Today at a press conference in Lubbock, Governor Greg Abbott announced a sweeping executive order that would end a statewide mask mandate, and allow businesses to start operating at full capacity next week.
“It is now time to open Texas 100 percent,” Abbott said in a press conference. “Everybody who wants to work should have that opportunity. Every business that wants to be open should be open.”
“Personal vigilance to follow the safe standards is still needed to contain COVID,” he said. “It’s just that now state mandates are no longer needed.”
Abbott’s announcement comes as multiple health agencies continue to plead with states and communities to stay vigilant against COVID-19. Yesterday the Director of the CDC Rochelle Walensky emphasized that now was not the time to relax “critical safeguards” against the virus.
Many health authorities are also troubled by the increase in COVID-19 variants, which could significantly increase the spread. Yesterday a new study confirmed that Houston is the first major city in the United States to record all the most contagious COVID-19 variants.
In a statement, the Texas Democratic Party blasted the executive order. “Make no mistake: opening Texas prematurely will only lead to faster COVID spread, more sickness and overcrowding in our hospitals, and unnecessary deaths. There is no economic recovery without beating the coronavirus pandemic. This will set us back, not move us forward,” said party chair Gilberto Hinojosa.
Rep. Veronica Escobar also criticized the move, and tied it to Abbott’s upcoming 2022 re-election bid. After the catastrophic blackout two weeks ago, Abbott was vehemently criticized throughout the state.
Over 44,000 Texans have died from COVID-19. According to a COVID-19 tracker, the state logged 8,140 new cases yesterday.
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