Texas on Wednesday lifted its statewide mask mandate enacted in mid-2020 while also loosening several other restrictions on businesses meant to control the spread of the CCP virus.
Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, announced last week in an executive order (pdf) the State of Texas is working towards removing restrictions on businesses and have them operate again at full capacity.
The loosening of restrictions was announced as Texas is seeing a downward trend on patients infected with COVID-19, the disease caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, as well as hospitalizations going down to levels not seen in months.
“COVID-19 hospitalizations and the rate of new COVID-19 cases have steadily declined due to the millions of Texans who have voluntarily been vaccinated, many more who are otherwise immune, improved medical treatments for COVID-19 patients, abundant supplies of testing and personal protective equipment, and Texans’ adherence to safe practices like social distancing, hand sanitizing, and use of face coverings,” Abbott wrote in the order related to the re-opening of the state.
Texas was one of the first states to reopen its economy after the first wave of pandemic cases last May, and the nation’s second-most populous state led the way again last week when Abbott announced the relaxation amid declines in new daily CCP virus cases.
“We must now do more to restore livelihoods and normalcy for Texans by opening Texas 100 percent,” the governor said last week, while also warning Texans that “COVID-19 has not disappeared,” but the mandates implemented to control the pandemic “are no longer needed.”
County officials in regions where patients take up 15 percent, or more, of hospital beds for seven consecutive days can enact new mask and occupancy restrictions, under the governor’s order, but no regions are currently in that situation.
As of Wednesday, around 2.3 million of Texas’ nearly 29 million residents have contracted the CCP virus, with 44,650 of those cases proving fatal, according to data from the Texas Department of State Health Services.
Abbott announced the relaxation of restrictions also comes amid a rollout of COVID-19 vaccines. As of Tuesday, about 4.5 million Texans have received at least one shot of the CCP virus, Fox News reported.
As of Sunday, The U.S. Centers for Disease Control reported that 18 percent of Americans nationwide have received at least one dose of a vaccine.
Reuters contributed to this report.