TagCoronavirus

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

Documenting America’s Path to Recovery: January 15, 2021

Documenting America's Path to Recovery by Ballotpedia

The next 72 hours

What is changing in the next 72 hours?

  • Connecticut (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Ned Lamont (D) announced individuals age 75 and older can begin scheduling vaccination appointments starting Jan. 18, marking the beginning of Phase 1b. Lamont said other groups included in Phase 1b will be allowed to make appointments once the supply increases and more individuals in the 75+ age group receive vaccines. Frontline essential workers, residents and staff in congregate settings, individuals between the ages of 65 and 74, and individuals with underlying health conditions are the other groups included in Phase 1b. Previously, the state focused on vaccinating healthcare workers and nursing home residents in Phase 1a.
  • Maryland (divided government): On Thursday, Jan. 14, Gov. Larry Hogan (R) announced the state would move to Phase 1B of its vaccine distribution plan beginning Monday, Jan. 18. In Phase 1B, all residents over the age of 75 are eligible for the vaccine. Additionally, people in assisted living facilities, teachers, daycare providers, and people in correctional facilities also become eligible. 
  • Missouri (Republican trifecta): Gov. Mike Parson (R) announced Phase 1b – Tier 2 of the state’s vaccine distribution plan will start on Jan. 18. It includes individuals age 65 or older and any adult with a high-risk condition (like COPD, cancer, type 2 diabetes, or severe obesity). Phase 1b – Tier 1 started Jan. 14, making the vaccine available to first responders and public health professionals. 

Since our last edition

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

  • Alaska (divided government): Gov. Mike Dunleavy (R) extended the state’s coronavirus emergency order until Feb. 14.
  • Kentucky (divided government): Gov. Andy Beshear (D) announced a state partnership with Kroger to open regional drive-through vaccination sites starting the week of Feb. 1. The Kroger vaccination sites will provide vaccines to individuals in phases 1a, 1b, and 1c of the state’s vaccination plan. Beshear said he will announce details on participating locations and how to sign up on Jan. 28.
  • New Hampshire (Republican trifecta): On Thursday, Jan. 14, Gov. Chris Sununu (R) announced that the next phase of the state’s vaccine distribution plan will begin Jan. 26. People 65 and older will become eligible to receive the vaccine, as well as medically vulnerable people, the caregivers of medically vulnerable children, and people in correctional facilities.
     
  • New Jersey (Democratic trifecta): On Jan. 14, individuals age 65 and older and people between the ages of 16 and 64 with high-risk medical conditions (including people who smoke and individuals with type 2 diabetes, COPD, and cancer) became eligible to receive the vaccine. Previously, eligible recipients included healthcare workers, nursing home residents and staff, and first responders. Before Gov. Phil Murphy (D) expanded eligibility, individuals 75 and older and essential frontline workers were scheduled to be next in line.
  • Utah (Republican trifecta): On Thursday, Jan. 14, Gov. Spencer Cox (R) announced that Utah would continue to reserve vaccines for people age 70 and older, likely into late February. Cox said people age 65 and older would become eligible once the state had acquired a greater supply of the vaccine. 
  • Virginia (Democratic trifecta): On Thursday, Jan. 14, the Virginia Department of Education released new guidance encouraging schools to prioritize in-person learning, especially for younger students and those with disabilities.


Documenting America’s Path to Recovery: January 14, 2021

Documenting America's Path to Recovery by Ballotpedia

The next 24 hours

What is changing in the next 24 hours?

  • Montana (Republican trifecta): Gov. Greg Gianforte (R) issued an order lifting capacity limits and the 10 p.m. curfew on restaurants, bars, and casinos starting Jan. 15. Gianforte also ended the state’s 25-person gathering limit. Former Gov. Steve Bullock (D) issued the previous restrictions on Nov. 20, 2020.

Since our last edition

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

  • California (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) announced individuals age 65 and older are next in line for the coronavirus vaccine. Currently, the state is distributing vaccines to healthcare workers and nursing home residents. 
  • Indiana (Republican trifecta): On Wednesday, Jan. 13, Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) announced that people age 70 and older can now register to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. Previously, vaccines were reserved for those 80 and older.  
  • Maine (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Janet Mills (D) announced the state is expanding Phase 1a (the current phase) of the vaccine distribution plan to include first responders, corrections officers, and critical COVID-19 response personnel (like test manufacturers). Mills also said Phase 1b will be expanded to include residents age 70 and older and individuals with high-risk medical conditions, which the state will define at a later date.
  • Massachusetts (divided government): On Wednesday, Jan. 13, Gov. Charlie Baker (R) announced that employees and residents in congregate care facilities and homeless shelters, as well staff and inmates in correctional facilities, will be eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine on Jan. 18. 
  • Michigan (divided government): On Wednesday, Jan. 13, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) announced that she would ease restrictions on indoor group exercises and non-contact sports beginning Jan. 16 while leaving a ban on indoor dining in place at least through Feb. 1. The text of the new order was not immediately available. 
  • Minnesota (divided government): On Wednesday, Jan. 13, Gov. Tim Walz (D) extended the statewide coronavirus emergency an additional 30 days.  
  • New York (Democratic trifecta): New York Supreme Court Justice Henry Nowak issued a preliminary injunction allowing 90 restaurants that were part of a lawsuit against the indoor dining ban in Orange Zones to resume indoor dining at 50% capacity. The preliminary injunction is effective through Jan. 19, when Nowak will decide whether the injunction should be made permanent. New York Supreme Courts are the highest trial courts in New York State, not New York’s courts of last resort.
  • Oklahoma (Republican trifecta): On Wednesday, Jan. 13, Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) extended the statewide coronavirus emergency an additional 30 days and removed a requirement that bars and restaurants close to indoor dining at 11 p.m.
  • North Carolina (divided government): On Thursday, Jan. 14, Gov. Roy Cooper (D) said that people 65 and older would soon be eligible to receive the coronavirus vaccine. Cooper said more information would be forthcoming but did not give a time for when the new policy would take effect. 
  • West Virginia (Republican trifecta): On Wednesday, Jan. 13, Gov. Jim Justice (R) announced the state would open up COVID-19 vaccinations to people age 70 and older. 

