TagCoronavirus

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

Learn more about the arguments in the debate over travel restrictions during the coronavirus pandemic

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

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

We’ve identified the following arguments as some of those in favor of travel restrictions:

  • Travel restrictions prevent the spread of the virus,
  • Travel restrictions promote a state’s safety image,
  • Travel restrictions are constitutional, and
  • Travel restrictions protect tourism workers.

We’ve identified the following arguments as some of those against travel restrictions:

  • Travel restrictions are unfair to tourism businesses,
  • Travel restrictions are difficult to enforce,
  • Travel restrictions are ineffective, and
  • Travel restrictions damage local economies.

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

https://ballotpedia.org/Arguments_about_travel_restrictions_during_the_coronavirus_(COVID-19)_pandemic,_2020
https://ballotpedia.org/Arguments_in_favor_of_travel_restrictions_during_the_coronavirus_(COVID-19)_pandemic,_2020
https://ballotpedia.org/Arguments_against_travel_restrictions_during_the_coronavirus_(COVID-19)_pandemic,_2020



Documenting America’s Path to Recovery: September 30, 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 easing of restrictions in Nevada, North Carolina, Mississippi, and Tennessee, new outdoor playground guidelines in California, a featured story from the 1918 influenza pandemic, and more. Want to know what happened yesterday? Click here.

The next two days

What is changing in the next two days?

  • 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.
  • 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% 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.

  • Alabama (Republican trifecta): Gov. Kay Ivey (R) extended the state’s Safer at Home order, which includes the public mask requirement, through Nov. 8.
  • California (Democratic trifecta): The state’s public health department announced new guidelines that permit outdoor playgrounds to reopen statewide.
  • Georgia (Republican trifecta): On Sept. 30, Cody Hall, the press secretary for Gov. Brian Kemp (R), announced that the Governor would issue an executive order extending the state’s coronavirus restrictions. Hall did not say if the new order would modify any of the existing restrictions, which were last extended on Sept. 15.
  • Illinois (Democratic trifecta): Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) announced additional mitigation measures will be into effect in Region 1 (Boone, Carroll, DeKalb, Jo Daviess, Lee, Ogle, Stephenson, Whiteside, and Winnebago counties) starting Oct. 3. Under the new restrictions, bars and restaurants will not be able to offer indoor service and gatherings will be limited to 25 people.
  • Michigan (divided government): On Sept. 29, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) extended the statewide state of emergency through Oct. 27.
  • Mississippi (Republican trifecta): Gov. Tate Reeves (R) issued an executive order relaxing the state’s coronavirus requirements. Under the order, gatherings of up to 20 people indoors and 100 outdoors will be permitted when social distancing is not possible. Reeves also announced the public mask requirement will expire. Individuals still have to wear masks at schools and at businesses the state defines as close-contact (like barbershops and salons).
  • Tennessee (Republican trifecta): On Sept. 29, Gov. Bill Lee (R) released an executive order eliminating coronavirus restrictions on businesses and gatherings in 89 of the state’s 95 counties. Six counties, including Shelby, operate according to rules made by their respective health departments.

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 Oct. 13, 1918, The St. Paul Pioneer Press reported on a decision by St. Paul’s health commissioner to allow schools in the city to remain open.

St. Paul has so carefully safeguarded against the spread of Spanish influenza that public schools will not be closed unless there is a marked increase in the number of cases here.

This announcement was made last night by Dr. B.F. Simon, city health commissioner. It followed compilation of influenza reports made since October 1. The results obtained from the reports were taken up in a conference between Dr. Simon and state health officials. The latter concurred in the local physician’s stand on the school closing question.

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

Additional activity

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

  • On Sept. 24, seven Alabama residents represented by former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore (R) filed suit in federal district court against Gov. Kay Ivey (R) and State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris. The plaintiffs allege that both Ivey and Harris have repeatedly exceeded their constitutional authority by issuing emergency orders. 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.” The plaintiffs allege Ivey and Harris have “unlawfully and in direct contradiction to the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment … effectively prohibited worship services” by imposing gathering size restrictions and social distancing orders. 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.


