Local leaders and health experts urging ‘mask off’ events to be canceled

HOUSTON – People across the Lone Star state will no longer have to wear face-coverings and businesses will open back up to 100% starting on Wednesday. The new order has Mayor Sylvester Turner and other elected officials worried about “superspreader events,” such as “mask off” parties across the Houston-area.

“We are not the dumping ground for events that will put Texans in danger and cause people to lose their lives,” Turner said.

Gov. Greg Abbott said the state has continued to improve in the fight against the coronavirus with the latest’s positivity rate for Texas is at 7%. He added the positivity rate is at the lowest it has been in five months and that hospitalizations are down.

Yet, on Sunday, Turner, along with other health and elected officials, gathered to condemn a local bar and other businesses from hosting “mask off” events. They said it is not the time to party and have large gatherings.

Concrete Cowboy, a bar located on Washington Avenue, is scheduled to have a “mask off” party on Wednesday, the same day the statewide mask order will end.

KPRC 2 reached out to the establishment for comment, but our phone calls have not been returned.

Several leaders said the event is a slap in the face to those who have been working on the frontlines.

“Mask off events, celebrating the reckless if not negligent rollback of COVID-19 prevention measures, is like pouring salt in a gaping wound for health care workers,” said Dr. Christina Propst, a Pediatric Physician.

Healthcare workers joined the city leaders urging people to stay vigilant and continue to follow COVID 19 guidelines.

“The hard part is that we are really tired of it, but the infection is not tired of us and we are not done,” said Dr. Bich-May Nguyen, a Physicians and Board Member of Doctors for America.

State Rep. Ann Johnson said the superspreader events will kick off the fourth surge of COVID-19 in the Houston area.

“It will endanger the lives of these health care workers, those who work in the nightclubs, the customers, and the community members in this neighborhood,” she said.

Turner said the city has surpassed the 2,000 mark for the number of people who have died from COVID-19. He said more cases are being reported every day.

“Keep in mind there are 5 variants that are in the city of Houston, and they are moving at a rapid rate,” he said.

Turner said until more people are vaccinated, now is not the time to let our guards down.

“And what I would say to the governor with all so respect there is nothing wrong with stepping back and reversing and opposing the mask mandate again,” he said.

Propst said about 7% of Texans are vaccinated. While in order to reach herd immunity, 70% of Texans need to get the vaccine.

Here is the full presser with local officials and health experts on Sunday, March 7:

This is the full press conference from Sunday, March 7, 2021.
This is the full press conference from Sunday, March 7, 2021.