Texas Governor Greg Abbott speaks during an Operation Warp Speed Vaccination Summit at the White House in Washington, DC on Tuesday, December 8, 2020.
Al Drago | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Texas and Mississippi governors both announced Tuesday that they were lifting the statewide mask mandates and allowing companies to reopen at full capacity even as the decline in daily Covid-19 cases slows and federal officials urge states to exercise caution.
Texas governor Greg Abbott said at a press conference at Montelongo’s Mexican restaurant in Lubbock that he would issue a new executive order lifting most of his previous Covid-19 restrictions, including a statewide mask mandate. He added that effective March 10th, all companies should open “100 percent”.
“Removing statewide mandates does not end personal responsibility,” said Abbott saidI spoke in a crowded dining room where many did not wear masks. “It’s just that government mandates are no longer needed.”
“It is now time to open 100 percent Texas,” he added.
Around the same time as Abbott’s comments, Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves announced At a separate press conference, he stated that he was lifting all mask mandates in the county and lifting nationwide restrictions on almost all businesses.
“I’m replacing our current orders with referrals,” Reeves said. “The only rules that stay in this order are a 50% capacity limit for indoor arenas and those governing K-12 schools.”
Both announcements come shortly after federal officials including the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Dr. Rochelle Walensky, who warned state officials not to be too quick to lift public health restrictions.
Walensky said at a Covid-19 briefing at the White House on Monday that while the number of new cases has declined rapidly since the peak in January, the decline is flattening out with a worryingly high infection rate. She added that the spread of new, more contagious variants of the coronavirus poses a new threat that could reverse the nation’s progress, even if vaccines are introduced.
“At this level of cases where variants spread, we will completely lose the hard-earned ground we gained,” she said. “With these statistics, I’m really concerned that more states are rolling back the exact public health measures we have recommended to protect people from Covid-19.”
“Please listen to me clearly: at this level of cases with spreading variant, we are going to completely lose the hard-earned ground we have gained,” she said.
– CNBCs Berkeley Lovelace Jr. contributed to this report.
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