Documenting America’s Path to Recovery: February 25, 2021

Documenting America's Path to Recovery by Ballotpedia

The next 24 hours

What is changing in the next 24 hours?

  • New York (Democratic trifecta): 
    • Nursing homes will be able to expand visitation following state guidance starting Feb. 26. On the same day, restaurants statewide can expand from 25% to 35% capacity.
    • Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced 12 community vaccination sites are opening between Feb. 25-27. The sites are expected to vaccinate more than 3,700 people total during the first week.
  • North Carolina (divided government): On Wednesday, Feb. 25, Gov. Roy Cooper (D) announced he will ease some coronavirus restrictions beginning Feb. 26 at 5 p.m. At that time, the Modified Stay at Home Order that imposed a curfew on individuals and businesses between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. will expire. Additionally, the indoor gathering limit will increase from 10 people to 25, while businesses will be allowed to sell alcohol for onsite consumption until 11 p.m. Certain businesses, such as bars and movie theaters, will be limited to 30% capacity or 250 people. Businesses like restaurants, breweries, museums, and salons will be limited to 50% capacity. 
  • Vermont (divided government): Gatherings will be allowed at nursing homes whose residents have been fully vaccinated starting Feb. 26.

Since our last edition

What rules and restrictions are changing in each state? For a continually updated article, click here.

  • Indiana (Republican trifecta): On Wednesday, Feb. 25, Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) extended an executive order that ties coronavirus restrictions to county-level COVID-19 spread. The order is set to expire Feb. 28 and will be extended 30 days. Holcomb also said he would extend the coronavirus public health emergency, which is set to expire Feb. 29,  an additional 30 days.
  • Illinois (Democratic trifecta): People ages 16 and older with state-defined high-risk conditions are eligible for vaccinations starting Feb. 25. The state’s list of qualifying conditions includes cancer, obesity, and diabetes.
  • New Mexico (Democratic trifecta):
    • On Feb. 24, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) announced the state added the Turquoise Level (the new least-restrictive level) to its red-yellow-green risk level classification system. The state also made the Red, Yellow, and Green levels less restrictive. Bars and clubs can now operate in the Green and Turquoise levels, and recreational facilities (like amusement parks, bowling alleys, and arcades) can reopen in all risk levels. Large entertainment venues (like sports stadiums, concert venues, and movie theaters) can open in Yellow, Green, and Turquoise levels. Previously, all of the above industries were closed statewide, regardless of county risk level. State parks also opened to camping and out-of-state visitors.
    • The governor said four counties will have Red Level restrictions, 19 will be Yellow, six will be Green, and four will be Turquoise for the two-week period starting Feb. 24. In the previous period, 14 counties were Red Level, 15 were Yellow, and four were Green. 

School closures and reopenings

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

Overview:

  • 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)

Details:

  • Kentucky – On Feb. 23, Gov. Andy Beshear (D) issued an executive order recommending all school districts and private schools offer some form of in-person instruction by March 1. The Kentucky Department of Education released KDE COVID-19 Guidance 2.0 to assist school reopenings. 
  • Minnesota – All middle and high school students were allowed to return to the classroom for either full-time in-person or hybrid instruction starting Feb. 22. Gov. Tim Walz (D) said he expects all schools to offer some in-person instruction by March 8. Parents can still opt to keep their children home for remote instruction.
  • New Hampshire – Gov. Chris Sununu (R) signed an executive order requiring schools to provide at least two days of classroom instruction per week starting March 8.

Travel restrictions

    Read more: Travel restrictions issued by states in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview:

  • 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, no states have ended or modified their travel restrictions.  

Details:

  • Vermont – On 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 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. 

Federal responses

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

  • On Monday, Feb. 22, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced new guidance for vaccine developers that does not require them to conduct lengthy, randomized trials for vaccines adapted to combat coronavirus variants. Instead, the guidance allows developers to conduct smaller trials in order to expedite the review process.

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. 

  • Clark County Superintendent Jesus Jara announced on Wednesday, Feb. 25, that middle and high school students can return to in-person instruction in phases beginning March 22. The Clark County School District includes Las Vegas, Nevada, and is the nation’s fifth-largest school district. Students will receive two days of classroom instruction each week. Sixth, ninth, and 12th graders will begin that schedule on March 22, while seventh, eighth, 10th, and 11th graders will resume in-person instruction on April 6.



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