By: - March 16, 2020 12:00 am

State action on the coronavirus

US: At least 33 states close schools

As of the latest survey, 33 states and the District of Columbia closed public schools, according to a tally maintained by Education Week. Combined with school district closures in other states, at least 32.5 million public school students attending at least 64,000 schools have seen their education interrupted.

US: States turn to cash reserves as coronavirus strains budgets

States are allocating hundreds of millions of dollars to respond to the coronavirus, even as the U.S. government prepares to send billions more their way. Some states are now are tapping into rainy-day savings for emergency expenses. Others are looking to set aside even more in reserve.

GA: Georgia delays presidential primary

Georgia elections officials postponed the presidential primary scheduled for next week because of the coronavirus pandemic, becoming the second state forced to push back a vote in the race for the White House. The state rescheduled the presidential vote previously scheduled for March 24 until May 19.

CA: California governor calls for seniors to isolate themselves

California Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, asked Californians over the age of 65 to isolate themselves from others and said that neighborhood bars and pubs should close their doors. But Newsom again stopped short of using the full force of his authority to mandate response measures.

OK: Oklahoma governor faces backlash following tweet at food hall

While some are urging people to engage in social distancing to avoid COVID-19, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt, a Republican, said he still plans to take his family out to dinner and grocery shopping. His spokesman issued a statement following backlash to a tweet of Stitt and what is believed to be two of his six children Saturday at an Oklahoma City food hall.

TN: Decision to close Tennessee Capitol to public faces criticism

With the Tennessee General Assembly set to return to Nashville, lawmakers are facing pushback for a recent decision to close their offices and the Capitol to the public.

NV: Nevada local leaders urge residents not to panic-buy goods

Officials and community stakeholders in Nevada’s Clark County have a message for residents: Don’t follow the urge to stock up on supplies like groceries, toilet paper and medicine. They say to be strategic with purchases, noting groceries will again be on the shelves once stores and suppliers have time to catch up with the demand.

WI: Republican lawmakers keep job of Wisconsin’s point person on coronavirus in limbo

Andrea Palm is leading Wisconsin’s response to an outbreak of a deadly virus, and among the challenges she faces is the possibility of losing her job in the middle of it. That’s because Republicans who control the Senate have refused to confirm her appointment after more than a year on the job.

OR: Health provider postpones elective care in Oregon

A top Kaiser Permanente executive said the large health care organization will postpone all non-urgent medical and dental procedures in Oregon through the end of the month, providing only urgent and emergency care or virtual appointments online.

DC/MD/VA: District of Columbia restricts bars; Maryland shutters casinos; Virginia bans large gatherings

The District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia entered an increasingly anxious shutdown mode, with public schools set to close in many districts and large gatherings canceled in Maryland and tourist sites shuttered throughout the region. The District also closed nightclubs and placed new restrictions on bars and restaurants.

IL: Bars, restaurants in Illinois to close their doors for two weeks

All bars and restaurants in Illinois must close their doors to customers from the end of business Monday night through March 30, Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker ordered.

AK: Alaska city officials consider ice arena as emergency homeless shelter

Anchorage, Alaska, is home to an estimated 1,100 people who live on the streets, or in greenbelts, parks and shelters. They often have weakened immune systems and are considered vulnerable to the novel coronavirus.

KY: Kentucky coronavirus case refused to self-isolate. He’s being forced.

The number of confirmed cases of novel coronavirus in Kentucky increased by four, including a patient in Nelson county who has been forced into home isolation after refusing to self-isolate. Gov. Andy Beshear, a Democrat, also told all hospitals in the state to stop performing any elective procedures.

WY: Wyoming just updated its pandemic plan last year

Wyoming’s pandemic response plan is outlined in an 80-page that gives broad powers to State Health Officer Dr. Alexia Harrist, including canceling funerals for the dead and how the bodies will be disposed of. Harrist also has the power to make vaccinations mandatory and can enforce quarantines of those who do not wish to be isolated.

