On March 10, Texas will become the biggest state to lift its face mask mandate, this according to Gov. Greg Abbott who made the announcement Tuesday (March 2) stating that mandates “are no longer needed” but that removing them “does not end personal responsibility.”
“With the medical advancements of vaccines and antibody therapeutic drugs, Texas now has the tools to protect Texans from the virus,” Abbott said in a statement. “We must now do more to restore livelihoods and normalcy for Texans by opening Texas 100 percent.”
As Americans continue to grapple with the virus that has taken more than 516,000 lives (over 44,000 in Texas) in the last year, there seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel with effective vaccines being administered across the nation.
But health care leaders and others are criticizing Abbott for easing restrictions during a time when many experts feel the country needs to stay steadfast in efforts to slow the spread of the virus. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), wearing a face mask is one of the easiest things to do to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.
“The fact that things are headed in the right direction doesn’t mean we have succeeded in eradicating the risk,” Dr. Lauren Ancel Meyers, a professor of integrative biology and director of the University of Texas COVID-19 Modeling Consortium, told ABC News.
COVID-19 numbers are declining in Texas like they are in the rest of the country. About 7% of Texans (30 million people) have been fully vaccinated.
Still, doctors and health care officials are worried that Abbott is putting his residents at risk. “I am just concerned that I am going to have a tsunami of new cases,” Dr. Joseph Varon, chief medical officer at Houston’s United Memorial Medical Center, told ABC News. “I truly hope I am wrong. But unfortunately, history seems to repeat itself.”
Mayors in the largest metropolitan areas across the state are agreeing that Abbott’s call to lift mandates is too soon and will cause more sickness and death. This includes Steve Adler, Mayor of Austin:
Ron Nirenberg, Mayor of San Antonio:
Sylvester Turner, Mayor of Houston:
Eric Johnson, Mayor of Dallas:
Betsy Prince, Mayor of Ft. Worth:
Oscar Leeser, Mayor of El Paso, will make a statement today (March 3):