It’s been almost a year since Texas Gov. Greg Abbott began easing the restrictions on Texas companies, citing the support of a team of business executives and public health experts.
It was that time. This is now. Abbott announced this week that he is to remove all mask mandates and business restrictions enters into force on 10 March. Dr. Mark McClellan, former head of the Food and Drug Administration and one of the aforementioned public health experts, said he was not heard.
“I do not think this is the right time,” McClellan said. “Texas has made some real progress, but it’s too early for full reopening and to stop masking around others.”
Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo described Abbott’s ambitious plan as “grossly misleading” but said it would give residents an opportunity to see “who among us cares enough about their fellow Texans to follow simple steps to protect our colleague Texans against a deadly virus. “
Abbott is fully vaccinated. Angela Clendenin, an epidemiologist at the Texas A&M University School of Public Health, said it would have been better to wait until all Texans have the opportunity to be vaccinated. Now she said it is the responsibility of individuals to protect each other to avoid “free for all”.
Meanwhile, Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves issued a similar order, and this week’s tandem decisions prompted President Joe Biden to to slam the “Neanderthal thinking” about recurring coronavirus restrictions when only approx. 8% of the US population is fully vaccinated.
Abbott’s plan drew support from Dr. John Hellerstedt, commissioner of the State Department of State Health Services, who said the governor’s decision was not a threat to public safety. Hellerstedt said he believes Texans should wear masks but should not be ordered to do so.
Also in the news:
►A first: The United States administered an average of more than 2 million vaccine doses per day during the seven-day period ending Wednesday, based on a US-DAY review of data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
► Health officials in Hillsborough County, Florida, have determined that official events surrounding Super Bowl 55 resulted in 57 cases totaling COVID-19, despite the thousands of fans who traveled to Tampa to attend the game and the surrounding events.
► New York, one of the first states in the United States to implement travel restrictions on domestic visitors last spring, took another step towards easing its COVID-19 policy on Wednesday by lifting the quarantine and COVID-19 test restrictions for people who have been vaccinated within 90 days of their second inoculation.
► An outbreak of COVID-19 in the Vermont State Prison in Newport has grown to 100 inmates and eight employees, the Commissioner for Corrections said.
📈 Today’s figures: The United States has more than 28.7 million confirmed cases of coronavirus and 518,300 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Total sums: More than 115.12 million cases and 2.55 million deaths. More than 107 million vaccine doses are distributed in the United States, and approx. 80 million have been managed, According to the CDC.
📘 What we read: Four states have announced recall mask mandates in major recalls of COVID-19 security measures over the past month – so many are wondering if additional states will join the tide and change how the country deals with COVID-19 in a crucial moment in fighting the disease. Read the full story.
It’s not just Texas: the pressure is building to ease the constraints
Texas and Mississippi are not the only states recurring mask mandates and other safety precautions during the last month. Texas, Montana, New York and Arkansas are among states that alleviate restrictions. Several states can join the tide and change how the country deals with COVID-19 at a crucial moment in the pandemic. Meanwhile, cities, businesses, and families often make their own choices about wearing masks or going to restaurants, despite what governors say.
Eric Rubin, an infectious disease specialist at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, said he understood the daunting task of states investigating whether to reopen their economies. But that, he says, has nothing to do with wearing a mask.
“The part that doesn’t make sense at all is the masking part,” Rubin said. “There is no economic reason to never wear masks.”
– Christal Hayes
Iconic civil rights march in Selma will be virtual this year
For the first time in decades, there will be no crowds taking to the streets of Selma, Alabama or politicians linking weapons at the base of Edmund Pettus Bridge during the first weekend in March.
In the midst of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Selma Bridge Crossing Jubilee becomes virtual, streaming speeches, workshops and community in homes across the nation and around the world. The 2021 anniversary marks the 56th anniversary of the bloody Sunday March, in which hundreds of civil rights protesters attempted to march from Selma to Montgomery on March 7, 1965.
