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

By Jeannie O'Sullivan
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Law360 (May 5, 2020, 4:54 PM EDT) -- Governors emboldened by positive effects from COVID-19 social distancing advanced plans to reopen states this week, promising to strike a balance between physical and financial health while continuing to shield industries and their workforces from the global crisis.

Romance also stood up to the pandemic in California, Illinois and New Jersey, which this week joined the growing number of states allowing marriage-minded couples to get their licenses via videoconference for now. The Garden State took it one step further by permitting couples to tie the knot on screen.

In other restriction scale-backs, Florida citizens returned to the state's sunny beaches and trails this weekend, while New Yorkers in 35 counties can now receive elective medical procedures. In Pennsylvania, 24 northwestern counties anticipate a soft reopening May 8.

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.


Seven states agreed on Sunday to join forces in developing a regional supply chain for personal protective equipment and other COVID-19 medical equipment, their respective governors announced. Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island will assess needs, coordinate policies and identify suppliers that meet demand over the next three months. The discussion will include how to harness emerging manufacturing technology, such as 3D printing.


Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday announced relaxed enrollment rules for the California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids program, which provides assistance to low-income families with children. The measures allow temporary self-attestation of pregnancy and the waiver of in-person identification requirements.  

On Thursday, Newsom signed an executive order allowing couples to obtain marriage licenses via videoconferencing.


Sunbathers and hikers returned to the beaches and trails as of Saturday, per an executive order by Gov. Ron DeSantis allowing limited access to those activities. Social distancing rules and a 10-person group limit still apply.


In a sweeping executive order Friday, Gov. J.B. Pritzker suspended various regulatory requirements for nursing homes, such as the annual on-site review, and relaxed professional licensing and other requirements related to pest control, milk production, mobile homes, body piercing and speech language pathology. Also, nursing homes cannot transfer or discharge a patient for nonpayment during the public health emergency.

Also Friday, Pritzker announced that couples seeking a marriage license may do so via videoconference.

In two executive orders Thursday, Pritzker suspended the requirement for adult-use cannabis dispensary workers to obtain an agent identification card from the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, and ordered individuals to wear face masks in public places when social distancing isn't possible.

New Jersey

In two executive orders Monday, Gov. Phil Murphy rescinded a previous order directing the state treasury to achieve a $1.276 billion surplus by the end of the fiscal year and announced that schools would remain closed throughout the end of the school year.

Murphy and State Police Superintendent Patrick Callahan announced Sunday that construction of new religious facilities or involving existing religious facilities are considered essential construction projects that can proceed during the public health emergency.

Inmates at all state prisons and halfway houses will get tested for coronavirus as part of a partnership between the New Jersey Department of Corrections and the Rutgers University Correctional Healthcare and Accurate Diagnostics Lab, Murphy announced Saturday. Also, the DOC is arranging for housing for its first responders and Rutgers UCHC staff to minimize the risk of exposure to their families.

Also Saturday, Murphy authorized couples seeking to obtain a marriage license or get married, and minors seeking working papers, to appear before issuing authorities via videoconference.

New York

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Friday announced that school board election and budget votes would be delayed until June 9 and will be conducted by mail. He also delayed special district and village elections until Sept. 15.

Cuomo on Thursday accepted the recommendations of the state's COVID-19 Maternity Task Force. The recommendations include diversifying birthing site options, extending the period of time a healthy support person can accompany a mother post-delivery and mandating testing for all pregnant New Yorkers, among others.

Also on Thursday, Cuomo announced that 35 counties may resume elective outpatient treatments.


Gov. Tom Wolf on Friday announced that 24 counties in the northwest and north-central regions can reopen May 8. The lifted restrictions will allow non-essential retail to conduct in-person operations, although the closures of gyms, hair and nail salons, and schools remain in place. The reopening is subject to conditions, such as teleworking where feasible, compliance with social distancing and crowd limits.

On Thursday, Wolf said nearly $324 million in funding was awarded to 31 hospitals across the commonwealth from the state's Hospital Emergency Loan Program.


Gov. Greg Abbott announced Thursday that Texans can continue to receive unemployment compensation if they choose not to return to work for certain reasons subject to approval by the Texas Workforce Commission.

In other Thursday announcements, Abbott said the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service will provide free online training for those caring for children of essential workers. Also, notaries executing mortgages and other real estate documents may appear via videoconference during the pandemic.

--Editing by Kelly Duncan.

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