orders for the Southern California and San Joaquin Valley regions through at least Jan. 16, 2021. Stay-at-home orders are still effective through at least Jan. 1 in the Greater Sacramento region and through at least Jan. 7 in the Bay Area region.
  • Indiana (Republican trifecta): On Dec. 23, Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) extended an order that temporarily allows healthcare students and out-of-state healthcare professionals to work in Indiana without a state license. 
  • Kentucky (divided government): Gov. Andy Beshear (D) announced school staff, first responders, and anyone older than 70 will be eligible to receive coronavirus vaccines in Phase 1b of the state’s distribution plan. The state expects to start Phase 1b at the beginning of February. 
  • Michigan (divided government): On Dec. 29, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) signed a $106 million bill that includes aid to small businesses, music and entertainment venues, and workers who’ve been laid off or furloughed. Whitmer also signed a bill extending unemployment benefits from 20 to 26 weeks. 
  • New York (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced updated requirements for individuals with known exposure to the coronavirus. Exposed individuals have to self-quarantine for 10 days if they do not experience any symptoms, down from 14 days under the previous rule.
  • Oregon (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Kate Brown (D) announced that effective Jan. 1-14, 24 counties will be in the state’s Extreme Risk level, five will be at High Risk, and seven counties will have Lower Risk restrictions. To see restrictions in a specific county or risk level, click here. Brown also announced the state’s school reopening metrics, which determine when schools may open, will be advisory instead of mandatory starting Jan. 1, 2021. 

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 Dec. 29, U.S. Representative-elect Luke Letlow (R) died of complications related to COVID-19. He announced he tested positive for the virus on Dec. 19. Letlow won in the general election for Louisiana’s Fifth Congressional District on Dec. 5 and was scheduled to be sworn into office on Jan. 3, 2021.  


Documenting America’s Path to Recovery: December 23, 2020

Documenting America's Path to Recovery by Ballotpedia

Since our last edition

What rules and restrictions are changing in each state? For a continually updated article, click here.

  • Louisiana (divided government): Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) extended the state’s modified Phase 2 reopening through Jan. 13, 2021. The modified phase limits restaurants, retailers, gyms, personal care businesses, and movie theaters to 50% capacity. Bars must close indoor service if their parish has a positivity rate greater than 5%. Bars that are permitted to open are limited to 25% capacity. All indoor and outdoor gatherings are limited to the lesser of 25% capacity or a maximum of 75 people indoors or 150 people outdoors.
  • Massachusetts (divided government): On Tuesday, Dec. 22, Gov. Charlie Baker (R) announced a series of new coronavirus restrictions, including a 10-person limit on indoor gatherings and a 25-person limit on outdoor gatherings. Additionally, most businesses, including restaurants, movie theaters, gyms, offices, and venues, must limit capacity to 25%. The new restrictions take effect Dec. 26 and last through Jan. 8, 2021.  
  • Mississippi (Republican trifecta): Gov. Tate Reeves (R) added 16 counties to the state’s mask order, bringing the number of counties under the order to 78 out of 82. The order is set to expire Jan. 15, 2021.
  • New Mexico (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) released holiday guidance and suggested alternatives to traditional activities that comply with state health orders.
  • Tennessee (Republican trifecta): On Tuesday, Dec. 22, Gov. Bill Lee (R) extended the state’s coronavirus emergency through Feb. 27. 
  • Vermont (divided government): On Tuesday, Dec. 22, Gov. Phil Scott (R) announced he was temporarily lifting a ban on multi-household gatherings for the holidays. Between Dec. 23 and Jan. 2, households can gather with one other household. If a gathering occurs that involves a household from outside Vermont, all participants must quarantine for 14 days. Participants can end their quarantine early if they receive a negative COVID-19 test taken no earlier than seven days into the quarantine.


Documenting America’s Path to Recovery: December 22, 2020

Documenting America's Path to Recovery by Ballotpedia

Since our last edition

What rules and restrictions are changing in each state? For a continually updated article, click here.

