CDC slams Texas for lifting mask order amid vaccine optimism


The Center for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday issued a stern warning against Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s move to lift the state’s mask mandate —  stressing that the country has reached a “critical nexus” in the pandemic as highly-contagious new variants threaten the fight against the virus.

“We have been very clear that now is not the time to release full restrictions,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said when asked about Texas at a White House briefing. 

“Every individual is empowered to do the right thing here, regardless of what the states decide — for personal health, for public health, for the loved ones in their communities.”

She added, “I would still encourage individuals to wear a mask.”

An American flag face covering is displayed for sale amid a surge of coronavirus cases in the city on November 18, 2020 in El Paso, Texas.
An American flag face covering is displayed for sale amid a surge of coronavirus cases in the city on Nov. 18, 2020 in El Paso, Texas.
Getty Images

Her comments came a day after Texas scrapped its mask order amid approval of Johnson and Johnson’s vaccine —  and the announcement of an amped-up federal plan to get every adult in the US vaccinated by the end of May.

Despite more doses and vaccine success on the horizon — Walensky urged people not to let pandemic “fatigue” cloud their judgment when it comes to masking up.

“Today we are at a critical nexus in the pandemic,” she said. The [UK variant] looms ready to hijack our successes to date… all the while we are just on the verge of capitalizing on historic scientific success,” she said.

“Fatigue is winning and the exact measures we have taken to stop the pandemic are now too often being flagrantly ignored.”

“How this plays over the next three months is up to us,” she said, urging Americans to continue to, “wear a well-fitting mask, avoid travel in crowds, and practice social distancing.”

On Tuesday, while announcing that Texas would scrap its mask order, Tuesday Gov. Abbott said, “It’s time to reopen Texas 100 percent.” North Dakota, Montana and Iowa have also lifted mask mandates in recent weeks.

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