TagCoronavirus

Ballotpedia stories covering coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in 2020.

Documenting America’s Path to Recovery #285: July 29, 2021, 2021

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

  • A mask mandate in Nevada
  • A vaccine incentive initiative for Ohio state employees
  • Vaccine distribution
  • School closures and reopenings
  • Travel restrictions
  • State proof-of-vaccination requirements and policies
  • Federal responses
  • COVID-19 policy changes from this time last year 

We are committed to keeping you updated on the government responses to the COVID-19 pandemic affecting your daily life—from mask requirements to vaccine-related policies and beyond. To see epidemiological COVID-19 data, visit these sources: Our World in Data, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Research Center

Want to know what we covered Tuesday? Click here.

Upcoming news

What is changing in the next four days?

Nevada (Democratic trifecta): On Friday, July 30, Gov. Steve Sisolak’s (D) new mask mandate, reflecting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) recent guidance, will take effect in counties with “substantial or high transmission” of COVID-19. In those counties, vaccinated and unvaccinated people must wear masks indoors. Sisolak issued the order on July 27.

Since our last edition

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

Arizona (Republican trifecta): On July 28, Arizona Department of Health Services Director Cara Christ announced the state would adopt recent CDC guidance recommending all vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals wear masks in public indoor settings located in areas with substantial and high coronavirus transmission rates. 

Illinois (Democratic trifecta): On July 27, the Illinois Department of Public Health adopted recent CDC guidance recommending all vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals wear masks in public indoor settings located in areas with substantial and high coronavirus transmission rates.

Kentucky (divided government): On July 28, Gov. Andy Beshear (D) announced vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals must wear a mask in state buildings. The requirement applies to both employees and visitors. The requirement went into effect July 29.

Maine (Democratic trifecta): On July 28, Gov. Janet Mills (D) announced the state would follow recent CDC guidance recommending all vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals wear masks in public indoor settings located in areas with substantial and high coronavirus transmission rates.

New Jersey (Democratic trifecta): On July 28, Gov. Phil Murphy (D) and New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli recommended all vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals wear masks in public indoor settings where there is increased risk of coronavirus transmission.

Ohio (Republican trifecta): On Wednesday, July 28, Gov. Mike DeWine (R) announced a new vaccine incentive initiative for state employees. Employees who get a vaccine will receive $100, while spouses who get a vaccine will get $25. 

Vaccine distribution

We last looked at vaccine distribution in the July 27 edition of the newsletter. As of July 28, the states with the highest vaccination rates as a percentage of total population (including children) were:

The states with the lowest rates were:

School closures and reopenings

Read more: School responses to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic during the 2020-2021 academic year

We last looked at school closures and reopenings on July 22. Since then, no states changed school reopening guidelines.

Nationwide:

  • Two states (Del., Hawaii) and Washington, D.C. had state-ordered regional school closures, required closures for certain grade levels, or allowed hybrid instruction only.

2019-20 enrollment: 410,896 students (0.81% of students nationwide)

  • Thirteen states had state-ordered in-person instruction.

2019-20 enrollment: 15,697,460 students (30.96% of students nationwide)

  • One state (Ariz.) had state-ordered in-person instruction for certain grades.

2019-20 enrollment: 1,152,586 students (2.27% of students nationwide)

  • Thirty-four states left decisions to schools or districts.

2019-20 enrollment: 33,449,499 students (65.96% of students nationwide)

Travel restrictions

Read more: Travel restrictions issued by states in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview:

  • Since the start of the pandemic, governors or state agencies in 27 states and the District of Columbia issued executive orders placing restrictions on out-of-state visitors. At least 24 of those orders have been rescinded. Travel restrictions remain active in Hawaii, Kansas, and Rhode Island.

Since July 22, no state has ended or changed its travel restrictions. 

State proof-of-vaccination requirements and policies

Read more: State government policies about proof-of-vaccination (vaccine passport) requirements

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 supported 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.  

Overview:

  • Twenty states have passed legislation or issued orders prohibiting proof-of-vaccination requirements at some or all levels of government. 
  • Four states have backed the creation of digital vaccination status applications. Those applications allow fully vaccinated individuals to bypass COVID-19 restrictions in some circumstances.

Since July 22, no state has enacted a proof-of-vaccination policy. No state has enacted new digital vaccination status applications. 

Federal responses

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

  • On July 28, the Biden administration announced it would allow the CDC’s ban on evictions to expire on July 31. The CDC first implemented the ban in September, 2020, and extended it several times. On June 29, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to end the ban in a 5-4 decision, but said Congress would need to extend it beyond July 31. The Biden administration asked Congress to extend the ban. 
  • On July 27, the CDC updated its mask guidance to recommend that fully vaccinated people wear masks while indoors in parts of the country with substantial or high transmission. CDC data shows that 66.6% of counties in the United States are experiencing what CDC defines as high or substantial levels of COVID-19 spread as of July 26. Click here to view the CDC data and accompanying map. 
  • On July 27, the Department of Homeland Security announced that effective immediately, all employees must wear masks and practice social distancing, while indoors at work.
  • On July 26, the Department of Veterans Affairs announced that employees who work with patients, including doctors and nurses, must get a COVID-19 vaccine within the next two months. Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough said employees could appeal the requirement on medical or religious grounds.
  • On July 22, the Biden administration announced $1.7 million in new funding for testing and vaccine outreach. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said $1.6 billion would go toward testing in prisons and homeless shelters, while around $100 million would go toward supporting vaccine outreach in rural areas.

This time last year: Wednesday, July 29, and Friday, July 31, 2020

The first case of COVID-19 in the U.S. was confirmed on Jan. 21, 2020. But it wasn’t until March when the novel coronavirus upended life for most Americans. Throughout March and April, many states issued stay-at-home orders, closed schools, restricted travel, and changed election dates. Many of those policies remain in place today. Each week, we’ll look back at some of the defining policy responses of the early coronavirus pandemic.

Here’s what happened this time last year. To see a list of all policy changes in each category, click the links below.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

  • Stay-at-home orders and reopening plans:

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) extended Phase 3 of the state’s reopening plan through Aug. 28. Raimondo also reduced gathering limits from 25 people to 15.

Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon (R) extended three public health orders passed on June 15 regarding limits on indoor and outdoor gatherings and school reopenings. One order continued to limit indoor gatherings to 50 people and outdoor gatherings to 250 people. The school reopening order included a modification requiring teachers and students to wear masks indoors and outdoors at school when social distancing wasn’t feasible.

  • Travel restrictions:

Gov. Larry Hogan (R) issued a travel advisory asking Maryland residents to refrain from traveling to Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Nebraska, South Carolina, and Texas, where the percentage of positive test results was more than 10%. Hogan urged people who had traveled to those states to get a coronavirus test.

  • School closures and reopenings:

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R) modified her Safer At Home Order to require students in second grade or higher to wear masks at school.

Friday, July 31, 2020 

  • Stay-at-home orders and reopening plans:

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) issued an executive order placing restrictions on several counties in northern Michigan. The restrictions included capping indoor gatherings at 10 people and closing bars that derived more than 70% of their revenue from the sale of alcohol.

  • Election changes:

U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island Judge Mary McElroy approved a consent agreement between the parties in Common Cause Rhode Island v. Gorbea. Rhode Island officials agreed not to enforce witness or notary requirements for mail-in ballots in both the Sept. 8 primary and November general elections.

Pennsylvania Secretary of the Commonwealth Kathy Boockvar (D) announced that the state would provide prepaid return postage for all mail-in and absentee ballots in the Nov. 3 general election.

Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont (D) signed HB6002 into law, allowing voters to cite concern over COVID-19 as a reason for voting absentee in the Nov. 3 general election.

  • School closures and reopenings:

The Maine Department of Education released guidance for reopening schools for the 2020-2021 school year. The guidance required all staff and students aged five and older to wear masks.

South Carolina Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman announced masks would be required in all public school facilities for staff and students in grades 2-12.

Additional activity

In this section, we feature examples of other federal, state, and local government activity, private industry responses, and lawsuits related to the pandemic. 

