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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Texas leaders receive criticism and praise

Azul Sordo/The Collegian
People dine outside, maskless, at Tex Mex restaurant Mi Cocina in Fort Worth. As of March 10, businesses in Texas are allowed to open to full capacity after mandates lifted.

Abbott lifts state mask mandates, causing some concern for TCC students, staff and faculty

campus editor

Tarrant County businesses have been able to choose whether they want to implement certain safety measures for one week now, but Gov. Greg Abbott said Texans do not need the state telling them how to operate.

“COVID has not suddenly disappeared, COVID still exists in Texas and the United States and across the globe,” Abbott said.

“But it is clear from the recoveries, from the vaccinations, from reduced hospitalizations and from the safe practices that Texans are using that state mandates are no longer needed.”

Abbott said there is an advantage of being able to perform over 100,000 COVID-19 tests per day, and hospital numbers can be kept down with the advancement of therapeutic drugs.

About 7 million COVID-19 vaccines have been administered and as of Tuesday the number of people fully vaccinated was over 2.4 million, according to Texas Health and Human Services.

NW criminal justice professor Kristi Hearn said she is concerned about the mandates being lifted because of the COVID-19 variants found in Houston.

The Houston Health Department announced Monday that their wastewater has shown an increase of the U.K. variant of the virus — known as B.1.1.7 — since it was last tested in February. This may suggest an uncontrolled spread of a more contagious form of the virus.

The data comes just as mask mandates have lifted and before spring break.

Different variants have been found since the virus was first detected in China and can have different effects, such as spreading from person to person faster, according to John Hopkins Medicine.

The most common variant detected in the U.K. — B.1.1.7 — made up 60% of new COVID-19 cases in December and is the predominant form of the coronavirus in some countries.

The Houston Health Department and Houston Water began testing wastewater for the common strain of the virus in May of last year to identify patterns and outbreak areas. Even if people are asymptomatic, the virus can still be detected in feces.

“Texas is behind on vaccinations per capita,” Hearn said. “I am also concerned for health care workers if cases increase again to where they were just over a month ago.”

President Joe Biden said he thinks states like Texas and Mississippi opening at full capacity during this time is a big mistake.

“We are on the cusp of being able to fundamentally change the nature of this disease because of the way that we are able to get vaccines in peoples’ arms,” Biden said. “The last thing we need is neanderthal thinking that in the meantime everything’s fine, take off your masks, forget it.”

Even though various states and counties have declared that mandates are lifting, Biden has not lifted his executive order issued earlier this year.

Masks are still required for those who visit federal buildings or federal lands.

NE student Kristina Randerson said she is glad mandates are lifting and feels that the vaccines are starting to do their job.

“I will make my decision each time based on the crowd,” Randerson said. “If a place is packed, then yes, I will wear a mask, but if it’s just a few people, probably not.”

NE student Jazmin Aguirre said even if the COVID-19 situation clears up, she feels people will continue to wear masks on a normal basis going forward.

“You know, like Asian countries they always wear masks even before COVID,” Aguirre said. “So I feel that’s just how we’re going to have to be now.”

TCC announced campuses will continue to follow CDC COVID-19 guidelines and all employees, students and visitors will be required to wear a mask and practice social distancing until further notice.

Virtual Summer 2021 classes remain unchanged as TCC continues to monitor the situation with health and safety agencies.

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