States ramp up reopening plans as vaccine supply increases

Coronavirus

JoAnn Lewis receives a COVID-19 vaccination from a Washington National Guard medic at Town Toyota Center on January 26, 2021 in Wenatchee, Washington. As Washington opens several mass vaccination sites this week, Gov. Jay Inslee announced that 500,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in the state. (Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)

NEW YORK (NewsNation Now) — Even as America passes a horrifying milestone — 500,000 lives lost to COVID-19 — large swaths of the country are starting a new week with some very positive signs.

Following massive weather-related disruptions to the vaccine supply-chain that left 6 million doses delayed, many states and are quickly getting back on track.

New York City, which just days ago was down to its last thousand “first” doses of vaccine, is now beginning its biggest reopening week since the start of pandemic.

Middle schools are opening, subway service is expanding, nursing home visits are returning and indoor dining capacity is increasing to 35%.

The state’s governor, who ended the previous week under fire from all sides over his administration’s handling of nursing home patients and death-related data, began Monday by unveiling what will be the state’s largest vaccination center, in the borough of Brooklyn.

“Today’s a very exciting day,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo told reporters. “This vaccination site can do 3,000 vaccines per day; 21,000 vaccines per week.”

Across the Hudson River, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy was making some announcements of his own.

Effective immediately, houses of worship in the Garden State can operate at 50% capacity. Major sports venues will soon return as well — with occupancy capped at 10% to start. The Jets, Giants and MetLife Stadium greeted that news with a joint statement, saying “We missed seeing our loyal fans at the stadium events this past year and are excited to welcome them back in 2021.”

Murphy left room to optimistic.

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“Should the numbers we track every day continue to go down,” he said. “We hope and expect to be able to raise these capacity limits.”

In short, promising news with a hint of more to come — as from coast to coast, NewsNation affiliates find signs that cities big and small may be turning the corner.

Officials in Kansas report the rate of new COVID-19 infections has slowed, with 11.6% of Kansans vaccinated.

Arizona, once considered a global coronavirus hot-spot, reported no new deaths Monday.

In Chicago, more public school teachers are returning to classrooms this week. Approximately 14% of people in Illinois have received at least one shot of the coronavirus vaccine.

By the numbers, it’s become clear that where once there was a slowdown in distribution relative to supply, the balance has tipped the other way. Many jurisdictions say they could deliver many more shots if they only had more vaccines. 

That list includes California, where Gov. Gavin Newsom says vaccination centers, like the one he visited in Long Beach Monday, have been holding back.

“There are only a few countries in the world,” he said, “that have vaccinated more people than the state of California.” 

As more Americans get their shots, there are fresh indications that life could soon return to semi-normal. 

New York City’s movie theaters will be the next to reopen on March 5 with assigned seating and capacity capped at 50 people per screen — no COVID testing required.

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