Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott on Tuesday announced he is lifting all coronavirus restrictions, despite the deadly virus surging across the Lone Star State.
“Too many Texans have been sidelined from employment opportunities. Too many small business owners have struggled to pay their bills. This must end," Abbott said, according to The Dallas Morning News. “It is now time to open Texas 100%."
“Also, I am ending the statewide mask mandate," said the governor, fresh off a statewide crisis that threw millions into the freezing cold without power or water, almost as an afterthought. “Texans have mastered the habits to keep from getting COVID."
TEXAS—“I'm issuing a new executive order that rescinds most of the earlier executive orders."@GovAbbott orders 100% of businesses in #Texas open and ends statewide mask mandate starting next Wednesday, March 10. pic.twitter.com/uALxx9cSjF
— Bree A Dail (@breeadail) March 2, 2021
Dallas County Health and Human Services Director Phil Huang is calling the move "premature."
According to The New York Times, Texas ranks 48th in vaccine administration, meaning only two states (Georgia and Utah) have inoculated even fewer of its residents on a percentage basis.
It appears Abbott may be removing the protections for purely political reasons. On Monday night he tweeted out a new poll that shows his approval rating did not suffer despite the power grid disaster that led to dozens of deaths.
Thank you Texans for your support.
I will have some exciting news for you tomorrow. https://t.co/xX15LUwsoN
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) March 2, 2021
Some are tying the political decision to this weekend's CPAC conference:
If you're curious why Texas just suddenly ended our mask mandates and COVID business restrictions, look no further than the CPAC presidential straw poll.
Greg Abbott got zero votes. This is not a coincidence.
What happens at CPAC matters.
— Kenny Webster 🎙 (@KenWebsterII) March 2, 2021
The internet was stunned.
Journalist David Gura noted the pandemic in Texas is even worse than when Abbott finally invoked the COVID-19 restrictions.
When Gov. Greg Abbott announced a statewide mask mandate, I was on a reporting trip to Houston.
On that Thursday, July 2nd, there were 7,434 new #COVID19 cases in #Texas, and 44 deaths. Yesterday, there were 8,140 cases and 129 deaths. — David Gura (@davidgura) March 2, 2021
Here's what others are saying:
"I just announced that I'm killing more Texans. AS MANY AS I CAN. I also ended the statewide mask mandate that was saving lives while we wait for vaccine doses." Fixed it for you.
— MightyMary007 (@Mary007Mighty) March 2, 2021
Governor Greg Abbott has announced he's re-opening businesses in Texas 100% and removing the mask mandate.
TX is LAST in per capita vaccinations. 93.5% of the state has not yet been fully vaccinated. Don't ever let a republican tell you they're "pro-life" again. — Steve Hofstetter (@SteveHofstetter) March 2, 2021
No power, No water, No masks. Fucking geniuses.
— TheRealBATJAY (@therealbatjay) March 2, 2021
Pro Life Party my ass
— TWalsh (@hogan_1969) March 2, 2021
at a time when wearing double masks is encouraged and safer, in a state where we've had over 2 million cases & almost 45,000 deaths, our “governor" @GregAbbott_TX has decided to lift the mask mandate, putting 29 million texas residents at risk. not very pro life if you ask me. pic.twitter.com/cPedVSYjMf
— ༺coco༻ (@kittykatcoco) March 2, 2021
Hi, ICU nurse here in Austin. So disgusted & sick to my stomach over this news. Less than 20% of the state has been vaccinated and we are just barely starting to get relief in the hospitals from Covid surges. This is absolutely too early to lift restrictions.
— Elizabeth Wilks (@IzabethJD) March 2, 2021
Got to deflect from your power grid mess of a couple of weeks ago, huh? Might be nice to wait until we are above a 6% vaccine rate.
— FV Angela 📚⚾️🏀🌊🍷 (@fv_angela) March 2, 2021
Greg Abbott: "If that snowstorm didn't kill them, this will!" https://t.co/uqaTM8T4if
— Rob Gill (@vote4robgill) March 2, 2021