Who is that UnMasked Man?
TEXAS: Mask Mandate Lifted. Increased Facility & Church Capacity to 100% (Subject to conditions in Texas Executive Order-34 by the UnMasking Man, Governor Greg Abbott). CDC BULLETIN 3/8/21: “CDC recommends that fully vaccinated people can visit with unvaccinated people from one other household indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing as long as the unvaccinated people and any unvaccinated members of their household are not at high risk for severe COVID-19 disease,” stated Dr. Rochelle Walensky, CDC Director.
Texas Executive Order-34 for Texas does not say don’t wear a mask indoors or out, but it does allow the freedom of personal decision on mask wearing. Individuals decide in Texas and not the Federal government. Texas residents can be mask-free if they choose without fear of a fine or criminal penalty. The Executive Order 34 will lift all state and local mask mandates and operating capacity limits in counties that are not in an “area with high hospitalization.”
An “area with high hospitalization” is defined in Texas Executive Order 34 to mean a Trauma Service Area that has at least seven consecutive days in which the number of COVID-19 hospitalized patients exceed 15% of total hospital capacity. Such a Trauma Service Area remains an “area with high hospitalization” until it has seven consecutive days in which the number of COVID-19 hospitalized patients is 15% or less of total hospital capacity. A list of areas with high hospitalization will be maintained at www.dshs.texas.gov/ga3031.
County judges in areas with high hospitalization above 15% of hospital capacity may impose operating limits on businesses but not less than 50% or greater of total occupancy, except for schools and child-care services. Taking all of this together, most Texas employers (those outside of “areas with high hospitalization”) will not be required—under Texas law or local law—to require customers, members or employees to wear masks, or to limit the operating capacity. The choice is elective to businesses and individuals.
Be aware many businesses and restaurants in Texas are still maintaining their masks requirements, as permitted by the Texas Executive Order-34. Although the order prohibits counties from imposing penalties for not wearing a face mask, legally authorized officials (e.g., police officers) may remove people who are not wearing face masks, at the request of the business establishment or property owner requiring same.
Texas and several other States, including Mississippi and Wyoming, have modified the mask and capacity requirements, including religious services in Texas. The Federal government still recommends requiring face masks, implementing social–distancing procedures, setting capacities and maintaining hygiene protocols, but the CDC has modified mask restrictions as of 3/8/21 – see above. Texas is NOT saying don’t use a face mask, participate in social distancing or practice hygiene protocols including frequent hand washings. The Texas situation is freedom to choose locally and no fines or criminality for non-compliance.
The conflicts at this time are between State Executive Orders or State laws, and Federal mandates. Do we continue a one-size-fits-all Federal program that is deemed justified due to the national pandemic status according to the CDC? A Federal program of changing mandates that nationally dictates masking in public, social spacing and capacity requirements; even if COVID-19 occurrences, hospitalizations and deaths are significantly declining to a reduced level in a specific local area. Or should States be encouraged to issue locally based health directives through Executive State Orders, even if different from national edicts from Washington DC?
May the priority of any mandates and restrictions related to COVID-19, or mutations, be the wellness in the shortest possible time for those subject to the ravages of this pandemic disease anywhere and everywhere.