Documenting America’s Path to Recovery: March 16, 2021

Documenting America's Path to Recovery by Ballotpedia

The next 24 hours

What is changing in the next 24 hours?

  • Georgia (Republican trifecta): The state will open five mass vaccination sites beginning March 17 in Bartow, Muscogee, Washington, Chatham, and Ware counties.
  • New Hampshire (Republican trifecta): Private and public K-12 teachers and staff can begin registering for vaccination appointments on March 17. The earliest available appointments for the group are March 22.
  • North Carolina (divided government): Some people in Group 4 will become eligible for a coronavirus vaccine on March 17. The list will include individuals with medical conditions that put them at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19, such as those with asthma or heart disease.

Since our last edition

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

  • California (Democratic trifecta): 
    • Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) changed the state’s reopening plan to make it easier for counties to move out of the purple (most restrictive) mitigation tier into less-restrictive tiers. On March 14, 13 counties moved from the purple to red tier. To see restrictions by county or tier, click here.
    • On March 15, adults with state-defined, high-risk underlying conditions (including cancer, severe obesity, and type 2 diabetes), additional frontline workers (including public transit employees), and anyone living or working in a  congregate living facility like a prison or homeless shelter became eligible for vaccination.  
  • Colorado (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Jared Polis (D) announced people in Phase 1B4 of vaccine distribution can get vaccinated starting March 19. The phase includes all residents 50 and older. Frontline restaurant, manufacturing, and local and state government workers will also become eligible.
  • Connecticut (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Ned Lamont (D) announced a revised timeline for vaccine distribution. Lamont said scheduling will open to all individuals ages 45 to 54 starting March 19. The state is targeting April 5 to open vaccinations to everyone age 16 or older. 
  • Kansas (divided government): Gov. Laura Kelly (D) announced the state will open vaccinations to all individuals in phases 3 and 4 of the plan starting March 22. Anyone between the ages of 16 and 64 with an increased risk of severe complications from underlying conditions will become eligible for vaccines.
  • Maine (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Janet Mills (D) announced a revised timeline for vaccine distribution. The state is aiming to open eligibility to everyone 50 and older April 1 and anyone 16 and older May 1. 
  • Maryland (divided government): On Monday, March 15, Gov. Larry Hogan (R) issued an order prohibiting the garnishment of the American Rescue Act’s relief checks.
  • Minnesota (divided government): On Monday, March 15, Gov. Tim Walz (D) issued an order extending the coronavirus state of emergency through April 14. 
  • Mississippi (Republican trifecta): Gov. Tate Reeves (R) announced the state is eliminating vaccine eligibility restrictions for anyone over the age of 16 starting March 16. Mississippi is the second state (after Alaska on March 9) to open vaccinations up for anyone over the age of 16 statewide. 
  • New Jersey (Democratic trifecta): Some essential workers (including transportation workers, probation officers, and fire safety inspectors) and residents of homeless shelters became eligible for vaccination March 15. The state also added conditions like asthma, type 1 diabetes, high blood pressure, and being overweight to the state’s list of qualifying underlying conditions. 
  • Ohio (Republican trifecta): 
    • On Monday, March 15, Gov. Mike DeWine (R) announced the Ohio Department of Health released updated guidance for student-athletes who may have been exposed to COVID-19. Those students exposed in a classroom setting will not need to quarantine or refrain from organized sports and extracurricular activities unless they develop symptoms. If the exposure occurs outside the classroom, then students will need to self-quarantine. 
    • On Tuesday, March 16, DeWine announced that people in Phase 1E and 2C of the state’s vaccination plan would become eligible to receive a coronavirus vaccine on March 19. Phase 1E includes residents with underlying health conditions, such as cancer and heart disease, while 2C includes all residents 40 and older. DeWine also said all residents 16 and older will become eligible to receive a vaccine March 29.
  • Pennsylvania (divided government): Gov. Tom Wolf (D) announced looser business and event restrictions starting April 4. Restaurants can resume bar service, alcohol service will be allowed without the purchase of food, and the 12 a.m. curfew for removing alcoholic drinks from tables will end. Restaurants that complete the self-certification process can expand to 75% capacity. All other restaurants are limited to 50% capacity. Other businesses like personal care service providers, gyms, and entertainment facilities (like theaters and malls) can also expand to 75% capacity. All indoor event venues (like sports centers and concert halls) can expand to 25% capacity, regardless of venue size. Outdoor event areas can expand to 50% capacity, regardless of venue size. Individuals still have to social distance and wear masks. 
  • West Virginia (Republican trifecta): On Monday, March 15, Gov. Jim Justice (R) announced he expanded the list of health conditions that qualify people age 16 and older for a coronavirus vaccine. Additionally, Justice announced that all essential workers are now eligible for a vaccine. 
  • Wyoming (Republican trifecta): Gov. Mark Gordon (R) is ending the statewide mask mandate and lifting capacity requirements on businesses March 16.

