On Tuesday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) announced that he will end the Lone Star State’s mask mandate and urge all businesses in the state to reopen even though the move goes against the recommendations of health officials and flies in the face of the fact that the state is far behind when it comes to vaccinating the most vulnerable Texans from COVID.
“It is now time to open Texas 100 percent,” Abbott said at a press conference in Lubbock. “Every business that wants to be open should be open.”
Abbott’s move didn’t sit well with elected officials across the state, including Republicans, with Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price calling the move “premature” and noting:
“I am calling on Gov. Abbott to open up additional vaccine tier categories so that more people are eligible to get a vaccine if they want one. As the state’s directive has changed, so must our response. Now, more than ever, vaccines and testing must be readily available.”.
In El Paso, County Judge Ricardo Samaniego expressed his frustration with the governor on Twitter:
El Paso has over 280 bodies in our Holding Facility and 2,086 total deaths have been reported. @GovAbbott‘s directive to no longer make masks mandatory would be equivalent to him stating that we don’t have to wear our seatbelts…but it would be a good idea if we did.
— County Judge Ricardo Samaniego (@EPCountyJudge) March 2, 2021
And Abbott’s announcement, coming immediately after the way he fumbled the state’s response to Winter Storm Uri — which left Texans without power and water for over a week — also enraged residents of the second-largest state in the country.
Houston fast-food worker Travis Smith told The Daily Beast:
“I watched Greg Abbott deliver that announcement live, and all I felt was rage. I was horrified.
“We just experienced this horrific winter storm that killed people. And just coming out of that and to have this announcement—workers in Houston and in Texas need more protections right now. We do not need less.”
Treasure Willige echoed Smith’s remarks:
“As a service-industry worker, I’m livid. How dare Abbott open under the guise of caring about restaurants and small businesses but not giving a damn about the people having to work in them? And no clear plan for us to get vaccinated? Absolute bullshit.”
And Zac Vecellio, a physical therapist at Memorial Hermann at the Texas Medical Center, warned:
“Lifting the mask mandate and the capacity limits is going to create other superspreader events. So what we’re likely going to see is a huge influx of patients with COVID, and we’re going to have to triage them in order to not overwhelm the hospital. We’re going to basically send people home to their death.”
Apparently, Gov. Abbott doesn’t give a damn about the death toll. He’s more interested in diverting attention away from his past failures, no matter how many of Texans have to die.
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