Turner says Abbott had no objection to mask order during Biden’s Houston visit

President Joe Biden greets Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner after stepping off Air Force One at Ellington Field Joint Reserve Base in Houston, Friday, Feb. 26, 2021. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

HOUSTON – During a press conference Sunday with local health officials where he urged the public to wear masks, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said Texas Gov. Greg Abbott didn’t mention rescending the statewide mask order when President Joe Biden was in town a little more than a week ago.

On Feb. 26, Biden met with Turner, Abbott, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, and congressional members in Houston to discuss the state’s response to the winter storm, which left millions of Texans without water and power for days, and the COVID-19 response, which heavily depends on the ramping up distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Turner said that during the meeting the president told the group: “We will have to keep on our masks on for quite some time.”

“The governor said nothing,” said Turner.

Turner said the governor took no public issue with the mask mandate at that time.

“No one took issue with him then,” Turner said. “Quite frankly, we shouldn’t take issue with him.”

Since Abbott announced his plan to lift the mask order and all capacity limits starting Wednesday, Turner and other local officials have called the move premature and against science.

“This is the wrong direction for the state of Texas and this decision needs to be criticized and condemned in every part of the state,” Turner said earlier this week. “We are still in the midst of dealing with this coronavirus. The variants are still out there. Less than 10 to 15% of the people in the state of Texas have been vaccinated.”

Turner said that until more people get the vaccine, masks represent one of the best ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“This is the wrong policy decision for the people in the state of Texas on multiple levels,” he said.

In an exclusive interview with KPRC 2 last week, Abbott noted that the state is setting an all-time record of vaccines administered.

“All the numbers are going in the right direction,” Abbott said. “Today, we had the lowest number of hospitalizations that we’ve had, and the lowest positivity rate that we’ve had in more than four months, the most number of people have been vaccinated.”


About the Author: