TagCoronavirus

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

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

Documenting America's Path to Recovery by Ballotpedia

The next 24 hours

What is changing in the next 24/72 hours?

  • Indiana (Republican trifecta): Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) announced March 23 he would end the statewide mask mandate on April 6. Holcomb said local officials could still enact stricter restrictions, and masks will still be required in schools.
  • New York (Democratic trifecta): 
    • Residents 16 and older will become eligible for a coronavirus vaccine on April 6.
    • On April 3, the first public performance on Broadway occurred since all 41 theaters closed on March 12, 2020. Dancer Savion Glover and actor Nathan Lane performed one at a time before a socially distanced and masked audience of 150.

Since our last edition

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

  • Alabama (Republican trifecta): On April 2, Gov. Kay Ivey (R) announced the state would expand vaccine eligibility to all residents 16 years of age and older on April 5. The Alabama Department of Corrections announced it would begin vaccinating inmates on April 12.
  • California (Democratic trifecta): On April 2, the state announced that indoor venues can reopen for events beginning April 15. Capacity limits will be based on the county’s color tier and whether the event has testing and vaccination requirements.
  • Florida (Republican trifecta): On Friday, April 2, Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) issued an order banning government entities from issuing vaccine passports. The order also prohibits businesses from requiring vaccine passports. 
  • Kansas (divided government): On Thursday, April 1, the Legislative Coordinating Council (LLC) voted 5-2 (with one absence) to end Gov. Laura Kelly’s (D) statewide mask mandate. The LLC is a committee composed of eight legislators. Senate Bill 40, signed by Kelly on March 24, allows the LLC to vote to end COVID-19 executive orders. The LLC’s decision does not affect local mask mandates. 
  • Maryland (divided government): On Thursday, April 1, Gov. Larry Hogan (R) announced that residents 16 and older can pre-register to receive a coronavirus vaccine. People who pre-register will be notified when they become eligible to receive a vaccine. 
  • Massachusetts (divided government): Residents 55 and older with a medical condition became eligible to receive a coronavirus vaccine Monday, April 5. Gov. Charlie Baker (R) made the announcement April 2. Baker also announced the state has adopted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) list of medical conditions that increase the risk of COVID-19. People with a condition on that list are now eligible for a vaccine. 
  • New Hampshire (Republican trifecta): On Thursday, April 1, Gov. Chris Sununu (R) announced that all K-12 schools must return students to full-time, in-person instruction by April 19. Sununu said parents will still have the option of requesting remote learning.  
  • Oregon (Democratic trifecta): On April 2, Oregon expanded vaccine eligibility to include all family members of frontline workers and any resident with a condition on the CDC’s expanded list of underlying health conditions.
  • Pennsylvania (divided government): On April 5, Pennsylvania entered Phase 1B of vaccinations. This next phase of eligibility includes first responders and manufacturing, education, and public transit workers.
  • Rhode Island (Democratic trifecta): On April 5, Rhode Island expanded vaccine eligibility to all individuals 50 years of age and older.
  • Vermont (divided government): 
    • Effective April 5, residents 40 and older are now eligible to receive a coronavirus vaccine. 
    • On Thursday, April 1, Gov. Phil Scott (R) announced on Twitter that residents 16 and older who identify as Black, Indigenous, or a person of color are eligible to receive a coronavirus vaccine. 
  • Virginia (Democratic trifecta): On Saturday, April 3, Gov. Ralph Northam (D) announced that residents 16 and older will become eligible to receive a coronavirus vaccine on Sunday, April 18. 

This time last year: Monday, April 6, 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, April 6, 2020:

  • Stay-at-home orders:
    • The “Stay Home Missouri” order took effect. It directed individuals to stay home unless performing essential activities and placed restrictions on non-essential businesses. Governor Mike Parson (R) and Director of the Department of Health and Senior Services Randall Williams issued the order on April 3, and it was originally set to expire on April 24, 2020.
  • School closures:
    • Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) closed schools for the remainder of the academic year. Before this order, schools in the state were closed through April 17.
    • New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) extended the statewide school closure from April 15 to April 29.
  • Election changes:
    • The Wisconsin Supreme Court blocked Governor Tony Evers’ (D) order postponing in-person voting in the spring election, scheduled for April 7, 2020, to June 9, in a 4-2 decision. As a result, in-person voting took place as scheduled on April 7.
    • Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R) issued an order authorizing political parties that nominate by convention to postpone those conventions or conduct them remotely.


A look back at government responses to the coronavirus pandemic, April 6-10, 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 March and April, states issued stay-at-home orders, closed schools, restricted travel, and changed election dates. Many of those policies remain in place today. 

Here are the policy changes that happened April 6-10, 2020. This list is not comprehensive.

Monday, April 6, 2020:

  • Stay-at-home orders:
    • The “Stay Home Missouri” order took effect in Missouri. It directed individuals in the state to stay home unless performing essential activities and placed restrictions on non-essential businesses. Governor Mike Parson (R) and Director of the Department of Health and Senior Services Randall Williams issued the order on April 3, and it was originally set to expire on April 24, 2020.
  • School closures:
    • Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) closed schools for the remainder of the academic year. Prior to this order, schools in the state were closed through April 17.
    • New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) extended the statewide school closure from April 15 to April 29.
  • Election changes:
    • The Wisconsin state supreme court voted 4-2 to block an executive order issued earlier in the day by Governor Tony Evers (D) postponing in-person voting in the spring election, scheduled for April 7, 2020, to June 9. As a result, in-person voting was set to take place as scheduled on April 7.
    • Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R) issued an order authorizing political parties that nominate by convention to postpone those conventions or conduct them remotely.

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

  • Stay-at-home orders:
    • Executive Order 2020-21 took effect in South Carolina. The order directed individuals in South Carolina to stay home except for essential activities and closed nonessential businesses in the state. Gov. Henry McMaster (R) issued the order April 6. South Carolina was the last state to implement a stay-at-home order. In total, 43 states issued stay-at-home orders.
  • School closures:
    • Maine Gov. Janet Mills (D) recommended that schools in the state remain closed for the rest of the academic year.
    • Montana Gov. Steve Bullock (D) extended the statewide school closure from April 10 to April 24.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

  • Travel restrictions
    • Utah Gov. Gary Herbert (R) issued an order requiring all visitors over 18 entering Utah through airports or roadways to complete a travel declaration within three hours. He said drivers entering Utah would receive a text message with a link to the form. Travelers in airports would receive a card from an airport employee with instructions to fill out a form online. The form required travelers to answer a number of questions related to COVID-19 symptoms and travel history.
  • School closures:
    • Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) closed schools for the remainder of the academic year. Prior to the announcement, schools were closed through April 28.
  • Election changes:
    • New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) announced that he would issue an executive order suspending existing eligibility criteria for absentee voting, allowing all voters to cast their ballots by mail in the June 23, 2020, election.
    • Virginia Governor Ralph Northam (D) postponed the statewide primary, originally scheduled for June 9, 2020, to June 23.
  • Federal government responses:
    • The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced a $500 million contract with General Motors to produce 30,000 ventilators under the Defense Production Act.

