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Texas hits zero COVID-19 deaths 2 months after implementing reopening plan

Texas reported zero deaths from the coronavirus on Sunday, two months after Governor Greg Abbott drew criticism from the White House for rolling back COVID-19 restrictions and lifting the state’s mask mandate.

This marks the first time that the Lone Star State has reported no coronavirus deaths in approximately 14 months, according to state health data. The governor said that the case numbers reported Sunday—388—were the lowest in over 13 months, with the number of hospitalizations the lowest that it has been in 11 months. President Joe Biden launched an attack on Texas when they relaxed lockdown measures in early March, accusing state officials of “Neanderthal thinking.” At the time, Governor Abbott had announced that businesses would be allowed to operate at full capacity, despite warnings from some health experts that dropping preventative measures could lead to a spike in cases.

“I think it’s a big mistake,” Biden told reporters after the announcement from Texas. “Look, I hope everybody’s realized by now, these masks make a difference. We are on the cusp of being able to fundamentally change the nature of this disease because of the way in which we’re able to get vaccines in people’s arms.” Since then, however, caseloads have dropped nationwide as more Americans have received COVID-19 vaccinations.

The CDC also updated its guidance last week, saying that fully-vaccinated Americans are safe to forgo social distancing and, in most places, face masks, bringing an end to over a year of mandatory face coverings in most parts of the country. Some states, however, including Hawaii and Massachusetts, have declared that their mask mandates will remain in place. The CDC drew sharp criticism for its roundabout on the issue of face masks, with some remembering when, less than two months ago, Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky warned of “impending doom.”

Some argued that the new CDC guidance is too unclear and reliant on an honor system that could require workers to police vaccination records, while others wondered whether the change was intended to spur more Americans to get vaccinated amid a steady decline in shots. Close to 47% of the adult population in the United States is fully vaccinated, according to CDC data, while nearly 60% of the adult population has received at least one dose. The vaccination rate is expected to have a short incline after the Food and Drug Administration approved the use of the Pfizer vaccine in children between the ages of 12 and 15.

ARTICLE: CHLOE CHANDLER

POLITICS EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE

PHOTO CREDITS: THE SEATTLE TIMES

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