Documenting America’s Path to Recovery #246: May 13, 2021

Documenting America's Path to Recovery

The next 24 hours

What is changing in the next 24 hours?

Since our last edition

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

  • Multistate news: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Rochelle Walensky adopted an advisory committee’s recommendation that the Pfizer and BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is safe for children 12 to 15 years old on May 12. As of May 13, all 50 states allowed 12-15 year-olds to register for vaccination.
  • Delaware (Democratic trifecta): Gov. John Carney (D) amended the state’s coronavirus emergency order to end capacity limits for places of worship and businesses like restaurants, gyms, and retailers on May 21. Masks will still be required, and businesses will have to enforce three-foot social distancing.
  • Georgia (Republican trifecta): On Thursday, May 13, Gov. Brian Kemp (R) announced the state would stop participating in federal pandemic unemployment programs in June. Kemp did not provide a date, but said it would happen in “mid to late June.”
  • Maryland (divided government): On Wednesday, May 12, Gov. Larry Hogan (R) announced he would end all statewide COVID-19 restrictions on businesses May 15, including indoor and outdoor capacity limits. Hogan also said he would lift the statewide indoor mask mandate once 70% of adult residents have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. At the time of the announcement, that figure stood at 65%. 
  • New York (Democratic trifecta): On May 12, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced pools and beaches will be able to operate with six-foot social distancing and no percentage capacity limits by Memorial Day. Cuomo also said the state is targeting July 4 to fully reopen pools and beaches without restrictions.
  • Ohio (Republican trifecta): On Wednesday, May 12, Gov. Mike DeWine (R) announced he will end all statewide coronavirus public health orders on June 2. DeWine also announced that people who receive at least one vaccine dose can enter a lottery to win $1,000,000. The drawing will happen each Wednesday for five weeks, with a maximum of five winners. Additionally, the state will offer five full scholarships to the state’s public universities to vaccinated residents under 18. 
  • Texas (Republican trifecta): On Wednesday, May 12, Gov. Greg Abbott (R) signed House Bill 1024, which makes permanent a waiver issued in March 2020 allowing restaurants and bars to sell beer, wine, and mixed-drinks in to-go orders. 
  • Utah (Republican trifecta): On Wednesday, May 12, Gov. Spencer Cox (R) announced he would end the state’s participation in federal pandemic unemployment programs on June 26.

Vaccine distribution

We last looked at vaccine distribution in the May 11 edition of the newsletter. As of May 12, 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 May 6. Since then, no states changed school reopening guidelines. 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 22 of those orders have been rescinded. 
    • Since May 6, two states have modified their travel restrictions. 


  • Hawaii – On May 11, the state started the Vaccine Exemption Program, which allows fully vaccinated individuals traveling between islands to bypass the requirement that travelers quarantine for 10 days or present a negative COVID-19 test. Individuals must provide proof of vaccination by uploading documentation through the state’s online COVID-19 portal or presenting a vaccine card to airport personnel to bypass the quarantine or test requirement. 
  • Kansas – On May 10, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment updated its travel quarantine list to include people who’ve traveled to certain Colorado counties on or after May 6. The Department had previously included all of Colorado on its restrictions list. Click here to see the list of Colorado counties.

Federal responses

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

  • On May 10, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized children between the ages of 12 and 15 to receive Pfizer and BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine.
  • On May 11, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that long-term care facilities must report resident and staff vaccinations every two weeks to the CDC’s National Healthcare Safety Network.
  • On May 12, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky adopted an advisory committee’s recommendation that the Pfizer and BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is safe for children 12 to 15.

This time last year: Thursday, May 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.

Thursday, May 14, 2020:

  • Travel restrictions
    • Arkansas Secretary of Health Nathaniel Smith issued a 14-day quarantine requirement for out-of-state travelers who have been in an international location or New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, or New Orleans in the last 14 days.
  • Federal government responses:
    • The CMS announced it would publicly post CDC data on all nursing homes across the country by the end of May. The data would include suspected and confirmed cases and deaths at each facility.