NEW YORK (WABC) -- Vaccinations are ramping up as the United States now averages more than 2 million shots a day, and the CDC says about 10% of the population has gotten both shots.
Wyoming is now the sixth state to lift its mask mandate, joining 11 other states with no face covering requirements. Two more also planning to ease restrictions next month.
Texas reopened overnight Wednesday, and one neighborhood was seen filled with people -- some with masks and some without.
However, some business owners are keeping their own mask rules in place, with the statewide one now gone.
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Biden announces plans to purchase 100M more Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccine doses
President Joe Biden on Wednesday directed his administration to order another 100 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine, growing a likely U.S. surplus of doses later this year when much of the rest of the world struggles with deep shortages.
Even before Wednesday's order, the U.S. was to have enough approved vaccine delivered by mid-May to cover every adult and enough for 400 million people total by the end of July. Enough doses to cover 200 million more people is on order should vaccines from AstraZeneca and Novavax receive approval from the Food and Drug Administration. The new J&J doses, which would cover another 100 million people, are expected to be delivered in the latter half of the year.
Vaccinated nursing home residents can get hugs again in new CMS visit guidelines
Nursing home residents vaccinated against COVID-19 can get hugs again from their loved ones, and all residents may enjoy more indoor visits, the government said Wednesday in a step toward pre-pandemic normalcy.
The policy guidance from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or CMS, comes as coronavirus cases and deaths among nursing home residents have plummeted in recent weeks at the same time that vaccination accelerated. People living in long-term care facilities have borne a cruel toll from the pandemic. They represent about 1% of the U.S. population, but account for 1 in 3 deaths, according to the COVID Tracking Project.
Texas Rangers in line to be 1st team back to full capacity
The Texas Rangers are on track to become the first team in Major League Baseball or any major U.S.-based sports league to have a full-capacity crowd since the coronavirus pandemic started altering the sports landscape a year ago.
On the same day that Texas Gov. Greg Abbott's order took effect allowing businesses in the state to operate at 100% capacity, Rangers president of business operations and CEO Neil Leibman said the team hopes to be at that for the April 5 opener against the Toronto Blue Jays.
'Angels' use free time to book vaccine appointments for teachers
A group dubbed the 'Emerson Angels' are using their free time to book COVID-19 vaccine appointments for teachers in their local New Jersey school district.
Booking appointments has been difficult for many people who are eligible for myriad reasons from low supply to a lack of access to a computer. The 'Emerson Angels' started after Jennifer Volsin helped her grandmother, Ruth, land a slot and she figured others were struggling.
In-home Vaccinations Begins in Yonkers
Yonkers launched a program Wednesday to help bring the COVID-19 vaccine to vulnerable populations -- including elderly, disabled and homebound who face logistical challenges accessing vaccination sites -- by offering in-home vaccinations. Eligible individuals or their caregivers can sign up, and a licensed healthcare professional will arrive at the scheduled time to safely administer the vaccine and schedule a second dose appointment. Visit COVIDVaccineDrive.com to schedule.
The Shed at Hudson Yards schedules indoor performances
In the city's most significant indoor performance scheduled so far, The Shed performing arts venue at Hudson Yards will host four events next month. They will seat 150 people each, in an event space that holds 1,280. Proof of a negative test or confirmation of full vaccination will be required.
NYC indoor dining increasing to 50%
Indoor dining in New York City will soon be allowed to increase to 50% capacity. New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo made the announcement Wednesday. Starting March 19, restaurants in New Jersey and NYC can expand their indoor dining. The capacity for indoor dining in both areas is currently 35%.
Intrepid museum reopening
The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum will reopen to the public on Thursday, March 25, initially with a four-day per week schedule (Thursday-Sunday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.), and continuing to employ enhanced health and safety measures. These measures, which are based on guidance from public health experts, include a mandatory face-covering policy, enforced social distancing, 25% capacity limits, timed ticketing, and increased cleaning and disinfecting procedures.
New Jersey expanding restaurant capacity
Restaurants and other businesses in New Jersey will increase to 50% indoor capacity on March 19, coinciding with the easing of restrictions of other states in the region.
