Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to Axios Closer for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Axios on your phone

Get breaking news and scoops on the go with the Axios app.

Download for free.

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios NW Arkansas

Stay up-to-date on the most important and interesting stories affecting NW Arkansas, authored by local reporters

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Governors are seeing their pandemic-related broad reach and executive powers wane as the public health emergency subsides and the necessity for restrictions and emergency action ends.

Why it matters: Governors took on outsize roles from Maine to California as much of the burden fell to the states. In some, their powers are about to revert to the norm. In others, their expanded reach is triggering a re-examination of whether they should have such authority in the future.

  • In Texas, led by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, the state House and Senate have been deliberating laws that would move the needle away from the Executive Branch and toward the legislature in a future pandemic.
  • In Connecticut, Gov. Ned Lamont’s expanded pandemic powers will be extended until mid-July.
  • The Democrat's ability to enforce the waning number of COVID-related executive orders was set to lapse on May 20, local media reported.

Between the lines: Emergency situations often test the limits of executive reach, regardless of political party. And it’s usually met with opposition from the other side of the aisle.

  • In the case of the pandemic, such sweeping executive powers allowed governors to close schools and businesses, apply mask mandates and issue stay-at-home orders.
  • The totality of the measures has sparked debates in the states about the reach of gubernatorial power.

In Pennsylvania, voters will decide today whether the governor should continue to have the same powers that have been executed this past year.

  • The vote effectively was a referendum on Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf's pandemic response — but at the same time, it will shape the extent of the governors’ power for the future, a Pennsylvania paper notes.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, another Democrat, has faced significant backlash in the exercise of his gubernatorial power.

  • He is facing federal and state investigations, including one looking into his reporting of nursing home deaths during the pandemic.
  • Such revelations have sparked bipartisan ire and prompted legislators to introduce a series of resolutions to revoke his executive orders.
  • “The reality is we had this power to do this since Day One … when the governor was granted these unprecedented and unconstitutional executive powers,” New York state Sen. George Borrello, a Republican, said during a floor debate.

Of note: Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, a Republican, entered the pandemic with polls consistently showing him as the most popular governor in the country.

  • His reputation took hits as the state experienced troubles with its unemployment assistance computers and vaccine registration program.
  • He rebounded as the state went on to be one of the nation's leaders in vaccination delivery.
  • Baker announced this week he will end the pandemic state of emergency on June 15 — dissolving his sweeping emergency powers, Massachusetts Playbook author Lisa Kashinsky noted.

Go deeper

May 18, 2021 - Health

Texas governor bans mask mandates for public schools, local governments

Gov. Greg Abbott. Photo: Lynda M. Gonzalez/Pool/Getty Images

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) issued an executive order Tuesday prohibiting government entities in the state, including public schools, from requiring masks.

The big picture: About 30% of Texans have been fully vaccinated against COVID, but the vast majority of children are unvaccinated, the Texas Tribune reports.

Tina Reed, author of Vitals
May 18, 2021 - Health

Several states report zero COVID deaths for the first time in months

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Over the weekend, Texas reported reaching the milestone of zero deaths from COVID-19 for the first time since March 2020. Arizona, Minnesota, and Massachusetts also recently reported COVID death-free days for the first time in months.

State of play: Other states also posted positive COVID metrics at the top of the week while COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. fell to their lowest in nearly 14 months, Reuters reported.

May 18, 2021 - Health

Eyebrows raise over another senior CDC departure

Shoshana Gordon/Axios

As some public health experts continue to criticize the rollout of the CDC's new mask guidance, a top CDC official announced her retirement yesterday — the second in a month.

Why it matters: Although the agency has taken a decidedly more pro-science approach to the pandemic under the Biden administration than it did under Trump's, the trio of negative headlines suggest lingering turmoil.