TagCoronavirus

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

Documenting America’s Path to Recovery #296: September 7, 2021

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

  • Changes in coronavirus restrictions in Nevada
  • An extended vaccine incentive initiative in Wisconsin
  • Vaccine distribution
  • Lawsuits about state actions and policies 
  • State-level mask requirements
  • COVID-19 emergency health orders

We are committed to keeping you updated on everything from mask requirements to vaccine-related policies. We will keep you abreast of major developments—especially those affecting your daily life. Want to know what we covered Thursday? Click here.

Since our last edition

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

Colorado (Democratic trifecta):

  • On Sept. 4, Gov. Jared Polis (D) extended a coronavirus executive order that gives tenants with pending applications for rental assistance 30 days to make late rent payments.
  • On Sept. 2, Polis (D) announced that primary care providers can receive grant funding to support coronavirus vaccination efforts. Polis also announced a testing incentive program for students in Colorado. Students who have opted in to the testing program can receive a $25 gift card for their first coronavirus test, and a $10 gift card for each subsequent test.

Connecticut (Democratic trifecta): On Sept. 3, Gov. Ned Lamont (D) extended the full vaccination deadline for staff in long-term care facilities to Sept. 27. The original deadline was Sept. 7.

Illinois (Democratic trifecta): On Sept. 3, Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) extended the first dose vaccination deadline for healthcare workers, teachers, and school staff to Sept. 19. The original deadline was Sept. 5.

Kentucky (divided government): On Sept. 7, a special session of the Kentucky State Legislature began to discuss the extension of the state’s coronavirus state of emergency, the governor’s authority to issue indoor mask requirements, and other coronavirus-related issues. Gov. Andy Beshear (D) called the session on Sept. 4.

Maine (Democratic trifecta): On Sept. 2, Gov. Janet Mills (D) extended the full vaccination deadline for healthcare workers to Oct. 29. The previous deadline was Oct. 2.

Nevada (Democratic trifecta): On Thursday, Sept. 2, Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) issued an order allowing conventions with more than 4,000 people not to require masks if all attendees are fully vaccinated. Under the rules, organizers who require proof of vaccination can admit attendees who’ve only received one shot of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, but those people must still wear masks indoors. 

New York (Democratic trifecta): 

  • On Sept. 2, Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) signed a residential and commercial coronavirus-related eviction moratorium into law. The moratorium would be effective through Jan. 15, 2022.
  • On Sept. 2, the New York Department of Health released a regulation requiring teachers and school staff to be vaccinated or receive regular coronavirus testing.

Rhode Island (Democratic trifecta): On Sept. 3, Gov. Daniel McKee (D) extended Rhode Island’s coronavirus state of emergency through Oct. 2.

South Carolina (Republican trifecta): On Sept. 2, the South Carolina Supreme Court rejected the city of Columbia’s challenge to the state’s ban on mask requirements. In the opinion, the court found that the mask requirement ban, which was established in a state budget amendment, did not violate a rule requiring state laws address a single primary subject.

Tennessee (Republican trifecta): On Friday, Sept. 3, U. S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee Judge Sheryl H. Lipman ruled in favor of two students who sued Gov. Bill Lee (R) after he issued an order allowing students to opt out of school mask mandates. Lipman ruled Lee’s order violated the students’ rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). 

Washington (Democratic trifecta): On Friday, Sept. 3, Gov. Jay Inslee (D) issued an order prohibiting local government agencies, officials, and landlords from banning mask requirements or proof-of-vaccination requirements. 

Wisconsin (divided government): On Friday, Sept. 3, Gov. Tony Evers (D) extended the statewide vaccine incentive initiative through Sept. 19. The initiative allows anyone 12 and older to claim a $100 Visa gift card if he or she gets the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. 

Vaccine distribution

We last looked at vaccine distribution in the Sept. 2 edition of the newsletter. As of Sept. 3, 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 1,879 lawsuits in 50 states dealing in some way with the COVID-19 outbreak. Court orders have been issued, or settlements have been reached, in 578 of those lawsuits. 

Since Aug. 31, we have added nine lawsuits to our database. We have also tracked an additional four court orders and/or settlements. 

Details:

  • Norris v. Stanley: On Aug. 31, Judge Paul Maloney, of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan, declined to block Michigan State University’s (MSU) COVID-19 vaccine mandate. MSU employee Jeanna Norris alleged,  that she should be exempted from the vaccine mandate because she has natural antibodies from a previous infection. MSU’s vaccine policy requires all MSU faculty, staff, and students “to be vaccinated against COVID-19 with an FDA-authorized or WHO-approved vaccine.” While the mandate does provide for limited medical and religious exceptions, it specifically excludes natural immunity as a qualifying exemption. Norris argued MSU was “forcing me to choose between performing my professional duties to the best of my ability and protecting my personal health” and “between protecting my constitutional right to bodily autonomy, privacy and protection and keeping my job.” Norris alleged “MSU cannot establish a compelling governmental interest in overriding personal autonomy and constitutional rights.” Maloney said Norris did not show a “substantial likelihood of success on the merits.” Jenin Younes, litigation counsel for the New Civil Liberties Alliance, which is representing Norris, said, “We have faith that when the Court has the opportunity to review the insurmountable evidence that supports the existence, durability, and robustness of natural immunity, it will recognize that MSU’s policy violates the constitutional rights of Ms. Norris and others in her position.” Maloney is George W. Bush (R) appointee.

State mask requirements

We last looked at face coverings in the Aug. 31 edition of the newsletter. Since then, no changes to statewide mask requirements occurred. As of Sept. 7, masks were required in ten states with Democratic governors. Thirteen states with Democratic governors and all 27 states with Republican governors had no state-level mask requirements in effect.

COVID-19 emergency health orders

Read more: State emergency health orders during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2021

Governors and state agencies in all 50 states issued orders declaring active emergencies in response to the coronavirus pandemic. These orders allowed officials to access resources, like stockpiles of medical goods and equipment, unavailable to them during non-emergencies and temporarily waive or suspend certain rules and regulations. 

Overview

  • COVID-19 emergency orders have expired in 24 states. Emergency orders remain active in 26 states.

Since Aug. 31, no state has ended or enacted a COVID-19 emergency order. 



