Since our last edition
What rules and restrictions are changing in each state? For a continually updated article, click here.
- Colorado (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Jared Polis (D) announced the state is launching the At-Home Testing Program for educators. The program makes BinaxNOW at-home tests available to school districts and private schools that opt into the program. Schools and districts will distribute the tests to staff.
- Illinois (Democratic trifecta): On Feb. 1, Region 7 (Kankakee and Will counties) moved out of Tier 1 mitigation into regular Phase 4.
- Indiana (Republican trifecta): On Feb. 1, people 65 and older became eligible to receive the coronavirus vaccines. The state will next expand eligibility to people 60 to 64, though it has not said when that will happen.
- Kentucky (divided government): Regional vaccination centers are starting to administer doses on Feb. 2. Individuals in Phase 1B (including people age 70 and older) of vaccine distribution are prioritized starting Feb. 1. Previously, individuals in Phase 1B and Phase 1C were scheduled to be eligible for vaccines.
- Rhode Island (Democratic trifecta):
- Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) ended the order requiring businesses like restaurants, gyms, and recreational facilities to close nightly by 10 p.m. on weekdays and 10:30 p.m. on weekends. The order was first implemented Nov. 8.
- Rhode Island started vaccinating individuals age 75 and older and is targeting later in February to vaccinate people 65 and older. Previously, only health care workers, first responders, and nursing home residents and staff were eligible.
Lawsuits about state actions and policies
- To date, Ballotpedia has tracked 1,623 lawsuits, in 50 states, dealing in some way with the COVID-19 outbreak. Court orders have been issued, or settlements have been reached, in 468 of those lawsuits.
- Since Jan. 26, we have added 240 lawsuits to our database. We have also tracked an additional 32 court orders and/or settlements.
- Connecticut Attorneys Title Insurance Co. v. Town of Bolton: On Jan. 28, a Chittenden County Superior Court judge dismissed the Connecticut Attorneys Title Insurance Company’s (CATIC) lawsuit filed against nine Vermont town clerks. In its complaint, CATIC had asked the court to mandate that town clerks take “reasonable steps necessary to ensure that their municipal land and zoning records are fully available for inspection and copying by the public during the municipalities’ previously established customary hours,” despite COVID-19 restrictions on access to government buildings and resources. Vermont law requires “records in the office of the clerk shall be available for inspection upon proper request at all reasonable hours.” The plaintiff alleged various clerks had restricted access to municipal land and zoning records, resulting “in a scattershot approach to the opening of municipal land records that is highly inconsistent across the State, with access to many municipal land records not being available during reasonable or customary hours.” A group of 209 clerks and treasurers across the Northeast signed onto the Montpelier City Clerk John Odum’s letter, which said, “[In] the midst of the current COVID-19 pandemic, this lawsuit could have implications for the health and safety of municipal employees and members of the general public.” Andy Mikell, a CATIC employee, said, “Access to the land records isn’t just critical for attorneys, it’s also critical for appraisers, surveyors, realtors, and property owners who just need access to the records to conduct property transactions … and if they are closed or reduce their hours or impose unreasonable restrictions, anybody seeking access is left without access.” Judge Samuel Hoar dismissed the lawsuit from the bench, issuing no written opinion.
State mask requirements
We last looked at face coverings in the Jan. 26 edition of the newsletter. Since then, no new states have adopted a statewide public mask mandate or let a face-covering requirement expire.
On Jan. 29, the CDC issued an order requiring all passengers in the United States using public transportation to wear a mask that fully covers the nose and mouth. The rule applies to anyone traveling by plane, bus, subway, train, ferry, or ride-share vehicle. The order took effect Feb. 1, 2021.
Diagnosed or quarantined politicians identified by Ballotpedia
- Two federal officials have died of COVID-19.
- Fifty-eight members of Congress have been diagnosed with COVID-19.
- Forty-one federal officials have quarantined after possible exposure to COVID-19.
- Eight state-level incumbents or candidates have died of COVID-19.
- One-hundred and eighty-eight state-level incumbents or candidates have been diagnosed with COVID-19
- Eighty-four state-level incumbents or candidates have quarantined after possible exposure to COVID-19.
- At least five local incumbents or candidates have died of COVID-19.
- At least 40 local incumbents or candidates have been diagnosed with COVID-19.
- At least 26 local incumbents or candidates have quarantined after possible exposure to COVID-19.
Since Jan. 26, two U.S. representatives, two state senators, one state representative, one mayor, and one mayoral candidate announced positive COVID-19 test results. One U.S. senator and one governor announced they would self-quarantine.
- On Jan. 27, Richmond, Virginia, Mayor Levar Stoney (D) announced he tested positive for COVID-19.
- On Jan. 27, Florida state Sen. Gary Farmer (D) announced he tested positive for COVID-19.
- On Jan. 27, Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) announced he would self-quarantine after he was exposed to someone who tested positive for the virus.
- On Jan. 28, Rep. Lori Trahan (D-Mass.) announced she tested positive for COVID-19.
- On Jan. 28, North Carolina state Sen. Michael Lee (R) announced he tested positive for COVID-19.
- On Jan. 29, Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.) announced he tested positive for COVID-19.
- On Jan. 30, Iowa state Rep. Amy Nielsen (D) announced she tested positive for COVID-19.
- On Feb. 1, Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) announced he would self-quarantine after coming into contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19.
- On Feb. 2, New York City mayoral candidate Andrew Yang (D) announced he tested positive for COVID-19.