School closures and reopenings

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

We last looked at schools in our Jan. 7 newsletter. Since then, no states have issued an order closing or reopening schools statewide. The current status of school restrictions in the states is as follows:

  • Two states (N.M., W.Va.) and Washington, D.C. had state- or district-ordered school closures.
    • 2016-17 enrollment: 695,968 students (1.38% of students nationwide)
  • Five states (Calif., Del., Hawaii, N.C., R.I.) had state-ordered regional school closures, required closures for certain grade levels, or allowed hybrid instruction only.
    • 2016-17 enrollment: 8,319,164 students (16.44% of students nationwide)
  • Four states (Ark., Fla, Iowa, Texas) had state-ordered in-person instruction.
    • 2016-17 enrollment: 9,180,918 students (18.15% of students nationwide)
  • Thirty-nine states left decisions to schools or districts.
    • 2016-17 enrollment: 32,391,809 students (64.03% of students nationwide)

Travel restrictions

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

  • Governors or state agencies in 13 states issued executive orders placing restrictions on out-of-state visitors. At least 14 of those orders have been rescinded.
    • Since Jan. 7, no states have implemented new, or modified existing, travel restrictions. 

Federal responses

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

  • On Jan. 12, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that, beginning Jan. 26, all travelers to the United States would need to present proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within three days of departure, regardless of vaccination status. Airlines will be required to verify that all passengers meet the requirement and deny boarding to those who cannot or will not present a test result.
  • On Jan. 12, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar announced the federal government was changing its vaccine distribution guidelines and recommending states expand the pool of eligible recipients to include everyone 65 and older, including people with underlying health conditions. Azar also said the federal government would begin shipping second doses to states instead of holding them in reserve. He also announced a new system for allocating vaccines to states. Instead of basing the allocation on the total adult population in a state, it will now be based on the population of people age 65 and older, as well as on how quickly states can administer vaccines.


Documenting America’s Path to Recovery: January 13, 2021

Documenting America's Path to Recovery by Ballotpedia

Since our last edition

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

  • California (Democratic trifecta): The state lifted the Greater Sacramento region’s stay-at-home order on Jan. 12, marking the first time a regional stay-at-home order has ended in California. The region’s stay-at-home order began on Dec. 10. Three of the state’s five regions still have active stay-at-home orders. Counties in the Greater Sacramento region are now subject to the state’s color-coded risk level restrictions. For more information on restrictions in each county, click here
  • Idaho (Republican trifecta): Gov. Brad Little (R) announced the state is starting its next phase of vaccine distribution. Little said teachers, school staff, and first responders would be prioritized between Jan. 13-31. The first phase included frontline healthcare workers and nursing home staff and residents. Individuals age 65 and older will be able to access the vaccine starting February 1.
  • Louisiana (divided government): Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) extended the state’s modified Phase 2 reopening until Feb. 10. The modified phase limits restaurants, retailers, gyms, personal care businesses, and movie theaters to 50% capacity. Bars must close indoor service if their parish has a positivity rate greater than 5%. Bars that are permitted to open are limited to 25% capacity. All indoor and outdoor gatherings are limited to the lesser of 25% capacity or a maximum of 75 people indoors or 150 people outdoors.
  • Massachusetts (divided government): On Tuesday, Jan. 12, Gov. Charlie Baker (R) announced that Gillette Stadium, the home of the New England Patriots, would serve as the state’s first mass vaccination site. The site is currently equipped to administer up to 300 vaccines a day to first responders. Baker said that number will increase to 5,000 per day as more individuals become eligible. 
  • New Jersey (Democratic trifecta): On Jan. 13, Gov Phil Murphy (D) announced the state will begin offering vaccines to individuals age 65 and older “effective almost immediately, within the next day or two.”
  • New York (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) expanded Phase 1b of the state’s vaccination plan to include individuals age 65 and older and immunocompromised individuals. Previously, only individuals 75 and older were eligible.
  • Oklahoma (Republican trifecta): On Tuesday, Jan. 12, Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) announced that schools enforcing social distancing and mask-wearing will not have to quarantine students who were potentially exposed to the virus but are not showing symptoms. The new policy does not apply to students who were potentially exposed during after-school activities, including sports. Previously, schools were required to enforce a two-week quarantine for students potentially exposed to COVID-19, whether or not they exhibited symptoms.  
  • Oregon (Democratic trifecta): 
    • Gov. Kate Brown (D) announced that effective Jan. 15-28, 26 counties will be in the state’s Extreme Risk level, two will be at High Risk, two will be at Moderate Risk, and six will have Lower Risk restrictions. To see restrictions in a specific county or risk level, click here
    • Brown also announced individuals age 65 and older will be included in the next phase of the state’s vaccine distribution plan, starting Jan. 23, along with childcare workers and school staff. 
  • Washington (Democratic trifecta): On Tuesday, Jan. 12, Gov. Jay Inslee (D) issued an order allowing statewide elected officials to be sworn in remotely, instead of at the Washington state capitol building. 

