TagCoronavirus

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

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. 


Thirteen states require masks in schools for the upcoming school year

As students across the country begin returning to school for the 2021-2022 academic year, 13 states require masks in public schools while seven ban them.

As of Aug. 10, eleven states require masks for all K-12 students and staff: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, New Jersey, Oregon, Virginia, and Washington. Nevada requires masks in districts with more than 100,000 residents. New Mexico requires unvaccinated people and all students and staff in elementary schools to wear masks.

Seven states have banned mask requirements in schools: Arizona, Florida, Iowa, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Utah. Arkansas’ school mask requirement is temporarily suspended. Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) called a special session of the Arkansas General Assembly, asking they create an exception in Act 1002 to allow local authorities to implement mask requirements for students too young to be vaccinated. The Assembly did not alter the law. Hours after the session ended on Aug. 6, Pulaski County Circuit Judge Tim Fox issued an injunction against Act 1002.

Thirty states, including Arkansas, left school mask requirement decisions up to local authorities.



Documenting America’s Path to Recovery #288: August 10, 2021

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

  • State employee vaccine requirements in Hawaii and Washington
  • The resumption of federal pandemic unemployment programs in Oklahoma
  • 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.

Arkansas (Republican trifecta): 

  • On Aug. 6, the Arkansas General Assembly adjourned its special session without making alterations to the state’s mask mandate ban to allow school districts to impose mask requirements. Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) had called for the session on Aug. 3.
  • On Aug. 6, Pulaski County Circuit Judge Tim Fox temporarily suspended the state’s mask requirement ban. Fox ruled the law discriminated between public and private schools and infringed on the governor’s emergency powers, the authority of municipal officials, and the authority of the state supreme court.

Connecticut (Democratic trifecta): On Aug. 6, Gov. Ned Lamont (D) issued an executive order requiring long-term care facility staff be vaccinated against the coronavirus no later than Sept. 7.

Delaware (Democratic trifecta): On Aug. 10, Gov. John Carney (D) issued an executive order requiring masks indoors in public and private schools, effective Aug. 16.

Florida (Republican trifecta): On Sunday, Aug. 8, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida Judge Kathleen Williams blocked Florida from enforcing its restrictions on proof-of-vaccination requirements. The ruling allows Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings to proceed with a plan to require passengers boarding in Miami to provide COVID-19 vaccination documentation starting on Aug. 15. 

Hawaii (Democratic trifecta): On Aug. 5, Gov. David Ige (D) announced all state and county employees would be required to provide proof of vaccination or receive regular coronavirus tests. The requirement takes effect Aug. 16.

New Jersey (Democratic trifecta): 

  • On Aug. 6, Gov. Phil Murphy (D) issued an executive order requiring masks indoors in private and public schools, effective Aug. 9.
  • On Aug. 6, Gov. Phil Murphy (D) issued an executive order requiring workers in healthcare facilities and high-risk congregate settings to be fully vaccinated or be tested for the coronavirus at least once or twice per week. The requirement takes effect on Sept. 7.

New York (Democratic trifecta): New York State Department of Health Commissioner Howard Zucker said school districts would have authority over school coronavirus guidance and requirements.

Oklahoma (Republican trifecta): On Sunday, Aug. 8, Oklahoma County District Judge Anthony Bonner ordered the Oklahoma Department of Labor to reinstate federal pandemic unemployment benefits. Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) ended the state’s participation in the federal program on June 26. 

Rhode Island (Democratic trifecta): On Aug. 6, 2021, Gov. Dan McKee (D) extended the state’s coronavirus emergency declaration through Sept. 4.

Tennessee (Republican trifecta): On Friday, Aug. 6, Gov. Bill Lee (R) issued an order allowing the state commissioner of health to approve out-of-state medical workers to practice in the state without a license if they are supporting COVID-19 patients. The order also allows the commissioner to bring retired medical professionals back into the workforce if their licenses have expired. 

Texas (Republican trifecta): On Monday, Aug. 9. Gov. Greg Abbott (R) called on the Texas Hospital Association to voluntarily postpone elective procedures to increase hospital capacity. Abbott said the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) will rely on staffing agencies to bring out-of-state healthcare workers to the state to assist with COVID-19 patients. 