Thursday, April 9, 2020

  • Travel restrictions
    • Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) ordered all people traveling to Arizona from areas of the country with widespread COVID-19 cases to self-quarantine for 14 days. The order specifically mentioned Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey as areas with significant community spread. 
  • School closures:
    • Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy (R) closed schools for the remainder of the academic year. Prior to the announcement, schools were closed through May 1.
    • Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) closed schools for the remainder of the academic year. Prior to the announcement, schools had been closed indefinitely from March 16.
  • Election changes:
    • Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) postponed Georgia’s statewide and presidential primaries to June 9, 2020, and its primary runoff to August 11. The state had previously postponed its presidential primary to May 19, the original date of its statewide primary.

Friday, April 10, 2020

  • Election changes:
    • Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) signed B23-0733 into law, directing the district’s election officials to send absentee ballot applications to all registered voters in advance of the June 2, 2020, primary election.
    • New Hampshire Secretary of State William Gardner (D) and Attorney General Gordon MacDonald (R) released a memo to election officials advising them that any voter in the September 8, 2020, primary or November 3, 2020, general election could request an absentee ballot based on concerns related to COVID-19.
    • Maine Governor Janet Mills (D) issued Executive Order No. 39 FY 19/20, postponing the statewide primary election, originally scheduled for June 9 to July 14.
  • Federal government responses:
    • Trump announced he was forming a new council to discuss the process of reopening the U.S. economy. Trump referred to the group as the Opening Our Country Council and said members would be announced on April 14.

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: April 2, 2021

Documenting America's Path to Recovery by Ballotpedia

This time last year: Friday, April 3, 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.

Friday, April 3, 2020:

  • Stay-at-home orders:
    • Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves’ (R) Executive Order 1466 took effect. It directed people to stay home except for essential activities and closed nonessential businesses in the state. Reeves issued the order April 1.
  • Travel restrictions
    • Maine Gov. Janet Mills (D) issued an executive order requiring all out-of-state travelers to self-quarantine for two weeks. Individuals providing essential services were exempt. The order directed state agencies, such as the Maine Department of Transportation and the Maine Turnpike Authority, to post the order at all major points of entry into the state.
    • Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon (R) issued an order requiring out-of-state travelers to self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.
  • School closures:
    • Missouri Gov. Mike Parson (R) extended the statewide school closure from April 3 through April 24 as part of a stay-at-home order.
    • Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon (R) extended the statewide school closure from April 17 to April 30
  • Election changes:
    • Florida Secretary of State Laurel Lee (R) signed two orders authorizing candidates to submit qualifying documents, including signed petitions, electronically.
    • The Democratic Party of Maine canceled its state convention, originally scheduled for May 29-30, 2020.
  • Federal government responses:
    • The U.S. Supreme Court postponed the oral arguments scheduled for its April sitting. The court was scheduled to hear eight cases from April 20 to April 29.

1918 influenza pandemic

As part of our coverage of the coronavirus pandemic last year, we looked back at stories from the 1918-1919 influenza pandemic to see how America met the challenges of a national health emergency. More than 50 million people perished from the disease worldwide, including about 675,000 in the U.S., making it one of the deadliest pandemics in recorded history. To see a complete list of 1918 stories on Ballotpedia, click here

On Jan. 31, 1919, the San Antonio Express reported on the decline in influenza cases in the city and efforts to keep another wave at bay. 

That the influenza pandemic in San Antonio now is a matter of history was the statement Thursday afternoon of City Health Officer King. Dr. King based his opinion on the reports of new cases during the present week. Thursday’s report indicated only eight new cases, which has been the average maintained this week. 

“The epidemic is over as far as this season is concerned,” said Dr. King. “Recent reports indicate that as a certainty, but we cannot afford to let up on our health regulations. People should continue to exercise the greatest precautions to prevent a recurrence of the disease.”

Click here to read the original article, courtesy of the University of Michigan Center for the History of Medicine and Michigan Publishing’s Influenza Encyclopedia.

On Feb. 10, 1919, the Oregon Daily Journal reported on the suspension of a mask mandate in Portland in response to a decline in influenza cases. 

Influenza masks will not be worn in Portland, according to a proclamation issued Saturday by John G. Abele, city health officer. An ordinance was recently passed by the city council requiring the wearing of masks in certain places under heavy penalty while the epidemic was prevalent. 

Since there has been such a decided decrease in the number of influenza cases, the edict has been issued that it is no longer considered epidemic and that the ordinance shall, therefore, be suspended. Health bureau officers recommend that the vigilance of the people be continued and no further drastic measures will then be necessary.

The consolidated health bureau, under the direction of Dr. Sommers, closed its doors Saturday afternoon. Any further cases developing in Portland will be handled by the city or county health officers. In ordering the close of the office, Dr. Sommers believes the epidemic practically over.

Click here to read the original article, courtesy of the University of Michigan Center for the History of Medicine and Michigan Publishing’s Influenza Encyclopedia.



Documenting America’s Path to Recovery: March 31, 2021

Documenting America's Path to Recovery by Ballotpedia

The next 24 hours

What is changing in the next 24 hours?

  • Maine (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Janet Mills (D) announced a revised timeline for vaccine distribution. The state is aiming to open eligibility to everyone 50 and older April 1.
  • Minnesota (divided government): Starting April 1, seated indoor events (like concerts) of up to 3,000 people and unseated events of up to 1,500 people will be allowed.
  • Montana (Republican trifecta): Residents 16 and older will be eligible for vaccination starting April 1. Currently, the state is in Phase 1B+, which allows vaccinations for everyone 60 and older.
  • New York (Democratic trifecta):
    • Starting April 1, large sports venues (that hold more than 1,500 people indoors or 2,500 outdoors) will open at 10% capacity indoors or 20% capacity outdoors. Outdoor performing arts venues can also reopen at 20% capacity.
    • Domestic travelers will not have to quarantine when arriving from out-of-state starting April 1. All travelers will still have to fill out the Traveler Health Form before arriving in the state. Currently, individuals must have two negative COVID-19 test results to avoid the 14-day quarantine requirement. The first test must be from within three days before arriving in the state. Travelers must quarantine for three days and then take the second test on the fourth day. If both tests come back negative, the visitors can end quarantine.
  • Virginia (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Ralph Northam (D) announced he would ease some coronavirus restrictions on April 1. The limit on indoor social gatherings will increase from 10 to 50 people, while the limit on outdoor gatherings will increase from 25 to 100. Indoor and outdoor events at entertainment venues will be limited to 30% capacity, although indoor events will be prohibited from accommodating more than 500 people. Similarly, in-person graduations will be limited to 30% capacity, with no more than 5,000 people at outside ceremonies or 500 people inside.

