On September 14, a federal judge ruled as unconstitutional some of Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf’s orders to control the Coronavirus outbreak, including limits on crowd sizes, requirements that people stay home, and non-essential businesses close down. Ruling on a lawsuit brought by business owners and Republican politicians, District Judge William Stickman IV, a Trump appointee, said the restrictions were executed with good intentions but were arbitrary and violated individual rights. While some of the limits have been lifted since the lawsuit was filed in May, the Democratic governor has maintained some restrictions on gatherings and on bars and restaurants. Previous legal challenges to some of the governor’s pandemic-related restrictions had been unsuccessful.
There have been hundreds of cases filed in federal and state courts across the US, challenging various local Coronavirus restrictions, with some going all the way to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court in July declined to lift a 50-person limit on religious services adopted by Nevada’s Democratic governor in response to the pandemic, and in May it rejected challenges to Coronavirus curbs on religious services in California and Illinois. Perhaps one of the most emblematic cases of the clash over pandemic curbs took place in Wisconsin in May, when some residents flocked to bars to celebrate a ruling by the state’s top court that struck down a statewide stay-at-home order. Several lawsuits challenging Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker orders are working their way through state courts. The lawsuits accuse Pritzker, a Democrat, of overstepping his authority.
Despite a recent return to school for many students and teachers, Coronavirus cases in the US have dropped sharply in recent weeks, and both deaths and hospitalizations are trending lower at a slower pace. According to a Reuters analysis, the number of new cases fell 15% last week and deaths fell for a fourth week in a row. On average, the US reported 35,000 new cases each day in the week ended September 13, marking the eighth straight week of declines from a peak in July of about 75,000 new cases a day. Coronavirus death rates have declined somewhat as well, with approximately 1,200 people dying per day, down from a peak of 3,000 per day at the end of March.