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The announcement comes at a critical juncture in the COVID-19 pandemic, according to medical officials. Only about 6.5% of Texas residents have received the COVID-19 vaccine.
Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley immediately lifted the mask mandate for county businesses and their patrons. The county had an increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations for the first time in eight days on Tuesday.
The state reported more than 1,600 new coronavirus cases and 59 deaths on Monday.
Although new cases and deaths have declined over the past month, experts fear premature mandates lifting safety guidelines such as masks and business capacity could instigate another spike; especially with so few Texans having been vaccinated.
“We still have 100,000 cases a day. We still have somewhere between 1,500 and 3,500 deaths per day,” CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “And yet we see some communities relaxing some of their mitigation strategies. We are nowhere out of the woods.
The news was swiftly greeted with strong reactions on social media. Most, especially those from outside of Texas, were critical of the move as “RIP Texas” started trending on Twitter.