Teen Shot Dead as Troops Use Violence to Quell Myanmar Protesters

A teenager was shot dead after taunting soldiers and at least six anti-junta protesters were injured Tuesday when security forces used tear gas, stun grenades, and gunfire to break up demonstrations across Myanmar.

More than a month after a military coup deposed the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi, defiant anti-coup protesters marched through the streets of cities across Myanmar, despite the use of lethal force by police and soldiers that killed an estimated 18 people on Sunday.

A teenager was shot dead after taunting soldiers and at least six anti-junta protesters were injured Tuesday when security forces used tear gas, stun grenades, and gunfire to break up demonstrations across Myanmar.

More than a month after a military coup deposed the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi, defiant anti-coup protesters marched through the streets of cities across Myanmar, despite the use of lethal force by police and soldiers that killed an estimated 18 people on Sunday.

In the central region of Magway, 16-year-old Thiha Zaw was shot dead by a soldier on a passing convoy of three military trucks after boys he was with shouted anti-junta slogans and flashed a three-finger salute of defiance at the troops, a witness told RFA. The soldiers then loaded Thiha Zaw’s body onto their truck and left the scene, and the army later informed villagers to retrieve his body.

RFA has confirmed 24 deaths across Myanmar since the military takeover on Feb. 1.

In Yangon, police and soldiers fired shots into the air to scare off protesters in the morning, but resorted to using excess force to break up the rallies in the afternoon.

Violent crackdowns occurred at the city’s Hledan and Myae Ni Gone junctions, popular protest sites where two demonstrators were arrested. Police and soldiers used rubber bullets, smoke bombs, and slingshots to disperse protesters on Kamayut Station Road on the outskirts of the city.

In Kalemyo, in northwestern Myanmar’s Sagaing region, four people were injured in a crackdown, with two of them in critical condition, witnesses said, adding that police used live rounds to quell protests.

“They first threw stun grenades at us, and this was followed by three or four rounds of tear gas,” said a protester, adding that residents and students told police they would take down their street barriers to open the road they had blocked.

“But they ignored our requests and tried to grab our makeshift shields away,” he said “Some people were recording them as they tried to break us up. When we resisted and fought back, they began shooting.”

In Dawei, capital of Tanintharyi region in southern Myanmar, protesters marched through the streets to the house of Lwin Oo, a demonstrator who died of gunshot wounds on Feb. 28, and were set upon by security forces.

“We were paying our respects to the man who died the other day during the protest, and the police followed us to the house and sprayed tear gas to disperse us,” said Dawei resident Min Lwin Oo.

In the Irrawaddy River town of Magway, authorities on Monday released 19 of the 57 protesters arrested on Feb. 28 and charged the others with incitement, a charge that carries a maximum two-year sentence or a fine or both.

In Hpa-an, capital of eastern Kayin state, locals said they postponed their protest plans for a day because of the huge presence of soldiers and police in the city. Police set up a checkpoint at the bridge at the city’s main entrance and searched photo studios and shops that produce vinyl protest posters used by demonstrators.

“The police came to look for evidence to see whether we were producing vinyl posters or the plastic shields that the protesters were using,” said one shopkeeper. “I heard they searched all the shops in town.”

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A woman offers prayers and alms to Buddhist monks in the name of anti-junta protesters shot dead by police at Hledan junction in Myanmar’s largest city, Yangon, March 2, 2021. Credit: RFA

Reporters locked up

Similar protests continued in other towns across Myanmar, including Pathein and Myitkyina and in the Chin state towns of Mindat, Matupi, Htantalan and Hakha. Authorities have charged three protesters arrested in the Chin town of Falam on Feb. 28 with incitement.

The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, a watchdog group, said that as of Tuesday, 1,294 people had been arrested, charged, or sentenced in relation to the military coup, with 988 still being held and about 300 released.

The number of arrestees includes 29 reporters picked up across the country since the Feb. 1 coup. Some of them have been released, though others face charges.

