Texas, like many states in America, has endured more than its fair share of hardships in the last year. The 28th state in the union is home to over 29 million Americans. In the last 12 months, Texas has reported 2.7 million COVID-19 cases and over 45 thousands deaths due to the Coronavirus. Add to that a winter storm that crippled the state, leaving millions without power for days. Today, many Texans are praying that they will not have to endure yet another disaster; that is because starting tomorrow (March 10) there will no longer be a state mandated mask requirement.
Governor Greg Abbott made the announcement on March 2, saying, “masks will no longer be required in public, and all businesses can operate at full capacity. It is now time to open Texas 100%.” That leaves one of the state’s most vulnerable populations terrified-among them are Latinos. Many of the state’s service industry and restaurant workers are Latinos. Days after Abbott’s announcement, the CDC pushed out it’s message of continued mask wearing.
Latinos have been disproportionately affected by the virus. According to Salud America!, in Texas, “Latinos represent 36.7% of COVID-19 confirmed cases and 46.4% of COVID-19 confirmed deaths.”
All of the numbers and statistics pale in comparison to the losses felt by service industry workers, healthcare workers, and restaurant owners. Most are against the mandate and urging continued mask wearing.
In a last ditch effort, a group of restaurant workers banned together and rallied at the Texas Capitol on Monday (March 8). Their hope was to get Governor Abbott to keep the mask mandate as they return to work.
However, not everyone is on board with keeping the masks in restaurants. Pico’s, a longtime restaurant in Houston reported one customer who threatened to call Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) if the owner required them to wear masks. Social media quickly came to the restaurant’s defense.
In the meantime, service industry workers across Texas are wanting a reversal from the Governor, though most do not remain hopeful. Other states who are ending or about to end their mask mandate include Mississippi, Iowa, Montana and North Dakota.