Gov. Greg Abbott’s determination to finish his pandemic restrictions on masks and enterprise capability got here as a shock – and a handy change of matter for an govt below scrutiny for statewide energy outages final month.

    Greg Abbott appears like a man who had his two COVID-19 photographs. Such confidence.

    The governor visited a restaurant in Lubbock on Tuesday to announce that he was lifting his restrictions on coronaviruses. No want for a masks anymore. No extra capability limits. None of that.

    He stated folks know how you can care for themselves and do not want the federal government telling them what to do. “Now’s the time to open up Texas 100%,” he stated, clearly delighted to ship the information.

    Beats talks about breakdowns.

    Two weeks in the past, when Texans had been shaking in their very own houses after their electrical energy went out and snow melted to flush the bogs after their water programs went out, Abbott was preventing, searching for another person responsible and was slowly uncovered because the man who named the folks. who oversees the folks he was making an attempt responsible.

    It wasn’t a lot better for the Texas legislature, which had glimpsed this catastrophe 10 years earlier and responded by suggesting, as a substitute of demanding, that firms that generate electrical energy and firms that present them with gasoline may take precautions in opposition to very chilly climate. That is what they do the place winter electrical energy is dependable.

    The legislature held its first hearings. They weren’t fairly, however the reply has solely simply begun. The President of the Public Utilities Fee, an individual named by Abbott named DeAnn Walker, resigned after lawmakers blamed her for failing to make use of the complete powers of her put up to arrange the chain of electrical energy suppliers for the ‘State to periodic freezes which have put tens of millions of Texans at the hours of darkness.

    There might be extra hearings, extra appointments and burnt staff, after which the Legislature and Governor will seemingly get to work on the true drawback, which is so pricey and controversial that lawmakers have kicked in. the final time this occurred, after energy cuts in 2011..

    Who desires to speak about it?

    Coronavirus numbers are on the right track, however the present plateau is considerably increased than earlier ones. The every day counts of latest instances, hospitalizations, deaths – the horrific statistics which have change into so widespread over the previous 12 months – are made on downhill slopes. Vaccinations are resuming, after being blocked by energy outages and winter climate. One other vaccine has been added to the toolkit, and the newest information is that there could also be sufficient doses for anybody who desires them by the tip of Could.

    This isn’t all of the information. The day earlier than the governor was in Lubbock to say that each one is properly and that he’s eliminating his precautionary restrictions, the pinnacle of the Federal Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention, Dr Rochelle Walensky, advised folks like him to carry again. She famous that because the variety of instances flattened, variants of the coronavirus may result in one other wave of the pandemic.

    “Please hear me clearly,” she stated. “At this degree of instances the place variations are spreading, we threat utterly dropping the hard-earned floor that we have now gained.

    “Now shouldn’t be the time to loosen up vital safeguards which we all know can cease the unfold of COVID-19 in our communities, not once we are so shut. We have now the capability to cease a possible fourth wave of instances on this nation. “

    Texas voters are extra involved concerning the unfold of the coronavirus than they had been in October, in keeping with the newest College of Texas / Texas Tribune ballot – a consequence that displays the surge in instances within the months between the 2 surveys. However this newest ballot additionally discovered that 82% of Democrats stated it was extra necessary to regulate the virus, whereas 72% of Republicans prioritized serving to the financial system. The governor’s newest assertion is in keeping with that of his fellow Republicans.

    It isn’t like that is our first rodeo. Nearly a 12 months in the past, Abbott was a full member of the flattening the curve membership, shutting down companies and asking Texans to get away socially, to do what they may to cease the unfold of what we all the time known as the novel coronavirus.

    On the finish of April, we had been already uninterested in it. Our hair was getting lengthy and unruly. The children had been coming dwelling from faculty and so they had been unruly too. Voters had been getting cranky and whiny. Abbott, together with a few of his counterparts in different states, has began lifting the restrictions.

    It was the beginning of the summer season wave. Instances had been down once more in September and early October – the low level earlier than the outbreak that befell from late October to January. The human toll from these outbreaks has been devastating, each statewide and within the sizzling spots which have arisen over the previous 12 months in nursing houses, prisons, meals processing amenities and in cities like El Paso, the place deaths got here so shortly in November and December that detainees and Nationwide Guard troops had been placed on obligation in non permanent makeshift morgues.

    It’s true that the numbers are bettering and that they continue to be excessive. The state of affairs is healthier, however not good.

    Nonetheless, the governor determined it was time to open the doorways and put the disappointment of the pandemic behind us. Eating places can welcome us once more – all of us, not only a measly 25%. Concert events and sporting occasions can thrill us. And nobody could make us put on masks both.

    What may go improper?

    Ross Ramsey is editor and co-founder of The Texas Tribune. Previous to becoming a member of the Tribune, he was editor and co-owner of Texas Weekly for 15 years. It may be emailed to [email protected]

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