Texas governor issues executive order ending COVID-19 mandates

Texas becomes largest US state to lift COVID-19 mask mandates as new cases total in the thousands everyday

By Mbulelo Maqungo
On March 2, 2021

Photo courtesy of Eric Gay & AP News

 

Gov. Greg Abbott on March 2 ended Texas' statewide mask mandate and announced an executive order to allow all businesses to reopen at full capacity, making it the largest state to no longer require one of the most effective ways to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Abbott announced the executive order, which will take effect on March 10, while citing declining hospitalizations and increasing vaccinations across the state.

“Now, Texans have mastered the daily habits to avoid getting COVID,” Abbott said at Montelongo’s Mexican restaurant in Lubbock in a room of unmasked audience members. “People and businesses don’t need the state telling them how to operate.”

The announcement, which comes at a time when more than 43,000 people have died due to COVID-19, has taken federal, medical and university leaders by surprise according to AP. Many federal health officials across the country have been urging state officials to not let their guard down, warning that the pandemic is far from over.

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

ASU President Ronnie Hawkins Jr. released a statement Tuesday evening informing students, faculty and staff that there will be no announcements of policy changes until at least March 8.

“The health and safety of all our students, faculty and staff is the top priority of Angelo State’s leadership,” Hawkins said in the email. “We will continue with our current policy, expecting masks to be worn on campus and social distancing to be observed at least until March 10. In the meantime, I will visit with ASU leadership to determine how we maintain a safe campus as we finish out the semester. Please feel free to send me your thoughts or comments.”

During the Tuesday press conference, Abbott touted the state's positivity rate as being under 9%, results that are still nearly double the 5% threshold recommended by the World Health Organization. As of March 1, Texas has reported 2.6 million infections and 43,918 deaths, according to data from John Hopkins University. 6.8% of the population has received both doses of the vaccine, which is slightly lower than the national average of 7.9%, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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