Since Gov. Greg Abbott lifted the mask mandate and business capacity restrictions across Texas two months ago, the number of new COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and fatalities has remained low.
Data from the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) shows the weekly rolling average number of daily new cases and total hospitalizations peaked in mid-January around 19,100 and 14,000, respectively.
As the vaccine rolled out in the following months, those numbers plummeted to 3,000 and 4,700 by the time Abbott’s orders were lifted on March 10.
Since then, cases and hospitalizations have steadily declined to about 1,900 and 2,600 as of May 6.
The number of reported coronavirus-related deaths has followed a similar downward trend, though the total number of fatalities for the most recent few weeks is often inaccurate because of delays in reporting.
Abbott’s announcement to end the statewide mandates was met with a flurry of criticism from Democrats, many of whom decried the governor as signing the “death warrant” of Texans.
Though a significant change in restrictions, Abbott’s measure didn’t completely eradicate the possibility of future regulations if cases go on the rise again.
His executive order ending the mask mandate and business closures left in place a trigger to allow local officials to impose new restrictions if COVID-19 hospitalizations in the hospital region of the county rise above 15 percent for seven consecutive days.
But in that event, counties could not impose mask mandates or business capacity restrictions of more than 50 percent.
Until Abbott issues a superseding executive order or ends the underlying disaster declaration — something he renewed again on Wednesday for the month of May — the trigger to allow county regulations will remain in place.
According to DSHS, slightly over 50 percent of the state’s population over the age of 16 — about 11.3 million people — have been vaccinated for COVID-19 with one dose and 37 percent have been fully vaccinated.
For the population over the age of 65, 77 percent have been vaccinated with one dose and 64 percent have been fully vaccinated.
In some of the state’s most rural areas, such as Loving County, the percentage of the population to receive at least one vaccine dose is less than 25 percent, while most urban and suburban counties are near or well above 50 percent.