Texas to Lift Mask Mandate & COVID-19 Restrictions on Businesses
How do you feel about Texas lifting its mask mandate & COVID-19 restrictions on businesses?
by Causes | 3.2.21
What’s the story?
- Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R) on Tuesday announced plans to lift the state’s mask mandate and allow all businesses and facilities in the state to return to 100% capacity as of next Wednesday, March 10th.
- In the announcement of his executive order, Abbott said that advancements with vaccines and antibody therapeutic drugs have given Texas “the tools to protect Texans from the virus” and that it’s time to “restore livelihoods and normalcy for Texans by opening Texas 100 percent.” He added:
“Make no mistake, COVID-19 has not disappeared, but it is clear from the recoveries, vaccinations, reduced hospitalizations, and safe practices that Texans are using that the state mandates are no longer needed. Today’s announcement does not abandon safe practices that Texans have mastered over the past year. Instead, it is a reminder that each person has a role to play in their own personal safety and the safety of others. With this executive order, we are ensuring that all businesses and families in Texas have the freedom to determine their own destiny.”
- While the state-imposed mask mandate will end, businesses and facility operators will retain the power to limit capacity or take other safety protocols at their discretion. Localities will also have the authority to impose mitigation measures if hospitalizations rise in their jurisdiction, although they won’t be able to impose fines or jail time for failing to wear a mask, and counties won’t be permitted to reduce capacity to less than 50% for any entity.
- Texas will become the fifth state to drop its mask mandate, joining Iowa, Montana, and North Dakota which did so earlier this year, and Mississippi, which also announced the change on Tuesday.
- Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said on Monday she is “really worried about reports that more states are rolling back the exact public health measures that we have recommended,” and added:
“I remain deeply concerned about a potential shift in the trajectory of the pandemic. We stand to completely lose the hard-earned ground that we have gained.”
- The president and CEO of the Dallas-Fort Worth Hospital Council called the end of the mask mandate “very unfortunate” and said it “will cause the community spread to increase, forcing our exhausted healthcare heroes to diagnose, treat, and save the lives of newly infected patients.”
What’s the state of the pandemic in Texas?
- Because Texas is the second-largest state in the country in terms of population, it’s useful to look at the number of cases per 100,000 people when making comparisons to less populous states. As the USAFacts chart below shows, the 7-day moving average was 26 new cases per 100,000 in Texas as of March 1st, placing it behind New York (38 cases), New Jersey (37.6 cases), South Carolina (34.4 cases), Delaware (30.3 cases), and Rhode Island (27.9 cases):
- In terms of the total number of new COVID-19 cases per day, the 7-day moving average in Texas has fallen to 7,600 new cases per day as of March 1st. However, that remains the highest level of any state, surpassing the 5,400 per day in Florida and 4,600 per day in California, as the USAFacts chart below shows:
What are case levels in other states that lifted their mask mandates?
- The other states that have lifted mask mandates haven’t experienced a significant surge in cases since the change, although mandates imposed by some of the larger cities and counties are still in effect within those states.
- According to the data compiled by USAFacts, Montana’s mandate was rescinded on February 12th, and the 7-day moving average of cases per day has declined from 21.5 to 15.9 per 100,000; Iowa dropped its mandate February 7th and cases have declined from 23.6 to 17 per 100,000; and cases in North Dakota have fallen from 25.9 per 100,000 when the policy was lifted on January 18th to 10.1 per 100,000 as of March 1st.
— Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: World Travel & Tourism Council via Flickr / Creative Commons)
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