An RFA tally indicates that three reporters have been charged with criminal defamation for covering the anti-coup protests, and about 10 others are in detention, some of whom are in Yangon’s infamous Insein Prison on the city’s outskirts. The whereabouts of some of the others are unknown.

Paris-based Reporters Without Borders said Tuesday there are at least 11 reporters currently being detained on charges under Section 505(a) of Myanmar’s Penal Code for allegedly spreading false information. If found guilty, they could face up to two years in prison.

On Monday, the Committee to Protect Journalists called on the junta to immediately release all journalists detained for their work and to allow reporters to cover protests without fear of reprisal.

Police and soldiers in seven military vehicles arrested DVB news reporter Aung Kyaw at his home in Myeik Monday night without giving a reason, his wife said.

“We do not know where he has been taken. … When they found him, some of the soldiers said he was the guy who was doing a live broadcast in the afternoon,” she said. “I believe they want to put the country’s media under the military administration.”

Earlier that day, Aung Kyaw did a live interview with protesters in a city ward, who were injured during a crackdown by police and soldiers.

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A soldier aims his rifle at anti-junta protesters in Sanchuang township in Myanmar’s largest-city, Yangon, March 2, 2021. Credit: RFA

‘A lawless state’

Five other reporters — Kay Zun Nway of Myanmar Now, Aung Ye of 7-Day Daily, Thein Zaw from the Associated Press, Ye Myo Khant from the Myanmar Pressphoto Agency, and Hein Pyae Zaw of Zeegwet News — remain in detention after their arrests on Feb. 27 while covering protests.

Nila Khine, a high court lawyer who has taken up their cases, said that Kay Zun Nway was being held at the Sangyaung police station in Myeik on defamation charges.

“We already have a remand for her,” the attorney said. “I don’t think she will be brought to court. The case will be heard by video conference.”

The Foreign Correspondents Club said Thein Zaw also faces defamation charges, while J Paing of the Myanmar Pressphoto Agency said photographer Ye Myo Khant faces defamation charges.

On Feb. 24, reporters Tin Mar Swe of MCN-TV news and Khin May San of The Voice went to a police station in the town of Monywa, Sagaing region, for information about a video shot two days earlier in which local residents questioned a suspicious person in their ward at night. But instead, the two reporters were arrested on defamation charges.

On Feb. 28, authorities arrested freelance reporter Shin Moe Myint, Kyaw Ne Min of the Choon Journal, Ye Yint Tun of Pathein-based Than Daw Sint News, and Lin Tun of Ramanya news agency. Shin Moe Myint was freed Tuesday morning, according to police.

Police Colonel Tun Shwe of the Ayeyarwady region police headquarters told RFA that Ye Yint Tun, currently held in Pathein Prison, had been charged with defamation, but declined to say why he had been charged or who had opened the case against him.

“We want him to be released,” said Ye Yint Tun’s sister. “He’s a journalist and he’s doing his job. I don’t think he is in the wrong, so he should be released immediately.”

Police arrested Salai David of the Chinland Post in Hakha on Monday but released him Tuesday afternoon.

“We must realize that the current situation is a lawless state, and we cannot have protection from the law,” said Zayar Hlaing, a veteran journalist and former member of the Myanmar Press Council. “So, reporters must be on alert at all times and think of their safety first. Since we cannot have protection of the law we have to run if necessary.”

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A Myanmar citizen touches a makeshift memorial for an anti-junta protester shot dead by police at Hledan junction in Yangon, March 2, 2021. Credit: RFA

Civil servants suspended

The junta meanwhile suspended 12 tax and revenue workers under the Ministry of Planning, Finance and Industry for joining the civil disobedience movement on Feb. 26, a suspended deputy customs official told RFA on Tuesday.

The 12 civil servants are customs inspectors, deputy custom inspectors, accountants, and clerks, said the official who declined to be named for safety reasons.