Documenting America’s Path to Recovery #295: September 2, 2021

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

  • A vaccine requirement for some healthcare workers in Massachusetts
  • A mask mandate in Pennsylvania schools
  • Vaccine distribution
  • School mask requirements
  • State proof-of-vaccination requirements and policies
  • Federal responses

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.

Indiana (Republican trifecta): On Wednesday, Sept. 1, Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) issued an order exempting schools and daycare centers with consistent mask usage from quarantine requirements. The exemption applies to a student, staff member, or teacher who is a close contact of someone who tests positive for COVID-19, but shows no symptoms.    

Massachusetts (divided government): On Wednesday, Sept. 1, Gov. Charlie Baker (R) announced that staff at long-term care facilities would be required to get a COVID-19 vaccine by Oct. 31. Baker said the requirement would also apply to home care workers who provide in-home care. 

Oklahoma (Republican trifecta): On Wednesday, Sept. 1, ​​Oklahoma County District Court Judge Natalie Mai temporarily blocked the Oklahoma Department of Education from enforcing Senate Bill 658, which prohibits school mask requirements. Several Oklahoma parents and the Oklahoma State Medical Association sued to block enforcement of the law on Aug. 12. 

Pennsylvania (divided government): On Aug. 31, Gov. Tom Wolf (D) announced masks would be required in all public and private K-12 schools starting Sept. 7.

South Dakota (Republican trifecta): On Tuesday, Aug. 31, Gov. Kristi Noem (R) ordered nine National Guardsmen to assist in COVID-19 testing efforts in the western part of the state, including Meade County, which has seen a rise in coronavirus cases.

Vaccine distribution

We last looked at vaccine distribution in the Aug. 31 edition of the newsletter. As of Sept. 1, the states with the highest vaccination rates as a percentage of total population (including children) were:

The states with the lowest rates were:

School mask requirements

Read more: School responses to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic during the 2021-2022 academic year

We last looked at school mask requirements on Aug. 26. Since then, school mask requirement bans were temporarily suspended in Oklahoma and Florida. Additionally, school mask requirements were issued in New York and Pennsylvania.

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

Overview:

  • Twenty states have passed legislation or issued orders prohibiting proof-of-vaccination requirements at some or all levels of government. 
  • Four states have assisted in the creation of digital vaccination status applications. 

Since Aug. 26, no state has banned proof-of-vaccination requirements or rolled out a vaccine status application. 

Federal responses

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

  • On Sept. 1, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Rochelle Walensky said unvaccinated people should not travel over the Labor Day holiday weekend.
  • On Aug. 30, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) opened investigations in Iowa, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Utah. Investigators will seek to determine whether statewide bans on indoor mask requirements in schools violate the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which protects children with disabilities from discrimination. The OCR said it was concerned that mask bans could affect students with disabilities that cause underlying health conditions. The OCR also announced it would investigate whether the indoor mask requirements violate Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.


A look back at government responses to the coronavirus pandemic, August 31-September 4, 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 August 31-September 4, 2020. To read more of our past coverage of the coronavirus pandemic, click here

Monday, August 31, 2020

Election changes:

  • Utah Governor Gary Herbert (R) signed into law legislation making several changes to administration procedures for the Nov. 3 general election (including the requirement that counties provide some form of in-person Election Day and early voting).
  • U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia Judge Eleanor L. Ross issued an order extending the return deadlines for absentee ballots in the general election. Ross ordered officials to accept as valid any absentee ballots postmarked Nov. 3 and received by 7:00 p.m. on Nov. 6.

School closures and reopenings:

  • Connecticut schools were allowed to reopen for in-person instruction. Classrooms had been closed since March 16.
  • Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) announced every public school district in the state except Providence and Central Falls would be permitted to resume in-person instruction when schools reopen for the 2020-2021 academic year. Raimondo said in-person classes were scheduled to start Sept. 14.

Eviction and foreclosure policies

  • Pennsylvania’s statewide moratorium on evictions and foreclosures expired.
  • Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) extended the statewide moratorium on evictions and foreclosures through Oct. 1. DeSantis’ order allowed landlords to seek an eviction judgment in court, but said final judgments could not happen until the moratorium had ended.
  • California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signed a bill preventing evictions for nonpayment of rent through Jan. 31, 2021. 
  • Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) issued an order extending the statewide foreclosure moratorium through December.

State court changes:

  • Maryland Court of Appeals Chief Judge Mary Ellen Barbera allowed courts to move into Phase IV of the state court’s reopening plan on Aug. 31. Phase IV allowed most in-person proceedings to resume, with the exception of jury trials. 

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Stay-at-home orders and reopening plans:

  • New Mexico Health Secretary Kathyleen Kunkel extended the state’s stay-at-home public health order through Sept. 18.

Federal government responses:

  • White House spokesman Judd Deere announced that the U.S. would not join an international initiative called the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (Covax) Facility, the goal of which was to develop and distribute COVID-19 vaccines. The World Health Organization (WHO), Gavi, and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) spearheaded the initiative.

School closures and reopenings:

  • The Maryland Board of Education approved new minimum requirements for instruction. The Board required schools to be open for at least 180 days and offer at least six hours of instruction, of which 3.5 hours had to be synchronous (e.g., all students taught at the same time) for grades K-12.
  • The Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development issued new guidance that required student-athletes to wear face coverings during games and practices when social distancing wasn’t possible.

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Stay-at-home orders and reopening plans:

  • West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (R) closed bars in Monongalia County, two days after allowing them to reopen. He first closed bars in Monongalia in July following a spike in coronavirus cases in that area. 

Election changes:

  • New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) announced an online absentee ballot request portal for the Nov. 3 general election.
  • Hinds County Chancery Court Judge Denise Owens ordered Mississippi officials to expand absentee voting eligibility in the Nov. 3 general election to individuals with “pre-existing conditions that cause COVID-19 to present a greater risk of severe illness or death.”

School closures and reopenings:

  • The Indiana Board of Education voted to update its definition of what counts as a virtual student for use in the state’s school funding formula. As a result, students who opted for virtual learning during the pandemic were still counted in their school’s funding formula.

