Mar 2, 2021
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott Press Conference Transcript March 2: Lifts Mask Mandate, Fully Reopens Businesses
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott held a press conference on March 2, 2021 where he announced that businesses can fully reopen at 100% capacity. He also lifted the statewide mask mandate. Read the full transcript of the briefing here.
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Dave Marcinkowski: (00:11)
No problem. Try to stand over here on your side. Good afternoon, everybody. My name is Dave Marcinkowski. I am a partner at a companies Madera Residential and Quext. I’m here today wearing my volunteer hat as the Chairman of the Lubbock Chamber of Commerce. And I’m joined here by several of our members representing all facets of the business community. On behalf of the Lubbock Chamber and our members, we are honored to welcome you back, Governor Abbott, to our great city.
Governor Abbott: (00:34)
Dave Marcinkowski: (00:35)
Our chamber has operated since 1913. We have been accredited at the five-star level by the US Chamber of Commerce three times, which puts us in the top 2% of chambers across this country. Governor, we appreciate you joining us today and for all you do to keep Texas the greatest state in our country. I want to recognize a few people, State District 83 Representative Dustin Burrows, our Mayor, Dan Pope, [inaudible 00:01:04] Steve Massengale and the Chancellor of the Texas Tech University System, Ted Mitchell. As we all know, Governor Abbott is a great friend of the business community in Texas. Governor Abbott was recently named the top conservative governor in the nation because of his achievements to reign in taxes, cut regulations and improve education and workforce training. Under these policies and with the outstanding work of the chamber and our members, Lubbock continues to have a thriving economy. In fact, Lubbock was recently recognized as one of the best business climates in the entire nation for mid-size cities.
Dave Marcinkowski: (01:44)
This legislative session, Governor Abbott laid out a clear vision to build a brighter future for all Texans by passing laws to provide COVID related liability protections, strengthen our power infrastructure and expand broadband access to all Texas. Governor, these issues are at the top of our priorities as well for this session, and we thank you for your courageous leadership. The Lubbock Chamber looks forward to continue working with you and your staff to accomplish our shared goals for our community and the entire state of Texas. Please welcome as I welcome our Governor, Greg Abbott.
Governor Abbott: (02:15)
Well, thank you all. And, Dave, I want to thank you for your very kind words and for the leadership that you’re showing to the business community in the greater Lubbock region. And I also want to thank the Lubbock Chamber of Commerce for all that you all are doing as well as all the business and community leaders who joined with us today but also who really work every single day in lifting up the entire Lubbock region to being a shining star and the premier state in the United States of America.
Governor Abbott: (03:07)
Dave, you mentioned leadership in the Capitol, and any governor knows that leadership is a process of working very collaboratively with the members in the Capitol. And I do want to recognize your very own Representative Dustin Burrows for the leadership that he shows every single day in the Texas House of Representatives. I know that his colleagues, Senator Perry and Representative Frullo, also wanted to be here. They are in Austin, committed to work as we speak. I also want to recognize the mayor. The mayor and I have worked on multiple issues, whether it be COVID related issues or Arctic blast related issues, whatever the case may… Although, that’s kind of typical for you guys. That’s nothing new for Lubbock.
Dave Marcinkowski: (04:00)
Governor Abbott: (04:03)
And one of the premier education leaders in the United States, and that is the Texas Tech’s Chancellor, Ted Mitchell. Thank you for everything that you do. And I especially want to thank Rudy Rosales right here. I think everybody knows Rudy, as they should. But Rudy, I want to thank you and your family. I got to meet Rudy’s mom, Maria. I don’t know where she is right now, but Maria, I know that she’s been working hard getting ready for this as well as the entire family. So Rudy, thank you.
Rudy Rosales: (04:49)
Thank you, sir.
Governor Abbott: (04:49)
Thank your family. And I want to thank your employees and your staff for hosting this event, Montelongo’s Mexican Restaurant. Many of you in Lubbock know the story about this restaurant and its legacy. And I know about it, but I was shown pictures of the originator of it. And that is Rudy’s grandmother, Petra Montelongo, to open this restaurant about 50 years ago and built it into what has become a Lubbock treasure. Rudy and his family, they typify the entrepreneurial spirit that does make Texas so exceptional. Because of people like Rudy, Texas does remain the economic engine of the United States of America. Texas has been ranked number one in the United States for business for 16 straight years. Texas has led the nation in exports for 19 straight years. And if were its own country, we would now have the ninth largest economy in the entire world.
Governor Abbott: (06:09)
And even with this past year of COVID, Texas has remained the number one state in the United States for economic development. Yesterday, Texas received the Governor’s Cup. The Governor’s Cup has been received by Texas every year that I have been Governor. The award goes to the state that ranks number one in the United States for job creation and for capital investment. And Lubbock, Texas bolstered that success with 12 Governor’s Cup projects in 2020. Thank you to Lubbock and the Lubbock Chamber of Commerce. That success was achieved despite COVID’s impact on business operations. For nearly a half a year, most businesses have been opened either 75% or 50%. And during that time, too many Texans have been sidelined from employment opportunities. Too many small business owners have struggled to pay their bills. This must end. It is now time to open Texas 100%. Everybody who wants to work should have that opportunity. Every business that wants to be open should be open.
Governor Abbott: (07:53)
Now, let me tell you why now is the right time to do this. Texas is far better positioned now than when I issued my last executive order back in October. And we are in a completely different position than when I issued my first executive order last March. Back then, hardly any texts and knew what PPE was. Now we have an abundance of it. Early on, there were no COVID tests. Now we have the ability to do well over 100,000 COVID tests per day. When COVID first ravaged our communities, there were no medicines to treat it, but now we have antibody therapeutic drugs to treat COVID and to keep people out of hospitals. In fact, as you all know, I was with the mayor and I was with the Chancellor as well as other Lubbock leaders when we formally announced the rolling out of these antibody therapeutic drugs and making them available in large scale process to people in Lubbock as well as people across the entire state of Texas. And we also have multiple medical advancements that help Texans heal and, importantly, help keep Texans out of hospitals. And last March, most Texans had no clue about the precautions needed to avoid COVID. Now, Texans have mastered the daily habits to avoid getting COVID.
Governor Abbott: (09:27)
But most importantly now, now in Texas and across the country, we now have vaccines, vaccines to protect Texans from COVID. More than 5.7 million vaccine shots have already been given to Texas. Today, we set a one-day record amount of vaccines administered, administering more than 216,000 in one day alone. And we’re now administering about a million vaccine shots a week. By next Wednesday, about seven million shots will have been given to our fellow Texans. Equally important, we are getting the vaccine so that Texans who need it the most, those who are most likely to be hospitalized or lose their life because of exposure to COVID, by next Wednesday, over a half of our seniors will have received a vaccine shot. And by the end of this month, every senior who wants a vaccine shot will be able to get a vaccine shot
Governor Abbott: (10:44)
To help this effort, I have already announced a statewide program called Save Our Seniors. Along with that, I deployed more than 1,100 National Guard to assist local organizations to help our seniors get the shots they need. These efforts should ensure that we keep hospitalizations low in Texas. Importantly, the number of vaccines will continue to increase rapidly with additional supplies of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines as well as the new vaccine that’s come out by Johnson and Johnson, which is a one-shot vaccine that Texas began administering today in the state of Texas. In fact, get this, the vaccine supply is increasing so rapidly Texas will soon expand the categories of people who are able to get them. And some medical professionals say that within a few months, every Texan who wants a vaccine shot will be able to get a vaccine shot.
Governor Abbott: (11:59)
And something else happened this past year. Almost two and a half million Texans were lab confirmed for having recovered from COVID. The CDC says that the real number of recoveries is typically four to five times. The number of those who officially tested positive and recovered. Mathematically, what that means is that approximately 10 million Texans, or really more, have recovered from COVID and have the proven ability to beat the disease. Now, all of these advancements and events have led to remarkable improvements. Hospitalizations are the lowest that they have been in four months. The number of active COVID cases is the lowest since November, and is less than half of what it was just a month ago. That means that far more Texans are recovering from COVID than contracting it. Also, today is the lowest positivity rate we’ve had in four months. We have been under 10% positivity rate for days now. Today, we’re now under 9% positivity rate in the state of Texas. but make no mistake. And to be clear, COVID has not suddenly disappeared. COVID still exists in Texas and the United States and across the globe. But it is clear from the recoveries, from the vaccinations, from the reduced hospitalizations and from the safe practices that Texans are using that state mandates are no longer needed.
Governor Abbott: (13:57)
Today I’m issuing a new executive order that rescinds most of the earlier executive orders. Effective next Wednesday, all businesses of any type are allowed to open 100%. That includes any type of entity in Texas. Also, I am ending the statewide mask mandate. Now, despite these changes, remember this. Removing state mandates does not end personal responsibility or the importance of caring for your family members and caring for your friends and caring for others in your community. Personal vigilance to follow the safe standards is still needed to contain COVID. It’s just that now state mandates are no longer needed. To stay safe, Texans should continue following medical advice on preventing COVID just as they do on other medical issues. That is exactly how Texans were able to deal with infectious diseases in the past, like H1N1. They followed safe practices. And they got medical treatment when it was needed. For a year now, Texans have wrestled with COVID, and they have learned best how to conduct their own lives. For example, businesses want to limit capacity or implement additional safety protocols. They have the right to do so. It is their business, and they get to choose to operate their business the way they want to. At this time, however, people and businesses don’t need the state telling them how to operate.
Governor Abbott: (16:16)
Now, listen, I know that some local officials are concerned that opening the state 100% could lead to a worsening of COVID in their communities. And my executive order addresses that concern. If COVID hospitalizations in any of the 22 hospital regions in Texas rise above 15% of the hospital bed capacity in that region for seven straight days, then a county judge in that region may use COVID mitigation strategies in their county. However, under no circumstance can a county judge put anybody in jail for not following COVID orders, and no penalties can imposed for failing to wear a face mask. Also, if restrictions are imposed at the county level, all entities must be allowed to operate at at least a 50% capacity. More importantly, though, we believe that there will not be the threshold met at hospitalizations for county judges to even consider implementing those strategies because Texas will continue working collaboratively with all counties to speed the vaccination process.
Governor Abbott: (17:39)
So putting this all together, Texas is doing more than ever to save lives and to reduce the spread of COVID. We must now do more to restore livelihoods and normalcy in the lives of Texas. We will continue to grieve for all who have suffered through this pandemic, and we will always mourn the loss of all lives. We are relieved that Texas now has better tools and more knowledge than ever before to help our fellow Texans combat COVID. Today’s announcement does not abandon the safe practices that Texans have mastered over the past year. Instead, as a reminder that each person has their own role to play in their own personal safety as well as in the safety of others. It’s a reminder that individual’s safety is managed every day as a matter of personal responsibility rather than by government mandate. Individual responsibility is a corollary to individual freedom. We can have both. Today’s announcement insures that Rudy Rosales and his family, just like all businesses and families in Texas have the freedom to determine their own destiny, just like all Texans, they can tap into their own self-reliance to seize the opportunities that are so unique in Texas and that make our state the most exceptional in America. May God bless you all. And may God forever bless the great state of Texas.