Gov. Greg Abbott says he won't impose new mask mandate despite increasing COVID-19 cases

ByPatrick Svitek, The Texas Tribune KTRK logo
Thursday, July 22, 2021
From March: Abbott responds to criticism over mask mandate
Earlier this year, Texas Governor Greg Abbott spoke briefly to ABC13 about criticism over his decision to rescind the statewide mask mandate.

Gov. Greg Abbott says he will not impose another statewide mask mandate, despite COVID-19 cases being on the rise again.

"There will be no mask mandate imposed, and the reasons for that are very clear," Abbott told a Houston television station on Tuesday. "There are so many people who have immunities to COVID, whether it be through the vaccination, whether it be through their own exposure and their recovery from it, which would be acquired immunity."

The video above is from a previous interview with Gov. Abbott.

It would be "inappropriate to require people who already have immunity to wear a mask," Abbott said.

RELATED: Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issues executive order prohibiting government entities from mandating masks

While the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says fully vaccinated people do not need to wear masks indoors in most settings, the World Health Organization is still encouraging everyone to wear masks while inside.

As the delta variant has spread, some key pandemic indicators have increased in Texas. On Sunday, the state's positivity rate - the ratio of cases to tests - went above 10% for the first time since February, a threshold that Abbott has previously identified as dangerous.

FROM MARCH: Abbott's order relaxing rules stirs fear of another COVID-19 spike

As of Sunday, 43% of Texans were fully vaccinated.

Abbott lifted the statewide mask requirement in March.

RELATED: Do vaccinated people need to mask up? Houston health experts weigh in amid COVID surge

Two months later, he announced he was banning government entities - including public schools - from mandating masks. Abbott reiterated Tuesday that Texas schoolchildren will not face mask requirements as they return to school later this summer.

"Kids will not be forced by government or by schools to wear masks in school," Abbott said. "They can by parental choice wear a mask, but there will be no government mandate requiring masks."

RELATED: Houston Methodist reports 1st case of Lambda variant

This story comes from our ABC13 partners at The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans - and engages with them - about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.