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Sheila Jackson Lee says Texans who go maskless face 'a destiny of death'

Sheila Jackson Lee says Texans who go maskless face 'a destiny of death'
© Greg Nash

Rep. Sheila Jackson LeeSheila Jackson LeeVictims' relatives hold Capitol Hill meetings to push police reform Democrats debate timing and wisdom of reparations vote House panel approves bill to set up commission on reparations MORE (D-Texas) warned her constituents Wednesday that a decision to not wear a mask despite the rescission of a statewide mandate could cost them their lives. 

"Do not have a 'remove mask' party tonight, because you will be walking into a destiny of death," Jackson Lee said on the House floor. 

Texas ended its mask mandate Wednesday, despite sharp criticism from public health experts and scientists who say continued mask wearing is needed across the country to keep the coronavirus pandemic under control. 

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"Texans have mastered the daily habits to avoid getting COVID," Republican Gov. Greg Abbott said in announcing he would end the state's mask mandate. "Make no mistake, COVID has not suddenly disappeared. COVID still exists in Texas, in the United States and across the globe. But it is clear from the recoveries, the vaccinations, the reduced hospitalizations and the safe practices that Texans are using, that state mandates are no longer needed." 

The move was met with cheers from Republicans across the state and around the country. Mask-burning gatherings have been reported in some parts of Texas

“We understand people’s need to get back to normal, and we’re going in that direction. But when you start doing things like completely putting aside all public health measures as if you’re turning a light switch off, that's quite risky,” Anthony FauciAnthony FauciBiden to appear on MSNBC before town hall on vaccines The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Infrastructure, Cheney ouster on deck as Congress returns Sunday shows - White House COVID-19 response coordinator says US is 'turning the corner' MORE, the nation's leading infectious diseases expert, said on Wednesday. “We don't want to see another surge, and that's inviting one when you do that.”

Officials in Abbott's administration reportedly did not consult some of its medical advisers before making the decision to pull the mask mandate. 

"I don’t think this is the right time," Mark McClellan, a former commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, said earlier this month. "Texas has been making some real progress but it’s too soon for full reopening and to stop masking around others."