TagCoronavirus

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

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suit in the United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan to challenge an executive order, since rescinded, that placed restrictions on nonessential medical and dental procedures.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



Documenting America’s Path to Recovery: October 9, 2020 #Edition #114

Welcome to Documenting America’s Path to Recovery, where we track the status of reopening in all 50 states. Today we look at the easing of coronavirus restrictions in a region in Illinois, the extension of a moratorium on evictions in Washington, travel restrictions, 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.

 

  • Georgia (Republican trifecta): The Georgia Association of Educators, the state’s largest teachers’ union, sued Gov. Brian Kemp (R) and other top officials in a lawsuit to require the state to enforce binding reopening guidance for schools. In its school reopening guidance released in July, the Georgia Department of Education left reopening decisions to local school districts.  

 

  • Illinois (Democratic trifecta): Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) announced Region 4 (the Metro East region) is returning to Phase 4 of reopening at 5 p.m. on Oct. 9. The region had rolled back reopening on Aug. 18 due to increased coronavirus case numbers. The Illinois Department of Public Health also removed two counties from the state’s warning level classification, bringing the total number of warning-level counties to 26.

 

  • Iowa (Republican trifecta): On Friday, Oct. 9, Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) announced the launch of the Residential Utility Disruption Prevention Program. The program will provide up to $2,000 to low-income families to help pay utility bills. 

 

  • Louisiana (divided government): Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) extended Phase Three of the state’s reopening plan through Nov. 6.
  • Michigan (divided government): Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) issued an executive order effective Oct. 9 that will allow movie theaters and other indoor entertainment venues to reopen. Capacity at those venues will be capped at 20 people per 1,000 square feet. 

 

  • Nevada (Democratic trifecta): On Thursday, Oct. 8, the Nevada COVID-19 task force lowered the standard for testing and positivity rates that counties must meet to avoid being labeled “elevated risk.” The new standard requires counties to test more than 100 individuals per 100,000 daily and to keep the positivity rate below 8%. Previously, counties were required to test 150 individuals per 100,000 each day and keep the positivity rate below 7%.

 

 

  • Washington (Democratic trifecta): On Thursday, Oct. 8, Gov. Jay Inslee (D) extended the statewide moratorium on evictions through Dec. 31. 

 

 

  • West Virginia (Republican trifecta): On Friday, Oct. 9, Gov. Jim Justice (R) announced that bars in Morgantown, where West Virginia University is located, can reopen on Oct. 13. Justice ordered bars closed in the area on Sept. 2.

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. 6, Govs. Ned Lamont (D-Conn.), Phil Murphy (D-N.J.), and Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.) announced that New Mexico had been added to the tristate quarantine list. 
    • Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York created the joint list on June 24. To date, 35 states and territories are on the list. 
  • On Oct. 7, Hawaii Gov. David Ige (D) said that a pre-test program would launch for out-of-state travelers Oct. 15. This will allow visitors to avoid the 14-day quarantine 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 still need to quarantine.

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. 5, parents of high-school athletes sued the Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL) in the Hennepin County District Court, seeking to overturn restrictions on the number of spectators allowed at games. In their complaint, the plaintiffs allege that MSHSL restrictions, which, at the time of filing, barred all spectators from indoor venues and allowed no more than 250 at outdoor venues, do not align with the state health department’s less restrictive guidance. The plaintiffs allege the MSHSL is “arbitrarily making determinations regarding health risks.” Plaintiffs also allege the MSHSL ignored its constitution when it amended its bylaws without member schools’ approval. On Oct. 8, MSHSL issued new guidance for indoor venues, which will allow up to two spectators per athlete so long as the venue does not exceed 250 total spectators. The outdoor venue restrictions remain unchanged. The case is assigned to Judge Thomas S. Fraser.

 

  • The Broadway League extended theater closures in New York City through May 30, 2021. Theaters are offering refunds for tickets purchased for shows through that date.


Documenting America’s Path to Recovery: October 8, 2020 Edition #113

Welcome to Documenting America’s Path to Recovery, where we track the status of reopening in all 50 states. Today we look at new stages of reopening in Connecticut and Michigan, an announcement of aid to families facing evictions due to the coronavirus pandemic in Maryland, 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?

 

  • Michigan (divided government): Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) issued an executive order effective Oct. 9 that will allow movie theaters and other indoor entertainment venues to reopen, including bowling centers and indoor climbing facilities. Capacity at those venues will be capped at 20 people per 1,000 square feet. 

 

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): The state is moving to the third phase of reopening on Oct. 8. Phase 3 allows businesses like restaurants and barbershops to operate at 75% capacity. Outdoor event venues (like amphitheaters and racetracks) and indoor performing arts venues can operate at 50% capacity. Private indoor gatherings of up to 25 people and outdoor gatherings of up to 150 people are allowed.

 

  • Louisiana (divided government): On Oct. 7, Assumption and Vermilion parishes met the state’s positivity rate requirements to reopen bars.

 

  • Maryland (divided government): On Thursday, Oct. 8, Gov. Larry Hogan (R) and Attorney General Brian Frosch (D) announced that $12 million was being directed to the Maryland Legal Services Corporations to assist families facing eviction.

