Texas, Mississippi to lift COVID-19 restrictions; US will have enough vaccines for all adults by May, Biden says — 5 updates

More than 15 percent of Americans, or 51,755,447 people, have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose as of March 2, reports the CDC. 

Overall, 7.9 percent of Americans, or 26,162,122 people, have received two doses as of March 2. 

Four more updates:

1. The U.S. should have enough COVID-19 vaccine doses for all adults by the end of May, accelerating the timeline by two months, President Joe Biden said March 2. The president credited the expedited timeline to a new partnership in which Merck will help produce Johnson & Johnson's vaccine. President Biden also said he would use federal authority to make the COVID-19 vaccine available to all K-12 teachers and childcare workers by the end of March, reports The Washington Post.  

2. Texas will lift a statewide mask mandate and permit 100 percent capacity for all businesses and facilities starting March 10. "COVID-19 has not disappeared, but it is clear from the recoveries, vaccinations, reduced hospitalizations and safe practices that Texans are using that state mandates are no longer needed," Gov. Greg Abbott said in a March 2 speech announcing the order. The Texas Hospital Association has since urged Texans to continue masking in a March 2 tweet, citing the more infectious variants circulating in the state and the fact that millions of people still need to be vaccinated. In a statement to Becker's, the association said Texas hospitals have no intention of moving away from masking and noted that the executive order still strongly encourages use of face coverings.

3. Mississippi is also lifting all county mask mandates and allowing businesses to operate at full capacity effective March 3, Gov. Tate Reeves said in a March 2 tweet that came shortly after Mr. Abbott's announcement. Mr. Reeves cited falling hospitalizations and the vaccine's rapid vaccine distribution as signs it is time to reopen the state. The Mississippi Hospital Association acknowledged the mask mandates' expiration in a March 3 tweet but said its own guidance "still necessitates the use of masks to prevent COVID-19 transmission in healthcare settings."

4. States should prioritize people with disabilities or cognitive decline as they expand vaccine eligibility, the CDC said in a March 2 guidance. The new recommendations account for the fact that three vaccines are now on the market. The CDC also said Johnson & Johnson's vaccine may be most suitable for people who move frequently or are in correctional facilities or homeless shelters, as they only need one shot.

Snapshot of COVID-19 in U.S.

Cases: 28,720,113

Deaths: 516,625

Americans receiving at least one vaccine dose: 51,755,447

Counts reflect March 2 and March 3 data from Baltimore-based Johns Hopkins University and the CDC.


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