  • In East Baton Rouge, Louisiana 19th Judicial District Court Judge Fred Crifasi allowed two individuals to receive the coronavirus vaccine in lieu of completing court-mandated community service hours. Crifasi said: “This is my point of view: Getting vaccinated is a service to the community. […] So, if a probation candidate is inclined to get vaccinated, I will grant credit for that effort towards any requirement of community service.”
  • On Thursday, July 28, officials at Walt Disney World announced it would require guests to wear face coverings while indoors starting July 29. The theme park lifted its mask requirement on June 11.


Documenting America’s Path to Recovery #284: July 27, 2021

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

  • A law banning vacproof-of-vaccination requirements in New Hampshire
  • Updated indoor masking guidance in Louisiana
  • Vaccine distribution
  • Lawsuits about state actions and policies 
  • State-level mask requirements
  • COVID-19 emergency health orders
  • COVID-19 policy changes from this time last year 

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.

California (Democratic trifecta): On Monday, July 26, the state of California announced that all state employees and healthcare workers would be required to show proof of vaccination or be tested at least once a week for COVID-19. The policy will take effect Aug. 2, for state workers, and Aug. 9, for healthcare workers. The deadline for full compliance for health care facilities is Aug. 23.

Florida (Republican trifecta): On Friday, July 23, the Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit reversed its July 17 ruling that allowed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to enforce its coronavirus restrictions on cruise lines in Florida. For cruise ships to set sail, the CDC required they mandate that 95% of passengers and 98% of crews be fully vaccinated. Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) sued the CDC in April 2021, arguing the agency overstepped its authority when it issued its four-phase plan for reopening the cruise industry. Florida Senate Bill 2006, which DeSantis signed into law on May 3, prohibits businesses from requiring proof of vaccination. On June 18, U.S. District Court Judge Steven Merryday granted Florida a preliminary injunction against the restrictions. The Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit overturned that injunction on July 17.

New Hampshire (Republican trifecta): On Friday, July 23, Gov. Chris Sununu (R) signed House Bill 220, which prohibits state and local government agencies from requiring people to provide proof of vaccination to enter public facilities or receive services. 

New York (Democratic trifecta): On Monday, July 26, New York City announced that starting mid-September all government employees will be required to provide proof of vaccination or be tested weekly for COVID-19.

Kentucky (Democratic governor): On Monday, July 26, Gov. Andy Beshear (D) recommended that school districts require all students under 12, all other unvaccinated students, and all unvaccinated adults to wear masks indoors.

Louisiana (Democratic governor): On Friday, July 23, the Louisiana Department of Health issued updated guidance recommending all residents wear face coverings indoors when six feet of physical distancing is not possible.

Vaccine distribution

We last looked at vaccine distribution in the July 22 edition of the newsletter. As of July 27, 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

Overview:

  • To date, Ballotpedia has tracked 1,834 lawsuits, in 50 states, dealing in some way with the COVID-19 outbreak. Court orders have been issued, or settlements have been reached, in 561 of those lawsuits. 

Since July 20, we have added four lawsuits to our database. We have also tracked an additional four court orders and/or settlements. 

Details:

  • Stepien v. Murphy: On July 1, a group of New Jersey public school students and parents sued state officials in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey. Plaintiffs asked the court to prohibit officials from implementing school mask mandates and “other Covid-related preventative, isolation, and segregation policies.” Plaintiffs also asked the court to bar schools from administering COVID-19 tests to students without parental consent. Plaintiffs say reimposing these COVID-19 mitigation policies would “violate the First, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution.” The plaintiffs allege mask mandates “burdens and impairs protected speech rights, inhibiting and preventing communication between students, and between students, teachers and aides.” Plaintiffs also allege mandatory nasal swab tests are “invasive and in many cases causes injury, pain, and anxiety.” The case was assigned to Judge Kevin McNulty, an appointee of Barack Obama (D).

State mask requirements

We last looked at face coverings in the July 20 edition of the newsletter. Since then, Hawaii has relaxed its outdoor face-covering requirement.

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. 

Overview: 

  • COVID-19 emergency orders have expired in 26 states. Emergency orders remain active in 24 states.
    • Since July 29, no states have ended their statewide COVID-19 emergencies. 

This time last year: Monday, July 27, and Tuesday, July 28, 2020

The first case of COVID-19 in the U.S. was confirmed on Jan. 21, 2020. But it wasn’t until March when the novel coronavirus upended life for most Americans. Throughout March and April, many states issued stay-at-home orders, closed schools, restricted travel, and changed election dates. Many of those policies remain in place today. Each week, we’ll look back at some of the defining policy responses of the early coronavirus pandemic.

Here’s what happened this time last year. To see a list of all policy changes in each category, click the links below.

Monday, July 27, 2020

  • Travel restrictions:
    • As part of Phase Two of D.C.’s reopening plan, Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) ordered non-essential travelers from “high-risk” states to self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in the city. Bowser defined “high-risk states” as areas where the seven-day moving average of daily new COVID-19 case rate was 10 or more per 100,000 people.
  • Election changes:
    • West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner (R) announced that all voters “concerned about their health and safety because of COVID-19” would be eligible to vote absentee in the Nov. 3 general election.
    • Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) issued a proclamation extending the early voting period for the Nov. 3 general election by six days. Originally scheduled to begin on Oct. 19, the proclamation moved early voting to Oct. 13.
  • Mask requirements:
    • Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) enacted a face-covering requirement. Under the order, anyone eight years or older were required to wear a mask in indoor public spaces, commercial businesses, and transportation services. Masks were also required in outdoor public spaces when social distancing was not possible. Holcomb issued the order July 24.
  • School closures and reopenings:
    • The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education signed an agreement with the state’s teachers unions to reduce the length of the 2020-2021 school year from 180 days to 170 days.
  • State court changes:
    • The Idaho Supreme Court delayed the resumption of criminal jury trials until Sept. 14 and civil jury trials until Dec. 1.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

  • Stay-at-home orders and reopening plans:
    • Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D) closed bars and limited restaurant capacity to 25% for two weeks. Beshear also asked schools to avoid reopening for in-person instruction until the third week of August. 
  • Travel restrictions:
    • Govs. Ned Lamont (D-Conn.), Phil Murphy (D-N.J.), and Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.) announced that Illinois, Kentucky Minnesota, Washington D.C., and Puerto Rico had been added to the joint travel advisory, bringing the total number of states to 37. Travelers from states on the advisory were required to quarantine for 14 days.
  • Election changes:
    • U.S. District Court for the District of New Hampshire Judge Joseph Laplante reduced the number of signatures needed to qualify Libertarian Party candidates for the ballot by 35%.
  • School closures and reopenings:
    • Vermont Gov. Phil Scott (R) announced that schools will not reopen until Sept. 8, when school districts could decide whether to return students to physical classrooms or offer distance learning. 
    • Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) ordered all public K-12 students and staff to wear a mask in school at all times. The directive also imposed social distancing guidelines of three feet for preschools through middle schools, and six feet for high schools.
    • Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) announced metrics that would guide school reopening decisions. Brown said counties must have 10 or fewer coronavirus cases per 100,000 people and a 7-day positivity rate of 5% or less for three consecutive weeks before in-person and hybrid instruction could resume. Brown also said the state must have a positivity rate of 5% or less for three consecutive weeks before any in-person or hybrid instruction could resume.
    • Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee (R) released guidelines for reopening schools. The recommendations covered testing and contact tracing, immunizations, and resources necessary for returning students to classrooms or teaching remotely.

Additional activity

In this section, we feature examples of other federal, state, and local government activity, private industry responses, and lawsuits related to the pandemic. 

  • On Monday, July 26, St. Louis, MO, enacted a mask requirement. Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt (R) has filed a lawsuit challenging the mask requirement.
  • The U.S. Veterans Administration announced that all Title 38 employees will be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 effective in eight weeks.


A look back at government responses to the coronavirus pandemic, July 27-31, 2020

Although the first case of COVID-19 in the U.S. was confirmed on Jan. 21, 2020, it wasn’t until March when the novel coronavirus upended life for most Americans. In subsequent months, states issued stay-at-home orders, closed schools, restricted travel, issued mask mandates, and changed election dates.

