Between the start of the coronavirus pandemic and March 18, 2021, no elected or appointed state or federal officials announced positive COVID-19 test results in four states—Delaware, Maryland, Oregon, and Vermont. In the 46 other states, Ballotpedia has identified at least one COVID-19 positive state or federal official within our coverage scope. State and federal officials include members of Congress, state legislators, and state executive officeholders.
The first COVID-19 positive state officials identified by Ballotpedia were New York state Reps. Helene Weinstein (D) and Charles Barron (D), who announced positive test results on March 14, 2020. The first members of Congress to test positive were Reps. Ben McAdams (D-Utah) and Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fl.), who made their announcements March 18.
Since then, Ballotpedia has identified 215 candidates and officials diagnosed with COVID-19 at the state level, and 69 candidates and officials with COVID-19 at the federal level.
The state with the highest number of publicly identified COVID-19 state and federal officials is Pennsylvania, where two U.S. House members, the governor, and 17 members of the state legislature have tested positive since March 2020.
To read more about federal, state, and local officials and candidates affected by COVID-19, click the link below.
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 23-27, 2020. This list is not comprehensive. To see a list of all policy changes in each category, click the links below.
◦ Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) issued Executive Order No. 20-12, which directed individuals in the state to stay at home unless performing essential activities and placed restrictions on non-essential businesses.
◦ Amy Acton, the Director of the Ohio Department of Health, issued a stay-at-home order on March 22 that directed individuals in the state to stay at home unless performing essential activities and placed restrictions on non-essential businesses. The order went into effect March 23, and was originally set to expire April 6.
◦ Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) signed S2608 into law, authorizing municipalities to postpone any elections originally scheduled to take place prior to May 30, 2020, to any date on or before June 30, 2020.
◦ Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate (R) announced that absentee voting in the June 2, 2020, primary election would open on April 23, 2020, 40 days before the primary.
◦ In Wisconsin, Executive Order #12 took effect. The order directed Wisconsinites 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. Gov. Tony Evers (D) signed the order on March 24.
◦ Idaho Gov. Brad Little (R) issued a proclamation amending the original state of emergency declaration by directing individuals in the state to stay at home unless performing essential activities and placing restrictions on non-essential businesses.
◦ Montana Governor Steve Bullock (D) issued a directive authorizing counties to conduct upcoming elections entirely by mail.
◦ The Indiana Election Commission authorized the temporary suspension of the state’s statutory absentee voting eligibility requirements, allowing all voters to cast their ballots by mail in the June 2, 2020, primary election.
◦ The U.S. Senate voted 96-0 to pass the $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which included individual payments of $1,200 for individuals making up to $75,000 annually.
◦ In Kentucky, Executive Order 2020-257 took effect. The order directed individuals in Kentucky to stay home except for essential activities and closed nonessential businesses in the state. Gov. Andy Beshear (D) issued the order on March 25.
◦ In Colorado, an order directing individuals to stay home unless performing essential activities and placing restrictions on non-essential businesses took effect. Gov. Jared Polis (D) and Jill Hunsaker Ryan, the executive director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, issued the order March 25.
◦ In Minnesota, an order took effect directing individuals in the state to remain at home unless performing essential activities and placing restrictions on non-essential businesses. Gov. Tim Walz (D) signed the order on March 25.
◦ South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster (R) issued an executive order requiring people traveling to South Carolina from Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, and New Orleans to self-quarantine for two weeks.
◦ New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) signed an executive order requiring all travelers who entered New Mexico through an airport to self-quarantine for 14 days.
◦ The U.S. House passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act on an unrecorded voice vote.
◦ President Donald Trump (R) signed the CARES Act.
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.
All Mississippi residents over the age of 16 became eligible for vaccinations statewide on March 16. Gov. Tate Reeves (R) announced the change in a tweet on March 15. Before the change took effect, residents aged 50 and older had been eligible for vaccinations since March 4. Mississippi is the second state to open vaccinations up for anyone over the age of 16 statewide, after Alaska.
Alaska opened vaccination appointments to everyone aged 16 and older statewide on March 9. Previously, those 55 and older had been eligible for appointments since March 3.
Several other governors have announced dates for lifting restrictions on vaccine eligibility:
Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont (D) announced a revised timeline for vaccine distribution on March 15. Lamont said scheduling will open to all individuals ages 45 to 54 starting March 19. The state is targeting April 5 to open vaccinations to everyone age 16 or older.
Maine Gov. Janet Mills (D) announced an updated timeline for vaccine distribution on March 12. The state is aiming to open eligibility to everyone 50 and older on April 1 and anyone 16 and older on May 1.
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) announced the state will expand vaccine eligibility to include everyone 16 and older on April 19.
Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte (R) announced on March 16 that everyone 16 and older will be eligible for vaccination starting April 1.
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) announced that residents 16 and older with medical conditions or disabilities will become eligible for a coronavirus vaccine on March 22. All residents 16 and older will become eligible on April 5.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) said on March 16 that all residents 16 and older will become eligible to receive a vaccine on March 29.
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D) announced on March 12 that everyone 16 and older will be eligible for a coronavirus vaccine starting May 1.
Note: In some states, vaccine eligibility can vary by county. The data in the map below details the loosest restrictions in each state and may not reflect statewide accessibility.
As of March 17, at least one county in each state allowed the following age groups to access the vaccine:
Four states allowed vaccinations for anyone 16+. (A limited number of counties in Michigan and Arizona allow individuals 16+ access to vaccinations. Mississippi and Alaska are the only states that permit vaccinations for people 16+ statewide).
One state allowed vaccinations for anyone 45+.
11 states allowed vaccinations for anyone 50+ or 55+.
33 states and Washington, D.C., allowed vaccinations for anyone 60+ or 65+.
Delaware (Democratic trifecta): Gov. John Carney (D) announced pharmacies can begin vaccinating anyone age 50 or older starting March 17. Medical providers (including hospitals) can start vaccinating anyone 16 or older with high-risk medical conditions.
The state opened five mass vaccination sites on March 17 in Bartow, Muscogee, Washington, Chatham, and Ware counties.
On Tuesday, March 16, Gov. Brian Kemp (R) announced that judges and courtroom staff are now eligible to receive a coronavirus vaccine.
Massachusetts (divided government): On Wednesday, March 17, Gov. Charlie Baker (R) announced a new vaccine eligibility timeline. On March 22, people 60 and older and certain workers, including restaurant and grocery store workers, will become eligible for a vaccine. On April 5, people 55 and older and those with medical conditions will become eligible for a vaccine. On April 19, the state will expand vaccine eligibility to include everyone 16 and older.
Montana (Republican trifecta): Gov. Greg Gianforte (R) announced March 16 that everyone 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 Hampshire (Republican trifecta): Private and public K-12 teachers and staff can begin registering for vaccination appointments on March 17. The earliest available appointments for the group are March 22.
North Carolina (divided government): Some people in Group 4 are eligible for a coronavirus vaccine starting March 17. The list includes individuals with medical conditions that put them at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19, such as those with asthma or heart disease.
Washington (Democratic trifecta): Effective Wednesday, March 17, people in Phase 1B2 of the state’s vaccination plan became eligible to receive a coronavirus vaccine. Phase 1B2 includes high-risk critical workers in industries such as agriculture, grocery stores, and public transit, as well as people 16 and older who are pregnant or at high risk of serious illness from COVID-19 because of a disability.
Wisconsin (divided government): On Tuesday, March 16, Gov. Tony Evers (D) announced that people with underlying health conditions, including those with cancer and diabetes, will become eligible to receive a coronavirus vaccine March 22. Evers also announced that, effective March 16, clergy, judges, prosecutors, and others in public safety are eligible to receive a vaccine.
On March 15, Arizona became the seventh state to require at least part-time instruction for certain grade levels. Oregon will join the list in two weeks, and Washington will join in three.
Gov. Doug Ducey’s (R-Ariz.) March 3 executive order requiring public schools to offer in-person instruction took effect March 15. High schools and middle schools in high-transmission counties are exempt from the order. Parents can still keep their children in virtual classes.
On March 12, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) issued an executive order requiring public elementary schools to reopen no later than March 29 for hybrid or full-time in-person instruction. The order also requires public schools to open for grades 6-12 by April 19. Parents can still keep their children in fully remote instruction.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) also said on March 12 he will soon issue an emergency proclamation requiring elementary schools to provide students at least two partial days of in-person instruction by April 5. Schools must provide older students the same by April 19. As of March 15, Inslee had not signed the proclamation.
All three states had previously left reopening decisions to school districts.