“We realized in September that there would still be a very real threat to public health and safety,” said Drew Glover, chief coordinator of the 2021 event. “We took a step back and asked ourselves what would be the best way to still have the event and keep people as safe as possible.”
– Melissa Brown, Montgomery Advertiser
The Arizona governor orders all schools to open classrooms
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey has ordered all schools to return to personal learning this month, saying “students should be back in the classroom.”
Ducey issued an executive order Wednesday, urging all schools to reopen personal learning before March 15 or after the spring break. The move comes about a year after schools originally closed personal classes to help limit the spread of COVID-19. Some states have similar plans to welcome students, including California, Michigan and North Carolina.
President Joe Biden’s US rescue plan, the $ 1.9 trillion economic stimulus package discussed in the Senate, has about $ 130 billion included in schools to provide them with the resources to reopens safely in the midst of the pandemic. Many states are now vaccinating teachers in an effort to get them back in classrooms as soon as possible.
– Rachel Leingang, Arizona Republic
Fewer low-income students on their way to college as pandemic requires toll
having been to college has always been more difficult for first generation and low-income students than for peers with greater access to support at every step of the process. This year, data show that the gap has widened. The pandemic is a likely culprit.
The overall implementation of the federal form of financial aid, which was a preacher for intentions with college, was 9.2% after the previous year on February 19th. In colleges serving students with lower incomes, it lags behind by 12.1%, and in schools with a high percentage of color students, it had fallen by 14.6%.
“What we are really concerned about is simply: ‘will we miss a whole generation of students going to college?'” Said Angel Pérez, executive director of the National Association for College Admission Counseling. “If the pandemic has highlighted something “about recordings, he said, is” how the system maintains inequality, “and how complex looting has become.
– Laura Ppano, Hechinger reports
Crochet remains when vaccine manufacturers struggle to meet delivery dates
As vaccine experts welcomed President Joe Biden’s accelerated timeline for distribution, they gave some caution as to whether companies can reach their promised doses and delivery dates.
While there is never 100% safety in manufacturing, drug production is particularly fine and demanding. People like to think making vaccines is like making widgets or cars, but it’s not, said Robert Van Exan, president of immunization policy and knowledge translation, a vaccine production consulting firm.
“You can go together and get a certain dividend, and then all of a sudden your dividend drops and you don’t know why,” Van Exan said. “Test delays or failures, commodity supply chain, batch failures, and dividend problems are just some of the examples that can result in supply disruptions. “
– Elizabeth way
Starbucks, targeting retailers still demanding masks in Texas
Although some states are revoking mandates to mask, some of the country’s largest retailers, including Kroger, Macy’s, Starbucks and Target, are not rolling their backs.
Kroger, who also owns supermarket chains, including Ralphs and Dillons, said in a statement to the U.S. TODAY that it “will continue to require everyone in our stores across the country to wear masks until all of our leading grocery assistants can receive COVID-19- the vaccine. “Best Buy also told the U.S. TODAY that they had no plans to change the masking policy.
Government of Texas, Greg Abbott’s decision to lift the face coverage requirement and “open Texas 100%” to full capacity on March 10 is in conflict with security protocols in many businesses. read more here.
– Jessica Guynn
What to know about COVID variants spread across the country
Health officials are urging Americans not to give up their guards against COVID-19 as researchers discover new variants that may already be more transmissible and may also be somewhat resistant to the vaccine. “At this level of cases, with variants spreading, we may lose the hard-earned terrain we have gained,” said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Rochelle Walensky during a briefing at the White House on Monday. “These variants are a very real threat to our people and our progress.”
While experts have followed varieties that were first identified in the UK and South Africa, they also see red flags in newer varieties discovered in Brazil, New York and California. Find out what you need to know about the varieties.
– Adriana Rodriguez
Contribution: Mike Stucka, USA TODAY; Nicole Cobler, Austin American statesman;