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) lifted the state’s mask requirement on March 30. The requirement first took effect July 20. Businesses can still require patrons to wear masks. Arkansas is the seventh state to lift a statewide public mask requirement. 
    • On March 30, Hutchinson also expanded vaccine eligibility to everyone 16 and older. Previously, individuals in Phase 1-C (including residents 65 and older) were eligible for vaccination.
  • Delaware (Democratic trifecta): Gov. John Carney (D) announced everyone 16 and older will be eligible for vaccination starting April 6. Currently, everyone 65 and older or 16 and older with state-defined moderate- and high-risk underlying conditions is eligible.
  • Louisiana (divided government): Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) lifted some mitigation measures on March 31. Six-foot social distancing and mask-wearing are still required in all businesses, but most businesses (including restaurants, bars, gyms, malls, salons, and casinos) no longer have capacity limits. Bars and restaurants can serve alcohol with no curfew. Businesses and venues (like reception halls) that host large gatherings will be limited to 50% capacity, with an indoor limit of 500 people. Indoor and outdoor sporting events are limited to 50% capacity.
  • New Hampshire (Republican trifecta): Residents 30 and older are eligible for vaccination starting March 31. Residents 40 and older had been eligible since March 25.
  • North Carolina (divided government): 
    • The rest of Group 4 is eligible to receive a coronavirus vaccine starting March 31. Group 4 includes a range of essential workers, some of whom were eligible March 17.
    • On Tuesday, March 30, Gov. Roy Cooper (D) extended a statewide eviction moratorium through June 30. 
  • Texas (Republican trifecta): On Tuesday, March 30, Gov. Greg Abbott (R) announced a COVID-19 Rapid Testing Program for youth summer camps licensed by the Texas Department of State Health Services. The program will provide staff and campers with rapid antigen tests. 
  • Vermont (divided government): On Tuesday, March 30, Gov. Phil Scott (R) said that out-of-state college students are ineligible to receive a coronavirus vaccine. Scott said that could change in the future if the state receives enough vaccine doses.
  • Wisconsin (divided government): On Wednesday, March 31, the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled 4-3 that Gov. Tony Evers (D) overstepped his authority when he declared several states of emergency since the start of the pandemic without input from the legislature. In the majority opinion, Justice Brian Hagedorn wrote that under the relevant state statute, only a joint resolution from the legislature can extend a state of emergency beyond 60 days. Evers first declared a state of emergency in March 2020. The ruling invalidates the current emergency order, which includes a statewide mask mandate. 

This time last year: Wednesday, April 1, 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 early defining policy responses to the 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, April 1, 2020:

  • Stay-at-home orders:
    • Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) extended the stay-at-home order to all 67 counties in the state. Previously, the order affected 26 counties. 
    • Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) issued Executive Order 2020-07, which directed individuals to stay home except for essential activities and closed nonessential businesses in the state.
  • School closures:
    • California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) announced schools would be physically closed for the remainder of the school year.
    • Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) announced schools would remain closed for the remainder of the school year. Prior to the order, the state’s school closure was scheduled to end April 24.
  • Election changes:
    • Idaho Gov. Brad Little (R) issued a proclamation establishing deadlines for the state’s all-mail primary election.
    • West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (R) issued Executive Order 18-20, postponing West Virginia’s statewide primary election to June 9, 2020. The primary was originally scheduled to take place May 12.


Documenting America’s Path to Recovery: March 29, 2021

Documenting America's Path to Recovery by Ballotpedia

The next 24 hours

What is changing in the next 24 hours?

  • New York (Democratic trifecta): 
    • On March 29, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced all residents age 30 and older will be eligible for vaccination starting March 30. Cuomo also said residents 16 and older will be eligible for vaccination starting April 6. Currently, people 50 and older are eligible.
    • On March 26, Cuomo announced the launch of Excelsior Pass, an app that provides digital proof of vaccination or a negative coronavirus test. The app is optional for individuals and businesses that require such proof to allow people to enter (like wedding reception, concert, or sports venues). Individuals can download the app now, and businesses will be able to start using it to verify vaccinations and negative tests starting April 2. Individuals can still provide other documents as proof of vaccination.

Since our last edition

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

  • Connecticut (Democratic trifecta): Connecticut’s limit on early childhood class sizes is increasing from 16 to 20 children on March 29. Gov. Ned Lamont (D) made the announcement March 4.
  • Hawaii (Democratic trifecta): Residents age 60 and older are eligible for vaccination starting March 29. Previously, people 65 and older were eligible to receive vaccines. 
  • Kentucky (divided government): Kentucky public schools must offer at least two days of in-person instruction each week starting March 29. The requirement is the result of HB 208, which Gov. Andy Beshear (D) signed on March 4. The bill passed the state Senate 28-8 on March 3 and the House 81-15 on March 4. Parents can still keep their children in fully remote learning.
  • Louisiana (divided government): All residents 16 and older are eligible for vaccinations starting March 29. Previously, anyone 65 and older, or 16 and older with a state-defined essential job or underlying conditions, was eligible for the vaccine.
  • Missouri (Republican trifecta): All residents in Phase 2 (including construction workers, higher education faculty and staff, and homeless people) are eligible for vaccinations starting March 29.
  • New Hampshire (Republican trifecta): Residents 40 and older are eligible for vaccination starting March 29. Residents 30 and older will be eligible March 31. Residents 16 and older will be eligible April 2.
  • New Jersey (Democratic trifecta): On March 29, vaccine eligibility expands to include agriculture workers, warehouse employees, clergy, and elections personnel. Starting April 5, all residents aged 55-64, residents 16 and older with intellectual and developmental disabilities, educators, and other state-defined essential frontline workers will be eligible. To see a full list of eligible groups, click here.
  • Ohio (Republican trifecta): Effective March 29, residents 16 and older are eligible to receive a coronavirus vaccine. On March 22, DeWine allowed healthcare providers to administer vaccines to people 16 and older when there were unfilled appointments.  
  • Oregon (Democratic trifecta): 
    • All counties can start vaccinating people in Phase 1B, Group 6, on March 29. Gov. Kate Brown (D) announced people in Phase 1B, Group 7, will be eligible for vaccinations starting April 5. Previously, Phase 1B, Group 7, was not scheduled to become eligible until April 19. On May 1, everyone age 16 and older will be eligible for vaccination.
    • Public elementary schools must reopen no later than March 29 for hybrid or full-time in-person instruction. Parents can still keep their children in fully remote instruction.
  • Vermont (divided government): On March 29, vaccine eligibility expands to include people 50 and older. Previously, everyone 60 and older became eligible for vaccination on March 25.

This time last year: Monday, March 30, 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. Over the course of this week, we’ll look back at some of the defining policy responses to the 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, March 30, 2020:

  • Stay-at-home orders:
    • Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) issued Executive Order 55, which directed individuals in Virginia to stay home except for essential activities and closed nonessential businesses.
    • Executive Order 121 took effect in North Carolina. The order directed individuals to stay home except for essential activities and closed nonessential businesses. Gov. Roy Cooper (D) issued Executive Order 121 on March 27.
  • Travel restrictions
    • Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D) ordered residents to self-quarantine for any out-of-state travel unless they traveled to care for a person in need, bought groceries or necessary supplies, went to work, were required to travel by court order, or obtained healthcare.
    • Montana Gov. Steve Bullock (D) ordered residents and non-residents traveling to Montana, except those traveling for work, to self-quarantine for two weeks. The order also instructed the Montana National Guard to conduct temperature checks and exposure risk inquiries at airports and rail stations in the state. 
  • School closures:
    • Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) announced schools would be closed for the remainder of the academic year. Before the announcement, schools were scheduled to reopen on April 13.
    • Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) announced the statewide school closure would last indefinitely. It was previously scheduled to end on April 8.
  • Election changes:
    • Idaho Governor Brad Little (R) and Secretary of State Lawerence Denney (R) announced the state’s May 19 primary election would be conducted entirely by mail.
    • Vermont Governor Phil Scott (R) signed H0681 into law, making a series of temporary changes to the state’s election laws in response to the coronavirus outbreak.
  • Federal government responses:
    • Glenn Fine, the acting inspector general of the Department of Defense, was selected to lead the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee, which oversaw the implementation of the Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The other eight members, who were all inspectors general of various federal departments and agencies, elected Fine.