 

 

  • Virginia (Democratic trifecta): On Thursday, Oct. 8, Gov. Ralph Northam (D) announced that more than $220 million in federal aid would be distributed to K-12 public schools to support COVID-19 preparedness for the ongoing school year.

 

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 restrictions on religious gatherings in Colorado.

Andrew Wommack Ministries, Inc. v. Polis

On Sept. 29, Judge Christine M. Arguello of the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado declined to block Gov. Jared Polis’  restrictions on religious gatherings. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit declined to hear an appeal of Arguello’s decision.

What was at issue? 

Andrew Wommack Ministries alleged Polis’ orders infringed upon the church’s “constitutional rights by discrimination against its right to assembly, speech, free exercise of religion, [and] equal protection.” The church sued after it received a cease-and-desist order for hosting a conference event exceeding the 175-person limit for indoor events. 

How did the courts rule? 

In her order, Arguello, a George W. Bush (R) appointee, wrote that allowing such large indoor gatherings “would be compromising the health of the public, which could cause the death of an untold number of innocent citizens.” On Sept. 29, Andrew Wommack Ministries appealed the decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. On Oct. 5, the Tenth Circuit declined to take up the appeal, finding that Andrew Wommack Ministries “has not made a sufficient showing that it is likely to succeed on appeal as to merit the requested relief.”

What are the reactions? 

Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, which represents the church, said, “This is just the beginning. The case is far from over.” In response to news that the church planned to move forward with hosting a conference, Polis filed a motion for contempt of court. The church opposed the motion, and Arguello set a hearing for Oct. 8. 

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. 

 

  • The Milwaukee Health Department in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, said it would not enforce Gov. Tony Evers’ (D) order limiting businesses to 25% capacity. Health Department officials said Evers’ order allows cities to impose more stringent requirements and said current local restrictions meet that standard, which requires bars and restaurants to submit individualized safety plans to the Health Department for approval.

 

 



Coronavirus weekly update: October 2 – October 8, 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 Oct. 1:

  • 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. 
    • Seven states have made voting procedure modifications since Oct. 1.
  • Twenty states have modified their candidate filing requirements. 
    • No states have made candidate filing modifications since Oct. 1.

Details:

  • Arizona
    • On Oct. 6, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed a lower court’s order that would have allowed Arizona voters up to five days to provide missing signatures for absentee/mail-in ballots.
    • On Oct. 5, Judge Steven Logan of the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona ordered the state’s voter registration deadline be extended to 5 p.m. on Oct. 23.
  • Florida: On Oct. 6, Secretary of State Laurel Lee (R) announced the state’s voter registration would be extended to 7 p.m. on Oct. 6.
  • Georgia: On Oct. 2, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit reinstated Georgia’s Nov. 3 receipt deadlines for absentee/mail-in ballots.
  • Iowa: On Oct. 6, the Iowa Supreme Court blocked a state court’s order that had allowed county election officials to send pre-filled absentee/mail-in ballot request forms to voters.
  • Ohio: On Oct. 2, a three-judge panel of the Ohio 10th District Court of Appeals ruled that Secretary of State Frank LaRose (R) could direct counties to offer multiple drop-box locations for returning absentee/mail-in ballots. The panel stopped short of requiring LaRose to do so, overturning a lower court decision to that effect.
  • South Carolina: On Oct. 5, the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated South Carolina’s witness signature requirement for absentee/mail-in ballots.
  • Texas: On Oct. 1, Gov. Greg Abbott (R) issued an order limiting the number of return locations for absentee/mail-in ballots to one per county.

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)

Details:

  • Oregon – The Oregon Department of Education announced the state would disregard positivity rate data from September in determining whether school districts could reopen. The announcement meant school districts could reopen for in-person instruction if their counties met the state’s case count criteria until October positivity data was available.

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 1,032 lawsuits, across all states, dealing in some way with the COVID-19 outbreak. Court orders have been issued, or settlements have been reached, in 360 of those lawsuits. 
    • Since Oct. 1, we have added 19 lawsuits to our database. We have also tracked an additional eight court orders and/or settlements. 
  • Ballotpedia has separately followed another 262 lawsuits, in 45 states, dealing with election issues during the COVID-19 outbreak. Court orders have been issued, or settlements have been reached, in 188 of those lawsuits.

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. 1, three states have modified their travel restrictions. 

Details:

  • Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York – On Oct. 6, Govs. Ned Lamont (D-Conn.), Phil Murphy (D-N.J.), and Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.) announced that New Mexico had been added to the tristate quarantine list. 
  • Hawaii – On Oct. 7, Gov. David Ige (D) said that a pre-test program would launch for out-of-state travelers Oct. 15. This will allow visitors to avoid the 14-day quarantine 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 still need to quarantine.

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 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 Nov. 4, 1918, the Chicago Herald and Examiner reported on the removal of restrictions on outdoor sports in Chicago. 

Outdoor sports in Chicago will resume the even tenor of their way today, when the restrictions that were placed on athletes three weeks ago because of the influenza epidemic will be withdrawn by the health department. The lifting of the ban comes just in time to give college football fans an opportunity to watch the Maroons and Michigan play for the first time in thirteen years, but high school and semipro gridiron teams also will resume their schedules immediately.

