Texas Removing Masks and the Future Impact

The governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, lifts mask mandate and other covid-preventing strategies, in response to the lower number of cases.

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┼ŻupaBA VUCBA, CC BY 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

The vaccine against the deadly virus, COVID-19, begins distribution across America.

Despite COVID-19 still running it’s course, Governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, lifts the requirement of mask wearing, and also reopens businesses to one hundred percent capacity. On March 10th, the mask mandate officially ended. Abbott recently stated during a news conference in Lubbock, “It’s time to reopen Texas. Everybody who wants to work should have that opportunity. Every business that wants to be open, should be open.” Though businesses themselves are allowed to impose guidelines, such as wearing a mask, keeping socially distanced, and not going back to full capacity, it isn’t required that businesses do that. Some may say that this is a good thing, that we’re finally being able to open up again, and go back to “normal,” but I think Texas is jumping right into waters they cannot see.

Governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, speaking at a debate in 2018, before the pandemic.

With the distribution of vaccines, governor Abbott seems to think it’s time to get rid of the masks. Though many health experts say that’s a not so great idea. Barbara Alexander, who’s the president of Infectious Diseases Society of America, continued to say, “Mask up, America!” She then went on to say, “Reports indicating that these reductions have stalled should remind us that our progress is fragile,” in response to the declining rates of documented covid infections. Alexander also stated that only ten percent of Americans, nationwide, have been vaccinated, with people at the greatest risk having yet to receive the vaccination. Even Abbott’s four coronavirus medical advisers stated that they were not consulted before his decision of lifting the mandate was announced. This goes to show how irresponsible, and dangerous, the decision was, as no health professional had been informed.

After Abbott announced the mandate release, Austin, Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, and El Paso leaders all announced that masks will still be required to enter city-owned indoor spaces, such as libraries, police departments, convention centers, public transportation, and fire departments. Though with the state governor’s announcement, the question of how to penalize those who won’t follow the county guidelines is not clear. Though Abbott stated that businesses have the freedom to choose to impose mask and social distancing rules, it will be hard for counties to continue with the mandate. As these counties won’t be able to enforce it as much as they would like. Cora Perkins, a junior at Lafayette High School, stated, “I think [Texas lifting the mask mandate] is dumb, and super unsafe. It’ll make the cases go up, as well, and the governor isn’t listening because of the hope that things will end sooner.”

Ken Paxton, the man behind the threat against Austin regarding the mask mandate, speaking in 2018.

With the act of Austin, the state’s capital, keeping the mask mandate, Texas’ attorney general threatened to sue. Attorney General Ken Paxton stated, “The decision to require masks or otherwise impose COVID-19 related operating limits is expressly reserved to private businesses on their own premises. It does not rest with jurisdiction like the City of Austin or Travis Country or their local health authorities. Nor do they have the authority to threaten fine for non-compliance.” Paxton went on to threaten to sue Mayor Adler and Judge Andy Brown if they did not comply to lifting the mask mandate by six p.m. on Wednesday. Personally, Mayor Adler and Judge Brown should have all the right to keep the mask mandate. To threaten to sue over preserving people’s health is not something someone in charge of a state should do.

With COVID-19 still prominent, the state of Virginia still requires the wearing of masks and social distancing rules throughout the state. Ava Fisher shows off the masks she owns, regarding the mandate still in place, compared to Texas.

After Abbott’s announcement, even President Joe Biden spoke up about the danger of the uplifting. “I hope everybody’s realized by now, these masks make a difference,” Biden stated. He then goes on to state, “We’ve been able to move [vaccine distribution] all the way up to the end of May to have enough for every adult American to get a shot. The last thing we need is Neanderthal thinking that in the meantime, everything is fine, take off your masks, forget it. It still matters.” When asked if she would still wear a mask if the mandate was removed in this moment, Samantha Venable, a senior at Lafayette High School, responded with, “No. I would keep wearing them out of respect for others who I know are scared. I personally don’t wear a mask for my own safety, because I believe I would be fine, but I wear them for others who feel I could transmit the disease to. Once more vaccines have been given, and I feel things have quieted down, then I will stop wearing my mask.”

With governor Greg Abbott lifting the mask mandate, businesses fight back by still keeping the social distancing guidelines.

With health professionals, the president, and even Texas’s own county mayors opposing this announcement, I think it’s time Abbott takes it into consideration. Though many people may find it freeing, in the long run it’ll do more damage than good. Having a fun, no covid restriction, spring break may seem like the best thing to happen this year to some Texans, but with the cases rising, yet again, in Texas, this fun might just need to be postponed for the sake of the health of the population. With the Attorney General of Texas threatening to sue those counties that refused to follow the no-mask guidelines, it just adds onto the further need for governor Abbott to realize the health dangers he is putting in so many Texans’ path. Even if he just brought the mask mandate back, without the social distancing guidelines, it could do wonders. We’ve made so much progress in the stopping of the coronavirus, and I don’t want it all to go to waste due to the governor of Texas’s decision on the behalf of all Texans’ safety.