Texas Gov Greg Abbott slammed for lifting mask mandate, Internet says he's 'setting people up for the kill'
Governor Greg Abbott announced on Tuesday, March 2, that Texas is lifting its mask mandate, making it the largest state to end an order intended to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. As per reports, the pandemic has killed more than 42,000 Texans. As per an ABC News report, limits on the number of diners or customers allowed indoors will also be repealed.
Abbott said the new rules would take effect on March 10. “Removing statewide mandates does not end personal responsibility,” Abbott said on Tuesday. “It’s just that now state mandates are no longer needed.”
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The Republican governor issued the mandate eight months ago in July 2020, along with other COVID-19 restrictions on businesses. But Texas never strictly enforced the mandate. In fact, Abbott signed an executive order on April 27, 2020, that said while individuals were encouraged to wear face masks, "no jurisdiction can impose a civil or criminal penalty for failure to wear a face covering."
Today's announcement doesn’t abandon safe practices that Texans have mastered over the past year. Instead, it’s a reminder that each person has a role to play in their own personal safety & the safety of others.— Gov. Greg Abbott (@GovAbbott) March 2, 2021
In November 2020, Abbott told reporters he "candidly [has not] seen a lot of quote 'enforcement.'" He said at a press conference then, "Most enforcement that we see is done by TABC," referring to the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, which regulates bars.
Reaction to the decision
“The fact that things are headed in the right direction doesn't mean we have succeeded in eradicating the risk," Dr. Lauren Ancel Meyers, a professor of integrative biology and director of the University of Texas COVID-19 Modeling Consortium told ABC News. She also said the recent deadly winter freeze in Texas that left millions of people without power could amplify transmission of the virus in the weeks ahead, although it remains too early to tell.
Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo called the decision “wishful thinking" and said spikes in hospitalizations have followed past rollbacks of Covid-19 rules. “At worst, it is a cynical attempt to distract Texans from the failures of state oversight of our power grid," said Hidalgo.
Democratic lawmakers have criticized the move. “Texas will experience more cases, more hospitalizations, and more deaths," state Representative Richard Peña Raymond, a Democrat from the border city of Laredo, said. “Elected by the people, your most fundamental obligation is their health and safety. Please do not abrogate your duty.”
On social media as well, the reactions skewed towards negative. One Twitter user said that the Governor was “setting people up for the Kill. I hope the people of Texas are smarter than you give them credit for.” A second user commented, "In lifting the mask mandate, @GovAbbott says “we are ensuring that all businesses and families in Texas have the freedom to determine their own destiny.” Sounds nice. But overlooks the fact that this is a respiratory virus spread person-to-person, regardless of one’s “destiny”," while a third wrote, "#TEXAS?! WTF is wrong with your Governor? The South African Variant had now reached our shores and this idiot doesn’t care if you live or die. Be smart! Keep wearing your masks and follow the guidance you already know. We ALL need to pull together to get past this pandemic."
You setting people up for the Kill. I hope the people of Texas are smarter than you give them credit for. https://t.co/oGICpqTOSz— 🖤 Tish Reynolds 🖤 (@Teemoney204) March 2, 2021
In lifting the mask mandate, @GovAbbott says “we are ensuring that all businesses and families in Texas have the freedom to determine their own destiny.”— Craig Spencer MD MPH (@Craig_A_Spencer) March 2, 2021
Sounds nice. But overlooks the fact that this is a respiratory virus spread person-to-person, regardless of one’s “destiny”. https://t.co/B4JisRWB1k
#TEXAS?! WTF is wrong with your Governor? The South African Variant had now reached our shores and this idiot doesn’t care if you live or die.— M (@ShareTheCare247) March 2, 2021
Be smart! Keep wearing your masks and follow the guidance you already know. We ALL need to pull together to get past this pandemic. https://t.co/mDNzm4Z9hF
On Monday, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky cautioned against repeals and rollbacks of this nature. "I am really worried about reports that more states are rolling back the exact public health measures we have recommended to protect people from Covid-19," Walensky said at the daily White House Covid-19 briefing. "Please hear me clearly. At this level of cases with variants spreading, we stand to completely lose the hard-earned ground we have gained."