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. 1, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced it would return control of supplies of Remdesivir to Gilead Sciences, the biopharmaceutical company that manufactures the drug. Previously, HHS had distributed the drug to states and territories, but a representative for the agency said demand has fallen. Gilead will sell the drug to hospitals. Remdesivir was granted an emergency use authorization (EAU) from the Food and Drug Administration in May.
  • On Oct. 3, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced the U.S. Senate will not return to session until Oct. 19 after Sens. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.)  tested positive between Oct. 2 and Oct. 3 for the coronavirus. McConnell said Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearings for U.S. Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett will still begin Oct. 12.
  • On Oct. 3, the Federal Bureau of Prisons allowed non-contact social visits to resume at federal prison facilities. Each facility must create a plan for inmate visitations, which included physical distancing and physical barriers.
  • On Oct. 6, the Department of Homeland Security published “Homeland Threat Assessment.” The report covers threats from state and non-state actors, including how the coronavirus pandemic has affected U.S. national security and benefitted foreign rivals.

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. 8, 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 an active stay-at-home order.

Eviction and foreclosure policies

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

Overview:

  • Nineteen states have current moratoriums on evictions and foreclosures.
    • Since Oct. 1, no states have announced changes to statewide eviction moratoriums.
  • Twenty-four 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.

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-three 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-five 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.

Details:

Positive tests:

  • On Oct. 1, Hope Hicks, an assistant and counselor to President Donald Trump (R), announced she had tested positive for coronavirus. 
  • On Oct. 2, President Donald Trump announced on Twitter that he and first lady Melania Trump had tested positive for COVID-19. Trump checked into the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Oct. 2 and returned to the White House Oct. 5.
  • On Oct. 2, Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) announced he had tested positive for coronavirus.
  • On Oct. 2, Republican National Committee (RNC) chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel announced she had tested positive for coronavirus.
  • On Oct. 2, Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) announced on Twitter he had tested positive for coronavirus.
  • On Oct. 2, Kellyanne Conway, a former counselor to President Trump, announced on Twitter she had tested positive for coronavirus.
  •  On Oct. 2, Bill Stepien, President Trump’s campaign manager, announced he had tested positive for coronavirus. 
  • On Oct. 2, Ohio state Rep. Joe Miller (D), who represents District 56, announced on Twitter he had tested positive for coronavirus.
  • On Oct. 3, Sen. Ron Johnson’s (R-Wis.) office announced that he had tested positive for coronavirus.
  • On Oct. 5, Virginia Beach City Councilmember John D. Moss announced he had tested positive for coronavirus.
  • On Oct. 5, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany announced she tested positive for coronavirus.
  • On Oct. 5, the Arizona House Democrats caucus announced state Rep. Lorenzo Sierra (D) had been admitted to the hospital due to complications related to coronavirus.
  • On Oct. 6, California state Sen. Salud Carbajal (D) announced he had tested positive for coronavirus.
  • On Oct. 6, Stephen Miller, a senior policy advisor to President Trump, announced he had tested positive for coronavirus.

Negative tests:

  • On Oct. 2, Rep. Tom Emmer (R-Minn.) announced he had tested negative for coronavirus after flying on Air Force One with President Trump.
  • On Oct. 2, Minnesota state Rep. Kurt Daudt (R), who represents District 31A, announced he had tested negative for coronavirus before meeting with President Trump ahead of a planned rally.
  • On Oct. 2, Rep. Pete Stauber (R-Minn.) announced he had tested negative for coronavirus after flying on Air Force One with President Trump.
  • On Oct. 2, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) announced she and her husband tested negative for coronavirus.
  • On Oct. 2, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) said he had tested negative for coronavirus. Jordan had accompanied President Trump on Air Force One earlier in the week to the first presidential debate in Cleveland, Ohio.
  • On Oct. 2, White House spokesman Judd Deere announced U.S. Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett tested negative for the coronavirus.
  • On Oct. 2, Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) announced he had received a negative test result.
  • On Oct. 2, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) announced he had tested negative for coronavirus. He previously announced that he had tested negative on March 15.
  • On Oct. 2, Wisconsin state Rep. Scott Allen (R), who represents District 97, announced he had tested negative for coronavirus.
  • On Oct. 2, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), the Speaker of the House, announced she had tested negative for coronavirus.
  • On October 2, Minnesota state Rep. Jim Hagedorn (R) announced he had tested negative for coronavirus after flying on Air Force One with President Trump.
  • On Oct. 3, Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Id.) announced he had tested negative for coronavirus.
  • On Oct. 3, Pennsylvania state Rep. Melissa Shusterman (D), who represents District 157, announced she would self-quarantine after state Rep. Paul Schemel (R) tested positive for coronavirus on Oct. 1. 
  • On Oct. 3, Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) announced he had tested negative for coronavirus.
  • On Oct. 3, Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mi.) announced he had tested negative for coronavirus after two senators with whom he worked tested positive for coronavirus.
  • On Oct. 4, Biden’s campaign announced he tested negative for coronavirus for the third time since Oct. 2.
  • On Oct. 4, a Justice Department spokesperson said U.S. Attorney General William Barr was self-quarantining and had tested negative for COVID-19 four times since Oct. 2.
  • Eric Trump, the son of President Trump, announced he and his wife Lara had tested negative for coronavirus.
  • On Oct. 5, New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) announced she had tested negative for coronavirus after a custodial staff member of her residence tested positive. She said she would self-quarantine until she could receive another test.
  • On Oct. 5, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) announced he had tested negative for coronavirus.

