By Madeleine McCarthy
On March 3, Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued an executive order removing limitations on capacity for businesses, as well as ending state-mandated mask wear. This executive order took effect on March 10. Texas has been the largest state thus far to end their mask mandate, following Mississippi, Louisiana and Michigan.
With the increase in COVID-19 vaccine administrations, states are slowly beginning to reopen and work towards normalcy. With the release of Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose, FDA-approved vaccine, the company is contributing to the large vaccine rollout in the U.S. Justin Lessler, an expert on infectious disease at Johns Hopkins University, suspects that the vaccine will “overtake natural infection as the biggest driver of immunity late spring earliest, more likely midsummer.”
Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont also plans to gradually ease Connecticut’s COVID-19 restrictions on March 19. He plans to revise the private indoor gathering capacity to 25 people and the outdoor capacity to 100 people. Additionally, all sports will be able to practice and compete. Many states like Rhode Island, Massachusetts and New Jersey are also increasing the capacity in indoor businesses.
However, health officials like the head of the CDC, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, have concerns about states easing such recommended restrictions. She fears that the nation could “completely lose the hard-earned ground that we have gained.” Other infectious disease specialists believe that masks need to stay mandated while the most vulnerable populations are still being vaccinated.