Documenting America’s Path to Recovery: January 7, 2021

Documenting America's Path to Recovery by Ballotpedia

The next 24 hours

What is changing in the next 24 hours?

  • California (Democratic trifecta): The Department of Health will review the Bay Area’s regional stay-at-home order Jan. 8—the final day of the required three-week minimum length of the order. The region’s current ICU availability is 5.9%. Restrictions will remain effective until the region’s four-week projected available ICU capacity is equal to or greater than 15%.

Since our last edition

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

  • Illinois (Democratic trifecta): Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) announced Phase 1B of the state’s vaccination plan will include individuals 65 years of age and older, non-medical essential frontline workers (including first responders, school staff, and grocery store workers), and inmates. The press release did not include a target date for Phase 1B to begin.
  • Indiana (Republican trifecta): On Wednesday, Jan. 6, the Department of Health added 10 counties to the red category of its county infection map, bringing the total number of counties in the highest risk category of COVID-19 spread to 57. Red indicates that the 7-day positivity rate for tests is 15% or greater and that weekly coronavirus cases are growing at 200 or more new cases per 100,000 residents. The remaining 35 counties are classified as yellow, the next highest risk classification.
  • Minnesota (divided government): On Jan. 6, Gov. Tim Walz (D) announced he would ease coronavirus restrictions on Jan. 11. On that day, bars and restaurants can reopen to indoor dining at 50% capacity, and the maximum capacity at outdoor entertainment venues will increase to 250 (or 25% capacity, whichever is less). Indoor entertainment venues, such as bowling alleys, can reopen at 25% capacity. Youth sports games can resume on Jan. 14 with spectators, so long as social distancing is enforced. Private parties (such as weddings) that serve food are limited to two households, or 10 people, if the event is held indoors. Outdoor events are limited to 3 households or 15 people.
  • Montana (Republican trifecta): Gov. Greg Gianforte (R) announced that after healthcare workers are vaccinated, the state’s distribution plan will prioritize residents over the age of 70, individuals with preexisting conditions, and Native Americans. Previously, the plan prioritized certain frontline essential workers and individuals in congregate care and correctional facilities in Phase 1B.
  • North Carolina (divided government): On Wednesday, Jan. 6, Gov. Roy Cooper (D) extended the statewide curfew requiring people to stay at home from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. through Jan. 29. 
  • West Virginia (Republican trifecta): On Wednesday, Jan. 6, Gov. Jim Justice (R) announced operation “Save Our Wisdom.” The effort aims to vaccinate all adults aged 80 and older, as well as Pre-K-12 school faculty age 50 and older, through a series of 10 clinics that will be held later in the week in different parts of the state.  

School closures and reopenings

    Read more: School responses to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic during the 2020-2021 academic year


We last looked at schools in our Dec. 17 newsletter. Since then, four states lifted partial closure orders, and two states implemented temporary full closures. The current status of school restrictions in the states is as follows:

  • Two states (N.M., W.Va.) and Washington, D.C. had state- or district-ordered school closures
    • 2016-17 enrollment: 695,968 students (1.38% of students nationwide)
  • Five states (Calif., Del., Hawaii, N.C., R.I.) had state-ordered regional school closures, required closures for certain grade levels, or allowed hybrid instruction only.
    • 2016-17 enrollment: 8,319,164 students (16.44% 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-nine states left decisions to schools or districts
    • 2016-17 enrollment: 32,391,809 students (64.03% of students nationwide)


  • Kentucky The state’s Healthy at School guidelines became mandatory and middle and high schools were allowed to reopen for in-person instruction on Jan. 4.
  • Michigan – Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) allowed public and private high schools to reopen starting Dec. 21.
  • New Mexico – Schools in the state are prohibited from providing in-person instruction from Jan. 4 -15 to mitigate virus spread.
  • New York – On Jan. 4, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced schools can remain open in communities with 9% or greater positivity rates if positivity among students and school staff is lower than positivity in the surrounding community. Previously, the state required schools to close in communities where the positivity rate was 9% or greater. 
  • Oregon – The state’s school reopening metrics, which previously determined when schools could open, became advisory instead of mandatory on Jan. 1.
  • West Virginia – On Dec. 30, Gov. Jim Justice (R) announced that all elementary and middle schools would reopen for full-time, in-person instruction beginning Jan. 19. Justice also announced that most high schools would reopen unless they were located in counties classified as Red (25+ cases per 100,000 people) in the Department of Health and Human Resources County Alert System. On Jan. 4, schools began a two-week period of state-ordered remote-only learning to prepare for the move to in-person instruction.

Travel restrictions

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


  • Governors or state agencies in 13 states issued executive orders placing restrictions on out-of-state visitors. At least 14 of those orders have been rescinded.
    • Since Dec. 17, no states have implemented or modified travel restrictions. 


  • California – On Dec. 31, 2020, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health issued an order requiring anyone entering the county from outside the Southern California Region to quarantine for 10 days upon arrival. The order took effect Jan. 1, 2021, and will remain in effect until the regional stay-at-home order expires. According to the California Department of Public Health, the Southern California Region includes the following counties: Imperial, Inyo, Los Angeles, Mono, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Ventura. 

Federal responses

Read more: Federal government responses to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020-2021

  • On Jan. 6, 2021, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said the federal government would accelerate a program to allocate COVID-19 vaccines to pharmacies this week. Azar said the partnership includes 40 pharmacy chains and would allow the government to eventually distribute vaccines to around 40,000 locations.
  • On Dec. 27, 2020, President Donald Trump (R) signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act into law. The bill included the $900 billion COVID-19 relief package. 
  • On Dec. 21, 2020, the U.S. Senate and U.S. House passed the Consolidated Appropriations Act.