Texas lifts mask mandate despite COVID warnings

Tourists on San Antonio River Tour

Gregg Popovich slams Texas Gov. Greg Abbott's move to lift mask mandate: 'This is really ridiculous'

President Joe Biden has criticised the lifting of mask requirements in the states of Texas and MS, calling it "Neanderthal thinking".

He said the order would take full effect on March 10.

Masks, social distancing and other measures were still important, despite the role vaccines were playing in containing the pandemic, he said.

Greg Abbott announced Tuesday the state would "100% reopen", ending the mask mandate and allowing businesses to operate without restrictions, a move that contradicts Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance and public health experts from around the country.

State education officials on Wednesday gave local school boards the ability to set their own rules. She however asserted that it is still early to tell and added that masks are still one of the most effective strategies to check the COVID-19 pandemic.

President Joe Biden on Wednesday called Texas Gov. Greg Abbott's decision to end his state's mask mandate "Neanderthal thinking", echoing frustration from top COVID-19 response officials in his administration that case numbers are not low enough to relax restrictions before more Americans are vaccinated.

"Removing state mandates does not end personal responsibility or the importance of caring for your family members, caring for your friends and caring for others in your community", Abbott said during a Chamber of Commerce event in Lubbock. "So hopefully the country will continue to rally together in this front", he said.

The CDC has been clear in opposing states' moves to lift restrictions, she said, encouraging Americans to continue to take precautions.

"The next month or two is really pivotal in terms of how this pandemic goes", Walensky said.

How did MS and Texas respond? However, Biden has done the exact opposite.

Welcome-to-Texas-Sign
CDC Director Urges Mask Wearing Regardless of Governors' Orders

FILE - Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves signs legislation at the Governor's Mansion in Jackson, June 30, 2020. Businesses have been crushed across the nation, including in Texas, and we don't think it's a Neanderthal thought that the people of Texas, or all Americans for that matter, can make the decision for themselves.

"It is clear from the recoveries, the vaccinations, the reduced hospitalisations, and the safe practices that Texans are using, that state mandates are no longer needed".

What restrictions have been lifted by states?

"A federalist system means that the central government, the United States government, is a government of limited powers, and the states retain police powers, which historically has included public health", explained Meryl Chertoff, an adjunct professor of law at Georgetown University in Washington.

A year ago, at the start of the pandemic, Trump said he had discussed "a national lockdown" with advisers to minimize the spread of the coronavirus.

"This is relevant to the mask mandates because it suggests that the courts are now starting to consider whether under provisions of the Public Health Services Act of 1944 ... the authority of the federal government to act with respect to emergency public health situations is broader than has been previously acknowledged", said Chertoff. Iowa, Mississippi, Montana and North Dakota have lifted mask orders imposed previous year.

MI is to ease capacity limits on restaurants, and on public and residential gatherings.

SC has removed limits on large gatherings, while capacity limits on restaurants in MA were removed.

Some cities have also acted.

Patients in hospital with Covid continue to fall, from a peak of 131,000 on 12 January to 46,000 in the first week of March. COVID-19 hospitalizations and new infections have dropped significantly in the past month.

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