Bold Justice: SCOTUS concludes March sitting

Bold Justice by Ballotpedia

We #SCOTUS and you can, too!

Court announcements

On March 19, the court postponed hearing the case Terry v. United States, removing it from the April argument session. The Biden administration had changed the U.S. Department of Justice’s position in the case, so the court appointed a lawyer to argue in place of the U.S. government and rescheduled the oral argument.

On March 25, the court rescheduled argument in Terry for May 4, the only case to be argued during the court’s May sitting.

March sitting

The Supreme Court continues its March argument session this week, hearing cases remotely and streaming live argument audio to the public. The court is conducting proceedings this way in accordance with public health guidance in response to COVID-19. 

SCOTUS will hear arguments in four cases for a total of three hours of oral argument. Click the links below to read more about these cases:

March 29

Between 2006 and 2010, Goldman Sachs Group (“Goldman”), a multinational investment banking firm, made public statements about its business practices. A group of Goldman shareholders (“Shareholders”) alleged in U.S. district court that the statements were false because Goldman made them while knowing it had several undisclosed conflicts of interest. According to the 2nd Circuit opinion in the case, Goldman was publicly marketing risky financial products as ordinary asset-backed securities while internally, the company was allowing a hedge fund client access to create the products. Then, both Goldman and the client bet against the products, meaning that they would profit off of the transaction performing poorly or failing. Meanwhile, the shareholders experienced financial losses on the transactions. 

In 2010, Goldman disclosed its conflicts of interest. In 2011, the Shareholders filed a class action complaint against Goldman. On remand for further proceedings from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit, the district court certified the class, allowing the complaint to continue. Goldman requested the certification be reversed. On appeal, the 2nd Circuit affirmed the district court’s judgment.

The questions presented: 

“1. Whether a defendant in a securities class action may rebut the presumption of classwide reliance recognized in Basic Inc. v. Levinson, 485 U.S. 224 (1988), by pointing to the generic nature of the alleged misstatements in showing that the statements had no impact on the price of the security, even though that evidence is also relevant to the substantive element of materiality.

“2. Whether a defendant seeking to rebut the Basic presumption has only a burden of production or also the ultimate burden of persuasion.”

March 30

Sergio Ramirez acted as a representative for a class action lawsuit against credit report agency TransUnion. Ramirez alleged that TransUnion willfully violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act when the company indicated on his credit report that his name appeared on a government list of individuals prohibited from conducting business in the United States. 

A jury in U.S. district court awarded more than $60 million in damages to the class members. On appeal, the 9th Circuit upheld the district court’s judgment but reduced the per-member punitive damages amount. TransUnion appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The questions presented: Whether Article III of the U.S. Constitution or Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Procedure authorize a damages class action lawsuit where the majority of the class was not actually injured, even if the class representative suffered an atypical injury.

March 31

National Collegiate Athletic Association v. Alston (Consolidated with American Athletic Conference v. Alston) came to the court from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit. The cases concern federal antitrust law and the NCAA’s compensation rules. 

In 2014, a class of Division 1 (“D1”) student-athletes, collectively referred to as “Alston” and as “student-athletes”, filed several antitrust complaints against the National Collegiate Athletic Association (“NCAA”) and 11 D1 conferences with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California challenging the NCAA’s compensation rules for student-athletes. The NCAA claimed the challenge was settled in O’Bannon v. NCAA. The Northern District of California ordered the NCAA to make its compensation rules less restrictive for student-athletes and concluded the compensation rules were unlawful restraints of trade under the Sherman Act. On appeal, the 9th Circuit affirmed the district court’s conclusion, its injunction, and its assessment of liability. The NCAA appealed to the Supreme Court. 

The questions presented: 

  • In NCAA v. Alston: Whether the 9th Circuit erred in its ruling that the NCAA eligibility rules for student-athletes’ compensation violate federal antitrust law.
  • In American Athletic Conference v. Alston: “Whether the Sherman Act authorizes a court to subject the product-defining rules of a joint venture to full Rule of Reason review, and to hold those rules unlawful if, in the court’s view, they are not the least restrictive means that could have been used to accomplish their procompetitive goal.”

Opinions

SCOTUS issued two opinion(s) since our March 22 issue. The court has issued 21 opinions so far this term. Four cases were decided without argument.

On March 25, the court issued an opinion in the consolidated cases Ford Motor Company v. Montana Eighth Judicial District Court and Ford Motor Company v. Bandemer, which originated from the Montana and Minnesota Supreme Courts, respectively. These cases concerned state court jurisdiction related to the Fourteenth Amendment’s due process clause.

In both cases, plaintiffs were involved in car accidents in Ford vehicles (one in Montana and one in Minnesota) and later filed liability claims against the manufacturer. Ford filed for dismissal in the cases, arguing the state courts didn’t have jurisdiction to hear the cases. Both the Minnesota and Montana state supreme courts ruled that state courts were an appropriate forum for the cases. Ford appealed to SCOTUS for review.

In an 8-0 ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the state courts’ rulings, holding that the connection between the plaintiffs’ liability claims in the two cases and Ford’s activities in both states allowed the state courts to have jurisdiction. Justice Elena Kagan delivered the majority opinion, her first of the term. Justices Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch filed concurring opinions. Justice Clarence Thomas joined Gorsuch’s concurrence. Justice Amy Coney Barrett took no part in the consideration or decision of the case since the case was argued prior to her joining the court. Click here to read more about the outcome of these cases.

The court also issued an opinion in Torres v. Madrid, a case originating from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit that concerned a claim of excessive force against police officers and whether the use of physical force to restrain a person constitutes a seizure under the Fourth Amendment

While attempting to arrest an individual at an Albuquerque apartment complex, New Mexico state police officers Richard Williamson and Janice Madrid approached Roxanne Torres in the parking lot to discover her identity. Thinking the police were carjackers, Torres got in her car and attempted to drive away. The officers ordered her to halt and shot her twice. Torres drove from the scene and was treated at a hospital for her injuries. Later, Torres was arrested and pleaded no contest to three crimes related to the event. Torres filed a civil lawsuit against the officers in U.S. district court claiming they had used excessive force and violated her Fourth Amendment rights. The district court ruled the officers were entitled to qualified immunity and there had been no seizure because the detention was unsuccessful–i.e., Torres left the scene. The 10th Circuit affirmed the district court’s ruling, joining an existing circuit split on this question of law.

In a 5-3 opinion, SCOTUS vacated the 10th Circuit’s judgment and remanded the case for further proceedings, ruling that using physical force on an individual with the intent to restrain is a seizure, even if the individual does not submit and is not subdued. Chief Justice John Roberts delivered the majority opinion. Justice Neil Gorsuch filed a dissenting opinion, joined by Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito. Justice Amy Coney Barrett took no part in the consideration or decision of the case. Click here for more information about the ruling.

Grants

SCOTUS accepted two cases since our March 22 issue which will be scheduled for argument during the upcoming October 2021-2022 term. The court has granted review in 10 cases for the term, which is scheduled to begin on October 4, 2021. 

In 2013, brothers Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev detonated two homemade bombs at the Boston Marathon. Tamerlan died days later in a confrontation with police. In 2015, Dzhokhar was indicted on and convicted of 30 criminal charges related to the bombings. He was sentenced to death for several of the offenses.

Dzhokhar appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit, alleging the jury- and venue-selection processes in his case violated his constitutional rights to due process, an impartial jury, and a reliable sentencing ruling. He also claimed that the U.S. district court judge erred in applying the death penalty for some of the convictions. The 1st Circuit affirmed in part, reversed in part, and vacated in part the district court’s ruling. The court rescinded the death sentences and remanded the case back to the lower court for further proceedings.

The questions presented to the court are: 

“1. Whether the court of appeals erred in concluding that respondent’s capital sentences must be vacated on the ground that the district court, during its 21-day voir dire, did not ask each prospective juror for a specific accounting of the pretrial media coverage that he or she had read, heard, or seen about respondent’s case.

“2. Whether the district court committed reversible error at the penalty phase of respondent’s trial by excluding evidence that respondent’s older brother was allegedly involved in different crimes two years before the offenses for which respondent was convicted.”

  • Servotronics, Inc. v. Rolls-Royce PLC concerns private, commercial arbitration proceedings outside of the United States and whether such proceedings are considered a foreign or international tribunal under the law. Three federal circuit courts have ruled they are not considered an international tribunal and two have ruled that they are, creating a circuit split. The case originated from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit. Justice Samuel Alito, who has disclosed owning Boeing stock, was recused from the case.

Rolls-Royce PLC (“Rolls-Royce”) manufactured and sold an engine to the Boeing Company (“Boeing”) that was incorporated into Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner aircraft. During testing, an engine malfunction damaged the plane. Boeing sought compensation from Rolls-Royce and the parties settled. Rolls-Royce, in turn, sought compensation from the engine valve manufacturer, Servotronics, Inc. (“Servotronics”), in an arbitration court in Birmingham, England.

Servotronics filed a subpoena–an order requiring testimony or information–with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois to compel Boeing to provide documents for the arbitration proceedings. The Northern District of Illinois at first granted and then voided the subpoena, after Boeing and Rolls-Royce petitioned the court to deny the request. On appeal, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit upheld the ruling, holding that U.S. district courts are not authorized to compel discovery, i.e. grant a subpoena, in private foreign arbitrations. 

The questions presented to the court are: “Whether the discretion granted to district courts in 28 U.S.C. §1782(a) to render assistance in gathering evidence for use in ‘a foreign or international tribunal’ encompasses private commercial arbitral tribunals, as the Fourth and Sixth Circuits have held, or excludes such tribunals without expressing an exclusionary intent, as the Second, Fifth, and, in the case below, the Seventh Circuit, have held.”

Upcoming SCOTUS dates

Here are the court’s upcoming dates of interest:

  • March 29: 
    • SCOTUS will release orders. 
    • SCOTUS will hear arguments in one case.
  • March 30: SCOTUS will hear arguments in one case.
  • March 31: SCOTUS will hear arguments in two cases.
  • April 2: SCOTUS will conference. A conference is a private meeting of the justices.

SCOTUS trivia

SCOTUS has released 21 opinions so far this term. SCOTUS issued its first opinion in 1791–what was the name of that case? 

a) Best v. Warms

b) Barnes v. West

c) West v. Barnes

d) Kramer v. Kramer

Choose an answer to find out!

Federal court action

Nominations and confirmations

President Biden announced no new nominees and the U.S. Senate has confirmed no new nominees since our March 22 issue.

President Biden has not yet made any federal judicial nominations during his term. 

In comparison to previous presidential administrations, Presidents Donald Trump (R) and George H.W. Bush (R) made their first Article III judicial appointments by June 1 of the first year of their presidencies. Presidents George W. Bush (R) and Ronald Reagan (R) made their first appointments by August 1, and Presidents Barack Obama (D) and Bill Clinton (D) made their first Article III judicial appointments by October 1 of their first years in office. These figures do not include appointments to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Vacancies

The federal judiciary currently has 72 vacancies. As of publication, there were no pending nominations.

For more information on judicial vacancies during Biden’s term, click here.

Do you love judicial nomination, confirmation, and vacancy information? We figured you might. Our monthly Federal Vacancy Count, published at the start of each month, monitors all the faces and places moving in, moving out, and moving on in the federal judiciary. Click here for our most current count.

Need a daily fix of judicial nomination, confirmation, and vacancy information? Click here for continuing updates on the status of all federal judicial nominees.

Or, keep an eye on our list for updates on federal judicial nominations.

Spotlight: Presidential nominations to federal courts

Put on your best grunge flannels and cue up Peter Gabriel’s classic “In Your Eyes” on the boombox, because it’s time to travel back to a bygone era known as 1989 to 1993. This edition of Bold Justice takes a look at President George H.W. Bush’s (R) judicial nominees.

During his term of office, President Bush made 197 successful judicial appointments where the nominee joined the court. Of those appointments, 188 were Article III judges. Among the most notable of these are Supreme Court Justices Clarence Thomas and David Souter.

When President Bush assumed office in January 1989, he inherited 37 life-term vacancies out of 757 total Article III judgeships (4.89%), the lowest vacancy percentage of all presidents since the inauguration of President Ronald Reagan (R) in January 1981. 

Of his Article III appointees–not including Supreme Court nominations–Bush appointed 42 judges to the United States Courts of Appeal, 148 judges to U.S. district courts, and one judge to the U.S. Court of International Trade.



A look back at government responses to COVID-19, March 30-April 3, 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 March and April, states issued stay-at-home orders, closed schools, restricted travel, and changed election dates. Many of those policies remain in place today. 

Here are the policy changes that happened March 30-April 3, 2020. This list is not comprehensive. To see a list of all policy changes in each category, click the links below.

