Austin mayor urges governor not to lift Texas face mask mandate

“While hospitalizations in the Austin area have continued to decline, the number of vaccinations is not where it needs to be,” said Steve Adler.

AUSTIN, Texas — Austin Mayor Steve Adler has urged Gov. Greg Abbott to keep the Texas face mask mandate in effect to help stop the spread of coronavirus as vaccination numbers remain low.

On Thursday, it was revealed Abbott is considering lifting the statewide orders, with an announcement forthcoming.

The requirement has been in place since July, when case numbers first surged in the state.

But as more Texans get vaccinated against COVID-19, the governor is looking at when to stop all executive orders related to COVID-19, including a policy that rolls back business capacity when COVID-19 patients exceed 15% of hospital capacity.

RELATED: Gov. Greg Abbott weighing end to mask order, other statewide coronavirus rules, says announcement coming ‘pretty soon’

“We’re working right now on evaluating when we’re going be able to remove all statewide orders, and we will be making announcements about that pretty soon,” Abbott told media at a press conference in Corpus Christi.

In response to the comments, the Austin mayor issued a statement urging the governor to wait on lifting restrictions.

“Wearing a face mask while in public or within closed spaces remains one of the most effective, proactive measures anyone can take to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus according to the U.S. Center for Disease Control,” said Adler. “While hospitalizations in the Austin area have continued to decline, the number of vaccinations is not where it needs to be. I am calling upon the governor not to create any ambiguity or uncertainty about the importance of wearing a mask by changing the rules at this time.”

Austin Public Health also released a statement Thursday evening:

“Despite the tireless work from our many staff and volunteers administering vaccines, our community is still months away from reaching herd immunity. While we diligently work to vaccinate everyone over the coming weeks and months, it continues to remain incredibly important to keep wearing your mask, watching your distance, and washing your hands. Austin Public Health remains committed to protecting the health of our community, but doing so requires community involvement and cooperation. Our residents have done a great job of keeping our cases comparatively low, and that was not by accident or luck, but by following public health recommendations and guidance.”

So far, Texas has only fully vaccinated around 5.4% of its population, although leaders are optimistic the pace of vaccination will increase over the coming months.

Abbott has previously come under fire from his own party over the mask order, but has argued the mandate is aimed at preventing further lockdowns in Texas.

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