An internal memo issued on Feb. 26 said the 12 were found to have failed to perform their duties without good reason in violation of regulations, he said. It was signed by Aung Khine, the department director, on behalf of the director general of the Customs Department.

“I believe this move is to make an example of us so to show other employees that those who join the movement will face this kind of punishment,” he said. “It’s like a deterrent for others to stop them from joining the civil disobedience movement.”

“During my 14 years of service with the department I have seen many such oppressive actions from these ex-military officials,” added the customs official.

Government employees across the country who have stopped going to work in protest against the military regime increasingly are being fired and their families evicted from government housing. Some have been charged with violating government regulations.

The Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw, a national legislative body led by National League for Democracy legislators elected in the 2020 elections, has said that striking civil servants will be able to return to their jobs when the elected civilian government returns to power.

Several police officers have joined forces with striking civil servants and protesters to denounce the military regime.

Tin Min Tun, acting police major at the news and information unit of the Yangon Region Police Force, joined the anti-coup movement on Sunday, live-streaming on social media interviews he conducted with fellow officers.

He asked the officers how they could expect young people to want to join the police force after officers had committed crimes ordered by the leaders of the coup, and how they could face their children and grandchildren after committing crimes and dealing brutally with protesters.

Tin Min Tun said he joined the civil disobedience movement because he could no longer tolerate what was happening.

He also said that the image of the police force had become tarnished because officers have been sacrificed by the military to commit violent crimes on its behalf.

Reported by RFA’s Myanmar Service. Translated by Khin Maung Nyane. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.

Biden Officials Block Public Grazing Permits For Arsonist Ranchers Pardoned By Trump | HuffPost

The Biden administration’s Bureau of Land Management has rescinded a new permit for grazing on public lands granted to two Oregon arsonist ranchers pardoned by Donald Trump.

The arson convictions of Dwight Hammond and his son Steven for torching public lands was at the center of an armed takeover in 2016 of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon, which led to a 41-day armed standoff with federal authorities. The assault was led by militant rancher brothers Ryan and Ammon Bundy.

Despite the record of violence, Trump Interior Secretary David Bernhardt granted the Hammonds a new grazing permit on Trump’s last day in office. The permit would have allowed the ranchers’ livestock to use public land for 10 years.

The Biden administration blocked the permit Friday, a day after environmental groups sued, arguing the Trump government ignored legal requirements, reported Oregon Public Radio. The Biden administration cited the same concerns in its notice rescinding the permit.

Source: Biden Officials Block Public Grazing Permits For Arsonist Ranchers Pardoned By Trump | HuffPost

Lone Star Death Cult

At least 8, 140 Texans contracted COVID-19 yesterday. Greg Abbott would like that number to be much higher:

Gov. Greg Abbott said Tuesday it’s time to “open Texas 100%” and end the statewide mask order, citing declining hospitalizations across the state as more people are vaccinated against the coronavirus.

Abbott will issue a new executive order, which will take effect next Wednesday and rescind most of his earlier orders, including restrictions on business occupancy and the July 2 statewide mask order.

At least 8, 140 Texans contracted COVID-19 yesterday. Greg Abbott would like that number to be much higher:

Gov. Greg Abbott said Tuesday it’s time to “open Texas 100%” and end the statewide mask order, citing declining hospitalizations across the state as more people are vaccinated against the coronavirus. 

Abbott will issue a new executive order, which will take effect next Wednesday and rescind most of his earlier orders, including restrictions on business occupancy and the July 2 statewide mask order. 

“Texas is in a far better position now than when I issued my last executive order back in October,” Abbott said, referring to his order allowing bars to reopen under certain circumstances. Cases spiked after he eased business restrictions in the fall.

[…]

But health experts warn that the state and nation are still in a dangerous phase of the virus spread. Even as vaccinations increase, they’re still not widespread enough to make much of a difference against the spread of the virus.

