On March 2, 2021, Texas Governor (R) Greg Abbott announced in a tweet the end of the Texas statewide mask mandate and business restrictions and that it would officially take effect on March 10. 

“I just announced Texas is OPEN 100%. 

EVERYTHING. 

I also ended the statewide mask mandate.”

-@GregAbbott_TX on twitter

This statement was met with strong feelings on both sides of the aisle. Many in opposition claimed that this would lead to fatal, disastrous results. Just one week earlier an estimated 200 Texans had lost their lives to COVID-19. Furthermore, on Feb. 31, an estimated of 7% Texans had been vaccinated.

Supporters of the ending of the mandate saw the this announcement as liberating and called for celebration. The announcement came on Texas Independence day, and those in favor saw this as intentional. The strong belief behind this was to compare Texas to Florida. Florida is both comparable to Texas in that it has a large population, and a sizable population of those considered “high-risks” for fatality from COVID-19. Florida has been firm on it’s stance of little-to-no masks/business mandates for residents and tourists; however, has retained one of the lower fatality rates in the entirety of the United States at a rate of 1.6% deaths in relationship to COVID cases. For having a large “at risk” population, many consider this well handled. (33,270 deaths, out of 2,047,383 as of March 28).

On March 11, the following day after the ending of the COVID mandate, President Joe Biden announced that all adults (above the age of 16) would be eligible for vaccination as of no later than May 1.

“Make every adult in the U.S. eligible for vaccination no later than May 1. Today, in the next phase of our vaccination effort, the President will announce that he will direct states, Tribes, and territories to make all adults eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine no later than May 1st.”

– White House press release transcript

Vaccinations have played a crucial role in slowing down the spread of COVID. Currently, all Texan adults are able to go get vaccinated, yet is is optional and not required. As of March 31, over 16 million doses have been allocated, with 3,972,931 Texans being fully vaccinated. 

To see information on the vaccine and how to get yours, click here.

So, what damage if at all has been done since the lifting of the COVID restrictions?

The numbers differ for each group and context; however, a majority of major statistics show a decline in covid deaths and cases. 

For Texas public schools, the numbers have been progressively shrinking in reported cases. Per the TEA (Texas Education Agency) and TXDSHS (Texas Department of State Health Services), The week ending on March 7, resulted in a total tally of 2,267 reported COVID cases. Cases are reported, and tallied by the total number of cases reported at the end of the week. By the week ending on March 21, a total of 466 cases had been reported for the week.

To see an interactive graph of reported public school covid cases, click here.

As for the general population, the numbers of COVID cases have been on a steadily decline since March 10. Albeit that the lines have retained persistently stagnant in its decline, there has been a decline nonetheless.

With numbers showing an estimated 3,100 confirmed cases on the weeks of March 10, they have slowly dropped to an estimated 1,900 cases on March 29. However, on March 30, the numbers had an unexpected swing, hoisting towards 3,100 cases. Fortunately however, Texans are expected to see the numbers get back on course within the next few weeks. 

“240,162 Texans got a Covid shot today.

We surpassed 11 million total shots–just 5 days after passing 10 million.

Hospitalizations went down to a new 6 month low.

The 7-day Covid positivity rate has remained below 6% for the 9th day in a row. 

Great work Texans!”

-@GregAbbott_TX on twitter

The integrity of reported COVID cases continues to be under public eye. Some believe that due to lack thereof personal integrity, the numbers are undercounted; on the other hand, many believe due to insufficient federal funding Texas hospitals fraudly diagnose cases of flu-like symptoms as COVID.

Rest assured, hospitals are paid proportionally for what is needed in each case. COVID or not, the hospitals are only paid based off of the equipment and resources needed to perform said action. However, there is one financial difference. Medicare, the government health program for the elderly and disabled, pays 20% on top of its ordinary reimbursement for COVID patients — a result of the CARES Act, the federal stimulus & COVID-19 relief bill that passed in the spring.

“The suggestion that doctors — in the midst of a public health crisis — are overcounting COVID-19 patients or lying to line their pockets is a malicious, outrageous, and completely misguided charge,” American Medical Association President Dr. Susan R. Bailey said.

To see the entire press release, click here.

All in all, the lifting of the mask mandate has not had the severe consequences many feared it would have. COVID numbers in Texas have been in a steady decline since March 10. Wether it be correlation or causation is up to the individual reader to decide; however, the numbers show a decline in reported cases since the lift of this ban.

The lack thereof restrictions has not had the catastrophic effect many assumed it would.

Resources

AMA President –  press release

KHN.org article – 

“how covid death counts become the stuff of conspiracy theories”

White house press release – May 1st covid vaccine announcement.

KHN.org article-

Texas experiences big two week decline in new covid case numbers

TXDSHS – interactive Covid graph 

DSHS & TEA – Texas Public Schools COVID-19 Data

Texas Tribune – Greg Abbott announces covid restriction lift

Greg Abbott tweet – announcing mask lift

usafacts.org – Covid-19 numbers by state

DSHS – Vaccine information in Texas

DSHS – Texas vaccine dashboard

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