The next 24 hours
What is changing in the next 24 hours?
- Arkansas (Republican trifecta): Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) announced he will lift the state’s mask requirement March 31. The mandate first took effect July 20, 2020.
- Indiana (Republican trifecta): All residents 16 and older will be eligible to receive a coronavirus vaccine March 31.
- New Hampshire (Republican trifecta): Residents 30 and older will be eligible for vaccination starting March 31. Previously, residents 40 and older were eligible since March 25.
- North Carolina (divided government): The rest of Group 4 will be eligible to receive a coronavirus vaccine on March 31. Group 4 includes a range of essential workers, some of whom were eligible March 17.
- South Carolina (Republican trifecta): All residents 16 and older will be eligible to receive a coronavirus vaccine starting March 31.
Since our last edition
What rules and restrictions are changing in each state? For a continually updated article, click here.
- Colorado (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Jared Polis (D) announced all residents 16 and older will be eligible for vaccination starting April 2. All residents 50 and older have been eligible since March 19.
- Delaware (Democratic trifecta): Gov. John Carney (D) announced the limit on outdoor gatherings will expand from 50 to 150 people effective April 1. Outdoor gatherings larger than 150 people require approval from the Division of Public Health. Indoor gatherings are still limited to 25 people or 50% occupancy (whichever is less).
- Florida (Republican trifecta): On Monday, March 29, Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) signed a bill that gives businesses, governments, and healthcare providers limited liability protection against COVID-19 lawsuits. The law is retroactive to the beginning of the pandemic and requires plaintiffs to show that an organization purposely ignored COVID-19 guidelines.
- Maryland (divided government): Residents 16 and older with medical conditions are eligible for vaccination starting March 30.
- Missouri (Republican trifecta): Gov. Mike Parson (R) extended the state’s coronavirus emergency order through Aug. 31.
- New Jersey (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Phil Murphy (D) announced the general outdoor gathering limit will expand from 50 to 200 people starting April 2. Large venues (like sports stadiums and concert halls) with seating capacity 2,500 or greater will also be able to operate at 20% capacity indoors or 30% outdoors. Previously, only large venues capable of seating 5,000 or more people could operate at 10% capacity indoors or 15% outdoors. Indoor gatherings are still limited to 25 people.
- New York (Democratic trifecta):
- On March 29, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced all residents age 30 and older are eligible for vaccination starting March 30. Cuomo also said residents 16 and older will be eligible for vaccination starting April 6. Previously, people 50 and older were eligible.
- On March 26, Cuomo announced the launch of Excelsior Pass, an app that provides digital proof of vaccination or a negative coronavirus test. The app is optional for individuals and businesses that require such proof to allow people to enter (like wedding reception, concert, or sports venues). Individuals can download the app now, and businesses will be able to start using it to verify vaccinations and negative tests starting April 2. Individuals can still provide other documents as proof of vaccination.
- Nevada (Democratic trifecta): Effective March 30, full-contact and close-contact sports organizations, clubs, associations, and leagues can resume practices and competitions if they implement a Preparedness and Safety Plan. Full-contact sports organizers must also implement a COVID-19 testing and mitigation plan.
- Wisconsin (divided government): On Monday, March 29, Gov. Tony Evers (D) vetoed SB 183, a bill that would have given the legislature more control over the distribution of federal COVID-19 relief funds. Evers vetoed a similar proposal in February.
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 25 newsletter. As of March 29, at least one county in each state allowed vaccinations for the following age groups:
- Ages 16+: 18 states
- Ages 18+: Four states
- Ages 30+: One state
- Ages 40+ or 45+: Four states
- Ages 50+ or 55+: Eight states
- Ages 60+ or 65+: 15 states and Washington, D.C.
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.
Lawsuits about state actions and policies
- To date, Ballotpedia has tracked 1,741 lawsuits in 50 states dealing in some way with the COVID-19 outbreak. Court orders have been issued, or settlements have been reached, in 512 of those lawsuits.
- Since March 23, we have added 10 lawsuits to our database. We have also tracked an additional two court orders and/or settlements.
- A.A. v. Newsom: On March 17, a San Diego County judge temporarily blocked the enforcement of various school reopening provisions across California after a group of public school parents filed suit. Under the state’s school reopening plan, middle and high schools located in purple counties (i.e., counties with between seven and 10 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents) were prohibited from reopening. The plaintiffs challenged the plan’s requirement that reopened schools maintain at least four feet between students in classrooms. The plaintiffs argued these provisions violated California’s constitutional and statutory guarantees of quality education, education equality, separation of powers, and due process. In her order, San Diego County Superior Court Judge Cynthia A. Freeland said the state’s school reopening plan is “selective in its applicability, vague in its terms, and arbitrary in its prescriptions.” California Health and Human Services Agency representative Rodger Butler said that the state would “continue to lead with science and health as we review this order and assess our legal options with a focus on the health and safety of California’s children and schools.” Scott Davidson, an attorney for the plaintiffs, said the ruling was “a huge validation of our position that remote learning is a failure, that education is a constitutional right and that these kids have been denied their right to an education with remote learning.” Another hearing on the reopening plan is scheduled for March 30.
State mask requirements
We last looked at face coverings in the March 23 edition of the newsletter. Since then, no new states have adopted a statewide public mask mandate or let a face-covering requirement expire.
Diagnosed or quarantined politicians identified by Ballotpedia
- Three federal officials have died of COVID-19.
- Sixty-four members of Congress have been diagnosed with COVID-19.
- Forty-one federal officials have quarantined after possible exposure to COVID-19.
- Ten state-level incumbents or candidates have died of COVID-19.
- Two hundred twenty-four 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 23, two state representatives have tested positive for COVID-19. One governor self-quarantined and tested negative.
- On March 23, New York state Rep. Carl Heastie (D) announced he tested positive for COVID-19.
- On March 29, Pennsylvania state Rep. Brian Smith (R) announced he tested positive for COVID-19.
- On March 29, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp’s (R) office announced he had entered a self-quarantine after being exposed over the weekend to someone who tested positive for COVID-19. Kemp tested negative March 29.
COVID-19 policy changes: Tuesday, March 31, 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.
Tuesday, March 31, 2020:
- Stay-at-home orders:
- Executive Order 22 took effect in Tennessee. The order directed individuals to stay home except for essential activities and closed nonessential businesses. Gov. Bill Lee (R) issued the order March 30.
- Executive Order 2020-18 took effect in Arizona. The order directed individuals to stay home except for essential activities and closed nonessential businesses. Gov. Doug Ducey (R) issued the order March 30.
- Travel restrictions:
- West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (R) issued an executive order requiring all non-residents traveling to West Virginia from areas with substantial community spread to self-quarantine for two weeks. The order instructed West Virginia State Police to monitor roadways for such possible travelers.
- School closures:
- Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) extended the statewide school closure from April 7 to April 30.
- Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) extended the statewide school closure from April 3 to May 4.
- Election changes:
- Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate (R) announced his office would send absentee ballot applications to all active registered voters in the state before the June 2, 2020, primary election.