Kaufmanites’ responses to the removal of mask orders in Texas ranged from enthusiasm to disappointment.
"With the medical advancements of vaccines and antibody therapeutic drugs, Texas now has the tools to protect Texans from the virus,” Gov. Greg Abbott announced Tuesday in Lubbock. "We must now do more to restore livelihoods and normalcy for Texans by opening Texas 100 percent. Make no mistake, COVID-19 has not disappeared, but it is clear from the recoveries, vaccinations, reduced hospitalizations, and safe practices that Texans are using that state mandates are no longer needed.”
Dr. Ben Brashear, the Kaufman County medical officer, disagrees and continues urging people to wear masks. He cited announcements by two epidemiologists in Texas, Dr. Katelyn Jetelina and Dr. Emily Smith.
Smith posted the following on Tuesday on her Facebook page, Friendly Neighbor Epidemiologist:
“Our Governor pulled back COVID-19 restrictions and our mask mandate today. But, this is what our data says:
• We are at a high-risk level of an outbreak. We are one of eight states in that level of an outbreak.
• Of the top 20 counties in the U.S. with the highest recent number of cases per capita, Texas has 11 of those counties.
• Texas cases per capita ranks #8 of all states and ranks very close to the other states above it.
•Texas deaths per capita ranks #7 of all states and ranks close to the other states above it.
• We just came out of a massive winter storm which delayed vaccines and testing. A winter storm which knocked out power and water for millions, greatly affecting our lower-income neighbors.
• In the state, cases, hospitalizations, and deaths disproportionately affect Black, Indigenous and People of Color communities.
• In the state, cases, hospitalizations, and deaths disproportionately affect our lower-income neighbors in the state.”
“WE ARE SO CLOSE,” the doctors write. “But we are tripping before the finish line.”
By Wednesday afternoon, more than 22 people had commented on the Kaufman Herald Facebook page to the question: “What do you think of Gov. Abbot’s lifting mask orders in Texas?”
About 12 comments were in favor of lifting the mask mandate, while about seven opposed it and said they will continue wearing masks.
“Best news we have gotten in a year,” wrote Brian Fraser. “If you feel the need wear it do what you think is best for you.
David and Sandra Williams added: “Praising the Lord, Thank you Jesus, Return to Freedom! Yes!”
Others view the move as political.
“I do believe he did it to take public opinion away from the total failure and investigation of the power grid fiasco,” Olie Lewis Stringer wrote of Abbott’s action.
And others were disappointed.
“It’s very irresponsible,” wrote Beissy Sandoval. “Texans are still dealing with the aftermath of the winter storm and once again we are being put in a vulnerable situation by selfish leadership. With spring break coming up its not a good time cut back on precautions. Over 44,000 Texans have died of COVID and Greg Abbott doesn’t seem to care. This will inevitably cause spikes and increase hospitalizations. Can’t wait to vote him out in 2022.”
Added Becky De Los Reyes: “I will continue to wear my mask. I love my family.”
During his remarks, Abbott discussed the advances made in the state, noting that almost 5.7 million vaccine shots have been administered to Texans, and the state is now administering almost one million shots each week.
By next Wednesday, more than half of seniors in Texas will have received a vaccine shot, he noted. By the end of March, every senior who wants a vaccine should be able to get one. The vaccine supply continues to increase rapidly and more Texans will soon be eligible to receive a vaccine, according to Abbott’s press release.