Texas Governor Greg Abbott has announced his plans to lift the mask mandate and open the state to “100 percent” by next week.
On Tuesday (March 2), the governor tweeted the new executive order, making Texas the largest U.S. state to end the COVID-19 mask mandate. “With the medical advancements of vaccines and antibody therapeutic drugs, Texas now has the tools to protect Texans from the virus,” he said. “We must now do more to restore livelihoods and normalcy for Texans by opening Texas 100 percent. 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 state mandates are no longer needed.”
Additionally, capacity for all businesses and facilities in the state will now be increased back to 100 percent, however, the governor said that each establishment will “have the freedom to determine their own destiny.”
Abbott also discussed how the state was doing with administering vaccinations. Nearly 5.7 million vaccines have been administered to residents in the state. By next week, 7 million shots will be given and over half of the senior citizens in the state will have received their shot. By the end of March, every senior citizen who wants a vaccine shot should be able to get one.
According to AP, over 42,000 Texans have died from Coronavirus, however, Abbott says more Texans are recovering from the virus than contracting it. The number of active COVID-19 cases is reportedly the lowest it has been since November.
Although cases are reportedly declining, health officials believe Abbott’s new order could cost lives. “We think it’s premature,” Dallas County Health and Human Services Director Phil Huang told Dallas County commissioners. “It’s still too early. We’d all love to get back to normal. [But] it’s not the time to relax.”
Check out Abbott’s full executive order below.