Governor repeals statewide mask mandate, removes capacity restrictions
March 23, 2021
Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued an executive order (GA-34) on March 2 that reopened the state’s facilities to full capacity and lifted the mask mandate. In his order, Abbott stated that more than 5.7 million vaccines have been distributed to Texans. According to Abbott, Texans have become familiar with precautions that reduce the spread of the virus and therefore should work towards restoring the “normalcy” of the state. He added that more than 5.7 million vaccines have been distributed to Texans.
Despite the governor’s assurance about the wellness of Texas, health officials are telling the public to keep following previous COVID-19 guidelines. As the virus continues to spread, Texas averages over 100 deaths per day (as of March 21), and health officials have deemed reopening the state to be unsafe. Some government officials have also expressed an opposition to Abbott’s order, urging Texans to continue the prolonged fight against the virus by keeping their masks on, washing their hands, and distancing.
Locally, El Paso Mayor Oscar Leeser believes the governor’s timing of reopening the state does not abide with the science and statistics of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“We [El Paso] cannot revert to being one of the nation’s top COVID-19 hotspots again,” Leeser said.
Coronado staff and students have diverse views on the situation.
English teacher Mrs. Penny Berry states that Abbott’s executive order was ill-advised or “not advised at all.”
On the other hand, a junior at Coronado High School believes lifting the mask mandate will allow Texans to “express their constitutional freedom” through their decision about wearing a mask.
“Moreover, local businesses and industries have suffered immensely, and the limited capacity mandate made them suffer even more,” the student said. “Thus, it is vital to allow full capacity throughout the state to ensure a full economic recovery in a timely manner.”
The executive order went into effect on March 10, and it will be the first time since last summer that Texans are not required to wear masks in public spaces. However, in accordance with concerns, Abbott has set exceptions: if COVID-19 hospitalizations rise to over 15% of the capacity of a hospital region for a seven-day period, a county judge may utilize “COVID mitigation strategies” to reduce the spread of the virus.
EPISD will continue to require the use of masks and employ other public health measures on its campuses, and businesses can choose whether to enforce similar policies on their property.