Now that the Lone Star State has opted out of wearing masks and they have had some time to gauge the effects of this decision, it is time to revisit the topic. Many liberals were up in arms when the choice was first made, claiming that Texas did not care about its population. People were told that they didn’t care about the children who couldn’t be vaccinated or the elderly residents that might be affected.
You may have seen the reports about the declining number of cases in Texas already. We are happy to inform that these reports were not provided in error. The case number has continued to fall and the numbers are now as low as they have been since last June.
As of the most recent reports, the state’s number of confirmed infections is hovering around 3,200. When Governor Abbott lifted the restrictions, the state was averaging nearly 4,900 infections a day. We’re not math wizards but the numbers seem to be trending in a very positive direction.
We look forward to watching the numbers fall even further over the course of the month of April. Of course, it would not be fair to ignore the vaccines here. Now that they are being distributed at a greater rate, it is easy to see how this would have a calming effect on the numbers. Death tolls are also sure to fall when the most vulnerable members of the population have been vaccinated and states have been emphasizing the vaccination of the elderly.
On the other hand, inoculations cannot be the sole driver here or we would see numbers that have fallen even lower. Only 27 percent of Texans have received their first dose of the vaccine, which places them on the lower rung of the United States totals. They currently rank in the bottom ten among all states.
Meanwhile, Michigan has already vaccinated a larger percentage of their population and they are enduring a horrific new wave of infections. There are other theories at play here as well. For example, some experts believe that the warmer weather is playing a key role in southern states.
Northern residents are spending more time indoors still, which is going to lead to a higher level of infections. Since southern residents are able to get outside again, this helps a lot. The New York Times has a tracking map that brings all of this into clearer focus. The map shows that southern states are experiencing a decreased amount of infection, although there are some outliers.
Florida is currently experiencing an increased number of infections because they are currently dealing with one of the more deadly variants from the United Kingdom. Circling back over to Texas, mobility data that has been provided by Apple suggests that more outdoor activity is currently taking place. Walking route requests have been surging for some time now, as people look for safe ways to get back outside.
The mobility data that has been provided also suggests that Texans aren’t spending any more or less time in commercial spaces than they would have before the mask mandates were lifted. The formula is a simple one: more time outside and less time inside. Governor Abbott is offering up a green light but that does not mean that people are going to throw all caution to the wind.
Why would anyone start to take unnecessary risks when they are so close to being vaccinated? The citizens of Texas have to be given some small level of credit for doing the right thing. Many are also still wearing masks, even though the state is no longer requiring them to do so. “We still have about 80% of Texans, as recently as this month, reporting that they are wearing masks when they go out,” says James Henson, director of the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas at Austin.
There are worries about rural areas having a greater rate of infection because there is less mask compliance. These areas are also struggling to get their hands on vaccinations in a timely manner. Texas Republicans are more likely to refuse vaccination than Texas Democrats, too. Texas should be fine, as long as the vaccine refusal crowd falls in line before a summer wave has a chance to gather.