Well, I guess Texas really wants a fourth surge. Citizens of Texas should start preparing now.
Yesterday, Govern Abbott issued an executive order lifting the state's mask mandate and occupancy restrictions. "We must now do more to restore livelihoods and normalcy for Texans by opening Texas 100 percent." Businesses are left to their own discretion regarding individual mask or social distancing requirements within their doors, but starting next Wednesday, March 10, 2021, any business in the state of Texas will be able to have 100% capacity with no mask requirement if they so choose. It also removes any kind of enforcement capabilities local governments could have to enforce their own mask and social distancing requirements.
Meaning - Texas is taking off the mask come hell or high water. And damn the consequences.
It's hard to write about this without being punchy, because it's so short sighted. Yesterday, when Abbott made this announcement, Texas had 7,747 new cases. 271 new deaths from Covid-19. Only around 7.5% of the population has been fully vaccinated. Texas is no where near where it would need to be regarding potential herd immunity either from the virus or the vaccine to where it could start easing restrictions designed to stop this virus from running rampant.
The sad thing is, by easing restrictions in the name of "freedom," Texas is only making things more difficult for small business owners who want to continue to protect their employees and families by continuing a mask or social distancing requirement for their business. Make no mistake, masks are still going to be required at your big national chains. You will still have to wear a mask at Wal-mart. You will still be asked to wear a mask at HEB. And there will be small businesses who wish to continue to require it there as well. What Abbott has done has encouraged entitled egotists to flaunt the requirements and provoke altercations with front line employees at those businesses.
It's been sickening to scroll through Facebook and see the number of people praising this decision as if it were on the level of Texas Independence. Or as if it "restored a fundamental freedom" on the level of the Civil Rights Act. In reality, it revealed that we do not have it within us anymore to sacrifice for the greater good. We do not have it in us anymore to care more for the people around us and make small concessions for their well-being. It revealed that we don't have what it takes to endure a minor setback in the grand scheme of life.
That's the most frustrating aspect of the whole ordeal - we only had another few months to go through to where easing restrictions could start to make sense. The announcement today indicated that vaccine production should be ramped up enough to where all American adults could get vaccinated by the end of May. Two more months, and we could really start pulling things back and restoring normalcy, whatever that was.
But we can't wait.
Make no mistake, this was political theater. It was designed to distract Texas from the utter failure that the Texas government displayed through their lack of preparation for a winter storm, not learning the lessons from 2011, and their total mishandling of the whole affair during the storm.
We're at that moment in Jaws where the citizens have caught a tiger shark and the mayor goes out and proclaims that everything is safe. Everyone should go back out, everyone should go to the beach and visit Amity Island. We need those tourist dollars. Think of the Fourth of July.
That decision didn't work out well for the citizens of Amity and I fear this decision will not bode well for the citizens of Texas.
Wear your mask, no matter what the governor may say.
Keep your distance.
There is light at the end of the tunnel; we just have to persevere.