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For constitutional reasons, the United States does not have national holidays in the sense that most other nations do, i.e. days on which all businesses are closed by law and employees have a day off. Pursuant to the Tenth Amendment, the U.S. federal government only has constitutional jurisdiction to establish holidays for itself, for certain federally chartered and regulated businesses (such as federal banks), and for the District of Columbia; otherwise, constitutional authority to create public holidays is a power reserved to the states. Most states also allow local jurisdictions (cities, villages, etc.) to establish their own local holidays. As a result, holidays are not governed at the federal level as each state has jurisdiction over its holidays. Although holidays are declared as official, the government, whether it be federal, state or local, cannot dictate to businesses when they need to officially close.
As of 2012[update], there are eleven federal holidays in the United States, ten annual holidays and one quadrennial holiday (Inauguration Day). Pursuant to the Uniform Monday Holiday Act of 1968 (effective 1971), official holidays are observed on a Monday, except for New Year's Day, Independence Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.
All current federal holidays have also been made public holidays in all 50 states. States are not bound to observe the holidays on the same dates as the federal holidays but they are free to do as they will. Many states also have additional holidays that are not observed by the U.S. federal government, such as Cesar Chavez Day (California, Colorado, and Texas), Emancipation Day (District of Columbia, Florida, Kentucky, Mississippi, Texas, and the U.S. Virgin Islands), Susan B. Anthony Day (California, Florida, Wisconsin, and West Virginia), and Good Friday (a legal holiday in 12 states). The day after Thanksgiving is a public holiday in California.
Malls, shopping centers and most retail stores close only on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day and many on Easter Sunday as well, but remain open on all other holidays (early closing on Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve, and sometimes on other major holidays). Virtually all companies observe and close on the "major" holidays (New Year's Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas). Some non-retail business close on the day after Thanksgiving (Black Friday) while some (such as federal banks and post offices) are not allowed to close on the day after Thanksgiving. Some smaller businesses normally open on Sunday will close on Easter Sunday, if it is their experience they will have very few customers that day.
Federal holidays are designated by Congress in Title V of the United States Code (5 U.S.C. § 6103). Federal holiday is a day off for federal employees, which also means that postal offices are also closed. Post offices are also closed for half days on Christmas and New Year's Eve. Most private companies and certain other businesses observe federal holidays as well, or the big holidays. If a holiday falls on a Saturday it is celebrated the preceding Friday; if a holiday falls on a Sunday it is celebrated the following Monday. Most, but not all, states and most private businesses also observe a Sunday holiday on the following Monday.
There is no generally accepted policy, however, on whether to observe a Saturday holiday on the preceding Friday or the following Monday. Most states and private businesses may observe on the preceding Friday, some may observe it on the following Monday, and some may not observe the holiday at all in those years. In particular, banks that close on Saturdays do not observe a holiday when it falls on Saturday.
