Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) announced Tuesday that effective next Wednesday, "all businesses of any type" in the Lone Star state will be allowed to fully reopen. Additionally, he's ending the statewide mask mandate.
Those in the room where Abbott broke the news applauded the decision, but plenty of skeptics took note, as well. Coronavirus cases have receded greatly across the country over the last several weeks, but it's unclear if that decline is now plateauing. On a related note, Houston, Texas' largest city, is the one city in the United States to have reported finding at least one case of every known variant of the coronavirus, which are believed to be more transmissible and have experts on the alert for another uptick in cases as they become the dominant sources of infection. It's unlikely Houston is actually alone in this regard, but it's still cause for concern.
Texas is also lagging behind in vaccinating its population, which is the second largest in the nation. Only Utah and Georgia have slower per capita vaccination rates.
Abbott, it turns out, wasn't the only governor to ease restrictions Tuesday — Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves (R) actually beat him to the punch, announcing that businesses can operate at full capacity and county mask mandates will be lifted starting Wednesday.