Welcome to Documenting America’s Path to Recovery. Today we look at:
- A school vaccine requirement in Delaware
- COVID-19 booster shots in Maryland
- 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.
Arizona (Republican trifecta): On Sept. 26, Arizona Superior Court Judge Katherine Cooper ruled Arizona’s school mask requirement ban was unconstitutional and could not be enforced. The ban was scheduled to take effect on Sept. 29.
Delaware (Democratic trifecta): On Sept. 28, Gov. John Carney (D) announced a vaccine or testing requirement for teachers, staff, contractors and volunteers in K-12 public and private schools, effective Nov. 1.
Massachusetts (divided government): On Sept. 27, Commissioner of Education Jeff Riley extended the K-12 public school mask mandate through Nov. 1. The mandate applies to students, teachers, and staff. Riley announced that middle and high schools where at least 80% of students and staff are vaccinated can opt out of the mandate after Oct. 15.
Maryland (divided government): On Sept. 24, Gov. Larry Hogan (R) authorized COVID-19 booster shots for people 64 and older and people 50 to 64 with underlying medical conditions. Following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Sept. 23 announcement, Hogan also authorized booster shots on a case-by-case basis for people 18 to 49 with underlying conditions and on a case-by-case basis for frontline workers 18 to 64. Currently, only people who received Pfizer’s vaccine are eligible for boosters.
Washington (Democratic trifecta): On Sept. 27, Gov. Jay Inslee (D) updated the state employee vaccine requirement order to include on-site contractors who work with the offices of the: a) Attorney General, b) Commissioner of Public Lands and the Department of Natural Resources, c) Insurance Commissioner, d) Lieutenant Governor, and d) Superintendent of Public Instruction. Those contractors must be fully vaccinated no later than Nov. 30.
We last looked at vaccine distribution in the Sept. 23 edition of the newsletter. As of Sept. 27, the states with the highest vaccination rates as a percentage of total population (including children) were:
- Vermont (Republican governor): 78%
- Massachusetts (Republican governor): 77%
- Hawaii (Democratic governor): 77%
- Connecticut (Democratic governor): 76%
- Rhode Island (Democratic governor): 75%
The states with the lowest rates were:
- Idaho (Republican governor): 47%
- Wyoming (Republican governor): 48%
- West Virginia (Republican governor): 48%
- Mississippi (Republican governor): 50%
- North Dakota (Republican governor): 51%
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 1,894 lawsuits in 50 states dealing in some way with the COVID-19 outbreak. Court orders have been issued, or settlements have been reached, in 584 of those lawsuits.
Since Sept. 21, we have added eight lawsuits to our database. We have also tracked an additional three court orders and/or settlements.
- State Police Association of Massachusetts v. Massachusetts: On Sept. 23, a Massachusetts Superior Court judge rejected the state police union’s request to temporarily suspend Gov. Charlie Baker’s (R) COVID-19 vaccine mandate. The State Police Association of Massachusetts (SPAM) alleged the mandate violates state law because Baker failed to engage in collective bargaining with the union before issuing the order and left open no “reasonable accommodations” as alternatives to vaccination. In her order, Suffolk County Superior Court Associate Justice Jackie Cowen said suspending the mandate “would be against the public interest which the [state is] charged with protecting.” Cowen said SPAM had “not identified any irreparable harm its members may suffer if the vaccine policy is not suspended,” making suspension “unwarranted for this reason alone.” SPAM President Michael Cherven said, “It is unfortunate that the Governor and his team have chosen to mandate one of the most stringent vaccine mandates in the country with no reasonable alternatives.” Baker said: “it’s very clear to me that the fastest path back to normalcy — the fastest path back to the life everybody wants which is the one they had before the pandemic began — is to get more and more people vaccinated and to continue to build on the success we’ve had here in the Commonwealth.”
State mask requirements
We last looked at face coverings in the Sept. 21 edition of the newsletter. Since then, no changes to statewide mask requirements occurred. As of Sept. 27, masks were required in 10 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. 21, no state has ended or enacted a COVID-19 emergency order.