Here are the policy changes that happened July 27-31, 2020. To read more of our past coverage of the coronavirus pandemic, click here

Monday, July 27, 2020

  • Travel restrictions:
    • As part of Phase Two of D.C.’s reopening plan, Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) ordered non-essential travelers from high-risk states to self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in the city. Bowser defined “high-risk states” as areas where the seven-day moving average of daily new COVID-19 case rate was 10 or more per 100,000 persons.
  • Election changes:
    • West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner (R) announced that all voters “concerned about their health and safety because of COVID-19” would be eligible to vote absentee in the Nov. 3 general election.
    • Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R) issued a proclamation extending the early voting period for the Nov. 3 general election by six days. Originally scheduled to begin on Oct. 19, the proclamation moved early voting to Oct. 13.
  • Mask requirements:
    • Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb’s (R) face-covering order went into effect. The order required anyone eight or older to wear a face mask in indoor public spaces, commercial businesses, transportation services, and in outdoor public spaces when social distancing is not possible. He issued the order on July 24.
  • School closures and reopenings:
    • The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education signed an agreement with the state’s teachers unions to reduce the length of the 2020-2021 school year from 180 days to 170 days.
  • State court changes:
    • The Idaho Supreme Court delayed the resumption of criminal jury trials until Sept. 14 and civil jury trials until Dec. 1.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

  • Stay-at-home orders and reopening plans:
    • Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D) closed bars and limited restaurant capacity to 25% for two weeks. Beshear also asked schools to avoid reopening for in-person instruction until the third week of August. 
  • Travel restrictions:
    • Govs. Ned Lamont (D-Conn.), Phil Murphy (D-N.J.), and Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.) announced that Illinois, Kentucky Minnesota, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico had been added to the joint travel advisory, bringing the number of states on the list to 37.
  • Election changes:
    • U.S. District Court for the District of New Hampshire Judge Joseph Laplante ordered that nomination petition signature requirements for the Libertarian Party’s candidates in New Hampshire’s general election be reduced by 35 percent. In his ruling, Laplante said he reduced the signature requirements because the risk of contracting COVID-19 and Gov. Chris Sununu’s (R) stay-at-home order imposed a burden on the Libertarian Party’s right to access the ballot.
  • School closures and reopenings:
    • Vermont Gov. Phil Scott (R) announced that schools would not reopen until Sept. 8, when school districts could decide whether to return students to physical classrooms or offer distance learning. 
    • Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) ordered all K-12 students and staff to wear a mask in school at all times. The directive also imposed social distancing guidelines of three feet for preschools through middle schools, and six feet for high schools.
    • Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) announced metrics that would guide school reopening decisions. Brown said counties must have 10 or fewer coronavirus cases per 100,000 people and a 7-day positivity rate of 5% or less for three consecutive weeks before in-person and hybrid instruction could resume. Brown also said the state must have a positivity rate of 5% or less for three consecutive weeks before any in-person or hybrid instruction could resume.
    • Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee (R) released guidelines for reopening schools. The recommendations covered testing and contact tracing, immunizations, and resources necessary for returning students to classrooms or teaching remotely.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

  • Stay-at-home orders and reopening plans:
    • Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) extended Phase 3 of the state’s reopening plan through August 28. Raimondo also reduced gathering limits from 25 people to 15.
    • Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon (R) announced that he was extending three public health orders passed on June 15 that deal with limits on indoor and outdoor gatherings and school reopenings. The order continued to limit indoor gatherings to 50 people and outdoor gatherings to 250 people. The school reopening order included a modification requiring teachers and students to wear masks indoors and outdoors at school when social distancing wasn’t feasible.
  • Travel restrictions:
    • Gov. Larry Hogan (R) issued a travel advisory asking Maryland residents to refrain from traveling to Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Nebraska, South Carolina, and Texas, where the percentage of positive test results was over 10%. Hogan urged people who had traveled to those states to get a coronavirus test.
  • School closures and reopenings:
    • Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R) modified her Safer At Home Order to require students in second grade or higher to wear masks at school.

Friday, July 31, 2020 

  • Stay-at-home orders and reopening plans:
    • Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) issued an executive order placing restrictions on several counties in northern Michigan. The restrictions included capping indoor gatherings at 10 people and closing bars that derived more than 70% of their revenue from the sale of alcohol.
  • Election changes:
    • U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island Judge Mary McElroy approved a consent agreement reached by the parties in Common Cause Rhode Island v. Gorbea. Rhode Island officials agreed not to enforce witness or notary requirements for mail-in ballots in both the September 8 primary and November general elections.
    • Pennsylvania Secretary of the Commonwealth Kathy Boockvar (D) announced that the state would provide prepaid return postage for all mail-in and absentee ballots in the Nov. 3 general election.
    • Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont (D) signed HB6002 into law, allowing voters to cite concern over COVID-19 as a reason for voting by absentee ballot in the November 3 general election.
  • School closures and reopenings:
    • The Maine Department of Education released guidance for reopening schools for the 2020-2021 school year. The guidance required all staff and students age five and older to wear masks.
    • South Carolina Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman announced masks would be required in all public school facilities for staff and students in grades 2-12.

For the most recent coronavirus news, including the latest on vaccines and mask mandates, subscribe to our daily newsletter, Documenting America’s Path to Recovery



Documenting America’s Path to Recovery #284: July 22, 2021

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

  • The closure of four mass vaccination sites in New York
  • Updated mask guidance for schools in North Carolina and Virginia
  • Vaccine distribution
  • School closures and reopenings
  • Travel restrictions
  • State proof-of-vaccination requirements and policies
  • Federal responses
  • COVID-19 policy changes from this time last year 

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.

Upcoming news

What is changing in the next four days?

New York (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced that mass vaccination sites in Johnson City, Middletown, Queensbury, and Southampton will cease operations on July 26. The closures are part of a planned downscaling of operations first announced on June 18 after the state reported that 70% of adults had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Virginia (Democratic trifecta): On Wednesday, July 21, the Virginia Department of Health and Education released guidance for the upcoming school year. The K-12 mask mandate, which applies to both public and private schools, expires July 25, at which point local districts will decide their own mask policies. The guidance says schools should require elementary students to wear masks, but that middle and high schools should only require masks for unvaccinated students.

Since our last edition

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

Missouri (Republican trifecta): On July 21, Gov. Mike Parson (R) launched a vaccine incentive program, MO VIP. Parson said that 900 Missourians who had been vaccinated or who get vaccinated over the next three months will be eligible to receive cash or education savings account prizes worth $10,000. Drawings begin Aug. 13 and will continue every two weeks until Oct. 8.

North Carolina (divided government): On Wednesday, July 21, Gov. Roy Cooper (D) released updated guidance for school districts. The new guidance takes effect July 30, and says districts should require students in kindergarten through eighth grade to wear masks indoors. The guidance says only unvaccinated high school students should be required to wear masks indoors.  

Michigan (divided government): 

  • On Tuesday, July 20, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) vetoed House Bill 4434, which would have ended the state’s participation in federal pandemic unemployment programs. 
  • On Wednesday, July 21, the Michigan House of Representatives voted 60-48 in support of an initiative petition that repeals the Emergency Powers Act of 1945. Gov. Whitmer relied on that act to declare a COVID-19 emergency and issue subsequent restrictions, like the stay-at-home order. The Michigan Supreme Court ruled the act violated the Michigan constitution on Oct. 5, 2020. The state Senate voted to repeal the act on July 15, meaning that Whitmer cannot veto the petition. The initiative will go into effect 90 days after the legislature ends its current session.   

Washington (Democratic trifecta): On Tuesday, July 21, Gov. Jay Inslee (D) repealed two COVID-19 orders. The orders waived deadlines related to judicial protection orders, mandated that agricultural businesses implement a paid leave program for workers, and prohibited deductions for lump sum unemployment payments. 

Vaccine distribution

We last looked at vaccine distribution in the July 20 edition of the newsletter. As of July 22, the states with the highest vaccination rates as a percentage of total population (including children) were:

The states with the lowest rates were:

School closures and reopenings

Read more: School responses to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic during the 2020-2021 academic year

We last looked at school closures and reopenings on July 15. There have been no changes since then.

Nationwide:

  • Two states (Del., Hawaii) and Washington, D.C. had state-ordered regional school closures, required closures for certain grade levels, or allowed hybrid instruction only.

2019-20 enrollment: 410,896 students (0.81% of students nationwide)

  • Thirteen states had state-ordered in-person instruction.

2019-20 enrollment: 15,697,460 students (30.96% of students nationwide)

  • One state (Ariz.) had state-ordered in-person instruction for certain grades.

2019-20 enrollment: 1,152,586 students (2.27% of students nationwide)

  • Thirty-four states left decisions to schools or districts.

2019-20 enrollment: 33,449,499 students (65.96% of students nationwide)

Travel restrictions

Read more: Travel restrictions issued by states in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview:

  • Since the start of the pandemic, governors or state agencies in 27 states and the District of Columbia issued executive orders placing restrictions on out-of-state visitors. At least 24 of those orders have been rescinded. 
    • Since July 15, no state has ended or changed its travel restrictions.  

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, lawmakers have banned state or local governments from requiring that people show proof-of-vaccination. Other states have supported 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.  

Overview:

  • Twenty states have passed legislation or issued orders prohibiting proof-of-vaccination requirements at some or all levels of government. 
  • Four states have backed the creation of digital vaccination status applications. Those applications allow fully vaccinated individuals to bypass COVID-19 restrictions in some circumstances.

Since July 15, no state has enacted a proof-of-vaccination policy. No state has enacted new digital vaccination status applications. 

Federal responses

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

  • On July 20, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services extended the nationwide COVID-19 public health emergency an additional 90 days.
  • On July 21, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security extended restrictions on nonessential travel to and from Mexico and Canada through August 21.

Additional activity

In this section, we feature examples of other federal, state, and local government activity, private industry responses, and lawsuits related to the pandemic. 

  • On July 20, the Board of County Commissioners in Clark County, Nev., home to Las Vegas, approved an order requiring all employers to mandate masks for employees working in public spaces. Employees in enclosed offices or cubicles are exempted when in those areas, but must wear masks in other public spaces. The order went into effect on July 21 and will run through Aug. 18, the date of the next county commission meeting. Democrats hold all seven seats on the county commission.
  • On July 21, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot (D) announced that five states and one U.S. territory had been placed on the city’s travel restriction list. On July 19, Lightfoot reinstated travel restrictions for unvaccinated people traveling to Chicago from Arkansas and Missouri. Lightfoot added Florida, Louisiana, Nevada, and the U.S. Virgin Islands to the list. An unvaccinated person visiting Chicago from these areas must either quarantine for ten days upon arrival or report a negative COVID-19 test within three days.

This time last year: Wednesday, July 22, Thursday, July 23, and Friday, July 24, 2020

The first case of COVID-19 in the U.S. was confirmed on Jan. 21, 2020. But it wasn’t until March when the novel coronavirus upended life for most Americans. Throughout March and April, many states issued stay-at-home orders, closed schools, restricted travel, and changed election dates. Many of those policies remain in place today. Each week, we’ll look back at some of the defining policy responses of the early coronavirus pandemic.

Here’s what happened this time last year. To see a list of all policy changes in each category, click the links below.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

  • Travel restrictions:

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) issued a travel advisory that asked travelers from states reporting positive coronavirus testing rates of 15% or higher to self-quarantine for 14 days. DeWine said the advisory was not a mandate. The advisory affected Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Mississippi, Nevada, South Carolina, and Texas.

  • Federal government responses:

Pharmaceutical company Pfizer and biotechnology company BioNTech announced that they had entered into a $1.95 billion deal with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Defense to supply 100 million doses of a coronavirus vaccine to Americans by the end of 2020.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

  • Federal government responses:

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar renewed the federal public health emergency originally issued in late January. The health emergencies last for 90 days.

  • Mask requirements: 

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) signed an order requiring individuals over the age of 10 to wear face coverings in indoor, non-residential locations and outdoors when unable to practice social distancing.

  • School closures and reopenings:

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) ordered public schools to reopen for on-site learning on Aug. 17 for students who need somewhere to go during the day. Superintendent Kathy Hoffman clarified that the order meant each school district must open at least one site for students to attend, but did not have to open every school or require every teacher to work in-person.

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) announced schools will not be able to open for in-person instruction until after September 7. However, after that date, the decision to resume in-person instruction was left up to individual school districts.

Friday, July 24, 2020 

  • Travel restrictions:

The Pennsylvania Department of Health added Wyoming and Missouri to the state’s travel advisory, bringing the total number of states on the list to 20. Travelers from states on the list were advised to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.

  • Federal government responses:

A federal eviction ban expired. The ban was part of the $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act approved in March. The ban applied only to tenants in federally assisted properties.

  • Mask requirements:

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) updated the statewide mask mandate to include children five years and older. 

  • Lawsuits about state actions and policies:

The U.S. Supreme Court rejected a Nevada church’s request for permission to hold in-person services larger than those allowed under Gov. Steve Sisolak’s (D) executive order. The court split 5-4 in the decision.  

For the most recent coronavirus news, including the latest on vaccines and mask mandates, subscribe to our daily newsletter, Documenting America’s Path to Recovery.



Documenting America’s Path to Recovery #284: July 20, 2021

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

  • The latest decision in an ongoing legal battle over cruise ships in Florida 
  • A court ruling upholding a COVID-19 vaccine requirement at a university in Indiana
  • Vaccine distribution
  • Lawsuits about state actions and policies 
  • State-level mask requirements
  • COVID-19 emergency health orders
  • COVID-19 policy changes from this time last year 

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 Saturday, July 17, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit overturned a lower court order that blocked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) restrictions on the cruise industry. Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) sued the CDC in April 2021, arguing the agency overstepped its authority when it issued its four-phase plan for reopening the cruise industry. U.S. District Judge Steven Merryday granted Florida a preliminary injunction against the restrictions on June 18. 

Indiana (Republican trifecta): On Monday, July 19, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana Judge Damon Leichty upheld the University of Indiana’s vaccination requirement for the fall semester. Eight students sued the University, arguing the requirement to get a COVID-19 vaccine violated their 14th Amendment rights. According to the University policy, students who don’t get vaccinated “can see their class registration cancelled, CrimsonCard access terminated, access to IU systems (Canvas, email, etc.) terminated, and will not be allowed to participate in any on-campus activity.”

Michigan (divided government): On Thursday, July 15, the state Senate voted 20-15 to repeal the Emergency Powers of Governor Act. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) relied on the Act to declare a COVID-19 emergency and issue subsequent restrictions, like the stay-at-home order. If the House approves the initiative, Whitmer would be unable to veto it. If the House doesn’t approve the initiative, it would go on the Nov. 2022 ballot. 

Vaccine distribution

We last looked at vaccine distribution in the July 15 edition of the newsletter. As of July 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

Overview:

  • To date, Ballotpedia has tracked 1,830 lawsuits, in 50 states, dealing in some way with the COVID-19 outbreak. Court orders have been issued, or settlements have been reached, in 557 of those lawsuits. 
    • Since July 13, we have added no additional lawsuits to our database, and we have added no additional court orders and/or settlements. 

Details:

  • Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, Ltd. v. Rivkees: On July 13, Norwegian Cruise Line’s holding company sued Florida’s surgeon general, challenging the state’s ban against businesses asking for proof of COVID-19 vaccination. In the complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, the cruise line alleged federal law preempts Florida’s prohibition on proof-of-vaccination requirements. The cruise line also alleged the law is unconstitutional. The cruise line says the law, which imposes fines up to $5,000 per violation against businesses that require proof of vaccination, will force it to be “either on the wrong side of health and safety and the operative federal legal framework, or else on the wrong side of Florida law.” Norwegian says Florida’s law “blocks communications between a business and its customers, in violation of the First Amendment” and violates the due process rights of the company, its employees, and its customers. Norwegian is seeking a preliminary injunction allowing it to resume sailing with its CDC-compliant safety protocols in place and to invalidate the Florida law. The case is assigned to Judge Kathleen M. Williams, an appointee of Barack Obama (D).

State mask requirements

We last looked at face coverings in the July 13 edition of the newsletter. Since then, there have not been any updates.

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. 

Overview: 

  • COVID-19 emergency orders have expired in 25 states. Emergency orders remain active in 25 states.
  • Since July 13, no states have ended their statewide COVID-19 emergencies. 

This time last year: Monday, July 20, and Tuesday, July 21, 2020

The first case of COVID-19 in the U.S. was confirmed on Jan. 21, 2020. But it wasn’t until March when the novel coronavirus upended life for most Americans. Throughout March and April, many states issued stay-at-home orders, closed schools, restricted travel, and changed election dates. Many of those policies remain in place today. Each week, we’ll look back at some of the defining policy responses of the early coronavirus pandemic.

