Documenting America’s Path to Recovery: December 10, 2020

Documenting America's Path to Recovery by Ballotpedia

Since our last edition

What rules and restrictions are changing in each state? For a continually updated article, click here.

  • Alabama (Republican trifecta): Gov. Kay Ivey (R) extended the state’s Safer at Home order, including the requirement that people wear a face-covering in public spaces when social distancing with non-household members cannot be kept, until 5 p.m. on Jan. 22, 2021.
  • California (Democratic trifecta): Counties in the Greater Sacramento region will be added to the state’s regional stay-at-home order effective Dec. 10 at 11:59 p.m. The restrictions will last until at least Jan. 1. The Greater Sacramento region will be the third of the state’s five regions to trigger the stay-at-home order.
  • Hawaii (Democratic trifecta): Gov. David Ige (D) announced the state is predicting a $1.4 billion shortfall in the general fund for each of the next four years due to the coronavirus pandemic. Ige said state employees will be furloughed for two days every month, starting Jan. 1, 2021.. The furlough will affect 10,160 executive-branch employees. It will not apply to roughly 4,600 first responders, medical personnel, or other positions that support 24/7 functions.
  • Indiana (Republican trifecta): On Wednesday, Dec. 9, Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) announced hospitals must postpone non-emergency elective procedures for three weeks. Holcomb also said new limits on gatherings will begin this weekend based on the state’s color-coded, county-level map of COVID-19 spread. Counties classified as “red,” with the highest level of spread, will be limited to gatherings no larger than 25 people. Counties classified as “orange,” “yellow,” and “blue,” will face limits on gatherings of 50, 100, and 250, respectively. 
  • Iowa (Republican trifecta): on Wednesday, Dec. 9, Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) announced she was extending statewide coronavirus restrictions, including the requirement that people wear a face mask when in indoor public spaces, through Dec. 16. 
  • Maine (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Janet Mills (D) announced the state will issue $600 direct payments to certain unemployed and partially unemployed individuals. To qualify, individuals must have exhausted their federal unemployment benefits on or after the week ending Nov. 14. The press release also said individuals who “previously established a COVID-19 related claim, meet the requirements of the program, and have filed certifications for weeks ending December 5, 12, or 19” could also receive payments. For more information, click here.
  • Mississippi (Republican trifecta): Gov. Tate Reeves (R) amended the state’s Safe Recovery Order to limit indoor gatherings to 10 people and outdoor gatherings to 50 when social distancing cannot be practiced. He also added 12 counties and removed four from the state’s mask requirement, bringing the total number of counties under the face-covering order to 62.
  • North Dakota (Republican trifecta): On Wednesday, Dec. 9, Gov. Doug Burgum (R) announced he was extending coronavirus restrictions, including capacity limits on businesses, through Jan. 8. Burgum also said the statewide mask mandate would be in effect through Jan. 18. 
  • Washington (Democratic trifecta): On Wednesday, Dec. 9, Gov. Jay Inslee (D) announced he was extending statewide coronavirus restrictions, including the prohibition on indoor dining and the closure of indoor gym activities, through Jan. 4.  

School closures and reopenings

    Read more: School reopenings in the 2020-2021 academic year after the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic


  • In March and April, 48 states closed schools to in-person instruction for the remainder of the 2019-2020 academic year. Those states accounted for 99.4% of the nation’s 50.6 million public school students. Montana and Wyoming did not require in-person instruction for the year. Montana schools were allowed to reopen on May 7 and Wyoming schools were allowed to reopen on May 15.
  • Washington, D.C. had a district-ordered school closure
    • 2016-17 enrollment: 85,850 students (0.17% of students nationwide)
  • Eleven states (Calif., Del., Hawaii, Ky., Mich., N.C., N.M., N.Y., Ore., R.I., W.Va.) had state-ordered regional school closures, required closures for certain grade levels, or allowed hybrid instruction only.
    • 2016-17 enrollment: 14,450,688 students (28.57% of students nationwide)
  • Four states (Ark., Fla., Iowa, Texas) had state-ordered in-person instruction
    • 2016-17 enrollment: 9,180,918 students (18.15% of students nationwide)
  • Thirty-five states left decisions to schools or districts
    • 2016-17 enrollment: 26,870,403 students (53.12% of students nationwide)


  • Kentucky – Public and private elementary schools started reopening for in-person instruction on Dec. 7 in non-red zone counties. Middle and high school instruction is fully remote through at least Jan. 4. Gov. Andy Beshear (D) previously ordered all schools to close on Nov. 23.
  • Michigan – On Monday, Dec. 7, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) extended the suspension of in-person instruction at all public and non-public high schools through Dec. 20. 
  • West Virginia – Public and private schools were allowed to reopen from Thanksgiving closures starting Dec. 3. Gov. Jim Justice ordered schools closed from Thanksgiving through Dec. 3 to allow a seven day period between holiday gatherings and in-person instruction. Each Saturday, the Department of Health evaluates transmission rates to determine whether in-person, hybrid, or remote-only instruction is allowed in each county.

Travel restrictions

    Read more: Travel restrictions issued by states in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020


  • Since the start of the pandemic, governors or state agencies in 26 states issued executive orders placing restrictions on out-of-state visitors. At least 14 of those orders have been rescinded.
    • Since Dec. 1, no states have implemented or modified travel restrictions. 

Federal responses

Read more: Political responses to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

  • On Dec. 4, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a report recommending state and local officials issue rules to require the use of masks in all indoor settings outside of the home.
  • On Dec. 7, President Donald Trump (R) signed an executive order directing the Secretary of Health and Human Services to ensure that U.S. citizens have access to COVID-19 vaccines before sharing those vaccines abroad. The order says once there’s enough vaccine to vaccinate all Americans, then the Secretary of Health and Human Services is charged with distributing it to international allies and partners.
  • On Dec. 8, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a report summarizing Pfizer and BioNTech’s vaccine trials. The report said the data indicated the vaccine is safe and roughly 95% effective. An FDA advisory committee will meet on Dec. 10 to discuss emergency use authorization for the vaccine. Another meeting on Dec. 17 will consider the Moderna vaccine for emergency use authorization.