In Connecticut, businesses that violated health orders — such as restaurants with unmasked staff or theaters that operated above 50% capacity — could be fined as much as $10,000 per citation.
"The sector rules and capacity limits we've implemented are intended to mitigate the spread of this disease to the greatest extent possible," Gov. Ned Lamont said at the time.
Mississippi, West Virginia, Idaho, Alabama and Wyoming took a far different approach. Their Republican leaders allowed old mask mandates to expire. Many of their constituents had come to view such rules as an infringement on personal liberty.
Bars, theaters and gyms in Wyoming were allowed to resume operations — mask-free — in early March, with Gov. Mark Gordon telling people to "continue to take personal responsibility for their actions and stay diligent."
By late April, the total number of deaths per 100,000 residents in the five red states had climbed to 193 — an 82% increase for the year but still fewer than the blue-state total of 213.
It wasn't long before enough vaccine was available so that anybody who wanted shots could get them. Majorities in the five blue states jumped at the opportunity.
All five governors eventually imposed vaccine mandates for health workers, and in Vermont, Massachusetts and Connecticut, all state employees now must be vaccinated or undergo weekly testing.
In contrast, vaccination campaigns in the five red states faltered as politicians mostly played to their voters.
In April, Idaho Gov. Brad Little issued an order prohibiting state agencies from requiring people to show proof of vaccination to access state services or facilities.
Wyoming and Alabama followed suit the next month, banning any form of vaccine passport system.