Documenting America’s Path to Recovery #291: August 19, 2021

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

  • A proof-of-vaccination requirement at large events in California
  • A COVID-19 vaccine requirement for teachers in Washington
  • Vaccine distribution
  • School mask requirements
  • State proof-of-vaccination requirements and policies
  • Federal responses

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 four days?

Washington (Democratic trifecta): On Wednesday, Aug. 18, Gov. Jay Inslee (D) announced that vaccinated and unvaccinated people would be required to wear masks indoors in most circumstances beginning Aug. 23. The requirement does not apply to small gatherings or office environments where everyone is vaccinated and interaction with the public is rare, or while working alone. Additionally, Inslee announced that all public and private K-12 educators, staff, and volunteers would be required to be fully vaccinated by Oct. 18.   

Since our last edition

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

Arizona (Republican trifecta): On Aug. 16, Gov. Doug Ducey (R) said he would withhold school grants taken from federal coronavirus relief funds from schools that implemented mask requirements.

California (Democratic trifecta): On Aug. 18, the California Department of Health announced that proof of coronavirus vaccination or a negative coronavirus test would be required for attendees at indoor gatherings of more than 1,000 individuals.

Florida (Republican trifecta): On Wednesday, Aug. 18, the Miami-Dade County Public Schools board voted 7-1 to approve a mask mandate for students, teachers, and staff. On July 30, Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) issued an order allowing parents to decide if their children wear masks at school. Miami-Dade is the largest school district in Florida.  

Indiana (Republican trifecta): On Tuesday, Aug. 17, Indiana Court of Appeals Judge James Kirsch overturned a trial court ruling that blocked Gov. Eric Holcomb’s (R) attempt to end the state’s participation in federal pandemic unemployment programs. Holcomb pulled out of those programs on June 19, but Marion Superior Court Judge John Haley ordered the state to resume paying pandemic unemployment on June 28. The federal programs are scheduled to end Sept. 4 unless Congress extends them. 

Maryland (divided government): On Wednesday, Aug. 18, Gov. Larry Hogan (R) announced he would require nursing home staff and healthcare workers to get a COVID-19 vaccine or undergo weekly testing. 

New Mexico (Democratic trifecta): On Aug. 17, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) announced the state will re-implement an indoor mask requirement for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals, effective Aug. 20. Lujan Grisham also announced a separate public health order requiring all workers in hospitals and congregate care facilities, like nursing homes, to be vaccinated against the coronavirus.

Vaccine distribution

Read more: Coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine distribution by state

We last looked at vaccine distribution in the Aug. 17 edition of the newsletter. As of Aug. 18, the states with the highest vaccination rates as a percentage of total population (including children) were:

The states with the lowest rates were:

School mask requirements

Read more: School responses to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic during the 2021-2022 academic year

As of Aug. 19, 30 states leave school mask requirements up to local authorities, seven states ban school mask requirements, and thirteen states require masks in schools. Recent developments include the temporary suspension of a school mask requirement ban in Arizona, a Texas Supreme Court ruling upholding the state’s school mask requirement ban, and Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee (R)’s order mandating parental choice in school masking.

State proof-of-vaccination requirements and policies

Read more: State government policies about vaccine requirements (vaccine passports)

As COVID-19 vaccination rates have increased, 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 assisted in creating 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 assisted in the creation of digital vaccination status applications.
  • Fourteen states have issued requirements that some or all state employees get vaccinated or undergo regular testing.  

Since Aug. 12, one state has announced a state employee vaccine requirement.  


  • On Aug. 12, Delaware Gov. John Carney (D) announced that state employees would be required to provide proof of vaccination or undergo weekly COVID-19 testing beginning Sept. 30.

Federal responses

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

  • On Aug. 18, President Joe Biden (D) announced a plan to offer a third COVID-19 vaccine shot to Americans beginning Sept. 20, pending Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval. Biden said the third shot would only be available to people eight months after their second shot. 
  • On Aug. 18, President Biden (D) directed the U.S. Department of Education (DoE) to determine if governors or other officials are providing K-12 public school students the opportunity to participate in in-person instruction. Biden authorized Education Secretary Miguel Cardona to look into tools the DoE can use to ensure students can safely be in the classroom. Cardona said the DoE may use its Office for Civil Rights to investigate discrimination allegations against schools or officials prohibiting students from getting in-person instruction.
  • On Aug. 13, U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia Judge Dabney Friedrich rejected a lawsuit challenging the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) evictions moratorium. Friedrich said she did not have the authority to block the moratorium because of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit’s earlier ruling on the CDC’s moratorium.
  • On Aug. 13, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D) authorized members to continue proxy voting through Oct. 1. Proxy voting allows members to vote on legislation and participate in committee meetings remotely.