The next 24 hours
What is changing in the next 24 hours?
- Illinois (Democratic trifecta): A federal vaccination site is opening at United Center on March 10. The site can administer up to 6,000 vaccines a day. Residents age 65 and older started scheduling appointments to receive vaccinations at the site on March 4. Other people in Phase 1b, including anyone with high-risk conditions and some frontline essential workers, started scheduling appointments on March 7.
- Texas (Republican trifecta): On Tuesday, March 2, Gov. Greg Abbott (R) issued an order ending the statewide mask mandate and allowing all businesses to open at 100% capacity beginning March 10. If COVID-19 hospitalizations exceed 15% of hospital bed capacity in any of the state’s 22 hospital regions for seven consecutive days, then a county judge may impose some restrictions. Those restrictions cannot include capacity limits below 50%. The order also prohibits jurisdictions from penalizing people for not wearing face coverings.
Since our last edition
What rules and restrictions are changing in each state? For a continually updated article, click here.
- Arkansas (Republican trifecta): Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) announced the remaining categories in Phase 1-B of distribution are now eligible for vaccination. The expansion includes essential government workers, people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, correctional officers, and grocery store employees. People age 65 and older, educators, and some food and agriculture employees were already eligible.
- Florida (Republican trifecta): On Monday, March 8, Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) announced that people 60 and older will become eligible to receive a coronavirus vaccine March 15.
- Minnesota (divided government): On Tuesday, March 9, Gov. Tim Walz (D) announced the state has accelerated its vaccination timeline to include the next two phases starting March 10. Residents 45 and older with one or more underlying medical conditions, including Down syndrome and sickle cell disease, will be eligible for vaccination. The expansion will also include people 16 and older with two or more underlying health conditions and people age 50 and older in multigenerational households. Essential frontline workers, including food processing plant workers, will also become eligible for a vaccine on March 10.
- Oklahoma (Republican trifecta): On Monday, March 8, the Department of Health announced that residents in Phase 3 of the vaccination plan are now eligible to receive a coronavirus vaccine. Phase 3 includes teachers, students, and staff 16 and older at colleges and universities, as well as workers in essential industries.
- Ohio (Republican trifecta): On Monday, March 8, Gov. Mike DeWine (R) announced that people 50 and older will become eligible for a coronavirus vaccine on March 11. People with Type 2 Diabetes and end-stage renal disease will also become eligible on that day.
- Wyoming (Republican trifecta): On Monday, March 8, Gov. Mark Gordon (R) announced he would end the statewide mask mandate and lift capacity requirements on businesses March 16.
Lawsuits about state actions and policies
- To date, Ballotpedia has tracked 1,690 lawsuits, across all 50 states, dealing in some way with the COVID-19 outbreak. Court orders have been issued, or settlements have been reached, in 491 of those lawsuits.
- Since March 2, we have added 16 lawsuits to our database. We have also tracked an additional 3 court orders and/or settlements.
- Gateway City Church v. Newsom: On Feb. 26, the U.S. Supreme Court ordered a California county to stop enforcing heightened restrictions on religious gatherings because they violated an earlier ruling that struck down Gov. Gavin Newsom’s (D) prohibition against indoor church services. The case originated in Santa Clara County, which banned all indoor gatherings, including worship services, while allowing religious and secular establishments to operate at 20% capacity for all other purposes. Petitioners appealed to the Supreme Court after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit preliminarily affirmed that the county’s restriction did not violate the First Amendment. The Supreme Court sided with the plaintiffs, ruling the “outcome is clearly dictated by this court’s decision in South Bay United Pentecostal Church v. Newsom.” While the order was unsigned, Associate Justice Elena Kagan, joined by Associate Justices Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor, dissented. Kagan’s dissent cited her argument in South Bay. Santa Clara County Counsel James R. Williams said the order was “issued without any analysis at all of the county’s gathering rules, which have always been neutral and applied equally to all gatherings across-the-board.”
State mask requirements
We last looked at face coverings in the March 2 edition of the newsletter. Since then, no new states have adopted a statewide public mask mandate or let a statewide face-covering requirement expire.
- Alabama – On March 4, 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. Ivey first issued the statewide mask requirement on July 16.
- Mississippi – Gov. Tate Reeves (R) lifted Mississippi’s regional mask requirement on March 3. The state still requires masks in K-12 school buildings. Mississippi had a statewide mask requirement from Aug. 5-Sept. 30, 2020, followed by a regional mask requirement that applied in 75 of 82 counties.
- South Carolina – Gov. Henry McMaster (R) amended the state’s coronavirus emergency order, lifting the requirement for people to wear masks at restaurants and in state office buildings. The mask requirements went into effect Aug. 5. South Carolina never had a statewide public mask requirement.
- Texas – Gov. Greg Abbott (R) issued an order ending the statewide mask mandate effective March 10. Texas’ mask order went into effect July 3.
- Utah – On Friday, March 5, the Utah House of Representatives voted 54-18 in favor of HB0294, a bill that modifies the statewide mask mandate and establishes parameters for lifting other coronavirus restrictions. The state Senate passed the bill 23-6 hours earlier. The legislation would end the statewide mask mandate for gatherings of less than 50 people on April 10. County governments could still require that people wear masks, however. The bill now goes to Gov. Spencer Cox (R).
- Wyoming – Gov. Mark Gordon (R) announced he will end the statewide public mask mandate on March 16. For more information, see Wyoming’s entry in Since our last edition above.
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 eleven 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 42 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 March 2, one state senator has tested positive for COVID-19.
- On March 2, Florida state Sen. Aaron Bean (R) announced he and his wife tested positive for COVID-19.