Documenting America’s Path to Recovery: September 29, 2020

Welcome to Documenting America’s Path to Recovery, where we track the status of reopening in all 50 states. Today we look at new reopening guidelines for towns in Massachusetts, the recently signed state budget in New Jersey, school reopenings, and more. Want to know what happened yesterday? Click here.

Since our last edition

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

  • Iowa (Republican trifecta): On Sept. 29, Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) announced that workers and children in daycares and schools no longer need to quarantine if they come into contact with a person with COVID-19 while wearing a mask. According to the guidance, only the infected individual with COVID-19 will need to quarantine.
  • Massachusetts (divided government): On Sept. 29, Gov. Charlie Baker (R) announced that lower-risk communities in Massachusetts, defined as towns with an average daily case rate of between zero and eight cases per 100,000 people, will be permitted to move to Step 2, Phase 3 of reopening beginning on Oct. 5. In order to advance to Step 2, towns will need to have maintained their lower-risk status for three weeks or longer. Communities with more than eight cases per 100,000 people will remain in Step 1. The Baker administration also said that outdoor gatherings of up to 100 people will be permitted in Step 2, Phase 3 communities. Gatherings in communities in Step 1 will be limited to 50 people.
  • New Jersey (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Phil Murphy (D) signed a $32.7 billion budget for the period from Oct. 1, 2020, through Jun. 30, 2021. Murphy said the state needed to close a $5.28 billion budget gap due to the coronavirus.
  • Oregon (Democratic trifecta): Lincoln County is moving to Phase 2 of reopening starting on Sept. 29.
  • Tennessee (Republican trifecta): In a call with state legislators on Sept. 29, Gov. Bill Lee (R) said he would renew the COVID-19 state of emergency, which expires on Sept. 30, and remove all remaining coronavirus restrictions on businesses. As of this writing, Lee had not released the order.

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)
  • 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., N.C.) 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)
    • *Note: Three counties in South Florida are not at the same phase of reopening as the rest of the state and the emergency order to reopen schools does not affect them. 
  • Thirty-nine states have reopenings that vary by school or district
    • 2016-17 enrollment: 31,955,012 students (63.17% of students nationwide)

Additional activity

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

  • 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.


Documenting America’s Path to Recovery: September 28, 2020

Welcome to Documenting America’s Path to Recovery, where we track the status of reopening in all 50 states. Today we look at an Oregon county’s move into Phase 2 of reopening, the easing of restrictions on indoor entertainment venues in Michiganmask mandates, and more. Want to know what happened Friday? Click here.

The next 24 hours

What is changing in the next 24 hours?

Since our last edition

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

  • Michigan (divided government): On Sept. 25, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) announced that movie theaters, performance venues, ice rinks, and other indoor entertainment venues can reopen on Oct. 9. On that date, Whitmer will also ease indoor and outdoor gathering limits, allowing up to 30 people per 1,000 square feet or 30 percent of fixed seating capacity, with a maximum of 1,000 people, at non-residential outdoor gatherings.

Daily feature: Face coverings

We last looked at face coverings in the Sept. 21 edition of the newsletter. Since then, no new states have adopted a statewide public mask mandate or let a face covering requirement expire.

Additional activity

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

  • On Sept. 17, a Wisconsin poll worker who was fired from his position after refusing to wear a mask sued his local city clerk and Gov. Tony Evers (D) in the La Crosse County Circuit Court. In his complaint, 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.


Documenting America’s Path to Recovery: September 25, 2020

Welcome to Documenting America’s Path to Recovery, where we track the status of reopening in all 50 states. Today we look at Florida’s move into Phase 3 of reopening, new guidance for nursing home visitations in Missouri, travel restrictions, and more. Want to know what happened yesterday? Click here.

