TagCoronavirus

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

Majority of states have suspended certain court operations and jury trials

On March 22, the West Virginia Supreme Court declared a judicial emergency and suspended jury trials and all in-person proceedings, with a few exceptions, through April 10, 2020.

West Virginia joined the majority of states whose judicial branches have decided to suspend certain court operations and jury trials due to the coronavirus pandemic. Through March 23, 2020, 33 states had suspended in-person proceedings on a statewide level, including West Virginia, Colorado and Connecticut.

Sixteen states, including Georgia and South Carolina, empowered judges to decide how to handle courtroom restrictions on the local level. In Nevada, while there are no statewide restrictions, courthouses in Carson City and Las Vegas are limiting public access in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

One state, Wyoming, had not issued any orders on the state or local level due to coronavirus.



Virginia closes schools for the remainder of the school year

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) announced that all schools statewide would remain closed for the rest of the school year due to the coronavirus outbreak. This was an extension of a previous order on March 13 when Northam ordered all schools to close from March 16 to March 27.

Virginia became the second state to end its school year amid the coronavirus outbreak. Kansas ended its school year on March 17 under an executive order from Gov. Laura Kelly (D).

So far across the country, 45 states have ordered a statewide school closure in response to the coronavirus outbreak. Schools in those states served 48.4 million public school students in the 2016-2017 academic year, of the 50.6 million public school students in the United States.



Daily coronavirus update: March 23, 2020

As part of Ballotpedia’s coverage on the coronavirus pandemic, we are compiling a daily summary of major changes in the world of politics, government, and elections happening each day. Here is the summary of changes for March 23, 2020. Monday updates include stories from the preceding Saturday and Sunday.

Federal responses

Read more: Political responses to the coronavirus pandemic, 2020, Federal, state, and local government policy changes in response to the coronavirus pandemic, 2020

  • On Sunday, President Donald Trump (R) announced that the Federal Emergency Management Agency would fund the activation of U.S. National Guard units in California, New York, and Washington.
  • Negotiations between Congressional leaders and Treasury Secretary Mnuchin continued on Monday. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) moved forward with procedural votes on legislation he introduced Thursday night. The vote to move to a final debate failed 49-46.
Election changes

Read more: Changes to election dates, procedures, and administration in response to the coronavirus pandemic, 2020

Overview to date:
  • Twelve states and one territory have changed state-level primary or general election dates. Four states have changed municipal election dates on a statewide basis.
  • Three states have adjusted their candidate filing procedures.
  • Five states have implemented changes to their voting procedures.
  • Political parties in seven states have made changes to party events on a statewide basis.
Details:
  • California – Governor Gavin Newsom (D) issued an executive order providing for all-mail voting in three special elections: the Winchester special recall election scheduled for April 7; the 25th Congressional District special general election scheduled for May 12; and the 28th State Senate District special general election scheduled for May 12.
  • Georgia’s petitioning deadline for unaffiliated and minor-party candidates has been postponed to August 14.
  • The Democratic Party of Hawaii has announced that it will not conduct in-person voting in its party-administered presidential preference primary, originally scheduled for April 4. Instead, all voting will take place by mail.
  • In Mississippi, the Republican primary runoff election for the 2nd Congressional District has been postponed to June 23.
  • In New Jersey, the following elections have been postponed by the governor’s order: special municipal elections in the townships of Old Bridge and West Amwell and Atlantic City; all school board elections scheduled for April 21.
  • The Oklahoma state board of elections has granted localities the authority to postpone their municipal elections originally scheduled for April 7 to a later date.
  • Puerto Rico’s Democratic presidential preference primary has been postponed to April 26.
  • Rhode Island has postponed its presidential preference primary to June 2.
  • Texas’ primary runoff elections have been postponed to July 14.
  • In Wyoming, all votes in the Democratic Party caucuses are to be cast by mail. The deadline for receipt is April 17.
State legislative changes

Read more: Changes to state legislative sessions in response to the coronavirus pandemic, 2020

