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Gov. Abbott says Texas mask order, other virus restrictions could end ‘pretty soon’

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott during a recent briefing.
Pool photo
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott during a recent briefing.

AUSTIN, Texas -- Gov. Greg Abbott said Thursday that Texas is looking at when it will be able to lift all statewide orders related to the coronavirus pandemic and that an announcement is forthcoming.

Abbott made the comments at a Corpus Christi news conference where he was asked when the statewide mask mandate would end as Texans continue to get vaccinated. That requirement has been in effect since July.

Abbott called it a “great question.”

“We’re working right now on evaluating when we’re gonna be able to remove all statewide orders, and we will be making announcements about that pretty soon,” Abbott said, without giving a specific time frame.

In addition to the mask mandate, statewide orders in effect include a policy that rolls back business reopenings in a hospital region if its Covid-19 patients exceed 15 percent of hospital capacity for seven days. Abbott put that policy in place in last fall.

Only 5.1 percent of Texans had been fully vaccinated as of Tuesday, though Abbott has been optimistic that the pace will pick up as more vaccines are made available to Texas.

Experts say Texas is a long way from reaching herd immunity through the vaccines. Hitting the 70 percent to 80 percent level that many estimate is needed would mean vaccinating some 22 million people, or nearly 100 percent of adults in the state, according to census numbers. The vaccines are currently not approved for children under 16, who make up about 23 percent of the population.

Scientists do not yet know for sure whether or how well the vaccines prevent the spread of the virus, though some preliminary research has suggested that some vaccines might be able to do so to some extent.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control recommends that people who have received two doses of the vaccine continue to avoid crowds, stay at least 6 feet away from people who live outside their households, and wear masks to cover their nose and mouth.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-disease doctor, has repeatedly said that he does not know when Americans will be able to return to normal, but that they may still need to continue wearing face masks into 2022.

Abbott has faced scrutiny from some of his fellow Republicans for how he has wielded his executive authority to issue statewide pandemic rules, and multiple GOP proposals have been introduced in the state Legislature to curb his power. He has expressed openness to reforming executive authority while also promising that “we will not have any more shutdowns in Texas.”

Coronavirus / News / Texas Politics / Top Stories

Texas Tribune

Comments

26 Comments

        1. A whole bunch of Texans, including these pro-gun types, were left without utilities last week for days and they are pissed!! These incompetent leaders could have winterized the entire system back in 2011, but they didn’t. Why?? Because regulating the energy industry is against their BS small government principles. This screwed-up system allowed Jerry Jones and others who own energy stakes to make millions in profits last week. These Repugnant leaders are just trying to save face, but they are on their way out.

  1. Back to the subject of the article. With the new variants coming on strong, easing social distancing and mask wearing is not a wise move according to the public health experts and the CDC.

      1. You’re mistaken. They’ve gotten everything right. Let’s see. Who should we listen to? Doctors and public health officials with Phd’s in virology and public health medicine and years of experience or a Trumpite on a blog?

        1. They were wrong about hydroxychloriquin, which is now being widely used to prevent serious China virus illness. They still haven’t committed to asymptomatic cases. Once believed to be transmitters but now might possibly just be false positives. Which is it? No one knows. Biden has a plan for China Virus He doesn’t. He’s as clueless as ever. 15 days to stop the spread. Wrong. So yes, they have either been wrong more often than right or they are all leftist control freaks trying to control Americans basic rights. And we fell for it. Just like the poorJews under Hitler. Either they were wrong orbits all part of the plan.

        2. The sad part is, all those people you just mentioned could have really done something to help people. Instead they let themselves be controlled by politics and hatred for one man instead if doing what was right.

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