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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

Texas A&M utility Gavin Grahovac (9) throws the ball during A&Ms game against Georgia on Friday, April 26, 2024, at Olsen Field. (CJ Smith/The Battalion)
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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

Abbott just masked over the problem

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Photo by Creative Commons

Opinion writer Kaelin Connor discusses the dangerous effects of lifting the mask mandate in Texas. 

The past few weeks have been nothing Texas could have foreseen. An arctic storm made its grand appearance two weeks ago and left Texans feeling its wrath. Then, following Florida and South Dakota, Gov. Greg Abbott made the premature decision to lift the mask mandate and allow businesses to open at full capacity starting March 10. The decision honestly sounds like a breath of fresh air until you realize the massacre that could follow. 

 

Texans are and will be feeling the effects of what dangerous leadership can cause. 

As I’m writing this, Texas is experiencing on average 7,253 new COVID-19 cases a day. Without masks, we run the probable risk of another surge in positive cases and deaths. Many studies have proven masks do work. We’ve seen an impressive decline in the number of cases nationally since implementing mask mandates. What we don’t want to see is backtracking of our progress because Abbott got greedy. 

Houston is now America’s first city to report every major COVID-19 strain. A study found these variants of the coronavirus are far more contagious, and some, like the Brazilian strain, can infect some individuals who have received the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. On Monday, The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment released a statement reporting that 822 cases were a part of a second COVID-19 infection. It has been practically a year since the start of the pandemic, and immunity periods are running out. The danger of this is that reinfection is most likely occurring all across the nation. With the repeal of the mask mandate, we’re opening ourselves up for another deadly spike in cases. 

The decision follows a record decrease in cases within Texas during the winter storm. Across the state, millions of people were isolated in their homes, so it would make sense why cases dropped so drastically. The entire state was shut down, including testing sites and vaccination distribution. Abbott’s excuse for lifting the mask mandate because of these illegitimate numbers isn’t what this state needs. After all, he is fully vaccinated, so what’s he to be afraid of?

Texas’ COVID-19 rates are improving with more vaccines rolling out daily, which is very encouraging. Though it’s important to recognize while these facts are all incredibly optimistic, we still need to keep wearing our masks. Experts have said the U.S. would need between 50 to 80 percent of the nation vaccinated to reach herd immunity. Unfortunately, only 13 percent of Texans have received at least one vaccination, and only 7 percent are fully vaccinated. We’re ranked 48th nationally with our progress of distribution.

It’s murder to open up the state with a minute light at the end of the tunnel. 

It’s important to note Abbott did say we have a “responsibility to educate the public that wearing a mask is the best thing to do.” However, the governor failed to consult three out of four of his medical advisors before making the decision, which was largely met with opposition from his colleagues. Dr. Mark McClellan, who serves on Abbott’s Open Texas Strike Force, said the decision was made “too soon.” Some advisors on the board, like Dr. Parker Hudson, weren’t even briefed on the decision. 

According to CDC guidelines, this decision is the exact opposite of what is best. 

Sure, we now have kind of enough medical supplies to accommodate another surge, but at what cost? Frontline healthcare workers shouldn’t be put at such a dangerous expense for contrasting opinions of personal liberty. Secondly, asymptomatic carriers haven’t disappeared. Regardless of whether you’re anti-mask, pro-mask or lie somewhere in between, it’s heartbreaking to know many more lives could be lost due to unknowing, asymptomatic transmission that could be prevented. 

To say this is an uncertain time would be an understatement, and it would be wise to tiptoe toward the future with caution. It would do us justice to take a step back and look at the greater good, especially when it comes to our future, pandemic or no pandemic.
Mask mandates should lose their political affiliations and switch from an “I” to an “us” mentality.  This isn’t a Republican versus Democrat debate. It should be a stride toward camaraderie against the deadly threats at hand. Because of rapacious politicians, everything we’ve worked toward is being threatened. 

Greg Abbott has endangered the lives of every single Texan. It’ll be important to remember this impetuous move come November 2022. 

Kaelin Connor is a psychology junior and opinion writer for The Battalion.
 

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