Documenting America’s Path to Recovery #283: July 15, 2021

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

  • An extended coronavirus emergency in Connecticut
  • Rhode Island announces a higher education vaccine requirement
  • 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.

Since our last edition

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

California (Democratic trifecta): On July 13, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) announced the passage of the California Comeback Plan. Included in the law are provisions for direct payments to California residents, and appropriations for renter assistance and small business relief programs.

Connecticut (Democratic trifecta): On July 14, the General Assembly voted to extend Gov. Ned Lamont’s (D) emergency powers through Sept. 30.The extension passed 73-56 in the House, and 19-15 in the Senate.

Rhode Island (Democratic trifecta): On July 13, Gov. Dan McKee (D) announced the state will be the first where all colleges and universities will require students to be vaccinated when returning in the fall.

Vaccine distribution

We last looked at vaccine distribution in the July 13 edition of the newsletter. As of July 14, 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 8. Since then, Illinois Superintendent of Education Carmen Ayala issued a declaration requiring in-person learning for the 2021-2022 school year.


  • 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 8, one city has changed its travel restrictions.  


  • Chicago – On July 13, Chicago, Ill., added Missouri and Arkansas to its travel advisory list after both states surpassed 15 COVID-19 cases per day per 100,000 people. The advisory asks unvaccinated people traveling from Missouri or Arkansas to receive a negative COVID-19 test 72 hours before arrival or quarantine for 10 days. Between June 1 and July 13, no states met the threshold for being added to the advisory list. 

State proof-of-vaccination requirements and policies

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

As COVID-19 vaccination rates have increased, state governments have enacted various rules around the use of proof-of-vaccination requirements. In some cases, lawmakers have banned state or local governments from requiring that people show proof-of-vaccination. Other states have helped create digital applications—sometimes known as vaccine passports—that allow people to prove their vaccination status and, in some cases, bypass COVID-19 restrictions.  


  • Twenty 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 8, one state has enacted a proof-of-vaccination policy and none have enacted new digital vaccination status applications.  


  • Ohio – On Wednesday, July 14, Gov. Mike DeWine (R) signed House Bill 244, which prohibits public schools and state universities from discriminating against students, faculty, and staff who haven’t received a fully FDA-approved vaccine. The bill also prohibits those institutions from requiring students, faculty, and staff to get such a vaccine. Currently, the FDA has only granted the COVID-19 vaccines an Emergency Use Authorization, which is a step removed from full approval. 

Federal responses

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

  • On July 12, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced it would apply a new warning to Johnson & Johnson’s single dose COVID-19 vaccine after some recipients developed Guillain-Barré syndrome, a disorder that causes the immune system to attack the nerves. The FDA said it has received around 100 reports of the disorder linked to the vaccine. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Advisory Committee is scheduled to investigate the reports on July 15 to determine if a causal relationship exists between the vaccine and disorder. At the time the FDA announced the warning, around 12.8 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine had been administered in the United States.

This time last year: July 15-17, 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, July 15, 2020

  • Election changes:

United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia Judge John A. Gibney reduced petition signature requirements for unaffiliated and minor-party candidates for federal office in Virginia as follows: 2,500 signatures for presidential candidates; 3,500 signatures for U.S. Senate candidates; and 350 signatures for U.S. House candidates. Gibney extended the filing deadline for unaffiliated and minor-party congressional candidates to Aug. 1.

  • Mask requirements

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock (D) announced a statewide mask order requiring individuals to wear masks inside certain businesses and at outdoor gatherings of greater than 50 people where social distancing was not possible.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) expanded the statewide face-covering mandate to require masks in outdoor public spaces when six-foot distancing could not be maintained.

Thursday, July 16, 2020

  • Mask requirements: 

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R) issued a mask order that required face coverings in public when social distancing with non-household members could not be kept.

  • Federal government responses:

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf announced on Twitter that the Department of Homeland Security would extend its prohibition on nonessential travel with Canada and Mexico through Aug. 20.

  • State court changes:

North Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley announced she was maintaining the pause on jury trials through the end of September. Beasley also announced that masks would be required in courthouses until further notice.

  • Eviction and foreclosure policies:

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) allowed the statewide moratorium on evictions to expire. She first issued the moratorium on March 20.

Friday, July 17, 2020 

  • Election changes:

United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas Judge Lynn Hughes ruled the Republican Party of Texas could proceed as planned with its-person state convention, overturning Houston officials’ July 8 cancellation of the event.

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu (R) signed HB1266 into law, which formally established concern over COVID-19 as a valid reason for voting absentee in the Sept. 8 primary and Nov. 3 general elections. The legislation also temporarily allowed voters to submit one absentee ballot application for both elections.

Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate (R) announced that absentee ballot application forms would be sent automatically to all active registered voters in the Nov. 3 general election.

Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill (R) issued an emergency rule allowing any qualified voter to cast an absentee ballot in the Nov. 3 general election.

  • Mask requirements: 

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) issued a mask mandate requiring individuals older than 10 to wear a mask inside buildings that are open to the public.

  • School closures and reopenings:

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) announced that counties on the state’s coronavirus watch list would begin the public school year with online education only. At the time of the announcement, 33 of the state’s 58 counties were on the watch list. 

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) ordered that students in public and accredited nonpublic schools spend at least half of their schooling in-person. Reynolds said districts could seek waivers to the requirement from the state Department of Education.