Texas and other states ease COVID-19 rules despite warnings – FOX23 News
Texas was the largest state on Tuesday to lift its mask rule and join a fast-growing movement of US governors and other leaders to ease COVID-19 restrictions, even though health officials had asked not to put their vigilance on yet to lose.
The Lone Star State will also lift the limit on the number of diners that can be served indoors, said Republican Governor Greg Abbott, who made the announcement at a Lubbock restaurant.
The governors of Michigan, Mississippi and Louisiana also slacked off in bars, restaurants and other shops on Tuesday, as did the mayor of San Francisco.
“Removing statewide mandates doesn’t end personal responsibility,” Abbott said from a crowded dining room where many of those around him did not wear masks. “It’s just that government mandates are no longer needed.”
A year after the crisis began, politicians and ordinary Americans are fed up with the rules designed to contain the spread of the coronavirus, which has killed over half a million people in the United States. Some places are repealing infection control measures; in other places people ignore them.
Senior health officials, including the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have pleaded repeatedly that if the nation makes progress in vaccinating people and victory over the outbreak is in sight, not to risk another deadly wave of contagion.
U.S. cases are down more than 70% in the past two months from an average of nearly 250,000 new infections per day, while the average deaths per day have decreased by about 40% since mid-January.
But the two curves have flattened abruptly in the past few days, and even increased slightly, and the numbers are still alarmingly high, with an average of around 2,000 deaths and 68,000 cases per day. Health officials are increasingly concerned about virus mutations.
“We will completely lose the hard-earned ground we won,” warned CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky on Monday.
Even so, many Americans are fed up with the downtime that has damaged their livelihoods and eager to reconnect.
A bar in the Indianapolis area was filled with maskless patrons over the weekend. In Southern California, people queued through a parking lot on a weekday afternoon for the opportunity to shop and eat in Downtown Disney, part of Disneyland. (The theme park rides will remain closed.) And Florida is preparing to welcome students for spring break.
“People want to stay safe, but fatigue has crept in,” said Ryan Luke, who organizes a weekend rally in Eagle, Idaho, to encourage people to patronize businesses that don’t need masks. “We just want to lead a more or less normal life.”
Michael Junge spoke out against a mask mandate when officials from the tourist town of Branson, Missouri, passed one, saying he failed to enforce it at his Lost Boys Barber Company. He said he was sick of it.
“I think the whole thing is honestly a joke,” he said. “They originally said this would take a month and they postponed it indefinitely. … It should have happened a long time ago. “
In San Francisco, an upbeat London Breed Mayor announced that California had given the go-ahead to indoor dining and reopening cinemas and gyms.
“You can enjoy your city right here, right now,” she said of Fisherman’s Wharf, one of the city’s biggest tourist attractions. She added, “We’re not where we need to be yet, but we’re getting there, San Francisco.”
Mississippi governor Tate Reeves said he would get rid of most mask mandates and lift most other restrictions, including restaurant seating restrictions starting Wednesday.
“The governor’s office is committed to telling people what they can and can’t do,” said the Republican.
Florida, preparing for travelers to flock to its sunny beaches for the spring break, is considered an “active outbreak” according to Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and South Carolina according to the data-tracking website CovidActNow.
Florida Governor Rick DeSantis made it clear during his annual state speech on Tuesday that he is welcoming more visitors to Florida to keep the state’s economy going.
Florida communities can impose their own mask rules and curfews, restrict beach access, and restrict bars and restaurants, but some have taken virtually no such measures.
Miami Beach requires masks indoors and outdoors and limits the number of people allowed on the beach, bars and restaurants.
“If you want to party without restrictions, go somewhere else. Go to Vegas, ”said Raul Aguila, Miami Beach City manager, at a recent virtual meeting. “We will adopt a zero-tolerance attitude towards this behavior.”
In Michigan, a group called All Business Is Essential has opposed Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s virus guidelines and many people are ignoring mask requirements and other measures, said group leader Erik Kiilunen.
“At some point you have to look yourself in the mirror and say, ‘Do I want a life without risk?'” He said. “It really turned out to be a farce. People stopped living for a year, at what price? “
“I think everyone wants things to get back to the way they were,” said Aubrey D. Jenkins, the Columbia, South Carolina fire department chief, whose department gives out dozens of $ 100 quotes every weekend to bartenders who turn up refuse to wear masks or keep their removal. “But we still have to be very careful.”
Associate Press Clerk Brendan Farrington in Tallahasee, Florida; Anila Yoganathan in Tucker, Georgia; Emily Wagster Pettus in Jackson, Mississippi; John Flesher in Traverse City, Michigan; Heather Hollingsworth in Mission, Kansas; Rebecca Boone in Boise, Idaho; Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar in Washington; Melinda Deslatte in Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Janie Har in San Francisco; and David Eggert of Lansing, Michigan contributed to this story.