Documenting America’s Path to Recovery: March 18, 2021

Documenting America's Path to Recovery by Ballotpedia

The next 24 hours

What is changing in the next 24 hours?

  • Colorado (Democratic trifecta): 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 regardless of age.
  • Connecticut (Democratic trifecta): 
    • Some restrictions will be lifted on March 19. Restaurants, offices, places of worship, and personal care service businesses will be able to operate at full capacity. Social gatherings at private residences can expand to 25 people indoors or 100 outdoors. Social gatherings at commercial venues can expand to 100 people indoors or 200 outdoors. All school sports practices and competitions will be allowed. Connecticut’s out-of-state travel requirements will become recommendations.
    • Residents aged 45 to 54 are eligible for vaccination starting March 19. Currently, residents 55 and older can get vaccines.
  • Massachusetts (divided government): On Thursday, March 18, Gov. Charlie Baker (R) announced the state would advance to Phase IV of the reopening plan on March 22. Under Phase IV, large capacity sports and entertainment venues can operate at 12% capacity if they submit a plan to the Department of Public Health. Additionally, the gathering limit for event venues in public settings will increase to 100 people indoors and 150 people outdoors, and dance floors will be permitted at weddings. Baker also announced the state’s requirement that travelers quarantine for 10 days or produce a negative COVID-19 test will become an advisory. 
  • New Jersey (Democratic trifecta): 
    • Businesses like restaurants, bars, personal care service providers (such as salons and barbershops), and state-defined indoor recreation businesses (like casinos, gyms, and others) can expand from 35% to 50% capacity starting March 19. On the same day, the indoor gathering limit will expand from 10 to 25 people. Outdoor gatherings can expand from 25 to 50 people.
    • Gov. Phil Murphy (D) signed an executive order allowing outdoor interstate youth sports competitions to resume, effective 6:00 a.m. March 19.
    • Murphy extended the state’s coronavirus emergency order until April 16.
  • New York (Democratic trifecta): Restaurants outside of New York City can expand indoor dining from 50% to 75% capacity starting March 19. Restaurants in New York City will remain at 35% capacity.
  • Nevada (Democratic trifecta): On Wednesday, March 17, Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) announced that people 16 and older with pre-existing conditions, including cancer and lung disease, will become eligible to receive a coronavirus vaccine March 22. Sisolak said eligibility will expand to anyone 16 and older on April 5. 
  • Ohio (Republican trifecta): Residents in Phase 1E and 2C of the state’s vaccination plan are eligible for vaccination starting March 19. Phase 1E includes residents with underlying health conditions, such as cancer and heart disease. Phase 2C includes all residents 40 and older. 
  • Rhode Island (Democratic trifecta): Starting March 19, indoor dining capacity will increase from 66% to 75%. Indoor attendance limits at catered events (like wedding receptions) will increase from 30 to 100 people, with the maximum capacity limit increasing from 50% to 75%. Outdoor catered event attendance limits will increase from 100 to 200 people. Social gatherings of 15 people indoors or 50 people outdoors will be permitted. Previously, social gatherings were capped at two households indoors or three outdoors. Places of worship can operate at 75% capacity, up from the current 40% limit. Retailers, personal care service providers, gyms, and other businesses can also increase capacity. For a full list of changes, click here.
  • Utah (Republican trifecta): On Thursday, March 18, Gov. Spencer Cox (R) announced that residents 60 and over will be eligible to receive a coronavirus vaccine on March 24. 
  • Virginia (Democratic trifecta): On Wednesday, March 17, Gov. Ralph Northam (D) released preliminary guidance that would allow K-12 schools, colleges, and universities to hold in-person ceremonies. The rules would allow outdoor ceremonies to accommodate up to 5,000 people or 30% of the venue’s capacity, whichever is less. Indoor ceremonies would be limited to 500 people or 30% capacity. Northam said he expects to include the guidance in an April 1 executive order. 

Since our last edition

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

School closures and reopenings

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


  • Three states (Calif., Del., Hawaii) and Washington, D.C. had state-ordered regional school closures, required closures for certain grade levels, or allowed hybrid instruction only.
    • 2016-17 enrollment: 6,712,802 students (13.27% of students nationwide)
  • Five states (Ark., Fla., Iowa, N.H., Texas) had state-ordered in-person instruction.
    • 2016-17 enrollment: 9,361,806 students (18.51% of students nationwide)
  • Two states (Ariz., W.Va.) had state-ordered in-person instruction for certain grades.
    • 2016-17 enrollment: 1,396,992 students (2.76% of students nationwide)
  • Forty states left decisions to schools or districts.
    • 2016-17 enrollment: 33,116,259 students (65.46% of students nationwide)


  • Arizona – Gov. Doug Ducey’s (R) executive order requiring public schools to offer in-person instruction took effect March 15. High schools and middle schools in high-transmission counties are exempt from the order. Parents can still keep their children in virtual classes.
  • Oregon – Gov. Kate Brown (D) issued an executive order requiring public elementary schools to reopen no later than March 29 for hybrid or full-time in-person instruction. The order also requires public schools to open for grades 6-12 by April 19. Parents can still keep their children in fully remote instruction.

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 18 of those orders have been rescinded.
    • Since March 11, one state has ended its travel restrictions. Two states announced changes to their travel restrictions. 


  • Maryland – On March 12, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) ended the requirement that out-of-state travelers and returning residents self-quarantine or test negative.
  • Kansas – On March 12, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment updated its travel quarantine list to include travelers from New York and New Jersey. People coming from those states must quarantine for up to 14 days if symptoms are detected. Travelers who do not develop symptoms can get a test on day six and end the quarantine if the test is negative. Travelers who do not get a test and do not develop symptoms can end quarantine after 10 days. 
  • Massachusetts – On March 18, Gov. Charlie Baker (R) announced he would end the requirement that travelers quarantine for 10 days or produce a negative COVID-19 test upon arrival in the state on Monday, March 22. 

Federal responses

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

  • On Tuesday, March 16, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a template COVID-19 test developers can use to streamline the process of getting an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA). The template is intended for developers working on serial testing programs, which involve testing the same individual multiple times within a few days to detect asymptomatic cases a single test might miss.
  • On Wednesday, March 17, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) would devote $10 billion of the American Rescue Act of 2021, which President Biden (D) signed March 11, to COVID-19 testing to help schools reopen. The money will fund diagnostic tests to detect symptomatic and asymptomatic teachers, staff, and students.

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. This section details eligibility for different age groups in each state. 

We last looked at vaccine eligibility in our March 16 newsletter. As of March 17, at least one county in each state allowed vaccinations for the following age groups:

  • Four states allowed vaccinations for anyone 16+
  • One state allowed vaccinations for anyone 45+
  • 11 states allowed vaccinations for anyone 50+ or 55+
  • 33 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.