Documenting America’s Path to Recovery: February 18, 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.

  • Arizona (Republican trifecta): The state is partnering with the University of Arizona to operate a mass vaccination site, starting Feb. 18. Registration opened on Feb. 16. At full capacity, the site can administer 6,000 vaccines daily.
  • California (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) announced a coronavirus aid package agreement with legislative leaders. The proposed package includes $600 direct payments to households with incomes less than $30,000. Some taxpayers who did not qualify for federal stimulus payments will also be eligible for $600 payments. For more details, click here.
  • Florida (Republican trifecta): On Thursday, Feb. 18, Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) announced the opening of a vaccination site in Pinellas Park. DeSantis said the Moderna vaccine would be used at the site. 
  • Minnesota (divided government): On Wednesday, Feb. 17, Gov. Tim Walz (D) released a plan to return students to in-person instruction. On Feb. 22, all middle and high school students can return to the classroom for either full-time instruction or a hybrid approach that combines remote learning with in-person instruction. Walz said he expects schools to offer some in-person learning by March 8. Under the plan, families can still opt to keep their children home for remote instruction.
  • Nevada (Democratic trifecta): On Wednesday, Feb. 17, Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) announced that full-contact high school sports regulated by the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association (NIAA) can resume practices and games. The NIAA must develop a testing and mitigation plan before sports can resume. Sisolak also announced that the occupancy limits in schools will increase from 50% capacity or 50 people to 75% capacity or 250 people beginning Feb. 18. 
  • New York (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced indoor family entertainment centers and places of amusement will be able to reopen at 25% capacity starting March 26. Cuomo also said outdoor amusement parks can reopen at 33% capacity on April 9.
  • Rhode Island (Democratic trifecta): On Feb. 18, individuals 75 and older can make vaccination appointments. This marks the beginning of Phase 2 in the state’s distribution plan. On Feb. 22, individuals 65 and older will be eligible to register for vaccination. Previously, in Phase 1, nursing home residents and healthcare workers were prioritized. 

School closures and reopenings

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


  • Four states (Calif., Del., Hawaii, N.M.) and Washington, D.C. had state-ordered regional school closures, required closures for certain grade levels, or allowed hybrid instruction only.
    • 2016-17 enrollment: 7,049,065 students (13.93% 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)
  • One state (W.Va.) had state-ordered in-person instruction for certain grades.
    • 2016-17 enrollment: 273,855 students (0.54% of students nationwide)
  • Forty-one states left decisions to schools or districts.
    • 2016-17 enrollment: 34,084,021 students (67.38% of students nationwide)


  • Iowa – On Feb. 15, schools were required to offer full-time in-person instruction. Legislation Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) signed on Jan. 29 requires schools to open but also allows parents to request a hybrid or all remote option for their children. Additionally, schools can request a waiver from the requirement to provide in-person instruction from the state Department of Education based on factors such as the number of teachers quarantining because of the virus. The bill passed the state House and Senate with the support of all Republicans and one Democrat

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 16 of those orders have been rescinded.
    • Since Feb. 18, one state has ended its travel restrictions. 


  • Alaska – On Feb. 14, Department of Health and Social Services Commissioner Adam Crum issued a health advisory that removes the testing and quarantine requirements for out-of-state travelers and returning residents. People entering the state are encouraged to either submit a test taken before departure or get tested at the airport. People who cannot provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test to airport screeners are encouraged to social distance until they receive their test results. The state recommends visitors self-quarantine while awaiting test results.

Federal responses

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

  • On Feb. 12, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released guidance for schools returning to in-person instruction. The report says schools that want to return students to the classroom should use layered mitigation strategies, including universal mask usage, physical distancing, and contact tracing in partnership with local health departments. The CDC said the amount of community spread should guide reopening decisions, as well as the use of in-person, virtual, or hybrid learning schedules. The CDC said schools should be prioritized over nonessential businesses and activities and should be the last to close and the first to reopen.
  • On Feb. 16, White House press secretary Jen Psaki announced that states would receive an increased weekly supply of vaccines. The federal government had been shipping each state around 11 million doses, but that number will increase to 13.5 million.
  • On Feb. 16, President Joe Biden (D) extended a federal moratorium on home foreclosures for federally backed mortgages through June 30.
  • On Feb. 17, the president announced a series of new funding initiatives to combat the coronavirus pandemic, including $200 million to help identify new coronavirus variants through increased genomic sequencing. The president also announced $650 million to help improve testing at elementary and middle schools and $815 million to increase the manufacturing of testing supplies.