Thursday, September 3, 2020 

Stay-at-home orders and reopening plans:

  • Idaho Gov. Brad Little (R) announced the state would remain in Phase Four of reopening for at least two more weeks. Idaho entered Phase Four on June 13.

Friday, September 4, 2020

Stay-at-home orders and reopening plans:

  • North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D) moved the state into Phase 2.5 of reopening. Under Phase 2.5, the limit on gatherings increased to 25 people indoors and 50 people outdoors. Museums and aquariums were allowed to reopen at 50% capacity, while gyms and indoor exercise facilities could reopen at 30% capacity.
  • New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) announced that indoor dining services and movie theaters could reopen with restrictions. 

Travel restrictions:

  • New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) announced that out-of-state travelers from states with a 5% positivity rate or greater or a new case rate greater than 80 per 1 million residents would be required to self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival. Additionally, she announced that travelers from any state could avoid the quarantine requirement with a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours before or after entry into the state. Travelers waiting for a test result were required to self-quarantine.

Election changes:

  • Virginia Governor Ralph Northam (D) signed into law legislation providing for the use of drop-boxes to return absentee/mail-in ballots. The legislation also provided for prepaid return postage.

State court changes:

  • Delaware Supreme Court Chief Justice Collins Seitz Jr. extended the judicial emergency through Oct. 5, and announced that the judiciary would move into a modified Phase 3 of reopening on that date. Under the modified Phase 3 plan, the Delaware Supreme Court permitted jury trials to resume and allowed courts to increase capacity from 50% to 75%.

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 #293: August 26, 2021

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

  • An outdoor mask mandate in Oregon
  • A ban on vaccine mandates in Texas
  • Vaccine distribution
  • School mask requirements
  • State proof-of-vaccination requirements and policies
  • Federal responses

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?

Oregon (Democratic trifecta): On Aug. 27, a statewide public outdoor mask requirement for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals will take effect. Gov. Kate Brown (D) made the announcement on Aug. 24.

South Carolina (Republican trifecta): On Aug. 26, the South Carolina Department of Education announced masks would be required on school buses, in accordance with CDC guidance, starting Aug. 30.

Since our last edition

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

Illinois (Democratic trifecta): On Aug. 26, Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) announced he would reinstate an indoor mask requirement for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals, effective Aug. 30. Pritzker also announced a coronavirus vaccine or regular testing requirement for public and private pre-K through 12 teachers and staff, higher education teachers and staff, students in higher education, and healthcare workers, effective Sept. 5.

Kansas (divided government): 

  • On Aug. 25, Gov. Laura Kelly (D) announced she was directing executive branch agencies to work remotely through Oct. 4.
  • On Aug. 24, the Kansas Supreme Court upheld a law that allows individuals to challenge county-level mask requirements and public gathering restrictions in court.

Massachusetts (divided government): On Tuesday, Aug. 24, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) voted to allow Commissioner Jeffrey Riley to implement a mask mandate for K-12 public school teachers, staff, and students. The mandate will apply to vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals in middle and high schools through Oct. 1. After Oct. 1, the mandate will only apply to unvaccinated individuals in schools with an 80% or greater vaccination rate. 

New York (Democratic trifecta): On Aug. 24, Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) announced she was directing the Department of Health to institute a universal mask requirement in public and private schools. In a press release, Hochul also said she would “pursue options to mandate vaccines for school employees or require weekly testing in the absence of vaccines.”

Texas (Republican trifecta): On Wednesday, Aug. 25, Gov. Greg Abbott (R) prohibited state and local agencies from requiring proof of vaccination. Abbott’s earlier ban on government vaccine mandates only applied to vaccines authorized under the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Emergency Use Authorization. The FDA fully approved the Pfizer vaccine on Aug. 23. 

Vaccine distribution

We last looked at vaccine distribution in the Aug. 24 edition of the newsletter. As of Aug. 25, the states with the highest vaccination rates as a percentage of total population (including children) were:

The states with the lowest rates were:

School mask requirements

Read more: School responses to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic during the 2021-2022 academic year

We last looked at school mask requirements on Aug. 19. Since then, Rhode Island and Massachusetts issued school mask requirements. Kentucky rescinded a statewide school mask requirement for all schools, but a requirement for public schools remains in place.

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 their states. In some cases, states have banned state or local governments from requiring that people show proof of vaccination. Other states have assisted in creating 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 assisted in the creation of digital vaccination status applications. 

Since Aug. 19, one state has banned state and local government proof-of-vaccination requirements.

Details:

  • On August 25, Gov. Greg Abbott (R) prohibited state and local agencies from requiring proof of vaccination.

Federal responses

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

  • On Aug. 23, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) fully approved Pfizer and BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine for people 16 and older. The vaccine remains under an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for people 12 to 16 years old.
  • On Aug. 25, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin issued a memo requiring military members to get a COVID-19 vaccine. Austin’s memo directed military leaders to “impose ambitious timelines” for mandating vaccines. 

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 Aug. 19, the school board of North Allegheny School District in Pennsylvania voted 6-3 to override the superintendent’s mask requirement. The board said masks would be optional in school starting Aug. 23. On Aug. 23, U.S. District Judge Marilyn Horan issued a temporary order reinstating the mask requirement.



Documenting America’s Path to Recovery #292: August 24, 2021

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

  • A vaccine requirement for corrections staff in California
  • A COVID-19 vaccine incentive initiative in Wisconsin
  • Vaccine distribution
  • Lawsuits about state actions and policies 
  • State-level mask requirements
  • COVID-19 emergency health orders

We are committed to keeping you updated on everything from mask requirements to vaccine-related policies. We will keep you abreast of major developments—especially those affecting your daily life. Want to know what we covered Thursday? Click here.

Since our last edition

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

California (Democratic trifecta): On Aug. 19, the California Department of Public Health issued an order requiring corrections staff who provide healthcare or who could be exposed to the coronavirus in a healthcare setting to be fully vaccinated by Oct. 14.

Connecticut (Democratic trifecta): On Aug. 19, Gov. Ned Lamont (D) issued an executive order requiring all state employees, staff in childcare facilities, and staff in pre-K through 12 schools to have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine by Sept. 27 or receive regular coronavirus testing. State hospital and long-term care employees do not have the option to receive regular testing instead of a vaccination.

