Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) announced that his state’s mask mandate would be lifted next week. Local mayors and legislators urge Texans to ignore the governor’s order.

Texas still averages more than 200 deaths per day due to COVID-19. Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said in a statement soon after Abbott’s order that “we need to focus not on what the governor tells you the law allows, but what doctors and the facts and the science that we all know well at this point tell us is necessary to keep us safe and give us our best chance of reaching herd immunity as quickly as possible.”

Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price (R) called the governor’s choice “premature,” in a statement and urged Abbott to further open vaccine eligibility. “I am calling on Gov. Abbott to open up additional vaccine tier categories so that more people are eligible to get a vaccine if they want one,” Price said in her statement. “As the state’s directive has changed, so must our response. Now, more than ever, vaccines and testing must be readily available.”

Abbott’s new order also closes a loophole which allowed local lawmakers to establish mask mandates for their own counties. “He’s plugged that hole. He allows businesses to do what they want to do,” said Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff. “I’m very disappointed, it’s an irresponsible action. We still have 464 people in the hospital and 199 in ICU as of yesterday,” the judge said in a statement. “We’re still not out of the woods. And I think it’s very premature to do this.”

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