Starting March 10, businesses and other facilities can run in-person operations at 100 percent capacity and the wearing of face masks will no longer be required in regions of the state where hospitalizations for COVID-19 are not high. 

Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order Tuesday afternoon relaxing these COVID-19 infection-control measures.

"With the medical advancements of vaccines and antibody therapeutic drugs, Texas now has the tools to protect Texans from the virus,” Abbott said in a press release. "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. Today's announcement does not abandon safe practices that Texans have mastered over the past year. Instead, it is a reminder that each person has a role to play in their own personal safety and the safety of others. With this executive order, we are ensuring that all businesses and families in Texas have the freedom to determine their own destiny."

STRAC, the trauma service area that includes Kerrville, no longer meets the definition of a high-hospitalization area, according to a Feb. 22 press release from Kerr County. High hospitalization is defined as when hospital capacity in a trauma service area exceeds 15 percent for seven consecutive days; low-hospitalization is when the rate is less than 15 percent for seven straight days, according to the recent executive order.

If the hospitalization rate in STRAC is considered high by March 10 and later, it will be up to the county judge to decide whether to impose COVID-19 restrictions, according to Abbott's order. Restrictions can't include penalties of fines or imprisonment, but authorized officials may remove violators from a location by force; and the county judge may not order businesses to reduce capacity to less than 50 percent of total occupancy, pursuant to GA-34(2)(c).

Public schools, jails and nursing homes are to follow the COVID-19 guidelines of their respective regulatory agencies, according to Abbott's order.

Kerrville Mayor Bill Blackburn expressed disagreement with Abbott's order issued Tuesday. Blackburn said more and more people have been wearing face coverings "to protect themselves and others" despite initial resistance. 

"In regard to opening businesses 100%, I understand trying to give relief to businesses, but I still believe there is danger if masks are not used and social distancing is not observed," Blackburn said in a Tuesday email to The Kerrville Daily Times. 

Blackburn said he understands the difficult position Abbott's been in since the pandemic started last year.

"Some think he has done too much and some think he has too little," Blackburn said in the email. "From the start, he said he would listen to the data and the doctors. However, in lifting the mask mandate Tuesday, he obviously did not listen to the doctors who were advising him to keep the mask mandate in place. They have warned that we could have another surge of COVID, and we are facing new variants of the Coronavirus. We are not out of the woods yet."

(3) comments

Mary Lou SHELTON

GENE here: with all due respect JJ, virtually nobody with any medical knowledge agrees with you. have you ever wondered why people are masked up in the hospital operating room?

JJ Fuller

Thank goodness Abbott has come to his senses! The mask mandates were not necessary in the first place because the science says they are not effective at preventing the transmission of COVID-19 and only serve to make the long term mask wearer sick by preventing fresh air from entering and only breathing back in your exhaled bacteria and carbon dioxide which makes your body acidic. That reduces your immune system and you become vulnerable to many more illnesses. Masks are not meant to be worn for long periods of time!

Gene Shelton

GENE here: JJ, can you give me a link to the science you quote? I would also like a link to your immune theory hypothesis.

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