The next 72 hours

What is changing in the next 72 hours?

  • Indiana (Republican trifecta): Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) announced on Sept. 23 that Indiana would move to Phase 5 of reopening on Sept. 26. In Stage 5, restaurants, bars, nightclubs, gyms, and fitness centers can operate at full capacity. Events with more than 500 participants or attendees will need to receive the approval of local health departments by submitting a written plan addressing social distancing measures and increased sanitation at least 14 days in advance of the event.
  • Nevada (Democratic trifecta): At 11:59 p.m. on Sept. 27, bars in Clark and Elko counties will be permitted to reopen. Clark and Elko are currently the only two counties in the state where bars are closed.

Since our last edition

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

  • Connecticut (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Ned Lamont (D) announced the state is targeting Oct. 8 to move to the third reopening phase. 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.
  • Florida (Republican trifecta): Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) announced on Sept. 25 that Florida would enter Phase 3 of reopening effective immediately, allowing bars and restaurants to operate at full capacity. The order overrides local ordinances unless cities can justify bar or restaurant closures on health or economic grounds.
  • New Hampshire (divided government): On Sept. 25, Gov. Chris Sununu (R) announced he would ease restrictions on indoor dining on Oct. 1, allowing restaurants to move tables closer than six feet apart if barriers separate them.
  • New Jersey (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Phil Murphy (D) extended the state’s coronavirus public health emergency order for 30 more days.

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. 23, Maine Gov. Janet Mills (D) announced that Massachusetts travelers entering Maine would no longer be required to test negative or quarantine for 14 days. Other exempt states include New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, and Massachusetts. Travelers from all other states must be able to present a recent negative COVID-19 test at the request of the state or self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in Maine.
  • On Sept. 23,  New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) added Colorado, Oregon, and Rhode Island to the list of high-risk states. Travelers from high-risk states must self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in New Mexico. Michigan and Hawaii were moved from high-risk to low-risk, exempting travelers from those states from the quarantine requirement.
  • On Sept. 22, Govs. Ned Lamont (D-Conn.), Phil Murphy (D-N.J.), and Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.) announced that Arizona, Minnesota, Nevada, Rhode Island, and Wyoming had been added to the tristate quarantine list, which includes 33 states plus Guam and Puerto Rico.
  • On Sept. 19, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health removed Wyoming from its list of low-risk states. Travelers from Wyoming must self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in Massachusetts.

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 Sept. 22, a Washington, D.C. church filed suit against Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. In its complaint, the church challenges ongoing restrictions on physical gatherings in the District, and seeks the right to “gather for corporate worship free from threat of governmental sanction.” The church alleges the restrictions violate the Religious Freedom Act, and the First and Fifth Amendments. Rev. Thomas Bowen, director of Bowser’s Office of Religious Affairs, said, the pandemic “has placed us all in a tough situation, leading us to make adjustments to all aspects of our lives.” The case is assigned to Trevor McFadden, an appointee of President Donald Trump (R).


Documenting America’s Path to Recovery: September 24, 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 change in travel restrictions in Maine, North Dakota’s new risk level designations for 15 counties, a featured lawsuit, and more. Want to know what happened yesterday? Click here.

Since our last edition

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

  • Maine (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Janet Mills (D) announced travelers from Massachusetts no longer have to test negative for the coronavirus or self-quarantine for 14 days.
  • North Dakota (Republican trifecta): On Sept. 23, Gov. Doug Burgum (R) announced he was changing the risk level designation for 15 counties. Burgum reduced the risk level for three counties, moving them from green to blue on the state’s five-tiered risk-level system while increasing the risk-level for the other 12.

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 COVID-19 restrictions in Pennsylvania.

County of Butler v. Wolf

On Sept. 22, Judge William Stickman IV of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania declined to suspend his earlier order striking down some of Gov. Tom Wolf’s (D) COVID-19 orders pending appeal in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.

