Since our last edition
What rules and restrictions are changing in each state? For a continually updated article, click here.
- Arizona (Republican trifecta):
- Gov. Doug Ducey (R) ended the executive order requiring masks on all K-12 school campuses.
- Ducey also signed an order prohibiting all state and local government agencies from requiring individuals to provide their vaccination status to access facilities and services. Private businesses can still require proof of vaccination as a condition of service or entry.
- Connecticut (Democratic trifecta):
- Gov. Ned Lamont (D) announced outdoor business restrictions will be lifted May 1. The seating limit of eight people per table will end and alcohol sales without food will be permitted outside. Indoor and outdoor businesses subject to the 11 p.m. curfew (including bars and restaurants) will be able to stay open until midnight each night.
- All remaining business restrictions will end May 19, including movie theater capacity limits. Limits on outdoor gatherings will also end. Some individual restrictions like the indoor public mask requirement will remain in place.
- West Virginia (Republican trifecta): On Monday, April 19, Gov. Jim Justice (R) issued an executive order clarifying which COVID-19 orders are still in effect and updating some restrictions. For example, Justice removed the limit on social gatherings and amended the statewide indoor mask requirement to no longer require people engaged in activities like sports to wear a face covering.
- Wisconsin (divided government): On Tuesday, April 20, Gov. Tony Evers (D) announced $175 million for COVID-19 testing in schools. The Department of Health Services and the Department of Public Instruction will use the funds to develop a statewide testing program.
As of April 19, all 50 states and Washington, D.C., allowed all residents 16 and older to receive a coronavirus vaccine. Alaska was the first state to offer vaccines to all residents 16+ on March 9. Hawaii, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Vermont were the last states to expand eligibility on April 19.
The chart below shows the cumulative number of states with 16+ vaccine eligibility between March 9 and April 19 by the governor’s party.
Lawsuits about state actions and policies
Read more: Lawsuits about state actions and policies in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020
- To date, Ballotpedia has tracked 1,767 lawsuits, in 50 states, dealing in some way with the COVID-19 outbreak. Court orders have been issued, or settlements have been reached, in 531 of those lawsuits.
- Since April 13, we have added seven lawsuits to our database. We have also tracked an additional three court orders and/or settlements.
- Catchings v. Wilson: On April 15, Maryland officials reached a settlement with detainees of Baltimore’s Chesapeake Detention Facility, establishing COVID-19 safety protocols and a vaccination schedule for the prison. In their complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, the detainees sued Warden Calvin Wilson and Robert Green, secretary of Maryland’s Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services (MDPSCS), alleging that official inaction had led to a COVID-19 outbreak at the facility. Under the settlement, the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services will provide educational materials on COVID-19, enforce mask-wearing and social distancing among staff and inmates, enact sanitization protocols for common areas “in full compliance with CDC guidelines,” and “ensure that all detainees/residents, staff, and contracted staff” are tested for COVID-19 weekly. The defendants will isolate and quarantine inmates who test positive, and the Chesapeake Detention Facility agreed to provide COVID-19 vaccines to all detainees and staff by May 1. Plaintiff counsel John Fowler with the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law said, “This settlement is a huge victory that is going to save lives.” MDPSCS representative Mark Vernarelli said the settlement “reinforces the Department’s long-standing commitment to protecting its employees and the incarcerated men and women.” The settlement will remain in force for 180 days after the state’s COVID-19 emergency ends.
State mask requirements
We last looked at face coverings in the April 13 edition of the newsletter. Since then, New Hampshire’s statewide public face-covering requirement expired.
Diagnosed or quarantined politicians identified by Ballotpedia
Read more: Politicians, candidates, and government officials diagnosed with or quarantined due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020
- 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-eight 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 13, two state senators and one state representative have tested positive for COVID-19.
- On April 14, Wisconsin state Sen. Chris Larson (D) announced he tested positive for COVID-19.
- On April 14, Illinois state Sen. Kimberly Lightford (D) announced she tested positive for COVID-19.
- On April 15, Pennsylvania state Rep. Bryan Cutler (R) announced he tested positive for COVID-19.
This time last year: Tuesday, April 21, 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 21, 2020:
- Travel restrictions:
- Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy (R) extended the 14-day quarantine requirement for international and out-of-state travelers through May 19.
- School closures:
- Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) announced public and private schools would not reopen for in-person instruction for the rest of the academic year. Before the announcement, schools were closed through April 30.
- Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) announced public and private schools would not reopen for in-person instruction for the rest of the academic year. Before the announcement, schools were closed through May 1.
- West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (R) announced public and private schools would not reopen for in-person instruction for the rest of the academic year. Before the announcement, schools were closed through April 30.
- Federal government responses:
- The U.S. Senate passed the $484 billion Paycheck Protection and Health Care Act. The package included renewed funding for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and funding for hospitals and testing.