Self-quarantined:

  • On Oct. 2, Jason Lewis (R), a U.S. Senate candidate to represent Minnesota, announced that he would self-quarantine after flying on Air Force One with President Trump. Lewis said he would seek a coronavirus test.
  • On Oct. 3, Wisconsin state Rep. Jim Ott (R), who represents District 23, announced he was self-quarantining after attending an event with Sen. Ron Johnson (R), who later tested positive for coronavirus.
  • On Oct. 7, six of the seven members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff entered into self-quarantine after an admiral in the Coast Guard tested positive for coronavirus.​​​​​​

State legislation

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

Overview: 

  • To date, 3,352 bills related to the coronavirus pandemic have been introduced in state legislatures.
    • We have tracked 77 additional bills since Oct. 1.
  • Of these, 458 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 20 additional significant bills since Oct. 1 (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. 1, one court ended restrictions on jury trials.
  • Sixteen states suspended in-person proceedings at the local level

Details:

  • Wisconsin – On Oct. 1, the Wisconsin Supreme Court reissued a ban on in-person proceedings whenever a circuit or municipal court reverses any part of its operational plan in response to the coronavirus. Circuit and municipal courts were previously permitted to reopen if the chief judge in each administration district approved the plan.
  • Delaware –  On Oct. 5, Delaware courts advanced into a modified Phase 3 of reopening, allowing jury trials to resume. Phase 3 also allows courts to operate at 75% capacity and increases the number of people allowed in a courtroom to 50.
  • Georgia – On Oct. 5, Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Harold Melton announced that he would jury trials to resume on October 10.

Learn more

Click here to learn more.



Documenting America’s Path to Recovery: October 7, 2020 Edition #112

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 on indoor gatherings in Wisconsin, the easing of restrictions on certain businesses and youth sports in Washington, 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?

 

  • Connecticut (Democratic trifecta): The state is scheduled to move to the third phase of reopening on Oct. 8. Phase 3 will allow businesses like restaurants and barbershops to operate at 75% capacity. Outdoor event venues (like amphitheaters and racetracks) and indoor performing arts venues will be able to operate at 50% capacity. Private indoor gatherings of up to 25 people and outdoor gatherings of up to 150 people will be allowed.

 

Since our last edition

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

 

  • California (Democratic trifecta): The Department of Health moved Tehama County back to the purple reopening tier (the most restrictive classification) and Shasta County back to red after coronavirus cases increased. Ventura, Merced, and Yuba counties moved from purple into the red tier of reopening. Inyo County moved from red to orange, and Humboldt, Plumas, Siskiyou, and Trinity counties moved from orange to yellow.

 

 

  • Minnesota (divided government): On Wednesday, Oct. 7, Gov. Tim Walz (D) announced that he planned to extend the state of emergency another 30 days. The extension will trigger a special session of the legislature. The state of emergency is the basis for many coronavirus restrictions, including the statewide mask mandate. 

 

  • New York (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced the state will impose new restrictions on areas of New York City where coronavirus cases are rising, starting no later than Oct. 9. Mayor Bill De Blasio said enforcement of these restrictions will start on Oct. 8. In areas designated as red zones, state-defined non-essential businesses will have to close, religious gatherings will be limited to 10 people, and restaurants will only be able to offer takeout service.

 

  • Ohio (Republican trifecta): On Tuesday, Oct. 6, Gov. Mike DeWine (R) announced that he would provide details on an aid package to small businesses, nonprofits, and individuals using federal pandemic aid money. The package would also provide rent assistance to individuals.

 

 

  • Texas (Republican trifecta): On Wednesday, Oct. 7, Gov. Greg Abbott (R) announced on Facebook that country judges can allow bars and similar establishments to reopen at 50% capacity in regions with low COVID-19 hospitalization rates beginning Oct. 14. Bars in counties that opt in will be required to keep patrons seated while indoors. Additionally, businesses like amusement parks and movie theaters in low hospitalization counties will be permitted to reopen at 75% capacity on Oct. 14. 

 

 

  • Washington (Democratic trifecta): On Tuesday, Oct. 6, Gov. Jay Inslee (D) announced that he was easing coronavirus restrictions on restaurants, businesses, and youth sports. The new rules allow theaters in counties in Phase 2 of reopening to operate at 25% capacity and theaters in Phase 3 of reopening to operate at 50% capacity. Additionally, restaurants in Phase 2 counties can allow up to six people to sit together at a table, while restaurants in Phase 3 can allow up to eight. Libraries in counties in Phase 2 can reopen at 25% capacity. The state also set out new, tiered guidelines for youth sports that connect the types of sports permitted to the level of new cases in counties over a 14-day period.

 

 

  • Wisconsin (divided government): On Tuesday, Oct. 6, Department of Health Services Secretary Andrea Palm issued an order limiting indoor gatherings to 25% capacity. Colleges, schools, churches, polling locations, rallies, and outdoor venues are exempt from the order. 

