LUFKIN, Texas (KTRE) - Public health officials are reacting to Governor Abbott’s announcement which lifts the mask mandate and fully open businesses, beginning on March 10.
Health administrator Sharon Shaw has a message for Angelina County residents.
“As a consumer, if you go to a restaurant, you should wear mask. You should request that your servers continue to wear a mask. If you go into a beauty shop, a barber shop, a movie theatre, your school or daycare, as a consumer you should still request that those folks wear a mask to protect you and to protect them,” Shaw said.
Although there has been a decrease in positive COVID-19 cases in the county from 150 per day to 70 per day, Shaw says coronavirus is still here.
“The variants are here. I am sure with the city of Houston and the city of Dallas close to us that we have the three of four variants from across the globe here in East Texas,” Shaw added.
Shaw says there may be an increase in cases after spring break and around graduation time as summer approaches.
“If we let our guard down and do not wear our mask, we are going to infect others. We will infect those in our family and maybe ourselves,” Shaw explained. “It will increase the hospitalizations. It will increase the positive cases. It may delay opening of school next year. So, we really need to stay diligent on our mask wearing.”
Out of about 300,000 people in deep East Texas, Shaw says a small percentage of individuals have been vaccinated.
“That is less than 10%, about 2%. That is not enough vaccination is help us out of another surge,” said Shaw.
Shaw anticipates the arrival of the Johnson & Johnson vaccination.
“With that one dose we will be able to work as a community to make sure that our homebound, our shut-ins, our homeless, those that visit our food banks and high risks individuals can receive that one dose and we do not have to expect them to try to return to get a second dose. So, it is going to be a game changer,” Shaw added.
Shaw says the county hopes to hold some mobile vaccination clinics to reach rural comm unities and low-income communities.
Officials plan to roll out the East Texas vaccines website on Monday. The website is called ETXCovidVaccine.com