Documenting America’s Path to Recovery: March 4, 2021

Documenting America's Path to Recovery by Ballotpedia

The next 24 hours

What is changing in the next 24 hours?

  • Colorado (Democratic trifecta): The state will start Phase 1B3 of vaccine distribution on March 5. This phase includes all individuals age 60 and older, people age 16-59 with two or more state-defined comorbidities, and agriculture and grocery store workers.
  • New York (Democratic trifecta): 
    • Billiard halls statewide and movie theaters in New York City will be allowed to reopen on 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.
    • Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced event, arts, and entertainment venues can reopen at 33% capacity (with a limit of 100 people indoors or 200 outdoors) starting April 2. 
    • On March 22, residential outdoor gatherings of up to 25 individuals will be allowed. Indoor gatherings will stay capped at 10 people. Non-residential gatherings of up to 100 people indoors or 200 outdoors will be permitted. 

Since our last edition

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

  • Alabama (Republican trifecta): Gov. Kay Ivey (R) extended the state’s coronavirus emergency order, including the mask requirement, until 5:00 p.m. on April 9. Ivey said she will let the mask order expire on April 9. 
  • Alaska (Republican trifecta): On March 3, Gov. Mike Dunleavy (R) announced people in Phase 1c of the distribution plan became eligible for vaccinations. The phase includes everyone age 55 and older. Anyone 16 or older can get vaccinated if they work in an essential industry, have state-defined high-risk health conditions, live in a state-defined multigenerational household, or reside in communities with limited plumbing.  
  • Arizona (Republican trifecta): 
    • On March 3, Gov. Doug Ducey (R) issued an executive order requiring public schools to offer in-person instruction by March 15. High schools and middle schools in high transmission counties will be exempt from the order. Parents will still be able to keep their children in virtual classes.
    • Vaccination centers in the Phoenix Metro Area can start vaccinating individuals age 55 and older and frontline essential workers starting March 4. People in those groups started making appointments on March 2. Centers in other parts of the state still have to vaccinate at least 55% of residents age 65 and older before they can expand eligibility.
  • Georgia (Republican trifecta): On Wednesday, March 3, Gov. Brian Kemp (R) announced the state will open five mass vaccination sites beginning March 17 in Bartow, Muscogee, Washington, Chatham, and Ware counties. 
  • Indiana (Republican trifecta): On Wednesday, March 3, Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) announced that residents 50 and older are eligible to receive a coronavirus vaccine.  
  • Illinois (Democratic trifecta): Residents age 65 and older can start scheduling appointments to receive vaccinations at the United Center federal vaccination site on March 4. Other people in Phase 1b, including anyone with high-risk conditions and some frontline essential workers, will be able to schedule appointments starting March 7. The site will start administering vaccinations on March 10.
  • Massachusetts (divided government): On Wednesday, March 3, Gov. Charlie Baker (R) announced that K-12 teachers and staff will become eligible to receive a coronavirus vaccine on Thursday, March 11. 
  • Maryland (divided government): On Tuesday, March 2, Gov. Larry Hogan (R) announced the state will open three more mass vaccination sites in March. The first opens March 4 at the Regency Furniture Stadium in Waldorf. A site in Salisbury will open March 18, while a site in Hagerstown will open at the end of the month. By the end of March, Hogan said the state will have six mass vaccination sites.  
  • Michigan (divided government): On Wednesday, March 3, the state Department of Health and Human Services announced that people 50 and older with preexisting health conditions, caregiver families, and guardians of children with special needs will be eligible for vaccines on March 8. All people 50 and older will become eligible on March 22.
  • New Jersey (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Phil Murphy announced indoor wedding receptions can expand to the lesser of 35% of venue capacity or 150 people starting March 5. Outdoor receptions of up to 150 people will also be permitted. Previously, wedding ceremonies were limited to 35% capacity—up to 150 people. Receptions were limited to 10 people indoors or 25 outdoors. Murphy also announced overnight camps can resume operations for the summer season. The state is expected to release guidance for camps closer to summer. 
  • New Mexico (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) signed SB 1 and SB 3, which she said will provide coronavirus aid to businesses and individuals. The package includes $600 tax rebates to state-defined frontline and low-wage workers, $200 million for small business grants, $500 million for small business loans, and a four-month tax holiday for some food and beverage businesses. To learn more about the package, click here.
  • Ohio (Republican trifecta): Vaccine eligibility is expanding on March 4 to include childcare workers, law enforcement and corrections officers, funeral services workers, and people ages 60 and older. Pregnant women and people with ALS, type 1 diabetes, and bone marrow transplants will also become eligible.
  • Pennsylvania (divided government): Gov. Tom Wolf (D) announced the state will begin using Johnson & Johnson vaccines to start vaccinating school staff separately from the ongoing Phase 1A. Most vaccination sites for school staff are expected to open between March 10-13. 
  • West Virginia (Republican trifecta): On Wednesday, March 3, Gov. Jim Justice (R) announced that all residents 50 and older are eligible to receive the coronavirus vaccines. He also announced that school teachers and staff 40 years and older and all residents 16 and older with preexisting medical conditions are eligible for the vaccines.  

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)


  • Kentucky – Gov. Andy Beshear’s (D) executive order recommending all school districts and private schools offer some form of in-person instruction became effective on March 1. Click here to read the Kentucky Department of Education’s KDE COVID-19 Guidance 2.0 for school reopenings. 
  • Maryland – Gov. Larry Hogan (R) encouraged schools statewide to return students to the classroom starting March 1. Districts can decide how many days a week to offer in-person instruction. Students can still opt for virtual schooling. In January, Hogan said school districts that didn’t offer some in-person instruction by March 1 could face legal action. 
  • North Carolina – On March 1, the North Carolina State Senate failed to override Gov. Roy Cooper’s (D) veto of SB 37, a bill that would have required schools to provide daily in-person instruction. The final vote was 29-20, one vote short of the three-fifths majority necessary to override a gubernatorial veto. One Democrat joined with Republicans in voting to override the veto. The Senate passed the bill 31-16 on Feb. 16. Cooper vetoed it on Feb. 26.

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 17 of those orders have been rescinded.
    • Since Feb. 25, one state has amended its travel restrictions, and one state has ended its travel restrictions. 


  • Pennsylvania – On March 1, Gov. Tom Wolf (D) announced he was ending the state’s quarantine requirement for out-of-state and returning residents.
  • New York – On March 3, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced that domestic travelers would no longer need to quarantine upon arrival in the state if they have been fully vaccinated within the last 90 days.

Federal responses

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

  • On Feb. 27, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted an Emergency Use Authorization (EAU) to pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine.
  • On Feb. 28, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Rochelle Walensky signed off on the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices’ (ACIP) vote to recommend the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to people 18 years and older.
  • On March 1, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an EAU for the Quidel QuickVue At-Home COVID-19 Test.