|January 1(Fixed)||New Year's Day||Celebrates beginning of the Gregorian calendar year. Festivities include counting down to midnight (12:00 AM) on the preceding night, New Year's Eve, often with fireworks display and party. The ball drop at Times Square in New York City has become a national New Year's festivity. Traditional end of Christmas and holiday season.|
|Third Monday in January||Martin Luther King, Jr. Day||Honors Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Civil Rights leader, who was actually born on January 15, 1929; combined with other holidays in several states. Some cities and municipalities hold parades; and more recently, the 1994 King Holiday and Service Act, which was passed to encourage Americans to transform the King Holiday into a day of citizen action volunteer service, has gained in popularity (sometimes referred to as a National Day of Service).|
|First January 20 following a Presidential election||Inauguration Day||Observed only by federal government employees in Washington, D.C., and the border counties of Maryland and Virginia to relieve congestion that occurs with this major event. Swearing-in of President of the United States and Vice President of the United States. Celebrated every fourth year. Note: Takes place on January 21 if the 20th is a Sunday (although the President is still privately inaugurated on the 20th). If Inauguration Day falls on a Saturday, the preceding Friday is not a federal holiday.|
|Third Monday in February||Washington's Birthday||Washington's Birthday was first declared a federal holiday by an 1879 act of Congress. The Uniform Holidays Act, 1968, shifted the date of the commemoration of Washington's Birthday from February 22 to the third Monday in February (between February 15 and 21, meaning the observed holiday never falls on Washington's actual birthday). Because of this, combined with the fact that President Abraham Lincoln's birthday falls on February 12, many people now refer to this holiday as "Presidents' Day" and consider it a day honoring all American presidents. However, neither the Uniform Holidays Act nor any subsequent law changed the name of the holiday from Washington's Birthday to Presidents' Day.|
|Last Monday in May||Memorial Day||Honors the nation's war dead from the Civil War onwards; marks the unofficial beginning of the summer season. (traditionally May 30, shifted by the Uniform Holidays Act 1968)|
|July 4||Independence Day||Celebrates the signing of the Declaration of Independence from British rule, also called the Fourth of July. Firework celebrations are held in many cities throughout the nation.|
|First Monday in September||Labor Day||Celebrates the achievements of workers and the labor movement; marks the unofficial end of the summer season.|
|Second Monday in October||Columbus Day||Honors Christopher Columbus, traditional discoverer of the Americas. In some areas it is also a celebration of Italian culture and heritage. (traditionally October 12)|
|November 11||Veterans Day||Honors all veterans of the United States armed forces. It is observed on November 11 to recall the end of World War I on that date in 1918 (major hostilities of World War I were formally ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 when the Armistice with Germany went into effect).|
|Fourth Thursday in November||Thanksgiving Day||Traditionally celebrates the giving of thanks for the autumn harvest. Traditionally includes the sharing of a turkey dinner. Traditional start of the Christmas and holiday season.|
|December 25||Christmas||The most widely celebrated holiday of the Christian year, Christmas is observed as a commemoration of the birth of Jesus of Nazareth.|
In 1975, the one notable holiday called Victory Day, also called "VJ Day" and "Victory over Japan Day" was abolished after being in place since 1948. At this time, only one state in the union still celebrates it. According to this article and other sources, some claim the holiday to be "racist" and generally encourages "hate" against the Japanese Americans, and for that matter, other races from Asia. Also, the fact that an atomic bomb was used to end the war with Japan is also cause for its abolition. Today, only the U.S. state of Rhode Island still officially observes this day with public offices and schools being closed.
Although the holiday is not abolished, wide protests by the Native American community as well as some Italian Americans support the abolition of Columbus Day, mainly due to its ideology in "forcefully" conquering and converting whole populations with another and encouraging "imperialism" and "colonization. Glenn Morris of the Denver Post wrote that Columbus Day "... is not merely a celebration of Columbus the man; it is the celebration of a racist legal and political legacy - embedded in official legal and political pronouncements of the U.S. - such as the Doctrine of Discovery and Manifest Destiny." 
Many proposed federal holidays have come up over time. According to an article from CBS, federal holidays are generally "expensive" and they only allow federal workers to take the day off. As the U.S. federal government is a large employer, the holidays are expensive. If a holiday is controversial, opposition will generally cause bills that propose such holidays to die. Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday, for example, was one that took much effort to pass. And once it did pass, it took more effort for all states to eventually recognize it.
The following list is an example of holidays that have been proposed and have reasons why they are not observed at the federal level today. Some of the holidays are observed at the state level.
|Third Monday of February||Susan B. Anthony Day||The holiday was proposed by Carolyn Maloney in a H. R. 655 on February 11, 2011. Today, the bill is dead.|
|Last Monday of March||Cesar Chavez Day||The holiday was proposed California Democrat Joe Baca in H.R. 76 and was further endorsed by President Barack Obama|
|Third Monday in May||Malcolm X Day||The holiday was proposed in H.R. 323 in 1993 and 1994 by Congressman Charles Rangel.|
|Third Monday of September||Native Americans' Day||The holiday was petitioned for multiple times and was introduced into Congress multiple time, but was unsuccessful The proclamation exists today as the "Native American Awareness Week."|
|First Tuesday after November 1||Election Day||There have been multiple movements for this holiday to be official, with the last happening in with the "1993 Motor Voter Act", mainly to boost voter turnout.|
The Congress has designated various United States federal observances—days, weeks, months, and other periods for the observance, commemoration, or recognition of events, individuals, or other topics. These observances do not have the status of holidays in that federal employees do not receive any days free from work for observances.
Trading holidays of the New York Stock Exchange closely resembles those designated as federal holidays except for Columbus Day and Veterans Day. A total of nine days are designated, which includes Good Friday where trading is not done.
U.S. bank holidays are generally the same as those observed at the federal level, but depend on the bank. For example, JP Morgan Chase observes all federal holidays except Columbus Day. U.S. Bank on the other hand observes all of the federal holidays.
The religious and cultural holidays in the United States is characterized by a diversity of religious beliefs and practices. Various religious faiths have flourished, as well as perished, in the United States. A majority of Americans report that religion plays a "very important" role in their lives, a proportion unique among developed nations.
The majority of Americans (73–80%) identify themselves as Christians and about 15–20% have no religious affiliation. According to the American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS) (2008) 76% of the American adult population identified themselves as Christians, with 51% professing attendance at a variety of churches that could be considered Protestant or unaffiliated, and 25% professing Catholic beliefs. The same survey says that other religions (including, for example, Judaism, Buddhism, Islam, and Hinduism) collectively make up about 4% of the adult population, another 15% of the adult population claim no religious affiliation, and 5.2% said they did not know, or they refused to reply. According to a 2012 survey by the Pew forum, 36 percent of Americans state that they attend services nearly every week or more.
In the United States, Good Friday is not a government holiday at the federal level; however individual states, counties and municipalities may observe the holiday. Good Friday is a state holiday in Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Texas. State and local government offices and courts are closed, as well as some banks and postal offices in these states, and in those counties and municipalities where Good Friday is observed as holiday. Good Friday is also a holiday in U.S. territories of Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.
Some private businesses and certain other institutions are closed on Good Friday. The financial market and stock market is closed on Good Friday. Most retail stores remain open although some might close early. Public schools and most universities are closed on Good Friday, either as a holiday of its own, or part of spring break. The postal service operates, and banks regulated by the federal government do not close for Good Friday.
Easter is recognized as a flag day but has not been a federal holiday due to falling always on a Sunday, which is a non-working day for federal and state employees. However, many companies, including banks, malls, shopping centers and most private retail stores that normally open on Sundays are closed on Easter.
In addition to the federal/national holidays, many religious, ethnic, and other traditional holidays populate the calendar, as well as observances proclaimed by officials and lighter celebrations. These are rarely observed by businesses as holidays (Except for Easter and most often also on Good Friday); indeed, many are viewed as opportunities for commercial promotion. Because of this commercialization, some critics apply the deprecatory term Hallmark holiday to such days, after the Hallmark greeting card company.