There’s also a chance that some variants could be “somewhat resistant” to the vaccines, said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

On Monday, Walensky warned that states should not lift coronavirus restrictions as the new, more contagious variants spread across the country. 

“Please hear me clearly: At this level of cases with variants spreading, we stand to completely lose the hard-earned ground we have gained,” Walensky said. “I am really worried about reports that more states are rolling back the exact public health measures we have recommended to protect people from Covid-19.”

The fact that three miraculous vaccines have been authorized for use makes this literally murderous policy choice worse, not better. If proper measures could be kept in place for just a couple more months, life really could get back to normal, without a whole bunch of avoidable death and illness in the interim. But being a Republican public official in 2021 generally requires acting with the mindset of a sociopathic, obscenely self-centered 11-year-old boy at all times.

See also Tate Reeves.

Texas’ local officials blast Gov. Greg Abbott for “irresponsible action” of lifting coronavirus restrictions

Mayors and county judges in some of Texas’ largest urban areas criticized Gov. Greg Abbott over his decision to lift the statewide face mask mandate next week, saying it contradicts health officials’ advice as infections continue to spread throughout the state, which averaged over 200 reported deaths a day over the last week.

Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price, a fellow Republican, called Abbott’s order “premature” and asked him to allow more people to get the vaccine.

“I am calling on Gov. Abbott to open up additional vaccine tier categories so that more people are eligible to get a vaccine if they want one,” Price said in a statement. “As the state’s directive has changed, so must our response. Now, more than ever, vaccines and testing must be readily available.”
Pedestrians wearing masks to protect against COVOD-19 in downtown Austin on June 24, 2020.

Pedestrians wearing masks to protect against COVID-19 in downtown Austin in June. Gov. Greg Abbott drew ire Tuesday after announcing that he would lift a statewide mask mandate while coronavirus infections continue.

Credit: Miguel Gutierrez Jr./The Texas Tribune

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Mayors and county judges in some of Texas’ largest urban areas criticized Gov. Greg Abbott over his decision to lift the statewide face mask mandate next week, saying it contradicts health officials’ advice as infections continue to spread throughout the state, which averaged over 200 reported deaths a day over the last week.

Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price, a fellow Republican, called Abbott’s order “premature” and asked him to allow more people to get the vaccine.

“I am calling on Gov. Abbott to open up additional vaccine tier categories so that more people are eligible to get a vaccine if they want one,” Price said in a statement. “As the state’s directive has changed, so must our response. Now, more than ever, vaccines and testing must be readily available.”

City and county officials urged residents in their areas to still follow recommendations from health experts and officials that call for wearing face masks in public.

“We need to focus not on what the governor tells you the law allows, but what doctors and the facts and the science that we all know well at this point tell us is necessary to keep us safe and give us our best chance of reaching herd immunity as quickly as possible,” Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said.

In addition to lifting the mask mandate next week, Abbott will allow businesses to operate at full capacity. If COVID-19 hospitalizations in any of Texas’ 22 hospital regions rise above 15% of the capacity in that region for seven straight days, a county judge “may use COVID mitigation strategies in their county,” according to the governor.

Reference

Read Gov. Greg Abbott’s full order lifting Texas’ mask mandate and business capacity limitations.

(147.4 KB)

But officials lambasted the latest order because it does not allow local leaders to enforce their own mask mandates. The latest order also removes a previous option available to local leaders: compel businesses to require that customers wear face masks.

The order also establishes that nothing “precludes businesses or other establishments from requiring employees or customers to follow additional hygiene measures, including the wearing of a face covering.” That brought little relief to local leaders.

“I’m very disappointed, it’s an irresponsible action. We still have 464 people in the hospital and 199 in ICU as of yesterday,” said Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff. “We’re still not out of the woods. And I think it’s very premature to do this.”

Texans and Americans of color have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic. More than half of the deaths due to COVID-19 have been Black or Hispanic people, and advocates have reported that these communities have fallen behind in the vaccination efforts. In Texas and across the country, front-line employees are predominantly women and are more likely to be people of color than other workers, according to an Associated Press analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data last year.

