Two weeks ago, the state of Texas lifted its mandate for the public to wear facemasks. At the time, President Biden said it was a grossly irresponsible move and “neandarthal thinking“.
Obviously, the numbers in Texas are worth watching in the weeks and months to come, and we will do that, here at Gript, in a regular update (or, at least until other countries and places make a similar decision).
What do the numbers show after the first two weeks? Well, they’re actually falling:
There are a couple of things that are very important to remember about the Texas policy, and here they are:
First, it was a decision to lift the mandate to wear a mask, it was not a ban on masks. So, needless to say, even in Texas, millions of people are still wearing masks out of choice. Millions more are not.
It’s possible, also, that if you are the kind of person who is minded not to wear a mask, even in the middle of a pandemic, you’re probably statistically more likely to have had covid already, and be immune. Which may be having an impact.
Second, those who are minded to wear a mask are, statistically, more likely to live in cities almost everywhere in the world. Cities are more liberal and progressive, and being a liberal or a progressive is a solid marker for covid-regulation acceptance right across the western world. These are people who just tend to trust the state a bit more. And cities are where you’d expect to see the biggest outbreaks, if covid started spreading like wildfire. It’s possible that the left-leaning Cities in Texas, by ignoring the Governor’s permission to take off their masks, are saving his blushes.
Third, the vaccination programme in Texas is as strong as anywhere else in the world right now. Over 20% of the people, including almost all the elderly, have had at least one jab. It’s possible that the vaccine effect is much greater than the no-mask effect.
But still, those three caveats aside, the numbers are interesting. A week after all Covid restrictions were lifted, there’s been no surge in cases, and no surge in testing (which indicates no surge in people experiencing symptoms).
We’ll keep an eye on it, and keep you posted.