Coronavirus Regulations: A State-By-State Week In Review

By Jeannie O'Sullivan
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Law360 (April 28, 2020, 9:11 PM EDT) -- The second month of COVID-19 shutdowns wound down with more western states banding together to decide how to ease stay-at-home orders, Florida beefing up its economic revitalization task force, and hardest-hit New York and New Jersey offering strategic reopening plans.

In other scale-backs of restrictions, Texas-bound travelers from Louisiana won't have to quarantine, and Pennsylvania golfers can return to the links on May 1. New Jersey hair stylists from shuttered salons, however, got a stern reminder that they still can't serve clients in their homes until further notice.

California and Texas seniors are in store for special aid, while other recent initiatives and executive orders aim to help engaged couples in Delaware, renters in Illinois and New Jersey, Medicaid recipients in Massachusetts and domestic violence victims in New York.

Click for state-by-state data on COVID-19 legislation and executive orders, powered by Lexis Nexis.



Here's a breakdown of some COVID-19-related state measures from the past week.

California

California, Oregon and Washington got a boost to their initiative aimed at strategically scaling back coronavirus restrictions while still fighting the pandemic, with the governors of Colorado and Nevada announcing on Monday that they'll join the so-called Western States Pact.

In measures to protect senior citizens, Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday unveiled what he said was a first-in-the-nation program to partner with local restaurants for a meal delivery initiative and an initiative to mobilize 1,000 volunteers to conduct wellness check-ins over the phone.

Delaware

Gov. John Carney announced on Saturday that all citizens must wear face coverings in public, except for children 12 and younger. Children 2 and younger must not wear face masks in order to avoid suffocation risk.

In measures to increase health care manpower, Carney announced Thursday that out-of-state doctors and other medical professionals who previously held licenses anywhere in the U.S. are authorized to provide volunteer services, with some conditions.

Also on Thursday, Carney said parties applying for marriage licenses may appear together on video before the license-issuing officer.

Illinois

Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Thursday announced that landlords are blocked from evicting tenants unless they pose a direct health or safety risk to others, an "immediate or severe" risk to property, or a violation to building or health codes.

Florida

Gov. Ron DeSantis on April 22 said new working groups were added to the state's task force on reopening the Sunshine State's economy. The new groups will focus on rejuvenating the industries of administration, agriculture, construction, education, finance, government, health care, information and technology, management and professional services, manufacturing, tourism, real estate, recreation, retail, transportation, utilities, and wholesale.

Massachusetts

Gov. Charlie Baker filed two new waiver requests Friday for MassHealth, the state's Medicaid program. The waivers would, among other things, seek to expand telehealth coverage.

New Jersey

Gov. Phil Murphy signed an executive order Tuesday allowing towns to extend property tax payment grace periods for May 1 due dates until June 1.

Murphy on Monday unveiled a plan that features key principles and benchmarks for restoring the Garden State's economy safely, such as a 14-day trend showing a decrease in new coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and other metrics.

In clarifications to business operation protocol, Murphy and State Police Superintendent Patrick Callahan said Monday that "essential businesses" now include pet grooming, day care and boarding businesses, along with retailers that sell religious items. The clarification also allows car dealers to permit vehicle test drives, as long as social distancing and sanitizing policies are followed.

The officials warned that personal care professionals such as hair stylists may not perform services in their home to anyone who doesn't live there or doesn't have a close personal relationship with the professional.

Murphy on Friday signed an executive order allowing rental tenants to direct their landlords to use security deposits to offset late or back rent.

New York

Gov. Andrew Cuomo outlined a two-phase plan Sunday to reopen New York's economy once the state sees a 14-day decline in hospitalization rates. Phase one will include the opening of low-risk construction and manufacturing operations, while the second phase will "open certain industries based on priority and risk level."

Cuomo on Friday announced plans to order the state Board of Elections to mail every New Yorker a postage-paid application for an absentee ballot.

Also on Friday, Cuomo unveiled an update to the state's domestic violence hotline that allows users to reach out for help via text message. He cited statistics showing April hotline calls increased 30% from last year, with a 18% jump between February and March this year.

Pennsylvania

Gov. Tom Wolf's administration announced changes Tuesday to the state's Food Recovery Infrastructure Grant Program to ensure food banks are well stocked. The modifications close the round of grant eligibility on May 8 to expedite application review, expand the potential partners beyond retail and wholesalers to include farms, processors and cooperatives, and remove pre-application meeting requirements.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court announced Tuesday that county courts could resume limited operations. The suspension of deadlines and other time limits, with the exception of speedy trial time frames, ends on May 11.

Wolf on Monday announced that golf courses, marinas, guided fishing trips and privately owned campgrounds may reopen on May 1. Construction projects may also resume May 1, one week earlier than originally announced, per a Thursday announcement.

Texas

Gov. Greg Abbott on Tuesday said the 14-day quarantine mandate for road and air travelers from Louisiana would be lifted on May 1, but that the quarantine order remains in place for travelers from the states of California, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York and Washington and the cities of Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit and Miami. The order doesn't apply to those traveling in connection with critical infrastructure functions, emergency response, health care or military service.

Also on Tuesday, Abbott ordered hospitals to reserve 15% of their capacity for treatment of coronavirus patients.

Older Texans and disabled citizens will get a $54 million boost from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Administration for Community Living program, Abbott announced Thursday. The funds will be administered through the Texas Health and Human Services Commission.

In order to prevent the interruption of financial aid for college students, Abbott on April 22 said Texas higher education institutions are temporarily allowed to transfer all unspent student financial aid funds from the Texas College Work-Study Program to other financial aid programs.

--Editing by Aaron Pelc.

For a reprint of this article, please contact reprints@law360.com.

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