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No New Mask Mandate as Cases Rise

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Gov. Greg Abbott hosted a briefing at the Texas Capitol earlier this month with sheriffs from border communities. Credit: Sophie Park/The Texas Tribune

The Texas Tribune 

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Gov. Greg Abbott says he will not impose another statewide mask mandate, despite COVID-19 cases being on the rise again. He said Texas is “past the time of government mandates” and “into the time for personal responsibility.” 

Abbott lifted the monthslong statewide mask requirement in March. Two months later, he announced he was banning government entities — including public schools — from mandating masks. Abbott reiterated that Texas schoolchildren will not face mask requirements as they return to school later this summer.

While the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says fully vaccinated people do not need to wear masks indoors in most settings, the World Health Organization is still encouraging everyone to wear masks while inside. And as the delta variant has spread, some key pandemic indicators have increased in Texas. Late last week, the state’s positivity rate — the ratio of cases to tests — went above 10% for the first time since February, a threshold that Abbott has previously identified as dangerous.

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Of the 8,787 people who have died in Texas due to COVID-19 since early February, at least 43 were fully vaccinated, the Texas Department of State Health Services said. That means 99.5% of people who died due to COVID-19 in Texas from Feb. 8 to July 14 were unvaccinated, while 0.5% were the result of “breakthrough infections,” which DSHS defines as people who contracted the virus at least two weeks after being fully vaccinated. 

As of Monday, 42.8% of Texans have been fully vaccinated; the state continues to lag behind the national vaccination rate of 48.8%, according to the Mayo Clinic.

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