Washington (Democratic trifecta): On Monday, Aug. 9, Gov. Jay Inslee (D) announced state employees must be fully vaccinated by Oct. 18. The requirement also extends to healthcare workers in private hospitals and long-term care facilities. 

Vaccine distribution

We last looked at vaccine distribution in the Aug. 5 edition of the newsletter. As of Aug. 9, 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 1,839 lawsuits, in 50 states, dealing in some way with the COVID-19 outbreak. 
    • Since July 27, we have added five new lawsuits to our database.

Details:

  • Zywicki v. Washington: On Aug. 3, 2021, Todd Zywicki, a George Mason University law professor, sued the school seeking an exemption from its COVID-19 vaccine mandate. In his complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Professor Zywicki argues that vaccination is medically unnecessary because he has naturally acquired antibodies from earlier infection. Zywicki maintains the University’s policy of requiring all unvaccinated faculty and staff to mask, socially distance, and undergo routine testing, regardless of previous infection, is “unmistakably coercive and cannot reasonably be considered anything other than an unlawful mandate.” Providing evidence of multiple positive antibody tests conducted over the past year, Professor Zywicki says his doctors believe vaccinating him would be unnecessary and unethical. As such, the University’s vaccine policy “represents an unconstitutional condition being applied to Professor Zywicki’s constitutional rights to bodily integrity and informed medical choice.” The case is assigned to Judge Anthony Trenga, an appointee of President George W. Bush (R).

State mask requirements

We last looked at face coverings in the Aug. 3 edition of the newsletter. Since then, there have not been any updates.

COVID-19 emergency health orders

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

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

Overview: 

  • COVID-19 emergency orders have expired in 25 states. Emergency orders remain active in 25 states.
  • Since July 27, no states have ended their statewide COVID-19 emergencies. 

This time last year: Monday, Aug. 10, and Tuesday, Aug. 11, 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. 10, 2020

  • Stay-at-home orders and reopening plans:
    • The Minnesota Department of Health released guidance for reopening long-term care facilities. Facilities with no exposure to COVID-19 in the last 28 days were allowed to consider reopening to visitors.
    • Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) issued new guidance for gyms and fitness centers in counties in Phase Two or Phase Three of the state’s reopening plan. The guidance required gyms and fitness centers to allow at least 300 square feet of space per customer. For gyms or fitness centers larger than 12,000 square feet, the guidance limited occupancy to 25%.
  • Election changes:
    • Maryland Governor Larry Hogan (R) issued an executive order authorizing the Maryland State Board of Elections to operate a limited number of centralized voting centers in lieu of precinct polling places for in-person voting in the Nov. 3 general election.
    • Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont (D) issued an executive order directing election officials to accept absentee ballots postmarked by Aug. 11 and delivered by Aug 13. The order applied only to the Aug. 11 primary election.
  • Eviction and foreclosure policies
    • New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) extended the statewide moratorium on evictions and foreclosures through Sept. 5.
    • Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) extended a requirement that landlords give tenants who were late on their rent 30 days notice before beginning eviction proceedings. Polis extended the requirement for 30 days.

Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2020

  • Travel restrictions:
    • Govs. Ned Lamont (D-Conn.), Phil Murphy (D-N.J.), and Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.) announced that Hawaii, South Dakota, and the Virgin Islands had been added to the tristate quarantine list. Travelers from states on the list were required to quarantine for 14 days upon entering New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut. The governors removed Alaska, New Mexico, Ohio, and Rhode Island from the list because of a decline in coronavirus cases. 
  • Federal government responses:
    • The Trump administration, including the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Defense, announced a $1.5 billion agreement with pharmaceutical company Moderna Inc. to develop and deliver 100 million doses of a coronavirus vaccine.
  • State court changes:
    • Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Harold Melton issued an order extending the state’s judicial emergency, which had been set to expire on Aug. 11, through Sept. 10. Jury trials and most grand jury proceedings remained prohibited.


