Welcome to Documenting America’s Path to Recovery. We’re posting this edition a day early to account for Veterans Day on Nov. 11.
Today we look at Pfizer’s request to give boosters to all American adults, extended coronavirus emergencies in Delaware and Tennessee, and other news since Nov. 4.
We’ll also give the latest tracking on:
- Lawsuits about state actions and policies
- Vaccine distribution
- State-level mask requirements
- COVID-19 emergency health orders
- School mask requirements
- State proof-of-vaccination requirements and policies
Since our last edition
What rules and restrictions are changing in each state? For a continually updated article, click here.
- On Nov. 9, Pfizer and BioNTech announced they had requested authorization from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to expand eligibility of their booster vaccination to individuals aged 18 and over. Currently, the booster is authorized for individuals aged 65 and older.
- On Nov. 8, the United States began admitting vaccinated international travelers. Air travelers to the United States are also required to show proof of a negative coronavirus test taken within three days of their flight’s departure.
- On Nov. 6, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals stayed the implementation of the Biden Administration’s vaccine requirement for companies with more than 100 employees after Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Utah filed a joint lawsuit.
South Carolina (Republican trifecta): On Nov. 4, Gov. Henry McMaster (R) issued an executive order prohibiting all state agencies in the governor’s cabinet from implementing employee vaccine requirements.
Texas (Republican trifecta): On Nov. 8, Gov. Greg Abbott (R) signed Senate Bill 8, which allocates about $16 billion in American Rescue Plan Act funding to different state programs. The bill earmarks $7.2 billion to the state’s Unemployment Compensation Fund and $500 million to broadband internet infrastructure, with smaller amounts allocated to a range of other programs.
To date, Ballotpedia has tracked 1,947 lawsuits in 50 states dealing in some way with the COVID-19 outbreak. Court orders have been issued, or settlements have been reached, in 607 of those lawsuits.
Since Nov. 4, we have added seven lawsuits to our database. We have also tracked one additional court order and/or settlement.
BST Holdings, L.L.C., et al. v. OSHA
On Nov. 6, the U. S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit temporarily blocked the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) private-sector vaccine requirement. OSHA issued guidance on Nov. 5 that all businesses with 100 or more employees require their employees to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Jan. 4th or undergo weekly testing for the virus. The temporary relief remains in effect until the court hears oral arguments in the case, which is expected to occur in the coming weeks. To date, 26 states have filed lawsuits opposing the mandate.
As of Nov. 9, the states with the highest vaccination rates as a percentage of total population (including children) were:
- Massachusetts (Republican governor): 81%
- Vermont (Republican governor): 81%
- Pennsylvania (Democratic governor): 80%
- Connecticut (Democratic governor): 80%
- Hawaii (Democratic governor): 80%
The states with the lowest rates were:
- West Virginia (Republican governor): 49%
- Idaho (Republican governor): 50%
- Wyoming (Republican governor): 52%
- Mississippi (Republican governor): 53%
- Louisiana (Democratic governor): 54%
Since Nov. 4, no changes to statewide mask requirements occurred. As of Nov. 10, masks were required in nine states with Democratic governors. Fourteen states with Democratic governors and all 27 states with Republican governors had no state-level mask requirements in effect.
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 25 states. Emergency orders remain active in 25 states.
Since Nov. 4, no states have ended their statewide COVID-19 emergencies.
Since Nov. 4, no states changed their policies related to masks in schools.
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 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.
- Five states have assisted in the creation of digital vaccination status applications or enacted orders or laws exempting vaccinated people from some restrictions.
Since Nov. 4, no states have enacted policies related to proof-of-vaccination requirements or digital vaccination status applications.
State employee and healthcare worker vaccine requirements
The Food and Drug Administration granted Emergency Use Authorization to several COVID-19 vaccines in late 2020 and early 2021. Since then, many states have required state employees and healthcare workers to get vaccinated. In some cases, states have allowed workers to opt for regular COVID-19 testing in lieu of getting a vaccine.
- Fifteen states have issued a COVID-19 vaccine requirement for healthcare workers.
- Twenty states have issued a COVID-19 vaccine requirement for state employees.
Since Nov. 4, no states have enacted policies related to state employee or healthcare worker vaccine requirements.