Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced Tuesday that he was lifting all coronavirus restrictions on businesses and rescinding his own statewide mask mandate despite the fact that more than 8,000 new cases of COVID-19 were reported in the state on Monday.
“Today I’m issuing a new executive order that rescinds most of the earlier executive orders,” Abbott said at a press conference. “Effective next Wednesday, all businesses of any type are allowed to open 100 percent. That includes any type of entity in Texas. Also, I am ending the statewide mask mandate.”
To date, the coronavirus has infected more than 2.66 million Texans and killed just over 44,000 in the state. On Monday, Texas reported 8,130 new cases of COVID-19, according to figures compiled by the New York Times. The seven-day average of new cases stands at 7,693, up from the seven-day figure of 4,212 reported on Feb. 20. As of Monday, the seven-day average for deaths from COVID-19 in Texas stood at 228, a higher level than when the state's mask mandate went into effect in July.
Abbott took no questions from reporters on Tuesday regarding his decision to lift pandemic restrictions. Other states have been easing some measures, such as a prohibition on indoor dining, but Texas’s order goes the furthest.
Nationwide, the steep drop in the number of new COVID-19 cases and deaths that followed a massive holiday surge appears to have slowed considerably.
Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Monday that she was worried about “a potential shift in the trajectory of the pandemic.”
“Our recent declines appear to be stalling,” Walensky said, adding that she was “really worried about reports that more states are rolling back the exact public health measures we have recommended to protect people from COVID-19.”
While the U.S. has seen marked progress in vaccinating people for COVID-19 in recent weeks, President Biden warned last week of the danger of the nation letting its guard down.
“This is not a time to relax. We must keep washing our hands, stay socially distanced and, for God’s sake, wear a mask,” Biden said at a ceremony marking the administering of 50 million vaccine doses in the U.S.
Read more from Yahoo News: