Documenting America’s Path to Recovery #281: July 8, 2021

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

  • Changes in coronavirus restrictions in Hawaii
  • Legislation in Missouri protecting organizations from COVID-19 liability
  • Vaccine distribution
  • School closures and reopenings
  • Travel restrictions
  • State proof-of-vaccination requirements and policies
  • Federal responses
  • 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 Tuesday? Click here.

Upcoming news

What is changing in the next five days?

Arizona (Republican trifecta): The state will stop participating in pandemic-related federal unemployment benefit programs starting July 10. Gov. Doug Ducey (R) made the announcement May 13.

Since our last edition

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

Alabama (Republican trifecta): On July 6, Gov. Kay Ivey (R) ended the coronavirus state of emergency.

Hawaii (Democratic trifecta): On July 8, restaurant capacity was expanded to 75% and social gathering limits were increased to 25 individuals indoors and 75 individuals outdoors. Gov. David Ige (D) announced on June 7 that these restriction changes would take effect when the state reached a 60% vaccination rate. 

Illinois (Democratic trifecta): On July 7, Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) announced vaccination incentives for frontline state employees. Employees who have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine can enter a lottery to win cash bonuses, airline vouchers, sports tickets, lifetime fishing and hunting licenses, and passes to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum and the State Fair.

Michigan (divided government): On Wednesday, July 7, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) signed an education funding bill that includes $4.4 billion in federal COVID-19 relief. The $17 billion bill increases per-pupil funding in public and charter schools. 

Missouri (Republican trifecta): On July 7, Gov. Mike Parson (R) signed SB51 into law, which protects healthcare providers, businesses, religious organizations, and other entities from civil liability related to the coronavirus.

Rhode Island (Democratic trifecta): On July 6, Gov. Dan McKee (D) announced a vaccination incentive fund that will distribute seventy-five $10,000 grants to nonprofit organizations. Lotteries for the grants will be held for every 5,000 vaccines administered to residents. 

Vaccine distribution

We last looked at vaccine distribution in the July 6 edition of the newsletter. As of July 7, 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 July 1. Since then, no states have changed school reopening guidelines.


  • 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.
    • 2019-20 enrollment: 410,896 students (0.81% of students nationwide)
  • Thirteen states had state-ordered in-person instruction.
    • 2019-20 enrollment: 15,697,460 students (30.96% of students nationwide)
  • One state (Ariz.) had state-ordered in-person instruction for certain grades.
    • 2019-20 enrollment: 1,152,586 students (2.27% of students nationwide)
  • Thirty-four states left decisions to schools or districts.
    • 2019-20 enrollment: 33,449,499 students (65.96% 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 24 of those orders have been rescinded. 
    • Since July 1, one state has announced changes to its travel restrictions.   


  • Hawaii – Effective July 8, fully vaccinated out-of-state travelers can bypass the requirement to quarantine for 10 days or provide a negative COVID-19 test. Previously, only travelers fully vaccinated in the state of Hawaii could bypass the restrictions. 

State proof-of-vaccination requirements and policies
Read more: State government policies about proof-of-vaccination (vaccine passport) requirements

States have adopted various rules regarding proof of vaccination. Some have enacted bans preventing government entities from requiring people to demonstrate proof of vaccination. Others are working on technology that would allow people to demonstrate their vaccine status.  


  • Nineteen states have passed legislation or issued orders prohibiting proof-of-vaccination requirements at some or all levels of government. 
  • Four states have backed the creation of digital vaccination status applications. Those applications allow fully vaccinated individuals to bypass COVID-19 restrictions in some circumstances.
    • Since July 1, no states have enacted policies related to proof-of-vaccination requirements or digital vaccination status applications.  

Federal responses

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

  •  President Joe Biden (D) discussed new steps his administration would take to raise vaccination rates and combat the Delta variant, including effort to get people vaccinated through door-to-door community outreach. Biden said he would send federal teams to places with low vaccination rates to help local officials with contact tracing.

This time last year: Wednesday, July 8 and Thursday, July 9, 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, July 8, 2020

  • Stay-at-home orders and reopening plans:
    • Long Island, New York, entered Phase IV of the state’s reopening plan. 
  • Election changes:
    • Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner announced the cancellation of the Republican Party of Texas convention. The convention had been scheduled for July 16-18 at the George R. Brown Convention Center.
    • The South Carolina Election Commission announced that return postage for all mailed absentee ballots in the Nov. 3 general election would be prepaid.
    • Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves (R) signed HB1521 into law. The legislation extended the postmark deadline for absentee ballots to Nov. 3 and the receipt deadline to Nov. 10. The legislation also allowed individuals in physician-ordered quarantine or providing care for a dependant due to COVID-19 to vote absentee.
    • Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) ordered the state board of elections to send absentee/mail-in ballot request forms to all qualified voters in the Nov. 3 general election.
    • United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia Judge Eleanor L. Ross issued an order in Cooper v. Raffensperger reducing the petition signature requirement for independent and minor-party candidates in Georgia to 70% of their original numbers.
  • Mask requirements
    • New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) signed an executive order requiring individuals to wear face masks outdoors when social distancing is not possible. 
  • School closures and reopenings:
    • West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (R) announced Sept. 8 as a target date for reopening schools.

Thursday, July 9, 2020

  • Stay-at-home orders and reopening plans:
    • Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) issued a proclamation suspending elective surgeries in hospitals in 11 of the state’s 22 trauma service areas. The proclamation was aimed at expanding hospital capacity to deal with a surge in coronavirus cases.
  • Mask requirements: 
    • Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves (R) issued an executive order requiring individuals in certain counties to wear face masks in public. The order applied to counties with 200 new cases in the past 14 days or with an average of 500 cases per 100,000 residents in the same period.
  • Election changes:
    • Texas 80th District Court Judge Larry Weiman rejected requests from both the Republican Party of Texas and Steve Hotze, a Houston Republican, to bar Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner from canceling the state Republican party convention, originally scheduled for July 16-18.
  • School closures and reopenings:
    • Utah Gov. Gary Herbert (R) announced that when K-12 schools reopen, all students, faculty, staff, and visitors would be required to wear masks in buildings and on buses.