|January 6||Epiphany||Epiphany (from Greek epiphaneia, "manifestation"), falls on the 12th day after Christmas. It commemorates the manifestation of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, as represented by the Magi, the baptism of Jesus, and the miracle of the wine at the marriage feast at Cana. One of the three major Christian festivals, along with Christmas and Easter. Epiphany originally marked the beginning of the carnival season preceding Lent, and the evening preceding it is known as Twelfth Night.|
|January 7||Orthodox Christmas||January 7 is the Gregorian Calendar equivalent of December 25 on the Julian Calendar still observed by the Russian and other Eastern Orthodox Churches.|
|January or February||Lunar New Year||First day of the year in the lunar calendar, traditionally used by many East Asian communities.|
|February 2||Groundhog Day||The day on which folklore states that the behavior of a groundhog emerging from its burrow is said to predict the onset of Spring.|
|February 14||Valentine's Day||St. Valentine's Day, or simply Valentine's Day is named after one or more early Christian martyrs named Saint Valentine, and was established by Pope Gelasius I in 496 AD. Modern traditional celebration of love and romance, including the exchange of cards, candy, flowers, and other gifts.|
|February or March, date varies||Mardi Gras and Ash Wednesday||A festive season (Carnival) leading up to Shrove Tuesday or Mardi Gras. Closes with Ash Wednesday (40 days before Easter, not counting Sundays), which starts the penitential season of Lent in the Western Christian calendar.|
|March 8||International Women's Day||A day set aside to honor women and their accomplishments in history.|
|March 17||St. Patrick's Day||A holiday honoring Saint Patrick that celebrates Irish culture. Primary activity is simply the wearing of green clothing ("wearing o' the green"), although drinking beer dyed green is also popular. Big parades in some cities, such as in Chicago, where there is also a tradition of dying the Chicago River green.|
|April 1||April Fools' Day||A day that people commonly play tricks or jokes on family, friends, and co-workers, especially in English-speaking nations. Sometimes called "the Feast of All Fools" as a play on the feast days of saints; there is no evidence the holiday has any Christian religious origins.|
|March/April/May (depends on Hebrew Calendar)||Passover||A seven- or eight-day festival in Judaism, commemorating the Exodus of the Jews from Egypt. For Karaite Jews, Passover is the holiest day of the year and is the festival that marks the beginning of the year. Some Christian groups celebrate Passover instead of Easter. In many regions with large Jewish communities, schools close for all or part of Passover.|
|Sunday before Easter||Palm Sunday||Celebration to commemorate the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem.|
|The Friday before (western) Easter||Good Friday||Friday of Holy Week, when Western Christians commemorate the crucifixion and death of Jesus. Good Friday is a holiday in some individual counties and municipalities, as well as a state holiday in Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Tennessee and Texas. State and local government offices and courts are closed, as well as state-chartered banks and in these jurisdictions. Federal banks and post offices that are located in buildings that close for Good Friday and Easter will also be closed. Good Friday is also a holiday in U.S. territories of Guam, U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. Many public and private schools, colleges, universities and private-sector businesses; and the New York Stock Exchange and financial markets are closed on Good Friday.|
|Sunday following the Paschal Full Moon, date varies from March 22 to April 25, inclusive (see Computus),||Easter||Celebration of the resurrection of Jesus in most Western Christian churches. A minority of Protestant churches do not observe Easter. Eastern Orthodox (including Western Rite), Oriental Orthodox and some Neo-Celtic churches observe Easter according to a different calendar, usually on a later Sunday (thus they also observe Palm Sunday and Good Friday on different days than Western Christians). |
Many Americans decorate hard-boiled eggs and give baskets of candy, fruit, toys and so on, especially to children; but gifts of age-appropriate Easter baskets for the elderly, the infirm and the needy are increasingly popular. An annual Easter Egg Roll has been held on the White House South Lawn for young children on Easter Monday since President Hayes started the tradition in 1878. Not a federal holiday due to the fact that it always falls on a Sunday, which is a non-working day for federal and state employees. Many companies that are normally open on Sunday close for Easter.