What is at issue?

Wolf sought to suspend Stickman’s initial ruling, issued Sept. 14. In the initial ruling, Stickman, an appointee of President Donald Trump (R), found “(1) that the congregate gathering limits … violate the right of assembly enshrined in the First Amendment; (2) that the stay-at-home and business closure components of [Wolf’s] orders violate the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment; and (3) that the business closure components of defendants’ orders violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.”

How did the court rule?

Stickman ruled a suspension of his order was unnecessary, given his finding that Wolf had not met the “burden of establishing even the minimal showing of success on the merits” upon appeal. Stickman said Wolf’s participation in “large public protests across the Commonwealth” during the summer, and the voluntary suspension of certain stay-at-home and business closure orders undermined Wolf’s argument that his administration and the people of Pennsylvania would result in irreparable harm absent a delay.

What are the reactions, and what comes next?

Wolf said, “We’re working in the meantime to present schools and others with guidance to say ok, in our best estimation from the health point of view, you got to be careful if you get together.”



Coronavirus Weekly Update: September 24, 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. 17:

  • 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 legislative sessions
  • 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-eight states have made modifications to their voting procedures for the general election. 
    • Six states have made voting procedure modifications since Sept. 17.
  • Twenty states have modified their candidate filing requirements. 
    • No states have made candidate filing modifications since Sept. 17.

Details:

  • Michigan: On Sept. 18, Judge Cynthia Stephens of the Michigan Court of Claims issued a ruling extending Michigan’s absentee/mail-in ballot receipt deadline to Nov. 17 for ballots postmarked on or before Nov. 2. Stephens also authorized voters to allow anyone of their choosing to return their ballots between 5:01 p.m. on Oct. 30 and the close of polls on Nov. 3.
  • Mississippi: On Sept. 18, the Mississippi State Supreme Court reversed a lower court ruling that had extended absentee/mail-in voting eligibility to individuals with “pre-existing conditions that cause COVID-19 to present a greater risk of severe illness or death.”
  • New York: On Sept. 18, the League of Women Voters reached a settlement agreement with New York election officials over ballot curing provisions for the general election.
  • Pennsylvania: On Sept. 17, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued rulings that extended the mail-in ballot receipt deadline to Nov. 6 and authorized the use of drop boxes for returning mail-in ballots in the general election.
  • South Carolina: On Sept. 18, Judge J. Michelle Childs of the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina issued a preliminary injunction barring election officials from enforcing South Carolina’s witness requirement for absentee/mail-in ballots in the general election.
  • Wisconsin: On Sept. 21, Judge William M. Conley of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin issued an order extending the absentee/mail-in ballot receipt deadline in Wisconsin to Nov. 9 for ballots postmarked on or before Nov. 3. Conley immediately stayed his ruling, giving defendants seven days to file an emergency appeal of the order. 

School closures and reopenings

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

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)

Details:

  • Maryland – On Sept. 22, Karen Salmon, the Maryland Superintendent of Schools, approved in-person reopening plans for every school district in the state. 
  • Vermont – On Sept. 22, Vermont Education Secretary Dan French announced schools would advance to step 3 of reopening, which allows for inter-scholastic competitions, on Sept. 26. Step 3 also permits schools to use common areas like gyms and small groups of students. 

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 991 lawsuits, in all 50 states, dealing in some way with the COVID-19 outbreak. Court orders have been issued, or settlements have been reached, in 332 of those lawsuits. 
    • Since Sept. 17, we have added 57 lawsuits to our database. We have also tracked an additional eight court orders and/or settlements. 
  • Ballotpedia has separately tracked another 237 lawsuits, in 47 states, dealing with election issues during the COVID-19 outbreak. Court orders have been issued, or settlements have been reached, in 166 of those lawsuits.

