Documenting America’s Path to Recovery: February 8, 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.

  • Alabama (Republican trifecta): Individuals age 65 and older and certain frontline essential workers (including corrections officers and grocery store staff) are eligible to receive vaccinations starting Feb. 8. Previously, appointments were limited to individuals age 75 and older.
  • California (Democratic trifecta): In a Feb. 5 ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court held 6-3 that the state’s ban on religious services in purple-tier counties (with the strictest mitigation rules) was unconstitutional. Justices Elena Kagan, Stephen Breyer, and Sonia Sotomayor dissented. In response to the ruling, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) announced indoor worship services are allowed at 25% capacity in purple tier counties on Feb. 6.
  • Colorado (Democratic trifecta): 
    • Individuals age 65 and older and school staff are eligible to be vaccinated starting Feb. 8. Previously, only people age 70 and older were eligible.
    • Gov. Jared Polis (D) also announced the state started using a new framework for standardizing restrictions by county, called Dial 2.0, on Feb. 6. The framework has six color levels for counties that are based on cases-per-capita, positivity rates, and the effect of the virus on hospitals. The new system also uses data from the last week. Previously, the state used data from the last two weeks in determining county dial levels. For more information on Dial 2.0 and to see dial levels for each county, click here.
  • Indiana (Republican trifecta): New quarantine rules for schools take effect Feb. 8. The new rules allow teachers and students exposed to someone with the virus to forgo a 14-day quarantine if they were at least three feet apart and wore a face covering. 
  • Iowa (Republican trifecta): On Friday, Feb. 5, Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) issued an order easing coronavirus restrictions. The order lifts the statewide mask mandate and limits on indoor and outdoor gatherings. The order encourages people 65 and older to limit activities outside the home.
  • Louisiana (divided government): Individuals age 65 and older are eligible for the vaccine starting Feb. 8. Previously, appointments were limited to individuals age 70 and older.
  • Massachusetts (divided government): The state is easing some coronavirus restrictions beginning Monday, Feb. 8. The capacity limits placed on businesses like bars and gyms are increasing from 25% to 40%. 
  • Michigan (divided government): On Thursday, Feb. 4, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) announced she is easing restrictions on high school indoor contact sports beginning Monday, Feb. 8. The order specifies that masks must be worn during play. If students do not wear masks, they must undergo regular COVID-19 testing. 
  • Rhode Island (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) signed an executive order loosening coronavirus restrictions. Catered events (including wedding receptions) are limited to 30 people indoors or 50 outdoors. Restaurants can seat up to eight people from two households at an indoor table. Offices can reopen at 33% capacity.
  • South Carolina (Republican trifecta): 
    • Individuals age 65 and older are able to schedule vaccination appointments starting Feb. 8. Previously, appointments were limited to individuals age 70 and older.
    • Gov. Henry McMaster (R) extended the state’s coronavirus emergency order through Feb. 21. 
  • South Dakota (Republican trifecta): People age 75 and older are eligible for vaccination starting Feb. 8. Previously, Phase 1D only allowed people age 80 and over to receive a vaccine. 
  • Vermont (divided government): On Friday, Feb. 5, Agency of Natural Resources Secretary Julie Moore announced that school and youth sports leagues and games can resume Feb. 12 with restrictions. Teams will be limited to two games a week, and parents will not be allowed to attend.  
  • Virginia (Democratic trifecta): On Friday, Feb. 5, Gov. Ralph Northam (D) requested that schools provide in-person learning options for students by March 15. Northam said schools could look to the Virginia Department of Health and the Virginia Department of Education’s updated reopening guidance released on Jan. 15 as they prepare to return students to the classroom. Although the request is not a mandate, Northam said he expected schools to comply. 
  • Wisconsin (divided government): On Monday, Feb. 8, Gov. Tony Evers (D) announced the state was partnering with AMI Expeditionary Healthcare, an international healthcare organization, to open several community vaccination sites. The first will open Feb. 16 in Rock County. Evers did not say when or where subsequent sites will be opened but said the state was planning to open between six and 10 sites. 

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. 

  • Congressman Ron Wright (R-Texas) died Feb. 7 due to complications from the coronavirus. He tested positive for the virus on Jan. 21. Wright was the first member of Congress to die of complications related to COVID-19.