Documenting America’s Path to Recovery #300: September 21, 2021

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

  • The return of Nebraska’s COVID-19 dashboard
  • A vaccine mandate for childcare workers in New Jersey
  • Vaccine distribution
  • Lawsuits about state actions and policies 
  • State-level mask requirements
  • COVID-19 emergency health orders

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 Thursday? Click here.

Since our last edition

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

Nebraska (Republican trifecta): On Monday, Sept. 20, Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) issued an order allowing the state to share data on hospital bed capacity. Ricketts said he issued the order because the percent of people hospitalized with COVID-19 rose above 10% of all hospitalizations. The order allows Ricketts to restart the state’s COVID-19 dashboard.

New Jersey (Democratic trifecta): On Sept. 20, Gov. Phil Murphy (D) issued an executive order requiring childcare facility employees to be fully vaccinated against the coronavirus or receive weekly coronavirus testing by Nov. 1. The order also said that all employees, visitors, students, and children over the age of two in childcare facilities, regardless of vaccination status, are required to wear a mask.

Virginia (Democratic trifecta): On Thursday, Sept. 16, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) announced that people vaccinated in Virginia can use a QR code to prove their vaccination status. Vaccinated individuals can go to to access the QR code that, when scanned, will pull up a digital copy of their vaccination records.  

Vaccine distribution

We last looked at vaccine distribution in the Sept. 16 edition of the newsletter. As of Sept. 20, the states with the highest vaccination rates as a percentage of total population (including children) were:

The states with the lowest rates were:

Lawsuits about state actions and policies

Read more: Lawsuits about state actions and policies in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020


To date, Ballotpedia has tracked 1,886 lawsuits, in 50 states, dealing in some way with the COVID-19 outbreak. Court orders have been issued, or settlements have been reached, in 581 of those lawsuits. 

Since Sept. 14, we have added three lawsuits to our database. We have also tracked one additional court order and/or settlement. 


  • Brnovich v. Biden: On Sept. 14, Arizona’s attorney general filed the first legal challenge to Pres. Joe Biden’s (D) COVID-19 vaccine mandates for federal workers and large companies. At issue are Biden’s executive orders requiring all federal executive branch workers and all employees of contractors doing business with the federal government to be vaccinated. Also at issue is the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s development of a rule requiring employers with 100 or more employees to mandate vaccination or weekly COVID-19 testing. In his complaint, Attorney General Mark Brnovich (R) argues that Biden is unconstitutionally favoring immigrants who do not have legal permission to be in the country. Brnovich’s suit contends that “unauthorized aliens will not be subject to any vaccination requirements even when released directly into the United States (where most will remain), while roughly a hundred million U.S. citizens will be subject to unprecedented vaccination requirements.” Brnovich contends that this disparate treatment amounts to a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, suggesting that the mandates reflect “an unmistakable—and unconstitutional—brand of favoritism in favor of unauthorized aliens.” Brnovich is seeking a court judgment declaring the mandates unconstitutional and an injunction barring their enforcement. In a press statement, Brnovich said, “There can be no serious or scientific discussion about containing the spread of COVID-19 that doesn’t begin at our southern border.” The case was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona and has been assigned to Judge Michael Liburdi, an appointee of President Donald Trump (R).

State mask requirements

We last looked at face coverings in the Sept. 14 edition of the newsletter. Since then, New Mexico extended its statewide indoor mask requirement for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals, and New York announced mask requirements for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals in several settings, such as state-regulated childcare facilities and congregate facilities. As of Sept. 21, masks were required in ten states with Democratic governors. Thirteen states with Democratic governors and all 27 states with Republican governors had no state-level mask requirements in effect.

COVID-19 emergency health orders

Read more: State emergency health orders during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2021

Governors and state agencies in all 50 states issued orders declaring active emergencies in response to the coronavirus pandemic. These orders allowed officials to access resources, like stockpiles of medical goods and equipment, unavailable to them during non-emergencies and temporarily waive or suspend certain rules and regulations. 


  • COVID-19 emergency orders have expired in 24 states. Emergency orders remain active in 26 states.

Since Sept. 14, no state has ended or enacted a COVID-19 emergency order.