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

By Jeannie O'Sullivan
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Law360 (November 25, 2020, 4:52 PM EST) -- Ahead of the long weekend, when Americans are most known for gathering and traveling, Thanksgiving-minded governors laid down more restrictions as COVID-19 cases continued surging over the past week.

The precautionary measures included a one-day ban on Pennsylvania alcohol sales the night before the holiday, a prohibition on non-essential business operations and personal gatherings in California, and renewed emergency declarations in Delaware, New Jersey and the Keystone State. Additionally, several northeastern states implored secondary education schools to test students before they travel home for the weekend.

Thinking further ahead, California and Florida unveiled vaccine distribution plans, with each state citing health care workers, the elderly and other vulnerable populations as priority.

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.


Multistate
A coalition of northeastern states on Nov. 18 urged colleges and universities to test residential students planning to return home for Thanksgiving weekend, and to encourage any student who tests positive to isolate on campus. The effort was joined by the governors of Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania.

California
Corporations and philanthropic partners contributed more than $186 million to the state's coronavirus response efforts, according to the state's Social Innovation Impact Report, which highlighted public-private partnerships that benefited a variety of causes. Gov. Gavin Newsom unveiled the report, the first of its kind for the state, on Tuesday.

On Nov. 19, Newsom issued an executive order prohibiting non-essential businesses and personal gatherings between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. beginning Nov. 21.

Florida
Gov. Ron DeSantis on Wednesday unveiled how the state will distribute a coronavirus vaccine once it becomes available. The "most vulnerable, elderly residents" in the state's roughly 4,000 long-term care facilities will be first priority, followed by frontline health care workers.

Delaware
Citing the need to "stay vigilant," Gov. John Carney on Wednesday extended the state of emergency for another 30 days.

On Tuesday, Carney unveiled the state's $45 million Higher Education Relief Fund to help colleges and universities cover the costs of coronavirus response efforts. The fund, made possible by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, will benefit the University of Delaware, Delaware State University, Delaware Technical Community College, Wesley College, Wilmington University, Goldey-Beacom College, and the Delaware College of Art and Design.

The Delaware Division of Social Services planned to issue emergency benefits for November to eligible households as part of the state's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and General Assistance programs, per a Monday announcement by Carney.

As of Nov. 20, the Department of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families suspended visitation at secure care juvenile facilities to protect staff and youth. Officials said two detention center residents have tested positive for the virus.

The state reported 649 coronavirus cases on Nov. 19, marking its highest single-day case total, health officials said on Nov. 20. In the same announcement, health officials said they're continuing to investigate outbreaks in long-term care facilities.

New Jersey
Citing the "alarming" rate of coronavirus cases nationwide, Gov. Phil Murphy on Wednesday said the state will no longer be using a travel advisory system based on positivity rates in out-of-state regions and territories. Instead, the state continues to "strongly discourage" all non-essential interstate travel and urges residents returning from any state or territory beyond Connecticut, Delaware, New York and Pennsylvania to enter a 14-day quarantine.

Also on Wednesday, Murphy postponed special school board elections scheduled for January to March.

Declaring the pandemic "far from over," Murphy on Nov. 21 extended the state of emergency for 30 more days.

Also on Nov. 21, Murphy and State Police Colonel Patrick Callahan clarified that those integral to the performance of outdoor high school sports, such as athletes, coaches and trainers, don't count toward the person limit on outdoor gatherings. The order is effective until Nov. 30.

Murphy on Nov. 19 signed an executive order extending the deadline by which counties must certify the results of the election from Nov. 20 to Wednesday. The order also extends the due date for election audits from Dec. 4 until Dec. 11.

New York
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Monday updated the state's micro-cluster zones — areas being monitored because they're hot spots — to elevate a portion of Staten Island to a "warning" territory, and to add warning designations to areas in Monroe and Onondaga counties and new precautionary designations to Upper Manhattan and Nassau and Suffolk counties.

Also on Monday, Cuomo announced that the South Beach Psychiatric Center on Staten Island will operate as a temporary emergency facility for coronavirus patients.

The state on Nov. 19 reported 205,466 coronavirus tests, marking what Cuomo said was a record number of tests performed in a single day. As of then, the statewide positivity rate was 2.6%.

Illinois
The state Department of Veterans' Affairs on Tuesday ordered the state Department of Human Services to conduct an independent investigation into a coronavirus outbreak at a veterans home in LaSalle that claimed the lives of 21 residents as of Nov. 17. The announcement came alongside reports and recommendations stemming from a probe conducted by the veterans department, state health officials and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Pennsylvania
Gov. Tom Wolf on Tuesday renewed the commonwealth's disaster declaration for another 90 days.

Ahead of Thanksgiving Eve, widely known as the busiest bar night of the year, Wolf on Monday announced new mitigation efforts highlighted by a one-night ban of alcohol sales in bars and restaurants on Wednesday beginning at 5 p.m.

Texas
In a joint announcement with health officials, Gov. Greg Abbott on Monday unveiled a plan detailing how the state will distribute a coronavirus vaccine once available. Per the plan, health care workers, frontline workers and vulnerable populations will take priority. Officials also aim to use data-driven allocations that achieve geographic diversity and mitigate health inequities due to demographics and insurance.

--Editing by Adam LoBelia.

Update: This article has been updated to include a change in the date for special school board elections in New Jersey.

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

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