Lawsuits about state actions and policies

Read more: Lawsuits about state actions and policies in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020


  • To date, Ballotpedia has tracked 1,705 lawsuits, in 50 states, dealing in some way with the COVID-19 outbreak. Court orders have been issued, or settlements have been reached, in 501 of those lawsuits. 
    • Since March 9, we have added 15 lawsuits to our database. We have also tracked an additional 10 court orders and/or settlements. 


  • The Arc Maryland v. Mayor and City Council of Baltimore: On March 8, The Arc Maryland, a nonprofit advocacy group for people with disabilities, sued the mayor and city council of Baltimore, along with five Maryland counties, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland. The plaintiff alleges the defendants’ public information and vaccine distribution websites omit people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) as eligible for vaccines under Phase 1B. The plaintiff says this violates state guidance and federal law: “People with I/DD are not aware that they are eligible for the vaccine; are unable to schedule appointments, register, pre-register, or complete interest forms for Defendants’ vaccines; and are delayed or denied access to critical health care services.” The plaintiff also alleges this violates Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. Since filing, The Arc Maryland has voluntarily dismissed the mayor and city council of Baltimore as defendants, along with Garrett, Queen Anne’s, and Somerset counties. The plaintiff cites improved COVID-19 vaccination opportunities for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities as the reason for the dismissal. The case remains pending against Carroll and Talbot counties. It has been assigned to Judge George L. Russell III, an appointee of President Barack Obama (D).

State mask requirements

We last looked at face coverings in the March 9 edition of the newsletter. Since then, Wyoming and Texas allowed their mask requirements to expire. 

Diagnosed or quarantined politicians identified by Ballotpedia

Read more: Politicians, candidates, and government officials diagnosed with or quarantined due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

  • Federal
    • Three federal officials have died of COVID-19.
    • Sixty-two members of Congress have been diagnosed with COVID-19.
    • Forty-one federal officials have quarantined after possible exposure to COVID-19.
  • State
    • Ten state-level incumbents or candidates have died of COVID-19.
    • Two hundred fifteen 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.
  • Local
    • 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 9, one state representative has tested positive for COVID-19.


  • On March 12, Idaho state Rep. Bruce Skaug (R) announced he tested positive for COVID-19.

Vaccine eligibility

Note: This section may not reflect the most recent stories in today’s The next 24 hours and Since our last edition sections above.

We will include vaccine eligibility overviews two times a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The section will detail eligibility for different age groups in each state. 

As of March 15, at least one county in each state allowed vaccinations for the following age groups:

  • Two states allowed vaccinations for anyone 16+
  • 12 states allowed vaccinations for anyone 50+ or 55+
  • 35 states and Washington, D.C., allowed vaccinations for anyone 60+ or 65+
  • One state allowed vaccinations for anyone 75+

For more details on vaccine distribution, including the eligibility of grocery store workers, food service employees, and people with underlying conditions, click here.

In some states, vaccine eligibility can vary by county. The data above details the loosest restrictions in each state. For example, if one county in a state allows vaccines for anyone 55 or older, the state is marked as 55+, even if every other county limits vaccinations to people 65 or older. To see what states allow eligibility for groups in specific counties, check out the New York Times article here.

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