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

  • Barry v. University of Washington: On Sept. 16, a University of Washington (UW) student filed a class-action lawsuit seeking tuition reimbursement for campus closures. In the complaint, filed in King County Superior Court, UW graduate student Alexander Barry alleges that “[d]espite sending students home, transitioning to online instruction, and closing its campuses, the University of Washington continued to charge for tuition … as if nothing changed, continuing to reap the financial benefit of millions of dollars from students.” The suit alleges the university’s “failure to provide in-person instruction and shutdown of campus facilities amounts to a material breach of the contract.” The complaint alleges that contract law, constitutional guarantees, and “good conscience require that the University of Washington return a portion of the monies paid in tuition and fees.” In a statement, UW representative Victor Balta said university officials “understand and share the frustration and disappointment that students and their families are experiencing as we navigate the unprecedented limitations presented by the COVID-19 pandemic,” but declined to comment directly on the pending litigation. The judge assigned to the case has yet to be announced.
  • Eden LLC v. Justice: On Sept. 17, a joint group of businesses and the parents of public school children filed suit against West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (R) in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia. Plaintiffs are challenging what they call his “never-ending executive orders mandating restrictions of constitutionally protected activities.” The plaintiffs allege Justice’s COVID-19 orders violate the U.S. Constitution’s Takings Clause, violating guarantees of substantive due process, procedural due process, equal protection, freedom of assembly, and freedom of expression. The plaintiffs allege Justice’s “actions in classifying business as ‘non-essential’ are arbitrary and irrational,” as is his “blanket closure of private or public schools.” Neither Justice nor his office has commented. The case has not yet been assigned to a judge.
  • Miller v. Himes: On Sept. 10, a group of parents filed suit in the Putnam County Court of Common Pleas challenging the constitutionality of Ohio’s mask mandate for schools. The mandate requires public and private students in kindergarten through 12th grade to wear facial coverings while on campus, with some exceptions. The parents allege the order infringes on their religious beliefs, and those of their children, as well as their constitutional right to raise their children as they see fit. The plaintiffs also allege mask-wearing has become politicized, making the mandate an unconstitutional form of compelled speech. Lastly, the parents allege the mandate “destroys basic expressive communication, deletes peoples’ sense of self,” and violates their privacy rights “in violation of traditional common law as well as Ohio tort law.” Lance Himes, interim director of the Ohio Department of Health, has not commented. The case is assigned to Judge Keith Schierloh.

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. 17, six states have modified their travel restrictions. 

Details:

  • Maine – On Sept. 23, Gov. Janet Mills (D) announced that Massachusetts travelers entering Maine would no longer be required to test negative or quarantine for 14 days. Other exempt states include New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, and Massachusetts. Travelers from all other states must present a negative COVID-19 test or self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in Maine. 
  • New Mexico – On Sept. 23,  Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) added Colorado, Oregon, and Rhode Island to the list of high-risk states. Travelers from high-risk states must self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in New Mexico. Michigan and Hawaii were moved from high-risk to low-risk, exempting travelers from those states from the quarantine requirement.
  • 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.) announced that Arizona, Minnesota, Nevada, Rhode Island, and Wyoming had been added to the tristate quarantine list, which includes 33 states plus Guam and Puerto Rico. 
  • Massachusetts – On Sept. 19, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health removed Wyoming from its list of low-risk states. Travelers from Wyoming must self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in Massachusetts.

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 20 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.

Details:

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. 2, 1918, the Deseret Evening News previewed Utah’s general election, which took place under the pall of the influenza pandemic.

After the most unusual campaign in the history of Utah politics—owing chiefly to the influenza quarantine—the general election will take place next Tuesday, Nov. 5. Three justices of the state supreme court, two congressmen, a judge of the district court, state senators, state representatives, and full county ticket will be chosen.

The Australian ballot system will be used. A list of nominations has been prepared by county clerks throughout the state, and voters have been asked to make themselves familiar with the names of the candidates so that voting may be expedited. To vote a straight ticket, a cross should be placed in the circle at the top of the column on the ballot which will be provided. This circle is placed under the official party emblem. Three parties are represented, the Democratic, Republican, and Socialist.

