By: NIAH MADIGAN
On Tuesday, March 2, Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves announced that their states will lift mask requirements. While Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations have been dropping nationwide, this rash decision will only have negative effects on public health.
“Do stuff outdoors, don’t group together indoors with a lot of folks,” Mississippi’s state health officer Thomas Dobbs said at Reeves’ news conference. “There’s no way in heck I would go sit in a crowded bar right now, indoors or out really. Please exercise caution.” The Mississippi Health Department also encouraged people at a higher risk from Covid such as older residents and people with preexisting conditions to continue to isolate themselves in their house.
The announcement was met with very different reactions from different people. Many conservatives, such as Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, warmly embraced the decision. Patrick said in a statement that reopening businesses without restrictions would “help us restore the livelihoods of millions of Texans even faster,” and Dade Phelan, Texas Speaker of the House said people should “exercise personal responsibility” to slow the spread as the state reopens again.
However, many democrats have reacted angrily, saying that lives are being threatened. In a statement on Tuesday, Texas Representative Joaquin Castro said, “Governor Abbott’s failure to listen to science and medical advice will cost Texans their lives. The easiest thing everyone can do to slow the spread of COVID is to wear a mask and keep a social distance.” Mississippi state Representative Jeramey Anderson denounced the decision in a tweet. “We’ve been here before and it led us down a dark path,” he tweeted on Tuesday.
The decision also puts businesses in a difficult position. “Basically you’re saying, ‘If you get infected, you die, that’s the way it goes. We got to open up.’ That’s not the way to do it. This is really ridiculous,” San Antonio Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich told KSAT. Some large stores such as Target, CVS, Walgreens, and Macy’s already announced that they will continue to require masks in their stores, despite new state laws.