Fully Open Does Not Represent the Texas I Know and Love
Governor Greg Abbott embraces Texas stereotypes and the Wild West feel as he removes the mask mandate and capacity limits for businesses. The Texas Tribune reports:
“It is now time to open Texas 100%,” Abbott said from a Mexican restaurant in Lubbock, arguing that Texas has fought the coronavirus pandemic to the point that “people and businesses don’t need the state telling them how to operate” any longer.
Texas is a state known for its pride and perhaps being a little arrogant in its display of confidence. Known as second in size to Alaska and the population of California, it has plenty to boast about. As a Texas resident, I’ll say the Governor’s announcement is counter to the desires of the people I regularly communicate with.
Texas was one of the first states to reopen businesses amid concerns that the state put health at risk to preserve the business economy. The state recently lost power and electricity in a historic winter storm. While recovery efforts are still in process, the Governor takes off his mask in a hands-off approach while encouraging people to do the same thing.
The decision comes under fire from those who have health concerns. The World Health Organization still recommends wearing a mask. The Center for Disease Control also recommends wearing a mask, but the Governor suddenly puts the decision back in the hands of local businesses to make the final call. Many health officials think the removal is too soon.
Answer the Call of Freedom
You might think the announcement that the state is 100% open is answered by residents running wild, like the old days of the Wild West, and taking their masks off, tossing them into the wind, and embracing freedom.
The opposite seems to be true. Perhaps the Governor was correct in the thinking that Texans are sensible. Most people keep their masks close-at-hand and wear masks when they step out in public. Local businesses still have signs posted on entrances calling for patrons to put on a mask before entering.
Ring the Bell
You may be wondering what’s happening at schools. Local schools require students, faculty, and visitors to wear a mask to enter the school building. The requirement is harder to enforce on the school grounds. On the day of the Governor’s announcement I heard one lady say, “My kids are not wearing a mask to school tomorrow.” People who think similarly are not in the majority.
The independent school district attempts to get ahead of questions and potential challenges as it issues a statement with its position on the matter:
Kids still need an extra mask in their backpacks, and to wear one while they attend school. The mask mandate remains in place. If students want to attend school in person, they must wear a mask. The request is not optional.
My daughters attend school in person. The struggles of learning online were plentiful, and they wanted to go back to school because they were reasonably comfortable with the safety protocols. We’ve been sick, so they wanted to wear a mask, keep a safe distance, and learn in person. As their parents, we have no objection to their request. Neither wants to continue learning in person if the mask mandate is removed.
Live in Disconnect
Many residents feel like politicians are disconnected from their people’s desires at the local level. The Governor and the Mayor continue to be at odds over the removal of the mask mandate.
Austin Mayor Steve Adler seems to think Abbott is making a mistake. In a live news interview he says:
“The Governor said early on in the crisis that the data and the science would guide him, but he has broken his promise.”
Wearing a mask doesn’t hurt anyone, but not wearing one could cause more people to get sick. Please choose wisely.