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Spurs coach blasts Texas governor for lifting mask mandate: 'Ridiculous' and 'ignorant'

Gregg Popovich, head coach of the San Antonio Spurs, took aim at Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) on Wednesday in response to Abbott's decision to end the state's mask mandate even as the state's rate of new cases has stopped decreasing.

NBC News reported that the basketball coach made the comments about Abbott at a press conference, telling reporters that he expected case numbers to rise as a result of the governor's decision.

"They're trying to do a good job of keeping everybody safe. Of course they want to open up. But getting rid of masks just seems ignorant to me," he reportedly said. "People that didn't want to wear masks in the first place, how do the businesses get them to wear masks? Well, now they don't have to. So now there will be more infections, one would think."

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"When all of a sudden we act like it's over with, when all the science tells us the opposite, it's basically you're saying: 'You get infected, you die, it's the way it goes. We got to open up,' " the Spurs coach continued. "That's not the way to do it. This is really ridiculous."

Abbott announced the end of Texas's mask requirements in an address Tuesday, claiming that Texans have "mastered the daily habits to avoid getting COVID."

"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," he added.

Texas's daily rate of new infections dropped sharply in recent weeks after the state reached a peak in mid-January, but in recent days has seen that trend reverse itself as the rate of new cases began climbing once again toward the end of February. The state's seven-day average of new cases sits at just over 7,000 per day, after dropping to about 4,200 last month.

The state is also recovering from brutal winter weather that left millions without power for days in freezing temperatures, resulting in at least 50 deaths.