Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott announced on Tuesday afternoon that he is signing an executive order to eliminate the state’s mandatory mask mandate and allow businesses to operate at full capacity.
“Too many Texans have been sidelined from employment opportunities,” Abbott said. “Too many small business owners have struggled to pay their bills. This must end. It is now time to open Texas 100%.”
“So today, I’m issuing a new executive order that rescinds most of the earlier executive orders,” Abbott said. “Effective next Wednesday, all businesses of any type are allowed to open 100%. That includes any type of entity in Texas. Also, I’m ending the statewide mask mandate.”
“Today’s announcement does not abandon the safe practices that Texans have mastered over the past year,” Abbott said.
“Instead, it’s a reminder that each person has their own role to play in their own personal safety as well as in the safety of others. It’s a reminder that individual safety is managed every day as a matter of personal responsibility rather than by government mandate. Individual responsibility is a corollary to individual freedom, we can have both.”
Abbott said that people needed to still follow the same standards in protecting themselves and others from exposure to the coronavirus.
“Texans should continue following medical advice on preventing COVID just as they do on other medical issues,” Abbott said. “That is exactly how Texans were able to deal with infectious diseases in the past, like H1N1. They followed safe practices, and they got medical treatment when it was needed.”
Abbott stated that by next Wednesday he expects that approximately 7 million vaccine shots will have been delivered in the state – adding that the people being prioritized are the ones “most likely to be hospitalized or lose their life because of exposure to COVID.”
“By next Wednesday, over half of our seniors will have received a vaccine shot and by the end of this month, every senior who wants a vaccine shot will be able to get a vaccine shot,” Abbott added.
“To help this effort I have already announced a statewide program called Save Our Seniors, along with that I deployed more than 1,100 national guard to assist local organizations to help our seniors get the shots they need. These efforts should ensure that we keep hospitalizations low in Texas. Importantly, the number of vaccines will continue to increase rapidly with additional supplies of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines as well as the new vaccine that’s come out by Johnson & Johnson, which is a one shot vaccine, that Texas began administering today.”
“The vaccine supply is increasing so rapidly, Texas will soon expand the categories of people who are able to get them and some medical professionals say that within a few months, every Texan who wants a vaccine shot will be able to get a vaccine shot,” Abbott said.
Abbott estimated that approximately 10 million Texans, which is one-third of the state’s population, have had the coronavirus and have recovered.
“Almost 2.5 million Texans were lab confirmed for having recovered from COVID,” Abbott said.
“The CDC says that the real number of recoveries is typically four to five times the number of those who officially tested positive and recovered. Mathematically what that means is that approximately 10 million Texans, or really more, have recovered from COVID and have the proven ability to beat the disease.”
Mississippi Republican Governor Tate Reeves also announced on Tuesday that he was putting an end to the state’s mask mandate and allowing business owners to resume at full capacity effective Wednesday.
“Starting tomorrow, we are lifting all of our county mask mandates and businesses will be able to operate at full capacity without any state-imposed rules,” Reeves said on Twitter. “Our hospitalizations and case numbers have plummeted, and the vaccine is being rapidly distributed. It is time!”
“Executive orders that interfered with peoples’ lives were the worst, but the only possible, intervention for much of the last year,” Reeves said. “Now, we are putting our focus towards rapid vaccine distribution. We are getting out of the business of telling people what they can and cannot do.”