Written by Nolan Alisago (News Writer)
Despite warnings from both the Biden administration and public health officials, states across the country are dropping mask mandates and allowing for 100% reopening. Even though case numbers are falling and vaccinations are rising, scientists fear this type of reopening could cause another wave of cases that could spread across the nation.
Although states across the country have experimented with eliminating certain various COVID-19 precautions, on March 10 Texas was the first state to fully reopen all businesses and eliminate all mandates to maintain COVID-19 precautions. While other states have begun to open, Texas has both the most populous and drastic reopening plan. As Texas pushes for a complete reopening it is still recovering from a massive winter surge that killed many and overwhelmed hospitals across the state. Texas joins 13 other states in ignoring the CDC, each state having eliminated or never required masks. The eased restrictions have seen mixed results in the smaller states who have eliminated mask mandates, some witnessing a continuous fall in cases, others reporting small increases. How Texas will fit in it is unclear so far.
In Texas all safety measures for full capacity businesses are left to the discretion of the businesses themselves, leading to mixed responses. A Mexican restaurant made national headlines after restaurant patrons threatened to call ICE on the restaurant’s employees because the business decided to maintain its mask policy. While the Biden administration rightfully worries over complacency leading to another increase in case numbers, businesses who maintain mask mandates in open states worry about hostility and customers who ignore store policy in favor of the words of state leaders. How effective businesses are able to enforce safety policy and how safe a full opening is, is yet to be seen, but as time passes case numbers will tell.
Both the CDC and the Biden administration quickly condemned states’ hasty reopenings. Despite the vaccine rollout, masks are still critical in preventing the spread of the disease, and health officials recommend their continued use.