Documenting America’s Path to Recovery #240: May 5, 2021

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

  • Changes in coronavirus restrictions in Delaware
  • A pause on reopening in Washington
  • 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.

Since our last edition

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

  • Delaware (Democratic trifecta): Gov. John Carney (D) announced the state will ease COVID-19 restrictions starting May 21. Capacity restrictions will end for places of worship and most businesses (including restaurants and retailers), allowing facilities to use as much capacity as social distancing allows. Social distancing requirements will also decrease from six to three feet. The indoor mask requirement will remain in place.
  • Indiana (Republican trifecta): On Tuesday, Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) vetoed Senate Bill 5, which would require county commissioners or city councils to approve local public health orders that impose additional restrictions to health orders issued by the governor. The House and Senate passed the bill 65-29 and 37-12, respectively, on April 21. The legislature can override Holcomb’s veto with a majority vote in both chambers. 
  • Montana (Republican trifecta): Gov. Greg Gianforte (R) announced the state will opt-out of all federal pandemic-related unemployment benefit programs and transition back to pre-pandemic eligibility and benefits by June 30. Montana will be the first state to fully opt-out of the federal unemployment programs. Gianforte also announced the state will offer $1,200 Return-to-Work bonuses for people who get off unemployment benefits after May 4 and complete four paid weeks of employment. For more information on the unemployment changes, click here. For more information on the Return-to-Work bonus initiative, click here.
  • Oregon (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Kate Brown (D) announced that effective May 7, 24 counties will be in the state’s High Risk level, four will be at Moderate Risk, and eight will have Lower Risk restrictions. In the current period from April 30 – May 6, 23 counties are in the state’s High Risk level, three are at Moderate Risk, and 10 have Lower Risk restrictions. To see restrictions in a specific county or risk level, click here.
  • Pennsylvania (divided government): Gov. Tom Wolf (D) announced all mitigation measures except the mask mandate (including capacity restrictions for businesses) will end May 31 at 12:01 a.m. Wolf said the mask mandate will end when 70% of residents age 18 and older are fully vaccinated. Localities will still be able to implement stricter measures. 
  • Washington (Democratic trifecta): On Tuesday, May 5, Gov. Jay Inslee (D) announced he was pausing the reopening plan for two weeks while officials evaluate COVID-19 data. The pause means that all counties will remain in their current phase of reopening.

This time last year: Wednesday, May 6, 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.

Wednesday, May 6, 2020:

  • Stay-at-home orders:
    • Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) allowed the statewide stay-at-home order to expire. Stitt first issued the order on April 1. 
  • Travel restrictions
    • Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) lifted an April 4 order that restricted hotels and short-term rentals to essential workers. The order was enacted to discourage recreational travel into Arkansas.
  • Mask requirements:
    • A Massachusetts order requiring individuals to wear masks in public places where social distancing is not possible took effect. Gov. Charlie Baker (R) issued the order May 1. Massachusetts was the 12th state to issue a statewide mask mandate.