|April 22 (varies by location and observance)||Earth Day||A celebration of environmentalism.|
|Last Friday in April||Arbor Day||A day for planting trees.|
|May 1||May Day||In most other countries, May 1 is International Workers' Day, the equivalent of Labor Day, and some Americans do observe May 1 in that context. But before it was a labor-related holiday, May Day was a Celtic and English holiday that celebrated the transition from Spring to Summer, and it is that holiday that those Americans and Canadians who still celebrate May Day call to mind.|
|May 5||Cinco de Mayo||Primarily a celebration of Mexican culture by Mexican-Americans living in the United States. Although this is the anniversary of the victory of the Mexican Army over the French at the Battle of Puebla in 1862, Cinco de Mayo is far more important in the USA than in Mexico itself, often celebrated even by non-Mexican-Americans. Additionally, this "holiday" is often mistaken by Americans as being Mexican Independence Day, which is actually observed on September 16.|
|Second Sunday in May||Mother's Day||Honors mothers and motherhood (made a "federal holiday" by Presidential order, although most federal agencies are already closed on Sundays)|
|First Sunday in June||Children's Day||Proclaimed by President George W. Bush in 2001 to honor children.|
|June 14||Flag Day||Commemorates the adoption of the flag of the United States, in 1777.|
|June 27||Helen Keller Day||Commemorates the achievements of Helen Keller and the blind.|
|Third Sunday in June||Father's Day||Honors fathers and fatherhood.|
|August 26||Women's Equality Day||Celebrates the fight for, and progress towards, equality for women. Established by the United States Congress in 1971 to commemorate two anniversaries: Passage of the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution ensuring Woman Suffrage in 1920 and a nation-wide demonstration for equal rights, the Women's Strike for Equality, in 1970.|
|First Sunday after Labor Day||Grandparent's Day||Similar to Mother's/Father's Day but honoring grandparents and grandparenthood.|
|September 11||Patriot Day||Commemorates the attacks on the World Trade Center (New York City), the Pentagon (Washington, D.C.), and Flight 93 in 2001.|
|September 17||Constitution/Citizenship Day||Commemorates the adoption of the Constitution of the United States.|
|September or October (depends on Hebrew calendar)||Rosh Hashanah||Observed by Jewish people. Traditional beginning of the Jewish High Holidays. It also celebrates the beginning of a new year on the Hebrew calendar. In regions with large Jewish populations, schools and universities may close on Rosh Hashanah. This holiday is observed for one day in Israel and for 2 days outside Israel, the Diaspora.|
|September or October (depends on Hebrew calendar)||Yom Kippur||Observed by Jewish people. |
This day marks the end of the Ten Days of Penitence that began with Rosh Hashanah. It is described in Leviticus as a "Sabbath of rest," and synagogue services begin the preceding sundown, resume the following morning, and continue to sundown. In regions with large Jewish populations, schools and universities may close on Yom Kippur.
|October 6||German-American Day||Commemorates the date in 1683 when 13 German families from Krefeld near the Rhine landed in Philadelphia. These families subsequently founded Germantown, Pennsylvania, the first German settlement in the original thirteen American colonies.|
|October 9||Leif Erikson Day||Honors Leif Erikson, the Norse Viking explorer, who led the first Europeans to discover and set foot in the New World.|
|October 31||Halloween||Originally the end of the Celtic year, it now celebrates Eve of All Saint's Day. Decorations include jack o'lanterns. Costume parties and candy such as candy corn are also part of the holiday. Kids go "trick-or-treating" to neighbors who give away candy. Not generally observed by businesses.|
|First Tuesday after the first Monday in November||Election Day||Observed by the federal and state governments in applicable years; legal holiday in some states.|
|Day After Thanksgiving||Black Friday||Traditionally the beginning of the Christmas shopping season in the United States. "Black Friday" is not a holiday under that name, but California and some other states observe "The Day After Thanksgiving" as a holiday for state government employees. Virtually all schools, colleges and universities are also closed, along with many non-retail private sector businesses. Federal government offices, post offices and federally chartered banks must open on Black Friday (unless the President issues an executive order or proclamation allowing them to close). It is called "Black Friday" because it begins the sales period when most American retailers make their profits for the year. Contrary to popular belief, Black Friday is not the busiest sales day of the year (that honor belongs to Christmas Eve, December 24). Rather, it is the barometer by which retailers are able to gauge December sales and whether they will indeed end the year "in the black" (instead of "in the red"). A busy Black Friday almost invariably indicates a busy shopping season, while poor sales on Black Friday usually herald a very slow season.|
|November/December/January (depends on Hebrew calendar)||Hanukkah||An eight-day Jewish holiday commemorating the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean Revolt of the 2nd century BC. In regions with large Jewish populations, schools and universities may close for part of Hanukkah.|
|December 7||Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day||Day to mourn the attack on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese on December 7, 1941.|
|December 8||Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary||Immaculate Conception is a dogma of the Catholic Church maintaining that the Virgin Mary was kept free of original sin from her moment of conception. Companies in some states will give day off to their employees.|
|December 24||Christmas Eve||Day before Christmas Day. Virtually every business closes early, though a few remain open 24 hours.|
|December 26 through January 1||Kwanzaa||African American holiday celebration created in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Ron Karenga|
|December 31||New Year's Eve||Final Day of the Gregorian year. Usually accompanied by much celebration, such as party and fireworks. Virtually every company and retail outlet closes early, except for stores that sell alcoholic beverages and party supplies.|
|State||3rd Monday in January||February 4||February 12||3rd Monday in February||February 15||March 31||Variable date in April||April 16||3rd Monday in April||Variable date||1st Monday in June||2nd Monday in October||Tuesday after 1st Monday in November (in even-numbered years)||Friday after 4th Thursday in November||December 24||December 25||December 31|
|Martin Luther King, Jr. Day[a]||Rosa Parks Day||Lincoln's Birthday||Washington's Birthday[b]||Susan B. Anthony Day||César Chávez Day||Good Friday||Emancipation Day||Patriots' Day||Confederate Memorial Day||Jefferson Davis Day||Columbus Day||General Election Day||Day after Thanksgiving||Christmas Eve||New Year's Eve|
(with Robert E. Lee Day)
(with Jefferson's Birthday)
|No||No||No||No||No||Fourth Monday in April||Yes||Yes|
(with Fraternal Day and American Indian Heritage Day)
(with Robert E. Lee Day)
(with Daisy Gatson Bates Day)
|Georgia||Yes||No||No||December 24||No||No||No||No||No||April 26 (observed on fourth Monday in April)||No||Yes||No||Robert E. Lee Day||Washington's Birthday||No||No|
|Indiana||Yes||No||Day after Thanksgiving||December 24||No||No||Yes||No||No||No||No||Yes||Yes||Lincoln's Birthday||Washington's Birthday||No||No|
|Maryland||Yes||No||No||Yes||No||No||No||No||No||No||No||Yes||Yes||Native American Heritage Day||No||No||No|
(with Robert E. Lee Day)
|No||No||Yes||No||No||No||No||No||Last Monday in April||Last Monday in May (with Memorial Day)||No||No||No||No||No||No|
(with Lincoln's Birthday)
|New Mexico||Yes||No||No||Day after Thanksgiving||No||No||No||No||No||No||No||Yes||No||Washington's Birthday[a]||No||No||No|
|South Carolina||Yes||No||No||Yes||No||No||No||No||No||May 10||No||No||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||No|
|South Dakota||Yes||No||No||Yes||No||No||No||No||No||No||No||Yes Native American Day||No||No||No||No||No|
|Texas||Yes||No||No||Yes||No||Optional holiday||Yes||No||No||Confederate Heroes Day on January 19 (partial staffing holiday)||No||No||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||No|
(with Lincoln's Birthday)
|West Virginia||Yes||No||No||Yes||On even-numbered Election Day||No||No||No||No||No||No||Yes||No||Yes||One half day||No||One half day|
^ a. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is known officially as Martin Luther King, Jr./Civil Rights Day in Arizona, and New Hampshire, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert E. Lee's Birthdays in Arkansas, Birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Florida, and Maryland, Martin Luther King Jr. / Idaho Human Rights Day in Idaho, and Martin Luther King's and Robert E. Lee's Birthdays in Mississippi.
^ b. Washington's Birthday is known officially as President's Day in Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Maryland, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Ohio, Tennessee, Washington, West Virginia, and Wyoming, Lincoln/Washington/Presidents' Day in Arizona, George Washington's Birthday and Daisy Gatson Bates Day in Arkansas, Presidents' Day in Hawaii, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, and Vermont, Washington's Birthday/President's Day in Maine, Presidents Day in Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, and Oregon, Lincoln's and Washington's Birthday in Montana, Recognition of the birthday of George Washington in North Dakota, Washington and Lincoln Day in Utah, and George Washington Day in Virginia.
^ e. President's Day, Good Friday (11am-3pm), Juneteenth Day (June 19), Columbus Day, Veteran's Day, Partisan Primary Election Day, and General Election Day are listed as a state holiday in Wisconsin although state offices remain open.
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