Image taken from www.thewashingtonpost.com
The news of Texas governor Abbott lifting COVID- 19 restrictions, mask mandate and allowing businesses to open at 100% capacity has made to the headlines of the national news. Soon after the news was released, it became the talk of the city, some have felt relieved of the obligations while others have started to panic. But there is more to the news that Texans need to know about lifting this mandate.
Image by Anshu A on unsplash.com
Tuesday, March 2nd, Gov. Greg Abbott made an announcement and said in a press conference in Lubbock,"Too many Texans have been sidelined from employment opportunities. Too many small business owners have struggled to pay their bills. This must end. It is now time to open Texas 100%" The governor's orders go into effect on March 10th.
Image taken from www.dallasnews.com
Coincidentally Tuesday Texas Independence day and many people have considered his announcement as an independence from the pandemic obligations. Dallas county judge asked people to listen to him and the doctors to keep safe from the virus, as the county made its 3,000th COVID- 19 death. Harris county judge Lina Hidalgo also disagreed with governor's decision and she said that his decisions won't make Texas safer or speed up the return to normalcy. She also said that it could be an attempt to distract people from the failure of state oversight of power grid during the snow storm.
Mississippi Gov. Reeves also announced the similar rescinding of the earlier orders surrounding COVID-19 but in their case, Reeves reported that the hospitalizations and case numbers have plummeted and that the vaccine is being distributed rapidly.
Gov. Abbott said that if hospitalizations due to COVID- 19 in any of the 22 hospital regions go above 15% of their bed capacity for 7 straight days, then a county judge in that region 'may' use COVID mitigation strategies, that is, mask mandate, in their county. Although he has given that decision to the counties to make, he doesn't allow penalties or jail to those who do not wear masks. He has also added that if the county decides to make restrictions, business capacity should still be over 50%.
Gov Abbott's decision is based on the growing vaccination inoculation in Texas but the number of people who are vaccinated is still under 2 million which is a very small number compared to the population of 29 million.
According to CNN, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said that governor Abbott's decision undermines all the sacrifices made by medical professionals and all the front line workers.
The world is still in a global pandemic and many are still dying while hospitalizations continue to rise in most Texas counties. The unexpected destruction and deaths caused by the snow storm has further put people in despair. As Texans fight to come back to normalcy from the aftermath of the winter storm, there is another groundwork being laid for yet another disaster.
CDC, medical professionals, scientists continue to encourage people to wear masks as it is the only thing that can hopefully prevent this virus from spreading. Right when there are more variants of the virus are emerging, and we are so close to the end of the pandemic with the vaccinations, gorvernor's decision can reverse the efforts of many.
Health experts and public health officials are still advising to wear masks and to practice social distancing until we create a herd immunity which are deemed important to control the pandemic as 42,500 Texans, according to Dallas news, have lost their lives. Business owners and property owners may still require people to wear a mask on their premises.
Texans will be on their own to practice safety measures, very unlikely that many will, people are at a greater risk. We could also see another spike going into the spring break. In many ways, the pandemic is in year two, and we might be circling back to where it started.
Many school districts in Dallas, Texas are calling board meetings to discuss the mask mandate in their schools. Parents continue to have opinions from both sides, some really want the schools to practice safety protocols as they were while many parents are asking schools to not make their kids wear masks. It is a very conflicting situation for several business owners as well, as they struggle to keep themselves safe while also operating in this pandemic.
While FEMA is helping Dallas residents speed up the inoculation of the vaccine, it is going at a rate at which it possibly can and with no mask mandates, the decrease in numbers that the city had seen, can reverse. Health officials are still not sure how snow storm affected the numbers.
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