Georgia (Republican trifecta): On Thursday, Aug. 19, Gov. Brian Kemp (R) issued an order prohibiting county or local governments from forcing private organizations, including businesses and sports teams, to comply with COVID-19 health restrictions. 

Illinois (Democratic trifecta): On Aug. 20, Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) renewed the state’s coronavirus disaster proclamation for an additional 30 days.

Kentucky (divided government): On Aug. 23, Gov. Andy Beshear (D) rescinded his executive order requiring masks be worn in schools. Masks are still required in Kentucky public schools due to a separate Kentucky Board of Education order. Beshear’s action followed a Kentucky Supreme Court opinion issued Aug. 21 upholding limits the state legislature placed on the governor’s emergency powers.

Massachusetts (divided government): On Friday, Aug. 20, Gov. Charlie Baker (R) issued an order requiring executive branch employees to get a COVID-19 vaccine by Oct. 17. 

Nevada (Democratic trifecta): On Friday, Aug. 20, Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) issued an order requiring all state colleges, universities, and community colleges to require students to provide proof of vaccination after Nov. 1, 2021. 

New Jersey (Democratic trifecta): On Aug. 23, Gov. Phil Murphy (D) signed an executive order requiring all teachers and staff in pre-K through 12 schools to be fully vaccinated by Oct. 18 or receive regular coronavirus testing. Murphy also announced that state employees would also be required to be fully vaccinated by Oct. 18 or receive regular coronavirus testing.

Oregon (Democratic trifecta): On Aug. 19, Gov. Kate Brown (D) announced that the state’s coronavirus vaccine requirement for healthcare workers would no longer have a regular testing alternative, and workers will be required to be vaccinated by Oct. 18. Brown also announced all teachers and staff in K-12 schools would be required to be fully vaccinated against the coronavirus by Oct. 18 or six weeks after full FDA approval of a coronavirus vaccine.

Rhode Island (Democratic trifecta): 

  • On Aug. 19, Gov. Dan McKee (D) issued an executive order requiring masks be worn in K-12 public schools.
  • On Aug. 19, Gov. Dan McKee (D) issued an executive order declaring a state of emergency in response to the Delta variant and other emerging variants of the coronavirus.

Wisconsin (divided government): On Monday, Aug. 23, Gov. Tony Evers (D) announced an initiative that awards residents who receive their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine a $100 Visa gift card. The initiative will run through Labor Day. 

Vaccine distribution

We last looked at vaccine distribution in the Aug. 19 edition of the newsletter. As of Aug. 23, 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 1,868 lawsuits, in 50 states, dealing in some way with the COVID-19 outbreak. Court orders have been issued, or settlements have been reached, in 574 of those lawsuits. 

Since Aug. 17, we have added eight lawsuits to our database. We have tracked no additional court orders and/or settlements. 

Details:

  • Children’s Health Defense, Inc. v. Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey: On Aug. 16, a group of 18 students filed suit against Rutgers University in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey. At issue is Rutgers’ COVID-19 vaccine mandate, which requires all students to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 before the beginning of the fall term. Plaintiffs allege “unjustified fear and insatiable greed drive the vaccine industry,” and the University’s mandate is “an affront to human dignity and personal freedom.” The plaintiff’s attorneys are with the Children’s Health Defense, an advocacy group founded by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. In response, Rutgers issued a press release, saying, “The university’s position on vaccines is consistent with the legal authority supporting this policy.” The case has not yet been assigned to a judge.

State mask requirements

We last looked at face coverings in the Aug. 17 edition of the newsletter. Since then, indoor public mask requirements for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals went into effect in New Mexico and Washington. As of Aug. 24, masks were required in nine states with Democratic governors. Fourteen states with Democratic governors and all 27 states with Republican governors had no state-level mask requirements in effect.

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 24 states. Emergency orders remain active in 26 states.

Since Aug. 17, no states have ended their COVID-19 emergencies. 

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. 

Last week, Culver City, California’s school system announced it would be requiring vaccinations among all students ages 12 and older. The state of California mandates vaccination or regular testing for teachers and staff.



A look back at government responses to the coronavirus pandemic, August 24-28, 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 August 24-28, 2020.

Monday, August 24, 2020

  • School closures and reopenings:
    • K-12 public schools in Arkansas resumed in-person instruction. Schools were originally supposed to reopen to in-person instruction on Aug. 14, but Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) delayed the reopening date on July 9 to give school officials more time to prepare. 
  • State court changes:
    • North Carolina Chief Justice Cheri Beasley issued an order extending and modifying some directives related to the coronavirus. The directives waived most notary requirements and allowed most court proceedings to occur remotely. Additionally, Emergency Directive 22 required senior resident superior court judges to submit plans for the resumption of jury trials by Sept. 30.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

  • Travel restrictions:
    • Govs. Ned Lamont (D-Conn.), Phil Murphy (D-N.J.), and Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.) announced they had removed Alaska, Arizona, Delaware, Maryland, and Montana from the joint travel advisory list because of a decline in coronavirus infection rates. Travelers from states on the list were required to quarantine upon arrival. 
  • Eviction and foreclosure policies:
    • Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D) lifted the state’s moratorium on evictions and foreclosures. The order required landlords to waive late fees accrued since the pandemic began and give tenants 30 days notice before beginning the eviction process.
  • State court changes:
    • New Hampshire’s first jury trial since the start of the pandemic began in Cheshire County as part of a pilot program. The state’s judicial branch required everyone in the courtroom to wear a mask, and for jurors to be spread out in the gallery.

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

  • Stay-at-home orders and reopening plans:
    • Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) issued an order requiring restaurant and bar patrons to wear a mask anytime they interact with a server, including whenever beverages or food are brought to a table. Additionally, Pritzker enacted new restrictions on Will and Kankakee counties because of rising coronavirus cases. Pritzker’s order prohibited bars and restaurants from offering indoor dining, and limited social events and gatherings to 25 people or 25% of a room’s capacity (whichever was less).
    • Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) announced the state would remain in Phase 4.5 of its reopening plan. Holcomb also extended the statewide mask mandate for another 30 days.
    • Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) extended Phase Two of the state’s reopening plan, including the statewide mask mandate, 50-person indoor gathering size limit, and statewide bar closure to on-premises consumption, through Sept. 11.
    • In Arizona, bars, gyms, movie theaters, and water parks were allowed to begin reopening in Apache, Cochise, Coconino, La Paz, Maricopa, Navajo, Pima, and Yavapai counties. Gyms were allowed to reopen at 25% capacity while the other businesses were allowed to reopen at 50% capacity.
  • Federal government responses:
    • The Pentagon lifted restrictions on the movement of military personnel and their families between military installations at five Air Force bases and three Army bases. The restrictions had been in place since March.
  • School closures and reopenings:
    • Delaware Gov. John Carney (D) signed the 25th modification to his emergency declaration, requiring students in kindergarten and above to wear face coverings inside schools at all times. The order also required school districts and charters to notify parents when a positive coronavirus case was identified in their child’s building.
    • West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (R) announced students would be permitted to participate in marching bands and cheerleading activities at football games this fall.

Thursday, August 27, 2020 

  • Stay-at-home orders and reopening plans:
    • Hawaii Gov. David Ige (D) approved Oahu Mayor Kirk Calwell’s order reimplementing a stay-at-home order in the county for two weeks. Individuals were only allowed to leave their homes to conduct certain essential activities.
    • Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) issued an executive order describing the symptoms an employee must have to stay home from work and avoid disciplinary measures from his or her employer. The order stipulated that employees aren’t shielded from disciplinary measures if known medical conditions could explain the symptoms.
    • Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) closed bars, nightclubs, and breweries in Polk, Linn, Johnson, Story, Dallas, and Black Hawk counties through at least Sept. 5. Reynolds cited high positive test rates among young adults in those counties, which are home to the state’s major universities.
  • Election changes:
    • Maine Governor Janet Mills (D) signed an executive order extending the mail-in voter registration deadline from Oct. 13 to Oct. 19.
  • Federal government responses:
    • Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Dr. Robert Redfield sent a letter to governors across the country asking states to expedite licensing and permitting so that COVID-19 vaccine distribution sites could be operational by November 1.
  • Mask requirements:
    • Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R) extended the state’s mask mandate through Oct. 2.

Friday, August 28, 2020

  • Stay-at-home orders and reopening plans:
    • California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) released a new color-coded reopening plan called “Blueprint for a Safer Economy.” Counties were classified as one of four colors—purple, red, orange, and yellow—based on coronavirus spread. Different business restrictions applied to each of the color levels.
  • Federal government responses:
    • The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that it had authorized the drug remdesivir to be used on all patients hospitalized with COVID-19. Previously, the FDA had permitted the use of remdesivir only on patients with severe cases of COVID-19.

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 #291: August 19, 2021

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

  • A proof-of-vaccination requirement at large events in California
  • A COVID-19 vaccine requirement for teachers in Washington
  • Vaccine distribution
  • School mask requirements
  • State proof-of-vaccination requirements and policies
  • Federal responses

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?

Washington (Democratic trifecta): On Wednesday, Aug. 18, Gov. Jay Inslee (D) announced that vaccinated and unvaccinated people would be required to wear masks indoors in most circumstances beginning Aug. 23. The requirement does not apply to small gatherings or office environments where everyone is vaccinated and interaction with the public is rare, or while working alone. Additionally, Inslee announced that all public and private K-12 educators, staff, and volunteers would be required to be fully vaccinated by Oct. 18.   

Since our last edition

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

Arizona (Republican trifecta): On Aug. 16, Gov. Doug Ducey (R) said he would withhold school grants taken from federal coronavirus relief funds from schools that implemented mask requirements.

California (Democratic trifecta): On Aug. 18, the California Department of Health announced that proof of coronavirus vaccination or a negative coronavirus test would be required for attendees at indoor gatherings of more than 1,000 individuals.

Florida (Republican trifecta): On Wednesday, Aug. 18, the Miami-Dade County Public Schools board voted 7-1 to approve a mask mandate for students, teachers, and staff. On July 30, Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) issued an order allowing parents to decide if their children wear masks at school. Miami-Dade is the largest school district in Florida.  

Indiana (Republican trifecta): On Tuesday, Aug. 17, Indiana Court of Appeals Judge James Kirsch overturned a trial court ruling that blocked Gov. Eric Holcomb’s (R) attempt to end the state’s participation in federal pandemic unemployment programs. Holcomb pulled out of those programs on June 19, but Marion Superior Court Judge John Haley ordered the state to resume paying pandemic unemployment on June 28. The federal programs are scheduled to end Sept. 4 unless Congress extends them. 

Maryland (divided government): On Wednesday, Aug. 18, Gov. Larry Hogan (R) announced he would require nursing home staff and healthcare workers to get a COVID-19 vaccine or undergo weekly testing. 

New Mexico (Democratic trifecta): On Aug. 17, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) announced the state will re-implement an indoor mask requirement for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals, effective Aug. 20. Lujan Grisham also announced a separate public health order requiring all workers in hospitals and congregate care facilities, like nursing homes, to be vaccinated against the coronavirus.

Vaccine distribution

Read more: Coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine distribution by state

We last looked at vaccine distribution in the Aug. 17 edition of the newsletter. As of Aug. 18, the states with the highest vaccination rates as a percentage of total population (including children) were:

The states with the lowest rates were:

School mask requirements

Read more: School responses to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic during the 2021-2022 academic year

As of Aug. 19, 30 states leave school mask requirements up to local authorities, seven states ban school mask requirements, and thirteen states require masks in schools. Recent developments include the temporary suspension of a school mask requirement ban in Arizona, a Texas Supreme Court ruling upholding the state’s school mask requirement ban, and Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee (R)’s order mandating parental choice in school masking.

State proof-of-vaccination requirements and policies

Read more: State government policies about vaccine requirements (vaccine passports)

As COVID-19 vaccination rates have increased, state governments have enacted various rules around the use of proof-of-vaccination requirements in their states. In some cases, states have banned state or local governments from requiring that people show proof of vaccination. Other states have assisted in creating 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 assisted in the creation of digital vaccination status applications.
  • Fourteen states have issued requirements that some or all state employees get vaccinated or undergo regular testing.  

Since Aug. 12, one state has announced a state employee vaccine requirement.  

Details:

  • On Aug. 12, Delaware Gov. John Carney (D) announced that state employees would be required to provide proof of vaccination or undergo weekly COVID-19 testing beginning Sept. 30.

Federal responses

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

  • On Aug. 18, President Joe Biden (D) announced a plan to offer a third COVID-19 vaccine shot to Americans beginning Sept. 20, pending Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval. Biden said the third shot would only be available to people eight months after their second shot. 
  • On Aug. 18, President Biden (D) directed the U.S. Department of Education (DoE) to determine if governors or other officials are providing K-12 public school students the opportunity to participate in in-person instruction. Biden authorized Education Secretary Miguel Cardona to look into tools the DoE can use to ensure students can safely be in the classroom. Cardona said the DoE may use its Office for Civil Rights to investigate discrimination allegations against schools or officials prohibiting students from getting in-person instruction.
  • On Aug. 13, U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia Judge Dabney Friedrich rejected a lawsuit challenging the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) evictions moratorium. Friedrich said she did not have the authority to block the moratorium because of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit’s earlier ruling on the CDC’s moratorium.
  • On Aug. 13, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D) authorized members to continue proxy voting through Oct. 1. Proxy voting allows members to vote on legislation and participate in committee meetings remotely.


Documenting America’s Path to Recovery #290: August 17, 2021

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

  • An order in Michigan directing COVID-19 booster shots to long-term care facilities
  • A temporary Texas Supreme Court order blocking local mask mandates
  • 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.

Alabama (Republican trifecta): On Aug. 13, Gov. Kay Ivey (R) declared a coronavirus state of emergency.

Arizona (Republican trifecta): 

  • On Aug. 16, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Randall Warner ruled that a state law banning school mask requirements would not take effect until Sept. 29.
  • On Aug. 16, Gov. Doug Ducey (R) issued an executive order saying local officials who implement vaccine requirements would be subject to legal action. The order also said local officials who fail to provide earned sick leave to an employee exposed to the coronavirus would be subject to legal action or action through the Industrial Commission.

Delaware (Democratic trifecta): On Aug. 12, Gov. John Carney (D) announced staff in healthcare and long-term care facilities would be required to show proof of coronavirus vaccination or receive regular coronavirus tests, effective Sept. 30.

Maine (Democratic trifecta): On Aug. 12, Gov. Janet Mills (D) announced the state would require healthcare workers to be vaccinated against the coronavirus by Oct. 1.

Michigan (divided government): On Friday, Aug. 13, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) issued an order directing state agencies to supply COVID-19 booster shots to people living in long-term care facilities.  

Minnesota (divided government): On Sunday, Aug. 15, Gov. Tim Walz (D) extended the $100 vaccination reward initiative an extra week. Residents 12 and older who’ve gotten vaccinated after July 30 can claim a $100 Visa gift card. 

Nevada (Democratic trifecta): On Monday, Aug. 16, Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) announced that large venues that require patrons to be at least partially vaccinated can allow fully vaccinated people to go without masks indoors. Partially vaccinated people would still be required to wear masks.   

New York (Democratic trifecta): On Aug. 12, the New York State Education Department released school reopening guidance for the 2021-2022 academic year. The guidance included recommendations for mask usage, vaccine promotion, and physical distancing within classrooms.

Oregon (Democratic trifecta): A statewide indoor masking requirement for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals went into effect Aug. 13. Gov. Kate Brown (D) announced the requirement on Aug. 11.

Tennessee (Republican trifecta): On Monday, Aug. 16, Gov. Bill Lee (R) issued an order allowing parents to send their children to school without masks in K-12 public schools that enact mask requirements. 

Texas (Republican trifecta): On Sunday, Aug. 15, the Texas Supreme Court temporarily blocked court orders in Dallas County and Bexar County that allowed school districts to disregard Gov. Greg Abbott’s (R) executive order banning school mask requirements.

Vaccine distribution

We last looked at vaccine distribution in the Aug. 12 edition of the newsletter. As of Aug. 16, 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 1,860 lawsuits, in 50 states, dealing in some way with the COVID-19 outbreak. Court orders have been issued, or settlements have been reached, in 574 of those lawsuits. 

Since Aug. 10, we have added 21 lawsuits to our database. We have also tracked an additional 13 court orders and/or settlements. 

  • City of San Antonio v. Abbott; Jenkins v. Abbott: On August 15, 2021, the Texas Supreme Court temporarily affirmed the validity of Gov. Greg Abbott’s (R) executive order prohibiting local mask mandates across the state. Both Bexar and Dallas counties issued local mask mandates in contravention of Abbott’s Executive Order GA-38, which prohibits schools and local governments from requiring masks. Earlier, two state trial courts, from the 45th and 116th Judicial District Courts, found that Dallas and Bexar counties would be irreparably harmed if unable to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 through mask mandates. As a result, the district courts issued temporary restraining orders against the enforcement of Executive Order GA-38. Those restraining orders were left in place by the Fourth and Fifth Courts of Appeals. Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) then took the matter to the Texas Supreme Court, asking the court to order the trial courts to overturn their decisions. Although the state supreme court did not immediately issue a written opinion ruling on the ultimate merits of Abbott’s and Paxton’s arguments, the stays temporarily overturn the restraining orders won by Dallas and Bexar counties in the lower courts, and therefore limit their ability to proceed with mask mandates. 

State mask requirements

We last looked at face coverings in the Aug. 10 edition of the newsletter. Since then, Oregon reinstated an indoor public mask requirement for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals.

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 24 states. Emergency orders remain active in 26 states.

Since Aug. 10, one state has reissued its COVID-19 emergency.   

Details:

  • Alabama – On Friday, Aug. 13, Gov. Kay Ivey (R) declared a statewide state of emergency in response to rising COVID-19 cases. Ivey ended the previous statewide COVID-19 state of emergency on July 6, 2021. 

This time last year: Monday, Aug. 17, and Tuesday, Aug. 18, 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, Aug. 17, 2020

  • Stay-at-home orders and reopening plans:

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) issued an order to move Malheur County in eastern Oregon from Phase 2 to Phase 1. Malheur was the third county Brown returned to a previous phase of reopening because of a rise in coronavirus cases.

