COVID Cases in Texas Decline as Restrictions are Lifted

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People take breakfast at Bill Smith’s Cafe, after Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued a rollback of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) restrictions in McKinney, Texas, March 10, 2021. (Shelby Tauber/Reuters)

The rolling average number of daily new cases of the coronavirus in Texas has decreased by 42.5 percent over the past two weeks, as Governor Greg Abbott made the controversial decision to lift its mask mandate and fully reopen businesses last week.

Abbott announced on March 2 that he would end the state’s mask mandate on March 10, though experts have warned that loosening restrictions too quickly could lead to surges. However, Abbott said the state’s declining coronavirus cases and accelerating vaccine distribution would enable the state to safely reopen.

On Sunday, the Texas Department of State Health Services reported 2,347 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 and 69 additional deaths. Hospitalizations continued to fall as well, to 4,093, according to the department.

The state has the third-highest death count in the U.S., according to data from Johns Hopkins University, as more than 46,300 Texans have died from the virus.

Nearly ten percent of the state’s population — 2.8 million people — have now been fully vaccinated against the virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Meanwhile, in Mississippi, which lifted its mask mandate on March 3, there has been an average of 457 cases per day in the past week, a decrease of 23 percent from the average two weeks earlier, according to the New York Times.

Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves announced that he would lift restrictions shortly after Abbott said he would loosen restrictions in Texas.

“Starting tomorrow, we are lifting all of our county mask mandates and businesses will be able to operate at full capacity without any state-imposed rules. Our hospitalizations and case numbers have plummeted, and the vaccine is being rapidly distributed. It is time!” Reeves tweeted.

Days before the governors lifted restrictions, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky had warned against relaxing mitigation efforts, saying, “Things are tenuous. Now is not the time to relax restrictions.”

President Biden labeled the push toward reopening “neanderthal thinking” and urged governors to keep restrictions in place.

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