Welcome to Documenting America’s Path to Recovery. Today we look at:
- The closure of four mass vaccination sites in New York
- Updated mask guidance for schools in North Carolina and Virginia
- 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.
What is changing in the next four days?
New York (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced that mass vaccination sites in Johnson City, Middletown, Queensbury, and Southampton will cease operations on July 26. The closures are part of a planned downscaling of operations first announced on June 18 after the state reported that 70% of adults had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
Virginia (Democratic trifecta): On Wednesday, July 21, the Virginia Department of Health and Education released guidance for the upcoming school year. The K-12 mask mandate, which applies to both public and private schools, expires July 25, at which point local districts will decide their own mask policies. The guidance says schools should require elementary students to wear masks, but that middle and high schools should only require masks for unvaccinated students.
Since our last edition
What rules and restrictions are changing in each state? For a continually updated article, click here.
Missouri (Republican trifecta): On July 21, Gov. Mike Parson (R) launched a vaccine incentive program, MO VIP. Parson said that 900 Missourians who had been vaccinated or who get vaccinated over the next three months will be eligible to receive cash or education savings account prizes worth $10,000. Drawings begin Aug. 13 and will continue every two weeks until Oct. 8.
North Carolina (divided government): On Wednesday, July 21, Gov. Roy Cooper (D) released updated guidance for school districts. The new guidance takes effect July 30, and says districts should require students in kindergarten through eighth grade to wear masks indoors. The guidance says only unvaccinated high school students should be required to wear masks indoors.
Michigan (divided government):
- On Tuesday, July 20, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) vetoed House Bill 4434, which would have ended the state’s participation in federal pandemic unemployment programs.
- On Wednesday, July 21, the Michigan House of Representatives voted 60-48 in support of an initiative petition that repeals the Emergency Powers Act of 1945. Gov. Whitmer relied on that act to declare a COVID-19 emergency and issue subsequent restrictions, like the stay-at-home order. The Michigan Supreme Court ruled the act violated the Michigan constitution on Oct. 5, 2020. The state Senate voted to repeal the act on July 15, meaning that Whitmer cannot veto the petition. The initiative will go into effect 90 days after the legislature ends its current session.
Washington (Democratic trifecta): On Tuesday, July 21, Gov. Jay Inslee (D) repealed two COVID-19 orders. The orders waived deadlines related to judicial protection orders, mandated that agricultural businesses implement a paid leave program for workers, and prohibited deductions for lump sum unemployment payments.
We last looked at vaccine distribution in the July 20 edition of the newsletter. As of July 22, the states with the highest vaccination rates as a percentage of total population (including children) were:
- Vermont (Repubican governor): 75%
- Massachusetts (Republican governor): 72%
- Hawaii (Democratic governor): 71%
- Connecticut (Democratic governor): 69%
- Maine (Democratic governor): 68%
The states with the lowest rates were:
- Mississippi (Republican governor): 38%
- Idaho (Republican governor): 40%
- Louisiana (Democratic governor): 40%
- Alabama (Republican governor): 41%
- Wyoming (Republican governor): 41%
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 15. There have been no changes since then.
- 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)
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 15, no state has ended or changed its travel restrictions.
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 supported the creation of 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 15, no state has enacted a proof-of-vaccination policy. No state has enacted new digital vaccination status applications.
Read more: Political responses to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020
- On July 20, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services extended the nationwide COVID-19 public health emergency an additional 90 days.
- On July 21, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security extended restrictions on nonessential travel to and from Mexico and Canada through August 21.
In this section, we feature examples of other federal, state, and local government activity, private industry responses, and lawsuits related to the pandemic.
- On July 20, the Board of County Commissioners in Clark County, Nev., home to Las Vegas, approved an order requiring all employers to mandate masks for employees working in public spaces. Employees in enclosed offices or cubicles are exempted when in those areas, but must wear masks in other public spaces. The order went into effect on July 21 and will run through Aug. 18, the date of the next county commission meeting. Democrats hold all seven seats on the county commission.
- On July 21, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot (D) announced that five states and one U.S. territory had been placed on the city’s travel restriction list. On July 19, Lightfoot reinstated travel restrictions for unvaccinated people traveling to Chicago from Arkansas and Missouri. Lightfoot added Florida, Louisiana, Nevada, and the U.S. Virgin Islands to the list. An unvaccinated person visiting Chicago from these areas must either quarantine for ten days upon arrival or report a negative COVID-19 test within three days.
This time last year: Wednesday, July 22, Thursday, July 23, and Friday, July 24, 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 22, 2020
- Travel restrictions:
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) issued a travel advisory that asked travelers from states reporting positive coronavirus testing rates of 15% or higher to self-quarantine for 14 days. DeWine said the advisory was not a mandate. The advisory affected Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Mississippi, Nevada, South Carolina, and Texas.
- Federal government responses:
Pharmaceutical company Pfizer and biotechnology company BioNTech announced that they had entered into a $1.95 billion deal with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Defense to supply 100 million doses of a coronavirus vaccine to Americans by the end of 2020.
Thursday, July 23, 2020
- Federal government responses:
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar renewed the federal public health emergency originally issued in late January. The health emergencies last for 90 days.
- Mask requirements:
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) signed an order requiring individuals over the age of 10 to wear face coverings in indoor, non-residential locations and outdoors when unable to practice social distancing.
- School closures and reopenings:
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) ordered public schools to reopen for on-site learning on Aug. 17 for students who need somewhere to go during the day. Superintendent Kathy Hoffman clarified that the order meant each school district must open at least one site for students to attend, but did not have to open every school or require every teacher to work in-person.
New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) announced schools will not be able to open for in-person instruction until after September 7. However, after that date, the decision to resume in-person instruction was left up to individual school districts.
Friday, July 24, 2020
- Travel restrictions:
The Pennsylvania Department of Health added Wyoming and Missouri to the state’s travel advisory, bringing the total number of states on the list to 20. Travelers from states on the list were advised to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.
- Federal government responses:
A federal eviction ban expired. The ban was part of the $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act approved in March. The ban applied only to tenants in federally assisted properties.
- Mask requirements:
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) updated the statewide mask mandate to include children five years and older.
- Lawsuits about state actions and policies:
The U.S. Supreme Court rejected a Nevada church’s request for permission to hold in-person services larger than those allowed under Gov. Steve Sisolak’s (D) executive order. The court split 5-4 in the decision.
For the most recent coronavirus news, including the latest on vaccines and mask mandates, subscribe to our daily newsletter, Documenting America’s Path to Recovery.