McAllen, Texas (KVEO)—On Tuesday Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said it was time to “open Texas 100%” and ended the statewide mask mandate, effective next Wednesday, citing downward trends in hospitalizations and the availability of medicines and vaccines.
The governor delivered a statewide address Tuesday from Montelongo’s restaurant in Lubbock where he said the state mandates were no longer needed in the battle against COVID-19.
Texas lawmakers, local leaders, health officials, residents and the TEA have issued statements in regards to Abbott’s decision.
City of McAllen Mayor Jim Darling, along with city commissioners and administration, hosted a press conference on Thursday to discuss the impact of the new orders.
During the press conference, Mayor Darling said that each business can choose to require masks or not, similar to “no shoes, no shirt, no service.” Individuals that don’t wear a mask, cannot be arrested but can be refused to be serviced.
“At all business, restaurants, stores, department stores… can decide what they want to do. They can require masks or they don’t have to require masks,” the mayor said.
He encouraged the public to have mutual respect and asks to please wear a mask if a business requires it.
The McAllen mayor also explained how businesses’ capacity depends on the regional hospital rate of COVID-19 patients:
“Right now, our hospitals are under 15% with COVID-19 patients,” he said. “That’s as a region. So, we are very lucky because Hidalgo County has more than 15%, but we [count] for the full region. So, that includes Cameron County and Starr County. Because those hospitals have less than 15% in those counties we are able to take advantage of those numbers.”
As of Thursday, the city of McAllen will strongly encourage wearing masks in public places, and is seeking legal advice to see if they can require it.
Any transportation service, such as busses or airplanes, require the public to wear masks as federal law mandates.
Darling also reminded the public that just because they are vaccinated does not make them “invincible” to the coronavirus.
“A lot of people say ‘well, I got vaccinated, so I’m okay, I can’t spread it.’ That’s not true,” he said. “During the period that [the virus] is in your body, and [the antibodies] are fighting it, you can be contagious.”
He added that those that are vaccinated should still wear a mask, because they can still spread the virus.
Cameron County Health Authority responds to Gov. Abbott’s decision to reopen Texas, lifts statewide face masks order
The new executive order allows all businesses, of any type, to open to 100% capacity and, though the governor strongly encouraged people to continue wearing face coverings in public, he said people will no longer be required to do so.
The governor broke down several numbers on vaccinations, saying more than 5.7 million vaccine shots have been administered in Texas — in addition to the state reportedly setting a record on Tuesday for giving more than 216,000 shots in one day alone.
On Tuesday, Hidalgo County Judge Richard F. Cortez responded to Gov. Abbott’s announcement with a statement, saying he was concerned for the county.
Hidalgo County judge shares concern on Gov. Abbott’s decision to reopen Texas, lifts statewide face masks order
Hidalgo County Health Authority Dr. Ivan Melendez said the Governor’s orders are “too much, and too quick.”