Wolff was the first county judge to force businesses to mandate masks in June last year, after finding a loophole in Abbott’s previous order which didn’t allow local leaders to establish countywide mandates. Now he said that he won’t be able to do so anymore.

“He’s plugged that hole. He allows businesses to do what they want to do,” said Wolff, who last year was attacked by a customer that refused to use a mask. “Now law enforcement has no right to be called on it.”

Wolff said that Abbott’s latest order leaves counties limited to encouraging people to wear masks and socially distance.

“That’s about all we can do from what we interpreted,” Wolff said.

Officials from Dallas, Harris and Travis counties said that their legal teams are still studying the order to clarify these aspects and what they are allowed to do.

In El Paso, a county that has seen more than 2,000 COVID-19 related deaths, County Judge Ricardo Samaniego tweeted that Abbott’s order on masks “would be equivalent to him stating that we don’t have to wear our seatbelts…but it would be a good idea if we did.”

El Paso has over 280 bodies in our Holding Facility and 2,086 total deaths have been reported. @GovAbbott‘s directive to no longer make masks mandatory would be equivalent to him stating that we don’t have to wear our seatbelts…but it would be a good idea if we did.

— County Judge Ricardo Samaniego (@EPCountyJudge) March 2, 2021

In a statement, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo questioned the moment for this announcement.

“With the arrival of COVID-19 vaccines, we’re inching closer to the finish line of this pandemic — now is not the time to reverse the gains we’ve worked so hard to achieve,” Hidalgo said. “At best, today’s decision is wishful thinking. At worst, it is a cynical attempt to distract Texans from the failures of state oversight of our power grid.”

Prior to the press conference, Hidalgo and Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner sent a letter to Abbott asking him to keep the mask requirement in place. Austin Mayor Steve Adler and Travis County Judge Andy Brown wrote a letter with the same message.

“We believe it would be premature and harmful to do anything to lose widespread adoption of this preventive measure. Scientific studies have shown repeatedly that the widespread wearing of face masks slows down the virus,” the letter reads. “Especially with the arrival of new variants of the virus to Texas and our cities, with the associated spike in cases, preserving the most effective of our existing safety measures is even more important.”

In San Antonio, Mayor Ron Nirenberg called opening businesses at 100% capacity and at the same time banning mask mandates a “huge mistake.”

“COVID-19 is still widespread in our community and infecting too many of our vulnerable residents,” Niremberg said in a statement. “You don’t cut off your parachute just as you’ve slowed your descent. Please join me in continuing to wear a mask.”

In a statement, Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson called residents to “continue to mask up” and said that “now is not the time to let down our guard.”

In Tarrant County, Judge Glen Whitley said that he will lift the mask mandate today, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Last week, Whitley had extended the requirement until May 25.

Disclosure: Steve Adler is a former Texas Tribune board chairman and has been a financial supporter of the Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune’s journalism. Find a complete list of them here.

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Dolly Parton gets vaccinated with Moderna jab she helped fund

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Iconic country music star sings a vaccine version of Jolene while getting inoculated in Nashville

Dolly Parton has been inoculated with the Covid-19 vaccine that she helped to fund.

The country music star, 75, broke into song while getting the Moderna jab and adapted one of her best-known ballads.

Continue reading…

Can we say the Texas Government is batting 0 for 2 against mother nature in 2021? — The Chatty Introvert

I thought something was up when I was at the grocery store on Sunday. Probably only half the folks in there were wearing a mask. I should’ve known that was a sign of things to come. Nobody hassling them, nobody paying attention. But I sure noticed it. People were happy to be out and about, […]

Can we say the Texas Government is batting 0 for 2 against mother nature in 2021? — The Chatty Introvert

He dressed up as ‘antifa’ for Capitol riot and got arrested – San Gabriel Valley Tribune

He dressed up as ‘antifa’ for Capitol riot and got arrested During the course of the text conversation, a family member confronted Norwood about his claims, and hypocrisy.

