Story at a glance
- Major corporations are continuing to mandate employees wear masks despite Texas’s new rollbacks.
- Public health officials urge states not to relax measures.
As Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) plans to lift the statewide facial mask mandate amid a decline in new COVID-19 cases, multiple U.S. retailers are taking steps to keep the measure in place.
Business Insider reports that U.S. companies with locations in Texas, including Target, Toyota, Kroger and Macy’s, are all still requiring employees to wear facial coverings while working. Kroger, Macy’s and Target said they would require customers to wear masks as well.
Auto manufacturer General Motors reportedly confirmed on Tuesday that it would continue to require employees to wear masks while at work.
"GM will continue its workplace safety protocols (including mask wearing) to protect employee health," a GM spokesperson told insiders.
Abbott’s decision comes as public health officials urge states to not reopen too soon as the country sees a drop in new cases.
Rochelle Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), told states not to use the nationwide progress as a justification for reopening prematurely, especially as new COVID-19 mutations circle through states.
Researchers currently believe that mutations in the spike protein make these variants more transmissible, which could spur fresh outbreaks.
Additionally, the U.S. is still posting high daily fatalities and new infections, albeit at lower rates than over the holiday surge.
"With these new statistics, I am really worried about reports that more states are rolling back the exact public health measures we have recommended to protect people from COVID-19," Walensky said. "I understand the temptation to do this -- 70,000 cases a day seems good compared to where we were just a few months ago -- but we cannot be resigned to 70,000 cases a day, 2,000 daily deaths."