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

By Jeannie O'Sullivan · March 30, 2021, 6:19 PM EDT

Efforts to reopen and revitalize the nation's economy amid the continuing COVID-19 pandemic continued over the past week with relaxed visitation rules at long-term care facilities in Delaware and Massachusetts and scaled-back capacity limits in New Jersey, notably in sporting arenas revving up for the spring season. 

In tourism-heavy Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis called on the federal government to lift the no-sail order that's he said has cost the Sunshine State's cruise industry billions of dollars in revenue and thousands of jobs.

Vaccination efforts progressed in terms of outreach to Texas seniors and underserved New Yorkers, and eligibility was expanded in New York and New Jersey. In other pandemic relief, food assistance is on the way for Delaware households with children, and Massachusetts businesses just got a another round of monetary awards. 

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.


Delaware

In a joint statement with health officials on Tuesday, Gov. John Carney said vaccination eligibility will expand to residents age 16 and older as of April 6.

Carney on Monday announced that households with children affected by school closures during the pandemic will receive additional temporary food-assistance benefits. Eligible households will receive benefits for each day that children didn't receive meals at school in the current school year.

Health officials on Friday unveiled updated guidance for visitation at the state's long-term care facilities, following the federal government's expansion of indoor visitation for such facilities. The state will encourage the same expansion with some exceptions, such as for unvaccinated residents if the positivity rate in the nursing home's county is greater than 10% and fewer than 70% of the facility's residents are vaccinated.

Florida

In a roundtable discussion with state Attorney General Ashley Moody and Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Kevin J. Thibault, Gov. Ron DeSantis called on the federal government to rescind the no-sail order currently in effect until Nov. 1. He cited a September 2020 report from the Federal Maritime Commission showing that the order cost the Florida cruise industry $3.2 billion in the first six months of the pandemic, including 49,500 jobs.

Massachusetts

Gov. Charlie Baker announced Friday that the state has aligned its coronavirus vaccine payment rates with the Medicare rate for the Boston region, which is $45.87 per shot.

Also on Friday, health officials said phlebotomists, podiatrists, medical assistants and military personnel who are certified by the U.S. Army as combat lifesavers are now eligible to administer the vaccine.

About 295 businesses received $14.6 million in awards in the 11th round of coronavirus relief grants administered by the Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation, Baker announced on March 25. In all, the program has awarded $648 million to 14,351 businesses across the commonwealth.

As of March 24, the state lifted social-distancing and advance-scheduling rules for visitation in long-term care facilities. Masks should still be worn during visits, per the state's guidelines.

Illinois

In advance of a possible spike in cases and vaccinations, health officials said Friday that the state is deploying rapid response vaccination teams to Boone, Carroll, Lee, Ogle and Whiteside counties, where demand for vaccination has waned.

Also on Friday, Gov. J.B. Pritzker hailed the passage of a state measure that authorizes local election authorities to use drop boxes and curbside voting to increase the safety of residents during the public health crisis. "Here in Illinois, we're shining a bright light on how to make it easier, taking lessons we learned in the pandemic and applying them to the future," he said.

New Jersey

Citing the onset of spring weather and strict enforcement of coronavirus safety protocols, Gov. Phil Murphy on Monday signed an executive order to increase outdoor gathering limits and seating capacity for large venues, effective April 2. Per the new rules, outdoor gathering limits will increase from 50 to 200 individuals, although the limit doesn't apply to ceremonies or events having to do with politics, weddings or funerals. Large venues with a seating capacity of 2,500 or more will be permitted to host events at 20% capacity indoors and 30% capacity outdoors, with the limit excluding athletes, performers, coaches and staff. Catered events will be limited to a 35% room capacity, up to 150 people.

Also on Monday, Murphy extended the health insurance enrollment period for Get Covered New Jersey until the end of the year.

On Friday, Murphy expanded vaccine eligibility to individuals ages 55 to 64, communications and utility infrastructure workers, higher education educators and staff, and to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities,

New York

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday announced that vaccine eligibility would be expanded to residents 30 and older starting Tuesday and to residents 16 and older starting April 6.

On Friday, Cuomo announced a partnership with Somos Community Care to vaccinate underserved residents through 75 practices in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens.

Texas

Gov. Greg Abbott and emergency management officials on Tuesday announced that a coronavirus rapid testing program will be implemented for summer camps that are licensed by the state.

Health officials have partnered with the Texas Employee Retirement System, the Texas Teachers Retirement System, AARP and Medicare health plans to launch an outreach program to help get senior citizens vaccinated, Abbott announced on March 25. The effort will entail emails, phone calls and direct mail.

--Editing by Alanna Weissman.

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