PA: Three Pennsylvania special elections will go on as planned

Despite concerns over the coronavirus, a Pennsylvania special election in Bucks County will go on as planned Tuesday, a top House official has announced. Both Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, and local officials had called for the special election in the 18th House District to be postponed.

WA: Washington to close restaurants, bars, curtail gatherings of 50 or more

Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat, said he would sign an emergency declaration shutting down bars, restaurants and places of entertainment and recreation statewide, and cap all public gatherings at 50 people.

NC: North Carolina governor’s order results in churches going to online services

Democratic North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper’s executive order banning large gatherings of 100 or more people has begun to affect churches, many of which went to online or virtual services, rather than in person. The order from Cooper also closes the state’s K-12 public schools through March 27.

MS: Mississippi legislative session will continue

Mississippi Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann, a Republican, told reporters that he expects the legislature to continue working, though public access to the Capitol will be limited.

MD: Maryland lawmakers adjourn early; will reconvene in May

The Maryland General Assembly was scheduled to run through April 6. Several key issues have yet to be resolved by lawmakers, including a sweeping education reform plan, tax changes designed to help pay for the education programs and whether to let voters decide on legalizing sports betting.

ND: North Dakota governor declares emergency; schools still open

North Dakota Republican Gov. Doug Burgum said he has declared a state of emergency, but he said schools will remain open. 

MS: Mississippi’s top health officer moves to improve access to testing

After weeks of confusion and lack of clarity around testing, Mississippi health officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs has made one thing clear: if physicians feel they need to test a patient for COVID-19, they can and should. Referring to clinics and hospitals, “Anybody can test, if it’s appropriate,” Dobbs said. “If you’re sick and worried, call your clinic.”

WV: West Virginia Supreme Court to limit in-person hearings

The West Virginia Supreme Court issued a statement encouraging judicial officers to postpone proceedings that aren’t time sensitive, and to use conference calls and video conferencing as much as possible.

OH: Governor orders Ohio bars, restaurants to shut down

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, a Republican, ordered bars and restaurants to shut down. The governor also indicated that schools might stay closed through the school year.

NE: Nebraska officials identify first community spread

Nebraska health officials identified the state’s first case that was transmitted through community spread of the disease.

CT: Capitol closure could mean Connecticut waits another year for legalized marijuana, sports betting

The closure of the state Capitol in Connecticut until at least March 30 could lead to the failure this year of key legislation to legalize recreational marijuana, enact sports betting and erase criminal records, lawmakers said. 

MN: Minnesota cases increase, including first cases of community transmission

Minnesota officials announced that the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases has grown — including the first three cases of community transmission. Democratic Gov. Tim Walz announced a temporary closure of K-12 public schools.

CO: Colorado legislature shuts down

Lawmakers tentatively plan to return to work March 30, but they acknowledge there’s a high chance they’ll have to extend the recess beyond that date. There is a mountain of legislation — some 350 bills, Becker said — left unresolved.

PA: Pennsylvania governor claims expansive powers

In the space of a week, Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf has shut down schools across Pennsylvania, put four counties in lockdown and directed businesses to close their doors to customers. The governor could also limit travel, order evacuations and even commandeer private property.

CO: Colorado governor orders all ski resorts to close for at least a week

Democratic Gov. Jared Polis issued an extraordinary executive order requiring all Colorado ski resorts to close, an announcement that came just hours after operators across the state preemptively said they were shutting down, many of them indefinitely. 

School closures

NY:  New York City schools, restaurants and bars will close, mayor says

New York City’s public school system, the nation’s largest with 1.1 million students, will begin to largely shut down this week. Mayor Bill de Blasio, a Democrat, said that he would order all bars and restaurants to close, limiting them to takeout and delivery.

TX: Many Texas schools will close for academic year

In separate calls with superintendents and lawmakers, Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath said decisions on extended school closures would be left up to locals. But closures could last through the end of the school year.