Monday, March 30, 2020:

  • Stay-at-home orders:
    • Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) issued Executive Order 55, which directed individuals in Virginia to stay home except for essential activities and closed nonessential businesses in the state.
    • Executive Order 121 took effect in North Carolina. The order directed individuals to stay home except for essential activities and closed nonessential businesses in the state. Gov. Roy Cooper (D) issued Executive Order 121 on March 27. 
  • Travel restrictions
    • Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D) issued an order requiring residents to self-quarantine for any out-of-state travel, unless they traveled to care for a person in need, bought groceries or necessary supplies, went to work, were required to travel by a court order, or obtained healthcare.
    • Montana Gov. Steve Bullock (D) issued an executive order requiring residents and non-residents traveling to Montana, except those traveling for work, to self-quarantine for two weeks. The order also instructed the Montana National Guard to conduct temperature checks and exposure risk inquiries at airports and rail stations in the state.
  • School closures:
    • Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) announced schools would be closed for the remainder of the academic year. Prior to the announcement, schools were scheduled to reopen on April 13.
    • Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) announced the statewide school closure would last indefinitely. It was previously scheduled to end on April 8.
  • Election changes:
    • Idaho Governor Brad Little (R) and Secretary of State Lawerence Denney (R) announced the state’s May 19 primary election would be conducted entirely by mail.
    • Vermont Governor Phil Scott (R) signed H0681 into law, making a series of temporary changes to the state’s election laws in response to the coronavirus outbreak.
  • Federal government responses:
    • Glenn Fine, the acting inspector general of the Department of Defense, was selected to lead the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee, which oversaw the implementation of the Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. He was selected as chair by the other eight members of the committee, who were all inspectors general of various federal departments and agencies.

Tuesday, March 31, 2020:

  • Stay-at-home orders:
    • Executive Order 22 took effect in Tennessee. The order directed individuals in Tennessee to stay home except for essential activities and closed nonessential businesses in the state. Gov. Bill Lee (R) issued the order March 30. 
    • Executive Order 2020-18 took effect in Arizona. The order directed individuals in Arizona to stay home except for essential activities and closed nonessential businesses in the state. Gov. Doug Ducey (R) issued the order March 30.
  • Travel restrictions
    • West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (R) issued an executive order requiring all non-residents traveling to West Virginia from areas with “substantial community spread” to self-quarantine for two weeks. The order instructed West Virginia State Police to monitor roadways for such possible travelers.
  • School closures:
    • Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) extended the statewide school closure from April 7 to April 30.
    • Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) extended the statewide school closure from April 3 to May 4.
  • Election changes:
    • Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate (R) announced that his office would send absentee ballot applications to all active registered voters in the state in advance of the June 2, 2020, primary election.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020:

  • Stay-at-home orders:
    • Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) extended the stay-at-home order to all 67 counties in the state. Previously, the order affected 26 counties. 
    • Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) issued Executive Order 2020-07, which directed individuals to stay home except for essential activities and closed nonessential businesses in the state.
  • School closures:
    • California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) announced schools would be physically closed for the remainder of the school year.
    • Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) announced schools would remain closed for the remainder of the school year. Prior to the order, the state’s school closure was scheduled to end April 24.
  • Election changes:
    • Idaho Governor Brad Little (R) issued a proclamation establishing deadlines for the state’s all-mail primary election.
    • West Virginia Governor Jim Justice (R) issued Executive Order 18-20, postponing West Virginia’s statewide primary election to June 9, 2020. The primary was originally scheduled to take place May 12.
  • Federal government responses:
    • The Bureau of Prisons announced it was instituting a 14-day lockdown of all prison inmates.

Thursday, April 2, 2020:

  • Stay-at-home orders:
    • Executive Order GA-14 went into effect. The order directed individuals in Texas to stay home except for essential activities and closed nonessential businesses in the state. Gov. Greg Abbott (R) issued the order March 31.
    • Executive Order 28 went into effect. The order directed individuals to stay home. Gov. Janet Mills (D) issued the order March 31.
  • School closures:
    • Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) announced schools in the state would remain closed through the end of the academic year.
    • Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) announced schools statewide would remain closed for the rest of the academic year.
    • Maine Gov. Janet Mills’ (D) stay-at-home order closed schools statewide through April 30.
  • Election changes:
    • Judge William M. Conley, of the United States District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin, issued an order extending absentee voting deadlines in Wisconsin’s April 7, 2020, election.

Friday, April 3, 2020:

  • Stay-at-home orders:
    • Executive Order 1466 went into effect. The order directed individuals in Mississippi to stay home except for essential activities and closed nonessential businesses in the state. Gov. Tate Reeves (R) issued the order April 1. 
  • Travel restrictions
    • Maine Gov. Janet Mills (D) issued an executive order requiring all out-of-state travelers to self-quarantine for two weeks. Individuals providing essential services were exempt. The order directed state agencies, such as the Maine Department of Transportation and the Maine Turnpike Authority, to post the order at all major points of entry into the state.
    • Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon (R) issued an order requiring out-of-state travelers to self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.
  • School closures:
    • As part of a stay-at-home order issued by Missouri Gov. Mike Parsons (R), extended the statewide school closure from April 3 through April 24.
    • Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon (R) extended the statewide school closur`e from April 17 to April 30
  • Election changes:
    • Florida Secretary of State Laurel Lee (R) signed two orders authorizing candidates to submit qualifying documents, including signed petitions, electronically.
    • The Democratic Party of Maine canceled its state convention, originally scheduled for May 29-30, 2020.
  • Federal government responses:
    • The Supreme Court of the United States postponed the oral arguments scheduled for its April sitting. The court was scheduled to hear eight cases from April 20 to April 29.

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. To get information on vaccine distribution in your state, click here.  



Documenting America’s Path to Recovery: March 25, 2021

Documenting America's Path to Recovery by Ballotpedia

The next 24 hours

What is changing in the next 24 hours?

  • North Carolina (divided government): Effective Friday, March 26, the limit on indoor gatherings will increase from 25 to 50 people, while the limit on outdoor gatherings will increase from 50 to 100 people. Retail stores, as well as museums and salons, will be allowed to operate at 100% capacity, while businesses like restaurants and gyms will be allowed to operate at 75% capacity indoors and 100% capacity outdoors. The new order will also allow bars and movie theaters to operate at 50% capacity. Additionally, the order removes the alcohol curfew, which prohibits alcohol sales after 11 p.m. Gov. Roy Cooper (D) made the announcement Tuesday, March 23.
  • West Virginia (Republican trifecta): On Wednesday, March 24, Gov. Jim Justice (R) announced that all live music performances will be allowed to resume Friday, March 25, and that summer camps will be allowed to reopen May 1. Justice also announced that the state’s color-coded County Alert System will no longer be used to determine if high schools can reopen for in-person instruction. High schools will join all other schools in offering full-time, in-person instruction unless there is a COVID-19 active outbreak. 