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 Tuesday, Jan. 12, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar announced the federal government was changing its vaccine distribution guidelines and recommending states expand the pool of eligible recipients to include everyone 65 and older, including people with underlying health conditions. Additionally, Azar said the federal government would begin shipping second doses to states instead of holding them in reserve. He also announced a new system for allocating vaccines to states. Instead of basing the allocation on the total adult population in a state, the allocation will now be based on the population of people age 65 and older, as well as on how quickly states can administer vaccines.


Documenting America’s Path to Recovery: January 12, 2021

Documenting America's Path to Recovery by Ballotpedia

The next 24 hours

What is changing in the next 24 hours?

  • South Carolina (Republican trifecta): Gov. Henry McMaster (R) announced all individuals age 70 or older can begin scheduling appointments to receive a vaccine starting Jan. 13.

Since our last edition

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

  • Maryland (divided government): On Monday, Jan. 11, Gov. Larry Hogan announced a $1 billion COVID-19 relief bill he plans to introduce in the spring legislative session. The bill includes $267 million in direct payments to low- and moderate-income residents and $180 million in tax relief for those who were laid off in the pandemic. The bill also includes sales tax credits for small businesses.
  • Massachusetts (divided government): On Monday, Jan. 11, first responders, including police officers, firefighters, and EMTs, became eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Michigan (divided government): On Monday, Jan. 11, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) sent a letter to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar requesting permission to buy 100,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine directly from Pfizer to speed up distribution. 
  • Nevada (Democratic trifecta): 
    • On Monday, Jan. 11, Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) extended statewide coronavirus restrictions an additional 30 days. Restrictions include a requirement that businesses like restaurants, bars, and casinos operate at no more than 25% capacity. 
    • On Jan. 11, Sisolak also announced the state will prioritize vaccinations for people age 70 and above. Previously, the minimum age for seniors had been 75.  
  • New York (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced all individuals in Phase 1b of the state’s vaccine distribution plan could begin scheduling appointments starting Jan. 11. Phase 1b includes individuals age 75 and older, first responders who were not included in Phase 1a, school staff, and correctional and congregate living facility staff and residents. Cuomo said the state is still prioritizing members of Phase 1a (including frontline healthcare workers and nursing home staff and residents), so individuals in Phase 1b should expect appointments up to 14 weeks out from the day they schedule an appointment.
  • West Virginia (Republican trifecta): On Monday, Jan. 11, Gov. Jim Justice (R) announced that 100% of the COVID-19 vaccine doses the state received from the federal government had been administered or were scheduled to be administered this week. 

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 1,361 lawsuits, in 50 states, dealing in some way with the COVID-19 outbreak. Court orders have been issued, or settlements have been reached, in 424 of those lawsuits. 
    • Since Jan. 5, we have added 25 lawsuits to our database. We have also tracked an additional 11 court orders and/or settlements. 

Details:

  • Chew v. Bedke: On Jan. 7, two Idaho state lawmakers sued Idaho House of Representatives Speaker Scott Bedke (R), alleging that the absence of COVID-19 safety measures at the state capitol violates the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. The plaintiffs are Reps. Sue Chew (D) and Muffy Davis (D), both of whom are at greater risk of serious danger from COVID-19 due to pre-existing medical conditions. They seek “accommodations, including remote participation and a self-contained office if the legislature leadership and Governor aren’t going to reasonably institute COVID-19 protections and control those with bad intentions who enter our Capitol.” Bedke said, “Though it’s unfortunate that negotiations have taken this turn, I will continue to move forward in good faith toward a solution workable for all members.” The case is pending in the U.S. District Court for the District of Idaho. It has been assigned to Chief Judge David C. Nye, an appointee of President Donald Trump (R).

State mask requirements

We last looked at face coverings in the Jan. 5 edition of the newsletter. Since then, no new states have adopted a statewide public mask mandate or let a face-covering requirement expire.

