Gov. Abbott lifts mask mandate amid COVID-19 crisis, causing concern among health officials

Local News

WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — Wichita County officials and businesses are reacting to Governor Greg Abbott’s major announcement.

Abbott said his new Executive Order allows for some restrictions to return should hospitalizations of COVID-19 patients top 15% for more than 7 consecutive days.

But Wichita County Health Director Lou Kriedler said Abbott is acting too quickly.

She said worried about the effect lifting the mandate will have on the state’s infection rate.

“I do have concerns I’m certainly not the Governor and those are his decisions to make but it’s concerning as a healthcare professional,” Kriedler said.

Others like State Senator Drew Springer are happy the mandate is being lifted.

“He announced what so many of us have been waiting for. That we are ending the mask mandate. We have had a fantastic response with the vaccines,” Springer said.

Despite already having received his first dose of COVID-19 vaccine, Wichita Falls resident Michael Oslotto said he’s weary of moving too quickly.

“What’s another 2 months? But no, I don’t see it retracting at this point,” Oslotto said.

While new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations have fallen from a peak in January.

As of this week, about 5,600 people across the state are hospitalized with COVID-19.

Texas has been averaging around 5,000 new cases per day over the past week.

So again, the Governor said if any hospital region rises above 15% of the hospital bed capacity for 7 straight days.

A county judge can step in to implement COVID-19 mitigation strategies.

The order also states judges cannot put anybody in jail for not following COVID-19 orders, or impose any penalties for failing to wear a mask.

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