HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Gov. Greg Abbott credits vaccinations in Texas with allowing the state to reopen, but COVID-19 data shows the state has higher numbers now than when he initially issued pandemic orders in October 2020.
Beginning next Wednesday, all businesses will be allowed to operate at 100%, according to Abbott. Not just that, but he also lifted his mask mandate, which means mask-wearing will not be enforced. Individual businesses, however, will be able to keep their own rules in place.
SEE ALSO: All Texas COVID-19 mandates lifted effective next Wednesday, Gov. Abbott says
"If businesses want to limit capacity or implement additional safety protocols, they have the right to do so. It is their business, and they get to choose to operate their business the way they want to," Abbott said.
Before the governor made official on Tuesday his decision to lift COVID-19 restrictions, both Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo jointly called lifting virus prevention orders, namely the mask mandate, "premature and harmful."
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"There's no reason for the decision he made today ... but what about the rest of us?" Turner said.
Hidalgo added that while there is a light at the end of the tunnel, this is "not the time to promote more deaths."
SEE ALSO: Lifting mask order would be 'premature and harmful,' Turner and Hidalgo tell Gov. Abbott
While Abbott acknowledged the virus isn't going away, he insisted the state is far better equipped to fight COVID-19 than a year ago thanks to vaccines and millions of Texans already adhering to best practices.
But the latest COVID-19 data on the Johns Hopkins COVID Tracking Project shows right now the positivity rate in Texas is at 13.5%. That percentage is higher than what it was on Oct. 7, when Abbott issued his COVID-19 restrictions orders. The seven-day average of deaths per day is at 227, which is a 91% increase from Oct. 7.
Texas' 7-day average of COVID-19 deaths per day is higher than in October, data shows