  • North Carolina (divided government): On Monday, Dec. 21, Gov. Roy Cooper (D) signed an order allowing restaurants, bars, and hotels to sell and deliver mixed alcoholic drinks. Alcohol sales are banned on-site at those establishments after 9 p.m. 
  • North Dakota (Republican trifecta): On Monday, Dec. 21, Gov. Doug Burgum (R) announced he was ending a statewide 10 p.m. curfew at bars and restaurants. Bars and restaurants are still limited to 50% occupancy. 
  • Washington (Democratic trifecta): On Monday, Dec. 21, Gov. Jay Inslee (D) issued an order requiring international travelers from the United Kingdom, South Africa, and other countries where a new strain of COVID-19 has been found circulating to quarantine for 14 days upon entering the state.

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 1,318 lawsuits in 50 states dealing in some way with the COVID-19 outbreak. Court orders have been issued, or settlements have been reached, in 407 of those lawsuits. 
    • Since Dec. 15, we have added an additional 25 lawsuits to our database. We have also tracked an additional 11 court orders and/or settlements. 

Details:

  • Roman Catholic Archbishop of Washington v. Bowser: On Dec. 11, the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington filed a lawsuit challenging Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser’s (D) November restrictions limiting religious services to 50 people. In its complaint, the Archdiocese said the restrictions were “unscientific, in that they bear no relation to either the size of the building or the safety of the activity targeted.” The Archdiocese further alleged Mayor Bowser’s “restrictions are discriminatory, in that they single out religious worship as a disfavored activity, even though it has been proven safer than many other activities the District favors.” The Archdiocese asserted the restrictions constitute violations of their parishioners’ First Amendment right to freedom of religion as well as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Starting Dec. 17, Mayor Bowser temporarily eased indoor worship restrictions for the holidays, allowing religious gatherings of up to 25% of a church’s capacity, up to a maximum of 250 people indoors. In the Mayor’s order modifying restrictions, officials said the Archdiocese’s lawsuit “flies in the face of all scientific and medical advice and will doubtlessly put parishioners in harm’s way.” The case is before Judge Trevor McFadden, an appointee of President Donald Trump (R).

State mask requirements

We last looked at face coverings in the Dec. 15 edition of the newsletter. Since then, no new states have adopted a statewide public mask mandate or let a face-covering requirement 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.
    • Forty-four members of Congress have been diagnosed with COVID-19.
    • Forty-one federal officials have quarantined after possible exposure to COVID-19.
  • State
    • Seven state-level incumbents or candidates have died of COVID-19.
    • One hundred fifty-six state-level incumbents or candidates have been diagnosed with COVID-19
    • Eighty-three state-level incumbents or candidates have quarantined after possible exposure to COVID-19.
  • Local
    • At least four local incumbents or candidates have died of COVID-19.
    • At least 34 local incumbents or candidates have been diagnosed with COVID-19.
    • At least 26 local incumbents or candidates have quarantined after possible exposure to COVID-19.

Since Dec. 15, one presidential cabinet member, one representative-elect, one state senator, one lieutenant governor, and one city councilmember announced they had tested positive for COVID-19. One mayor and one governor announced self-quarantines. One local official and one state senator died as a result of complications caused by COVID-19.  

Details:

  • On Dec. 16, Interior Secretary David Bernhardt announced he tested positive for COVID-19. 
  • On Dec. 17, Massachusetts state Sen. Walter Timilty (D) announced he tested positive for COVID-19.
  • On Dec. 17, Louisiana Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser (R) announced he tested positive for COVID-19. 
  • On Dec. 17, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti (D) announced he and his wife were self-quarantining at home after their daughter tested positive for COVID-19.
  • On Dec. 17, Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon died as a result of complications from COVID-19.
  • On Dec. 18, Minnesota state Sen. Jerry Relph (R) passed away from complications from COVID-19.
  • On Dec. 19, Rep.-elect Luke Letlow (R-La.) announced he tested positive for COVID-19.
  • On Dec. 21, Jacksonville, FL, city councilmember Aaron Bowman announced he tested positive for COVID-19.
  • On Dec. 21, California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) said he would quarantine after a member of his staff tested positive for COVID-19.


Documenting America’s Path to Recovery: December 21, 2020

Documenting America's Path to Recovery by Ballotpedia

Since our last edition

What rules and restrictions are changing in each state? For a continually updated article, click here.

  • Connecticut (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Ned Lamont (D) issued an executive order requiring travelers from all states except New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island to self-quarantine for 10 days upon arrival in Connecticut, effective Dec. 19. Travelers do not have to quarantine if they received negative test results within 72 hours before or any time after their arrival in the state. Travelers must submit negative test results to the Department of Public Health Commissioner. The order also exempts travelers who tested positive for the virus in the 90 days before arriving in the state who have clinically recovered and submitted the positive test result to the Department of Public Health Commissioner.
  • Georgia (Republican trifecta): On Friday, Dec. 18, Gov. Brain Kemp (R) announced the state was directing around $70 million dollars through March 2021 to help hospitals and long-term care facilities care for COVID-19 patients and distribute vaccines.
  • Michigan (divided government): On Friday, Dec. 18, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) announced she was loosening some restrictions on schools and businesses starting Dec. 21. On that day, in-person learning can resume at high schools, and at businesses like movie theaters and casinos can reopen so long as people wear masks and practice social distancing. The restrictions in the new order will remain in effect through Jan. 15. 
  • Rhode Island (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) allowed Rhode Island on Pause restrictions to expire Dec. 21. Indoor dining at restaurants and bars can expand from 33% capacity to 50% capacity. Gyms and indoor entertainment businesses can reopen with one person per 150 square feet capacity. Indoor private gatherings are still limited to household members through the holidays.  
  • South Dakota (Republican trifecta): On Friday, Dec. 18, Gov. Kristi Noem (R) issued an order extending the statewide COVID-19 emergency through June 30, 2021.  
  • Tennessee (Republican trifecta): On Sunday, Dec. 20, Gov. Bill Lee (R) issued an executive order limiting gatherings to 10 people.

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 Dec. 18, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted emergency use authorization (EUA) to biotechnology company Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine. Carriers began shipping the vaccine to states over the weekend, with the first doses expected to be administered Monday, Dec. 21.


Documenting America’s Path to Recovery: December 18, 2020

Documenting America's Path to Recovery by Ballotpedia

Since our last edition

What rules and restrictions are changing in each state? For a continually updated article, click here.

  • California (Democratic trifecta): The state added the Bay Area to its regional stay-at-home order effective Dec. 17 at 11:59 p.m. The restrictions will last until at least Jan. 7. The Bay Area is the fourth of the state’s five regions to enter the stay-at-home order.
  • Michigan (divided government): On Thursday, Dec. 17, the Michigan House of Representatives passed a bill reinstating a moratorium on water service disconnections through March 2021. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) issued the moratorium earlier in the year, but the order was invalidated as part of an October state Supreme Court decision. Whitmer was expected to sign the legislation.
  • Maryland (divided government): On Thursday, Dec. 17, Gov. Larry Hogan (R) issued an order requiring out-of-state travelers and returning residents to obtain a negative COVID-19 test or self-quarantine for 10 days upon entering the state. Hogan issued a follow-up order clarifying the travel restrictions do not apply to Santa Clause, non-human elves, or reindeer. Additionally, the Maryland Department of Health issued an advisory against gatherings of more than 10 people.
  • Utah (Republican trifecta): On Thursday, Dec. 17, Gov. Gary Herbert (R) announced that students in public schools who test negative after coming into contact with someone with COVID-19 do not need to quarantine. Previously, any contact with a COVID-19 positive person required a 10-14 day quarantine. Herbert also announced he was ending the statewide ban on alcohol sales after 10 p.m.

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 Dec. 17, the FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committeevoted 20-0 (with one abstention) to recommend Moderna’s vaccine candidate for emergency use authorization. The FDA is expected to issue formal approval on Dec. 18, allowing Moderna to begin distributing doses of the vaccine.


Documenting America’s Path to Recovery: December 17, 2020

Documenting America's Path to Recovery by Ballotpedia

The next 24 hours

What is changing in the next 24 hours?

  • California (Democratic trifecta): The state will add the Bay Area region to its regional stay-at-home order effective Dec. 17 at 11:59 p.m. The restrictions will last until at least Jan. 7. The Bay Area will be the fourth of the state’s five regions to enter the stay-at-home order.

Since our last edition

What rules and restrictions are changing in each state? For a continually updated article, click here.

  • Hawaii (Democratic trifecta): Gov. David Ige (D) issued an executive order reducing the required self-isolation period for untested out-of-state and inter-island travelers from 14 days to 10 days, effective Dec. 17.
  • Iowa (Republican trifecta): On Wednesday, Dec. 16, Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) announced she was loosening restrictions on some businesses and activities. Under the new rules, bars and restaurants can resume normal hours. Additionally, students participating in high school recreational activities can now invite members of their household to watch. The new restrictions take effect Thursday, Dec. 17.
  • Minnesota (divided government): On Wednesday, Dec. 16, Gov. Tim Walz (D) announced he was loosening restrictions on some businesses beginning Dec. 19. Under the new order, up to 10 people from two households can gather indoors. Fifteen people from three households can gather outdoors. Additionally, fitness centers can reopen at 25% capacity with a limit of 100 people, and outdoor events can resume at 25% capacity with a limit of 100 people. On Jan. 4, amateur sports practices can resume, though games are prohibited. 
  • New Mexico (Democratic trifecta): The Department of Health announced all 33 counties are in the Red Level for the two week period from Dec. 16-30. Previously, 32 counties were in the Red Level from Dec. 2-16. San Miguel County county was in the Yellow Level. 
  • Washington (Democratic trifecta):  On Wednesday, Dec. 16, Gov. Jay Inslee (D) released updated school reopening guidance for returning students to the classroom. The guidance, which isn’t binding, gives schools three options based on the level of COVID-19 spread. For schools in counties with low spread, the guidance recommends in-person learning for all students. For schools in counties with moderate spread, the guidance recommends a phased approach that starts with elementary students and increases by grade level. In counties with high COVID-19 spread, the guidance recommends in-person learning in small groups for elementary and high-need students only.  

School closures and reopenings

    Read more: School responses to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic during the 2020-2021 academic year

Overview:

  • We last looked at schools in our Dec. 10 newsletter. Since then, no states have issued an order closing or reopening schools statewide.
  • Washington, D.C. has a district-ordered school closure.
    • 2016-17 enrollment: 85,850 students (0.17% of students nationwide)
  • Eleven states (Calif., Del., Hawaii, Ky., Mich., N.C., N.M., N.Y., Ore., R.I., W.Va.) have state-ordered regional school closures, required closures for certain grade levels, or allow hybrid instruction only.
    • 2016-17 enrollment: 14,450,688 students (28.57% 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)
  • Thirty-five states leave decisions to schools or districts.
    • 2016-17 enrollment: 26,870,403 students (53.12% of students nationwide)

Travel restrictions

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

Overview:

  • Since the start of the pandemic, governors or state agencies in 26 states issued executive orders placing restrictions on out-of-state visitors. At least 14 of those orders have been rescinded.   
    • Since Dec. 10, one state has modified its travel restrictions. 

Details:

  • Hawaii – On Wednesday, Dec. 16, Gov. David Ige (D) modified the quarantine requirement for out-of-state and inter-island travelers. See our write-up in “Since our last edition” above for more information. 

Federal responses

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

  • On Friday, Dec. 11, the Food and Drug Administration issued an emergency use authorization (EUA) for Pfizer and BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine. This is the first EUA issued for a vaccine developed to combat COVID-19. The EUA allows the vaccine to be distributed throughout the United States.
  • On Tuesday, Dec. 15, the FDA granted emergency use authorization to medical technology company Ellume’s over the counter, at-home COVID-19 test. This is the first over the counter COVID-19 diagnostic test the FDA approved for emergency use.
  • On Tuesday, Dec. 15, the FDA released data on biotechnology company Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine, calling the two-dose regimen “highly effective” at preventing infection. The FDA meets Dec. 17 to discuss whether to grant the vaccine an emergency use authorization (EAU).


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

Documenting America's Path to Recovery by Ballotpedia

Since our last edition

What rules and restrictions are changing in each state? For a continually updated article, click here.

  • Kentucky (divided government): Gov. Andy Beshear (D) announced the state’s Healthy at School guidelines will be mandatory starting Jan. 4, 2020. The guidelines include rules for social distancing, mask-wearing, sanitization, and other in-person activities (like food service in lunch rooms). 
  • Maryland (divided government): On Tuesday, Dec. 15, Gov. Larry Hogan (R) announced he was activating the National Guard to help distribute coronavirus vaccines around the state. 
  • Oregon (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Kate Brown (D) announced 29 counties will be in the state’s Extreme Risk level, one will be at Moderate Risk, and six counties will have Lower Risk restrictions, effective Dec. 18-31. To see restrictions in a specific county or risk level, click here.
  • Vermont (divided government): On Tuesday, Dec. 15, Gov. Phil Scott (R) issued an executive order extending the COVID-19 state of emergency through January 15, 2021. The emergency declaration includes restrictions like limits on social gatherings. 

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 Tuesday, Dec. 15, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted emergency use authorization to medical technology company Ellume’s over the counter, at-home COVID-19 test. This is the first over the counter COVID-19 diagnostic test approved for emergency use by the FDA.


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

Documenting America's Path to Recovery by Ballotpedia

Since our last edition

What rules and restrictions are changing in each state? For a continually updated article, click here.

  • Colorado (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Jared Polis (D) amended the state’s mask order to clarify that individuals must wear face coverings in all indoor public spaces, even if they are sitting down or standing in one place. Polis also clarified that individuals do not have to wear a mask if they are completely alone in a room.
  • Iowa (Republican trifecta): On Monday, Dec. 14, Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) announced the state would return $21 million in federal CARES Act funding after an audit revealed the money was not spent on the public health emergency. 
  • Mississippi (Republican trifecta): State Health Officer Thomas Dobbs announced hospitals have to postpone elective surgeries that require overnight hospitalization starting Dec. 15 through at least Dec. 23.

Lawsuits over 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 1,293 lawsuits in 50 states dealing in some way with the COVID-19 outbreak. Court orders have been issued, or settlements have been reached, in 396 of those lawsuits. 
    • Since Dec. 8, we have added seven lawsuits to our database. We have tracked no additional court orders and/or settlements. 

Details:

  • Michigan Association of Non-Public Schools v. Gordon: On Dec. 11, 2020, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a Statement of Interest in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan supporting a group of private schools suing Robert Gordon, the Director of Michigan’s Department of Health of Human Services. The Plaintiff schools seek to overturn Gordon’s restrictions on in-person instruction mandated in response to an uptick in statewide COVID-19 cases. In their complaint, the schools allege Michigan officials’ “closure of high schools does not advance the common good, does not advance public health, harms Michigan’s high school students, and prevents Plaintiffs from safely providing a religious education in accord with the United States Constitution and the Michigan Constitution.” Plaintiffs allege the closure of all Michigan high schools, public and private, violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments and similar protections in Michigan’s constitution. In its Statement of Interest, the DOJ said, “The government may not make value judgments that treat religious reasons for gathering worse than nonreligious reasons for comparable gatherings.” Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s (D) representative responded to the DOJ’s intervention, stating, “Not only has the Trump administration made it clear that they won’t protect American families, front-line workers and small businesses from the spread of COVID-19, but they’re also fighting against leaders like those here in Michigan who are following the recommendations of health experts and working to eradicate COVID-19.” The case is assigned to Judge Paul Maloney, an appointee of George W. Bush (R).

State mask requirements

We last looked at face coverings in the Dec. 8 edition of the newsletter. Since then, Wyoming’s mask requirement became effective on Dec. 9. The order requires face-coverings in all businesses open to the public, on public transportation, at medical facilities (like hospitals, doctor’s offices, and veterinary clinics), and in non-federal government buildings.

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.
    • Forty-four members of Congress have been diagnosed with COVID-19.
    • Forty-one federal officials have quarantined after possible exposure to COVID-19.
  • State
    • Six state-level incumbents or candidates have died of COVID-19.
    • One hundred fifty-three state-level incumbents or candidates have been diagnosed with COVID-19
    • Eighty-three state-level incumbents or candidates have quarantined after possible exposure to COVID-19.
  • Local
    • At least four local incumbents or candidates have died of COVID-19.
    • At least 33 local incumbents or candidates have been diagnosed with COVID-19.
    • At least 26 local incumbents or candidates have quarantined after possible exposure to COVID-19.

