Texas Governor Greg Abbott has announced that his state will be doing away with all of its coronavirus restrictions including the mask mandate. Abbott announced in a tweet, “I just announced Texas is OPEN 100%. EVERYTHING. I also ended the statewide mask mandate.” This decision flies in the face of health officials’ wishes to stay the course on basic measures to fight the virus, at least for a few more months. While there has been great news recently on the fight against COVID-19, there are still millions of vaccinations yet to be administered and the concern over variant strains remains. The case rate reduction of 73% is a great sign, but it’s not a license to remove all restrictions and behave irresponsibly. If anything, it shows that doing the simple things like mask-wearing is working and that we need to keep it going at least into the early summer.
For Greg Abbott, this is not about science or medicine, it’s all about “owning the libs.” Removing the mask mandate at this time is incredibly irresponsible but it mainly serves as a way to virtue signal about how freedom is good and how science is bad. There’s a serious risk of this move by the Texas governor backfiring and resulting in a spike in cases and deaths. However, if that were to happen, the Republican voters of Texas would simply not care or shift the blame elsewhere. The right will still hail Abbott as a hero and claim that coronavirus restrictions shouldn’t have even existed in the first place. The governor’s decision could cause a chain of red states to remove their restrictions as well, potentially delaying the nation’s timeline to defeating the virus.
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