SOUTH PADRE ISLAND, Texas (KVEO) — Local officials are concerned about what Spring Break could look like now that Governor Abbott announced the reopening of business at 100% and the end of the statewide mask mandate.
Gov. Abbott announced the decision at a press conference held Tuesday, but the new order takes effect until March 10.
Following his announcement, health experts and county officials share a common plea in the Rio Grande Valley.
“I’m urging, I’m really begging, that all of our residents keep using the mask,” said Cameron County Judge Eddie Treviño.
Treviño said he is concerned the new executive order is doing too much, too soon.
He told KVEO he was especially concerned about what a fully opened, non-mask-mandated Spring Break would mean for South Padre Island and the Rio Grande Valley.
“I think we’re just getting ahead of ourselves. A few more months; two, three months, that would have really given us the opportunity to vaccinate a lot more people.”
The executive order takes effect the same week most universities in Texas start their Spring Break. The timing could cause people to travel to Spring Break destinations, like South Padre Island, more than it would have just a week ago.
Treviño fears young adults, who fall into the age range that spread COVID-19 the most often, would come to the region with the disease and spread it.
“I hope that this doesn’t come back to create an influx of cases and a super spreader virus incidence during spring break.”
He was unable to speak with Governor Abbott before he made his decision to fully reopen and remove the mask mandate.
Treviño said he wished he would have had the opportunity to discuss the timing.
“Doing away with the mask mandate at the state level v.s. the message that we’re advocating for sends that mixed message saying ‘well I don’t have to wear it, the Governor said I don’t have to so the heck with it.’”
Governor Abbott’s executive order would allow county judges to impose restrictions on businesses if the total COVID-19 hospitalizations stay above 15% of a hospital’s capacity for a week. However, they can not arrest or fine anyone for not following the restrictions.
Treviño told KVEO all the county can do is ask the public to continue following CDC guidelines for the sake of their families, friends and neighbors.
“We know what happens when people relax and don’t do what needs to be done. And we know what happens when people follow the guidelines,” said Treviño.