Texas has been the nation’s problem child since the beginning of the pandemic. But this week the southern state spoke loud and clear about its priorities. On Tuesday, Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced plans to reopen the state and remove its mask mandate effective March 10. Abbott’s announcement basically translates into: Who cares if 43,000 Texans have already died when the economy needs our help?
What’s despicable is that this move comes after federal health officials warned states this week to not let up on taking precautions against COVID-19, given that the pandemic is far from over. For some reason, Abbott decided it was best to ignore the advice given by health experts. He and other Republican leaders in the state clearly don’t care that people are dying—as long as their loved ones aren’t the ones dying.
Although The Associated Press reports Texas has seen a decrease in COVID-19 cases, and deaths and hospitalizations are the lowest they’ve been since October, some are calling Abbott’s announcement a death sentence. Doctors and city leaders are now warning that the state should brace for another deadly increase, citing the inevitable spread of the virus.
“The fact that things are headed in the right direction doesn’t mean we have succeeded in eradicating the risk,” Lauren Ancel Meyers, professor of integrative biology and director of the University of Texas COVID-19 Modeling Consortium, told The Associated Press.
Many took to Twitter to criticize Abbott’s announcement. California Governor Gavin Newsom said this move was “absolutely reckless.” Some responded to Newsom, asking if it was possible to ban travel from Texas to California in order to protect residents. I think this would be wise on Newsom’s part given the state’s proximity. Not only is Abbott putting Texas residents in danger, but he’s also jeopardizing the lives of those residing in surrounding states.
Despite Abbot’s plan to remove the mask mandate, some businesses in the state say they will continue to demand customers wear masks, which is logical and responsible. Abbott and the rest of the state’s Republican leaders need to understand that an economy can’t thrive when thousands of residents are suffering or dying from COVID.