Unmasking regulations

Students give opinions regarding Governor Abbott’s decision

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Anna Velazquez

The state-wide mask mandate ends on Wednesday, March 10 and businesses can open at full capacity.

Last Tuesday, Governor Greg Abbott announced his plan to end the state-wide mask mandate. Abbott said he is going to “open Texas 100%,” lifting many COVID restrictions and allowing businesses to open to full capacity. This order is set to go into effect on March 10.

Playing its part in the vaccination process, Denton County is administering close to 30,000 first doses per week. Despite the rate at which the vaccines are administered, junior Eddie Ventura is skeptical of the governor’s choice and doesn’t believe Texas has made the necessary advancements to open completely.

“I think anyone would be glad to take off their mask,” Ventura said. “But I don’t think we’re prepared to the extent we should be in order for the mandate to be lifted. We should have at least more than 50% of the state vaccinated and not just 6% of the state vaccinated. We are posing a risk to many people.” 

The days following Abbott’s announcements were full of both rage and excitement for Texas residents. Although emotions were mixed, people expressed their anger and criticized the governor’s decision through social media apps like Twitter and Instagram.

“I’m neutral about [the backlash],” junior CJ Johnson said. “Everyone has their own opinions. But when it comes down to people wishing he gets sick and dies, that’s horrible. How are people going to complain about how we all need to be good and accepting of each other when they send stuff like that to [Abbott] just because of what he did? You can still wear [a mask], but it’s not required now.”

Senior Katie Reyes contracted COVID during the fall of 2020 despite her best efforts to stay safe. Though her symptoms were mild, she is constantly reminded of the danger she put her family through and worries about the well-being of those around her. She’s enraged by Abbott’s announcement and hopes people listen to health experts’ advice regarding the situation. 

 “Some people think [the pandemic] is getting better and others don’t, but I feel like it doesn’t matter what I think,” Reyes said. “You have health experts saying otherwise, and I’m only 18 years old. I don’t know anything about health. So if you have experts, whose job in life is to tell us these things, I’m going to listen to them. It’s ridiculous people are not listening. The governor should be listening to the health experts. How do you listen to him over health experts?”

Amid the chaos surrounding the pandemic, people choose to not wear masks in order to regain a sense of normalcy in their everyday lives. December 2020 graduate Danielle Miller voiced her excitement to see her community return to what it once was. Though she is adamant about her opinion, she is willing to respect the decisions of others who choose to be more cautious. 

“I personally will not [be wearing a mask], but if I’m in a place with people at high risk or around people I know are very careful, I will respect that and wear one,” Miller said. “I want people to respect what I choose to do and I will respect what they choose. That’s what all this is about, having the choice to decide how careful you personally want to be.”

It might come down to who can wait and who can’t. It’s almost like playing with people’s lives.”

— junior Eddie Ventura

As coronavirus cases and deaths continue to rise, Ventura fears the possibility of hospitals becoming oversaturated. He is concerned for patients who go into the hospitals, as well as healthcare workers who continue to be overwhelmed by the circumstances they witness on a day-to-day basis.

“[Hospitals] might get to a point where doctors and nurses have to decide which emergency is really an emergency,” Ventura said. “It might come down to who can wait and who can’t. It’s almost like playing with people’s lives. It must be hard [for healthcare workers] seeing death on that scale and magnitude. They shouldn’t be put in a position like that, to that extent.”

With March 10 approaching, Reyes reflects on conflicts between her and her father over the topic of masks. She reminds him what seems like a small inconvenience holds the possibility of saving someone’s life. Reyes strives to do her part in ensuring the safety of others.

“I feel like those people are only thinking about themselves,” Reyes said. “My dad straight up told me ‘I don’t like [wearing a mask], it’s just so uncomfortable.’ I looked at him and said ‘That’s uncomfortable? Dying is uncomfortable.’”