Overview to date:
  • Eighteen state legislatures have suspended their sessions.
  • Two states (Maine and Maryland) have adjourned early.
  • Five states have implemented partial suspensions.
Details:
  • Since our last update, no legislatures have taken further steps to suspend activity.
State court changes

Read more: State court closures in response to the coronavirus pandemic, 2020

Overview to date:
  • Thirty-three states have suspended in-person proceedings statewide.
  • Sixteen states have suspended in-person proceedings on the local level.
  • One state, Wyoming, has not had a change to their court schedules on either a state or local level.
Details:
  • Colorado – The Colorado Supreme Court extended its March 16 order, postponing jury trials through May 15.
  • Delaware – Delaware Supreme Court ordered court facilities to be closed to the public until April 15. Courthouse staffing will be reduced for emergency and essential matters.
  • Maine – Maine courts reduced hours of operation to decrease judicial staff and public exposure to coronavirus, while still proceeding with urgent court matters.
  • Minnesota – Minnesota Supreme Court Chief Justice Lorie Gildea issued a statewide order, effective March 23, restricting in-person access to courthouses for the next 30 days or until another order is issued. Hearings that must occur during the coronavirus pandemic may be held remotely.
  • Missouri – The Missouri Supreme Court issued a new order suspending all in-person proceedings statewide with a few exceptions, through April 17.
  • West Virginia – The West Virginia Supreme Court declared a judicial emergency and suspended all in-person proceedings, with a few exceptions, and jury trials through April 10.
  • Wisconsin – The Wisconsin Supreme Court suspended jury trials and halted in-person proceedings in favor of phone and video conferences.
School closures

Read more: School closures in response to the coronavirus pandemic, 2020

Overview to date:
  • 45 of 50 states have ordered a statewide school closure. The remaining states are leaving school closures up to local officials. Those 45 states served 48.4 million students during the 2016-2017 school year, accounting for 95.7% of the 50.6 million public school students in the United States.
Details:
  • Virginia –  Gov. Ralph Northam (D) announced that all schools statewide would be closed for the rest of the school year. Schools were previously scheduled to close through March 27. This made Virginia the second state to end its school year in response to the coronavirus outbreak (following Kansas last week).
  • North Carolina – Gov. Roy Cooper (D) announced that the statewide school closure, scheduled to end March 30, was extended to May 15.
  • Maine – The Portland School Department, the largest district in Maine, along with several others, announced closures until April 27.
  • Alaska – Gov. Mike Dunleavy announced that the statewide school closure, scheduled to end March 30, was extended to May 1.
Diagnosed or quarantined politicians

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

Federal officials who have tested positive for coronavirus
  • Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)
Federal officials who have entered quarantine
  • Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT)
  • Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT)
  • Rep. Xochitl Torres Small (D-NM)
  • Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA)
Federal officials who tested negative
  • Vice President Mike Pence (R)
State officials who have tested positive for coronavirus
  • State Rep. Helene Weinstein (D-NY)
  • State Rep. Charles Barron (D-NY)
  • State Sen. Bob Glanzer (R-SD)
  • State Rep. Jonathan Brostoff (D-WI)
  • State Rep. Luz Escamilla (D-UT)
  • State Rep. Bob Glanzer (R-SD)
  • State Rep. David Bowen (D-WI)
State officials who have entered quarantine
  • Gov. Tim Walz (D-MN)
  • State Rep. Holly Schepisi (D-NJ)
  • State Rep. Wendy Thomas (D-NH)
  • State Sen. Martha Fuller Clark (D-NH)
  • State Rep. Judith Spang (D-NH)
  • State Rep. Nikema Williams (D-GA)
Local officials who have tested positive for coronavirus
  • New York City Council Member Inez Barron (D)
Local officials who have entered quarantine
  • Providence, Rhode Island City Councilmember Sabina Matos (D)
  • Winston-Salem, North Carolina City Councilmembers Jeff Macintosh (D), Dan Besse (D), Robert Clark (R), John Larson (D), and Denise Adams (D).
  • San Antonio, Texas City Councilmembers Manuel Peleaz-Prada and Rebecca Viagran.


OMB requests emergency coronavirus funding for federal agencies, urges telework flexibility

The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) on March 17 requested $45.8 billion in emergency funding to boost agency response efforts to the coronavirus outbreak. The funding aims to help agencies “maintain [full operational] capacity and ensure that resource needs created by the pandemic response are met,” according to the request.

Much of the requested funding seeks to increase telework access for agency employees, including investments in devices, software licenses, cybersecurity, and expanded network capacities. OMB issued guidance on March 12 urging agency heads to allow for maximum telework flexibility.

OMB oversees executive agency performance, federal procurement, financial management, and information policy. The agency also reviews significant regulations issued by executive agencies, coordinates agency communications with Congress, and assists the president with executive orders and presidential memoranda.

Additional reading:


Coronavirus daily update: March 20, 2020

As part of Ballotpedia’s coverage on the coronavirus pandemic, we are compiling a daily summary of major changes in the world of politics, government, and elections happening each day. Here is the summary of changes for March 20, 2020, as of Friday afternoon.
Federal responses
  • Last night, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) introduced S.3548, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). According to The Hill, the CARES Act includes the following provisions:
    • $1,200 in direct cash payments for individuals making up to $75,000 annually, with an additional $500 per child
    • Delay the federal tax filing deadline to July 15
    • $208 billion in loans for major industries
    • $300 billion in loans for small businesses
    • Delay payments on federal student loans for three months, with a possible extension of another three months
  • Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced that the federal tax filing deadline would be delayed to July 15.
  • The United States and Mexico mutually agreed to close the border to non-essential traffic.
Election changes
  • Overview to date:
    • Twelve states have changed primary, municipal, or special election dates.
    • One state (New York) has adjusted candidate filing requirements.
    • Four states have either implemented or attempted to implement changes to voting procedures.
    • Political parties in six states have made changes to party events on a statewide basis.
  • Details:
    • Indiana postponed its primary election to June 2.
    • North Carolina postponed the Republican primary runoff for the 11th Congressional District to June 23.
    • Texas postponed the special election for Texas Senate District 14 to July 14.
    • The Virginia Department of Elections announced that all voters will be eligible to vote absentee in May’s municipal elections.
State legislative changes
  • Overview to date:
    • Sixteen state legislatures have suspended their sessions.
    • Two (Maine and Maryland) have adjourned early.
    • Five have implemented partial suspensions.
  • Details:
    • The Delaware General Assembly suspended its session for an indefinite period. The suspension had initially been scheduled to last through March 24.
    • Oklahoma State Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat (R) announced a partial suspension of legislative activity in the State Senate beginning March 18 and ending March 20.
State court changes
  • Overview to date:
    • Thirty-two states have suspended in-person proceedings statewide.
    • Sixteen states have suspended in-person proceedings on the local level.
    • Two states, West Virginia and Wyoming, have made no changes to their court schedules on the state or local level due to coronavirus.
  • Details:
    • The Alaska Supreme Court is suspending all superior and district court proceedings until April 3.
School closures
  • Overview to date:
    • Forty-five of 50 states have ordered a statewide school closure. The remaining states are leaving school closures up to local officials. Those 45 states served 48.4 million students during the 2016-2017 school year, accounting for 95.7 percent of the 50.6 million public school students in the United States.
  • Details:
    • California – Gov. Gavin Newsom’s shelter-in-place order Thursday night closed the schools that remained open in the state. Newsom did not announce an end date for the order.
    • Hawaii – The Hawaii Department of Education announced that the statewide school closure, scheduled to end March 30, was extended to April 7.
    • Missouri – Gov. Mike Parsons announced that all schools in the state had closed. The schools were closed by local action rather than statewide announcement.
    • Chicago – Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced that Chicago Public Schools would remain closed from March 30 to April 20. At the time of the announcement, all schools in Illinois were closed until March 30.
Diagnosed or quarantined politicians
Federal officials who have entered quarantine
  • U.S. Rep. Anthony Brindisi (R-NY)
  • U.S. Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK)
  • U.S. Rep. Joe Cunningham (D-SC)
  • U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids (D-KS)
  • U.S. Rep. Andy Kim (D-NJ)
  • U.S. Rep. David Price (D-NC)
State officials who have tested positive for coronavirus
  • State Rep. Jane Garibay (D-CT)
  • State Rep. Kimberly Jean-Pierre (D-NY)
  • State Rep. Dafna Michaelson Jenet (D-CO)
  • State Sen. Clarence Nishihara (D-HI)
Local officials who have entered quarantine
  • Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett (WI)
  • Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto (D-PA)