Four states (Calif., Del., Hawaii, N.M.) and Washington, D.C. had state-ordered regional school closures, required closures for certain grade levels, or allowed hybrid instruction only.
Five states (Ark., Fla., Iowa, N.H., Texas) had state-ordered in-person instruction
Two states (Ariz., W.Va.) had state-ordered in-person instruction for certain grades.
Thirty-nine states left decisions to schools or districts
The coronavirus pandemic has shaped the political landscape of the United States, including the powers of governors and state legislatures. Changes have been proposed in response to the pandemic or pandemic-related regulations and restrictions. Some of these changes, such as state constitutional amendments, require ballot measures for ratification. Others are citizen-initiated proposals, meaning campaigns collect signatures to put proposals on the ballot for voters to decide.
As of March 12, three constitutional amendments related to coronavirus events and conflicts have been certified for future ballots in two states—Pennsylvania and Utah. Voters in Pennsylvania will decide the ballot measures on May 18, 2021. Both of the ballot measures resulted from conflicts between Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf and the Republican-controlled General Assembly over the governor’s emergency powers and the legislature’s role in emergency orders. One proposal would limit the governor’s emergency declaration to 21 days unless the legislature votes to extend the order. The other amendment would allow the legislature to pass a resolution, which the governor cannot veto, to terminate the governor’s emergency declaration.
In Utah, voters will decide a constitutional amendment on appropriations limits at the general election in 2022. The ballot measure, which received bipartisan support in the Utah State Legislature, would increase the size of appropriations permitted during an emergency and exempt emergency federal funding from the appropriations limit.
There are also proposed constitutional amendments and ballot initiatives that could make the ballot in at least 5 additional states. In Arizona, the Senate passed an amendment to limit the governor’s emergency declarations to 30 days unless the legislature votes to extend them. The Arizona House voted to refer a ballot measure that would allow the legislature to modify or terminate the governor’s emergency order. Other citizen-initiated measures related to the governor’s emergency powers have been filed in California, Maine, and Michigan.
Arizona (Republican trifecta): Gov. Doug Ducey’s (R) executive order requiring public schools to offer in-person instruction will take effect March 15. High schools and middle schools in high transmission counties will be exempt from the order. Parents will still be able to keep their children in virtual classes.
Georgia (Republican trifecta): People 55 and older will become eligible for a coronavirus vaccine on March 15. People age 16 and older with high-risk medical conditions, including cancer and diabetes, will also become eligible.
Hawaii (Democratic trifecta): Everyone in Phase 1-C of vaccine distribution will be eligible for vaccination starting March 15. Everyone age 65 and older, essential workers, and people with state-defined high-risk underlying conditions will become eligible. Currently, people 70 and older are eligible.
Kentucky (divided government): Individuals age 16 and older with health conditions the Centers for Disease Control says increase risk for severe illness from the coronavirus will be eligible for vaccination starting March 15. Vaccinators must continue to prioritize appointments for people over 60.
Minnesota (divided government): Gov. Tim Walz (D) announced looser mitigation restrictions effective March 15 at 12 p.m. Bars and restaurants will be able to expand operations from 50% to 75% of indoor capacity. Indoor social gatherings can expand from 10 people indoors from two households to up to 15 people with no household limit. Outdoor gatherings can expand from 15 people from three households to 50 people with no household limit. 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.
Missouri (Republican trifecta): Individuals in Phase 1B – Tier 3 will be eligible for vaccinations starting March 15. The phase will include school employees, grocery store workers, and critical infrastructure workers (including people in the energy, food, and agriculture sectors).
New Jersey (Democratic trifecta): School staff and homeless people will be among those eligible for vaccination starting March 15. On March 29, eligibility will expand to include agriculture workers, warehouse employees, clergy, and elections personnel. To see full lists of eligible groups for each date, click here.
New York (Democratic trifecta): Weddings and other catered events are scheduled to resume on March 15. Venues will be restricted to the lesser of 50% capacity or 150 people.
Virginia (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Ralph Northam (D) requested that schools provide in-person instruction options for students by March 15. Northam said schools could consult the Virginia Department of Health and the Virginia Department of Education’s updated reopening guidance released on Jan. 15 as they prepare to return students to the classroom. Although the request is not a mandate, Northam said he expected schools to comply.
Since our last edition
What rules and restrictions are changing in each state? For a continually updated article, click here.
