Harlingen, Texas (KVEO)—On Tuesday, Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced the reopening of Texas businesses after nearly a year of various shutdowns and restrictions to quell the spread of COVID-19.
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“It’s time to reopen Texas 100%,” said Abbott. “Everybody who wants to work should have that opportunity. Every business that wants to be open, should be open.”
Abbott announced a new executive order effective next Wednesday that will allow any business to open at 100% capacity if they choose to.
Cameron County Health Authority Dr. James Castillo reacted to the news, saying the decision was dramatic and premature.
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“I know the Governor is referring to space in the hospitals,” said Dr. Castillo. “He is saying that if there is space in the hospitals, then it’s ok so get sick with COVID, and I don’t think that should be the message.”
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Abbott explained that under the new order, a county judge may impose certain mitigation ordinances if COVID-19 hospitalizations in any of the 22 hospital regions of Texas rise above 15% of bed capacity for seven straight days. But even if countywide recommendations are enacted, Abbott said residents will not be able to be jailed for refusing to follow county judge recommendations.
Gov. Abbott’s order is tied to the percentage of hospital capacity. The order says County Judges would have the ability to reimpose some limits, but now all, if a region sees an increase in hospitalizations.
“The Governor did not say it was safe, he said people have the right to take their own risks,” said Dr. Castillo.
According to the latest numbers on census.gov, only 6.5% of the entire state has been fully vaccinated.
As of March 1st, Cameron County has a total of 37,239 COVID-19 cases and a total of 1,348 COVID-19 related deaths.
“I believe the mask mandate should only be lifted when a COVID-19 vaccine is available to everyone,” Cameron County Judge Eddie Trevino stated in a press release out Friday afternoon.
“While I respect Governor Abbot’s decision, I regret he did not give us another 60 to 90 days to continue vaccinating our constituents and get past Spring Break, the Easter Holiday, and nearing the end of the school districts spring semester before taking these actions,” he stated.
In the press release, Judge Trevino urged and recommended Cameron County residents, businesses and other establishments to continue to social distance, wear face-covering or masks, and continue to wash their hands regularly.