Diagnosed or quarantined politicians identified by Ballotpedia

Read more: Politicians, candidates, and government officials diagnosed with or quarantined due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

  • Federal
    • Two federal officials have died of COVID-19.
    • Fifty-two members of Congress have been diagnosed with COVID-19.
    • Forty-one federal officials have quarantined after possible exposure to COVID-19.
  • State
    • Eight state-level incumbents or candidates have died of COVID-19.
    • One-hundred and sixty-six state-level incumbents or candidates have been diagnosed with COVID-19
    • Eighty-four state-level incumbents or candidates have quarantined after possible exposure to COVID-19.
  • Local
    • At least five local incumbents or candidates have died of COVID-19.
    • At least 36 local incumbents or candidates have been diagnosed with COVID-19.
    • At least 26 local incumbents or candidates have quarantined after possible exposure to COVID-19.

Since Jan. 5, seven U.S. representatives, four state representatives, one state senator, and one city council member announced positive COVID-19 test results. One lieutenant governor and one mayor announced negative results. 

Details:

  • On Jan. 4, South Carolina Superintendent of Education Molly Mitchell Spearman (R) announced she tested positive for COVID-19. 
  • On Jan. 5, Pennsylvania state Rep. Summer Lee (D) announced she tested positive for COVID-19.
  • On Jan. 5, Nashville, TN, Mayor John Cooper announced he tested negative for COVID-19. 
  • On Jan. 6, Mesa, AZ, city council member Francisco Heredia announced he tested positive for COVID-19.
  • On Jan. 6, Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-Fl.) announced he tested positive for COVID-19. 
  • On Jan. 6, Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas) announced he tested positive for COVID-19. 
  • On Jan. 7, Rep. Michelle Steel (R-Calif.) announced she tested positive for COVID-19. 
  • On Jan. 7, Rep. Jacob LaTurner (R-Kan.) announced he tested positive for COVID-19.
  • On Jan. 8, Michigan state Rep. Abdullah Hammoud (D) announced he tested positive for COVID-19.  
  • On Jan. 8, Montana state Rep. David Bedey (R) announced he tested positive for COVID-19.
  • On Jan. 10, Florida state Sen. Kathleen Passidomo (R) announced she tested positive for COVID-19. 
  • On Jan. 11, Montana state Rep. Fiona Nave (R) announced she tested positive for COVID-19.
  • On Jan. 11, North Dakota Lt. Gov. Brent Sanford (R) announced he tested negative for COVID-19. His wife tested positive for the virus on Jan. 7.
  • On Jan. 11, Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) announced she tested positive for COVID-19. 
  • On Jan. 11, Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.) announced she tested positive for COVID-19. 
  • On Jan. 12, Rep. Brad Schneider (D-Ill.) announced he tested positive for COVID-19.


U.S. Small Business Administration relaunches Paycheck Protection Program

On Friday, January 8, the Small Business Administration (SBA) announced the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) would make another round of loans available to new and some existing borrowers on January 11. Congress allocated $284 billion to the program in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, which President Donald Trump (R) signed into law on December 27, 2020.

The PPP, which Congress first authorized in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act on March 27, 2020, was created to provide forgivable loans to small businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

According to the SBA, beginning January 11, the new loans will only be available to first-time borrowers working with community financial institutions, which include banks and credit unions that focus on low-income and underserved borrowers. On January 13, community financial institutions can distribute loans to qualified borrowers who received PPP money last year. The SBA said the program would open to all other qualified first or second-time borrowers shortly thereafter.

The Consolidated Appropriations Act included a $900 billion coronavirus relief package that authorized a second round of direct stimulus payments, $20 billion in funding for coronavirus testing, and $28 billion towards acquiring and distributing doses of the vaccine. It also extended some policies, such as a moratorium on evictions and federal unemployment assistance.

Additional reading:



Documenting America’s Path to Recovery: January 11, 2021

Documenting America's Path to Recovery by Ballotpedia

Since our last edition

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

  • Alabama (Republican trifecta): Gov. Kay Ivey (R) announced individuals age 75 and older and first responders (including police officers and firefighters) will be eligible to receive a vaccine starting Jan. 18. Ivey said the change was not a full expansion into Phase 1b. Phase 1a currently includes healthcare workers and long-term care residents and staff.
  • Delaware (Democratic trifecta): Gov. John Carney (D) extended the state’s stay-at-home advisory and mask requirements until further notice. Carney allowed the 10 p.m. curfew for bars and restaurants to expire on Jan. 8.
  • Florida (Republican trifecta): On Sunday, Jan. 10, Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) announced the state had opened seven new vaccine distribution centers in partnership with local churches and worship centers.
  • Iowa (Republican trifecta): On Friday, Jan. 8, Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) ended limits on the number of spectators at high school sports and recreational events. Previously, no more than two spectators were allowed per athlete.  
  • Massachusetts (divided government): On Friday, Jan. 8, Gov. Charlie Baker (R) announced a pooled testing initiative that will begin next month for school districts providing in-person and hybrid learning. The initiative will involve analyzing batches of COVID-19 test samples from individual schools on a weekly basis. If COVID-19 is not detected in the batch, then everyone in the school is presumed to be negative for the virus.
  • Minnesota (divided government): Gov. Tim Walz (D) is easing coronavirus restrictions on Jan. 11. Bars and restaurants can reopen to indoor dining at 50% capacity, and the maximum capacity at outdoor entertainment venues is increasing to 250 (or 25% capacity, whichever is less). Indoor entertainment venues, such as bowling alleys, can reopen at 25% capacity. Youth sports games can resume on Jan. 14 with spectators, so long as social distancing is enforced. Indoor private events (such as weddings) that serve food are limited to 10 people from a maximum of two households. Outdoor events are limited to three households or 15 people.
  • Pennsylvania (divided government): Gov. Tom Wolf (D) announced changes to the state’s vaccine distribution plan based on recommendations from the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. The changes included adding people aged 75 and older to Phase 1B (the next phase) of the plan and creating Phase 1C, which will include people between the ages of 65 and 74 and individuals with high-risk conditions (like COPD, cancer, and some heart conditions).
  • Utah (Republican trifecta): Effective Monday, Jan. 11, school teachers and staff, and adults 70 and older are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Gov. Spencer Cox (R) made the announcement Jan. 8. The state says it hopes to vaccinate all healthcare workers, nursing home staff and residents, first responders, tribal health frontline workers, school teachers and staff, and adults 70 and older by the end of February.
     
  • Virginia (Democratic trifecta): Effective Monday, Jan. 11, the next phase of the state’s vaccine rollout begins in 11 health districts, according to a Jan. 8 Health Department announcement. The new phase allows essential frontline workers, people age 75 and older, and people living in correctional facilities and homeless shelters to receive the vaccine.
  • Washington (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Jay Inslee’s (D) Healthy Washington plan for lifting coronavirus restrictions is effective Jan. 11. The new two-phased plan divides the state into eight regions and replaces the current county-level reopening plan. Each region begins in Phase 1, which limits capacity at gyms and prohibits indoor dining and at-home indoor gatherings with people outside the household. Phase 2 eases restrictions, which includes allowing restaurants to reopen at 50%.
  • Wyoming (Republican trifecta): Gov. Mark Gordon (R) eased coronavirus restrictions on Jan. 9. Bars and restaurants are now permitted to resume serving alcohol between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. Gyms are permitted to hold fitness classes with up to 25 people, up from 10 under the previous restrictions.


Documenting America’s Path to Recovery: January 8, 2021

Documenting America's Path to Recovery by Ballotpedia

The next 72 hours

What is changing in the next 72 hours?

  • Minnesota (divided government): Gov. Tim Walz (D) will ease coronavirus restrictions on Jan. 11. On that day, bars and restaurants can reopen to indoor dining at 50% capacity, and the maximum capacity at outdoor entertainment venues will increase to 250 (or 25% capacity, whichever is less). Indoor entertainment venues, such as bowling alleys, can reopen at 25% capacity. Youth sports games can resume on Jan. 14 with spectators, so long as social distancing is enforced. Indoor private events (such as weddings) that serve food are limited to 10 people from a maximum of two households. Outdoor events are limited to three households or 15 people. On Thursday, Jan. 7, Walz issued executive orders aimed at protecting federal COVID-19 relief payments. The first order protects those payments from garnishment for consumer debt, while the second prohibits the payments from being counted as income for federal assistance programs. 
  • Washington (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Jay Inslee’s (D) Healthy Washington plan for lifting coronavirus restrictions will go into effect Jan. 11. The new two-phased plan divides the state into eight regions and replaces the current county-level reopening plan. Each region begins in Phase 1, which limits capacity at gyms and prohibits indoor dining and at-home indoor gatherings with people outside the household. Phase 2 eases restrictions, which includes allowing restaurants to reopen at 50%.
  • Wyoming (Republican trifecta): Gov. Mark Gordon (R) will ease coronavirus restrictions on Jan. 9. Bars and restaurants will be permitted to resume serving alcohol between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. Gyms will also be permitted to hold fitness classes with up to 25 people, up from 10 under the current restrictions.