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. 22, Adm. Brett Giroir, the Assistant Secretary for Health and testing czar on the White House coronavirus task force, confirmed that the Trump administration has sent more than 250,000 rapid coronavirus tests to historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) as part of an effort to prevent outbreaks in high-risk communities.
  • On Sept. 21, the U.S. Department of Defense announced travel restrictions had been lifted on 51% of U.S. military installations around the world.
  • On Sept. 18, Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf announced on Twitter that the Department of Homeland Security would extend its prohibition on nonessential travel with Canada and Mexico through Oct. 21.

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 Sept. 17, 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.

Details:

  • New Mexico Health Secretary Kathyleen Kunkel extended the state’s stay-at-home order through Oct. 16.

Eviction and foreclosure policies

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

Overview:

  • Twenty states have current moratoriums on evictions and foreclosures.
    • Since Sept. 17, one state has extended a moratorium on evictions.
  • Twenty-three 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 – Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) extended the statewide moratorium on commercial evictions and foreclosures through Oct. 20.

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-five 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. 17, one governor, one state representative, and one candidate for state representative have tested positive for coronavirus.

Details:

  • Missouri Gov. Mike Parson (R) announced on Sept. 23 he and his wife had tested positive for coronavirus.
  • Illinois state Rep. Sam Yingling (D), who represents District 62, announced on Sept. 21 he had tested positive for coronavirus.
  • Fred Hawkins (R), a candidate for Florida’s House of Representatives District 42, announced on Sept. 22 he had tested positive for coronavirus. 

State legislation

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

Overview: 

  • To date, 3,209 bills related to the coronavirus pandemic have been introduced in state legislatures.
    • We have tracked 63 additional bills since Sept. 17.
  • Of these, 426 significant bills have been enacted into law, 13 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 six additional significant bills since Sept. 17 (also omitting ceremonial resolutions and legislation providing for procedural changes to legislative business.)

State legislative session changes

Read more: Changes to state legislative session dates in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview: 

  • Four state legislatures have suspended their sessions. All four of those have since reconvened. 
  • Forty-one legislatures have either adjourned or are not scheduled to be in regular session this year.
  • Four state legislatures are in regular session. 
  • One state legislature is in special session. 

Details:

  • We have tracked no legislative session changes since Sept. 17.

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. 10, two courts have relaxed restrictions on in-person proceedings.
  • Sixteen states suspended in-person proceedings at the local level

Details:

  • South Carolina – On Sept. 21, state courts were allowed to resume normal scheduling and in-person hearings.
  • New Jersey – On Sept. 21, courts in the state were allowed to resume jury trials.

Learn more

Click here to learn more.



Documenting America’s Path to Recovery: Documenting America’s Path to Recovery: September 23, 2020 Edition #102

Welcome to Documenting America’s Path to Recovery, where we track the status of reopening in all 50 states. Today we look at Indiana’s move into stage 5 of reopening, the return of in-class instruction in Florida’s largest school district, 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?

  • Ohio (Republican trifecta): On Sept. 23, Gov. Mike DeWine (R) announced that the Department of Health had released an order allowing self-serve food stations to reopen across the state on Sept. 24.

