Documenting America’s Path to Recovery: April 8, 2021

Documenting America's Path to Recovery

The next 24 hours

What is changing in the next 24 hours?

  • Alabama (Republican trifecta): Gov. Kay Ivey (R) issued a Safer Apart order that takes effect April 9 and runs through May 5. It replaces the Safer at Home order, which has been extended and modified several times since it first took effect on April 30, 2020. The Safer Apart order will lift most restrictions on businesses and individuals, including the statewide mask requirement. The mask order took effect July 16, 2020. The order recommends people continue mitigation practices like wearing masks in public and social distancing. For more information on the Safer Apart order, click here.
  • Vermont (divided government): The state’s phased reopening plan will begin April 9 with an easing of the statewide travel restrictions. Additionally, businesses in Group A, which includes outdoor businesses, retail operations, and low or no contact professional services, will no longer be required to follow sector-specific guidance. Instead, those businesses must follow universal guidance, which includes keeping employees home if they are sick and requiring that all employees wear masks. 

Since our last edition

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

  • Idaho (Republican trifecta): Gov. Brad Little (R) signed an executive order prohibiting any state government entities from requiring COVID-19 vaccination proof for citizens to access public services or facilities. 
  • North Dakota (Republican trifecta): On April 7, the North Dakota Senate voted 30-17 to pass House Bill 1323, which would prohibit statewide mask mandates. The Senate added an amendment allowing local governments, businesses, and schools to require masks. If the House votes to accept the change, it will go to Gov. Doug Burgum (R) to sign. The House first passed the bill 50-44 on Feb. 22.

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 yesterday’s newsletter. As of April 7, at least one county in each state allowed vaccinations for the following age groups:

  • Ages 16+: 42 states
  • Ages 40+: One state
  • Ages 50+ or 55+: Three states
  • Ages 60+ or 65+: Four 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.

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)
  • Eight states (Ark., Fla., Iowa, N.C., N.H., N.M., Texas, W.Va.) had state-ordered in-person instruction.
    • 2016-17 enrollment: 11,521,986 students (22.78% of students nationwide)
  • Four states (Ariz., Ore., Wash., Mass.) had state-ordered in-person instruction for certain grades.
    • 2016-17 enrollment: 3,768,309 students (7.45% of students nationwide)
  • Thirty-six states left decisions to schools or districts.
    • 2016-17 enrollment: 34,893,900 students (68.98% of students nationwide)

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 and the District of Columbia issued executive orders placing restrictions on out-of-state visitors. At least 21 of those orders have been rescinded.
    • Since April 1, two states have modified their travel restrictions. 


  • New Jersey – On April 5, Gov. Phil Murphy (D) announced updated travel guidance reflecting the most recent CDC recommendations. The new guidance says fully vaccinated individuals do not need to test negative or quarantine after interstate travel. 
  • Washington – On April 6, Gov. Jay Inslee (D) updated his travel proclamation to clarify that all types of travel, including domestic and international, should follow CDC guidelines.

Federal responses

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

  • On April 1, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized Moderna to include up to 15 vaccine doses per vial. The previous limit was 10 doses per vial.
  • On April 2, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its domestic travel guidance for fully vaccinated individuals. The CDC guidelines say “people who are fully vaccinated with an FDA-authorized vaccine can travel safely within the United States” and do not need to get tested or self-quarantine. The CDC recommends fully vaccinated travelers wear a mask, practice social distancing, and frequently wash their hands.
  • On April 6, President Joe Biden (D) set an April 19 deadline for states to make all adult Americans eligible to receive a coronavirus vaccine. Biden’s previous deadline for full vaccine access was May 1.
  • On April 6, White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters there would not be a federal vaccine database or mandate to obtain a vaccination credential.

This time last year: Thursday, April 9, 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. Each week, we’ll look back at some of the defining policy responses of the early 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.

Thursday, April 9, 2020:

  • Travel restrictions
    • Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) ordered all people traveling to Arizona from areas of the country with widespread COVID-19 cases to self-quarantine for 14 days. The order specifically mentioned Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey as areas with significant community spread. 
  • School closures:
    • Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy (R) closed schools for the remainder of the academic year. Before the announcement, schools were closed through May 1.
    • Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) closed schools for the remainder of the academic year. Before the announcement, schools had been closed indefinitely from March 16.
  • Election changes:
    • Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) postponed Georgia’s statewide and presidential primaries to June 9, 2020, and its primary runoff to August 11. The state had previously postponed its presidential primary to May 19, the original date of its statewide primary.