On a day when the city of Houston reported 408 new positive cases and five additional deaths due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Mayor Sylvester Turner called Gov. Greg Abbott’s decision to lift the statewide mask mandate “disappointing and disheartening.”

“The governor is wrong to rollback the statewide mask order. The decision is not supported by most medical professionals, science, and data. The Texas Legislature must speak up, and the people of Texas must hold their leaders accountable,” said Mayor Turner.

Before Abbott’s announcement, Mayor Turner and Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo sent the governor a letter urging him not to lift the mask mandate.

Masking requirements have allowed many small businesses to remain open and their employees to return to work. The mask order has allowed more students to return to in-person learning and has better protected them, their teachers, and school staff.”

The governor’s order will take effect next Wednesday, but the city plans to enforce its mask mandate in city-owned venues and buildings.

“For people visiting all city venues and all city employees, you are still obligated to wear the face mask. If you are going to the library or the George R. Brown Convention Center, you will still be obligated to wear the mask.” Mayor Turner said. “The governor’s decision is a step in the wrong direction. It does not make any sense unless the governor is trying to deflect what happened two weeks ago during the winter storm. It was a statewide system failure.”