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Greg Abbott’s mistakes on masks and re-openings

Greg Abbott’s mistakes on masks and re-openings

Greg Abbott’s mistakes on masks and re-openings
July 11
16:30 2020

Months into what appears to still be the peak of a pandemic, restaurants, bars, gyms and stores have slowly begun their reopening phases throughout June, under Texas Governor, Greg Abbott’s orders. The first executive order made on March 19 issued the closing of these institutions, one week after one of the largest Texas gatherings was canceled, The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.

As cases still managed to rise while testing sites and kits became more accessible, beginning March 31, a state-wide stay-home order was issued after multiple Texas counties had already advised to. At the time of the statewide closure, daily cases hovered just below 400 a day, which stayed stagnant through mid-April. Though some saw this as a positive, this doesn’t mean the virus still wasn’t spreading, it just slowed, which was the goal. Just 17 days later, Abbott held a press conference thanking Texans for the efforts to slow the virus, stating just how Texas has, “far fewer tragedies than in most states of the United States,” and has “the third most recoveries from COVID-19 in America.” In the very next sentence, he encouraged those who’ve helped Texans recover, to help Texans back on their feet financially and economically. “Just as we united as one state to slow COVID-19, we must also come together to begin rebuilding the lives and the livelihoods of our fellow Texans,” Abbott said.  This press conference announced the lift of the stay-home order to be over on April 30.

At the end of April, daily positive cases had risen to just over 1,000. Due to coverage by President Trump, this was difficult to know if this was a result of more testing or an actual rise in the spread. One week later, Abbott held another press conference stating hospitalization was steadily declining, though the state had hit a new high that day. Ten days later cases reached their highest yet at 1,800 new cases in one day as Abbott issued the second phase of reopening businesses including bars, wine tasting rooms and breweries.

As mentioned in an episode of Dr. Gupta’s podcast, “Coronavirus: Fact vs. Fiction” featured on CNN, the new direction of mask protection was brought to light. Dr. Gupta reminded listeners that just a month prior in the second episode of the podcast, the advice was given by medical professionals such as himself did not require people who appeared to be healthy to wear a mask. At that time, even The World Health Organization supported this, as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This episode was released on March 3, 2020.

The episode that Dr. Gupta brings to light the new information on masks was released on April 6, 2020, stating that, “The CDC issues new guidance, recommending that even people who are not displaying symptoms of COVID-19, should cover their faces in public if they cannot maintain social distances in places like grocery stores and pharmacies.”

Changes like this displayed just how much the nation was still in the dark regarding simple safety measures. Abbott’s first statements regarding facial coverings came as late as June after 4,000 new cases were recorded mid-month. His most pressing issue is “it will keep Texas open.” Hmm, wrong word maybe, Greg?

In the weeks before, multiple mayors including those in Houston, Dallas, Austin and San Antonio had pleaded for Abbott to make it a requirement to wear masks in public due to the lack of social distancing in some areas. Though he believed masks to be important, he insisted the government could not force the requirement, and even banned local jurisdictions from doing so. I will go ahead and say he probably wished he had listened to those pleas, with new daily cases as high as 6,900 on June 30. In an interview last Friday with KVIA in El Paso, Abbott expressed regret for opening bars too early, “now seeing in the aftermath how quickly the coronavirus spread in the bar setting.”

In a similar interview with WFAA in Dallas, he called it an “easy thing to pinpoint” about the increase in the spread in the bar and restaurant setting, more citizens socializing and with no facial coverings. Additionally, the Black Lives Matter movement was sought after for playing a role in increased cases, though new research found by the National Bureau of Economic Research found no evidence that coronavirus cases jumped in 315 cities in the weeks following the first protests due to many wearing, you guessed it, masks. This also could have been offset by the social distancing with those who opted out of marches.

It is simple, wear a mask.

Featured Illustration: Srinidhi Shukla

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Lindsey Donovan

Lindsey Donovan

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