Louisiana reinstates indoor face covering requirement

On Aug. 2, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) signed an executive order reinstating the indoor mask requirement for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals. Louisiana was the only state to reintroduce a statewide indoor mask policy between July 30 and August 5.

Gov. Edwards said the order would be in place until Sept. 1, and could be extended beyond that date. The requirement came after the CDC updated its masking guidance, recommending fully vaccinated people wear masks while indoors in parts of the country with substantial or high transmission. 

Five states currently have statewide mask orders for unvaccinated individuals, and 3 states have statewide mask orders for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals. All 8 of the states have Democratic governors.

In total, 39 states have issued statewide mask requirements. Thirty-two states (16 states with Republican governors and 16 states with Democratic governors) have allowed statewide orders to expire. One state (Louisiana) that allowed a statewide order to expire later reinstated a mask order.



A look back at government responses to the coronavirus pandemic, August 10-14, 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 10-14, 2020. To read more of our past coverage of the coronavirus pandemic, click here

Monday, August 10, 2020

  1. Stay-at-home orders and reopening plans:
  2. The Minnesota Department of Health released guidance for reopening long-term care facilities. Facilities with no exposure to COVID-19 in the past 28 days were allowed to consider reopening to visitors.
  3. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) issued new guidance for gyms and fitness centers in counties in Phase Two or Phase Three of the state’s reopening plan. The guidance required gyms and fitness centers to allow at least 300 square feet of space per customer. For gyms or fitness centers larger than 12,000 square feet, the guidance limited occupancy to 25%.
  4. Election changes:
  5. Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) issued an executive order authorizing the Maryland State Board of Elections to operate a limited number of centralized voting centers in lieu of precinct polling places for in-person voting in the Nov. 3 general election.
  6. Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont (D) issued an executive order directing election officials to accept absentee ballots postmarked by Aug. 11 and delivered by Aug. 13. The order applied only to the Aug. 11 primary election.
  7. Eviction and foreclosure policies
  8. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) extended the statewide moratorium on evictions and foreclosures through Sept. 5.
  9. Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) extended a requirement that landlords give tenants who were late on their rent 30 days’ notice before beginning eviction proceedings. Polis extended the requirement for 30 days.

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

  1. Travel restrictions:
  2. Govs. Ned Lamont (D-Conn.), Phil Murphy (D-N.J.), and Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.) announced that Hawaii, South Dakota, and the U.S. Virgin Islands had been added to the tristate quarantine list. Travelers from states on the list were required to quarantine for 14 days upon entering New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut. The governors removed Alaska, New Mexico, Ohio, and Rhode Island from the list because of a decline in coronavirus cases. 
  3. Federal government responses:
  4. The Trump administration, including the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Defense, announced a $1.5 billion agreement with pharmaceutical company Moderna Inc. to develop and deliver 100 million doses of a coronavirus vaccine.
  5. State court changes:
  6. Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Harold Melton issued an order extending the state’s judicial emergency, which had been set to expire on Aug. 11, through Sept. 10. Jury trials and most grand jury proceedings remained prohibited.

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

  1. Election changes:
  2. 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.
  3. 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 its intention to make at least 127 ballot drop-boxes for absentee/mail-in ballots available statewide.
  4. School closures and reopenings:
  5. 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 could meet requirements set out by the New Jersey Department of Education were required to begin the school year remotely.
  6. Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) announced on Aug. 12 she was delaying the start of the school year until Sept. 14. 
  7. 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.
  8. 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, August 13, 2020 

  1. Election changes:
  2. The Supreme Court of the United States denied an application by 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.
  3. Eviction and foreclosure policies
  4. 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, August 14, 2020

  1. Election changes:
  2. 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.
  3. 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.”
  4. Federal government responses:
  5. 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.
  6. Eviction and foreclosure policies
  7. 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.
  8. School closures and reopenings:
  9. 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. The guide outlined best practices for in-person learning. Schools were allowed to reopen on Aug. 24.

