Since our last edition
What rules and restrictions are changing in each state? For a continually updated article, click here.
- Multistate news: On April 13, the FDA and CDC recommended all state and local vaccine providers stop administering the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, effective immediately. The federal government is expected to stop distributing Johnson & Johnson vaccines through federally run vaccination sites. The recommendation came after six recipients in the United States developed blood clots within two weeks of vaccination. The CDC’s outside advisory committee is scheduled to meet Wednesday to investigate the link between the vaccine and the blood clot cases. As of the time of this writing, at least 20 states have suspended the administration of the vaccine.
- Kentucky (divided government): Gov. Andy Beshear (D) announced the state will lift capacity restrictions and social distancing requirements on most businesses once 2.5 million residents are vaccinated. Once the number is reached, capacity restrictions will be lifted for businesses and venues where fewer than 1,000 people gather. The 12 a.m. curfew on restaurants and bars will also end. Mass gatherings and events with more than 1,000 people will still be restricted. The public mask requirement will remain in effect.
- New York (Democratic trifecta):
- Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced graduation and commencement ceremonies will be permitted with capacity restrictions starting May 1. To read the state’s full guidance, click here.
- Cuomo also announced the state is allocating 35,000 vaccines for college students. 21,000 of those vaccines are reserved for State University of New York system students, and 14,000 are reserved for students at private institutions.
- On April 8, a state appellate court issued an order requiring about 90 restaurants and bars suing the state to comply with Cuomo’s 11 p.m. curfew order for food and drink establishments. On Feb. 27, state Supreme Court Justice Timothy Walker issued a preliminary injunction temporarily allowing the 90 bars and restaurants suing the state to stay open past 11 p.m. every night.
- North Dakota (Republican trifecta): On Monday, April 12, the North Dakota House of Representatives voted 67-24 to accept Senate changes to House Bill 1323, which prohibits statewide mask mandates. The House originally passed the bill 50-44 on Feb. 22. The Senate passed the bill 30-17 on April 7, but amended it to prohibit only state officials, including the governor, elected state officials, and the state health officer, from issuing a mask mandate. It left cities, counties, school districts, and businesses free to require masks. The bill now goes to Gov. Doug Burgum (R).
- Pennsylvania (divided government): All residents 16 and older are eligible for vaccination starting April 13. Gov. Tom Wolf (D) made the announcement on April 12.
- Washington (Democratic trifecta): On Monday, April 12, Gov. Jay Inslee (D) announced that he was moving Cowlitz County, Pierce County, and Whitman County back to Phase 2 of reopening on Friday, April 16. Currently, all counties are in Phase 3 of reopening. On April 9, Inslee announced that counties would be moved backward if they failed two metrics on new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. Previously, a county only needed to fail one metric to move backward in reopening. Under Phase 2, the indoor capacity limit for restaurants, worship services, gyms, and retail stores is 25%. Counties are evaluated on their metrics every three weeks.
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 April 8 newsletter. As of April 12, at least one county in each state allowed vaccinations for the following age groups:
- Ages 16+: 43 states and Washington, D.C.
- Ages 30+: One state
- Ages 40+: One state
- Ages 55+: Two states
- Ages 60+: One state
- Ages 65+: Two states
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 1,760 lawsuits in 50 states dealing in some way with the COVID-19 outbreak. Court orders have been issued, or settlements have been reached, in 528 of those lawsuits.
- Since April 6, we have added eight lawsuits to our database. We have also tracked an additional 11 court orders and/or settlements.
- Tandon v. Newsom: On April 9, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down California’s prohibition against religious gatherings of people from more than three households. In an unsigned decision, the court found that “California treats some comparable secular activities more favorably than at-home religious exercise.” The Supreme Court also ruled the state had not explained “why it could not safely permit at-home worshipers to gather in larger numbers while using precautions used in secular activities.” Citing its earlier decision lifting New York’s attendance limits on places of worship, the court said California “has not shown that ‘public health would be imperiled’ by employing less restrictive measures.” Although the decision was unsigned, Chief Justice John Roberts said he would have denied the application. Associate Justice Elena Kagan wrote a dissent, joined by Associate Justices Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor. Kagan wrote, “California limits religious gatherings in homes to three households. If the State also limits all secular gatherings in homes to three households, it has complied with the First Amendment. And the State does exactly that[.]”
State mask requirements
We last looked at face coverings in the April 6 edition of the newsletter. Since then, Utah and Alabama have let statewide public face-covering requirements expire.
In total, 39 states issued statewide mask mandates during the coronavirus pandemic. Twelve of those 39 states have ended statewide requirements, including two states with Democratic governors and 10 states with Republican governors.
Diagnosed or quarantined politicians identified by Ballotpedia
- Three federal officials have died of COVID-19.
- Sixty-five 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-five state-level incumbents or candidates have been diagnosed with COVID-19.
- Eighty-six 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 April 6, one state senator and one state representative have self-quarantined due to COVID-19.
- On April 12, Pennsylvania state Rep. Bryan Cutler (R) announced he would self-quarantine at his home after being exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19.
- On April 13, Michigan state Sen. Lana Theis (R) announced she would self-quarantine after she was exposed to COVID-19.
This time last year: Tuesday, April 14, 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.
Tuesday, April 14, 2020:
- School closures:
- Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves (R) closed schools for the remainder of the academic year. Before the announcement, schools were closed through April 17.
- Utah Gov. Gary Herbert (R) closed schools for the remainder of the academic year. Before the announcement, schools were closed through May 1.
- Election changes:
- Judge Bradley B. Cavedo of Virginia’s 13th Judicial Circuit extended the deadline for the Republican Party of Virginia to select its nominee for the 7th Congressional District election from June 9 to July 28, 2020.
- Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) issued Proclamation Number 46 JBE2020, postponing the state’s presidential preference primary election to July 11, 2020.
- The Democratic Party of Indiana announced it would cancel its in-person state convention, which had been scheduled for June 13, 2020. Instead, the party opted to conduct convention business virtually and by mail.
- Federal government responses:
- President Donald Trump (R) announced the U.S. was suspending funding to the World Health Organization, pending a review of the group’s actions in response to the coronavirus.