The next 24 hours
What is changing in the next 24 hours?
- Maine (Democratic trifecta): Beginning March 26, bars can resume indoor service under the Seated Food and Drink COVID-19 Checklist. Indoor entertainment venues will be allowed to operate at 50% capacity. That capacity limit will increase to 75% on May 24. Outdoor entertainment venues will be allowed to operate at 75% capacity March 26 and fully reopen May 24.
- New York (Democratic trifecta): Indoor family entertainment centers and amusement parks will be able to reopen at 25% capacity starting March 26.
- North Carolina (divided government): Effective Friday, March 26, the limit on indoor gatherings will increase from 25 to 50 people, while the limit on outdoor gatherings will increase from 50 to 100 people. Retail stores, as well as museums and salons, will be allowed to operate at 100% capacity, while businesses like restaurants and gyms will be allowed to operate at 75% capacity indoors and 100% capacity outdoors. The new order will also allow bars and movie theaters to operate at 50% capacity. Additionally, the order removes the alcohol curfew, which prohibits alcohol sales after 11 p.m. Gov. Roy Cooper (D) made the announcement Tuesday, March 23.
- West Virginia (Republican trifecta): On Wednesday, March 24, Gov. Jim Justice (R) announced that all live music performances will be allowed to resume Friday, March 25, and that summer camps will be allowed to reopen May 1. Justice also announced that the state’s color-coded County Alert System will no longer be used to determine if high schools can reopen for in-person instruction. High schools will join all other schools in offering full-time, in-person instruction unless there is a COVID-19 active outbreak.
Since our last edition
What rules and restrictions are changing in each state? For a continually updated article, click here.
- Florida (Republican trifecta): On Thursday, March 24, Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) announced that people 40 and older will become eligible to receive a coronavirus vaccine Monday, March 29. Eligibility will expand to include everyone 18 and older on April 5.
- Georgia (Republican trifecta): All residents 16 and older are eligible to receive a coronavirus vaccine starting Thursday, March 25.
- Idaho (Republican trifecta): Gov. Brad Little (R) announced all residents 16 and older will be eligible for vaccination starting April 5. People with underlying health conditions will be eligible starting March 29. Currently, residents 45 and older, people in congregate settings, and state-defined frontline essential workers can get vaccinated.
- Kansas (divided government): Gov. Laura Kelly (D) signed SB 40 on March 24. The bill extends Kansas’ coronavirus emergency through May 28 but ends all executive orders related to the pandemic on March 31. Kelly said she will reissue most of the orders, including the state’s mask mandate. Under the new law, the state legislature can end executive orders during a legislative session, including the orders Kelly plans to reissue. Senate President Ty Masterson (R) said, “should the governor issue any new executive order which imposes an undue burden on the people of Kansas, including an unnecessary new mask mandate, rest assured the Senate will take immediate action once we receive the order.”
- Louisiana (divided government): Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) announced all residents 16 and older will be eligible for vaccinations starting March 29. Currently, anyone 65 and older, or 16 and older with a state-defined essential job or underlying conditions, is eligible for the vaccine.
- Michigan (divided government): On Wednesday, March 24, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) vetoed Senate Bill 1, which limits the length of Department of Health and Human Services emergency health orders to 28 days without the legislature’s approval. Senate Bill 1 passed the Senate 20-15 on March 2. The House passed it 59-50 on March 9.
- New Mexico (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) announced 10 counties have Yellow Level restrictions, 10 are Green, and 13 are Turquoise for the two-week period starting March 24. No counties are in the Red Level. In the previous period, one county was Red Level, 18 were Yellow, seven were Green, and seven were Turquoise.
- Ohio (Republican trifecta): On Wednesday. March 24, the legislature voted to override Gov. Mike DeWine’s (R) veto of Senate Bill 22. Senate Bill 22 allows the legislature to cancel health orders that last longer than 30 days and requires the governor to renew such orders every 60 days. The law also creates a legislative panel to provide oversight of the governor’s health orders and restricts local officials’ authority to require people to quarantine without a medical diagnosis. The Senate voted 23-10 to override the veto, while the House voted 62-35 to do the same. The bill will take effect in 90 days.
- Utah (Republican trifecta): On Wednesday, March 24, Gov. Spencer Cox (R) signed House Bill 294, a law that eliminates the statewide mask mandate on April 10. The law also sets conditions for ending other restrictions based on case rates, percentage of occupied hospital beds, and vaccine supply. The law eliminates all restrictions on July 1, even if none of the conditions have been met.
