Health experts push back as more states lift COVID-19 restrictions

Texas is only five days away from the end of the mask mandate.

HOUSTON – Texas is only five days away from the end of the mask mandate. It was the first of 15 states to announce a rollback in COVID-19 restrictions. With the new rollbacks comes pushback from local and national leaders.

On Tuesday, Gov. Greg Abbott announced he would lift the mask mandate starting March 10 and allow businesses to open at 100% capacity.

He received backlash from leaders nationwide, including from President Joe Biden, who called the decision a “big mistake” and “neanderthal thinking.”

Abbott responded to the criticism saying he still encourages Texans to mask up, but health trends signal it’s time to “go back to normal.”

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“The difference is that for a year now Texans, as well as Americans, have learned that the safe standard … is to wear a mask,” Abbott said. “Because they know that standard, do they really need the state to tell them what they already know for their own personal behavior?”

Biden’s Chief Medical Advisor Anthony Fauci also disagreed with Abbott’s decision.

“You don’t want to go from very stringent public health restrictions to just turning it off and saying, ‘That’s it. Just let anybody do what they want,’” Fauci said. “You particularly don’t want to do that when you have a high level of community spread, which is what we have now.”

Health care providers and leaders in Texas, including Judge Lina Hidalgo and Mayor Sylvester Turner, are asking Texans to continue wearing a mask.

Many places, like Target, CVS and hospitals are still requiring a mask to enter. However, while H-E-B will require all employees to wear masks, customers will simply be encouraged to do the same.

The Texas Education Agency says the decision on whether students and staff should wear masks is up to each individual school district.

About the Authors:

Daniela Sternitzky-Di Napoli has been a digital news editor at KPRC 2 since 2018. She is a published poet and has background in creative writing and journalism. Daniela has covered events like Hurricane Harvey and the Astros World Series win. In her spare time, Daniela is an avid reader and loves to spend time with her two miniature dachshunds.

Reporter, family-oriented, sports fanatic, proud Houstonian.