Documenting America’s Path to Recovery: January 21, 2021

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.

  • Kansas (divided government): The state is starting Phase 2 of its vaccine distribution plan Jan. 21. Individuals over the age of 65, high-contact essential workers (including police officers, grocery store workers, and school staff), and congregate care workers and residents (including in prisons and homeless shelters) are all eligible to receive the vaccine. The state also released a vaccine dashboard on Jan. 20. 
  • Michigan (divided government): On Wednesday, Jan. 20, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Robert Gordon said the state is likely to lift a statewide ban on indoor dining on Feb. 1. The ban was implemented in Nov. 2020 and extended an additional two weeks on Jan. 15.  
  • Pennsylvania (divided government): Gov. Tom Wolf (D) announced the state will award $600 grants to childcare workers. Licensed childcare providers have to apply for funds on behalf of their employees through local Early Learning Resource Centers. Employees are eligible recipients if their gross income is less than $70,000 annually and they work at least 20 hours per week.
  • Rhode Island (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) signed an executive order allowing state-defined low- and moderate-risk school sports to resume games and practices starting Jan. 20. Higher-risk sports (like wrestling) and interstate competitions are still prohibited.

School closures and reopenings

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


  • Washington, D.C., had a district-ordered school closure.
    • 2016-17 enrollment: 85,850 students (0.17% of students nationwide)
  • Six states (Calif., Del., Hawaii, N.C., N.M., W.Va.) had state-ordered regional school closures, required closures for certain grade levels, or allowed hybrid instruction only.
    • 2016-17 enrollment: 8,787,132 students (17.37% 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)
  • Forty states left decisions to schools or districts.
    • 2016-17 enrollment: 32,533,959 students (64.31% of students nationwide)


  • New Mexico – Schools in areas of the state with lower transmission rates were permitted to begin reopening for in-person or hybrid instruction on Jan. 18.  
  • Rhode Island – Public schools were allowed to reopen on a staggered schedule between Jan. 7 and Jan. 15. Districts and schools are allowed to make their own decisions on openings and closures, but the state encourages in-person learning schedules.
  • West Virginia – Starting Jan. 19, all public and private pre-K, elementary, and middle schools were required to resume full-time in-person or hybrid (at least two in-person days every week) instruction, regardless of their county’s transmission rates. High schools are still required to close if they are located in counties the Department of Health and Human Resources classifies as red in the County Alert System map.

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 27 states issued executive orders placing restrictions on out-of-state visitors. At least 14 of those orders have been rescinded.   
    • Since Jan. 14, 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. 20, President Joe Biden (D) directed the Department of Education to extend a pause on student loan payments and collections through September 30, 2021. Biden also signed an executive order requiring people to wear masks and to practice social distancing on federal property.
  • On Jan. 20, Director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Rochelle Walensky extended a federal moratorium on evictions through March 31, 2021.

Additional activity

In this section, we feature examples of other federal, state, and local government activity, private industry responses, and lawsuits related to the pandemic. 

  • Baltimore, MD, Mayor Brandon Scott (D) announced that indoor and outdoor dining can resume with restrictions Friday, Jan. 22. Indoor dining will be limited to 25% capacity, while outdoor dining will be limited to 50% capacity. In both cases, restaurants must limit customers to a one hour stay.