Since our last edition

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

  • Iowa (Republican trifecta): On Thursday, Jan. 7, Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) issued an order lifting spectator limits on sporting and recreational events, including high school sports. The order also extended some restrictions, such as requiring people to wear masks when social distancing isn’t possible, through Feb. 6.
  • Kansas (divided government): Gov. Laura Kelly (D) announced a finalized vaccine distribution order for the state. Healthcare workers and long-term care residents and staff are being vaccinated in Phase 1 (the current phase). In Phase 2, the vaccine will be available to individuals over the age of 65, high-contact essential workers (including police officers, grocery store workers, and school staff), and congregate care workers and residents (including in prisons and homeless shelters). Phase 3 will include individuals with state-defined high-risk pre-existing conditions (including cancer, chronic kidney disease, and type 2 diabetes) and other essential workers who cannot work remotely. Phase 4 will include individuals with state-defined lower-risk pre-existing conditions (including asthma, type 1 diabetes, and obesity). Phase 5 will include the remaining population.
  • Massachusetts (divided government): On Thursday, Jan. 7, Gov. Charlie Baker (R) extended statewide coronavirus restrictions through Jan. 24. The restrictions include capacity limits on businesses and gathering limits on indoor and outdoor events.
  • New Jersey (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Phil Murphy (D) announced firefighters and police officers are now eligible to receive the coronavirus vaccine.
  • North Dakota (Republican trifecta): On Thursday, Jan. 7, Gov. Doug Burgum (R) issued an order easing coronavirus restrictions on restaurants, bars, and gatherings. Effective Jan. 8, restaurants and bars can operate at 65% capacity, with a total limit of 200 patrons.
  • Ohio (Republican trifecta): On Thursday, Jan. 7, Gov. Mike DeWine (R) announced the second phase of Ohio’s vaccine distribution plan would begin Jan. 19, at which point the state would begin vaccinating people age 80 and older. The state will provide vaccines to school teachers on Feb. 1. 
  • South Carolina (Republican trifecta): Gov. Henry McMaster (R) extended the state’s coronavirus emergency order until Jan. 22.


Documenting America’s Path to Recovery: January 7, 2021

Documenting America's Path to Recovery by Ballotpedia

The next 24 hours

What is changing in the next 24 hours?

  • California (Democratic trifecta): The Department of Health will review the Bay Area’s regional stay-at-home order Jan. 8—the final day of the required three-week minimum length of the order. The region’s current ICU availability is 5.9%. Restrictions will remain effective until the region’s four-week projected available ICU capacity is equal to or greater than 15%.

Since our last edition

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

  • Illinois (Democratic trifecta): Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) announced Phase 1B of the state’s vaccination plan will include individuals 65 years of age and older, non-medical essential frontline workers (including first responders, school staff, and grocery store workers), and inmates. The press release did not include a target date for Phase 1B to begin.
  • Indiana (Republican trifecta): On Wednesday, Jan. 6, the Department of Health added 10 counties to the red category of its county infection map, bringing the total number of counties in the highest risk category of COVID-19 spread to 57. Red indicates that the 7-day positivity rate for tests is 15% or greater and that weekly coronavirus cases are growing at 200 or more new cases per 100,000 residents. The remaining 35 counties are classified as yellow, the next highest risk classification.
  • Minnesota (divided government): On Jan. 6, Gov. Tim Walz (D) announced he would ease coronavirus restrictions on Jan. 11. On that day, bars and restaurants can reopen to indoor dining at 50% capacity, and the maximum capacity at outdoor entertainment venues will increase to 250 (or 25% capacity, whichever is less). Indoor entertainment venues, such as bowling alleys, can reopen at 25% capacity. Youth sports games can resume on Jan. 14 with spectators, so long as social distancing is enforced. Private parties (such as weddings) that serve food are limited to two households, or 10 people, if the event is held indoors. Outdoor events are limited to 3 households or 15 people.
  • Montana (Republican trifecta): Gov. Greg Gianforte (R) announced that after healthcare workers are vaccinated, the state’s distribution plan will prioritize residents over the age of 70, individuals with preexisting conditions, and Native Americans. Previously, the plan prioritized certain frontline essential workers and individuals in congregate care and correctional facilities in Phase 1B.
  • North Carolina (divided government): On Wednesday, Jan. 6, Gov. Roy Cooper (D) extended the statewide curfew requiring people to stay at home from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. through Jan. 29. 
  • West Virginia (Republican trifecta): On Wednesday, Jan. 6, Gov. Jim Justice (R) announced operation “Save Our Wisdom.” The effort aims to vaccinate all adults aged 80 and older, as well as Pre-K-12 school faculty age 50 and older, through a series of 10 clinics that will be held later in the week in different parts of the state.  

School closures and reopenings

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

Overview:

We last looked at schools in our Dec. 17 newsletter. Since then, four states lifted partial closure orders, and two states implemented temporary full closures. The current status of school restrictions in the states is as follows:

  • Two states (N.M., W.Va.) and Washington, D.C. had state- or district-ordered school closures
    • 2016-17 enrollment: 695,968 students (1.38% of students nationwide)
  • Five states (Calif., Del., Hawaii, N.C., R.I.) had state-ordered regional school closures, required closures for certain grade levels, or allowed hybrid instruction only.
    • 2016-17 enrollment: 8,319,164 students (16.44% of students nationwide)
  • Four states (Ark., Fla, Iowa, Texas) had state-ordered in-person instruction
    • 2016-17 enrollment: 9,180,918 students (18.15% of students nationwide)
  • Thirty-nine states left decisions to schools or districts
    • 2016-17 enrollment: 32,391,809 students (64.03% of students nationwide)

Details:

  • Kentucky The state’s Healthy at School guidelines became mandatory and middle and high schools were allowed to reopen for in-person instruction on Jan. 4.
  • Michigan – Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) allowed public and private high schools to reopen starting Dec. 21.
  • New Mexico – Schools in the state are prohibited from providing in-person instruction from Jan. 4 -15 to mitigate virus spread.
  • New York – On Jan. 4, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced schools can remain open in communities with 9% or greater positivity rates if positivity among students and school staff is lower than positivity in the surrounding community. Previously, the state required schools to close in communities where the positivity rate was 9% or greater. 
  • Oregon – The state’s school reopening metrics, which previously determined when schools could open, became advisory instead of mandatory on Jan. 1.
  • West Virginia – On Dec. 30, Gov. Jim Justice (R) announced that all elementary and middle schools would reopen for full-time, in-person instruction beginning Jan. 19. Justice also announced that most high schools would reopen unless they were located in counties classified as Red (25+ cases per 100,000 people) in the Department of Health and Human Resources County Alert System. On Jan. 4, schools began a two-week period of state-ordered remote-only learning to prepare for the move to in-person instruction.

Travel restrictions

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

Overview:

  • Governors or state agencies in 13 states issued executive orders placing restrictions on out-of-state visitors. At least 14 of those orders have been rescinded.
    • Since Dec. 17, no states have implemented or modified travel restrictions. 

Details:

  • California – On Dec. 31, 2020, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health issued an order requiring anyone entering the county from outside the Southern California Region to quarantine for 10 days upon arrival. The order took effect Jan. 1, 2021, and will remain in effect until the regional stay-at-home order expires. According to the California Department of Public Health, the Southern California Region includes the following counties: Imperial, Inyo, Los Angeles, Mono, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Ventura. 

Federal responses

Read more: Federal government responses to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020-2021

  • On Jan. 6, 2021, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said the federal government would accelerate a program to allocate COVID-19 vaccines to pharmacies this week. Azar said the partnership includes 40 pharmacy chains and would allow the government to eventually distribute vaccines to around 40,000 locations.
  • On Dec. 27, 2020, President Donald Trump (R) signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act into law. The bill included the $900 billion COVID-19 relief package. 
  • On Dec. 21, 2020, the U.S. Senate and U.S. House passed the Consolidated Appropriations Act.


Documenting America’s Path to Recovery: January 6, 2021

Documenting America's Path to Recovery by Ballotpedia

Since our last edition

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

  • Arkansas (Republican trifecta): Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) added first responders to the list of individuals currently able to receive a vaccine. Hutchinson also said the second (next) phase of vaccinations would include residents over the age of 70. Previously, the state planned to vaccinate individuals over the age of 75 in the second phase.
  • Connecticut (Democratic trifecta): The state’s Allocations Subcommittee made recommendations for Phase 1B of vaccine distribution. The subcommittee recommended the vaccine should be available to school staff, essential frontline workers (including grocery store workers, police officers, and food service workers), residents over the age of 75, and individuals who live or work in prisons and homeless shelters.
  • North Carolina (divided government): On Tuesday, Jan. 5, Cooper announced he was activating about 50 National Guard members to assist in the vaccine rollout. Some of the members will be involved in logistics planning, while others will assist with physical vaccinations. 
  • Texas (Republican trifecta): On Jan. 5, Trauma Service Area Q, which includes the city of Houston and is one of several regions used by the Texas Department of Health and Human Services to assess COVID-19 spread, passed the seven-day hospitalization threshold requiring stricter restrictions. The restrictions, laid out in Gov. Greg Abbott’s (R) Oct. 7 executive order, include a ban on elective surgeries and indoor service at bars and a reduction to 50% capacity for most businesses. COVID-19 patients will need to comprise less than 15% of total hospital capacity in the region for seven consecutive days to return to the previous phase. 
  • Washington (Democratic trifecta): On Tuesday, Jan. 5, Gov. Jay Inslee (D) announced “Healthy Washington,” a new plan for lifting coronavirus restrictions that will go into effect Jan. 11. The new two-phased plan, which divides the state into eight regions, replaces the current county-level reopening plan. Each region begins in Phase 1, which limits capacity at gyms and prohibits indoor dining and at-home indoor gatherings with people outside the household. Phase 2 eases restrictions, which includes allowing restaurants to reopen at 50%.


Documenting America’s Path to Recovery: January 5, 2021

Documenting America's Path to Recovery by Ballotpedia

The next 24 hours

What is changing in the next 24 hours?

  • Indiana (Republican trifecta): On Monday, Jan. 4, Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) announced he would lift the Dec. 16 ban on non-emergency, elective surgeries effective Jan. 6. 

