LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - Governor Greg Abbott addressed small business and community leaders of the Lubbock Chamber of Commerce as part of a statewide announcement on Tuesday, March 2, 2021 in Lubbock. During the news conference the governor said “it is now time to open Texas 100 percent.”
“For nearly a half a year, most businesses have been open either 75% or 50%. And during that time, too many Texans have been sidelined from employment opportunities. Too many small business owners have struggled to pay their bills. This must end. It is now time to open Texas 100%.”
Effective Wednesday, March 10, all businesses of any type are allowed to fully reopen. “This must end,” he said before also ending the statewide mask mandate.
“Removing state mandates does not end personal responsibility,” he said. “With this executive order, we are ensuring that all businesses and families in Texas have the freedom to determine their own destiny.”
He also said, “Today’s announcement doesn’t abandon safe practices that Texans have mastered over the past year. Instead, it’s a reminder that each person has a role to play in their own personal safety & the safety of others.”
If COVID-19 hospitalizations rise above 15 percent for seven consecutive days, the county judge can put orders in place. But under no circumstances can a county judge put someone in jail for not following those orders.
“If COVID hospitalizations in any of the 22 Hospital regions in Texas, rise above 15% of the hospital bed capacity in that region for seven straight days, then, a county judge in that region may use COVID mitigation strategies in their county. However, under no circumstance, can a county judge put anybody in jail for not following COVID orders and no penalties can imposed for failing to wear a face mask. Also, if restrictions are imposed at the county level, all entities must be allowed to operate at at least a 50% capacity. More importantly, though, we believe that there will not be the threshold met at hospitalizations for county judges to even consider implementing those strategies because Texas will continue working collaboratively with all counties to speed the vaccination process.”
“Now despite these changes, remember this: Removing state mandates does not end personal responsibility, or the importance of caring for your family members and caring for your friends and caring for others in your community. Personal vigilance to follow the same/safe standards is still needed to contain COVID. It’s just that now, state mandates are no longer needed to stay safe. Texas should continue following medical advice on preventing COVID just as they do on other medical issues. That is exactly how Texans were able to deal with infectious diseases in the in the past, like H1N1. They followed safe practices, and they got medical treatment when it was needed. For a year now, Texans have wrestled with COVID. And they have learned best how to conduct their own lives. For example, if businesses want to limit capacity or implement additional safety protocols, they have the right to do so it is their business, and they get to choose to operate their business the way they want to. At this time, however, people and businesses don’t need the state telling them how to operate.”
Gov. Abbott said Texas will set a one-day record for the number of people receiving vaccines. He indicated more than 216,000 Texans would get their shot Tuesday. He added Texas is now providing more than one million vaccines a week, a big factor in lowering statewide hospitalization rates over the past four months.
Gov. Abbott said the state will soon expand who can get a vaccination and, within a few months, be available to every Texan.
“I deployed more than 1100 National Guard to assist local organizations to help our seniors get the shots they need. These efforts should ensure that we keep hospitalizations low in Texas. Importantly, the number of vaccines will continue to increase rapidly with additional supplies of the Pfizer, and Moderna vaccines, as well as the new vaccine that’s come out by Johnson and Johnson, which is a one shot vaccine that Texas began administering today in the state of Texas. In fact, get this, the vaccine supply is increasing so rapidly. Texas will soon expand the categories of people who are able to get them. And some medical professionals say that within a few months. Every Texan who wants a vaccine shot will be able to get a vaccine shot.”
Last week in Corpus Christi, Gov. Abbott announced a program to vaccinate homebound seniors. During Tuesday’s new conference he said more than half of Texas seniors will be vaccinated by Wednesday, March 10.
“And to be clear COVID has not like suddenly disappeared. COVID still exists in Texas in the United States and across the globe. But it is clear from the recoveries from the vaccinations from the reduced hospitalizations and from the safe practices that Texans are using, That state mandates are no longer needed.”
According to the Texas Department of State Health Services hospital data, all COVID-19 hospitalizations out of total hospital capacity has been below the 15 percent threshold since February 26, 2021.