State Watch

Abbott’s medical advisers were not all consulted before he lifted Texas mask mandate

Some medical advisers to Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott said they were not consulted on the decision to end the state’s mask requirement and lift other COVID-19-related restrictions in the state.

Parker Hudson of Dell Medical School in Austin claimed he was “not involved in this decision,” according to the Dallas Morning News.

John Hellerstedt, a state health commissioner, said he did not have a “personal conversation” with Abbott regarding the policy changes, but said he was informed of the change by Abbott’s team.

“We have daily decisions with the governor’s staff about what we see in terms of trends,” Hellerstedt testified to the state House Public Health Committee on Wednesday, according to KVUE.

One of Abbott’s health advisers, Mark McClellan, disagreed with the governor’s decision to open Texas’s businesses to full capacity and no longer mandate that its citizens wear masks.

“I don’t think this is the right time,” McClellan, a former commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, told the Dallas Morning News. “Texas has been making some real progress but it’s too soon for full reopening and to stop masking around others.”

McClellan claims Abbott did not seek his professional advice ahead of relaxing the mask regulations.

On Tuesday, Abbott announced the state would be lifting most of its remaining COVID-19 safety guidelines, including the previously-instated statewide mask mandate.”

“Texans have mastered the daily habits to avoid getting COVID,” Abbott said.

A fourth adviser said he had been involved in conversations about lifting the mask mandate.

“He brought it to us, he talked to us about it, he talked through it,” John Zerwas, a vice chancellor with the University of Texas System, told the Dallas Morning News. “And he said, ‘OK, this is when I feel like it’d be a good time to do it.’ “

Abbott said he had consulted Zerwas and Hellerstedt on the matter, but didn’t specify if he had communicated with McClellan and Hudson, according to the Dallas Morning News.

Abbott maintained that the lifted mandate did not mean coronavirus safety precautions were no longer needed — just that they wouldn’t be pushed by the state.

“Make no mistake, COVID-19 has not disappeared, but it is clear from the recoveries, vaccinations, reduced hospitalizations, and safe practices that Texans are using that state mandates are no longer needed,” Abbott said Tuesday. “Each person has a role to play in their own personal safety and the safety of others.”

Tags COVID-19 pandemic in Texas Greg Abbott Greg Abbott Joe Biden Mark McClellan Masks Texas Texas Attorneys General the dallas morning news

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