Maryland (divided government): Gov. Larry Hogan (R) will end capacity limits on most types of businesses, including restaurants, bars, and fitness centers, on March 12 at 5 p.m. Large outdoor and indoor venues, including wedding and sports venues and theaters, will be allowed to operate at 50% capacity. Additionally, Hogan said he will end the state’s quarantine requirements for out-of-state travelers and allow adult daycare centers to reopen. The statewide mask mandate will remain in effect.
Michigan (divided government): On Thursday, the state Senate voted 20-14 to grant Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R) the authority to sue Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) if she spends COVID-19 relief money the legislature has not appropriated.
Nevada (Democratic trifecta): Effective March 15, gatherings of up to 250 people or 50% of the fire code capacity are permitted. Additionally, the capacity limit on businesses like gyms, restaurants, and bars increased from 35% to 50%. Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) eased some restrictions Feb. 12 and announced he would further ease restrictions March 15.
New Hampshire (divided government): On Thursday, March 11, Gov. Chris Sununu (R) announced that, effective immediately, retail businesses can operate at 100% capacity. Additionally, barbershops and salons can allow walk-ins, and bars can allow bands and games like pool and darts.
North Carolina (divided government): On Thursday, March 11, Gov. Roy Cooper (D) announced that some people in Group 4 will become eligible for a coronavirus vaccine on March 17. Individuals with medical conditions that put them at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19, such as those with asthma or heart disease, will be eligible on that day, while Cooper said eligibility will expand to more people in Group 4 on April 7.
Oklahoma (Republican trifecta): On Thursday, March 11, Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) announced he would ease coronavirus restrictions on public gatherings and indoor sporting events on Friday, March 12. Stitt also said he would end a requirement that people wear masks in state buildings.
Rhode Island (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Dan McKee (D) announced school staff and childcare workers will be eligible for vaccination starting March 12. Previously, Rhode Island prioritized individuals based on age and underlying conditions.
Texas (Republican trifecta): On Thursday, March 11, Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) announced he was suing Travis County and the City of Austin for continuing to enforce mask mandates. Gov. Greg Abbott (R) lifted the statewide mask mandate March 10.
Vermont (divided government): On Friday, March 12, Gov. Phil Scott (R) announced that, effective immediately, two non-vaccinated households can gather together at one time, and restaurants can seat up to six people from different families.
Washington (Democratic trifecta): On Thursday, March 11, Gov. Jay Inslee (D) announced that all counties will advance to Phase 3 of reopening on March 22. Phase 3 limits capacity at businesses like restaurants and movie theaters to 50% and allows up to 400 people to gather at indoor and outdoor events so long as mask usage is enforced and people keep six feet apart.
On Thursday, March 11, President Joe Biden (D) signed the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. Here’s a look at some of the provisions contained in the $1.9 trillion package:
• The law provides for a third round of relief checks to eligible individuals and couples. Individuals and dependents earning up to $75,000 and married couples and dependents earning up to $150,000 will receive $1,400 checks. Individuals earning more than $80,000, and married couples earning $160,000, will not receive checks, though they will still receive $1,400 per dependent. The checks phase out at different rates depending on the taxpayer’s filing status and number of dependents for individuals and married couples earning between $75,000 and $80,000 and $150,000 and $160,000, respectively.
• The law extends a $300-per-week supplement to federal unemployment benefits through September 6. Those benefits were set to expire March 14.
• The law includes a one-year expansion of the child tax credit and expanded the credit to include 17-year-olds. The credit increases from $2,000 to $3,600 for children under 6 and $3,000 for those between 6 and 17.
• The law allocates $20 billion for COVID-19 vaccine manufacturing and distribution, $50 billion for COVID-19 testing and tracing, $350 billion to state, local, and tribal governments, and about $130 billion to help K-12 schools reopen to in-person instruction.
The package passed the U.S. House 219-212 on February 27, with two Democrats joining with all Republicans to vote against it. On March 6, the Senate voted 50-49 along party lines to pass its own version of the bill. The Senate version removed an amendment that would have increased the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025 and lowered the income eligibility for relief checks.
On March 10, the House voted 220-211 to approve the changes made in the Senate and send the bill to President Biden’s (D) desk. Rep. Kurt Schrader (D), who was one of two Democrats to oppose the original House bill, voted in favor of the changes. Rep. Jared Golden (D) was the only Democrat to vote against the bill. No Republicans voted for it.
One year ago, as the novel coronavirus spread across the country, California became the first state to order residents to stay home unless engaged in essential activities. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) issued the order on March 19, 2020. Over the following three weeks, 42 governors would follow suit. South Carolina was the last state to issue an order on April 7. All 24 Democratic governors and 19 out of 26 Republican governors issued stay-at-home orders in their states.
Seven states—Arkansas, Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming—did not issue stay-at-home orders.
Although the specifics of each order varied from state to state, they all closed broad categories of businesses and required residents to stay home unless going to the store for essential supplies or working in essential businesses.
Alaska ended its stay-at-home order on April 24, while Montana and Colorado did so on April 26. By June 29, we classified all but two stay-at-home orders as expired. We classified New Mexico’s and California’s stay-at-home orders as expired in November and December, respectively.
Ohio (Republican trifecta): People 50 and older will become eligible for a coronavirus vaccine on March 11. People with Type 2 Diabetes and end-stage renal disease will also become eligible on that day.
Since our last edition
What rules and restrictions are changing in each state? For a continually updated article, click here.
Alaska (divided government): On March 9, Gov. Mike Dunleavy (R) removed all eligibility requirements to receive vaccines. Alaska is the first state to allow anyone age 16 or older who lives or works in the state to make appointments.
Illinois (Democratic trifecta): A federal vaccination site is opening at United Center on March 10. The site can administer up to 6,000 vaccines a day. Residents age 65 and older started scheduling appointments to receive vaccinations at the site on March 4. Other people in Phase 1b, including anyone with high-risk conditions and some frontline essential workers, started scheduling appointments on March 7.
Louisiana (divided government): On March 9, Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) expanded vaccine eligibility to anyone age 16 years or older with state-defined high-risk conditions (including anyone overweight, with asthma, or with type 1 diabetes). Congregate living staff can also get vaccines, including prison guards, group home staff, and homeless shelter workers.
Maryland (divided government): On Tuesday, March 9, Gov. Larry Hogan (R) announced he would end capacity limits on most types of businesses, including restaurants, bars, and fitness centers, on March 12 at 5 p.m. Large outdoor and indoor venues, including theaters, wedding venues, and sporting venues, will be allowed to operate at 50% capacity. Additionally, Hogan said he will end the state’s quarantine requirements for out-of-state travelers and allow adult daycare centers to reopen. The statewide mask mandate will remain in effect.
Michigan (divided government): On Tuesday, March 9, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) signed a $2.5 billion COVID-19 relief bill, which includes funding for rental assistance, vaccine administration, and testing and tracing.
New York (Democratic trifecta): People age 60 or older are eligible for vaccination starting March 10. Gov. Andrew Cuomo also announced public-facing government and non-profit employees can receive vaccines starting March 17.
North Carolina (divided government): On Wednesday, March 10, Gov. Roy Cooper (D) announced an agreement with House and Senate Republicans and Democrats that would return all elementary schools to in-person instruction, while middle and high schools will be permitted to choose between a hybrid approach and in-person instruction on a district-by-district basis. Under the law, parents can choose to keep their kids at home. The plan will go into effect 21 days after Cooper signs the bill.
Oklahoma (Republican trifecta): On Tuesday, March 9, Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) announced that residents of long-term care facilities can designate people, including family members, to be essential caregivers, so long as those caregivers complete state-certified training. Caregivers who complete the training are permitted to visit residents in the facilities so long as masks are worn and both the resident and the caregiver have either been vaccinated or tested negative for COVID-19.
Oregon (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Kate Brown (D) announced that effective March 12-25, two counties will be in the state’s Extreme Risk level, nine will be at High Risk, 12 will be at Moderate Risk, and 13 will have Lower Risk restrictions. In the current period from Feb. 26 – March 11, five counties are in the state’s Extreme Risk level, 11 are at High Risk, 10 are at Moderate Risk, and 10 have Lower Risk restrictions. To see restrictions in a specific county or risk level, click here.
Texas (Republican trifecta): On Tuesday, March 2, Gov. Greg Abbott (R) issued an order ending the statewide mask mandate and allowing all businesses to open at 100% capacity beginning March 10. If COVID-19 hospitalizations exceed 15% of hospital bed capacity in any of the state’s 22 hospital regions for seven consecutive days, then a county judge may impose some restrictions. Those restrictions cannot include capacity limits below 50%. The order also prohibits jurisdictions from penalizing people for not wearing face coverings.