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 #287: August 5, 2021

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

  • A vaccine nursing home requirement in Massachusetts
  • A school mask mandate in Nevada
  • Vaccine distribution
  • School closures and reopenings
  • Travel restrictions
  • State proof-of-vaccination requirements and policies
  • Federal responses
  • COVID-19 policy changes from this time last year 

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

Since our last edition

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

Arkansas (Republican trifecta): On Aug. 3, Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) called the Arkansas General Assembly into special session. Hutchinson wants lawmakers to create an exemption in Act 1002. The existing law bans state and local governments from imposing mask requirements. Hutchinson wants an exemption that will allow school boards to require masks for students 11 years old and younger who can’t receive the coronavirus vaccine. The special session began on Aug. 4.

Illinois (Democratic trifecta): On Aug. 4, Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) announced masks would be required in all Illinois public schools for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals.

Massachusetts (divided government): On Wednesday, Aug. 4, Gov. Charlie Baker (R) announced a COVID-19 vaccine requirement for all nursing home staff. The state will begin enforcing the requirement Oct. 10, and staff will be required to have received at least one dose of a two-dose vaccine by Sept 1. 

Nevada (Democratic trifecta): On Wednesday, Aug. 4, Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) issued an order requiring staff and students at public, private, and charter schools in counties with more than 100,000 people to wear face masks while in school buildings or buses. Sisolak’s initial directive applied to schools in all counties. School superintendent objections prompted him to issue an additional order later in the afternoon exempting schools in counties with fewer than 100,000 people.

Oregon (Democratic trifecta): On Aug. 4, Gov. Kate Brown (D) announced that healthcare workers would be required to receive a coronavirus vaccination or be tested weekly for the coronavirus.

Vaccine distribution

We last looked at vaccine distribution in the Aug. 3 edition of the newsletter. As of Aug. 4, the states with the highest vaccination rates as a percentage of total population (including children) were:

The states with the lowest rates were:

School closures and reopenings

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

We last looked at school closures and reopenings on July 29. Since then, no states changed school reopening guidelines.

Nationwide:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Travel restrictions

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

Overview:

  • Since the start of the pandemic, governors or state agencies in 27 states and the District of Columbia issued executive orders placing restrictions on out-of-state visitors. At least 24 of those orders have been rescinded. Travel restrictions remain active in Hawaii, Kansas, and Rhode Island.
    • Since July 29, one state has changed its travel restrictions. . 

Details:

  • Kansas – On July 29, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment updated its travel quarantine list to include people who’ve traveled to or from Botswana, Cuba, Gibraltar, the Isle of Man, or Martinique on or after July 29.

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 supported the creation of digital applications—sometimes known as vaccine passports—that allow people to prove their vaccination status and, in some cases, bypass COVID-19 restrictions.  

Overview:

  • Twenty states have passed legislation or issued orders prohibiting proof-of-vaccination requirements at some or all levels of government. 
  • Four states have facilitated the creation of digital vaccination status applications. 
    • Since July 29, two states have issued orders related to proof-of-vaccination requirements.  

Details:

  • On Aug. 5, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) announced state employees would be required to get a COVID-19 vaccine or be tested for the virus on a weekly basis. The requirement will begin Sept. 1. 
  • On July 29, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) issued an order that emphasized a previous prohibition on proof-of-vaccination requirements. Executive Order No. GA-38 bans government entities at the state, county, and local levels and private entities that receive public funding from asking people to prove their vaccination status. The order also prohibits government entities from requiring that people get vaccinated. Like Abbott’s previous order, this one does not apply to nursing homes. Abbott banned proof-of-vaccination requirements on April 6, 2021.

Federal responses

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

  • On Aug. 3, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an eviction moratorium prohibiting landlords in areas of the country experiencing what it defines as “substantial or high” levels of COVID-19 spread from removing tenants for nonpayment of rent. The CDC scheduled the moratorium to last through Oct. 3.
  • On July 29, President Joe Biden (D) announced that all federal workers and onsite contractors would need to get a COVID-19 vaccine or receive a weekly COVID-19 test.

This time last year: Wednesday, Aug. 5, Thursday, Aug. 6, and Friday, Aug. 7, 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. 5, 2020

  • Stay-at-home orders and reopening plans:

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D) announced the state would stay in Phase 2 of reopening for five more weeks.

  • Election changes:

The parties in League of Women Voters of Virginia v. Virginia State Board of Elections reached a settlement providing for the suspension of the absentee ballot witness requirement in the Nov. 3 general election.

  • Mask requirements:

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves (R) issued an order that required individuals to wear masks in indoor public spaces and outdoors when social distancing was not possible.

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster (R) issued an order that required people wear masks in restaurants, in state government buildings, and at large gathering venues and events like movie theaters, festivals, auditoriums, and concerts.

  • School closures and reopenings:

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) announced a new metric for determining if schools can reopen to in-person instruction. She said schools in any city or town with more than 100 positive cases per 100,000 residents would be prohibited from fully reopening to in-person instruction.

Thursday, Aug. 6, 2020 

  • Stay-at-home orders and reopening plans:

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) announced a phased reopening plan for long-term care facilities. Facilities could submit an application to the state to begin the reopening process on Aug. 12. The plan called for easing restrictions on visits as facilities move through the phases of reopening. 

  • Election changes:

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signed SB 423 into law, authorizing counties to consolidate polling places in the Nov. 3 general election, among other modifications to administration procedures.

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock (D) issued a directive permitting counties to conduct the Nov. 3 general election entirely by mail. Bullock also authorized counties to expand early voting opportunities for the general election.

  • Travel restrictions:

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) rescinded the executive order requiring travelers from Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York to self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) issued an executive order updating the state’s quarantine requirement for out-of-state travelers and returning residents. The new order exempted New Mexico residents who left the state to seek medical care or who left the state for less than 24 hours as part of their parenting responsibilities.

  • Mask requirements:

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) issued an executive order requiring children over the age of two and all employees to wear face masks at Michigan camps and childcare centers.

Friday, Aug. 7, 2020

  • Election changes:

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) issued an executive order extending absentee ballot eligibility to all voters in the Nov. 3 general election “who conclude their attendance at the polls may be a risk to their health or the health of others due to the COVID-19 pandemic.” The order formalized a policy Hutchinson and Secretary of State John Thurston (R) announced on July 2.

  • Eviction and foreclosure policies

In a 5-3 ruling, the Virginia Supreme Court granted Gov. Ralph Northam’s (D) request to extend an eviction moratorium. The moratorium was set to last through Sept. 7.

  • School closures and reopenings:

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) released reopening guidance for colleges and universities. The guidance called for requiring students and staff to wear masks in all indoor public spaces. In counties on the state’s monitoring list, the guidance said only courses like labs and studio arts would be allowed to take place in-person.



Documenting America’s Path to Recovery #286: August 3, 2021

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

  • A new mask mandate in Louisiana 
  • Proof-of-vaccination requirements in New York City
  • 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 the government responses to the COVID-19 pandemic affecting your daily life—from mask requirements to vaccine-related policies and beyond. To see epidemiological COVID-19 data, visit these sources: Our World in Data, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Research Center.

Want to know what we covered Thursday? Click here.

Since our last edition

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

Arkansas (Republican trifecta): On July 29, Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) reinstated Arkansas’ coronavirus public health emergency.

Florida (Republican trifecta): On Friday, July 30, Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) issued an order prohibiting K-12 public schools from requiring that students wear masks in schools. 

Indiana (Republican trifecta): On Friday, July 30, Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) extended the statewide COVID-19 public health emergency through Aug. 31. 

Louisiana (divided government): On Aug. 2, Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) reinstated the indoor mask requirement for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals through at least Sept. 1.

New York (Democratic trifecta): On Aug. 3, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) announced that proof of vaccination will be required for patrons and staff at indoor businesses, such as restaurants, gyms, and entertainment venues, starting on Sept. 13.

Oregon (Democratic trifecta): On July 29, Gov. Kate Brown (D) announced that masks would be required indoors at K-12 public schools in the state.

Tennessee (Republican trifecta): On Friday, July 30, Gov. Bill Lee (R) extended the statewide COVID-19 state of emergency through Aug. 31.  