Variants on the rise in NYC
Mayor Bill de Blasio and New York City's top doctors announced that more than half of all coronavirus cases are from variants. Dr. Jay Varma said that the strain that started in the UK (B117) and the one that originated in NYC (B1526) are both making up 51% of cases. The rest are what Dr. Varma called "COVID classic."
NJ closes digital divide
Governor Phil Murphy announced Wednesday New Jersey's "digital divide is finally closed." Last summer, 231,000 students did not have remote learning tools.
"We committed $54 million in federal pandemic relief funds earmarked specifically for education to close this divide," Murphy said. "Today, that investment has paid off."
NY expands vaccine eligibility
New York is expanding its vaccine eligibility to include individuals age 60 and above starting at 8 a.m. Wednesday. It was previously for ages 65+. Starting March 17th, public-facing public employees will become eligible for the vaccine. Not-for-profit public-facing emergency-facing employees, essential public workers, and public-facing building workers also will be eligible.
Restaurants are big beneficiaries of COVID-19 relief bill
Restaurants devastated by the coronavirus outbreak are getting a lifeline from the pandemic relief package was approved in the House Wednesday. The bill adds money to the Paycheck Protection Program and provides indirect help to small businesses in general through stimulus payments and unemployment benefits, but restaurants got the biggest share of direct help: $28.6 billion in grants for restaurants whose revenue fell in 2020 as a result of the pandemic. The bill calls for grants equal to the amount of restaurants' revenue losses, up to a maximum of $10 million per company and $5 million per location. Eligible companies cannot own more than 20 locations, and they can't be publicly traded. The bill sets aside $5 billion for the smallest restaurants, those whose annual revenue is $500,000 or less.
House passes $1.9T COVID relief package
The House of Representatives voted Wednesday to approve the $1.9 trillion COVID relief plan, paving the way for President Joe Biden to sign his top legislative priority into law later this week and deliver aid to most American households amid the pandemic. The final vote tally was 220-211. Passage of the bill marks the first major legislative achievement of the new administration and a Congress that is now under full Democratic control, with narrow majorities in the House and Senate.
Travel guidance won't come until more people are vaccinated against COVID-19, CDC says
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has so far declined to issue new guidance on travel for vaccinated Americans due to concerns about travel-related surges but is "looking forward" to updating guidance once more people get protected.
"What we have seen is that we have surges after people start traveling, we saw it after July 4, we saw it after Labor Day, we saw it after the Christmas holidays," CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said Wednesday in response to a question from CNN's Kaitlan Collins during a COVID-19 briefing.
Walensky said because 90% of people remain unvaccinated they will wait to update guidance until "we have more protection across the communities and across the population." She declined to provide information for the 10% of Americans who are vaccinated and looking for guidance on whether it is safe for them to travel.
How to join waitlist for leftover COVID vaccines before eligibility opens
Young, healthy and ineligible for getting the COVID vaccine in your state? A new website is giving Americans the chance to receive shots months before their eligibility opens and without an appointment. Dr. B, a website launched by a team of experts that includes ZocDoc CEO Cyrus Massoumi, connects eligible adults with leftover COVID-19 vaccines at risk of expiring. This can happen if a person misses their vaccination appointment or extra doses come in a vial, for example.
"Ultimately, patients need this vaccine, and there's providers who need help getting it to the people of priority," Massoumi told the New York Times. "That's my motivation."
Queen Latifah gets COVID vaccine in Newark
Newark native Queen Latifah got her first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at the Essex County COVID Vaccination Center. She was welcomed by Newark Mayor Ras Baraka and County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo.
When did you realize the COVID pandemic changed everything?
Many of us had a moment, most often occurring in March 2020, when we realized that COVID-19 had completely changed our lives forever. Even though we've managed to move forward and adapt to a new normal, that memory still sticks with us. Tell us: What was that moment to you?
Top 7 COVID vaccine questions answered
You had questions about COVID-19 vaccines and 7 On Your Side is getting you answers from doctors on the front line of the pandemic.
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