Since our last edition
What rules and restrictions are changing in each state? For a continually updated article, click here.
- California (Democratic trifecta): The Department of Public Health’s (DPH) plan to allocate at least 10% of the state’s vaccine doses to teachers and school staff goes into effect March 1. Education workers have been eligible for vaccination since January, but the DPH said the plan will accelerate vaccinations for the group.
- Colorado (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Jared Polis (D) announced the state will start Phase 1B3 of vaccine distribution on March 5. The phase will include all individuals age 60 and older, people age 16-59 with two or more state-defined comorbidities, and agriculture and grocery store workers. Polis also said everyone over the age of 50 will be eligible for vaccination by the end of March.
- Connecticut (Democratic trifecta): Individuals ages 55 to 64 are eligible for vaccination starting March 1.
- Florida (Republican trifecta): On Friday, Feb. 26, Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) issued an order allowing doctors, pharmacies, and advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) to vaccinate people under 65 with medical conditions that make them “extremely vulnerable” to COVID-19.
- Georgia (Republican trifecta): On Friday, Feb. 26, Gov. Brian Kemp (R) issued two executive orders. The first extends the state of emergency through April 6, while the second extends restrictions and guidance through March 15.
- Illinois (Democratic trifecta): Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) announced a federal vaccination site will open at United Center starting March 10. The site will be able to administer up to 6,000 vaccines a day.
- Kentucky (divided government):
- 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 state is also starting Phase 1C of vaccine distribution March 1. The phase will include all individuals age 60 and older and anyone 16 and older with health conditions on the CDC’s list of comorbidities. Previously, people age 70 and older were eligible for vaccination.
- Maine (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Janet Mills (D) announced the state will expand vaccine eligibility based on age moving forward. Starting March 3, individuals age 60 and older will be eligible for vaccinations. Eligibility will expand to everyone 50 and older in April, 40 and older in May, 30 and older in June, and 29 and younger in July.
- Maryland (divided government):
- On Thursday, Feb. 11, Gov. Larry Hogan (R) announced that indoor visits at nursing homes and hospitals can resume March 1. Hospitals can set their own policies but must follow CDC guidelines. Nursing homes can allow visitors so long as the facilities follow the rules put in place for testing and there are no active cases at the facility.
- Schools in counties across the state could return students to the classroom March 1. In January, Gov. Larry Hogan (R) said school districts that don’t offer some in-person instruction could face legal action. Districts can decide how many days a week to offer in-person instruction. Students can still opt for virtual schooling.
- Massachusetts (divided government): On Monday, March 1, Massachusetts entered Step 2 of Phase 3 of reopening, allowing indoor entertainment venues to operate at 50% capacity and restaurants to operate at 100% capacity.
- Mississippi (Republican trifecta): School staff and first responders are eligible for vaccination starting March 1. Previously, individuals 65 and older were eligible.
- North Carolina (divided government): On Friday, Feb. 26, Gov. Roy Cooper (D) vetoed a bill that would have required schools to provide daily in-person instruction. The state House of Representatives passed the bill 77-42 on Feb. 22, while the state Senate passed the bill 47-31 on Feb. 16. To override Cooper’s veto, the bill will need the support of three-fifths of the members in both chambers of the legislature.
- Oregon (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Kate Brown (D) announced Phase 1b will continue in two more waves. On March 29, people aged 45 to 64 with health conditions on the CDC’s list of comorbidities, homeless people, and certain frontline workers (including food processing and agricultural workers) will be eligible for vaccination. No later than May 1, people aged 16 to 45 with underlying health conditions, all other frontline workers, and members of multigenerational households will be eligible. Phase 2, which includes all adults aged 45-64, will begin no later than June 1. Everyone 16 and older will be eligible for vaccination by July 1.
- Pennsylvania (divided government):
- Gov. Tom Wolf (D) lifted the state’s travel restrictions. Previously, all travelers from out-of-state needed a negative coronavirus test from the last 72 hours before they arrived. If travelers could not present a test, they were required to self-quarantine for 14 days. The executive order establishing the requirement did not detail enforcement mechanisms.
- Wolf also expanded capacity limits for indoor and outdoor event venues as long as social distancing is enforced. Outdoor venues can expand from 15% to 20% capacity. Indoor venues can expand from 10% to 15% capacity.
- South Carolina (Republican trifecta):
- Gov. Henry McMaster (R) is lifting restrictions on alcohol sales after 11 p.m. and on mass gatherings starting March 1. The Department of Commerce no longer needs to approve events larger than 250 people. Mitigation strategies (like the previous 50% capacity limit and mask requirement for gatherings of 250 people or more) are recommendations.
- The state House passed a bill 109-3 that would give the legislature more oversight over governors’ executive orders. The bill would allow the legislature to review executive orders and extend, amend, or end them after 30 days. If the legislature does not meet to vote on an order, it will last for as long as the governor pleases. Under current laws, the governor can issue executive orders that last up to 15 days, but the legislature has to vote to extend orders. During the pandemic, Gov. McMaster issued new executive orders every 15 days, and the legislature did not have to meet to approve extensions. If the bill becomes law, governors could issue one executive order that would be effective at the legislature’s pleasure. The bill will go to the state Senate for consideration. McMaster says he would support the bill.
- Tennessee (Republican trifecta): On Friday, Feb. 26, Gov. Bill Lee (R) signed an order extending the coronavirus state of emergency through April 28 and ending visitation restrictions on nursing homes and long-term care facilities. He also signed orders extending provisions that allow for remote government meetings and remote notarization.
- Vermont (divided government): On Monday, March 1, people aged 65 and older became eligible to receive a coronavirus vaccine.
- Virginia (Democratic trifecta): Beginning March 1, crowd limits at outdoor entertainment venues are increasing from 30% or 250 people to 30% or 1,000 people. Additionally, up to 250 spectators or 30% are permitted per field at outdoor sporting events, up from the previous limit of two spectators per participant. The outdoor gathering limit is increasing from 10 to 25 people.
- Washington (Democratic trifecta): On Sunday, Feb. 28, Gov. Jay Inslee (D) signed a bill waiving the 2021 liquor license fee for restaurants, wineries, breweries, and distilleries.
- Wyoming (Republican trifecta): On Monday, March 1, Gov. Mark Gordon (R) removed the coronavirus health order governing barbershops, nail salons, and tattoo parlors. Additionally, restaurants can reopen buffet and self-service stations, and the number of people permitted to gather without social distancing increased from 25 to 50 people. The number of people allowed to sit together at indoor events also increased from 8 to 10.
In this section, we feature examples of other federal, state, and local government activity, private industry responses, and lawsuits related to the pandemic.
- On Feb. 27, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted an Emergency Use Authorization (EAU) to pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine.