“Job loss in Texas during the pandemic is less than the United States as a whole, less than any other large state, & less than all but 3 other states — Utah Idaho & Arizona,” Abbott tweeted.
“This is because Texas did not lock down like so many other states. Our job growth is roaring back.”
Though Texas did not impose restrictions as severe as in some states, Abbott did not fully lift many COVID-19 restrictions until nearly a year after the pandemic began. Even after that, nursing homes still had state-mandated limitations on who could visit residents. County judges were also permitted to reinstate restrictions if coronavirus hospitalizations elevated above 15 percent of hospital capacity.
During the Trump administration’s “15 days to slow the spread” campaign, Abbott issued an executive order that shut down schools, ordered that Texans not meet in groups of more than 10 people, prohibited visits to nursing homes, and banned dining out.
In short, the order banned activities deemed “non-essential” by the state, an order that the governor later extended through the end of April 2020. Abbott indicated at the time that violators of his order faced fines or confinement in jail for up to 180 days.
The governor began gradually allowing the limited reopening of restaurants and other “non-essential” businesses beginning on May 1, 2020. Throughout May, Abbott would revise his order to include additional industries in the reopening plan, such as salons and fitness centers.
Part of the reopening plan was that local jurisdictions could not punish people for wearing face coverings, but that would soon change.
As late as June, Abbott had allowed counties to fine businesses for declining to require patrons to wear face coverings, and by July he had created a statewide mask mandate with a fine for noncompliance. He did not lift the mask order until March of this year.
Abbott also shut down all visits to nursing homes for 200 days last year, even for family members providing essential care, and many restrictions on nursing homes were not lifted until April of this year. In response to this, the Texas legislature and voters overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment guaranteeing the right for residents of nursing homes and similar facilities to designate essential caregivers.
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Hayden Sparks is a senior reporter for The Texan and a lifelong resident of the Lone Star State. He has coached competitive speech and debate and has been involved in politics since a young age. One of Hayden's favorite quotes is by Sam Houston: "Texas has yet to learn submission to any oppression, come from what source it may."