 

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 Nov. 4, the Los Angeles Evening Herald reported on the arrest of a member of the Ninth Church of Christ, Scientist, who challenged a public health order closing churches.

H.P. Hitchcock, a director of the Ninth Church of Christ, Scientist, was today remanded to the city jail on a charge of having violated the city health ordinance yesterday when the Christian Scientists held a meeting to test the validity of the influenza epidemic rules closing all churches and places of public assembly.

Judge Hugh Crawford made the order placing Mr. Hitchcock in the custody of the jailer after Mr. Hitchcock had refused to put up $6 bail in order to make a test case of the city health ordinance.

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.

 



Documenting America’s Path to Recovery: October 6, 2020 Edition #111

Welcome to Documenting America’s Path to Recovery, where we track the status of reopening in all 50 states. Today we look at Maine’s next phase of reopening, new coronavirus restrictions in Michiganschool 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.

  • Kansas (divided government): The Kansas Department of Education announced 10 more counties moved into the red zone (remote instruction only) for school reopenings.
  • Maine (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Janet Mills (D) announced 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. Mills said the state was targeting Nov. 2 for bars and tasting rooms to resume indoor service.
  • Maryland (divided government): On Tuesday, Oct. 6, Gov. Larry Hogan (R) extended Maryland’s state of emergency. Hogan first declared the state of emergency on March 5.
  • Michigan (divided government): On Monday, Oct. 5, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) issued an emergency public health order replacing many of the coronavirus restrictions the Michigan Supreme Court struck down on Oct. 2, including limits on gatherings and a mask requirement. The court ruled that day that Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s (D) emergency orders were based on an unconstitutional 1945 law called the Emergency Powers of the Governor Act of 1945. The MDHHS order expires Oct. 30.
  • Pennsylvania (divided government): Gov. Tom Wolf (D) announced gatherings of up to 7,500 people in large outdoor venues or 3,750 in indoor venues will be permitted starting Oct. 9.
  • West Virginia (Republican trifecta): On Monday, Oct. 5, Gov. Jim Justice (R) issued an executive order allowing live outdoor music performances to resume so long as crowds are restricted to 25% capacity or 250 individuals, whichever is less. Indoor live music performances which are streamed across the internet without crowds are permitted to resume.

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)



Documenting America’s Path to Recovery: October 5, 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 Michigan Supreme Court decision that affects the state’s coronavirus restrictions, the end of capacity limits on restaurants in South Carolina, 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.

  • Florida (Republican trifecta): Pre-K, kindergarten, and first grade students in the Miami-Dade Public School district returned to classrooms Monday, Oct. 5. Students in higher grades will return to classrooms on Wednesday and Friday. The Miami-Dade Public School district is the largest district in Florida and the fourth largest in the country.
  • Iowa (Republican trifecta): On Friday, Oct. 2, Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) issued an order easing restrictions on bars, breweries, wineries, and distilleries in Johnson and Story counties. Breweries, wineries, and distilleries were permitted to reopen at 5 p.m. Friday, while bars were permitted to reopen on Monday, Oct. 5. Reynolds closed bars in six counties in August, but allowed most to reopen in September. Bars, breweries, wineries, and distilleries in Johnson and Story counties must enforce social-distancing rules in order to reopen.
  • Massachusetts (divided government): Effective Monday, Oct. 5, cities and towns designated as “lower risk” on the state’s community spread map can advance to Step 2 of Phase 3 of the reopening plan. In Step 2 of Phase 3, indoor entertainment businesses like roller rinks and trampoline parks can reopen, and indoor and outdoor performance venues can operate at up to 50% capacity. Additionally, gyms, libraries, and museums will be permitted to operate at 50% capacity.
  • Michigan (divided government): On Friday, Oct. 2, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled 4-3 that Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) lacked the authority to issue pandemic-related executive orders after April 30, 2020, when the legislature declined to extend the emergency and disaster declarations. The court ruled the Emergency Powers of the Governor Act (EPGA) of 1945, which was one of two laws on which Whitmer justified her orders, violated the Michigan constitution.
  • New York (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced schools in some New York City neighborhoods with higher positivity rates must close starting Oct. 6.
  • Oregon (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Kate Brown (D) announced Benton and Clatsop counties were added to the state’s watchlist. The Oregon Department of Education also announced the state will disregard positivity rate data from September in determining whether school districts are allowed to reopen. School districts can now open for in-person instruction if their counties meet the state’s case count criteria.
  • South Carolina (Republican trifecta): Gov. Henry McMaster (R) issued an executive order lifting capacity limits on restaurants, effective Oct. 2. Individuals are still required to wear face coverings at restaurants, and the sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages after 11 p.m. is still prohibited.

Daily feature: Face coverings

We last looked at face coverings in the Sept. 28 edition of the newsletter. Since then, Mississippi became the first state to allow its statewide public face covering requirement to expire, effective Sept. 30. The state still requires individuals to wear masks at schools and at businesses the state defines as close-contact (like barbershops and salons).

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.

  • Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced the U.S. Senate will not return to session until Oct. 19 after Sens. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.)  tested positive between Oct. 2 and Oct. 3 for the coronavirus. McConnell said Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearings for U.S. Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett will still begin Oct. 12.


Documenting America’s Path to Recovery: October 2, 2020

Welcome to Documenting America’s Path to Recovery, where we track the status of reopening in all 50 states. Today we look at California’s new equity metric for reopening, the resumption of nursing home visitations in Maryland, travel restrictions, 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.

  • California (Democratic trifecta): Health Secretary Mark Ghaly said the state will implement what it calls an equity metric for reopening. The rule will require counties to reduce infection rates in state-defined disadvantaged communities before they can move to a less restrictive phase of reopening.
  • Illinois (Democratic trifecta): The Illinois Department of Public Health added 11 more counties to the state’s warning level classification, bringing the total number of warning-level counties to 28. The state uses the classification system to identify counties that may need additional mitigation measures.
  • Maryland (divided government): On Oct. 1, Gov. Larry Hogan (R) announced nursing homes can resume visitations. A facility that registers a coronavirus case must close to visitors for two weeks. Any facility in a county with a positivity rate of 10% or more must also close to visitors. Karen Salmon, the state superintendent of schools, also announced that daycares can reopen at full capacity.
  • Michigan (divided government): On Oct. 2, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) announced she was moving the Upper Peninsula region back to Phase 4 following a spike in coronavirus cases. The region had been in Phase 5. Phase 4 includes a mask requirement in schools and limited capacity for retail stores.
  • North Carolina (divided government): On Sept. 30, Gov. Roy Cooper (D) announced the state would advance to Phase 3 of reopening on Oct. 2. Phase 3 eases several restrictions on businesses, including allowing bars to provide outdoor service at 30% capacity or 100 guests, whichever is less. Movie theaters can also reopen at 30% capacity or 100 guests. Large outdoor venues will be permitted to operate at 7% capacity. Some restrictions, such as mandatory face coverings in public, will remain in effect.

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 Sept. 22, Govs. Ned Lamont (D-Conn.), Phil Murphy (D-N.J.), and Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.) announced Colorado had been added to the tristate quarantine list. Arizona and Virginia were removed from the list.



Documenting America’s Path to Recovery: October 1, 2020

Welcome to Documenting America’s Path to Recovery, where we track the status of reopening in all 50 states. Today we look at the expiration of a moratorium on evictions in Florida, an announcement that Idaho will remain in Phase Four of reopening, 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?

  • North Carolina (divided government): On Sept. 30, Gov. Roy Cooper (D) announced that the state would advance to Phase 3 of reopening on Oct. 2. Phase 3 eases several restrictions on businesses, including allowing bars to provide outdoor service at 30% capacity or 100 guests, whichever is less. Movie theaters can also reopen at 30% capacity or 100 guests. Large outdoor venues will be permitted to operate at 7% capacity. Some restrictions, such as mandatory face coverings in public, will remain in place.

Since our last edition

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

  • Arizona (Republican trifecta): The Arizona Department of Health Services announced all 15 counties in the state meet the requirements to allow businesses and activities like movie theaters, gyms, and food service at bars to reopen.
  • 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.
  • Indiana (Republican trifecta): On Sept. 30, Gov. Eric Holcomb issued an executive order extending a rule allowing medical professionals whose licenses have expired, or those who are licensed in other states, to get temporary medical licenses to practice in Indiana.
  • Louisiana (divided government): Iberia and St. Martin parishes met the state’s positivity rate requirements to reopen bars.
  • Maine (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Janet Mills (D) issued a curtailment order cutting state spending in response to a more than $525 million budget shortfall. Mills also extended the state’s coronavirus emergency order through Oct. 29.
  • Nevada (Democratic trifecta): On Sept. 29, Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) announced he would issue an executive order effective Oct. 1 easing some coronavirus restrictions, including raising the gathering limit from 50 to 250 people. Sports venues with more than 2,500 seats will be permitted to reopen at 10% capacity if they submit a plan and receive approval from state and local officials.
  • Virginia (Democratic trifecta): On Oct. 1, the State Corporation Commission said that it would not extend a moratorium on utility service disconnections that expires Oct. 5. Gov. Ralph Northam (D) requested an extension of the moratorium through Dec. 1 in a letter sent earlier that day.
  • Wisconsin (divided government): On Oct. 1, Gov. Tony Evers (D) and Department of Health Services-designee Andrea Palm issued an order easing licensing requirements for healthcare workers during the state of emergency. The order allows healthcare workers from other states to receive temporary licenses in Wisconsin and makes it easier for workers with lapsed licenses to reapply.
  • Connecticut, New Jersey, New York (Democratic trifectas) Govs. Ned Lamont (D-Conn.), Phil Murphy (D-N.J.), and Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.) announced Colorado had been added to the tristate quarantine list. Arizona and Virginia were removed from the list. Murphy and Cuomo also announced the launch of a coronavirus exposure notification app in their states.

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 school restrictions in Florida.

Levine v. School District of Palm Beach County

On Sept. 28, Judge Glenn D. Kelley, of the Palm Beach County Circuit Court, refused local teachers’ request to transition students to distance learning.

What was at issue?

The teachers allege Palm Beach County’s school district reopening plan arbitrarily and capriciously denied “students, public school staff, their family members, and the public with whom they come in contact within the public-school system their basic human needs for health and safety,” violating the state constitution.