Here’s what happened this time last year. To see a list of all policy changes in each category, click the links below.

Monday, July 20, 2020:

  • Stay-at-home orders and reopening plans:

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) reduced the limit on gatherings in counties in Phase 3 of the state’s reopening plan from 50 people to 10. Inslee also issued a statewide ban on live music, including drive-in concerts and music in restaurants.

  • Travel restrictions:

Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont (D) announced that all incoming travelers must fill out an online travel health form before arriving. Lamont said visitors could be subject to a $1,000 fine if they fail to fill out the form or quarantine.

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D) issued a travel advisory requesting that visitors from nine states self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival. Officials said the advisory was not a requirement. The nine states in the advisory were: Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Nevada, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Texas.

  • Election changes:

Vermont Secretary of State Jim Condos (D) issued a directive that a mail-in ballot be sent automatically to every active registered voter in the Nov. 3 general election.

United States District Court for the District of Maryland Judge Richard Bennett ordered that the nomination petition signature requirement for unaffiliated candidates in Maryland be reduced by 50 percent.

  • Federal government responses:

President Donald Trump (R) announced that he would resume his daily coronavirus briefings. Trump discontinued the briefings in late April.

  • Mask requirements:

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) signed an executive order that required individuals to wear masks in public when social distancing was not possible.

  • School closures and reopenings:

The Colorado Department of Education released guidance for reopening public schools for the 2020-2021 school year. The guidelines contained separate criteria for elementary schools and secondary schools, but left decisions about start dates and remote learning to local districts.

  • State court changes:

North Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley extended emergency directives that included the suspension of jury trials for another 30 days.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

  • Travel restrictions:

Govs. Ned Lamont (D-Conn.), Phil Murphy (D-N.J.), and Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.) announced that Alaska, Delaware, Indiana, Maryland, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Nebraska, Virginia, and Washington had been added to the joint travel advisory. Travelers from those states were required to quarantine for 14 days upon entering Connecticut, New Jersey, or New York. The governors removed Minnesota from the list, bringing the total to 31 states.

Evictions and foreclosure policies:

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) extended the statewide moratorium on evictions and foreclosures an additional 60 days. The moratorium was set to expire on Oct. 17.



A look back at government responses to the coronavirus pandemic, July 20-24, 2020

Although the first case of COVID-19 in the U.S. was confirmed on Jan. 21, 2020, it wasn’t until March when the novel coronavirus upended life for most Americans. Throughout the year, states issued stay-at-home orders, closed schools, restricted travel, issued mask mandates, and changed election dates.

Here are the policy changes that happened July 20-24, 2020.

Monday, July 20, 2020

  1. Stay-at-home orders and reopening plans:
  2. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) reduced the limit on gatherings in counties in Phase 3 of the state’s reopening plan from 50 people to 10. Inslee also issued a statewide ban on live music, including drive-in concerts and in restaurants.
  3. Travel restrictions:
  4. Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont (D) announced that all incoming travelers must fill out an online travel health form before arriving. Lamont said visitors could be subject to a $1,000 fine if they fail to fill out the form or quarantine.
  5. Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D) issued a travel advisory requesting that visitors from nine states self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival. Officials said the advisory was not a requirement. The nine states in the advisory included Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Nevada, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Texas.
  6. Election changes:
  7. Vermont Secretary of State Jim Condos (D) directed the state to send mail-in ballots automatically to every active registered voter in the Nov. 3 general election.
  8. United States District Court for the District of Maryland Judge Richard Bennett ordered that the nomination petition signature requirement for unaffiliated candidates in Maryland be reduced by 50 percent.
  9. Federal government responses:
  10. President Donald Trump (R) announced that he would resume his daily coronavirus briefings. He discontinued the briefings in late April.
  11. Mask requirements:
  12. Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) signed an executive order that required individuals to wear masks in public when social distancing was not possible.
  13. School closures and reopenings:
  14. The Colorado Department of Education released guidance for reopening public schools for the 2020-2021 school year. The guidelines contained separate criteria for elementary schools and secondary schools, but left decisions about start dates and remote learning to local districts.
  15. State court changes:
  16. North Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley extended emergency directives that included the suspension of jury trials for another 30 days.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

  1. Travel restrictions:
  2. Govs. Ned Lamont (D-Conn.), Phil Murphy (D-N.J.), and Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.) announced that Alaska, Delaware, Indiana, Maryland, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Nebraska, Virginia, and Washington had been added to the joint travel advisory. Travelers from those states were required to quarantine for 14 days upon entering Connecticut, New Jersey, or New York. The governors removed Minnesota from the list, bringing the total to 31 states.

Evictions and foreclosure policies:

  1. Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) extended the statewide moratorium on evictions and foreclosures an additional 60 days. The moratorium was set to expire on Oct. 17.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

  1. Travel restrictions:
  2. Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) issued a travel advisory asking travelers from states reporting positive coronavirus testing rates of 15% or higher to self-quarantine for 14 days. DeWine said the advisory was not a mandate. The states affected by the advisory were Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Mississippi, Nevada, South Carolina, and Texas.
  3. Federal government responses:
  4. Pharmaceutical company Pfizer and biotechnology company BioNTech announced that they had entered into a $1.95 billion deal with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Defense to supply 100 million doses of a coronavirus vaccine to Americans by the end of 2020.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

  1. Federal government responses:
  2. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar renewed the federal public health emergency originally issued in late January. The emergencies lasted for 90 days.
  3. Mask requirements: 
  4. Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine signed an order requiring individuals over the age of 10 to wear face coverings in indoor non-residential locations and outdoors when unable to practice social distancing.
  5. School closures and reopenings:
  6. Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) ordered public schools to reopen for on-site learning on Aug. 17 for students who have nowhere else to go. Superintendent Kathy Hoffman clarified that the order meant each school district must open at least one site for students to go, but did not have to open every school or require every teacher to work in-person.
  7. New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) announced schools would not be able to open for in-person instruction until after Sept. 7. However, after that date, the decision to resume in-person instruction would be left up to individual districts.

Friday, July 24, 2020 

  1. Travel restrictions:
  2. The Pennsylvania Department of Health added Wyoming and Missouri to the state’s travel advisory, bringing the total number of states on the list to 20. Travelers from states on the list were advised to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.
  3. Federal government responses:
  4. A federal eviction ban created as part of the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the $2.2 trillion bill signed into law in March, expired. The ban applied only to tenants in federally assisted properties.
  5. Mask requirements:
  6. Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) updated her statewide mask mandate to include children five years and older. 
  7. Lawsuits about state actions and policies:
  8. The U.S. Supreme Court rejected a Nevada church’s request for permission to hold in-person services larger than those allowed under Gov. Steve Sisolak’s (D) executive order. The court split 5-4 in the decision, with Justices Alito, Thomas, Kavanaugh, and Gorsuch dissenting. The majority did not comment, a common practice when acting on emergency applications.

For the most recent coronavirus news, including the latest on vaccines and mask mandates, subscribe to our daily newsletter, Documenting America’s Path to Recovery



Documenting America’s Path to Recovery #283: July 15, 2021

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

  • An extended coronavirus emergency in Connecticut
  • Rhode Island announces a higher education vaccine requirement
  • Vaccine distribution
  • School closures and reopenings
  • Travel restrictions
  • State proof-of-vaccination requirements and policies
  • Federal responses
  • COVID-19 policy changes from this time last year 

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.

California (Democratic trifecta): On July 13, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) announced the passage of the California Comeback Plan. Included in the law are provisions for direct payments to California residents, and appropriations for renter assistance and small business relief programs.

Connecticut (Democratic trifecta): On July 14, the General Assembly voted to extend Gov. Ned Lamont’s (D) emergency powers through Sept. 30.The extension passed 73-56 in the House, and 19-15 in the Senate.

Rhode Island (Democratic trifecta): On July 13, Gov. Dan McKee (D) announced the state will be the first where all colleges and universities will require students to be vaccinated when returning in the fall.

Vaccine distribution

We last looked at vaccine distribution in the July 13 edition of the newsletter. As of July 14, the states with the highest vaccination rates as a percentage of total population (including children) were:

The states with the lowest rates were:

School closures and reopenings

Read more: School responses to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic during the 2020-2021 academic year

We last looked at school closures and reopenings on July 8. Since then, Illinois Superintendent of Education Carmen Ayala issued a declaration requiring in-person learning for the 2021-2022 school year.

