Texas COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to see a downward trend more than two weeks after the state scrapped its mask mandate and allowed businesses to reopen at full capacity.
On Saturday, Texas’ seven-day COVID positivity rate reached an all-time low of 5.27 per cent, while hospitalizations dipped to their lowest level since October, according to the latest state data.
There were 2,292 new cases reported across the state, about 500 fewer on average from last week, and 107 new deaths.
Hospitalizations, meanwhile, dipped to 3,308, a significant decline after soaring past 14,000 for a couple of days in January.
Texas COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to drop, 17 days after it scrapped its mask mandate and allowed businesses to reopen at full capacity. Pictured: A group of friends gather for drinks at a bar in Austin on March 10
TEXAS: Texas Tech students watch Texas Tech and TCU play an NCAA college basketball game without masks earlier this month
There were 2,292 new cases reported across the state, about 500 fewer on average from last week, and 107 new deaths
The decreasing figures comes 17 days after Republican Governor Greg Abbott ended the statewide mask mandate and other COVID-19 safety measures.
Abbott took to Twitter on Saturday to celebrate the state’s progress, saying: ‘Today Texas hit an all-time recorded low for the 7-day Covid positivity rate: 5.27%. It’s been below 6% for 5 days & below 10% for an entire month.
‘Covid hospitalizations declined again–now at the lowest level since October 3rd. Vaccinations continue to increase rapidly.’
It comes a day after Texas saw the largest daily number of vaccines administered to Texans, with 342,849 people being inoculated on Friday, Abbott said.
The state also announced it will begin making all adults eligible for coronavirus vaccinations on Monday.
Republican Governor Greg Abbott took to Twitter on Saturday to celebrate the state’s progress
Abbott received harsh criticism after announcing he would roll back restrictions earlier this month. President Joe Biden at the time (right) slammed the move as ‘Neanderthal thinking’ and warned it was a ‘big mistake
Abbott had drawn harsh criticism from Democrats earlier this month after brushing off warnings to not relax COVID-19 restrictions and allowing businesses to operate as normal earlier this month.
Among his biggest critics was President Joe Biden, who slammed the move as a ‘Neanderthal thinking’ and warned it would be a ‘big mistake.’
‘I hope everybody’s realized by now, these masks make a difference. We’re on the cusp of being able fundamentally change the nature of this disease,’ Biden told reporters in the White House shortly after the announcement.
‘The last thing we need is Neanderthal thinking that in the meantime, everything’s fine – take off your mask, forget it. It still matters.’
Biden and members of his administration have implored Americans to wear masks and stay socially distant as the country’s population get vaccinated against COVID-19.
Pedestrians walk down an Austin street without masks after Texas scrapped its statewide mandate
AUSTIN: Danny Hitchcock works out with a mask at Hyde Park Gym on March 10
The ‘Neanderthal dig’ was met with furor by Republicans, including Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves who also ended the state’s mask mandate this month.
‘President Biden said allowing Mississippians to decide how to protect themselves is ‘neanderthal thinking,” Reeves tweeted at the time.
‘Mississippians don’t need handlers. As numbers drop, they can assess their choices and listen to experts. I guess I just think we should trust Americans, not insult them.’
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki later addressed the comment in a briefing saying Biden had been describing ‘the behavior of a neanderthal. Just to be very clear. The behavior of.’
‘Look, I think the president, what everybody saw yesterday, was a reflection of his frustration and exasperation, which I think many American people have, that for almost a year now people across the country have sacrificed,’ she added.
Former Trump campaign advisor Keenan Williams speaks to attendees at a ‘Texas is Now Open’ party on March 10 in Parker, Texas
Although the majority of Texans have embraced the governor’s decision, some local leaders say they plan to keep the mask mandate in place.
The City of Austin had said it would continue to maintain its mask rules despite Abbott’s executive order.
On Friday, a Texas judge said it would allow the city to continue to require face coverings in local businesses.
The ruling by state District Judge Lora Livingston is at least a temporary victory for local leaders in the liberal state capital who have repeatedly clashed with Abbott over his handling of the pandemic.
Face coverings have only ever been loosely enforced in Texas, which earlier this month became the biggest state to drop COVID-19 restrictions.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is expected to appeal the ruling.