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 and Human Services Director Mark Ghaly announced Riverside, Alameda, San Luis Obispo, San Mateo, and Solano counties could move from purple into the red phase of reopening. Ghaly also said El Dorado, Lassen, and Nevada counties could move into the orange phase, and Mariposa County could enter the yellow phase. The changes were effective Sept. 22.
  • Florida (Republican trifecta): The Miami-Dade County Public Schools board voted Sept. 22 to return students to in-class instruction. Prekindergarten, kindergarten, first grade, and students with special needs will return on Oct. 14. All others will return on Oct. 21. Families can opt for virtual learning. Miami-Dade County Public Schools is the fourth largest district in the United States.
  • Indiana (Republican trifecta): On Sept. 23, Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) announced that Indiana would enter the last stage of reopening, called Stage 5, on Sept. 26. Holcolmb said that the state would announce updated guidelines for Stage 5 on Thursday. Previously, Stage 5 allowed for most types of businesses to operate without restrictions, including restaurants, bars, malls, gyms, and amusement parks. When the state enters Stage 5, masks will still be required in public areas.
  • Louisiana (divided government): Jefferson Parish met state requirements to reopen bars starting Sept. 23.
  • Maine (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Janet Mills (D) amended the state’s Standing Order to allow individuals to be tested for the coronavirus without a written order from a doctor.
  • Maryland (divided government): On Sept. 22, Karen Salmon, the Maryland Superintendent of Schools, announced that she had approved in-person reopening plans for every school district in Maryland.
  • Massachusetts (divided government): On Sept. 23, Gov. Charlie Baker announced that he would ease restrictions on restaurants beginning Sept. 28. On that day, the number of patrons allowed per table will increase from six to 10, and restaurants will be allowed to use bar seating for food service. Bars and nightclubs, however, will remain closed.
  • New Mexico (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) added Colorado, Oregon, and Rhode Island to the list of high-risk states. She moved Michigan and Hawaii to the low-risk classification. Individuals arriving from high-risk states are required to self-quarantine for 14 days.
  • North Carolina (divided government): On Sept. 23, Gov. Roy Cooper (D) announced that stadiums and outdoor event venues can resume operation at 7% capacity on Oct. 2.
  • Pennsylvania (divided government): Gov. Tom Wolf (D) announced the release of a new coronavirus exposure alert app that notifies users if they have been in contact with other users who later test positive for the virus.
  • Vermont (divided government): On Sept. 22, Vermont Education Secretary Dan French announced that schools would advance to step 3 of reopening, which allows for inter-scholastic competitions, on Sept. 26. Step 3 also permits schools to use common areas like gyms and small groups of students.

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. 5, 1918, the Cincinnati Commercial Tribune reported on a meeting by the local health board to consider lifting an order that prohibited public gatherings.

“Maine public interest relative to the influenza situation in Cincinnati is centered on the meeting of the Board of Health Wednesday and the action the board will take in the matter of lifting the ban on business, amusements, and public gatherings. The public health situation continues to improve, according to the Health Officer Peters, and it is predicted that Cincinnati will be practically free from the malady within a week or ten days.

Dr. Peters is preparing a statement on the influenza in Cincinnati from the time it first appeared to date and is compiling official reports from twenty large cities of the United States showing the ravages of the disease in those centers as compared with Cincinnati. This statement, together with a number of suggestions, will be given Wednesday to the members of the Board of Health and it will rest with that body to when the ban will be lifted.

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

Additional activity

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

  • On Sept. 17, a joint group of businesses and the parents of public school children filed suit against West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (R) in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia. Plaintiffs are challenging what they call his “never-ending executive orders mandating restrictions of constitutionally protected activities.” The plaintiffs allege Justice’s COVID-19 orders violate the U.S. Constitution’s Takings Clause and encroach on its guarantees of substantive due process, procedural due process, equal protection, freedom of assembly, and freedom of expression. The plaintiffs allege Justice’s “actions in classifying business as ‘non-essential’ are arbitrary and irrational,” as is his “blanket closure of private or public schools.” Neither Justice nor his office has commented. The case has not yet been assigned to a judge.


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

Welcome to Documenting America’s Path to Recovery, where we track the status of reopening in all 50 states. Today we look at outdoor venue reopenings in North Carolina, the easing of international travel restrictions in North Dakota, school reopenings, and more. Want to know what happened yesterday? Click here.

