Editor’s Corner: The COVID mandates are being lifted; How are you going to handle it?

I must admit, I was a bit aghast when I heard that Texas Governor Greg Abbott was putting an end to the mandate he put in place about 8 months ago to wear masks, and he plans to re-open 100% of the state, come March 10.

Recent reports say that to-date, the COVID virus has caused over 42,000 deaths in Texas alone. Unfortunately, I got a close-up view as to what this virus can do, as complications of COVID took both of my in-laws last December. I realize that the number of COVID cases and deaths have dropped significantly in the past few months, aloing with the number of hospitalizations resulting from the virus.

I also know that the mask mandate was hardly enforced in my area (Dallas/Fort Worth) and much of Texas as a whole, depending on the person and the business. Most businesses let customers in without masks. Why give up sales that may have been few and far between just because a customer is not wearing a mask? Because it’s been proven to slow down the spread of COVID – that’s why!

Abbott’s plan will also take away the restrictions on the number of patrons that businesses are allowed to serve in their indoor dining rooms.

Abbott said that even though restrictions will be removed, it is still up to each person to be responsible about their precautions against COVID spread. I understand that, but I know there will be many people who will be more than happy to throw their masks away.

This is like a mentally ill person who says they feel better and stops taking their medications. The illness comes back pretty quickly, and the person may have done things that they wouldn’t do while medicated, or things that led that person to seek help in the first place.

It sounds like a case of, “Monkey See, Monkey Do,” as governors from other states have already eased up on mandates that were in place to help prevent the spread of COVID. As of today (March 3), California and New York are the only states that have reported more deaths from COVID than Texas.

Many health experts are expressing their concerns about lifting mask mandates. The winter storm had many people sheltering together, whether it be with family, friends or in warming stations. Basically, these are the places where COVID is spread the most easily if no prophylactic measures are taken.

These experts also predict a rise in COVID cases, hospitalizations and deaths if most people stop wearing masks, whether they have received a vaccine or not.

Abbott had the statewide mask mandate put into place in July 2020, during a surge in COVID cases. But with less-than-ideal enforcement (some members of sheriff departments refused to enforce the mandate at all), the pandemic dragged on and the numbers climbed. Abbott even said at one point that quarantines don’t work.

In Austin, the mandates caused tension between Abbott and the Republican party, which is his own party. There was even a protest outside of the governor’s residence. At the same time, Abbott was getting flak from the mayors of some of the largest cities in Texas, claiming that he needed to do more.

Now, in 2021, while COVID numbers are falling, there are still cities that haven’t found much relief.

The City of Laredo, which major demographic is Latino, has experienced higher numbers of outbreaks than other large Texas cities. They have been running out of beds in ICUs as recently as January. Laredo is an important international trade hub and has been one of the top Texas cities to lay down the law about the mandates. Leaders in Laredo are getting concerned about what results the removal of the restrictions will have.

The lifting of the rules is going to happen. There’s nothing I can personally do about it except use common sense, keep wearing my mask, using social distancing and washing my hands a lot. Do I enjoy doing this? No, not really. But it’s WAY better than contracting COVID.

Stay safe healthy out there!

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