Documenting America’s Path to Recovery #276: June 29, 2021

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

  • Changes in coronavirus restrictions in Washington
  • School mask guidance for the upcoming school year in New Jersey
  • Vaccine distribution
  • Lawsuits about state actions and policies 
  • State-level mask requirements
  • Diagnosed or quarantined public officials
  • 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 24 hours

What is changing in the next 24 hours?

Washington (Democratic trifecta): On Wednesday, June 30, nearly all statewide coronavirus restrictions on businesses and individuals will end. Capacity restrictions on indoor events with more than 10,000 attendees will remain in place after June 30. Those events will continue to be limited to 75% capacity through at least July 31. 

Since our last edition

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

New Jersey (Democratic trifecta): On June 28, Gov. Phil Murphy (D) announced new guidance from the New Jersey Department of Health and the New Jersey Department of Education for mask usage during the upcoming school year. Murphy said, barring changes to CDC guidance or health metrics, masks will not be required for students in schools. School districts can still require mask usage.

Texas (Republican trifecta): On Monday, June 28, Gov. Greg Abbott (R) announced he was allocating $94.6 million in federal COVID-19 CARES Act funds to the Higher Education Coordinating Board. The Board will use the money to increase student enrollment and help colleges and universities expand or start programs in fields experiencing labor shortages, including healthcare and logistics. 

Vaccine distribution

We last looked at vaccine distribution in the June 24 edition of the newsletter. As of June 28, the states with the highest vaccination rates as a percentage of total population (including children) were:

The states with the lowest rates were:

Lawsuits about state actions and policies

Read more: Lawsuits about state actions and policies in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020


  • To date, Ballotpedia has tracked 1,824 lawsuits, in 50 states, dealing in some way with the COVID-19 outbreak. Court orders have been issued, or settlements have been reached, in 554 of those lawsuits. 
    • Since June 22, we have added seven lawsuits to our database. We have also tracked an additional six court orders and/or settlements. 


  • Klaassen v. The Trustees of Indiana University: On June 21, a group of current and incoming Indiana University (IU) students sued the school, challenging its COVID-19 vaccine mandate. The mandate requires that non-exempt students, staff, and faculty be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 before the beginning of the fall semester. According to IU, non-exempt students refusing vaccination will have their class registrations cancelled and will be barred from participating in any on-campus activities. IU recognizes certain medical, religious, and online student exemptions. The plaintiffs allege IU’s mandate violates their Fourteenth Amendment rights to bodily integrity and refusal of medical treatment. The students say the university is also violating state law, arguing that “state and local units are prohibited from requiring or issuing vaccine ‘passports’ that indicate an individual’s COVID immunization status.” James Bopp Jr., lead attorney for the plaintiffs, said, “They’re suing because they’re being stripped of their constitutional rights to make medical treatment decisions for themselves and to protect their own bodily integrity.” University spokesman Chuck Carney said, “The university is confident it will prevail in this case.” The case is pending in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana and has been assigned to Judge Damon R. Leichty, an appointee of President Donald Trump (R).

State mask requirements

We last looked at face coverings in the June 22 edition of the newsletter. Since then, a statewide mask order expired in Pennsylvania.

Diagnosed or quarantined politicians identified by Ballotpedia

Read more: Politicians, candidates, and government officials diagnosed with or quarantined due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

  • Federal
    • Three federal officials have died of COVID-19.
    • Sixty-five members of Congress have been diagnosed with COVID-19.
    • Forty-one federal officials have quarantined after possible exposure to COVID-19.
  • State
    • Ten state-level incumbents or candidates have died of COVID-19.
    • Two hundred thirty-three state-level incumbents or candidates have been diagnosed with COVID-19.
    • Eighty-six state-level incumbents or candidates have quarantined after possible exposure to COVID-19.
  • Local
    • At least five local incumbents or candidates have died of COVID-19.
    • At least 43 local incumbents or candidates have been diagnosed with COVID-19.
    • At least 26 local incumbents or candidates have quarantined after possible exposure to COVID-19.

Since June 22, no candidates or officeholders have been diagnosed with, died from, or quarantined because of COVID-19.

This time last year: Tuesday, June 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 read more of our past coverage of the coronavirus pandemic, click here.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020:

  • Stay-at-home orders and reopening plans:
    • Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) moved the state into the third phase of reopening. Phase 3 allowed gatherings of up to 25 people indoors and 50 outdoors. It also allowed entertainment businesses (like bowling alleys and movie theaters) and some larger events (like concerts and festivals) to reopen with restrictions.
  • Travel restrictions:
    • Govs. Ned Lamont (D-Conn.), Phil Murphy (D-N.J.), and Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.) announced that eight more states had been added to a June 24 joint travel advisory requiring out-of-state visitors to self-quarantine for 14 days. The eight states were: California, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, and Tennessee.
    • Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) announced that visitors to Massachusetts from Rhode Island, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, New York, and New Jersey would no longer need to self-quarantine for 14 days. The advisory to self-quarantine remained in effect for visitors from other parts of the country.
    • New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) extended the mandatory 14-day quarantine for all out-of-state travelers.
  • Federal government responses:
    • The Treasury Department and the IRS announced that the deadline to file taxes would not be extended beyond July 15. The IRS postponed the original April 15 deadline due to the coronavirus pandemic.
  • School closures and reopenings:
    • Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) released the “MI Safe Schools Return to School Roadmap,” a set of guidelines local districts could use to draft their own reopening plans for the fall. 
  • Eviction moratoriums:
    • Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) signed a bill to extend the state’s moratorium on commercial and residential evictions through Sept. 30. The bill also gave renters until March 31, 2021, to pay outstanding balances.