Since our last edition

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

  • Connecticut (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Ned Lamont (D) announced the formation of a new advisory group to prepare the state for the distribution of an eventual COVID-19 vaccine. The co-chairs of the group are Dr. Deidre Gifford, the acting commissioner of public health, and Dr. Reggie Eadie, president and CEO of Trinity Health of New England.
  • New Hampshire (divided government): Gov. Chris Sununu (R) signed an executive order extending the state of Emergency for an additional 21 days.
  • North Carolina (divided government): Gov. Roy Cooper (D) announced that beginning Oct. 2, large outdoor venues with a capacity of more than 10,000 may reopen at 7% capacity. The change only applies to venues with seats and not large open areas.
  • North Dakota (Republican trifecta): North Dakota Interim State Health Officer Dr. Paul Mariani announced that North Dakotans traveling internationally were no longer required to self-quarantine for 14 days after returning home.
  • Washington (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Jay Inslee (D) announced agritourism activities (like hayrides, corn mazes, and pumpkin patches) can reopen in Modified Phase 1 counties if they comply with Phase 2 requirements for the industry.
  • Wisconsin (divided government): Gov. Tony Evers (D) extended the state’s mask requirement and public health emergency through Nov. 21.

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)
  • 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., N.C.) 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)
    • *Note: Three counties in South Florida are not at the same phase of reopening as the rest of the state and are not affected by the emergency order to open schools.
  • Thirty-nine states have reopenings that vary by school or district
    • 2016-17 enrollment: 31,955,012 students (63.17% of students nationwide)

Additional activity

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

  • Miami-Dade County Public Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho proposed a staggered school reopening plan that would return in-person learning beginning Sept. 30. On Sept. 30, students in pre-k through 1st grade and those with special needs would begin in-person instruction. Grades 2-6 and 9-10 would return on Oct. 5, followed by grades 7-8 and 11-12 on Oct. 7.
  • On Sept. 16, a University of Washington (UW) student filed a class-action lawsuit seeking tuition reimbursement for campus closures. In the complaint, filed in King County Superior Court, UW graduate student Alexander Barry argues that “[d]espite sending students home, transitioning to online instruction, and closing its campuses, the University of Washington continued to charge for tuition … as if nothing changed, continuing to reap the financial benefit of millions of dollars from students.” The suit alleges the university’s “failure to provide in-person instruction and shutdown of campus facilities amounts to a material breach of the contract.” The complaint alleges that contract law, constitutional guarantees, and “good conscience require that the University of Washington return a portion of the monies paid in tuition and fees.” In a statement, UW representative Victor Balta said university officials “understand and share the frustration and disappointment that students and their families are experiencing as we navigate the unprecedented limitations presented by the COVID-19 pandemic,” but declined to comment directly on the pending litigation. The judge assigned to the case has yet to be announced.


Did COVID-19 affect the number of candidates who filed for election in 2020?

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, states have changed election dates, voting procedures, and candidate filing deadlines. We took a look at the potential effect these changes had on candidate filing ratios (the number of candidates who filed compared to the number of seats up for election).

We chose the date of comparison as March 13, 2020—the date the Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) urged countries to take a comprehensive approach to fight COVID-19. The data shows that the number of candidates who filed in 2020 and in 2018 is similar.

In 2020, 0.13 more candidates filed for election on or before March 13 than those who filed on or before the same date in 2018.

In 2020, 0.21 more candidates filed for election after March 13 than filed for election after March 13 in 2018.

In 2018, 2,294 candidates filed to run for the U.S. House. For this year’s elections, the number is 2,378. In both years, all 435 U.S. House seats were up for election.

The five states with the largest changes in candidate filing ratios—calculated by dividing the number of candidates who filed for election by the number of seats up for election—(positive or negative) from 2018 to 2020 are:

New Hampshire: -7.00
Utah: +6.25
Hawaii: +4.00
Idaho: -4.00
South Carolina: -3.15

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, 25 states have changed election dates at the state or local level and 40 states have made changes to voting procedures. Nineteen states have made changes to candidate filing deadlines.

Additional reading:



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