COMMENTARY: Blacks are sitting ducks after Gov. Abbott lifts mask mandate

By Roy Douglas Malonson

Greg Abbott has lost his damn mind! The Texas governor announced this week that Texas will be reopening at 100 % and he is lifting the mask mandate. With all of the statistics and everything going on, why would he choose to do that when we know that, not only is COVID-19 not under control, but there are new variants popping up that we just don’t know enough about?

Abbott said the ending of the statewide mask mandate will be effective March 10, and all businesses in the state can operate after that with no capacity limits.

“I just announced Texas is OPEN 100%,” he tweeted. “EVERYTHING.”

Abbott claims his decision is based on helping the economy bounce back, and that it is up to the people to take the necessary precautions to protect themselves.

“People and businesses don’t need the state telling them how to operate,” he said.

Many people feel “White is right,” but you better realize now more than ever, that damn sure is not the case. Blacks and Hispanics, I beg you, please don’t fall for the ‘okie dokie.’ Listen to Greg Abbott, you could be soon whispering from your graves.

It seems like Abbott is intentionally trying to destroy the minority community, due to the obvious disparities in healthcare access to Blacks and Hispanics. We are left sitting ducks out here!

Studies have found that nearly twice as many men are dying from COVID-19 as women while the pandemic has proven especially devastating for Black Americans, who are dying at nearly three times the rate of white people, according to data from The COVID Tracking Project.

The COVID Tracking Project broke deaths down by race or ethnicity with 74 black Americans dying per 100,000 people as of July 2020. By comparison, that figure stands at 30 deaths per 100,000 for white Americans and 31 per 100,000 for Asian Americans. The figure is also higher for American Indian or Alaska Natives and Hispanics or Latinos who both have 40 deaths per 100,000 people.

On a day when the city of Houston reported 408 new positive cases and five additional deaths due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Mayor Sylvester Turner called Gov. Greg Abbott’s decision to lift the statewide mask mandate “disappointing and disheartening.”

“The governor is wrong to roll back the statewide mask order. The decision is not supported by most medical professionals, science, and data. The Texas Legislature must speak up, and the people of Texas must hold their leaders accountable,” said Turner. “The governor’s decision is a step in the wrong direction. It does not make any sense unless the governor is trying to deflect what happened two weeks ago during the winter storm. It was a statewide system failure.”

Before Abbott’s announcement, the mayor and Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo sent the governor a letter urging him not to lift the mask mandate.

“Masking requirements have allowed many small businesses to remain open and their employees to return to work. The mask order has allowed more students to return to in-person learning and has better protected them, their teachers, and school staff,” the letter stated.

There is a provision in Abbott’s executive order that allows county judges to take their own actions if COVID-19 hospitalizations in their area rise above 15% of the hospital bed capacity for seven straight days.

“What I see here is a premature and misguided discussion putting our community at risk and it’s unnecessary because we’re headed where we need to go,” Hidalgo said. “This is just not the time to give up.”

The governor’s order will take effect Wednesday, but the city plans to enforce its mask mandate in city-owned venues and buildings.

Locally, people visiting all city venues and all city employees, you are still obligated to wear the face mask. If you are going to the library or the George R. Brown Convention Center, you will still be obligated to wear the mask.

Many businesses are still adhering to safety protocols.

“H-E-B will still require all our Partners and vendors to wear masks while at work, and we urge all customers to please wear a mask when in our stores,” the grocery store chain released in a statement.

Many leaders are going on the attack.

“What Abbott is doing is extraordinarily dangerous,” Gilberto Hinojosa, the state party chairman, said in a statement, adding, “This will kill Texans. Our country’s infectious-disease specialists have warned that we should not put our guard down, even as we make progress towards vaccinations. Abbott doesn’t care.”

“I’m stunned,” said Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee. “This is going to explode community spread and right in the midst of these variants that are coming. It is the wrong decision and it’s dangerous.”

But some are supporting his decision.

Montgomery County Judge Mark Keough applauded Abbott.

“And I have to say this: it’s been a long time coming,” Keough said in a Facebook video. “We can’t have a healthy community without a healthy economy.”

U.S. Rep. Dan Crenshaw retweeted Abbott’s announcement with the caption “Happy Independence Day, Texas.”

The Biden administration has warned states not to relax restrictions too soon, despite the recent decline in cases.  The CDC has also warned states not to ease up on restrictions.

“We stand to completely lose the hard-earned ground we have gained,” the director of the C.D.C., Dr. Rochelle Walensky, said at a White House virus briefing.

The nation as a whole has been averaging more than 67,000 new cases a day lately, more than at any time during the spring and summer waves of cases.

And more so, like we said in the beginning, minorities are getting a double whammy.

These stats show from the Commonwealth Fund show the wide-ranging disparities of COVID-19 among minorities in the United States:

More than half of Latino and nearly half of Black survey respondents reported experiencing an economic challenge because of the pandemic — substantially more than the 21 percent of white respondents.

  • Thirty-nine percent of women reported significant mental health concerns related to COVID-19, 13 percentage points higher than men. For people with low income, the rate of mental health concerns was nearly 20 points higher than the rate for people with high income.
  • Both Black and Latino respondents reported pandemic-related mental health concerns at a rate approximately 10 points higher than whites.
  • Compared to health care providers, state and local officials and the president received lower marks in their response to the pandemic. Black survey respondents held the least favorable views of government leaders’ actions.

Former Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke may have summed it up best when he called the decision “a death warrant for Texas” and accused Abbott of “killing the people of Texas.”

You need any more proof? You better recognize who’s for you and against you? Wear your mask! Keep social distancing and remember, you don’t live in the protected Governor’s mansion! You live in “the 4-4” Acres Home, Third Ward, Fourth Ward, “The Nickel” Fifth Ward, Freedmen’s Town, East Houston, Pasadena, Galena Park, Sunnyside, South Park, Greenspoint and that “Nawf” and southwest side.


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