LUBBOCK, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) - Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced Tuesday afternoon that it's time to open the state and end the mask mandate. "Under no circumstance can someone be punished for not wearing a mask," he said during a news conference.
By next Wednesday, March 2, all businesses of any time can open at 100%. He made the announcement from Lubbock on the same day Texas reported a new one day record for the number of people receiving vaccines — more than 216,000. "Within a few months, experts say every Texan who wants a vaccine, will be able to get a shot," said Abbott.
He said it's safe to open Texas 100% because there are vaccines against COVID-19, medicines to treat those who get the virus, and there's an abundance of COVID tests and PPE.
"Today's announcement ensures Texans can tap into their own self-reliance to seize the opportunities our state has to offer," said Abbott as he ended his press conference. "God bless the State of Texas."
Texas Speaker of the House Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont) today released the following statement after Governor Abbott's announcement to fully reopen Texas in response to COVID-19:
"The unparalleled efforts of government and the pharmaceutical industry to defeat the novel coronavirus prove what we've always known: vaccines work. With greater access to vaccinations, better treatment options, and decreasing hospitalization rates, the Texas approach empowers citizens to exercise personal responsibility about their health in the fight against COVID-19. Today's action marks an important step in the reopening of Texas, improving the mental health of our students, increasing the reporting of domestic violence and child abuse, and revitalizing our business climate. I also appreciate that there are safeguards in place to prevent spread from increasing as the state reopens. The past year has been difficult for all Texas families, and there is now hope that we will defeat and eradicate COVID-19.
Texas Association of Business (TAB) CEO, Glenn Hamer released the following statement praising Governor Abbott's announcement today that lifts COVID-19 restrictions in hospital regions where coronavirus patients make up less than 15% of the hospitals' capacity:
"Throughout the pandemic, Governor Abbott has implemented measures that protect our communities, while ensuring Texans still have the ability to earn a paycheck and put food on their tables. Once again, the Governor is striking the right balance by removing the heavy hand of government and allowing businesses to operate as they see fit. One year into dealing with COVID-19, organizations understand what protocols they must implement to function safely, and TAB knows Texas companies will operate responsibly.
"Today's decision will unleash the full might of the Texas economy and create more and better-paying jobs for hardworking Texans. Furthermore, this will lead to a full economic recovery not only for our state, but the entire country, and TAB applauds the Governor's announcement today."
The President and CEO of the Dallas-Fort Worth Hospital Council, Stephen Love said in a statement:
"Governor's Abbotts decision to remove the mask mandate in Texas is very unfortunate and could increase community spread of COVID-19 and potentially cause mutations called variants. Face masks ( worn properly ) can block respiratory droplets of COVID-19 produced when an infected person coughs. Face masks help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 infection in pre-symptomatic or asymptomatic people who do not realize they have the infection. Masks help protect your fellow Texans by tamping down the community spread of the virus. Wearing masks can help the economy recover by slowing the spread of the infection in business places like restaurants and bars. Through our efforts to wear masks, physical distance and wash hands we have decreased the infection rate, hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19 in North Texas over the past 5-6 weeks. Let's not reverse that trend because the COVID-19 virus with variants are still here and we have not achieved herd immunity.
While we respect Governor Abbott and realize he has faced enormous challenges with the COVID-19 virus and the recent winter weather issues, we strongly disagree with removing the mandatory mask requirements because the community spread increases will once again cause our exhausted healthcare heroes to diagnose, treat and save the lives of newly infected patients. If the community spread increases, the risk of mutations also increases creating an additional set of challenges. If you truly want to honor our healthcare heroes---WEAR A MASK! We hope Governor Abbott will please reconsider this decision."
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