Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s order is ‘premature,’ Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price says
Updated at 6:22 p.m. with a statement from Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson.
Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price said Tuesday that Governor Greg Abbott’s order to end the nationwide mask mandate and open full-capacity stores next week was “premature”.
On Twitter, the mayor said Texans must continue to wear masks, wash their hands, and practice social distancing, and she urged the governor to increase the number of Texans who can receive COVID-19 vaccines. Currently, only frontline health workers, residents of long-term care facilities, those over 65, or those over 16 with an underlying health condition are eligible.
“I urge @GovAbbott to open additional vaccine categories so that more people are eligible to get a vaccine if they want one,” she said in a tweet. “As the policy of the state has changed, so must our response. Vaccines and tests need to be available now more than ever. “
With today’s governor’s executive order, which I believe was premature, and an expected increase in vaccine supplies in Texas in the coming weeks, two things are crucial for the future. (1/4) pic.twitter.com/tvUI9zikEZ
– Betsy Price (@MayorBetsyPrice) March 2, 2021
Fort Worth City Council canceled a scheduled vote to extend his citywide mask mandate Tuesday, as Price said it was their understanding that he could no longer place a local mask order.
Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley immediately lifted the county’s mask mandate Tuesday to avoid confusion. However, he hoped the governor would wait until after the spring break to ease the precautions for COVID-19.
Abbott’s move has been pushed back by other local officials and public health experts. Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, a frequent critic of how the governor handled the state’s response to the pandemic, described the decision to fully reopen Texas without the need for face-covering as “unfortunate.”
Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson said residents should continue to wear masks and take precautions to slow the spread and mutations of COVID-19.
“We are nearing herd immunity and now is not the time to lose our vigilance,” he said in a prepared statement. “Vaccines, masks and personal responsibility are the best ways to fight this virus, which has claimed far too many lives in the last year.”
On Abbott’s orders, district judges can impose their own coronavirus restrictions if their area’s COVID-19 hospital stays exceed 15% for seven days. As of Tuesday, no area in Texas met these criteria, according to state data.
The region, which includes counties of Dallas and Tarrant, was 8.7% on Monday.
The governor said district judges may not impose penalties for not wearing a face mask and limit occupancy restrictions to less than 50% of capacity.
Abbott also said companies may, at their own discretion, limit occupancy or implement additional security protocols.