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

By Jeannie O'Sullivan
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Law360 (January 12, 2021, 5:14 PM EST) -- Surges in COVID-19 cases led to renewed restrictions in Delaware, Massachusetts and New York this past week, while the pandemic also steered new guidance for New Jersey public schools and a workforce development boost in Pennsylvania. 

The public health crisis put the squeeze on the ​​Illinois state budget, prompting Gov. J.B. Pritzker to scale back on tax breaks. In Texas, response efforts have led to three new infusion therapy centers in Fort Worth, Irving and Laredo.

In a victory for Buffalo Bills fans, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that up to 6,700 fans will be able to attend the second home playoff game thanks to the successful reopening of Bills Stadium. 

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.


Delaware

Gov. John Carney on Friday renewed the stay-at-home order in response to rising hospitalizations. He also lifted the 10 p.m. curfew at restaurants and bars, subject to mask requirements and crowd restrictions, and allowed for sporting events to resume subject to capacity limits.

Illinois

More than $275 million in nearly 9,000 emergency assistance grants were awarded to small businesses struggling financially during the pandemic, Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Friday with the state's Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. The awards were funded by the state's Business Interruption Grants program.

Citing the budget crisis caused by the pandemic, Pritzker on Friday said he was freezing a new set of state business tax credits that would have cost the state $20 million annually. He also called for the state to opt out of federal business tax changes that would have allowed for the immediate deductibility of business losses for 2020, which would have lowered the state's income tax revenue by $500 million.

Massachusetts

Gov. Charlie Baker on Friday signed into law An Act Promoting a Resilient Health Care System That Puts Patients First, sweeping health care legislation that, among other things, requires insurance carriers to cover coronavirus testing and treatment.

Also on Friday, Baker announced that a pooled coronavirus testing initiative would be available to schools within the next month, with priority given to school districts providing in-person or hybrid learning, and for remote learning schools looking to bring students back into the classroom. If a pooled test, in which several samples are mixed together, yields a negative result, then all individuals within the pool are presumed negative and may remain in school. If a pooled test is positive, then everyone is given an individual test, and the positive individuals must follow isolation guidelines. Federal stimulus funds will cover the expected $15 million to $30 million price tag of the pooled testing.

On Thursday Baker renewed the 25% capacity limit for businesses such as casinos, gyms, museums, offices, restaurants and theaters, and also issued new guidance to health care networks collaborating to facilitate patient care amid rising hospitalization. Hospitals in the state are now required to confer daily about capacity.

New Jersey

Gov. Phil Murphy on Monday signed an executive order outlining new school policies for 2021, citing the pandemic's effect on administrators, educators, staff and students. The new guidelines waive the graduation assessment test requirement for any high school senior who has satisfied all other graduation requirements, removes student growth objectives as a component of formal educator evaluations, and extends the time in which certificated teachers or those pending certification can work as substitute teachers.

New York

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Tuesday bemoaned new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance advising states to open vaccinations to those 65 and older and who are immunocompromised. During a press conference, Cuomo questioned how the state could "effectively" serve the 7 million New Yorkers now eligible for the vaccine when it only gets 300,000 dosages per week.

Cuomo said Monday that Buffalo Bills fans can attend the team's second home playoff game, set for Jan. 16, following the success of a plan to open Bills Stadium to fans. Up to 6,700 fans may attend. Tailgating is prohibited.

A new vaccination phase began Monday that includes people 75 years of age and older, Cuomo announced. Also eligible to receive the vaccine are certain grocery store workers, child care workers, in-person college instructors, public safety officers, teachers and other school staffers, transit workers, and those living and working in homeless shelters.

On Sunday, Cuomo proposed legislation prohibiting utility disconnections during a state of emergency, a law that will apply to electric, gas, water, telecommunications, cable and internet services.

Cuomo on Friday proposed extending the moratorium on pandemic-related residential and commercial eviction through May 1. The moratorium does not apply to tenants who are creating health or safety hazards. The proposal would also extend the ban of late rent payment fees.

Pennsylvania

Nearly $4.7 million in PaSmart Next Generation Industry Partnership grants were provided to employers seeking to provide targeted workforce training to workers looking to get better-paying jobs, Gov. Tom Wolf announced Monday, citing the "economic changes" caused by the pandemic.

Texas

Gov. Greg Abbott said Saturday that the Texas Division of Emergency Management has established two new coronavirus therapeutic infusion centers in Fort Worth and Irving. The day prior, Abbott announced the launch of an infusion therapy center in Laredo. The centers treat outpatient coronavirus patients with Regeneron's monoclonal antibodies and bamlanivimab, according to Abbott.

--Editing by Bruce Goldman.

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

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