Texas Governor Greg Abbott has officially announced that he is ending the state-wide mask mandate as well as loosening or eliminating a number of restrictions on restaurants and other businesses implemented at the start of the pandemic.

Featured Video Hide

The new policy will go into effect on March 10 and has already attracted widespread criticism as COVID-19 continues to devastate communities across the U.S.

Nationwide, the number of daily new cases has fallen since the peak of the latest and most deadly surge, but is still at the level of the peak of the previous surge during summer 2020, when Abbot finally caved and issued the mask mandate.

Daily deaths have also fallen, but only to the levels of the beginning of the pandemic when it was hitting New York hard and killing around 2,000 people daily.

Advertisement Hide

Currently, the state of Texas is second only to California in total COVID-19 cases and in third place after California and New York in total deaths.

While the state’s daily new case numbers have fallen significantly since the peak of the latest surge, their daily death rates have been much slower to decline.

Many have also brought up the fact that Texas is still recovering from the snow and ice storms, followed by freezing temperatures as millions were left without power. Bursting pipes have damaged or destroyed many homes, putting people at further risk of contracting and/or spreading the virus as they’re forced into hotels or the homes of friends and family.

These facts would seem to contradict Abbot’s statement that a mask mandate is no longer necessary.

“Removing statewide mandates does not end personal responsibility,” said Abbott. “It’s just that now state mandates are no longer needed.”

Abbot’s decision has been panned both by Democratic leaders and public health experts, who warn that this sweeping elimination of common sense restrictions could result in a new surge of cases within the state.

“The fact that things are headed in the right direction doesn’t mean we have succeeded in eradicating the risk,” said director of the University of Texas COVID-19 Modeling Consortium Dr. Lauren Ancel Meyers.

Advertisement Hide

Some have also accused Abbott of trying to distract people from his failures that led to and exacerbated the recent crisis in Texas, including state Representative Ron Reynolds

“By lifting the mask order, the governor is trying to distract from his failures during the catastrophic blackouts last month,” he wrote. “I stand with the people of Texas, and promise to hold the governor — and everyone else involved — responsible. We cannot let the grid fail again.”

The news of the mask mandate lift has resulted in “RIP Texas” trending on Twitter as residents and their sympathizers rail against what they see as the latest state-wide disaster.

Advertisement Hide
Share this article
*First Published: March 2, 2021, 2:46 pm