Texas Gov. Greg Abbott indicated Wednesday that his office will not impose further lockdown measures or mask mandates in response to surging COVID-19 case rates, one day after President Biden singled out the state out for criticism over its pandemic-related policies.
Abbott addressed his stance while touting Texas’ ongoing economic recovery during a speech at the Asian American Hotel Owners Association’s National Convention in Dallas. The governor argued that “lockdowns are wrong” during a pandemic, adding that vaccinations and other safety measures would curtail the spread of the delta variant.
“The surest way to end the pandemic is for everyone who wants one to make sure they get the vaccine,” Abbott said. “That said, going forward in Texas, there will not be any government-imposed shutdowns or mask mandates.”
Earlier this week, Jeffrey Zients, the White House’s COVID-19 response coordinator, cited data showing that one-third of the country’s new COVID-19 cases emerged in Florida or Texas over a seven-day period. The CDC has recommended that fully vaccinated Americans resume wearing masks indoors in areas of high transmission.
Abbott asserted that local business owners and residents should be allowed to determine their own approach to pandemic safety.
“Everyone already knows what to do. Everyone can voluntarily implement the mandates that are safest for them, their families and their businesses,” Abbott added.
CBS Dallas-Ft. Worth was first to report on Abbott’s speech.
President Biden targeted Abbott, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and other Republican governors over their approach to pandemic safety measures in a speech Tuesday. He was particularly critical of Abbott’s executive order in July barring entities that receive public funding, such as universities, from implementing mask or vaccine mandates.
“I say to these governors, ‘Please, help,’” Biden said. “But if you aren’t going to help, at least get out of the way of the people who are trying to do the right thing.”