In a surprising announcement by Governor Greg Abbott, beginning March 10th Texas will lift their mask mandate so people will no longer be required to wear a face mask to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Texas isn’t the first state to do this, but they are by far the biggest in population. Businesses will be allowed to run, as they see fit and have no restrictions, which also includes sporting events and concerts. Even with this news, the Dallas Mavericks and Stars have already said they will continue to require masks and only allow 25% capacity at games. Masks have been required in Texas since last summer.
Texas is still averaging 200 COVID-19 related deaths a day and only 7% of the population is vaccinated. In total, Texas has had 40,000 COVID-19 related deaths, since the start of the pandemic. Abbott said, “If COVID-19 hospitalization in any of Texas’ 22 hospital regions rise above 15% capacity in that region for seven straight days, a court judge may use COVID mitigation strategies in their county.”
Abbott also made it clear that businesses have the right to make their own policies to keep their employees and customers safe. That includes requiring masks to be worn inside the business. Before this announcement, Texas required businesses to operate at 75% capacity and to wear masks in public. Some Universities, such as Rice, have already come out and said masks will still be required on campus. Some critics strongly oppose Abbot’s announcement and feel this will reverse the gains Texas has made on infection rate and deaths. Abbott has defended these critics by pointing to the supply of personal protective equipment, tests available, and vaccine supply.