Vaccine distribution

We last looked at vaccine distribution in the July 29 edition of the newsletter. As of Aug. 2, 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 1,838 lawsuits in 50 states dealing in some way with the COVID-19 outbreak. Court orders have been issued, or settlements have been reached, in 562 of those lawsuits. 
    • Since July 27, we have added four lawsuits to our database. We have also tracked one additional court order and/or settlement. 

Details:

  • Schmitt v. Page: On July 26, Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt (R) sued the city and county of St. Louis for re-imposing a mask mandate. The mandate requires those aged five and older to wear a mask in indoor public places regardless of vaccination status. Schmitt alleges  “St. Louis County and St. Louis City seek expanded government power that has failed to protect Missouri citizens living within their boundaries in the past and is not based on sound facts and data.” Schmitt says the mandate is “a continuation of a series of arbitrary, capricious, unlawful, and unconstitutional COVID-19 related restrictions.” On July 27, the St. Louis County Council voted 5-2 to terminate the mandate. However, following that vote, St. Louis County Executive Dr. Sam Page issued a statement maintaining that the mandate remains in effect, pending resolution of Schmitt’s lawsuit. Schmitt is seeking a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction to block enforcement of the mandate. On July 30, the defendants (including Page and other St. Louis county and city officials) filed a notice of removal to transfer proceedings from state court to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri. On Aug. 1, U.S. District Court Judge Stephen Clark, a Donald Trump (R) appointee, remanded the matter back to state court, writing, “The fate of the mask mandates under Missouri law belongs in the Missouri state courts.” The case is currently pending in the St. Louis County Circuit Court.

State mask requirements

We last looked at face coverings in the July 27 edition of the newsletter. Since then, Louisiana reinstated its statewide indoor mask requirements for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals and Nevada altered its indoor mask mandate, requiring both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals to wear masks indoors in substantial or high transmission counties.

COVID-19 emergency health orders

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

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

Overview: 

  • COVID-19 emergency orders have expired in 25 states. Emergency orders remain active in 25 states.
  • Since July 27, one state has reinstated its COVID-19 emergency. No states have ended their statewide emergencies.  

Details:

  • On July 29, Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) reinstated the statewide COVID-19 public health emergency.

This time last year: Monday, Aug. 3 and Tuesday, Aug. 4, 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. 3, 2020

  • Stay-at-home orders and reopening plans:

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) allowed high school football and volleyball practices to resume.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) said private and religious schools could choose when to reopen. Hogan also issued an emergency order preventing county officials from requiring such schools to remain closed after Montgomery County Health Officer Travis Gayles prohibited private schools in the area from resuming in-person classes. 

  • Election changes:

Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak (D) signed AB4 into law, directing election officials to distribute mail-in ballots automatically to all active registered voters in the Nov. 3 general election.

Minnesota Second Judicial District Judge Sara Grewing approved a consent decree between the plaintiffs and the state defendants in LaRose v. Simon, a lawsuit that challenged state election law. Under the terms of the consent decree, state election officials agreed to waive the witness requirement for mail-in ballots cast in the Nov. 3 general election. The state also agreed to count all mail-in ballots postmarked on or before Nov. 3 and received by official county canvassing dates.

  • Federal government responses:

President Donald Trump (R) signed an executive order that made permanent certain regulatory changes expanding telehealth services, especially in rural areas.

  • Mask requirements:

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan’s (R) statewide mask mandate was expanded to require everyone older than five to wear masks in all indoor public spaces, including churches, gyms, and stores. The mandate originally required masks only in retail, food service businesses, and public transit.

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) modified the mask mandate for schools to allow students to remove masks in a classroom if they could maintain three to six feet of distance from other people.

  • School closures and reopenings:

The Alabama Department of Public Health released an 85-page school reopening toolkit that contained recommendations and guidelines for school districts to use in their reopening plans.

  • State court changes:

In Colorado, jury trials were allowed to resume on a limited basis if a chief judge of a judicial district determined the jury pool could be safely assembled consistent with health directives and executive orders.

Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2020

  • Stay-at-home orders and reopening plans:

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) ordered the Michigan State Police and state departments to prioritize enforcement of her COVID-19 orders. Whitmer also ordered licensing agencies to consider suspending the licenses of violators. 

  • Travel restrictions:

Govs. Ned Lamont (D-Conn.), Phil Murphy (D-N.J.), and Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.) announced that Rhode Island had been added to the tristate quarantine list, requiring visitors from that state to quarantine for 14 days upon entering New Jersey, Connecticut, or New York. The governors removed Delaware and Washington D.C.

  • Federal government responses:

The Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Defense announced a $2.1 billion deal with French pharmaceutical company Sanofi and British pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline to develop and manufacture up to 100 million doses of a coronavirus vaccine for U.S. use.

President Trump (R) announced the federal government would continue to fund the cost of National Guard units deployed to states through the end of the year, though at a lower level than before. Beginning Aug. 21, Trump said the funding for National Guard units assisting states with their coronavirus responses would drop from 100% to 75% for most states. Trump said the federal government would continue to pay 100% of the cost for hard-hit states like Florida and Texas.

  • School closures and reopenings:

Delaware Gov. John Carney (D) announced public schools could reopen with a combination of in-person and remote learning in September. 

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves (R) mandated that all public students and teachers wear masks on school property. He delayed public school reopenings in eight counties to Aug. 17. Previously, the counties had been allowed to set their own start dates for the academic year.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) announced that all K-12 students would be required to wear face coverings in public schools.

Additional activity

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

  • In an Aug. 2 letter to the University of South Carolina’s interim president, South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson (R) said the school could not enforce an indoor mask requirement. Wilson said the requirement violates a condition in the state budget that prohibits mask requirements in schools that receive public funds. 


A look back at government responses to the coronavirus pandemic, August 3-7, 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 3-7, 2020. To read more of our past coverage of the coronavirus pandemic, click here

Monday, August 3, 2020

  • Stay-at-home orders and reopening plans:
    • Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) allowed high school football and volleyball practices to resume.
    • Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) said that private and religious schools could choose when to reopen. Hogan also issued an emergency order preventing county officials from requiring such schools to remain closed after Montgomery County Health Officer Travis Gayles prohibited private schools in the area from resuming in-person classes. 
  • Election changes:
    • Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak (D) signed AB4 into law, directing election officials to distribute mail-in ballots automatically to all active registered voters in the Nov. 3 general election.
    • Minnesota Second Judicial District Judge Sara Grewing approved a consent decree between the plaintiffs and the state defendants in LaRose v. Simon, a lawsuit that challenged state election law. Under the terms of the consent decree, state election officials agreed to waive the witness requirement for mail-in ballots cast in the Nov. 3 general election. The state also agreed to count all mail-in ballots postmarked on or before Nov. 3 and received by official county canvassing dates.
  • Federal government responses:
    • President Donald Trump (R) signed an executive order that made permanent certain regulatory changes expanding telehealth services, especially in rural areas
  • Mask requirements:
    • Maryland Gov. Hogan expanded the statewide mask mandate to require everyone older than five to wear masks in all indoor public spaces, including churches, gyms, and stores. The mandate originally required masks only in retail, food service businesses, and public transit.
    • Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) modified the mask mandate for schools to allow students to remove masks in a classroom if they could maintain three to six feet of distance from other people.
  • School closures and reopenings:
    • The Alabama Department of Public Health released an 85-page school reopening toolkit that contained recommendations and guidelines for school districts to use in their reopening plans.
  • State court changes:
    • In Colorado, jury trials were allowed to resume on a limited basis so long as a Chief Judge of a judicial district determined the jury pool could be safely assembled consistent with health directives and executive orders.