Nationwide:

  • Two states (Del., Hawaii) and Washington, D.C. had state-ordered regional school closures, required closures for certain grade levels, or allowed hybrid instruction only.

2019-20 enrollment: 410,896 students (0.81% of students nationwide)

  • Thirteen states had state-ordered in-person instruction.

2019-20 enrollment: 15,697,460 students (30.96% of students nationwide)

  • One state (Ariz.) had state-ordered in-person instruction for certain grades.

2019-20 enrollment: 1,152,586 students (2.27% of students nationwide)

  • Thirty-four states left decisions to schools or districts.

2019-20 enrollment: 33,449,499 students (65.96% of students nationwide)

Travel restrictions

Read more: Travel restrictions issued by states in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview:

  • Since the start of the pandemic, governors or state agencies in 27 states and the District of Columbia issued executive orders placing restrictions on out-of-state visitors. At least 24 of those orders have been rescinded. 

Since July 8, one city has changed its travel restrictions.  

Details:

  • Chicago – On July 13, Chicago, Ill., added Missouri and Arkansas to its travel advisory list after both states surpassed 15 COVID-19 cases per day per 100,000 people. The advisory asks unvaccinated people traveling from Missouri or Arkansas to receive a negative COVID-19 test 72 hours before arrival or quarantine for 10 days. Between June 1 and July 13, no states met the threshold for being added to the advisory list. 

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, lawmakers have banned state or local governments from requiring that people show proof-of-vaccination. Other states have helped create digital applications—sometimes known as vaccine passports—that allow people to prove their vaccination status and, in some cases, bypass COVID-19 restrictions.  

Overview:

  • Twenty states have passed legislation or issued orders prohibiting proof-of-vaccination requirements at some or all levels of government. 
  • Four states have backed the creation of digital vaccination status applications. Those applications allow fully vaccinated individuals to bypass COVID-19 restrictions in some circumstances.

Since July 8, one state has enacted a proof-of-vaccination policy and none have enacted new digital vaccination status applications.  

Details:

  • Ohio – On Wednesday, July 14, Gov. Mike DeWine (R) signed House Bill 244, which prohibits public schools and state universities from discriminating against students, faculty, and staff who haven’t received a fully FDA-approved vaccine. The bill also prohibits those institutions from requiring students, faculty, and staff to get such a vaccine. Currently, the FDA has only granted the COVID-19 vaccines an Emergency Use Authorization, which is a step removed from full approval. 

Federal responses

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

  • On July 12, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced it would apply a new warning to Johnson & Johnson’s single dose COVID-19 vaccine after some recipients developed Guillain-Barré syndrome, a disorder that causes the immune system to attack the nerves. The FDA said it has received around 100 reports of the disorder linked to the vaccine. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Advisory Committee is scheduled to investigate the reports on July 15 to determine if a causal relationship exists between the vaccine and disorder. At the time the FDA announced the warning, around 12.8 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine had been administered in the United States.

This time last year: July 15-17, 2020

The first case of COVID-19 in the U.S. was confirmed on Jan. 21, 2020. But it wasn’t until March when the novel coronavirus upended life for most Americans. Throughout March and April, many states issued stay-at-home orders, closed schools, restricted travel, and changed election dates. Many of those policies remain in place today. Each week, we’ll look back at some of the defining policy responses of the early coronavirus pandemic.

Here’s what happened this time last year. To see a list of all policy changes in each category, click the links below.

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

  • Election changes:

United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia Judge John A. Gibney reduced petition signature requirements for unaffiliated and minor-party candidates for federal office in Virginia as follows: 2,500 signatures for presidential candidates; 3,500 signatures for U.S. Senate candidates; and 350 signatures for U.S. House candidates. Gibney extended the filing deadline for unaffiliated and minor-party congressional candidates to Aug. 1.

  • Mask requirements

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock (D) announced a statewide mask order requiring individuals to wear masks inside certain businesses and at outdoor gatherings of greater than 50 people where social distancing was not possible.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) expanded the statewide face-covering mandate to require masks in outdoor public spaces when six-foot distancing could not be maintained.

Thursday, July 16, 2020

  • Mask requirements: 

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R) issued a mask order that required face coverings in public when social distancing with non-household members could not be kept.

  • Federal government responses:

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf announced on Twitter that the Department of Homeland Security would extend its prohibition on nonessential travel with Canada and Mexico through Aug. 20.

  • State court changes:

North Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley announced she was maintaining the pause on jury trials through the end of September. Beasley also announced that masks would be required in courthouses until further notice.

  • Eviction and foreclosure policies:

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) allowed the statewide moratorium on evictions to expire. She first issued the moratorium on March 20.

Friday, July 17, 2020 

  • Election changes:

United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas Judge Lynn Hughes ruled the Republican Party of Texas could proceed as planned with its-person state convention, overturning Houston officials’ July 8 cancellation of the event.

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu (R) signed HB1266 into law, which formally established concern over COVID-19 as a valid reason for voting absentee in the Sept. 8 primary and Nov. 3 general elections. The legislation also temporarily allowed voters to submit one absentee ballot application for both elections.

Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate (R) announced that absentee ballot application forms would be sent automatically to all active registered voters in the Nov. 3 general election.

Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill (R) issued an emergency rule allowing any qualified voter to cast an absentee ballot in the Nov. 3 general election.

  • Mask requirements: 

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) issued a mask mandate requiring individuals older than 10 to wear a mask inside buildings that are open to the public.

  • School closures and reopenings:

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) announced that counties on the state’s coronavirus watch list would begin the public school year with online education only. At the time of the announcement, 33 of the state’s 58 counties were on the watch list. 

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) ordered that students in public and accredited nonpublic schools spend at least half of their schooling in-person. Reynolds said districts could seek waivers to the requirement from the state Department of Education.



Documenting America’s Path to Recovery #282: July 13, 2021

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

  • Court rulings in Maryland and Indiana requiring those states to resume participating in federal pandemic unemployment programs 
  • In-person education at K-12 schools in Illinois 
  • Vaccine distribution
  • Lawsuits about state actions and policies 
  • State-level mask requirements
  • COVID-19 emergency health orders
  • COVID-19 policy changes from this time last year 

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): The state stopped participating in pandemic-related federal unemployment benefit programs on July 10. Gov. Doug Ducey (R) made the announcement May 13.

Colorado (Democratic trifecta): On July 8, Gov. Jared Polis (D) ended the coronavirus health emergency order. Polis also signed executive order focused on measures meant to help Colorado recover from the coronavirus.

Delaware (Democratic trifecta): The coronavirus state of emergency ended July 12. Gov. John Carney (D) signed an executive order setting the date for the emergency’s end on June 15.

Illinois (Democratic trifecta): On July 9, state Superintendent of Education Carmen Ayala issued a declaration requiring in-person learning for the 2021-2022 school year. Remote instruction will be available to students who are unable to receive a coronavirus vaccine.

Indiana (Republican trifecta): On Monday, July 12, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled the state must comply with Superior Court Judge John Hanley’s June 25 emergency order to resume participation in federal pandemic unemployment programs. Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) ended the state’s participation in those programs on June 19. 

Maryland (divided government): On Tuesday, July 13, Baltimore Circuit Court Judge Lawrence Fletcher-Hill ruled the state must continue participating in federal pandemic unemployment programs. Gov. Larry Hogan (R) ended participation in those programs on July 3. The programs are scheduled to end in September. Hogan said he would not challenge the ruling. 

Rhode Island (Democratic trifecta): On July 6, Gov. Dan McKee (D) signed an executive order ending the statewide mask requirement for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals.

Vaccine distribution

We last looked at vaccine distribution in the July 8 edition of the newsletter. As of July 12, 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

Overview:

  • To date, Ballotpedia has tracked 1,830 lawsuits, in 50 states, dealing in some way with the COVID-19 outbreak. Court orders have been issued, or settlements have been reached, in 557 of those lawsuits. 
    • Since July 6, we have added five lawsuits to our database. We have also tracked an additional two court orders and/or settlements. 

