Welcome to Documenting America’s Path to Recovery. Today we look at:
- An executive order banning vaccine mandates in Texas
- A ruling on Oregon’s vaccine mandate for certain state employees
- 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.
Florida (Republican trifecta): On Oct. 7, the Florida Board of Education voted unanimously to withhold funding from eight school districts that issued mask mandates. The amount of funds withheld varies based on district board member salary and federal funding received.
Iowa (Republican trifecta): On Oct. 8, U.S. District Court Judge Robert Pratt granted a preliminary injunction against a state law banning mask mandates in schools. Pratt’s ruling allowed the approximately 20 districts in the state with mask mandates to keep them. The state announced it will appeal the decision.
New Hampshire (Republican trifecta): On Oct. 8, Attorney General John Formella (R) published an opinion at Gov. Chris Sununu’s (R) request regarding language included in two federal COVID-19 grants. Formella said the state is not required to adhere to any federal mandates (such as with vaccines) in order to accept $27 million in federal aid.
Texas (Republican trifecta): On Oct. 11, Gov. Greg Abbott (R) issued an executive order banning private-sector vaccine mandates. According to The Washington Post, several large companies in the state have already announced plans to comply with the federal vaccine mandate. Those companies include Southwest Airlines, AT&T, and Hewlett Packard Enterprise.
We last looked at vaccine distribution in the Oct. 7 edition of the newsletter. As of Oct. 8, the states with the highest vaccination rates as a percentage of total population (including children) were:
- Vermont (Republican governor): 78%
- Massachusetts (Republican governor): 78%
- Hawaii (Democratic governor): 77%
- Connecticut (Democratic governor): 77%
- Rhode Island (Democratic governor): 76%
The states with the lowest rates were:
- Idaho (Republican governor): 48%
- West Virginia (Republican governor): 48%
- Wyoming (Republican governor): 49%
- Mississippi (Republican governor): 51%
- North Dakota (Republican governor): 52%
Lawsuits about state actions and policies
To date, Ballotpedia has tracked 1,913 lawsuits, in 50 states, dealing in some way with the COVID-19 outbreak. Court orders have been issued, or settlements have been reached, in 595 of those lawsuits.
Since Oct. 5, we have added 16 lawsuits to our database. We have also tracked an additional eight court orders and/or settlements.
- Oregon Fraternal Order of Police v. Brown: On Oct. 7, a judge declined to suspend Oregon’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for certain state employees. At issue is Gov. Kate Brown’s (D) Executive Order No. 21-29, which mandates that all executive branch employees submit either proof of vaccination against COVID-19 or a written request for exemption on or before Oct. 18 or face termination. In their complaint, a group of Oregon State Troopers, together with police and firefighter associations, alleged the mandate violates “the Oregon Constitution’s guarantee of free expression and conflicts with the United States Constitution guarantee of equal protection, free exercise, and due process.” The plaintiffs asked the court to suspend the mandate. In his order, retired Oregon Supreme Court Justice Jack Landau, writing on behalf of the Jefferson County Circuit Court, ruled plaintiffs had not shown any “likelihood of success on the merits under any of the legal theories alleged in their complaint” and were not entitled to a temporary restraining order against the mandate. Landau also dismissed the plaintiffs’ arguments that emergency action was necessary to prevent irreparable harm. Dan Thenell, lead attorney for the plaintiffs, said, “the plaintiffs are assessing their options for moving forward.”
State mask requirements
We last looked at face coverings in the Oct. 5 edition of the newsletter. Since then, no changes to statewide mask requirements occurred. As of Oct. 12, 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
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 Oct. 5, no state has ended or enacted a COVID-19 emergency order.