Since our last edition

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

  • Kentucky (divided government): 
    • Gov. Andy Beshear (D) announced a four-phase vaccine distribution outline. The state is currently in Phase 1a, which includes health care workers and residents and staff at nursing homes and assisted living facilities. 
    • The state’s Healthy at School guidelines became mandatory and middle and high schools were allowed to reopen for in-person instruction on Jan. 4. The guidelines include rules for social distancing, mask-wearing, sanitization, and other in-person activities (like food service in lunch rooms).
  • Massachusetts (divided government): On Monday, Jan. 4, Gov. Charlie Baker (R) announced that vaccinations for first responders would begin Jan. 11 as part of the first phase of the state’s vaccine distribution plan.
  • New York (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced expanded vaccine availability, effective Jan. 4. All frontline healthcare workers who provide in-person care (regardless of age) are now eligible to receive the vaccine. Home care providers, hospice workers, and nursing home workers who were not previously vaccinated under the CDC’s Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care Program are also eligible for vaccinations.
  • North Dakota (Republican trifecta): On Monday, Jan. 4, Gov. Doug Burgum (R) announced he would shift the state’s COVID-19 risk designation on Jan. 8 from high to moderate, allowing bars and restaurants to operate at up to 65% of their normal capacity. Event venues will also be permitted to operate at 50% capacity. 

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 1,336 lawsuits, in 50 states, dealing in some way with the COVID-19 outbreak. Court orders have been issued, or settlements have been reached, in 413 of those lawsuits. 
    • Since Dec. 22, we have added 18 lawsuits to our database. We have also tracked an additional six court orders and/or settlements. 

Noteworthy cases:

  • Texas v. City of Austin: On Jan. 1, the Texas Supreme Court halted Travis County and Austin restaurant restrictions. The restrictions, which took effect on New Year’s Eve, aimed to limit restaurants to take-out only over the holiday weekend. In its unsigned order, the court conditionally granted Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s (R) request, directing the Third Court of Appeals to block enforcement of the restrictions “pending final resolution of the appeal.” The decision follows defeats at both the trial and appellate levels for Paxton, who initially challenged the restrictions on Dec. 30, 2020, hoping to block their enforcement in time for New Year’s Eve. In his initial complaint in the Travis County District Court, Paxton argued that the local orders conflicted with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s (R) Executive Order GA-32, which both allows restaurants and bars to operate at reduced capacity and prohibits “any conflicting order issued by local officials in response to the COVID-19 disaster.” The trial court disagreed, and the Third Court of Appeals initially rejected Paxton’s appeal. Following the Texas Supreme Court’s ruling, Paxton thanked the court “for upholding the rule of law,” saying that the court “was right to end these oppressive, illegal city and county declarations.” Travis County Judge Andy Brown said he was disappointed by the decision “as it limits our ability to slow the spread of COVID-19 in our community.” Because the restrictions expired at 6:00 a.m. on Jan. 3, the future of the litigation is uncertain.

State mask requirements

We last looked at face coverings in the Dec. 22 edition of the newsletter. Since then, no new states have adopted a statewide public mask mandate or let a face-covering requirement expire.

Diagnosed or quarantined politicians identified by Ballotpedia

Read more: Politicians, candidates, and government officials diagnosed with or quarantined due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

  • Federal
    • Two federal officials have died of COVID-19.
    • Forty-eight members of Congress have been diagnosed with COVID-19.
    • Forty-one federal officials have quarantined after possible exposure to COVID-19.
  • State
    • Eight state-level incumbents or candidates have died of COVID-19.
    • One hundred sixty state-level incumbents or candidates have been diagnosed with COVID-19
    • Eighty-three state-level incumbents or candidates have quarantined after possible exposure to COVID-19.
  • Local
    • At least five local incumbents or candidates have died of COVID-19.
    • At least 35 local incumbents or candidates have been diagnosed with COVID-19.
    • At least 26 local incumbents or candidates have quarantined after possible exposure to COVID-19.

Since Dec. 22, four representatives, one governor, two state representatives, one state auditor, and one mayor announced positive COVID-19 test results. One senator announced a negative test result. One representative-elect and one state senator died from COVID-19. 

Details:

  • On Dec. 22, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster (R) announced he tested positive for COVID-19. 
  • On Dec. 22, Kentucky state Rep. Thomas Huff (R) announced on Facebook he was in the hospital with COVID-19. 
  • On Dec. 27, Texas state Rep. Dennis Bonnen (R) announced he tested positive for COVID-19. 
  • On Dec. 28, Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Wis.) announced she tested positive for COVID-19. 
  • On Dec. 29, Rep.-elect Luke Letlow (R-La.) died from complications related to COVID-19.
  • On Dec. 30, Birmingham, AL, Mayor Randall Woodfin’s office announced he tested positive for COVID-19. He was hospitalized Jan. 4. 
  • On Dec. 31, Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar (R-Fla.) announced she tested positive for COVID-19.
  • On Dec. 31, Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) announced he and his wife tested negative for COVID-19 after coming into contact with someone who tested positive for the virus. 
  • On Jan. 1, Virginia state Sen. Ben Chafin (R) died from complications related to COVID-19. 
  • On Jan. 1, Rep. David Valadao (R-Calif.) announced he tested positive for COVID-19. 
  • On Jan. 2, Kentucky Auditor of Public Accounts Mike Harmon (R) announced he tested positive for COVID-19. 
  • On Jan. 4, Rep. Kay Granger (R-Texas) announced she tested positive for COVID-19.


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