The next 24 hours
What is changing in the next 24 hours?
- North Carolina (divided government): On Wednesday, Feb. 24, teachers and staff, including bus drivers and custodial staff, can register to receive a coronavirus vaccine.
Since our last edition
What rules and restrictions are changing in each state? For a continually updated article, click here.
- Arizona (Republican trifecta): Gov. Doug Ducey (R) announced the state is opening a vaccination site at Chandler-Gilbert Community College on March 3. At full capacity, the site will administer 12,000 vaccinations a day.
- Connecticut (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Ned Lamont (D) announced a schedule for the state’s age-based distribution expansion. Lamont also said clinics will open in March to focus on vaccinating teachers. The state will release more details on school staff vaccinations closer to the clinics’ opening. The age-based expansion is scheduled as follows:
- Eligibility expands to individuals ages 55 to 64 on March 1, 2021
- Eligibility expands to individuals ages 45 to 54 on March 22, 2021
- Eligibility expands to individuals ages 35 to 44 on April 12, 2021
- Eligibility expands to individuals ages 16 to 34 on May 3, 2021
- Indiana (Republican trifecta): On Tuesday, Feb. 23, residents aged 60 and above became eligible for a coronavirus vaccine.
- New Jersey (Democratic trifecta): On Feb. 22, Gov. Phil Murphy (D) announced religious services can operate at 50% of a room’s capacity. Previously, religious services were limited to the lesser of 35% capacity or 150 individuals. Murphy also said up to two parents per student can attend collegiate sports practices and competitions, as long as the number of spectators does not exceed 35% of the event room’s capacity (if the event is indoors). Sports stadiums and entertainment venues with a capacity of 5,000 people or more can operate at 10% capacity indoors or 15% outdoors. The changes were effective immediately.
- New York (Democratic trifecta):
- Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced billiard halls statewide and movie theaters in New York City will be allowed to reopen starting March 5. Billiard halls will open at 35% capacity in NYC and 50% capacity in the rest of the state. NYC movie theaters will open at 25% capacity, with a maximum of 50 people per screen.
- The governor also said the state will release detailed guidance for weddings and other catered events, which are scheduled to resume on March 15. Venues will be restricted to the lesser of 50% capacity or 150 people.
- State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker released full nursing home visitation guidance and requirements on Feb. 22. Nursing homes will be able to expand visitation under the rules starting Feb. 26.
- North Dakota (Republican trifecta):
- On Monday, Feb. 22, Gov. Doug Burgum (R) ended several coronavirus executive orders issued between March 25, 2020, and July 29, 2020. Among other things, the orders suspended the eligibility requirements for funeral directors applying for workers compensation and allowed state agencies to transfer surplus property, such as medical supplies and personal protective equipment, to other agencies.
- On Monday, Feb. 22, the state House passed a bill 50-44 that would prohibit state and local officials from mandating masks. The bill now goes to the Senate.
- Tennessee (Republican trifecta): On Monday, Feb. 22, the Tennessee state Senate voted 27-5 to pass SB 0103, a bill that would give the governor authority to reopen public schools to in-person instruction during a state of emergency. The bill specifies that in the absence of an order from a local health board or the governor, school boards determine whether to open or close schools during emergencies. The bill goes to the House for consideration.
- Utah (Republican trifecta): On Monday, Feb. 22, the state House voted 66-2 to pass HB308, a bill that would prohibit state agencies from requiring employees to receive a coronavirus vaccine. The bill goes to the Senate for consideration.
- Vermont (divided government): On Friday, Feb. 19, Gov. Phil Scott (R) announced that fully vaccinated residents who travel to another state will no longer need to quarantine when returning to Vermont beginning Feb. 23. Fully vaccinated residents will receive cards that they can display upon request when traveling in or out of the state. Scott also said that fully vaccinated out-of-state travelers will not need to quarantine if they can provide proof of vaccination. Additionally, Agency of Human Services Secretary Mike Smith announced that fully vaccinated residents at long-term care facilities where there is no outbreak may participate in congregate activities if the facility is within the federal guidance for COVID-19 positivity rates.
Lawsuits about state actions and policies
- To date, Ballotpedia has tracked 1,664 lawsuits, in 50 states, dealing in some way with the COVID-19 outbreak. Court orders have been issued, or settlements have been reached, in 483 of those lawsuits.
- Since Feb. 16, we have added 12 lawsuits to our database. We have also tracked an additional three court orders and/or settlements.
- Chase v. Republican Party of Virginia: On Feb. 19, Judge Margaret Spencer of the Richmond Circuit Court dismissed a lawsuit that sought to prevent Virginia’s Republican Party from using in-person nominating conventions to select gubernatorial and other candidates. State Sen. Amanda Chase (R), a gubernatorial candidate, filed the lawsuit, arguing that the party’s plan to host a nominating convention would violate state coronavirus restrictions. Spencer ruled from the bench that Chase lacked standing to sue because she was not authorized to enforce Virginia’s COVID-19 restrictions. Chase posted on Twitter that, “Apparently the Richmond Circuit Court is going to hand the noose to the [Republican Party of Virginia] so they can go hang themselves. Sadly, the people of Virginia lost today.” Chase has yet to decide whether she will file an appeal.
State mask requirements
We last looked at face coverings in the Feb. 16 edition of the newsletter. Since then, no new states have adopted a statewide public mask mandate or let a face-covering requirement expire.
Diagnosed or quarantined politicians identified by Ballotpedia
- Three 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.
- Two-hundred and seven 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 43 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 Feb. 16, two state senators and one state representative have tested positive for COVID-19. One governor tested negative for the virus.
- On Feb. 15, South Dakota state Rep. Hugh Bartels (R) announced he tested positive for COVID-19.
- On Feb. 16, Idaho state Sen. Steve Bair (R) announced he tested positive for COVID-19.
- On Feb. 22, New York state Sen. Susan Serino (R) announced she tested positive for COVID-19.
- On Feb. 22, Florida state Rep. Dan Daley (D) announced he tested positive for COVID-19.
- On Feb. 22, Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy (R) announced he tested negative for COVID-19 after coming into contact with someone who later tested positive for the virus. Dunleavy said he would work from home over the next seven days.
ICYMI: Scott Rasmussen’s Number of the Day
Each weekday, Ballotpedia publishes Scott Rasmussen’s Number of the Day, which explores interesting and newsworthy topics at the intersection of culture, politics, and technology.
In today’s edition:
Thirty-nine percent (39%) of voters now believe the worst of the coronavirus pandemic is behind us. A Scott Rasmussen national survey found that 31% disagree and believe the worst is still to come.
Rasmussen has been tracking this question throughout the pandemic, and this is the first time ever that a plurality offered a positive view.