  • School closures and reopenings:

Arizona school districts were allowed to reopen to in-person instruction if they met state Department of Health metrics released the week of Aug. 3. A district could reopen if its county experienced a two-week drop in the number of COVID-19 cases and a two-week period where the percent of positive cases was less than 7%. Additionally, a district could not reopen if more than 10% of hospital visits were COVID-19 related.

  • Eviction and foreclosure policies

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly (D) issued an order prohibiting evictions and foreclosures for non-payment of rent due to COVID-19 related financial hardship. The order was set to last through Sept. 15.

Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020

  • Travel restrictions:

Hawaii Gov. David Ige (D) extended the restrictions requiring travelers to self-quarantine for 14 days through Oct. 1. The restrictions had previously been scheduled to expire on Sept. 1.



A look back at government responses to the coronavirus pandemic, Aug. 17-21, 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 Aug. 17-21, 2020. To read more of our past coverage of the coronavirus pandemic, click here

Monday, Aug. 17, 2020

Stay-at home orders and reopening plans:

  • Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) issued an order to move Malheur County in eastern Oregon from Phase 2 to Phase 1. Malheur County was the third county Brown returned to a previous phase of reopening because of a rise in coronavirus cases.

School closures and reopenings:

  • Arizona school districts were allowed to reopen to in-person instruction if they met state Department of Health metrics released the week of Aug. 3. A district could reopen if its county experienced a two-week drop in the number of COVID-19 cases and a two-week period where the percent of positive cases was below 7%. Additionally, a district could not reopen if more than 10% of hospital visits were COVID-19 related.

Eviction and foreclosure policies:

  • Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly (D) issued an order prohibiting evictions and foreclosures for non-payment of rent due to COVID-19 related financial hardship. The order was set to last through Sept. 15.

Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020

Travel restrictions:

  • Hawaii Gov. David Ige (D) extended restrictions requiring travelers to self-quarantine for 14 days through Oct. 1. The restrictions had previously been scheduled to expire on Sept. 1.

Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2020

Stay-at-home orders and reopening plans:

  • West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (R) announced that bars in Monongalia County could reopen on Aug. 31. Justice closed bars in that county on July 13 because of rising coronavirus cases. Justice said bars that reopen could not allow live entertainment or dancing. 

Election changes:

  • Nebraska Secretary of State Bob Evnen (R) announced that his office would automatically send early/mail-in ballot applications to all registered voters in the Nov.  3 general election whose home counties had not already done so.

Federal government responses:

  • The Department of Labor and the Food and Drug Administration released a checklist designed for food manufacturers to decide when to safely resume operations.

Pandemic unemployment programs:

  • Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) announced that the Federal Emergency Management Agency approved the state’s application to participate in the Lost Wages Assistance program. The program provided states with up to $300 in additional unemployment benefits to recipients. 

School closures and reopenings:

  • The Pennsylvania Department of Education announced that the statewide mask requirement for everyone over the age of two applied to all public and private schools. Students were allowed to remove their face coverings when they were eating and drinking.

Thursday, Aug. 20, 2020 

Stay-at-home orders and reopening plans:

  • Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) announced that all assisted living facilities in the state would be required to participate in a coronavirus testing initiative.

Election changes:

  • New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) signed into law legislation extending absentee voting eligibility in the Nov. 2 general election to any voter who is “unable to appear personally at the polling place of the election district in which they are a qualified voter because there is a risk of contracting or spreading a disease causing illness to the voter or to other members of the public.”

School closures and reopenings:

  • Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) signed a package of three bills guiding how schools would reopen for the school year. The bills said that although school districts weren’t required to offer in-person education, school boards were required to review their district’s instructional plans each month. Schools that concluded it was safe to reopen to in-person instruction were required to prioritize that option for K-5 students. The legislation also weighted per-pupil funding based on 75% of last year’s enrollment and 25% of the current enrollment.

Eviction and foreclosure policies:

  • New York Gov. Cuomo extended the statewide moratorium on commercial evictions and foreclosures through Sept. 20.
  • Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont (D) extended the statewide moratorium on evictions through Oct. 1.
  • Hawaii Gov. Ige extended the eviction moratorium through Sept. 30.

State court changes:

  • The Vermont Supreme Court extended the judicial emergency through Jan. 1, 2021. The court declared the judicial emergency in March. The emergency prohibited jury trials and required most proceedings to happen remotely. 

Friday, Aug. 21, 2020

Stay-at-home orders and reopening plans:

  • The Michigan Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 that Gov. Whitmer was within her authority when she extended the state of emergency related to the coronavirus pandemic without the legislature’s approval. In their lawsuit, Republican lawmakers alleged Whitmer’s state of emergency order was unconstitutional.

Federal government responses:

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention removed a recommendation that travelers quarantine for 14 days after returning from overseas or areas with high rates of COVID-19 spread.
  • The Department of Defense announced agreements made under the 1950 Defense Production Act with four companies. The agreements totaled $17.4 million, and covered molecular diagnostic testing, satellite communications, laser electronics, and aircraft engine repair.

Eviction and foreclosure policies:

  • Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) extended the statewide moratorium on evictions through Sept. 19.

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 #289: August 12, 2021

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

  • A vaccine requirement for K-12 school teachers and staff in California
  • An order limiting gatherings in Hawaii
  • 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?

Oregon (Democratic trifecta): On Aug. 13, a statewide public indoor mask requirement will take effect for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals. Gov. Kate Brown (D) made the announcement on Aug. 11.

Since our last edition

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

California (Democratic trifecta): 

  • On Aug. 11, the California Supreme Court affirmed a lower court’s ruling that Gov. Gavin Newsom’s (D) emergency powers allowed him to alter or create new laws under the 1970 Emergency Services Act.
  • On Aug. 11, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) announced teachers and staff in private and public K-12 schools would be required to show proof of vaccination against the coronavirus or receive a coronavirus test at least once per week.

Hawaii (Democratic trifecta): On Aug. 10, Gov. David Ige (D) issued an executive order reinstating limits on social gatherings and capacity limits on businesses. 

Kentucky (divided government): On Aug. 10, Gov. Andy Beshear (D) issued an executive order requiring all individuals to wear masks inside of public and private schools.

