Documenting America’s Path to Recovery #267: June 16, 2021

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

  • An initiative to encourage vaccinations in Massachusetts
  • A law to prohibit public officials from closing houses of worship in Texas
  • 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.

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) signed an executive order prohibiting vaccination and mask requirements at public universities and community colleges. 

Delaware (Democratic trifecta): Gov. John Carney (D) announced he will end the state’s coronavirus emergency order July 13. Carney issued the order March 12, 2020. 

Kansas (divided government): The state’s coronavirus emergency order expired June 15 after Senate President Ty Masterson (R) canceled a meeting of the Legislative Coordinating Council (LCC) to consider an extension of the emergency. Under Kansas law, the LCC has to extend an emergency order every 30 days to prevent it from expiring. Gov. Laura Kelly (D) issued the emergency order on March 12, 2020. 

Maryland (divided government): On Tuesday, June 15, Gov. Larry Hogan (R) announced he would end the statewide COVID-19 state of emergency on July 1. Hogan said some emergency measures, such as an eviction moratorium and a grace period for drivers with expired licenses, will stay in place for 45 days after the emergency ends. 

Massachusetts (divided government): On Tuesday, June 15, Gov. Charlie Baker (R) announced the VaxMillions Giveaway, an initiative to encourage people to get a COVID-19 vaccine. The giveaway will include five $1,000,000 prizes and five $300,000 college scholarships. People who were vaccinated in the state can register for the weekly drawings July 1. 

Missouri (Republican trifecta): Gov. Mike Parson (R) signed HB 271, prohibiting local governments from requiring proof of vaccination to access public facilities and services. The bill also limits local emergency powers. Local governments can only issue public health orders that restrict the activities of businesses, churches, schools, and other places of assembly for up to 30 days in a 180-day period if the governor has declared a state of emergency. If the governor has not declared an emergency, local governments can issue public health restrictions for up to 21 days in a 180-day period. Local governing bodies can extend public health restrictions with a simple majority vote if a statewide emergency exists. If no statewide emergency exists, local governing bodies can extend public health restrictions with a two-thirds vote. 

New York (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) ended New York Forward industry-specific requirements (including social distancing requirements, gathering limits, capacity restrictions, and cleaning protocols) for most businesses. Restaurants, bars, gyms, retailers, and personal care service providers are among the businesses that no longer have restrictions. Unvaccinated people still have to wear masks statewide. Requirements did not change for state-defined large-scale event venues, K-12 schools, public transit, nursing homes, or correctional facilities. 

Texas (Republican trifecta): On Tuesday, June 15, Gov. Greg Abbott (R) signed House Bill 1239. The bill prohibits state and local government officials or agencies from closing houses of worship during a state of emergency. The Senate passed the bill 28-3, while the House passed the bill 113-30. 

This time last year: Wednesday, June 17, 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, June 17, 2020:

  • Travel restrictions:
    • The Kansas Department of Health and Environment updated its list of states with widespread community transmission to include Alabama, Arizona, and Arkansas. Kansas residents who had traveled to those states were required to self-quarantine for 14 days.
  • Election changes:
    • The Wisconsin Election Commission voted to send absentee/mail-in ballot applications automatically to most registered voters in the Nov. 3 general election.
  • Federal government responses:
    • The Occupational Safety and Health Administration released a report for nonessential businesses planning on reopening, titled “Guidance on Returning to Work.” The guidance includes recommendations for a three-phased reopening strategy.