Despite warnings from medical experts, starting March 10, the mask mandate will be ending and businesses are free to open to 100% capacity again.
On March 2, 2021, Governor Greg Abbott announced his decision to end the mask mandate. He said, “with the medical advancements of vaccines and antibody therapeutic drugs, Texas now has the tools to protect Texans from the virus.” Nearly 5.7 million vaccine shots have been administered to Texans, and by the end of March, every senior who wants a vaccine should be able to get one.
The Governor also mentioned that Texas has a surplus of PPE and is able to perform over 100,000 COVID tests a day. The state has also invested in anti-body therapeutic drugs and has adopted daily habits that reduce the risk of exposure and infection. The availability of vaccines was one reason for ending the mask mandate. Even so, Texas is one of the states with the lowest vaccinations per capita rate.
In addition to the mask mandate ending, all businesses are allowed to open at full capacity. “If businesses don’t feel safe opening, they should not be required to”, the governor noted. The companies: General Motors, Toyota Motor, Target, and Macy’s, have said their employees will keep face masks on.
The governor did not consult all of his medical advisors before making his decision.
“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 from the University of Texas.
Anthony Stephen Fauci, an American physician-scientist and immunologist said the Governor’s decision was “quite risky.” He noted that the last seven-day average is plateaued. He explained why that was a problem. “That’s a dangerous sign because when that has happened in the past when you pull back on measures of public health, invariably you’ve seen a surge back up.”
The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation projects that COVID daily deaths will level out to around to a hundred a day going into the summer. If the mask mandate was still in effect, those numbers could be zero to fifty daily deaths.
Although the predictions are that even without the mask mandate daily deaths will continue to decline until around May, masks have proven to help stop the spread of COVID-19 and should still be mandatory in Texas.