The state of Texas hit a record low for COVID-19 cases three weeks after Gov. Greg Abbott lifted the state’s virus restrictions and mask mandate.
“Today the 7-day Covid positivity rate dropped to a new recorded low: 4.95%,” Abbott announced on Twitter, while also noting that hospitalization had also dropped to a “6 months low.”
“This week we have 1 million 1st vaccines available,” Abbott continued. “Everyone now qualifies for a shot. They are highly recommended to prevent getting Covid but always voluntary.”
The news comes just three weeks after Abbott made the controversial move to lift most of the state’s pandemic restrictions, allowing businesses to operate at 100% capacity. The Republican governor also lifted the state’s mask mandate, though businesses could still require customers to wear masks voluntarily.
“I just announced Texas is OPEN 100%,” Abbott tweeted earlier this month. “EVERYTHING. I also ended the statewide mask mandate.”
Abbot’s move to completely open the state was controversial, with politicians and some health experts warning that the state could be heading for disaster.
“Governor Abbott’s failure to listen to science and medical advice will cost Texans their lives,” Rep. Joaquin Castro said in a statement responding to the governor’s move. “The easiest thing everyone can do to slow the spread of COVID is to wear a mask and keep a social distance.”
"These states' lifting of measures … are quite premature," warned Jennifer Nuzzo of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.
Abbott’s decision even drew criticism from famed San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich.
"They're trying to do a good job of keeping everybody safe. Of course they want to open up. But getting rid of masks just seems ignorant to me," Popovich said.
Meanwhile, President Joe Biden called the move “neanderthal thinking.”
"Texas — I think it's a big mistake," Biden said of the move. "We are on the cusp of being able to fundamentally change the nature of this disease because the way in which we are able to get vaccines in people's arms. The last thing — the last thing — we need is Neanderthal thinking in the meantime."
Texas wasn’t the only state to make the controversial move away from restrictions in early March, being joined by Mississippi in eliminating the safety measures and mask mandates, with both states have experienced a drop in cases since making the move.
“Lockdown proponents are losing the data war,” argued Foundation for Economic Education Managing Editor Jon Miltimore. “Texas and Mississippi announced on March 2 they were lifting ALL pandemic restrictions (including mask mandates) despite mass hand-wringing from media.”
“That was nearly a month ago,” Miltimore continued. “The result? Record low cases.”