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

By Jeannie O'Sullivan
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Law360 (July 21, 2020, 7:13 PM EDT) -- New Jersey led the COVID-19 pandemic news this past week with the passage of a $9.9 billion bond measure that's now facing a constitutional challenge by state Republicans, and the state suffered a courtroom defeat when a judge refused to hold a defiant gym in contempt for its plans to reopen.

Officials in California, Delaware, New Jersey and Texas turned their eye toward the upcoming school year, unveiling reopening guidelines that incorporate social distancing and other safety precautions, and announcing additional federal funding to put those measures in place. In other precautions, Illinois and Pennsylvania scaled back reopening measures in response to surges in cases.

New York, however, eased restrictions for the Big Apple and announced it was sending needed virus mitigation supplies to Atlanta. Help is also on the way in Texas, where the U.S. Department of Defense is deploying military medical teams.

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

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


California

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday announced that hair salons and barbers may resume operations, but must do so outdoors.

On Friday, Newsom and health officials unveiled a framework for when and how schools should reopen for in-person instruction. Boosted by $5.3 billion in additional academic funding, the plan establishes guidelines for masks, social distancing, testing and contact-tracing, and distance learning. The plan anticipates a closure at some point due to another resurgence in coronavirus cases.

Delaware

Secretary of Education Susan Bunting released guidance July 15 for reopening schools for the 2020-21 academic year, emphasizing minimum requirements for social distancing, mask-wearing, hand-washing and other precautions. Gov. John Carney will announce in August whether schools will start the year with in-person instruction.

Florida

Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday announced the release of $75 million in Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security Act funding for local governments to distribute to those in need of rental and mortgage assistance.

Illinois

Gov. J.B. Pritzker and health officials unveiled a new coronavirus response plan July 15 in response to a spike in cases. The plan outlines three tiers of region-specific mitigation protocols.

New Jersey

Gov. Phil Murphy on Tuesday added Alaska, Delaware, Indiana, Maryland, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Nebraska, Virginia and Washington to the list of states from which travelers to New Jersey must place themselves in a 14-day quarantine after arrival. The new additions bring the total of quarantine advisory states to 31.

On Monday, a judge denied the state's bid to hold a Bellmawr gym in contempt of court for violating health officials' orders to obey Murphy's moratorium on gyms operating during the pandemic.

Also on Monday, Murphy signed an order allowing for the resumption of contact sports, including football, cheerleading, group dance, rugby, boxing, judo, karate, taekwondo and wrestling. The sports must be played outdoors.

On Friday, the New Jersey Supreme Court announced that it would review a constitutional challenge state Republicans are mounting against Murphy's measure to borrow $9.9 billion without voter approval to address the state's coronavirus financial woes. The suit was filed immediately upon Murphy's signing of the measure into law on Thursday.

Education officials on Thursday announced that $10 million in CARES Act funding would be disbursed to public schools for the purchase of distance-learning devices.

New York

As of Monday, New York City was in the fourth phase of reopening, joining the rest of the state. Phase four allows for the operation of schools, low-risk indoor and outdoor arts and entertainment, media production, professional sports with no spectators, and malls.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday announced that the state will establish two testing sites in coronavirus hotspots in Savannah, Georgia, citing New York's "ongoing commitment to helping cities and states throughout the nation." And last week, Cuomo said New York will send personal protective equipment and test kits to Atlanta to battle a resurgence.

Cuomo on Thursday clamped down on defiant bars and restaurants, ordering a "three strikes and you're closed" initiative.

Pennsylvania

Gov. Tom Wolf on Thursday announced that $50 million in CARES Act funding is available to help employers provide hazard pay to workers in essential occupations during the pandemic.

Wolf on July 15 strengthened coronavirus restrictions on businesses in response to a surge in cases. The new rules bar nightclubs from operating, restrict bars from operating unless they offer food and take-out drinks, and establish crowd limits of 25 for indoor gatherings and 250 for outdoor events.

Texas

Gov. Greg Abbott said Sunday that the DOD has sent five U.S. Navy medical teams to four locations in south and southwest Texas to help combat the spread of the coronavirus. That's on top of the governor's previous announcement that the DOD would deploy a U.S. Army Urban Augmentation Medical Task Force to provide support in Rio Grande Valley hospitals.

And on Friday, officials said that $200 million in CARES Act funding will be allocated for e-learning devices in schools and that $41 million in federal funds is available to assist cities and counties grappling with the coronavirus.

--Editing by Aaron Pelc.

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

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