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One Year After First Texas COVID-19 Case, Residents Debate Governor Lifting Mask Mandate


March 4, 2021

By Natalie Cook Clark

On March 4, 2020, the first case of COVID-19 was identified in Texas, specifically in Fort Bend County. Today, Texas residents are divided by Governor Greg Abbott’s recent announcement to rescind the state mask order. Many local politicians, businesses, and school districts have posted their reactions and suggested guidelines. At this time, Katy ISD will continue to require all staff and students to wear masks.

COVID-19 Reached Texas One Year Ago Today

The Texas Department of State Health Services released a news statement on March 4, 2020 recognizing the first COVID-19 case in the state. In the release, Texas Governor Greg Abbott said, “Over the past month, the state of Texas has been preparing for this moment, and we are confident in the steps we have taken to safeguard our communities against the coronavirus. We anticipated this situation, we have protocols in place, and our state agencies and personnel are trained and ready to respond."

One year after the first local case of COVID-19 was identified in Fort Bend County, more than 500,000 Americans have lost their lives to the virus, and qualified residents line up every day to get their doses of the vaccine.

Governor Abbott's Unmasking Announcement Sparks Debate

On Tuesday, Texas Governor Greg Abbott held a press conference that has Texans divided between relieved and worried, and members of the Katy community are strongly debating his announcement.

As per the governor’s order, effective Wednesday, March 10, Texas businesses (including restaurants) may resume operating at 100% capacity. Face masks are no longer required, although enforcing workers and customers to wear them depends on the discretion of the business.

The governor’s announcement goes against the current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines. The CDC recommends wearing a mask, “that covers the nose and mouth and fits snugly against the sides of the face, as a measure to contain the wearer’s respiratory droplets and help protect their co-workers and members of the general public.”

Fort Bend County Judge KP George used social media to post his disappointment with Governor Abbott’s announcement.

On his Facebook page, Judge George posted: “We will listen to the doctors, the facts, and the science and end this pandemic once and for all. You cannot unmask the truth no matter how hard you try.”

Katy ISD Responds to Governor's Announcement

Katy ISD quickly issued a statement on their protocols moving forward.

“At this time Katy ISD continues to follow TEA’s guidance concerning school COVID-19 safety practices, which includes the wearing of masks, frequent hand washing, and social distancing to mitigate spread and protect the health and safety of students and staff,” the District stated in an email to staff and student families.

Katy ISD also provided an email and phone number (281-396-7499) for families to reach out to the District with questions or concerns.

Katy Families Talk Masks

“If masks are not required at Katy ISD, I will have to consider unenrolling my student,” says Katy mom Chancie Davis. “Masks have been worn all year without issue. Students and teachers have followed it great at the elementary level and it makes sense to end the year following the same protocols.”

Many Katy families reacted to the issue of masks in the schools on Katy Magazine’s Facebook page.

“You followed the governor’s mandate back in July. Now do the right thing and unmask the children.”

“The kids need to be back to a normal learning environment. Let it be a choice.”

“Good move Katy ISD. Follow the science and protect kids and staff till cases decline sufficiently and the positivity rate lowers.”

“Teachers haven’t been vaccinated yet. Pulling masks in schools is asking for a mass spread.”

Vaccinations for Teachers

Yesterday, CVS Pharmacy announced the nationwide company will be offering vaccinations for teachers and childcare workers. Appointments are required and fill up fast. Checking their website daily and often is recommended.

The Texas Education Association (TEA) released a statement saying that local school board have the full authority to determine their local mask policy. The organization also issued an update on their Public Health Guidance.

Currently, Texas ranks 49th in the vaccination rollout and less than 10% of the state population has been vaccinated.

“It’s too soon to issue the all-clear with COVID and go back to 100% capacity and no masks,” Tweets Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo. “So, when will that time come? Let’s follow the science. The virus doesn’t conform to arbitrary deadlines. It’ll be a lot sooner if we avoid gatherings, wear masks, and get vaccinated.”


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