Details:

  • Slidewaters LLC v. Washington State Department of Labor and Industries: On July 8, the U.S Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled against a water park that had sued over Washington Gov. Jay Inslee’s (D) COVID-19 restrictions. The water park had attempted to remain open in violation of Inslee’s capacity restrictions and business closure orders. Slidewaters sued, alleging Inslee and the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries lacked authority to issue and enforce temporary emergency rules during the pandemic, and that their actions were unconstitutional violations of due process. Chief Judge Thomas Rice, of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington, denied Slidewaters’ motion for an injunction, ruling that the infringement of civil liberties was “justified by the ongoing public health emergency caused by COVID-19.” On July 15, 2020, Slidewaters appealed that decision to the Ninth Circuit. The Ninth Circuit affirmed Rice’s decision and dismissed the case. Judge Richard R. Clifton, writing for a unanimous three-judge panel, said, “Defendants have the authority under Washington law to impose the restrictions and … doing so does not violate Slidewaters’ asserted rights under the U.S. Constitution.” The Ninth Circuit ruled the state’s actions were rationally connected to the legitimate state interest of mitigating the spread of COVID-19. Neither party has issued a statement on the decision. Clifton is an appointee of President George W. Bush (R).

State mask requirements

We last looked at face coverings in the July 6 edition of the newsletter. Since then, a statewide mask order expired in Rhode Island.

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. 

Overview: 

  • COVID-19 emergency orders have expired in 25 states. Emergency orders remain active in 27 states.
  • Since July 6, three states have ended their statewide COVID-19 emergencies. 

Details:

  • On July 13, Delaware Gov. John Carney (D) ended the statewide COVID-19 state of emergency. 
  • On July 8, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) ended the statewide COVID-19 health emergency.
  • On July 6, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R) terminated the statewide COVID-19 emergency.

This time last year: Monday, July 13, and Tuesday, July 14, 2020

The first case of COVID-19 in the U.S. was confirmed on Jan. 21, 2020. But it wasn’t until March when the novel coronavirus upended life for most Americans. Throughout March and April, many states issued stay-at-home orders, closed schools, restricted travel, and changed election dates. Many of those policies remain in place today. Each week, we’ll look back at some of the defining policy responses of the early coronavirus pandemic.

Here’s what happened this time last year. To see a list of all policy changes in each category, click the links below.

Monday, July 13, 2020:

  • Stay-at-home orders and reopening plans:
    • New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) reimposed some coronavirus restrictions due to increasing coronavirus cases, including prohibiting indoor dining at bars and restaurants. Indoor dining had been permitted since June 1. State parks were closed to out-of-state visitors and visitors who could not prove their residency. The state’s mask requirement expanded to include anyone exercising in a public space.
  • Travel restrictions:
    • Hawaii Gov. David Ige (D) extended the quarantine requirement for out-of-state travelers through Sept. 1. Previously, Ige said a new program would take effect Aug. 1 that would allow visitors to present a negative coronavirus test to avoid the quarantine requirement. That program would not start until Oct. 15.
  • Mask requirements:
    • Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) issued an executive proclamation establishing a statewide face-covering requirement in any indoor or outdoor public space. The order exempted children under the age of eight, as well as individuals with medical conditions preventing them from wearing face coverings. The order also allowed parishes to opt out if they maintained a COVID-19 incidence rate of fewer than 100 cases per 100,000 people for the previous two weeks.
  • State court changes:
    • Iowa courtrooms reopened to in-person proceedings with restrictions. Social distancing of at least six feet was required. The state set a goal of resuming jury trials on Sept. 14.

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

  • Stay-at-home orders and reopening plans:
    • North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D) announced the state would remain in Phase Two of reopening until Aug. 7. Previously, the state had been scheduled to enter Phase Three on July 17. 
    • West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (R) reduced the statewide limit on gatherings from 100 people to 25. Justice also announced that bars in Monongalia County would also be closed for 10 days in response to rising coronavirus cases.
  • Travel restrictions:
    • Govs. Ned Lamont (D-Conn.), Phil Murphy (D-N.J.), and Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.) announced that New Mexico, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Minnesota had been added to the joint travel advisory originally announced June 24, requiring travelers from those states to self-quarantine for 14 days upon arriving in the tristate area. 
  • Election changes:
    • Vermont Secretary of State Jim Condos (D) announced the state would send mail-in ballot request forms to all eligible voters in the Aug. 11 primary election.


A look back at government responses to the coronavirus pandemic, July 13-17, 2020

Although the first case of COVID-19 in the U.S. was confirmed on Jan. 21, 2020, it wasn’t until March when the novel coronavirus upended life for most Americans. Throughout the year, states issued stay-at-home orders, closed schools, restricted travel, issued mask mandates, and changed election dates.

Here are the policy changes that happened July 13-17, 2020. To read more of our past coverage of the coronavirus pandemic, click here

Monday, July 13, 2020

  • Stay-at-home orders and reopening plans:
    • New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) reimposed some coronavirus restrictions due to increasing coronavirus cases, including once again prohibiting indoor dining at bars and restaurants. Indoor dining had been permitted since June 1. The state also closed state parks to out-of-state visitors and visitors who cannot prove their residency. The state’s mask requirement expanded to include anyone exercising in a public space.
  • Travel restrictions:
    • Hawaii Gov. David Ige (D) announced he was extending the quarantine requirement for out-of-state travelers through Sept. 1. Previously, Ige had said a new program would take effect Aug. 1 that would allow visitors to avoid the quarantine requirement by presenting a negative coronavirus test. The program would not start until Oct. 15.
  • Mask requirements:
    • Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) issued an executive proclamation establishing a statewide face-covering requirement in any indoor or outdoor public space. The order exempted children under the age of eight, as well as individuals with medical conditions preventing them from wearing face coverings, and allowed parishes to opt out if they maintained a COVID-19 incidence rate of fewer than 100 cases per 100,000 people for the previous two weeks.
  • State court changes:
    • Iowa courtrooms reopened to in-person proceedings with restrictions. Social distancing of at least six feet was required. The state set a goal of resuming jury trials on Sept. 14.

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

  • Stay-at-home orders and reopening plans:
    • North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D) announced that the state would remain in Phase Two of reopening until Aug. 7. Previously, the state had been scheduled to enter Phase Three on July 17. 
    • West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (R) reduced the statewide limit on gatherings from 100 people to 25. He also announced that bars in Monongalia County will also be closed for 10 days in response to rising coronavirus cases.
  • Travel restrictions:
    • Govs. Ned Lamont (D-Conn.), Phil Murphy (D-N.J.), and Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.) announced that New Mexico, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Minnesota had been added to the joint travel advisory originally announced June 24, requiring travelers from those states to self-quarantine for 14 days upon arriving in the tristate area. 
  • Election changes:
    • Vermont Secretary of State Jim Condos (D) announced that the state would send mail-in ballot request forms to all eligible voters in the Aug. 11 primary election.

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

  • Election changes:
    • United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia Judge John A. Gibney reduced petition signature requirements for unaffiliated and minor-party candidates for federal office in Virginia as follows: 2,500 signatures for presidential candidates; 3,500 signatures for U.S. Senate candidates; and 350 signatures for U.S. House candidates. He extended the filing deadline for unaffiliated and minor-party congressional candidates to Aug. 1.
  • Mask requirements
    • Montana Gov. Steve Bullock (D) announced a statewide mask order requiring individuals to wear masks inside certain businesses and at outdoor gatherings of greater than 50 people where social distancing was not possible.
    • Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) expanded the statewide face-covering mandate to require masks in outdoor public spaces when six-foot distancing could not be maintained.

Thursday, July 16, 2020

  • Mask requirements: 
    • Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R) issued a mask order that required face coverings in public when social distancing with non-household members could not be kept.
  • Federal government responses:
    • Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf announced on Twitter that the Department of Homeland Security would extend its prohibition on nonessential travel with Canada and Mexico through Aug. 20.
  • State court changes:
    • North Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley announced she was maintaining the pause on jury trials through the end of September. She also announced that masks would be required in courthouses going forward.
  • Eviction and foreclosure policies:
    • Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) allowed the statewide moratorium on evictions to expire. She first issued the moratorium on March 20.

