In what appears to be a show of his firm stance, Texas Governor Greg Abbott warded off calls for him to reverse his state-wide policy prohibiting mask and vaccine mandates in schools and government buildings, notwithstanding rising numbers of COVID-19 infections and hospital admissions due to the virus.
Instead of caving in, Abbott issued a new executive order effectively stripping the local governments of their power to enact public health policies based on the recommendation of experts who hinted at the mandatory use of protective masks as helpful to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
Aside from the mandatory wearing of protective masks, health experts also underscored the need to impose other measures which include capacity limits and vaccine mandates.
The executive order “emphasizes that the path forward relies on personal responsibility rather than government mandates,” the Governor said in a statement issued by his office.
“Texans have mastered the safe practices that help to prevent and avoid the spread of COVID-19. They have the individual right and responsibility to decide for themselves and their children whether they will wear masks, open their businesses, and engage in leisure activities,” Abbott’s statement further reads.
Abbott’s new executive order provides salient points which include:
Governmental entities cannot “compel any individual to receive a COVID-19 vaccine administered under an emergency use authorization.”
Any public or private entity that is receiving or will receive public funds through any means” cannot require a consumer to provide proof of vaccination in order to receive services or enter.
Local officials can not reduce business capacity if COVID-19 hospitalizations exceed 15% of the total hospital capacity in the region for seven consecutive days.
Governmental entities, including school districts, cannot require face masks or enact other restrictions.
Earlier, San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg and Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff wrote a letter addressed to the governor asking that schools be allowed to require the use of face masks when classes finally resume in view of another COVID-19 infection surge across the state.
On Wednesday, Texas reported 10,000 new coronavirus infections, the highest since February. Hospital admissions due to COVID-19 infections also spiked at an alarming level — from 140 to a whopping 695 hospitalizations in Bexar County, just for the month of July.