- Vermont (divided government):
- Residents 60 and older are eligible for a coronavirus vaccine starting March 25.
- On March 24, bars reopened to indoor service under the same rules that previously applied to restaurants. Those rules include a 50% occupancy limit, no standing or mingling, and no more than six people per table. Organizations like the American Legion and Elks Lodge can also resume indoor operations under the same rules.
- Washington (Democratic trifecta): On Wednesday, March 24, the state Department of Health confirmed that all residents 16 and older will become eligible for a vaccine on May 1.
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 23 newsletter. As of March 24, at least one county in each state allowed vaccinations for the following age groups:
- 11 states allowed vaccinations for anyone 16+
- One state allowed vaccinations for anyone 18+
- Three states allowed vaccinations for anyone 40+
- One state allowed vaccinations for anyone 45+
- Eight states allowed vaccinations for anyone 50+
- Five states allowed vaccinations for anyone 55+
- Four states allowed vaccinations for anyone 60+
- 17 states and Washington, D.C. allowed vaccinations for anyone 65+
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.
School closures and reopenings
Read more: School responses to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic during the 2020-2021 academic year
- Two states (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: 403,664 students (0.80% of students nationwide)
- Six states (Ark., Fla., Iowa, N.H., Texas, W.Va.) had state-ordered in-person instruction.
- 2016-17 enrollment: 9,635,661 students (19.05% of students nationwide)
- One state (Ariz.) had state-ordered in-person instruction for certain grades.
- 2016-17 enrollment: 1,123,137 students (2.22% of students nationwide)
- Forty-one states left decisions to schools or districts.
- 2016-17 enrollment: 39,425,397 students (77.93% of students nationwide)
- West Virginia – On March 24, Gov. Jim Justice (R) ordered all schools, regardless of grade or county transmission levels, to reopen for in-person learning five days a week. Previously, high schools had to close in counties the DHHR designated as red transmission areas.
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 20 of those orders have been rescinded.
- Since March 18, two states have ended their travel restrictions. One state rescinded a travel advisory.
- Connecticut – On March 19, Gov. Ned Lamont (D) ended the requirement that out-of-state travelers and returning residents self-quarantine for 10 days or provide a negative COVID-19 test upon entering the state.
- Washington – On March 19, Gov. Jay Inslee (D) rescinded a travel advisory issued Nov. 13, 2020, that asked out-of-state travelers and returning residents to self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival and avoid non-essential travel. Inslee asked residents and travelers to comply with U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) travel guidance.
- Massachusetts – On March 22, Gov. Charlie Baker (R) replaced a statewide travel order with a travel advisory urging travelers to quarantine for 10 days if they have not received a negative COVID-19 test.
Read more: Political responses to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020
- On March 19, The CDC announced that K-12 students should remain three feet apart in schools. Previously, the CDC had recommended six feet of distance. When masks cannot be worn at all times, such as while eating, the CDC continues to recommend six feet of distance. Middle school and high school students in areas with high rates of COVID-19 spread should still maintain six feet of distance.
This time last year: Wednesday, March 25, 2020
The first case of COVID-19 in the U.S. was confirmed on Jan. 21, 2020. But it wasn’t until March when the novel coronavirus upended life for most Americans. Throughout March and April, many states issued stay-at-home orders, closed schools, restricted travel, and changed election dates. Many of those policies remain in place today. Over the course of this week, we’ll look back at some of the defining policy responses to the coronavirus pandemic.
Here’s what happened this time last year. To see a list of all policy changes in each category, click the links below.
Wednesday, March 25, 2020:
- Stay-at-home orders:
- On March 24, Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D) issued Executive Order #12, directing residents to stay at home as much as possible and non-essential businesses and operations to cease, with limited exceptions for minimum basic operations and working from home. The order went into effect March 25.
- Idaho Gov. Brad Little (R) amended the original state of emergency declaration with a proclamation directing individuals to stay at home unless performing essential activities and restricting non-essential businesses.
- School closures:
- The Oklahoma Department of Education announced that schools would remain closed for the remainder of the academic year.
- Maryland State Superintendent Karen Salmon extended the statewide school closure from March 27 to April 24.
- Election changes:
- Montana Governor Steve Bullock (D) authorized counties to conduct upcoming elections entirely by mail.
- The Indiana Election Commission temporarily suspended the state’s statutory absentee voting eligibility requirements, allowing all voters to cast their ballots by mail in the June 2, 2020, primary election.
- Federal government responses:
- The U.S. Senate voted 96-0 to pass the $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which included payments of $1,200 for individuals making up to $75,000 annually.