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

  • Stay-at-home orders and reopening plans:
    • Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) issued an order requiring the Michigan State Police and state departments to prioritize enforcement of her COVID-19 orders. She also ordered licensing agencies to consider license suspensions for individuals who violated her orders.
  • Travel restrictions:
    • Govs. Ned Lamont (D-Conn.), Phil Murphy (D-N.J.), and Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.) announced that Rhode Island had been added to the tristate quarantine list, requiring visitors from that state to quarantine for 14 days upon entering New Jersey, Connecticut, or New York. The governors removed Delaware and Washington D.C. from the list.
  • Federal government responses:
    • The Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Defense announced a $2.1 billion deal with French pharmaceutical company Sanofi and British pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline to develop and manufacture up to 100 million doses of a coronavirus vaccine for U.S. use.
    • President Trump announced the federal government would continue to fund the cost of National Guard units deployed to states through the end of the year, though at a lower level than before. Beginning Aug. 21, Trump said the federal government would reduce its level of funding for National Guard units assisting states with their coronavirus responses from 100% to 75% for most states.
  • School closures and reopenings:
    • Delaware Gov. John Carney (D) announced public schools could reopen with a combination of in-person and remote learning in September. 
    • Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves (R) mandated that all students and teachers wear masks on school property. He delayed school reopenings in eight counties to Aug. 17. Previously, the counties had been allowed to set their own start dates for the academic year.
    • Ohio Gov. Mike Dewine (R) announced that all K-12 students would be required to wear face coverings in public schools.

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

  • Stay-at-home orders and reopening plans:
    • North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D) announced on Aug. 5 that the state would stay in Phase 2 of reopening for five more weeks.
  • Election changes:
    • The parties in League of Women Voters of Virginia v. Virginia State Board of Elections reached a settlement providing for the suspension of the absentee ballots witness requirement in the Nov. 3 general election.
  • Mask requirements:
    • Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves (R) issued an order requiring individuals to wear masks in indoor public spaces and outdoors when social distancing was not possible.
    • South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster (R) issued an order requiring people to wear masks in restaurants, in state government buildings, and at large gathering venues and events like movie theaters, festivals, auditoriums, and concerts.
  • School closures and reopenings:
    • Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) announced a new metric for determining if schools could reopen to in-person instruction. She said schools in any city or town with more than 100 positive cases per 100,000 residents would be prohibited from fully reopening to in-person instruction.

Thursday, August 6, 2020 

  • Stay-at-home orders and reopening plans:
    • Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) announced a phased reopening plan for long-term care facilities. The plan said facilities could submit an application to the state to begin the reopening process on Aug. 12. The plan called for easing restrictions on visitations as facilities move through the phases of reopening. 
  • Election changes:
    • California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signed SB 423 into law, authorizing counties to consolidate polling places in the Nov. 3 general election, among other modifications to administrative procedures.
    • Montana Gov. Steve Bullock (D) issued a directive permitting counties to conduct the Nov. 3 general election entirely by mail. Bullock also authorized counties to expand early voting opportunities for the general election.
  • Travel restrictions:
    • Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) rescinded the executive order requiring travelers from Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York to self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.
    • New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) issued an executive order Aug. 6 updating the state’s quarantine requirement for out-of-state travelers and returning residents. The new order exempted New Mexico residents who left the state to seek medical care or who left the state for less than 24 hours as part of their parenting responsibilities.
  • Mask requirements:
    • Michigan Gov. Whitmer issued an executive order requiring children over the age of two and all employees to wear face masks at Michigan camps and childcare centers.

Friday, August 7, 2020

  • Election changes:
    • Arkansas Gov. Hutchinson issued an executive order extending absentee ballot eligibility to all voters in the Nov. 3 general election “who conclude their attendance at the polls may be a risk to their health or the health of others due to the COVID-19 pandemic.” The order formalized a policy Hutchinson and Secretary of State John Thurston (R) announced on July 2.
  • Eviction and foreclosure policies
    • In a 5-3 ruling, the Virginia Supreme Court granted Gov. Ralph Northam’s (D) request to extend an eviction moratorium. The moratorium was set to last through September 7.
  • School closures and reopenings:
    • California Gov. Newsom released reopening guidance for colleges and universities. The guidance called for requiring students and staff to wear masks in all indoor public spaces. In counties on the state’s monitoring list, the guidance said only courses like labs and studio arts would be allowed to take place in-person.

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