How did the court rule?

In his order, Kelley wrote that, while he “is not unsympathetic to the safety concerns demonstrated by the Plaintiffs,” he was unable to “second guess the plan developed and implemented by the School Board.” Kelley said that “the Court simply cannot, and should not, determine the wisdom of public policy.”

What are the reactions, and what comes next?

The school district said: “The School District of Palm Beach County appreciates and respects Judge Kelley’s very thoughtful decision in upholding the School Board’s Reopening Plan.” The plaintiffs have not publicly indicated whether they intend to appeal.

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.

  • Public middle and high schools in New York City are reopening for in-person instruction on Oct. 1. Families can still choose to enroll in fully remote classes.


Coronavirus weekly update: September 25 – October 1, 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 Sept. 24:

  • 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

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. 
    • Six states have made voting procedure modifications since Sept. 24.
  • Twenty states have modified their candidate filing requirements. 
    • No states have made candidate filing modifications since Sept. 24.

Details:

  • Alabama: On Sept. 30, Judge Abdul Kallon of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama issued a ruling that made a number of modifications to Alabama’s voting laws, including waiving the absentee/mail-in ballot witness/notary requirement for voters with underlying medical conditions. 
  • Indiana: On Sept. 29, Judge Sarah Barker of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana issued an order extending the postmark and receipt deadline for absentee/mail-in ballots in Indiana to Nov. 3 and Nov. 13, respectively.
  • Iowa: On Sept. 25, Iowa legislators approved Secretary of State Paul Pate’s R(R) emergency request authorizing counties to begin processing absentee/mail-in ballots on Oct. 31, the Saturday before Election Day.
  • South Carolina: On Sept. 25, the full Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed an earlier ruling and removed the state’s witness requirement for absentee/mail-in ballots.
  • Texas: On Sept. 30, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit blocked a lower court’s order that had reinstated Texas’ straight-ticket ballot device, pending further proceedings. 
  • Wisconsin: On Sept. 29, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit upheld a district court decision extending voter 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

Overview:

In March and April, 48 states closed schools to in-person instruction for the remainder of the 2019-2020 academic year. Those states accounted for 99.4% of the nation’s 50.6 million public school students. Montana and Wyoming did not require in-person instruction to close for the year. Montana schools were allowed to reopen on May 7 and Wyoming schools were allowed to reopen on May 15.

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)
  • Five states (Calif., Hawaii, N.M., Ore., W.V.) have a state-ordered regional school closure
    • 2016-17 enrollment: 7,679,753 students (15.18% of students nationwide)
  • Two states (Del., Va.) are open for hybrid or remote instruction only
    • 2016-17 enrollment: 1,686,326 students (3.33% 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-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 1,013 lawsuits, across all 50 states, dealing in some way with the COVID-19 outbreak. Court orders have been issued, or settlements have been reached, in 352 of those lawsuits. 
    • Since Sept. 24, we have added 22 lawsuits to our database. We have also tracked an additional 20 court orders and/or settlements. 
  • Ballotpedia has separately tracked another 251 lawsuits, in 47 states, dealing with election issues during the COVID-19 outbreak. Court orders have been issued, or settlements have been reached, in 176 of those lawsuits.

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

  • Case v. Ivey: On Sept. 24, seven Alabama residents represented by former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore (R) sued Gov. Kay Ivey (R) and State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris in U.S. district court. Plaintiffs allege the executive orders Ivey and Harris have issued are unconstitutional. The plaintiffs said the “Orders, Proclamations, and Mandates of both Governor Ivey and State Health Officer Harris” have been enforced as law and “violate the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.” Plaintiffs allege the limits on gathering size and social distancing orders “unlawfully and in direct contradiction to the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment … effectively prohibited worship services.” A representative for Ivey said, “The governor is pleased with our state’s progress in terms of COVID-19 and reminds everyone to keep at it.” Although the suit was originally filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama, it was later moved to the Middle District. A judge has not yet been assigned.
  • Ike’s Korner Grille v. South Carolina: On Sept. 20, a Spartanburg County restaurant sued the state of South Carolina and Gov. Henry McMaster (R), alleging McMaster’s COVID-19 executive orders “are not authorized by the laws of South Carolina and violate the South Carolina Constitution.” Ike’s Korner Grille has received multiple notices for violating mandatory safety measures. The Grille’s owners allege the orders pose “the threat of lasting and permanent harm” to its “business and personal liberty by the restrictive micro-managing of operations.” Plaintiffs also allege McMaster’s orders exceed the statutory time-limit for a state of emergency and unconstitutionally “usurp the legislative power of the General Assembly.” A representative from McMaster’s office said, “[The] governor is confident in the constitutionality of the targeted, deliberate and limited measures that have been put in place to help stop the spread of the virus.” The case is pending in the Spartanburg County Court of Common Pleas.
  • Newman v. Evers: On Sept. 17, a Wisconsin poll worker who was fired for refusing to wear a mask sued his local city clerk and Gov. Tony Evers (D) in the La Crosse County Circuit Court. Poll worker Nicholas Newman asks the court to declare Evers’ Executive Order No. 82 and Emergency Order No. 1 unlawful. The orders declared a public health emergency and mandated masks statewide, respectively. Newman alleges Evers’ mask mandate exceeds “his statutory and constitutional power, and is therefore unlawful, void and unenforceable.” Newman also says the order exempts him from wearing a face covering because he “is an individual who has trouble breathing” and “also has a medical condition which makes it dangerous for him to wear a mask for an extended period of time.” A representative for Evers said, “that masks can save lives, and Gov. Evers continues to ask everyone to do their part to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 by wearing a mask.” The case has been assigned to Judge Ramona A. Gonzalez.

