Documenting America’s Path to Recovery #236: April 29, 2021

Welcome to Documenting America’s Path to Recovery. Today we look at:

  • The end of outdoor mask requirements in Maryland and North Carolina
  • A plan in Michigan that links the removal of restrictions to COVID-19 vaccination rates
  • Vaccine distribution
  • School closures and reopenings
  • Travel restrictions
  • Federal responses
  • COVID-19 policy changes from this time last year 

We are committed to keeping you updated on everything from mask requirements to curfews to vaccine-related policies. We will keep you abreast of major developments—especially those affecting your daily life. Want to know what we covered yesterday? Click here.

The next 24 hours

What is changing in the next 24 hours?

  • North Carolina (divided government): On Wednesday, April 28, Gov. Roy Cooper (D) announced he was ending the requirement that people wear masks in crowded outdoor areas Friday, April 30. The indoor mask mandate will remain until two-thirds of residents have received at least one vaccine dose. Cooper also announced that, on April 30, the indoor gathering limit will increase to 100 people, while the limit on outdoor gatherings will increase to 200 people. 

Since our last edition

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

  • Maryland (divided government): On Wednesday, April 28, Gov. Larry Hogan (R) ended the statewide outdoor mask mandate, effective immediately. People are still required to wear a mask at large venues and in public and private businesses. Hogan also announced that all restrictions on outdoor dining will end May 1. 
  • Michigan (divided government): On Thursday, April 29, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) announced a plan that makes lifting statewide COVID-19 restrictions dependent on vaccination rates. Whitmer said she will lift the requirement that employers mandate remote work when feasible two weeks after 55% of eligible residents have received the first dose of a vaccine. Two weeks after 60% of eligible residents have received a first dose, Whitmer said she would increase capacity limits on sporting events, conference centers, and gyms. Whitmer said all indoor capacity restrictions will end two weeks after 65% of eligible residents have received a shot, while most health orders, including the statewide mask mandate, will end once 70% have received a shot. 
  • New Jersey (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Phil Murphy (D) signed an order, effective immediately, allowing overnight summer camps to resume in accordance with Department of Health guidance
  • New Mexico (Democratic trifecta): 
    • Health Secretary Tracie Collins amended the state’s Red to Green reopening framework to make it easier for counties to move to less restrictive color phases. Criteria now include:
      • A per-capita rate of new COVID-19 cases of 10 per 100,000 residents or less over 14 days,
      • A positivity rate of 7.5% or less over 14 days, and
      • A target percentage of fully vaccinated residents that will start at 35% April 30, increase to 40% May 5, and increase by 5% every two weeks afterward.
    • Counties that meet none of the three criteria will be in the red (most restrictive) phase. Counties can move to yellow if they meet one of the benchmarks, green if they meet two, and turquoise if they meet all three. Counties that stay green in two consecutive (biweekly) map updates can also move to turquoise. Once a county moves to turquoise, its data is only reviewed every four weeks (not biweekly like red, yellow, and green counties’ data). 
    • Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) also announced once 60% of state residents are fully vaccinated, the Red to Green framework will end. 
  • New York (Democratic trifecta): 
    • All state-run mass vaccination sites are open for walk-in appointments for everyone 16 and older starting April 29. Walk-in appointments are only available for people receiving a first dose. Appointments for second doses will be scheduled automatically for recipients of a first dose.
    • Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) also announced people who are fully vaccinated no longer have to wear masks in public outdoor spaces, effective April 27. Previously, everyone had to wear masks outdoors when social distancing could not be maintained.
    • Cuomo announced he will lift the midnight curfew on bars and restaurants starting May 17 for outdoor dining areas and May 31 for indoor dining facilities. The 1 a.m. curfew for catered events will end May 17 for events where all attendees are fully vaccinated or provide proof of a recent negative test. The curfew will end for all catered events (regardless of vaccination and testing status) May 31. Catered events can also resume at private residences May 3. Bar seating can resume in New York City on the same day.
  • Vermont (divided government): On April 29, part-time Vermont residents are eligible to receive a coronavirus vaccine. Part-time residents include college students and people who own second homes in the state.

Vaccine distribution

We last looked at vaccine distribution in the April 27 edition of the newsletter. As of April 28, the states with the highest vaccination rates as a percentage of total population (including children) were:

The states with the lowest rates were:

School closures and reopenings

Read more: School responses to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic during the 2020-2021 academic year

We last looked at school closures and reopenings on April 22. Since then, South Carolina schools had to start offering in-person instruction five days a week. Nationwide:

  • 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)
  • Twelve states had state-ordered in-person instruction.
    • 2016-17 enrollment: 14,468,241 students (28.60% of students nationwide)
  • Two states (Ariz., Mass.) had state-ordered in-person instruction for certain grades.
    • 2016-17 enrollment: 2,087,651 students (4.13% of students nationwide)
  • Thirty-four states left decisions to schools or districts.
    • 2016-17 enrollment: 33,628,303 students (66.48% 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 22, one state has modified its travel restrictions and one state has announced changes to its travel restrictions.  


  • Kansas – On April 22, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment updated its travel quarantine list to include people who’ve traveled from Minnesota on or after April 22. People who traveled to that state, as well as the countries of Argentina, Aruba, Bahrain, Croatia, Cyprus, France, Sweden, and Turkey, on or after April 22 must self-quarantine.
  • Maine – On April 27, Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention Director Nirav Shah announced that out-of-state visitors will no longer need to quarantine or provide a negative test upon entering the state beginning May 1.

Federal responses

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

  • On April 23, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) rescinded its recommended pause of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine. The FDA recommended against administering the vaccine on April 13 while it investigated reports of six women in the United States between the ages of 18 and 49 who developed blood clots within two weeks of vaccination.
  • On April 26, White House officials said the Biden administration was prepared to give up to 60 million doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to other countries if the vaccine doses pass a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) inspection.
  • On April 27, the White House announced it would ease COVID-19 travel restrictions on some international students Aug. 1, permitting qualifying students and academics from China, Iran, Brazil, and South Africa to study in the United States.
  • On April 27, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its guidance for fully vaccinated individuals to say they no longer need to wear a mask when gathering outdoors. The guidance says fully vaccinated individuals should still wear a mask when in crowded areas.

This time last year: Thursday, April 30, 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 30, 2020:

  • Stay-at-home orders:
    • Stay-at-home orders in Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, Tennessee, and Texas expired. By this point, governors had lifted nine stay-at-home orders. Thirty-four stay-at-home orders remained in place.