Minnesota (divided government): On Wednesday, Aug. 11, Gov. Tim Walz (D) announced that state employees, including all instructors and staff at state universities, would be required to get a COVID-19 vaccine or submit to weekly testing starting Sept. 8. 

Rhode Island (Democratic trifecta): On Aug. 10, Gov. Dan McKee (D) announced healthcare workers in state-licensed facilities, such as hospitals, nursing homes, and group homes, would be required to show proof of vaccination or receive regular coronavirus testing. The order will take effect on Oct. 10.

Texas (Republican trifecta): On Tuesday, Aug. 10, 57th District Court Judge Antonia Arteaga allowed officials in San Antonio and Bexar County to require masks in schools, temporarily overriding Gov. Greg Abbott’s (R) order prohibiting mask mandates. Judge Arteaga paused enforcement of Abbott’s order until Aug. 16, when San Antonio and Bexar County officials are scheduled to return to court to argue for an extension. 

Vermont (divided government): On Tuesday, Aug. 10, Gov. Phil Scott (R) announced that state employees who work with vulnerable populations would be required to get a COVID-19 vaccination. Scott said the requirement would apply to veterans homes, correctional facilities, and a psychiatric hospital. 

Vaccine distribution

We last looked at vaccine distribution in the Aug. 10 edition of the newsletter. As of Aug. 11, 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 Aug. 5. Since then, no states announced school reopenings or closures.

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 Aug. 5, no state has changed its travel restrictions.

State vaccination requirements and policies

Read more: State government policies about vaccine requirements (vaccine passports)

As COVID-19 vaccination rates have increased, state governments have enacted various rules around the use of proof-of-vaccination requirements in their states. In some cases, states have banned state or local governments from requiring that people show proof-of-vaccination. Other states have assisted in the creation of digital applications—sometimes known as vaccine passports—that allow people to prove their vaccination status and, in some cases, bypass COVID-19 restrictions.  

Overview:

  • Twenty states have passed legislation or issued orders prohibiting proof-of-vaccination requirements at some or all levels of government. 
  • Four states have facilitated the creation of digital vaccination status applications.
  • Six states have issued requirements that some or all state employees get vaccinated or undergo regular testing.  
    • Since Aug. 5, three states have announced that state employees would be required to get a COVID-19 vaccination.  

Details:

  • On Aug. 11, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz (D) announced that state employees, including instructors and staff at state universities, would be required to get a COVID-19 vaccination or submit to weekly testing starting Sept. 8.
  • On Aug. 10, Vermont Gov. Phil Scott (R) announced that state employees who work with vulnerable populations would be required to get a COVID-19 vaccination.
  • On Aug. 5, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) announced that state employees in 48 facilities would be required to get a COVID-19 vaccination or undergo weekly testing by Sept. 1. 

Federal responses

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

  • On Aug. 11, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its vaccine guidance to recommend that pregnant women get a COVID-19 vaccination.
  • On Aug. 9, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin announced that he would require military members to get a COVID-19 vaccination no later than the middle of September. Austin said he would move up the deadline to be fully vaccinated if the Food and Drug Administration approves a COVID-19 vaccine before mid-September.

This time last year: Wednesday, Aug. 12, Thursday, Aug. 13, and Friday, Aug. 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.

Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2020

  • Election changes:

Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose (R) directed each county election board to provide one drop-box for absentee/mail-in ballots in the Nov. 3 general election.

The Maryland State Board of Elections voted to conduct early voting from Oct. 26 through Nov. 2 at approximately 80 voting centers statewide. The board also announced it would make at least 127 ballot drop-boxes available for absentee/mail-in ballots available statewide.

  • School closures and reopenings:

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) signed an executive order on Aug. 12 allowing public and private K-12 schools, colleges, and universities to offer in-person instruction when they reopened. The order allowed schools to decide whether to offer remote learning, in-person instruction, or a hybrid approach. Schools that couldn’t meet New Jersey Department of Education requirements were required to begin the school year remotely.

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) announced on Aug. 12 she was delaying the start of the school year until Sept. 14. 

Tennessee Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn said on Aug. 12 that the Tennessee Department of Education was encouraging school districts to mandate face coverings for middle and high school students.

Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon (R) issued a revised public health order that extended restrictions on restaurants, bars, gyms, and performance spaces through the end of the month. The order also eased restrictions on outdoor gatherings beginning Aug. 16. The new outdoor gathering restrictions allowed venues to accommodate up to 50% capacity, with a maximum of 1,000 people so long as social distancing was observed.

Thursday, Aug. 13, 2020 

  • Election changes:

The U.S. Supreme Court denied an appeal from the Republican National Committee and the Republican Party of Rhode Island to block a consent decree suspending witness/notary requirements for mail-in ballots cast in Rhode Island’s 2020 elections.

  • Eviction and foreclosure policies

The Judicial Council of California, the policymaking body of California’s court system, voted 19-1 to end its emergency moratorium on evictions and foreclosure lawsuits on Sept. 1. The rules the Council adopted in April suspended all pending judicial foreclosure actions and stopped courts from issuing summonses to tenants.

Friday, Aug. 14, 2020

  • Election changes:

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy (D) announced that the state would automatically send mail-in ballots to all voters in the Nov. 3 general election.

Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear (D) and Secretary of State Michael Adams (R) announced several changes for the Nov. 3 general election, including the extension of absentee/mail-in voting eligibility to all voters they said were “concerned with contracting or spreading COVID-19.”

  • Federal government responses:

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Department of Defense (DoD) announced a partnership with healthcare company McKesson Corporation to help distribute a coronavirus vaccine when one was available.

  • Eviction and foreclosure policies

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb’s (R) moratorium on evictions and foreclosures ended, allowing eviction and foreclosure lawsuits to resume. Holcomb originally issued the order on March 20.

  • School closures and reopenings:

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) released the Arkansas Ready to Learn Healthy School Guide. The document was a support guide for teachers and administrators created in partnership with Arkansas Children’s Hospital and the University of Arkansas School for Medical Sciences. It outlined best practices for in-person learning. Schools were allowed to reopen on Aug. 24.

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, Aug. 10, Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) announced she would require city employees, including public school teachers and staff, to get a COVID-19 vaccination or submit to weekly testing.