Documenting America’s Path to Recovery #285: July 29, 2021, 2021

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

  • A mask mandate in Nevada
  • A vaccine incentive initiative for Ohio state employees
  • 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 the government responses to the COVID-19 pandemic affecting your daily life—from mask requirements to vaccine-related policies and beyond. To see epidemiological COVID-19 data, visit these sources: Our World in Data, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Research Center

Want to know what we covered Tuesday? Click here.

Upcoming news

What is changing in the next four days?

Nevada (Democratic trifecta): On Friday, July 30, Gov. Steve Sisolak’s (D) new mask mandate, reflecting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) recent guidance, will take effect in counties with “substantial or high transmission” of COVID-19. In those counties, vaccinated and unvaccinated people must wear masks indoors. Sisolak issued the order on July 27.

Since our last edition

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

Arizona (Republican trifecta): On July 28, Arizona Department of Health Services Director Cara Christ announced the state would adopt recent CDC guidance recommending all vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals wear masks in public indoor settings located in areas with substantial and high coronavirus transmission rates. 

Illinois (Democratic trifecta): On July 27, the Illinois Department of Public Health adopted recent CDC guidance recommending all vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals wear masks in public indoor settings located in areas with substantial and high coronavirus transmission rates.

Kentucky (divided government): On July 28, Gov. Andy Beshear (D) announced vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals must wear a mask in state buildings. The requirement applies to both employees and visitors. The requirement went into effect July 29.

Maine (Democratic trifecta): On July 28, Gov. Janet Mills (D) announced the state would follow recent CDC guidance recommending all vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals wear masks in public indoor settings located in areas with substantial and high coronavirus transmission rates.

New Jersey (Democratic trifecta): On July 28, Gov. Phil Murphy (D) and New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli recommended all vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals wear masks in public indoor settings where there is increased risk of coronavirus transmission.

Ohio (Republican trifecta): On Wednesday, July 28, Gov. Mike DeWine (R) announced a new vaccine incentive initiative for state employees. Employees who get a vaccine will receive $100, while spouses who get a vaccine will get $25. 

Vaccine distribution

We last looked at vaccine distribution in the July 27 edition of the newsletter. As of July 28, 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 22. Since then, no states 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. Travel restrictions remain active in Hawaii, Kansas, and Rhode Island.

Since July 22, 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

State governments have enacted various rules around the use of proof-of-vaccination requirements in their states. In some cases, states 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 22, no state has enacted a proof-of-vaccination policy. No state has enacted new digital vaccination status applications. 

Federal responses

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

  • On July 28, the Biden administration announced it would allow the CDC’s ban on evictions to expire on July 31. The CDC first implemented the ban in September, 2020, and extended it several times. On June 29, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to end the ban in a 5-4 decision, but said Congress would need to extend it beyond July 31. The Biden administration asked Congress to extend the ban. 
  • On July 27, the CDC updated its mask guidance to recommend that fully vaccinated people wear masks while indoors in parts of the country with substantial or high transmission. CDC data shows that 66.6% of counties in the United States are experiencing what CDC defines as high or substantial levels of COVID-19 spread as of July 26. Click here to view the CDC data and accompanying map. 
  • On July 27, the Department of Homeland Security announced that effective immediately, all employees must wear masks and practice social distancing, while indoors at work.
  • On July 26, the Department of Veterans Affairs announced that employees who work with patients, including doctors and nurses, must get a COVID-19 vaccine within the next two months. Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough said employees could appeal the requirement on medical or religious grounds.
  • On July 22, the Biden administration announced $1.7 million in new funding for testing and vaccine outreach. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said $1.6 billion would go toward testing in prisons and homeless shelters, while around $100 million would go toward supporting vaccine outreach in rural areas.

This time last year: Wednesday, July 29, and Friday, July 31, 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 29, 2020

  • Stay-at-home orders and reopening plans:

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) extended Phase 3 of the state’s reopening plan through Aug. 28. Raimondo also reduced gathering limits from 25 people to 15.

Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon (R) extended three public health orders passed on June 15 regarding limits on indoor and outdoor gatherings and school reopenings. One order continued to limit indoor gatherings to 50 people and outdoor gatherings to 250 people. The school reopening order included a modification requiring teachers and students to wear masks indoors and outdoors at school when social distancing wasn’t feasible.

  • Travel restrictions:

Gov. Larry Hogan (R) issued a travel advisory asking Maryland residents to refrain from traveling to Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Nebraska, South Carolina, and Texas, where the percentage of positive test results was more than 10%. Hogan urged people who had traveled to those states to get a coronavirus test.

  • School closures and reopenings:

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R) modified her Safer At Home Order to require students in second grade or higher to wear masks at school.

Friday, July 31, 2020 

  • Stay-at-home orders and reopening plans:

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) issued an executive order placing restrictions on several counties in northern Michigan. The restrictions included capping indoor gatherings at 10 people and closing bars that derived more than 70% of their revenue from the sale of alcohol.

  • Election changes:

U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island Judge Mary McElroy approved a consent agreement between the parties in Common Cause Rhode Island v. Gorbea. Rhode Island officials agreed not to enforce witness or notary requirements for mail-in ballots in both the Sept. 8 primary and November general elections.

Pennsylvania Secretary of the Commonwealth Kathy Boockvar (D) announced that the state would provide prepaid return postage for all mail-in and absentee ballots in the Nov. 3 general election.

Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont (D) signed HB6002 into law, allowing voters to cite concern over COVID-19 as a reason for voting absentee in the Nov. 3 general election.

  • School closures and reopenings:

The Maine Department of Education released guidance for reopening schools for the 2020-2021 school year. The guidance required all staff and students aged five and older to wear masks.

South Carolina Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman announced masks would be required in all public school facilities for staff and students in grades 2-12.

Additional activity

In this section, we feature examples of other federal, state, and local government activity, private industry responses, and lawsuits related to the pandemic. 

  • In East Baton Rouge, Louisiana 19th Judicial District Court Judge Fred Crifasi allowed two individuals to receive the coronavirus vaccine in lieu of completing court-mandated community service hours. Crifasi said: “This is my point of view: Getting vaccinated is a service to the community. […] So, if a probation candidate is inclined to get vaccinated, I will grant credit for that effort towards any requirement of community service.”
  • On Thursday, July 28, officials at Walt Disney World announced it would require guests to wear face coverings while indoors starting July 29. The theme park lifted its mask requirement on June 11.