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 Sept. 24three states have modified their travel restrictions. 

Details:

  • Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York – On Sept. 22, Govs. Ned Lamont (D-Conn.), Phil Murphy (D-N.J.), and Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.) that Colorado had been added to the tristate quarantine list. Arizona and Virginia were removed from the list. 

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 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 Nov. 5, 1918, the Oakland Tribune reported on the shortage of poll workers in Alameda County due to the influenza pandemic.

Oakland and virtually all of Alameda County is handling today’s selection under difficulties. Many of those selected as election booth officials have been made ill by Spanish influenza and substitutes have been difficult to obtain by reason of fear of the epidemic. 

All of the polling places are open, however, although many of them are being run shorthanded. It is the purpose of County Clerk Gross to fill the vacancies by drafting persons who come to work at the polls for candidates or from those who come to vote.

Early morning voting was very light, according to the reports that have been received by the county clerk. It is believed, however, that the pleasant weather will have much to do with getting out a vote somewhere near normal.

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 Sept. 28, the National Park Service (NPS) announced the Washington Monument would reopen October 1. Visitors must get tickets online, and masks will be required inside the monument.
  • On Sept. 28, President Donald Trump (R) announced the federal government would send the first batch of a planned 100 million rapid coronavirus tests developed by Abbott Laboratories to states this week. The first shipment was expected to total 6.5 million tests. The tests would be distributed to states based on population.
  • On Sept. 30, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that it was extending a ban on cruise ships with a carrying capacity of more than 250 people through Oct. 31. The no-sail order prohibits passenger operations on cruise ships in waters subject to U.S. jurisdiction. 

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. 1, 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 an active stay-at-home order.

Eviction and foreclosure policies

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

Overview:

  • Nineteen states have current moratoriums on evictions and foreclosures.
    • Since Sept. 24, one state ended an eviction moratorium. Three states extended moratoriums on evictions.
  • Twenty-four 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:

  • New York – On Sept. 28, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) extended the statewide moratorium on residential evictions through Jan. 1, 2021.
  • Oregon – On Sept. 28, Gov. Kate Brown (D) issued an order extending the statewide moratorium on residential evictions through Dec. 31. The new order, which goes into effect Sept. 30, does not cover commercial evictions.
  • Connecticut – On Sept. 30, Gov. Ned Lamont (D) announced he would extend the statewide moratorium on evictions through Jan. 1. The moratorium was set to expire on Oct. 1.
  • Florida – The statewide moratorium on evictions and foreclosures expired on Oct. 1, after Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) announced that he would not extend it.

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.
    • Thirteen 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.
    • Eighty-nine state-level incumbents or candidates have been diagnosed with COVID-19
    • Seventy-eight 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 22 local incumbents or candidates have been diagnosed with COVID-19.
    • At least 27 local incumbents or candidates quarantined after possible exposure to COVID-19.

Since Sept. 24, one governor and three state representatives have tested positive for coronavirus. One governor has self-quarantined.

Details:

  • On Sept. 24, South Carolina state Rep. Katrina Shealy (R), who represents District 23, announced she had tested positive for COVID-19.
  • On Sept. 25, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) announced that he and his wife had tested positive for COVID-19. 
  • On Sept. 29, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) announced he would self-quarantine for 14 days after a member of his staff tested positive for COVID-19. Pritzker self-quarantined on May 11 after a member of his staff tested positive for the virus.
  • On Sept. 29, Michigan state Rep. Beau LaFave (R), who represents District 108, announced he had tested positive for coronavirus.
  • On Oct. 1, Pennsylvania state Rep. Paul Schemel (R), who represents District 90, announced that he had tested positive for coronavirus.

State legislation

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

Overview: 

  • To date, 3,275 bills related to the coronavirus pandemic have been introduced in state legislatures.
    • We have tracked 66 additional bills since Sept. 24.
  • Of these, 438 significant bills have been enacted into law, 13% of the total introduced. This total omits ceremonial resolutions and legislation providing for procedural changes to legislative business. 
    • We have tracked 12 additional significant bills since Sept. 24 (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 Sept. 24, two courts have extended restrictions on in-person proceedings and the suspension of jury trials.
  • Sixteen states suspended in-person proceedings at the local level

Details:

  • Virginia – On Sept. 29, the Virginia Supreme Court issued an order extending the statewide judicial emergency through Oct. 11. The order continues requirements like face coverings in courthouses. Courts are still encouraged to conduct as much business as possible remotely, and jury trials remain prohibited in all but 10 jurisdictions.
  • Alaska –  On Sept. 26, Alaska Supreme Court Chief Justice Joel Bolger issued an order extending a ban on felony jury trials through the end of the year, but allowing for misdemeanor jury trials to resume in November.

Learn more

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