Gov. Greg Abbott Announces Texas Will End Mask Mandates and Will 'Open 100%': 'EVERYTHING'
Texas is officially reopened, Gov. Greg Abbott announced Tuesday afternoon on Twitter.
"I just announced Texas is OPEN 100%," Abbott, 63, tweeted. "EVERYTHING."
"I also ended the statewide mask mandate," the Republican governor added.
The announcement makes Texas the largest U.S. state to commit to fully reopening, nearly a year after all 50 states shut down businesses and implemented varying forms of stay-at-home orders due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves also announced Tuesday that his state would abandon its mask mandate and allow businesses to fully reopen this week.
Most Americans and Texans have not received a COVID-19 vaccination yet.
Texas has recorded the second-highest number of COVID-19 cases and third-highest number of deaths, behind California and New York, according to a New York Times tracker.
There have been at least 515,254 U.S. deaths caused by COVID-19, according to the Times. At least 28.7 million people across the country have been infected by the coronavirus that causes the COVID-19 respiratory disease.
In Texas, the Times reports 44,107 people have died from COVID-19 while more than 2.6 million have been infected with the virus.
Abbott's announcement also comes less than 24 hours after The Houston Chronicle reported that Houston is the first U.S. city to discover all new major strains of the coronavirus—many that are more contagious than the initial strain discovered in 2019, the newspaper reports.
Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, warned Monday that the U.S. could lose its progress in fighting COVID-19 if people become too relaxed about safety precautions.
"Please hear me clearly: At this level of cases with variants spreading, we stand to completely lose the hard-earned ground we have gained," said Walensky, speaking from the White House.
"These variants are a very real threat to our people and to our progress," the health official added. "Now is not the time to relax the critical safeguards that we know could stop the spread of COVID-19 in our communities, not when we are so close."
At least 51.8 million people across the country have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccination thus far, according to The Washington Post, with 26.2 million Americans being fully vaccinated.
That equates to 7.9% of the country being fully vaccinated and 15.6% having received at least one dose, according to the Post.
In Texas, at least 3,883,032 people—or 35.4% of the prioritized population—have received at least one dose. About 13.4% of the state's population is fully vaccinated.
Abbott's announcement means businesses in Texas are legally allowed to return to 100% capacity, according to a press release from his office.
"Make no mistake, COVID-19 has not disappeared," the governor said. "But it is clear from the recoveries, vaccinations, reduced hospitalizations, and safe practices that Texans are using that state mandates are no longer needed."
According to the Post, more than 6,000 Texans are currently in the hospital with COVID-19.
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