TagCoronavirus

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

FDA to implement coronavirus guidance without public comment

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that the agency would implement coronavirus guidance documents without first holding comment periods to solicit public feedback. The agency stated that it would not be feasible or appropriate to review public comments before implementing coronavirus guidance documents.

Guidance documents, which advise interested parties about how agencies implement regulations, are exempt from the procedural requirements of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), including public comment periods. However, the FDA encourages members of the public to provide feedback on its draft guidance documents. The agency’s internal Good Guidance Practices regulation requires the FDA to hold comment periods prior to implementing guidance documents that put forth new statutory or regulatory interpretations, make significant changes to policy interpretations, feature complex scientific subject matter, or involve controversial issues.

The FDA stated that it would continue to hold public comment periods on the coronavirus guidance documents and retroactively revise guidance as needed based on public feedback. The agency has issued coronavirus-related guidance documents in recent weeks, including guidance on the production of alcohol-based hand sanitizer to help boost supply, guidance on conducting clinical trials for medical products during the coronavirus outbreak, and guidance on diagnostic coronavirus tests for clinical laboratories and commercial manufacturers.

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Coronavirus daily update: March 24, 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 24, 2020.
Federal responses
  • The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced it would officially use the Defense Production Act to acquire 60,000 coronavirus testing kits.
Election changes
Overview to date:
  • Thirteen states and one territory changed state-level primary or general election dates. Four states changed municipal election dates on a statewide basis.
  • Five states adjusted their candidate filing procedures.
  • Six states implemented changes to their voting procedures.
  • Political parties in seven states made changes to party events on a statewide basis.
Details:
  • Georgia’s secretary of state announced that election officials would mail absentee ballot request forms to all active voters for the May 19 primary election.
  • Illinois exempted candidates for state-level office from filing statements of economic interests for the duration of the governor’s disaster proclamation period and for 30 days thereafter.
  • Massachusetts postponed four special state legislative elections, originally scheduled for March 31: Senate 2nd Hampden and Hampshire District and Senate Plymouth and Barnstable District were postponed to May 19; House 3rd Bristol District and House 37th Middlesex District were postponed to June 2.
  • Texas’ secretary of state extended the petition deadline for independent candidates for non-presidential office to August 13.
Ballot measure changes
Overview to date:
  • Ballotpedia tracked nine statewide initiative petition drives that suspended signature gathering.
State legislative responses
Overview to date:
  • To date, 222 bills related to the coronavirus pandemic have been introduced in state legislatures.
  • Twenty-seven significant bills have been enacted into law, 12 percent of the total number that have been introduced. This total omits ceremonial resolutions and legislation providing for procedural changes to legislative business. For a complete list of enacted legislation, see here.
State legislative session changes
Overview to date:
  • Twenty-one state legislatures suspended sessions in at least one chamber.
  • Two states (Maine and Maryland) adjourned early.
  • Five states implemented partial suspensions.
Details:
  • Alabama’s House of Representatives announced a partial suspension of legislative activity, canceling all meetings scheduled for March 25. The House was scheduled to meet on March 26, but a quorum was not expected.
  • Minnesota’s state legislature suspended legislative business until April 14.
  • South Carolina’s state legislature suspended its session, effective this week and continuing indefinitely.
  • Tennessee’s state legislature suspended its session until June 1.
State court changes
Overview to date:
  • Thirty-three states suspended in-person proceedings statewide.
  • Sixteen states suspended in-person proceedings on the local level.
  • One state had no change to their court schedule.
Details:
  • The Louisiana State Supreme Court instructed all courts to limit access to courtrooms and other spaces to the maximum number of people allowed per guidelines set by the CDC, President Donald Trump, and Gov. John Bel Edwards. They further ordered that all essential court functions be conducted through video or telephone whenever possible.
  • The New Jersey Supreme Court issued an order that will suspend or commute county jail sentences for low-risk inmates due to the public health emergency caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
  • The New Mexico Supreme Court ordered all judges to conduct civil and criminal proceedings by video and teleconference, except in cases where an emergency in-person appearance is required.
State shutdowns
Overview to date:
  • So far, 17 of the 50 states have issued statewide shutdown orders. Six of those orders are set to last until modified or rescinded by the governor, while the other 11 have announced end dates.
Details:
  • Hawaii – Gov. David Ige (D) issued a stay-at-home order from March 25 through April 30. Local news reports said that no decision had been made yet on schools, although they are scheduled to open April 7, and the governor sees education as essential according to reports.
  • Pennsylvania – Gov. Tom Wolf (D) issued a stay-at-home order for seven counties, which includes some of the states largest. Residents of Allegheny, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Monroe, Montgomery, and Philadelphia counties were ordered to stay home from March 23 to April 6.
School closures
Overview to date
  • 46 of 50 states have ordered a statewide school closure. The remaining states are leaving school closures up to local officials. Those 46 states served 48.7 million students during the 2016-2017 school year, accounting for 96.2% of the 50.6 million public school students in the United States.
Details:
  • Idaho – The Idaho State Department of Education ordered schools statewide to close to students from March 24 to April 20. This made Idaho the 46th state to order a statewide school closure.
  • Pennsylvania – Gov. Tom Wolf (D) announced that the statewide school closure, scheduled to end March 31, was extended to April 10.
  • South Carolina – Gov. Henry McMaster (R) announced that the statewide school closure, scheduled to end March 30, was extended to April 30.
  • Utah – Gov. Gary Herbert (R) announced that the statewide school closure, scheduled to end March 31, was extended to May 1.
Diagnosed or quarantined politicians
Federal officials and noteworthy figures who tested negative
  • First lady Melania Trump
  • Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT)
State officials who have tested positive for coronavirus
  • State Sen. Jim Smallwood (R-CO)
Here is a list of political figures not detailed in this project, due to the scope of our coverage, that did self-quarantine or test for the virus:
  • Rancho Palos Verdes, California, Mayor John Cruikshank tested positive.
  • Snoqualmie, Washington, Mayor Matt Larson tested positive.
  • Grovetown, Georgia, Mayor Gary Jones entered a self-quarantine.


States consider legislation in response to the coronavirus pandemic

In recent days, state lawmakers nationwide have taken action on legislation in response to the coronavirus outbreak. With the help of BillTrack50, we are compiling information on all of that legislation.

As of March 23, 2020, legislatures in 29 states and Washington, D.C., had taken up at least 184 bills related to COVID-19. Lawmakers in New Jersey had taken up 30 relevant bills, more than any other state and 16 percent of the nationwide total.

Of the 184 introduced bills, 40 (or 22 percent) had been enacted into law. New Jersey had enacted seven related bills, more than any other state and 18 percent of the nationwide total.

The following states and jurisdictions had enacted legislation related to the outbreak (the number of enacted bills is listed parenthetically): Alaska (1), Alabama (1), California (2), Florida (1), Hawaii (4), Kentucky (1), Massachusetts (3), Maryland (3), Maine (1), Michigan (1), Minnesota (2), New Jersey (7), New York (2), Oklahoma (2), Pennsylvania (1), Rhode Island (3), South Carolina (1), Washington (3), and Washington, D.C. (1).


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.

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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)

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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.

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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.

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