Since our last edition

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

  • Florida (Republican trifecta): On Thursday, March 24, Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) announced that people 40 and older will become eligible to receive a coronavirus vaccine Monday, March 29. Eligibility will expand to include everyone 18 and older on April 5. 
  • Idaho (Republican trifecta): Gov. Brad Little (R) announced all residents 16 and older will be eligible for vaccination starting April 5. People with underlying health conditions will be eligible starting March 29. Currently, residents 45 and older, people in congregate settings, and state-defined frontline essential workers can get vaccinated.
  • Kansas (divided government): Gov. Laura Kelly (D) signed SB 40 on March 24. The bill extends Kansas’ coronavirus emergency through May 28 but ends all executive orders related to the pandemic on March 31. Kelly said she will reissue most of the orders, including the state’s mask mandate. Under the new law, the state legislature can end executive orders during a legislative session, including the orders Kelly plans to reissue. Senate President Ty Masterson (R) said, “should the governor issue any new executive order which imposes an undue burden on the people of Kansas, including an unnecessary new mask mandate, rest assured the Senate will take immediate action once we receive the order.” 
  • Louisiana (divided government): Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) announced all residents 16 and older will be eligible for vaccinations starting March 29. Currently, anyone 65 and older, or 16 and older with a state-defined essential job or underlying conditions, is eligible for the vaccine.
  • Michigan (divided government): On Wednesday, March 24, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) vetoed Senate Bill 1, which limits the length of Department of Health and Human Services emergency health orders to 28 days without the legislature’s approval. Senate Bill 1 passed the Senate 20-15 on March 2. The House passed it 59-50 on March 9. 
  • New Mexico (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) announced 10 counties have Yellow Level restrictions, 10 are Green, and 13 are Turquoise for the two-week period starting March 24. No counties are in the Red Level. In the previous period, one county was Red Level, 18 were Yellow, seven were Green, and seven were Turquoise.
  • Ohio (Republican trifecta): On Wednesday. March 24, the legislature voted to override Gov. Mike DeWine’s (R) veto of Senate Bill 22. Senate Bill 22 allows the legislature to cancel health orders that last longer than 30 days and requires the governor to renew such orders every 60 days. The law also creates a legislative panel to provide oversight of the governor’s health orders and restricts local officials’ authority to require people to quarantine without a medical diagnosis. The Senate voted 23-10 to override the veto, while the House voted 62-35 to do the same. The bill will take effect in 90 days. 
  • Utah (Republican trifecta): On Wednesday, March 24, Gov. Spencer Cox (R) signed House Bill 294, a law that eliminates the statewide mask mandate on April 10. The law also sets conditions for ending other restrictions based on case rates, percentage of occupied hospital beds, and vaccine supply. The law eliminates all restrictions on July 1, even if none of the conditions have been met.  
  • Vermont (divided government): 
    • Residents 60 and older are eligible for a coronavirus vaccine starting March 25.
    • On March 24, bars reopened to indoor service under the same rules that previously applied to restaurants. Those rules include a 50% occupancy limit, no standing or mingling, and no more than six people per table. Organizations like the American Legion and Elks Lodge can also resume indoor operations under the same rules.
  • Washington (Democratic trifecta): On Wednesday, March 24, the state Department of Health confirmed that all residents 16 and older will become eligible for a vaccine on May 1. 

Vaccine eligibility

Note: This section may not reflect the most recent stories in today’s The next 24 hours and Since our last edition sections above. This section details eligibility for different age groups in each state. 

We last looked at vaccine eligibility in our March 23 newsletter. As of March 24, at least one county in each state allowed vaccinations for the following age groups:

  • 11 states allowed vaccinations for anyone 16+
  • One state allowed vaccinations for anyone 18+
  • Three states allowed vaccinations for anyone 40+
  • One state allowed vaccinations for anyone 45+
  • Eight states allowed vaccinations for anyone 50+
  • Five states allowed vaccinations for anyone 55+
  • Four states allowed vaccinations for anyone 60+
  • 17 states and Washington, D.C. allowed vaccinations for anyone 65+

For more details on vaccine distribution, including the eligibility of grocery store workers, food service employees, and people with underlying conditions, click here.

In some states, vaccine eligibility can vary by county. The data above details the loosest restrictions in each state. For example, if one county in a state allows vaccines for anyone 55 or older, the state is marked as 55+, even if every other county limits vaccinations to people 65 or older. To see what states allow eligibility for groups in specific counties, check out the New York Times article here.

School closures and reopenings

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

Overview:

  • 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.
    • 2016-17 enrollment: 403,664 students (0.80% of students nationwide)
  • Six states (Ark., Fla., Iowa, N.H., Texas, W.Va.) had state-ordered in-person instruction.
    • 2016-17 enrollment: 9,635,661 students (19.05% of students nationwide)
  • One state (Ariz.) had state-ordered in-person instruction for certain grades.
    • 2016-17 enrollment: 1,123,137 students (2.22% of students nationwide)
  • Forty-one states left decisions to schools or districts.
    • 2016-17 enrollment: 39,425,397 students (77.93% of students nationwide)

Details: 

  • West Virginia – On March 24, Gov. Jim Justice (R) ordered all schools, regardless of grade or county transmission levels, to reopen for in-person learning five days a week. Previously, high schools had to close in counties the DHHR designated as red transmission areas.

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 issued executive orders placing restrictions on out-of-state visitors. At least 20 of those orders have been rescinded.
    • Since March 18, two states have ended their travel restrictions. One state rescinded a travel advisory. 

Details:

  • Connecticut – On March 19, Gov. Ned Lamont (D) ended the requirement that out-of-state travelers and returning residents self-quarantine for 10 days or provide a negative COVID-19 test upon entering the state.
  • Washington – On March 19, Gov. Jay Inslee (D) rescinded a travel advisory issued Nov. 13, 2020, that asked out-of-state travelers and returning residents to self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival and avoid non-essential travel. Inslee asked residents and travelers to comply with U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) travel guidance.
  • Massachusetts – On March 22, Gov. Charlie Baker (R) replaced a statewide travel order with a travel advisory urging travelers to quarantine for 10 days if they have not received a negative COVID-19 test.

Federal responses

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

  • On March 19, The CDC announced that K-12 students should remain three feet apart in schools. Previously, the CDC had recommended six feet of distance. When masks cannot be worn at all times, such as while eating, the CDC continues to recommend six feet of distance. Middle school and high school students in areas with high rates of COVID-19 spread should still maintain six feet of distance.

This time last year: Wednesday, March 25, 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. Over the course of this week, we’ll look back at some of the defining policy responses to the 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, March 25, 2020:

  • Stay-at-home orders:
    • On March 24, Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D) issued Executive Order #12, directing residents to stay at home as much as possible and non-essential businesses and operations to cease, with limited exceptions for minimum basic operations and working from home. The order went into effect March 25.
    • Idaho Gov. Brad Little (R) amended the original state of emergency declaration with a proclamation directing individuals to stay at home unless performing essential activities and restricting non-essential businesses.
  • School closures:
    • The Oklahoma Department of Education announced that schools would remain closed for the remainder of the academic year.
    • Maryland State Superintendent Karen Salmon extended the statewide school closure from March 27 to April 24.
  • Election changes:
    • Montana Governor Steve Bullock (D) authorized counties to conduct upcoming elections entirely by mail.
    • The Indiana Election Commission temporarily suspended the state’s statutory absentee voting eligibility requirements, allowing all voters to cast their ballots by mail in the June 2, 2020, primary election.
  • Federal government responses:
    • The U.S. Senate voted 96-0 to pass the $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which included payments of $1,200 for individuals making up to $75,000 annually.


Documenting America’s Path to Recovery: March 23, 2021

Documenting America's Path to Recovery by Ballotpedia

The next 24 hours

What is changing in the next 24 hours?

