Is Texas ‘Completely Open’?

A viral tweet from Blaze TV host Elijah Schaffer states that “Texas is completely open.”

Schaffer’s tweet received further attention through being shared by popular right-wing Instagram account Rogan O’Handley.

Schaffer’s account of Texas’ coronavirus protocols are largely accurate: Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order on March 2 that ended the state’s mask mandate and allowed for businesses to return to full capacity. Abbott still has another executive order in place that limits business capacity to 50 percent in hospital regions in which 15 percent or more of hospitalizations are coronavirus-related for seven straight days.

Some cities, however, still require masks on municipal property, and businesses are still able to require mask wearing. Several large chains still require masks in their stores in Texas, including Target, Sprouts, Walmart, Costco, and Whole Foods. Various restaurants and businesses maintain masking protocols as well. 

Sporting events are not “at full capacity.” While the Texas Rangers opened up their stadium to full capacity for Opening Day, that was an exception;  games following that one  have sections of the stadium at reduced capacity to allow for “distanced seating.” The Houston Astros are operating at only 50 percent capacity. Both the Rangers and the Astros require fans to wear masks while not eating. The San Antonio Spurs, Houston Rockets, and Dallas Mavericks have announced reduced capacity attendance in their arenas as well.

Texas’ seven-day average for new reported coronavirus cases is at its lowest since June of last year, as is the hospitalization rate. The seven-day average for test positivity rate is at a similar low, while the death rate is the lowest it’s been since July of last year. 

Schaffer is correct to indicate that Texas has opened up significantly while maintaining low case numbers, but those in the state still must wear masks in many businesses, and sports teams have not allowed full audiences. 

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