Since Dec. 8, one U.S. Representative, five state representatives, four state senators, and one city council member have tested positive for COVID-19. One state representative died from COVID-19 complications. One U.S. Representative announced he tested positive for coronavirus antibodies.

Details:

  • On Dec. 9, Philadelphia City Councilmember Mark Squilla (D) announced he tested positive for COVID-19.
  • On Dec. 9, New Hampshire state Rep. Dick Hinch (R) died from COVID-19 complications.
  • On Dec. 9, South Dakota state Sen. Helene Duhamel (R) announced she tested positive for COVID-19. 
  • On Dece. 10, Arkansas state Rep. Carlton Wing (R) announced he tested positive for COVID-19. 
  • On Dec. 10, Indiana state Rep. Todd Huston (R) announced he tested positive for COVID-19.
  • On Dec. 10, Pennsylvania state Sen. John Yudichak (I) announced he tested positive for COVID-19. 
  • On Dec. 10, Pennsylvania state Rep. Barry Jozwiak (R) announced he tested positive for COVID-19.
  • On Dec. 11, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Ca.) announced he tested positive for COVID-19 antibodies.
  • On Dec. 12, South Dakota state Sen. Reynold Nesiba (D) announced he had tested positive for COVID-19.
  • On Dec. 14, Florida state Sen. Wilton Simpson (R) announced that he had tested positive for COVID-19.
  • On Dec. 14, New Hampshire state Rep. Kimberley Rice (R) announced she tested positive for COVID-19.


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

Documenting America's Path to Recovery by Ballotpedia

Since our last edition

What rules and restrictions are changing in each state? For a continually updated article, click here.

  • Indiana (Republican trifecta): On Friday, Dec. 11, Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) directed hospitals to postpone non-urgent surgeries to free up space for patients dealing with COVID-19 beginning Wednesday, Dec. 16. 
  • Maine (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Janet Mills (D) expanded face-covering enforcement requirements for Maine businesses. All business owners or operators of an indoor space open to the public (like schools) must deny entry to anyone not wearing a mask. Previously, enforcement requirements were limited to specific settings like schools and restaurants.
  • Minnesota (divided government): On Monday, Dec. 14, Gov. Tim Walz (D) said he would make a decision about extending coronavirus restrictions on Wednesday, Dec. 16. Last week, the Governor’s office said Walz would make the decision on Dec. 14.
  • Nebraska (Republican trifecta): On Friday, Dec. 11, Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) announced the state would move from the orange to the yellow phase of reopening because the statewide percentage of hospitalized coronavirus patients had fallen below 20%. The yellow phase removes or loosens some restrictions, including the requirement that only members of a participant’s household could attend youth extracurricular activities.  
  • Nevada (Democratic trifecta): On Sunday, Dec. 13, Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) extended the current statewide coronavirus restrictions, including a requirement that caps indoor and outdoor dining at 25% capacity, through Jan. 15.
  • New York (Democratic trifecta): On Dec. 14, the first public doses of Pfizer and BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine were administered to healthcare workers in New York City. For more information on the vaccine’s approval, see the Additional activity section below.
  • Pennsylvania (divided government): Gov. Tom Wolf’s (D) statewide mitigation measures took effect at 12:01 a.m. on Dec. 12. Indoor dining is prohibited, indoor fitness and entertainment operations have to close, indoor gatherings are limited to 10 people or fewer, and outdoor gatherings are limited to 50 people or fewer. Outdoor dining and fitness activities are still allowed. Places of worship are exempt from the gathering limit. The new restrictions are scheduled to last until 8 a.m. on Jan. 4, 2021.
  • Virginia (Democratic trifecta): On Thursday, Dec. 10, Gov. Ralph Northam (D) announced a statewide curfew from midnight to 5 a.m. The curfew is scheduled to take effect on Monday, Dec. 14. Northam also lowered the limit on gatherings from 25 to 10 and restricted outdoor sport spectators to two guests per player and 25 per field for indoor sports. Places of worship will be exempt from the gathering limits.

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 Friday, Dec. 11, the Food and Drug Administration issued an emergency use authorization (EUA) for Pfizer and BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine. This is the first EUA issued for a vaccine developed to combat COVID-19. The EUA allows the vaccine to be distributed throughout the United States.


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