Additional reading:



U.S. Supreme Court postpones March sitting, closes indefinitely

The U.S. Supreme Court announced it was postponing the 11 hours of oral arguments originally scheduled during its March sitting. In a press release, the court said the delay was “in keeping with public health precautions recommended in response to COVID-19.”

The court has heard arguments in 59 of the 73 cases it accepted to hear this term. As of February 26, the court had issued decisions in 12 cases and dismissed one case without a decision this term.

The court had previously announced on March 12 that it was closing to the public indefinitely, beginning at 4:30 p.m. that day. The court posted on its website, “Out of concern for the health and safety of the public and Supreme Court employees, the Supreme Court Building will be closed to the public from 4:30 p.m. on March 12, 2020, until further notice.”

The court noted it planned to hold a private conference of the justices on March 20 and release orders from the conference on March 23.

The court last postponed arguments in October 1918 in response to the Spanish flu epidemic. In August 1793 and 1798, argument calendars were shortened in response to yellow fever outbreaks.

Additional reading:


Missouri school board election date changed in response to COVID-19

On March 18, 2020, Gov. Mike Parson (R) released an official statement postponing all Missouri municipal elections until June 2, 2020, amid concerns about the coronavirus pandemic. These elections were originally scheduled to take place on April 7, 2020.

The following Missouri school boards within Ballotpedia’s coverage scope were impacted by this change:

  • Center School District
  • Grandview C-4 School District
  • Hickman Mills C-1 School District
  • Liberty Public Schools
  • North Kansas City Schools
  • Park Hill School District
  • Platte County R-III School District
  • Raytown C-2 School District
  • St. Joseph School District

Prior to Gov. Parson’s statement, five of these school districts—Grandview C-4, Liberty, Park Hill, Platte County R-III, and Raytown C-2—had cancelled their school board elections because the number of qualified candidates who filed to appear on the ballot was equal to the number of seats up for election.

Additional reading:


Coronavirus daily update: March 19, 2020

As part of Ballotpedia’s coverage on the coronavirus pandemic, we are compiling a daily summary of major changes in the world of politics, government, and elections happening each day. Here is the summary of changes for March 19, 2020.

Federal responses
  1. Last night, President Donald Trump signed H.R. 6201, the second coronavirus relief bill. It passed the Senate earlier in the afternoon by a 90-8 vote and passed the House on Monday by a 363-40 vote. Lawmakers are expecting to work out another bill in the coming days that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has said should include direct payments to individuals.
  2. Senators John Thune (R-S.D.), Steven Daines (R-Mont.), and Angus King (I-Maine) filed legislation seeking to delay the federal tax filing deadline for 90 days to align with the move made on March 17 by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to delay the payment of taxes 90 days. House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.) sent Mnuchin a letter requesting the same.
Election changes
Overview to date:
  1. Nine states changed primary or municipal election dates.
  2. One state (New York) adjusted its candidate filing requirements.
  3. Three states have either implemented or attempted to implement changes to its voting procedures.
  4. Political parties in six states have made changes to party events on a statewide basis.
Details:
  1. Connecticut – Governor Ned Lamont (D) announced the postponement of the state’s presidential preference primary to June 2.
  2. Minnesota – The Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party voted to conduct all local and district-level caucuses online. The Republican Party voted to conduct local conventions online.
  3. Missouri – The Missouri GOP voted to cancel its county caucuses.
State legislative changes
Overview to date:
  1. Sixteen state legislatures have suspended their sessions.
  2. Two states (Maine and Maryland) have adjourned early.
  3. Four states have implemented partial suspensions.
Details:
  1. Mississippi – The Mississippi State Legislature suspended its session, effective March 18, through April 1.
  2. New Hampshire – The New Hampshire General Court announced it would extend the suspension of its session through April 10. The suspension was originally set to end on March 20.
State court changes
  1. Arizona – The Arizona Supreme Court updated its order from March 16 to recommend that all proceedings be avoided to the greatest extent possible until further notice. The court also ordered new petit juries scheduled from March 18 to April 17 be rescheduled.
  2. Kansas – The Kansas Supreme Court issued an order that suspended all jury trials and restricted courts to emergency operations.
  3. Washington – The Washington Supreme Court suspended all criminal and civil jury trials until after April 24.
School closures
Overview to date
  1. Forty-three of 50 states have ordered a statewide school closure. The remaining states are leaving school closures up to local officials. Those 43 states served 41.2 million students during the 2016-2017 school year, accounting for 81.4% of the 50.6 million public school students in the United States. California accounts for 6.3 million of the 9.4 million students in a state without statewide closures.
Details:
  1. Texas – Governor Greg Abbott (R) signed an executive order closing schools statewide from March 20 until April 3. Texas was the 42nd state to order statewide closures. It served 5.4 million public school students during the ’16-’17 school year.
  2. Indiana – Governor Eric Holcombe (R) signed an executive order closing schools statewide until May 1. Previously, Holcombe granted schools a 20-day waiver that allowed school districts to close on days of their choosing. Indiana was the 43rd state to order statewide closures. It served 1 million public school students during the ’16-’17 school year.

Diagnosed or quarantined politicians

Utah – U.S. Representative Ben McAdams (D) announced on March 18 that he had tested positive for coronavirus.

Florida
  1. U.S. Representative Mario Diaz-Balart (R) announced on March 18 that he tested positive for coronavirus.
  2. U.S. Representative Frederica Wilson (D) announced on March 19 that she was entering a self-quarantine after contact with another member of the U.S. House who later tested positive for coronavirus.
  3. U.S. Representative Stephanie Murphy (D) announced on March 18 that she was entering a self-quarantine after learning another member of Congress tested positive for coronavirus.
  4. U.S. Representative Matt Cartwright (D) announced on March 18 that he was entering a self-quarantine after learning he had been in contact with a family friend who tested positive for coronavirus.
Georgia
  1. State Senator Brandon Beach (R) announced on March 18 that he tested positive for coronavirus.
  2. U.S. Representative Drew Ferguson (R) announced on March 18 that he was entering a self-quarantine after learning he had been in contact with a member of Congress who tested positive for coronavirus.
  3. Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan (R) announced a self-quarantine on March 18 after learning Brandon Beach tested positive for coronavirus. He recommended Georgia lawmakers enter a quarantine until March 30.
  4. State Senators Renee Unterman (R) and Randy Robertson (R) also decided to self-quarantine.

Kansas – Wichita Mayor Brandon Whipple (D) announced on March 18 that he, along with City Council members Brandon Johnson, Becky Tuttle, and James Clendenin, would enter self-quarantine due to possible exposure from a conference they attended in Washington D.C.

Louisiana – U.S. Representative Steve Scalise (R) announced on March 18 that he was entering a self-quarantine for two weeks after learning U.S. Representative Mario Diaz-Balart tested positive for coronavirus.

Missouri – U.S. Representative Ann Wagner (R) announced on March 18 that she was entering a self-quarantine after a colleague tested positive for coronavirus.

New York – U.S. Rep. Kathleen Rice (D) announced on March 18 that she was entering a self-quarantine after learning she had been in contact with someone who tested positive for coronavirus.

Oklahoma – U.S. Representative Kendra Horn (D) announced on March 19 that she was entering a self-quarantine after contact with another member of the U.S. House who later tested positive for coronavirus.

Read more:
  1. Political responses to the coronavirus pandemic, 2020
  2. Changes to election dates, procedures, and administration in response to the coronavirus pandemic, 2020
  3. Federal, state, and local government policy changes in response to the coronavirus pandemic, 2020
  4. Political incumbents, candidates, and government officials diagnosed with COVID-19 or quarantined due to the coronavirus pandemic, 2020
  5. Changes to state legislative sessions in response to the coronavirus pandemic, 2020
  6. School closures in response to the coronavirus pandemic, 2020
  7. State court closures in response to the coronavirus pandemic, 2020
  8. Changes to ballot measure campaigns, procedures, and policies in response to the coronavirus pandemic, 2020


Trump signs coronavirus relief bill into law

President Donald Trump (R) signed into law a coronavirus relief bill in the evening of March 18, 2020. The bill had been passed in the U.S. Senate earlier in the day by a margin of 90–8. The law provides funding for paid sick leave, free coronavirus testing, expanded unemployment insurance, and food assistance programs.



Ohio Democratic Party sues Ohio Secretary of State over primary election postponement

On March 17, 2020, the Democratic Party of Ohio and Kiara Sanders, a registered voter in Franklin County, filed suit against Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose (R) in the state supreme court, alleging that LaRose was “patently and unambiguously without jurisdiction and legal authority to suspend, move, or set the date of Ohio’s 2020 presidential primary election.” They argued instead that the legal authority to set the date of the primary election rested with the state legislature.

The plaintiffs asked the court to do the following:
• Bar the secretary of state from setting a date for the 2020 primary election
• Order election administrators to accept and process absentee voting applications until 12:00 p.m. on April 25, 2020
• Order election administrators to direct local boards of elections to accept and count all valid absentee ballots postmarked on or before April 28, 2020, and received on or before May 8, 2020
• Order election administrators to accept and count all valid absentee ballots delivered personally by a voter or his or her family member on or before April 28, 2020
• Order the secretary of state to provide for prepaid postage for all absentee ballots and applications

Earlier this week, LaRose ordered the postponement of the primary from March 17, 2020, to June 2, 2020, after Ohio Health Director Dr. Amy Acton ordered the closure all polls on March 17 in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

This lawsuit is the latest in a series of actions surrounding the postponement of Ohio’s primary. On March 16 (before LaRose moved the state’s primary date) a group of private citizens filed suit in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas at the request of Governor Mike DeWine (R)seeking a postponement of the state’s primary election.

Judge Richard Frye declined to postpone the primary. Frye said, “There are too many factors to balance in this unchartered territory to say that we ought to take this away from the legislature and elected statewide officials, and throw it to a common pleas court judge in Columbus 12 hours before the election.”

In a joint press release issued shortly after 9:00 p.m., DeWine and LaRose said, “Logistically, under these extraordinary circumstances, it simply isn’t possible to hold an election tomorrow that will be considered legitimate by Ohioans. They mustn’t be forced to choose between their health and exercising their constitutional rights.” Shortly after 10:00 p.m., DeWine announced that polls would be closed on March 17 by Acton’s order.

In response to this announcement, a candidate for office in Wood County, Ohio, filed suit in the state supreme court, alleging that the postponement violated state election laws. Shortly before 4:00 a.m., the court rejected this argument, allowing the postponement to stand.

LaRose then issued a directive to election administrators postponing in-person voting to June 2, 2020. The absentee ballot application deadline was extended to May 26, and the postmark deadline was extended to June 1. The voter registration deadline, originally February 18, was left unchanged. All ballots already cast, either by mail or in person, would be counted as usual.



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