People are still wearing masks in Texas despite the fact there’s no longer a mask mandate. It depends on the area, of course, but I’ve observed a vast majority of customers in businesses putting on masks in North Texas since Wednesday regardless if it’s required or not. My own decision to stay masked up depends on how close people are to me. It’s not out of fear but making sure I don’t end up getting others ill of coronavirus or any other bug running around the state.
The personal responsibility isn’t enough for National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci. He remains optimistic about the virus trend in the U.S. but still expressed worry to Fox News Sunday when asked about Texas.
“If you have a baseline of infection that is quite high, and if you look at the numbers, we are not out of the woods yet,” Fauci said pointing towards Europe where lockdown measures remain. “When you pull back on all mitigation methods, on all public health guidelines, that’s when you get into trouble.”
There’s a difference between government-enforced mitigation measures and individuals and businesses still enacting their own rules regarding COVID. Large and small businesses across Texas are still requiring masks and social distancing, as is their wont. Other businesses are keeping their offices closed while employees work from home thanks to advancements in technology. People either wear masks to protect themselves and others or decide they’re tired of covering their faces.
Texas isn’t the first state to get rid of all occupancy rules or ease mask requirements. The New York Times’ roundup of state-by-state COVID requisitions shows Connecticut got rid of almost all restrictions even though bars are still closed and masks required. Nebraska, Kansas, and Georgia’s mask mandates are over and most businesses are open as well. Florida never required face coverings but recommended people wear them.
The focus on Texas is probably due to the chance Governor Greg Abbott runs for president in 2024 or 2028. His announcement of Texas’ reopening was grandiose, much like his statewide address regarding the power outages and potential reform to the state’s power grid management. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis may be the only other sitting Republican governor looking at the White House, although there will be a push to get South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem to run as well. It depends on Donald Trump’s political future and whatever plans U.S. Senators Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley are putting together for the future.
There’s still no doubt a vast majority of Texans are adhering to facial coverings while out and about, even if they’re not being forced to by the government. It’s about respect and the desire to keep people safe. Nothing wrong with that while more and more people get the coronavirus vaccine. Just be smart and understanding if businesses require facial coverings.