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Coronavirus Regulations: A State-By-State Week In Review

By Jeannie O'Sullivan · March 2, 2021, 4:17 PM EST

State leaders enhanced their vaccination efforts this past week as cases and hospitalizations declined, leading to additional sites in Florida and Illinois and initiatives to reach underserved communities in Massachusetts and New York.

New Jersey followed suit by announcing the expansion of vaccination eligibility to a wide swath of people later this month, including workers in agricultural, educational and hospitality settings. Testing of vaccination status screening technology is underway in New York, where officials announced plans to roll out its "Excelsior Pass" at the Barclays Center and Madison Square Garden. Described as a "mobile boarding pass," the downloadable gadget will guide the admission of spectators into large venues. 

Emboldened by falling case numbers and enhanced mandates, Texas completely rescinded its mask mandate and is now allowing businesses and venues to operate at full capacity. 

Here's a breakdown of some of the COVID-19-related state measures from the past week.

Click for state-by-state data on COVID-19 legislation and executive orders, powered by LexisNexis.


California

Gov. Gavin Newsom and lawmakers jointly announced a $6.6 billion budget package supporting the safe return of in-person instruction across California and the expansion of academic, mental health and social-emotional supports during regular instruction and over the summer.

Per an order from Newsom, the state began dedicating 10% of the vaccine supply to education workers as of Monday. In addition to teachers, that includes administrators, bus drivers, child care workers and paraprofessionals.

Florida

Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday announced the establishment of six new vaccination sites in the underserved populations in Broward, Duval, Leon, Miami-Dade and Osceola counties. The day before he announced the opening of a site in Hernando County.

Illinois

In a joint announcement with federal, state and local officials, Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Friday announced that the state's 16th state-supported vaccination site will begin operating on March 10 at the United Center in Chicago.

Also on Friday, Pritzker signed into law a measure that extends workers' compensation benefits until June 30 for first responders and front-line essential workers who contracted the virus from doing their job.

Massachusetts

As of Monday, restaurants were able to resume operations at 100% capacity as the state moved into the second step of its third reopening phase. Meanwhile, concert halls, theaters and other indoor venues like laser tag arenas, obstacle courses, roller-skating rinks and trampoline parks were allowed to reopen at 50% capacity.

Gov. Charlie Baker announced Thursday that the state has partnered with Archipelago Strategies Group and Health Care for All to launch a $4.7 million vaccine outreach effort targeting the state's 20 hardest-hit communities. The two organizations will provide population-specific communication resources and hire local residents to reach disparately impacted populations in each of the targeted municipalities.

New Jersey

Gov. Phil Murphy on Monday expanded the vaccination eligibility for more front-line essential workers and high-risk groups. Groups eligible for the vaccine starting Monday include fire safety inspectors, the homeless, migrant farm workers, probation officers, public transit workers, teachers and child care workers, and tribal community members. On March 29, eligibility will expand to workers in the following categories: clergy, elder care, elections, food production, hospitality, the judicial system, the medical supply chain, the postal service, social services support, and warehousing and trucking.

On Feb. 24, Murphy and Secretary of Higher Education Dr. Brian Bridges announced that $29.5 million in federal funding will be available to colleges and universities in the form of tuition grants and money for food insecurities across campuses to help students struggling during the pandemic.

New York

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Tuesday announced a pilot program in which the state will test its Excelsior Pass — a digital "boarding pass" that confirms individuals have received the vaccine and/or a recent negative coronavirus test — during events at Madison Square Garden and the Barclays Center. The technology was tested Saturday during a Brooklyn Nets game at Barclays Center and was slated for a second test at the New York Rangers game at the Garden on Tuesday. The pass is printable or can be downloaded on a cellphone for scanning.

The New York State Clinical Advisory Task Force unanimously recommended use of the coronavirus vaccine manufactured by Johnson & Johnson drug unit Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Cuomo announced Monday.

Cuomo on Feb. 24 announced the addition of 12 pop-up vaccination sites opening that week in community centers, cultural centers and public housing complexes. Since January, more than 100 pop-up sites have administered over 46,000 doses throughout the state.

Pennsylvania

Gov. Tom Wolf on Tuesday announced allocation plans for more than $303 million in federal funds received from the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021 to support child care providers throughout the state.

Citing the decline of coronavirus cases and enhanced vacation efforts, Wolf on Monday lifted occupancy limits to 15% for indoor events and 20% for outdoor events, as long as guests can maintain a six-foot distance from each other. In the same order, Wolf also rescinded an out-of-state travel order requiring anyone over the age of 11 who visits from another state to provide evidence of a negative COVID-19 test or place themselves in a travel quarantine for 14 days upon entering Pennsylvania.

Texas

Gov. Greg Abbott on Tuesday issued an executive order lifting the face mask mandate and all capacity limits on businesses and facilities throughout the state.

On Monday Abbott announced that 26 counties will be participating in the statewide Save Our Seniors initiative, launching this week, to vaccinate homebound seniors across the state. Up to 8,000 vaccine doses will be dedicated to the initiative, in which the state will work with organizations like Meals on Wheels and nursing groups to identify seniors in need of vaccinations.

Abbott said Friday that the Texas Health and Human Services Commission will provide about $229 million in emergency Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program food benefits for the month of March as part of the state's pandemic response.

--Editing by Bruce Goldman.

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