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

By Jeannie O'Sullivan
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Law360 (July 28, 2020, 7:10 PM EDT) -- Surges in COVID-19 cases intensified this past week, prompting the continuation of Philadelphia's indoor dining ban, a public health advisory in Florida ahead of the state's highest daily death toll and a $52 million aid influx for California's hard-hit Central Valley.

While coronavirus cases and deaths have continued to decrease in New Jersey, the state nonetheless added more states to its quarantine travel advisory and announced that parents could opt for remote school for their children this fall. The Garden State's pandemic developments also included the arrest of two gym owners that famously defied Gov. Phil Murphy's shutdown orders.

Legal troubles likewise plague more than a hundred New York City bars that were cited for pandemic-related health and safety violations over the weekend as a multi-agency coronavirus task force worked with a vengeance to root out noncompliance.

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 announced Monday that he would funnel $52 million in aid to the eight-county Central Valley region, which he said is experiencing a coronavirus spread that's disproportionately impacting Latinos. The aid will go to San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Merced, Madera, Fresno, Kings, Tulare and Kern counties to boost disease investigation, contact tracing and quarantine efforts.

On July 22, Newsom said the state will maintain a stockpile of 100 million N-95 respirators and 200 million surgical masks in preparation for coronavirus prevention needs in the fall. The state is also planning to obtain an additional 120 million N-95 masks and 300 million more surgical masks for front-line workers.

Delaware

Gov. John Carney on Friday authorized driver education services to resume and senior centers to open at 30% capacity, both subject to social distancing and face mask mandates.

Florida

Health officials on Tuesday announced 186 deaths since the day before, marking the state's highest single-day death toll.

In response to the increase in coronavirus cases, state Surgeon General Scott A. Rivkees issued a public health advisory July 21 advising residents to avoid the three C's: closed spaces, crowded places and close-contact settings. The advisory recommended face masks, a 10-person limit for gatherings and limited outside endeavors for those 65 and older.

Illinois

The Illinois Department of Public Health on Friday reported that four counties are considered to be at a coronavirus warning level, meaning two or more virus risk indicators have increased. The counties of Adams, LaSalle, Peoria and Randolph saw outbreaks associated with business and risky behavior, including large gatherings, travelers from states with high transmission rates and inconsistent safety practices.

On July 22, health officials announced that public funding is available for public health organizations able to assist with contact tracing efforts.

Massachusetts

Gov. Charlie Baker on July 23 announced that nearly $3 million in grants are available to residents struggling with food insecurity during the pandemic. The funding comes from the state's Food Security Infrastructure Grant Program.

New Jersey

Gov. Phil Murphy on Monday added Minnesota, New Mexico, Ohio and Wisconsin to the list of states with significant coronavirus community spread from which travelers must place themselves in a 14-day quarantine upon arrival in the Garden State. The rest of the list includes Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Nevada, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Utah.

Also on Monday, Murphy lifted the 50% capacity limits on public and private buses, trains, light rail and paratransit vehicles, and postponed the required annual municipal and county party meetings until July 27-28, after election results are certified. The order also postponed all upcoming scheduled elections, including special elections, until the Nov. 3 general election.

New York

A total of 45 bars so far have had their liquor licenses yanked for pandemic-related health and safety violations, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced Tuesday. The announcement came on the heels of a weekend that saw 132 New York City establishments spanning all five boroughs hit with citations by the state Liquor Authority. The violations were unearthed through the efforts of a multi-agency task force formed to root out noncompliance.

On Saturday, Cuomo announced that coronavirus cases remain "low" and hospitalizations continue to decrease.

On July 22, Cuomo called on Congress to provide states with $500 billion in coronavirus relief assistance in the next federal aid package.

Pennsylvania

Gov. Tom Wolf said Tuesday that he's dedicating $3 million in Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act funding for preschool early intervention programs to buy personal protective equipment and other pandemic-related supplies.

In Philadelphia, the state's largest city, Mayor Jim Kenney delayed indoor dining for the third time, with Sept. 1 as the new target date. The decision came in response to health officials' warning that the city is experiencing a second wave of coronavirus cases.

On Sunday, Wolf grudgingly allowed legislation requiring public records access efforts to continue during the pandemic to become law without his signature. Noting his administration's deep concerns with forcing employees to physically come to work to process records requests, and emphasizing that responses to record requests have been ongoing, Wolf said he would nonetheless allow the "thoughtless and foolish, but also poorly drafted" legislation to err on the side of transparency.

Wolf on Thursday signed into law a bill that would create a mental wellness and stress management program for emergency responders who experience post-traumatic stress injuries or traumatic brain injuries while working. He noted how the pandemic has highlighted "how all of us depend" on first responders.

Texas

Gov. Greg Abbott on Tuesday announced that health officials extended the application deadline for the federal Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer program to Aug. 21. The program offers a one-time benefit of $285 per eligible child.

In orders Monday, Abbott waived the school grade promotion requirement, known as the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness test, for students in fifth through eighth grades for the upcoming school year, and extended the early voting period for the Nov. 3 election. Early in-person voting will run from Oct. 13 to Oct. 30.

On Friday, Abbott said Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program recipients whose benefits are up for renewal in July and August will be automatically renewed for benefits for six months.

On July 22, Abbott announced that an additional $118 million in federal CARES Act funding is available for college financial aid for students struggling during the pandemic.

--Editing by Kelly Duncan.

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

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