Documenting America’s Path to Recovery #299: September 16, 2021

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

  • An extended indoor mask requirement in New Mexico
  • State employee vaccine requirements in Nevada and Wisconsin
  • 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.

Since our last edition

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

Florida (Republican trifecta): U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida Chief Judge Kevin Michael Moore, who was appointed by President George H.W. Bush (R), declined to block Gov. Ron DeSantis’ (R) executive order prohibiting school mask requirements. A group of parents of disabled children filed the lawsuit, arguing the order violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Moore said the parents should have pursued administrative remedies before filing a lawsuit.

Nevada (Democratic trifecta): On Tuesday, Sept. 14, Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) issued an order requiring state employees who work in healthcare settings or state facilities, like prisons, to provide proof of vaccination beginning Nov. 1. 

New Mexico (Democratic trifecta): On Sept. 14, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) extended the statewide indoor mask requirement for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals through at least Oct. 15.

New York (Democratic trifecta): 

  • On Sept. 15, Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) announced mask requirements for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals in several settings, such as state-regulated child care facilities and congregate facilities, such as shelter programs for homeless youth.
  • On Sept. 14, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York Judge David Hurd, a Bill Clinton (D) appointee, temporarily suspended New York’s vaccine requirement for medical workers pending litigation on whether the mandate’s lack of a religious exemption violates the Constitution.

Wisconsin (divided government): The Department of Administration announced that all executive branch employees, interns, and contractors would be required to get a COVID-19 vaccine or submit to weekly COVID-19 testing starting Oct. 18. 

Vaccine distribution

We last looked at vaccine distribution in the Sept. 14 edition of the newsletter. As of Sept. 15, 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

We last looked at school mask requirements on Sept. 9. Since then, a U.S. district court upheld Florida’s ban on school mask requirements, while a federal court temporarily blocked Iowa’s mask requirement ban. The Kentucky General Assembly voted to override Gov. Andy Beshear’s (D) veto of a law preventing the state from issuing a statewide school mask requirement. Under Kentucky’s current law, school mask requirement decisions are left to local jurisdictions.

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, states have banned state or local governments from requiring that people show proof of vaccination. Other states have assisted in 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 assisted in the creation of digital vaccination status applications. 

Since Sept. 9, one state has rolled out a vaccine status application. No state has banned proof-of-vaccination requirements.     


  • On Sept. 10, Hawaii Gov. David Ige (D) unveiled the Hawaii SMART Health card, a digital vaccination record. The application allows users to upload a digital copy of their COVID-19 vaccination card. Ige said people are not required to use the application, which is only available to those who’ve received vaccinations in Hawaii. 

Federal responses

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

  • On Sept. 14, Army Surgeon General Lt. Gen. R. Scott Dingle announced that active-duty troops would be required to get a COVID-19 vaccine by Dec. 15, 2021, while National Guard and Army Reserve members would have until June 30, 2022, to get a vaccine.
  • On Sept. 14,  U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced that foreign residents applying to immigrate to the United States will be required to get a COVID-19 vaccine as part of the immigration medical examination beginning Oct. 1, 2021.