  • Arizona (Republican trifecta): Gov. Doug Ducey (R) announced state-operated vaccination sites can start administering vaccines to residents 16 or older starting March 24. Currently, people 55 and older can make appointments at state sites.
  • North Carolina (divided government): Individuals in Group 4, which includes people at higher risk of COVID-19 because of underlying health conditions, will become eligible to receive a vaccine on March 24.
  • Utah (Republican trifecta): People 16 and older will become eligible for a coronavirus vaccine Wednesday, March 24.
  • Vermont (divided government): Effective Wednesday, March 24, bars can reopen to indoor service under the same rules that currently apply to restaurants. Those rules include a 50% occupancy limit, no standing or mingling, and no more than six people per table. Organizations like the American Legion and Elks Lodge can also resume indoor operations under the same rules.  

Since our last edition

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

  • Delaware (Democratic trifecta): Residents 50 and older are eligible to register for state-run vaccination events starting March 23. Pharmacies were allowed to start vaccinating residents 50 and older on March 17.
  • Maine (Democratic trifecta): Residents age 50 and older are eligible for vaccinations starting March 23. On April 19, all residents age 16 and older will be eligible for vaccination.
  • New York (Democratic trifecta): Residents 50 and older started registering for vaccination appointments at 8 a.m. March 23. Previously, the state allowed vaccinations for residents 60 and older.
  • Ohio (Republican trifecta): On Monday, March 22, Gov. Mike DeWine (D) issued updated guidance for nursing home visits. Facilities are required to allow visitors once safety protocols are met. Additionally, vaccinated residents can now physically touch visitors while wearing a mask. 
  • South Dakota (Republican trifecta): On Monday, March 22, the South Dakota Department of Health opened vaccine eligibility to Group 1E of the state’s vaccination plan. Group 1E includes critical infrastructure workers, such as employees in food and agriculture, wastewater, and fire personnel. 
  • Tennessee (Republican trifecta): On Monday, March 22, Gov. Bill Lee (R) announced that residents 16 and older will become eligible to receive a coronavirus vaccine April 5. 
  • Texas (Republican trifecta): On Tuesday, March 23, the Texas Department of State Health Services announced that residents 16 and older will become eligible to receive a coronavirus vaccine March 29. 
  • Wisconsin (divided government): On Monday, March 22, Gov. Tony Evers (D) signed a bill allowing dentists to administer COVID-19 vaccines. Dentists must first complete eight hours of training on vaccine protocols and recording keeping. 

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 1,731 lawsuits, in 50 states, dealing in some way with the COVID-19 outbreak. Court orders have been issued, or settlements have been reached, in 510 of those lawsuits. 
    • Since March 16, we have added 26 lawsuits to our database. We have also tracked an additional nine court orders and/or settlements. 

Details:

  • Munza v. Ivey: On March 19, the Alabama Supreme Court upheld a lower court’s dismissal of a lawsuit that sought to overturn the state’s mask mandated. In their original complaint, the plaintiffs said the mask mandate violated the state’s Administrative Procedure Act and was too vague. Montgomery County Circuit Judge Greg Griffin ruled against the plaintiffs, prompting the appeal to the state supreme court. The state supreme court unanimously upheld Griffin’s original ruling, finding the plaintiffs lacked standing to proceed with their action. Writing for the court, Justice Michael Bolin (R) said the plaintiffs had failed to prove the statewide mask order directly injured them. Bolin also said the plaintiffs had failed “to even state that they have refused to wear masks or facial coverings in public such that they could be subject to an enforcement action.” Alabama’s mask mandate expires on April 9.

State mask requirements

We last looked at face coverings in the March 16 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
    • Three federal officials have died of COVID-19.
    • Sixty-four members of Congress have been diagnosed with COVID-19.
    • Forty-one federal officials have quarantined after possible exposure to COVID-19.
  • State
    • Ten state-level incumbents or candidates have died of COVID-19.
    • Two hundred twenty-one 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 42 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 March 16, five state representatives have tested positive for COVID-19. One state senator and one governor have self-quarantine after being exposed to COVID-19.

Details:

  • On March 16, Idaho state Rep. Ryan Kerby (R) announced he tested positive for COVID-19.
  • On March 17, Florida state Sen. Joe Gruters (R) announced he would self-quarantine after his wife tested positive for COVID-19. 
  • On March 17, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz (D) announced he would self-quarantine for 10 days after a member of his staff tested positive for COVID-19.
  • On March 18, Idaho state Rep. Greg Chaney (R) tested positive for COVID-19.
  • On March 18, Idaho state Rep. James Ruchti (D) tested positive for COVID-19. 
  • On March 18, Idaho state Rep. Julie Ramamoto (R) announced she tested positive for COVID-19. 
  • On March 21, West Virginia state Rep. Brandon Steele (R) announced he tested positive for COVID-19. 

Vaccine eligibility

Note: This section may not reflect the most recent stories in today’s The next 24 hours and Since our last edition sections above. This section details eligibility for different age groups in each state. 

We last looked at vaccine eligibility in our March 18 newsletter. As of March 22, at least one county in each state allowed vaccinations for the following age groups:

  • Seven states allowed vaccinations for anyone 16+ or 18+
  • Four states allowed vaccinations for anyone 40+ or 45+
  • 13 states allowed vaccinations for anyone 50+ or 55+
  • 26 states and Washington, D.C., allowed vaccinations for anyone 60+ or 65+

For more details on vaccine distribution, including the eligibility of grocery store workers, food service employees, and people with underlying conditions, click here.

In some states, vaccine eligibility can vary by county. The data above details the loosest restrictions in each state. For example, if one county in a state allows vaccines for anyone 55 or older, the state is marked as 55+, even if every other county limits vaccinations to people 65 or older. To see what states allow eligibility for groups in specific counties, check out the New York Times article here.

COVID-19 policy changes: Tuesday, March 24, 2020

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

Tuesday, March 24, 2020:

  • Stay-at-home orders:
    • West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (R) issued Executive Order No. 9-20, which directed all West Virginians to stay at home and limit movements outside of their homes beyond essential needs.
    • Vermont Gov. Phil Scott issued Addendum 6 to Executive Order 01-20, directing residents to limit normal everyday activities outside of the home and to practice social distancing at all times.
  • Travel restrictions:
    • Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) ordered travelers flying into Florida from New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut to self-quarantine for two weeks.
  • School closures:
    • Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D) announced that public and private schools would remain closed through April 23.
    • The Hawaii Department of Education extended the statewide public school closures from April 6 to April 30.
  • Election changes:
    • Nevada Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske (R) announced plans to conduct all voting in the June 9, 2020, primary election by mail.
  • Federal government responses:
    • The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced it would use the Defense Production Act to acquire 60,000 coronavirus testing kits.


SCOTUS Public Information Office makes COVID-related announcements

On March 19, 2021, the U.S. Supreme Court’s Public Information Office announced that the court will hear arguments remotely and provide live audio streams to the public during its upcoming April argument session. The decision was made in accordance with public health guidance in response to COVID-19. To date, all arguments have been conducted remotely this term. 

The court is scheduled to hear 12 hours of oral argument in 14 cases between April 19 and April 28. One case originally scheduled for argument during the April sitting, Terry v. United States, has been postponed.

On March 5, the court’s Public Information Office said that all of the justices had been fully vaccinated. 

On March 19, the court held its first in-person conference since last spring. Some of the justices participated remotely.

Additional Reading: