Documenting America’s Path to Recovery: January 14, 2021

Documenting America's Path to Recovery by Ballotpedia

The next 24 hours

What is changing in the next 24 hours?

  • Montana (Republican trifecta): Gov. Greg Gianforte (R) issued an order lifting capacity limits and the 10 p.m. curfew on restaurants, bars, and casinos starting Jan. 15. Gianforte also ended the state’s 25-person gathering limit. Former Gov. Steve Bullock (D) issued the previous restrictions on Nov. 20, 2020.

Since our last edition

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

  • California (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) announced individuals age 65 and older are next in line for the coronavirus vaccine. Currently, the state is distributing vaccines to healthcare workers and nursing home residents. 
  • Indiana (Republican trifecta): On Wednesday, Jan. 13, Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) announced that people age 70 and older can now register to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. Previously, vaccines were reserved for those 80 and older.  
  • Maine (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Janet Mills (D) announced the state is expanding Phase 1a (the current phase) of the vaccine distribution plan to include first responders, corrections officers, and critical COVID-19 response personnel (like test manufacturers). Mills also said Phase 1b will be expanded to include residents age 70 and older and individuals with high-risk medical conditions, which the state will define at a later date.
  • Massachusetts (divided government): On Wednesday, Jan. 13, Gov. Charlie Baker (R) announced that employees and residents in congregate care facilities and homeless shelters, as well staff and inmates in correctional facilities, will be eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine on Jan. 18. 
  • Michigan (divided government): On Wednesday, Jan. 13, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) announced that she would ease restrictions on indoor group exercises and non-contact sports beginning Jan. 16 while leaving a ban on indoor dining in place at least through Feb. 1. The text of the new order was not immediately available. 
  • Minnesota (divided government): On Wednesday, Jan. 13, Gov. Tim Walz (D) extended the statewide coronavirus emergency an additional 30 days.  
  • New York (Democratic trifecta): New York Supreme Court Justice Henry Nowak issued a preliminary injunction allowing 90 restaurants that were part of a lawsuit against the indoor dining ban in Orange Zones to resume indoor dining at 50% capacity. The preliminary injunction is effective through Jan. 19, when Nowak will decide whether the injunction should be made permanent. New York Supreme Courts are the highest trial courts in New York State, not New York’s courts of last resort.
  • Oklahoma (Republican trifecta): On Wednesday, Jan. 13, Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) extended the statewide coronavirus emergency an additional 30 days and removed a requirement that bars and restaurants close to indoor dining at 11 p.m.
  • North Carolina (divided government): On Thursday, Jan. 14, Gov. Roy Cooper (D) said that people 65 and older would soon be eligible to receive the coronavirus vaccine. Cooper said more information would be forthcoming but did not give a time for when the new policy would take effect. 
  • West Virginia (Republican trifecta): On Wednesday, Jan. 13, Gov. Jim Justice (R) announced the state would open up COVID-19 vaccinations to people age 70 and older. 

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 Jan. 7 newsletter. Since then, no states have issued an order closing or reopening schools statewide. 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)

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 Jan. 7, no states have implemented new, or modified existing, travel restrictions. 

Federal responses

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

  • On Jan. 12, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that, beginning Jan. 26, all travelers to the United States would need to present proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within three days of departure, regardless of vaccination status. Airlines will be required to verify that all passengers meet the requirement and deny boarding to those who cannot or will not present a test result.
  • On Jan. 12, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar announced the federal government was changing its vaccine distribution guidelines and recommending states expand the pool of eligible recipients to include everyone 65 and older, including people with underlying health conditions. Azar also said the federal government would begin shipping second doses to states instead of holding them in reserve. He also announced a new system for allocating vaccines to states. Instead of basing the allocation on the total adult population in a state, it will now be based on the population of people age 65 and older, as well as on how quickly states can administer vaccines.