When Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced that businesses in the state could fully reopen and residents could remove their masks, health experts objected and President Joe Biden declared it “Neanderthal thinking.”
Since the March 10 order, however, COVID-19 has been on the wane in the Lone Star state, even as infections climb in places where tougher restrictions remain. Fewer Texans are getting infected, becoming seriously ill, and dying than at any time since a surge that strained the state’s hospitals last summer. On April 5, as hospitalizations dropped below 2,800, Abbott said in a tweet that the state had only three COVID deaths that day.
There are a variety of reasons Texas has averted a viral rebound despite doing away with its curbs on commerce, health experts say. Though masks are no longer compulsory, many Texans are choosing to wear them anyway, and many businesses still require them. The state’s move to widen vaccine eligibility early on appears to be paying off. And warm weather in much of the state has moved activities and socializing outdoors, where there is less chance of transmission.
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