Documenting America’s Path to Recovery #256: May 28, 2021

Note: in observance of Memorial Day, we’re taking a break from sending out this newsletter on Monday, May 31. We’ll resume our regular schedule Tuesday, June 1.  

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

  • Changes in coronavirus restrictions in Massachusetts, New York, and Pennsylvania
  • A vaccine incentive initiative in California
  • COVID-19 policy changes from this time last year 

We are committed to keeping you updated on everything from mask requirements 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 72 hours

What is changing in the next 72 hours?

Massachusetts (divided government): Effective Saturday, May 29, all COVID-19 restrictions on businesses and individuals will end, including capacity limits on events and the statewide mask mandate. Gov. Charlie Baker (R) made the announcement on May 17, and also said he would end the COVID-19 state of emergency on June 15.   

New York (Democratic trifecta): Effective Monday, May 31, the midnight curfew on indoor dining facilities and catered events will end for vaccinated and unvaccinated customers and attendees. The curfew for catered events ended May 17 for events where all attendees are fully vaccinated or provide proof of a recent negative test to event organizers, but remained in place for unvaccinated people. 

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.

Since our last edition

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

Arizona (Republican trifecta): The Arizona Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation, and Reentry announced on May 27 that in-person visits would resume at correctional facilities beginning June 19. Inmates will be allowed up to three visitors – two adults and one minor. Additionally, attorney visits and in-person volunteer activities will also be allowed.

California (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) announced a vaccine incentive program called Vax for the Win on May 27. Californians ages twelve and up who have received at least one vaccine dose can participate in a drawing for $50,000, for which 30 winners will be selected, and a drawing for $1.5 million, for which ten winners will be selected. Additionally, beginning May 27, the next two million people to begin and complete their vaccination will receive a $50 prepaid card—for use online or in-stores wherever major debit cards are accepted—or grocery gift card.

Delaware (Democratic trifecta): On May 26, Delaware Supreme Court Chief Justice Collins J. Seitz announced Delaware courts would resume many in-person proceedings on June 1. The courts will require masks and implement temperature screenings and COVID-19 screening questions.

Idaho (Republican trifecta): On May 28, Gov. Brad Little (R) repealed Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin’s (R) executive order banning government entities, including schools, from requiring masks. McGeachin, who was serving as acting governor while Little was out of state at the Republican Governors Association conference, issued the order without informing Little beforehand. Little did not issue a statewide mask mandate during the pandemic. McGeachin has said she intends to run for governor in 2022.  

Kentucky (divided government): Gov. Andy Beshear (D) announced on May 7 that all events and businesses serving fewer than 1,000 people at once can expand to 75% capacity effective May 28. Indoor and outdoor venues with more than 1,000 people can also expand to 60% capacity.

Minnesota (divided government): On Thursday, May 27, Gov. Tim Walz (D) announced “Your Shot to Summer,” a vaccine incentive program to get 70% of eligible residents over 16 vaccinated by July 1. People who receive their first shot of a vaccine between May 28 and June 30 will be eligible to choose between nine different prizes, including amusement park tickets and state park permits. One hundred thousand people will be eligible to win. 

New Jersey (Democratic trifecta): Effective May 28, the state’s indoor mask requirement ended for vaccinated and unvaccinated people. Masks are still required in state offices open to the public, schools and childcare centers, on public transportation, and in health care settings. The six-foot social distancing requirement also ended, along with restrictions on dance floors and standing service at bars and restaurants.

New York (Democratic trifecta): 

  • On May 27, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced that the New York Department of Labor will be issuing guidance that says any necessary recovery time from a COVID-19 vaccination is covered under the state’s Paid Sick Leave Law.
  • Cuomo announced a weeklong extension of the MTA pop-up vaccination and MetroCard incentive program at Grand Central Terminal and Penn Station. 

Ohio (Republican trifecta): On Thursday, May 27, Gov. Mike DeWine (R) ended the Ohio Public Health Advisory System heatmap. The map was instituted in July 2020, and showed where COVID-19 was spreading fastest around the state based on several different metrics. Countywide mask mandates were based on the map until DeWine instituted a statewide mandate on July 23, 2020. 

Pennsylvania (divided government): On May 27, Acting Health Secretary Alison Beam announced the state would lift its statewide mask requirement for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals on June 28. She said the requirement could be lifted sooner if at least 70% of Pennsylvania residents become fully vaccinated.

Virginia (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Ralph Northam (D) ended all statewide coronavirus restrictions on businesses and individuals effective Friday, May 28. Northam issued the order lifting all restrictions on May 14 and scheduled it to take effect May 28. 

West Virginia (Republican trifecta): On Thursday, May 27, Gov. Jim Justice (R) announced new details on a COVID-19 vaccine incentive initiative. People who have or will receive at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine will be entered into drawings for prizes beginning June 20. Prizes will include cash, college scholarships, and pickup trucks. Justice said he will announce more details at a press conference Tuesday, June 1. 

This time last year: Friday, May 29, 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.

Friday, May 29, 2020:

Stay-at-home orders:

  • Northern Virginia (NOVA), as well as Richmond and Accomack County, moved into Phase One of the “Forward Virginia” reopening plan, ending the stay-at-home order in those areas. Gov. Ralph Northam (D) previously ended the statewide stay-at-home order for all counties except those in the NOVA region on May 15. 
  • Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) allowed the statewide stay-at-home order to expire. Pritzker issued the order on March 20, and extended it on March 31 and April 23. 

Travel restrictions

  • Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy (R) extended the 14-day quarantine requirement for out-of-state travelers and residents returning to the state through June 5. Dunleavy said travelers who could prove they tested negative for COVID-19 before coming to Alaska could bypass the 14-day quarantine requirement. Dunleavy asked travelers to get tested at least 72 hours before arriving in the state.
  • Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) issued an updated travel advisory that asked visitors to follow CDC guidelines, which included social distancing and wearing a face covering.

Mask requirements:

  • Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) issued an order requiring people 10 and older to wear a mask when indoors.