Documenting America’s Path to Recovery: April 15, 2021

Documenting America's Path to Recovery

The next 24 hours

What is changing in the next 24 hours?

  • Washington (Democratic trifecta): 
    • Gov. Jay Inslee (D) will move Cowlitz, Pierce, and Whitman counties back to Phase 2 of reopening on Friday, April 16. Currently, all counties in the state 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%. The Department of Health evaluates counties on their metrics every three weeks.
    • Residents 16 and older are eligible to receive a coronavirus vaccine on April 15.

Since our last edition

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

  • California (Democratic trifecta):  
    • Indoor venues can reopen for events beginning April 15. Capacity limits are based on the county’s color tier and whether the event has testing and vaccination requirements.
    • All residents age 16 and older are eligible for vaccination starting April 15.
  • Indiana (Republican trifecta): On Thursday, April 15, the Indiana House of Representatives voted 59-26 to override Gov. Eric Holcomb’s (R) veto of House Bill 1123. The bill would allow the legislature to call a special session during a state of emergency. Holcomb vetoed the bill on April 9, saying the Indiana Constitution gives the governor the sole authority to convene a special session. The House first passed the bill 64-33 on April 5, and the Senate passed it 37-10 the same day. It now goes to the Senate for a veto override vote.  
  • New York (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced spectators will be allowed at horse and auto races at 20% capacity starting April 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 our April 13 newsletter. As of April 14, at least one county in each state allowed vaccinations for the following age groups:

  • Ages 16+: 44 states and Washington, D.C.
  • Ages 30+: One state
  • Ages 40+: One state
  • Ages 55+: Two states
  • Ages 60+: One state
  • Ages 65+: One state

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 8, one state has modified its travel restrictions. 


  • Vermont – On April 9, Gov. Phil Scott (R) updated the state’s travel restrictions to no longer require a 14-day quarantine for out-of-state visitors and returning residents. Travelers must test negative for COVID-19 in their home state three days before arriving in Vermont. Travelers who stay overnight at hotels, campsites, or short-term rentals must complete a certificate of compliance to demonstrate they’ve tested negative or been fully vaccinated. Fully vaccinated people and people who have recovered from COVID-19 within the last three months do not need to test negative.

Federal responses

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

  • On April 9, pharmaceutical company Pfizer and biotechnology company BioNTech requested the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) amend its emergency use authorization to allow children ages 12 to 15 to receive their COVID-19 vaccine. The original emergency use authorization restricted the vaccine to those 16 and older.
  • On April 13, the FDA and CDC recommended all state and local vaccine providers stop administering the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, effective immediately. At the time of the announcement, the federal government was 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. All six recipients were women between the ages of 18 and 48. One recipient died, and three are still hospitalized. About seven million people have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
  • On April 14, members of the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices postponed making a decision about whether to reinstate the use of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine after saying it needed more information.

This time last year: Thursday, April 16, 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 16, 2020:

  • School closures:
    • New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu (R) closed schools for the remainder of the academic year. Before the announcement, schools were closed through May 1.
    • New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) announced schools would be closed until at least May 15. Before the announcement, schools had been under an indefinite closure since March 18.
    • New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) extended the state’s stay-at-home order through May 15 and extended the statewide school closure.
    • Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D) closed schools for the remainder of the academic year. Before the announcement, schools were closed through April 23.
  • Federal government responses:
    • The White House released the Guidelines for Opening Up America Again, offering guidance to state and local officials on a three-phase approach to reopening their economies.