NV: Nevada schools closed until April 6

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak, a Democrat, said schools will not reopen until the state chief medical officer evaluates the situation and gives permission. The closures, he said, apply for public, charter and private schools.

MA: Massachusetts governor closes schools, restricts restaurants, bans gatherings over 25

Republican Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker ordered all public and private schools to close for three weeks, beginning Tuesday, and has limited all restaurants to only takeout and delivery.

AZ: Arizona schools to close for at least 2 weeks

Arizona’s governor and school superintendent ordered a statewide closure of schools through at least March 27. They made the decision as a growing number of school districts took their own actions to close or extend their spring breaks.

AR: Arkansas closes all public schools

Beginning Tuesday all public schools in Arkansas will remain closed. According to Gov. Asa Hutchinson, a Republican, public schools will close through March 30.

ID: Idaho leaders leave school closures up to local districts

Idaho Gov. Brad Little, a Republican, and Idaho Department of Health and Welfare director Dave Jeppeson said in a conference call that they will not implement statewide school cancellations. Little asked local superintendents to consult the latest information when making decisions in their districts.

HI: Hawaii public schools extend spring break

Hawaii’s public school system will extend its spring break recess by one week, Gov. David Ige, a Democrat, announced at a press conference with state officials. The break has been extended to two weeks, with students to return to class March 30.

WI: Wisconsin governor orders closure of public schools

Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat, ordered all of Wisconsin’s K-12 schools to close, a move that will affect nearly a million students and their families for at least the next several weeks.

VT: Vermont governor orders schools to close

Republican Gov. Phil Scott has announced a plan for the dismissal of all schools in Vermont and cancellation of all school-related activities no later than Wednesday.

NJ: New Jersey governor set to order all schools closed

Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy said he will order all of New Jersey’s schools — public and private — be shut down. Murphy said during a telephone briefing with reporters that an “extended statewide school shutdown is imminent.”

SC: South Carolina governor closes public schools through March

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster, a Republican, announced that he is ordering all 1,250 public schools closed through the end of March. Day care facilities and private schools are not included in the governor’s order, but they are encouraged to follow suit and close

IN: Indiana governor letting school districts decide on closings

Republican Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb, a Republican, said local leaders should decide if schools should be closed and large gatherings canceled, even as his top health official acknowledged the uncertainty over how widespread coronavirus infections are in the state. 

More state news

DE: Delaware considers bill requiring stores to take cash

Delaware is considering two bills to require stores to accept cash. One would make any violation a fine of up to $10,000 apiece, while the other would have the fine range from $1,000 to $2,500 depending on whether it’s a first or repeated offense. The second bill would also give consumers greater ability to sue companies that refuse to take cash.

MD: Maryland lawmakers boost funding for historically black universities

The Maryland Senate voted unanimously to pass legislation that would send $580 million more to the state’s four historically black colleges and universities over 10 years. The legislation, which the House has approved, now heads to Republican Gov. Larry Hogan.

SD: South Dakota lawmakers change driver’s license tests

Lawmakers left the Capitol after passing legislation that will help South Dakotans register to vote, take their driver’s license tests and leave domestic abuse situations.

OK: Oklahoma Election Board warns against fake voter forms

The Oklahoma State Election Board warned against invalid voter registration forms it said are being submitted through the website The election board calls the form fake and said that people who submitted them are being notified by mail with a valid form enclosed.

NM: Ransomware a growing problem in New Mexico

New Mexico schools, a university, a city and a state agency have collectively spent millions of dollars to regain control of their computer systems after ransomware attacks in the last two years. They were the victims of phishing, a practice of fooling employees into sharing credentials.

MO: Missouri NAACP calls for top election official to resign

The Missouri NAACP called for the state’s top election official to step down in part over his criticism of the Kansas City mayor, who complained about problems voting during last week’s presidential primary.

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Stateline staff
Stateline staff

Stateline’s team of veteran journalists combines original reporting with a roundup of the latest news from sources around the country.