Friday, July 17, 2020 

  • Election changes:
    • United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas Judge Lynn Hughes ruled the Republican Party of Texas could proceed as planned with its in-person state convention, overturning the cancellation issued by Houston officials on July 8.
    • New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu (R) signed HB1266 into law, which formally established concern over COVID-19 as a valid reason for voting absentee in both the September 8 primary and November 3 general elections. The legislation also temporarily allowed voters to submit one absentee ballot application for both elections.
    • Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate (R) announced that absentee ballot application forms would be sent automatically to all active registered voters in the November 3 general election.
    • Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill (R) issued an emergency rule allowing any qualified voter to cast an absentee ballot in the November 3 general election.
  • Mask requirements: 
    • Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) issued a mask mandate requiring individuals older than 10 to wear a mask inside buildings that are open to the public.
  • School closures and reopenings:
    • California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) announced that counties on the state’s coronavirus watch list would begin the public school year with online education only. At the time of the announcement, 33 of the state’s 58 counties were on the watch list. 
    • Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) ordered that students in public and accredited nonpublic schools spend at least half of their schooling in-person. She said districts could seek waivers to the requirement from the state Department of Education. 

For the most recent coronavirus news, including the latest on vaccines and mask mandates, subscribe to our daily newsletter, Documenting America’s Path to Recovery



Documenting America’s Path to Recovery #281: July 8, 2021

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

  • Changes in coronavirus restrictions in Hawaii
  • Legislation in Missouri protecting organizations from COVID-19 liability
  • Vaccine distribution
  • School closures and reopenings
  • Travel restrictions
  • State proof-of-vaccination requirements and policies
  • Federal responses
  • COVID-19 policy changes from this time last year 

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.

Upcoming news

What is changing in the next five days?

Arizona (Republican trifecta): The state will stop participating in pandemic-related federal unemployment benefit programs starting July 10. Gov. Doug Ducey (R) made the announcement May 13.

Since our last edition

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

Alabama (Republican trifecta): On July 6, Gov. Kay Ivey (R) ended the coronavirus state of emergency.

Hawaii (Democratic trifecta): On July 8, restaurant capacity was expanded to 75% and social gathering limits were increased to 25 individuals indoors and 75 individuals outdoors. Gov. David Ige (D) announced on June 7 that these restriction changes would take effect when the state reached a 60% vaccination rate. 

Illinois (Democratic trifecta): On July 7, Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) announced vaccination incentives for frontline state employees. Employees who have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine can enter a lottery to win cash bonuses, airline vouchers, sports tickets, lifetime fishing and hunting licenses, and passes to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum and the State Fair.

Michigan (divided government): On Wednesday, July 7, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) signed an education funding bill that includes $4.4 billion in federal COVID-19 relief. The $17 billion bill increases per-pupil funding in public and charter schools. 

Missouri (Republican trifecta): On July 7, Gov. Mike Parson (R) signed SB51 into law, which protects healthcare providers, businesses, religious organizations, and other entities from civil liability related to the coronavirus.

Rhode Island (Democratic trifecta): On July 6, Gov. Dan McKee (D) announced a vaccination incentive fund that will distribute seventy-five $10,000 grants to nonprofit organizations. Lotteries for the grants will be held for every 5,000 vaccines administered to residents. 

Vaccine distribution

We last looked at vaccine distribution in the July 6 edition of the newsletter. As of July 7, the states with the highest vaccination rates as a percentage of total population (including children) were:

The states with the lowest rates were:

School closures and reopenings

Read more: School responses to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic during the 2020-2021 academic year

We last looked at school closures and reopenings on July 1. Since then, no states have changed school reopening guidelines.

Nationwide:

  • Two states (Del., Hawaii) and Washington, D.C. had state-ordered regional school closures, required closures for certain grade levels, or allowed hybrid instruction only.
    • 2019-20 enrollment: 410,896 students (0.81% of students nationwide)
  • Thirteen states had state-ordered in-person instruction.
    • 2019-20 enrollment: 15,697,460 students (30.96% of students nationwide)
  • One state (Ariz.) had state-ordered in-person instruction for certain grades.
    • 2019-20 enrollment: 1,152,586 students (2.27% of students nationwide)
  • Thirty-four states left decisions to schools or districts.
    • 2019-20 enrollment: 33,449,499 students (65.96% of students nationwide)

Travel restrictions

Read more: Travel restrictions issued by states in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview:

  • Since the start of the pandemic, governors or state agencies in 27 states and the District of Columbia issued executive orders placing restrictions on out-of-state visitors. At least 24 of those orders have been rescinded. 
    • Since July 1, one state has announced changes to its travel restrictions.   

Details:

  • Hawaii – Effective July 8, fully vaccinated out-of-state travelers can bypass the requirement to quarantine for 10 days or provide a negative COVID-19 test. Previously, only travelers fully vaccinated in the state of Hawaii could bypass the restrictions. 

State proof-of-vaccination requirements and policies
Read more: State government policies about proof-of-vaccination (vaccine passport) requirements

States have adopted various rules regarding proof of vaccination. Some have enacted bans preventing government entities from requiring people to demonstrate proof of vaccination. Others are working on technology that would allow people to demonstrate their vaccine status.  

Overview:

  • Nineteen states have passed legislation or issued orders prohibiting proof-of-vaccination requirements at some or all levels of government. 
  • Four states have backed the creation of digital vaccination status applications. Those applications allow fully vaccinated individuals to bypass COVID-19 restrictions in some circumstances.
    • Since July 1, no states have enacted policies related to proof-of-vaccination requirements or digital vaccination status applications.  

Federal responses

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

  •  President Joe Biden (D) discussed new steps his administration would take to raise vaccination rates and combat the Delta variant, including effort to get people vaccinated through door-to-door community outreach. Biden said he would send federal teams to places with low vaccination rates to help local officials with contact tracing.

This time last year: Wednesday, July 8 and Thursday, July 9, 2020

The first case of COVID-19 in the U.S. was confirmed on Jan. 21, 2020. But it wasn’t until March when the novel coronavirus upended life for most Americans. Throughout March and April, many states issued stay-at-home orders, closed schools, restricted travel, and changed election dates. Many of those policies remain in place today. Each week, we’ll look back at some of the defining policy responses of the early coronavirus pandemic.

Here’s what happened this time last year. To see a list of all policy changes in each category, click the links below.

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

  • Stay-at-home orders and reopening plans:
    • Long Island, New York, entered Phase IV of the state’s reopening plan. 
  • Election changes:
    • Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner announced the cancellation of the Republican Party of Texas convention. The convention had been scheduled for July 16-18 at the George R. Brown Convention Center.
    • The South Carolina Election Commission announced that return postage for all mailed absentee ballots in the Nov. 3 general election would be prepaid.
    • Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves (R) signed HB1521 into law. The legislation extended the postmark deadline for absentee ballots to Nov. 3 and the receipt deadline to Nov. 10. The legislation also allowed individuals in physician-ordered quarantine or providing care for a dependant due to COVID-19 to vote absentee.
    • Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) ordered the state board of elections to send absentee/mail-in ballot request forms to all qualified voters in the Nov. 3 general election.
    • United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia Judge Eleanor L. Ross issued an order in Cooper v. Raffensperger reducing the petition signature requirement for independent and minor-party candidates in Georgia to 70% of their original numbers.
  • Mask requirements
    • New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) signed an executive order requiring individuals to wear face masks outdoors when social distancing is not possible. 
  • School closures and reopenings:
    • West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (R) announced Sept. 8 as a target date for reopening schools.

Thursday, July 9, 2020

  • Stay-at-home orders and reopening plans:
    • Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) issued a proclamation suspending elective surgeries in hospitals in 11 of the state’s 22 trauma service areas. The proclamation was aimed at expanding hospital capacity to deal with a surge in coronavirus cases.
  • Mask requirements: 
    • Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves (R) issued an executive order requiring individuals in certain counties to wear face masks in public. The order applied to counties with 200 new cases in the past 14 days or with an average of 500 cases per 100,000 residents in the same period.
  • Election changes:
    • Texas 80th District Court Judge Larry Weiman rejected requests from both the Republican Party of Texas and Steve Hotze, a Houston Republican, to bar Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner from canceling the state Republican party convention, originally scheduled for July 16-18.
  • School closures and reopenings:
    • Utah Gov. Gary Herbert (R) announced that when K-12 schools reopen, all students, faculty, staff, and visitors would be required to wear masks in buildings and on buses.