Texas Rollback of COVID Regulations

Should We Continue To Wear Masks In The Middle Of A Pandemic?

Outside+of+Earth+Fare%2C+a+well+established+grocery+store%2C+there%27s+a+sign+saying+all+customers+and+employees+must+enter+the+building+with+a+mask+or+some+sort+of+facial+covering.+Here+my+mom+and+I+are+looking+at+different+cheeses+to+buy.+Around+us%2C+everyone+was+wearing+a+mask.

Sarah Caballero

Outside of Earth Fare, a well established grocery store, there’s a sign saying all customers and employees must enter the building with a mask or some sort of facial covering. Here my mom and I are looking at different cheeses to buy. Around us, everyone was wearing a mask.

By March 4th, 2020, the corona virus had hit Texas. It is now a year later and according to The New York Times, Texas now has about a total of 2.17 million confirmed cases and 45,000 deaths; with an average about 20,000 cases each week in late December and about 5,000 new cases each week February. Even with more than two million known cases and over 45,000 deaths Texas Gov., Greg Abbott on March 2nd, 2021, went to publicly state that on March 10th Texas will no longer be under a statewide mandate to wear masks in public.

Not only will Texans have the option to chose to wear a mask in public, but all capacity limit restrictions on businesses will be lifted as well. This will make businesses one hundred percent operable on March 10th. Texas will be in full operation, as if the corona virus has ceased to exist. But why would Abbott open Texas with more than 2 million cases? What is his reasoning and what is the public’s response? Abbott stated that his decision was made due to the growing vaccination rates, even though fewer than 3 million Texans are fully inoculated against COVID-19 in a state of 29 million, according to the Texas State Department of State Health Services. Only about 17% of Texans are fully vaccinated. On March 2nd, Gregg went live on CNN to publicly announce the end of the statewide mandate at Montelongo’s Mexican Restaurant in Lubbock, Texas. KHOU, a public news website, published the full video of him stating his announcements. During the video he said,  “Too many Texans have been sidelined from employment opportunities. Too many small business owners have struggled to pay their bills. This must end.” This is one of his main motives to rescind the mandates.

Here are some masks that I wear to school, to the store, restaurants etc. There are many different masks aside from these that individuals can wear. Some people, mainly celebrities, wear fancy masks that correlate to their outfit. However, I chose a simple and generic choice. (Sarah Caballero)

Although Abbott believes it’s a good idea to rescind COVID regulations, many health officials, and even other politicians, have blasted him for lifting the mandates. Health officials have continuously stated that these restrictions are critical to control the pandemic and it wouldn’t be a good idea to lift any of these restrictions. Many are worried since these restrictions are going to be lifted right before spring break happens, which is when high socialization is occurring, COVID will make a comeback and surge again, affecting a lot of people in Texas.

However, what makes everything worse is that 3 out of 4 Abbott’s medical advisers prompted that they were not consulted before he lifted the mandates. Abbott has said himself that the pandemic has not disappeared, but he believes it is still a good idea to open Texas 100%. Not only do health officials worry but many politicians have announced their worries as well. Abbott’s announcement prompted outcry especially from leaders in Texas’ biggest cities. In The Texas Tribune news article, it was stated that the head of Texas’ most populous county, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, responded to Abbott’s decision by declaring “now is not the time to reverse the gains we’ve worked so hard to achieve.” It was also stated that many other Democrats were hasty to denounce Abbott’s announcement, with the state party chairman, Gilberto Hinojosa, calling his actions “extraordinarily dangerous” and saying they “will kill Texans.” Beto O’Rourke, a potential Abbott challenger for 2022, used similar rhetoric, calling Abbott’s moves a “death warrant for Texans” and claiming the governor is “killing the people of Texas.”

This is WJCC’s statement to remind students that masks are required to be worn inside school buildings. Students were able to receive this from their teachers inside a school water bottle. (Sarah Caballero)

Lifting the mandates also leaves questions for what schools will do with their students. Rice University, a private university, stated that they will require the mask rule. Multiple public universities have declared that they are reviewing and discussing lifting the mandates will do to them. The University of North Texas published on their school website that in-person graduation ceremonies this coming spring will still be “attendance limited, seats will be assigned, and tickets will be required for entry. While graduates will not cross a stage…” Texas public schools will be allowed to continue to offer virtual learning under the new order, and some superintendents have said that they will continue to require masks unless they receive receive word that they can’t.

Not only do schools have to worry about what Abbott’s new order will to do them, but every other business will too. Many business owners fear that they will attract COVID and worry how they will enforce their no mask no service rules. Kristen Farmer, an owner at Neil’s Bahr in Houston’s East Downtown, was involved in a recent interview withNPR, a public news outlet. In the interview she stated, “Even prior to this, it was difficult sometimes to get customers to wear masks. So going forward, I feel like it’s going to be more so.” With only 17% of people vaccinate and about 2.17 million affected, lifting the state mandates is an extremely hazardous and risky move from the Texas Governor.