“Robbie literally bragged about pretending to be this mysterious Antifa y’all go on and on about, and then you say no no REAL antifa did this,” a family member respond, according to the FBI affidavit. “You admitted to going and being something you’re accusing other people of being. And then got mad and blamed others for the same thing you did. What the actual f–k is wrong with you?”

Norwood responded saying in part that, “the one cop who deserved it, got it.”

“I’m anti s–tty cop,” he explained, according to the affidavit. “The cops who acted s–tty, got exactly what they deserved. The ones who were cool got help.”

Except that when Norwood was interviewed by the FBI on January 22, the affidavit indicates that his story appeared to change drastically.

When asked about his claims of assaulting police officers, FBI investigators write in the affidavit that Norwood, “denied assaulting law enforcement officers, and claimed that any statements he made in text messages were meant to make NORWOOD sound tough.”

He repeated his claims that he helped protect police officers from being assaulted, according to the affidavit. FBI investigators also said that Norwood admitted he took some a police helmet and vest, “from a pile of equipment.” Norwood told investigators he left the equipment in the hotel room of an Ohio couple they met outside the Capitol building.

FBI investigators say he admitted to entering the Capitol after two US Capitol Police officers were, “waving people inside” and that he wanted to leave, but was prevented because of the crowd.

Source: He dressed up as ‘antifa’ for Capitol riot and got arrested – San Gabriel Valley Tribune

Martisor or Trinket

Silvia Writes

Martisor, Hello March, Martenica

Martisor is an old Romanian tradition celebrated on March 1st.  The name is a diminutive of March (Martie in Romanian).

The tradition, as the tale goes, started with a red and white string. The person who wore the string, attached to a trinket, would enjoy a healthy and prosperous year. Not to mention the decorative look. I’d wear it for the beauty of it alone. It can be worn in a variety of ways, but most wear it as a brooch.

Mărţişor | Reading After Midnight | Reading After Midnight

According to archeological research, Martisor traces its history some 8000 years ago. Long time, isn’t it? Some researchers believe it has Roman origins, others think it’s an old Dacian tradition (Dacians are the ancestors of modern Romanians).

In old times, Martisors were made of river pebbles, painted in red and white. Good luck, good weather, good health and everything good came to those who wore them…

View original post 115 more words

Keep wearing your mask, health officials say after Gov. Greg Abbott lifts mask mandate

Keep wearing your mask and taking COVID-19 safety precautions, local health experts said Tuesday, after Gov. Greg Abbott announced he was lifting the statewide mask mandate and restrictions on businesses.

“Despite the impending removal of the state mask mandate, we must continue our vigilance with masking, distancing, and hand washing,” said Dr. Mark Escott, Travis County Interim Health Authority. “These remain critical in our ongoing fight against COVID-19.”

Expressing concerns about highly contagious variants of the virus and the need for local health officials to maintain some authority over their local situations — which vary widely from county to county — doctors and health officials cautioned that Texans should not take Abbott’s announcement as a signal to relax the behavior that has lead to a recent decrease in coronavirus case rates and hospitalizations.
Austin residents take photos on Congress Avenue bridge in Austin on May 13, 2020.

Austin residents take photos on Congress Avenue bridge in Austin on May 13, 2020.

Credit: Eddie Gaspar/The Texas Tribune

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Keep wearing your mask and taking COVID-19 safety precautions, local health experts said Tuesday, after Gov. Greg Abbott announced he was lifting the statewide mask mandate and restrictions on businesses.

“Despite the impending removal of the state mask mandate, we must continue our vigilance with masking, distancing, and hand washing,” said Dr. Mark Escott, Travis County Interim Health Authority. “These remain critical in our ongoing fight against COVID-19.”

Expressing concerns about highly contagious variants of the virus and the need for local health officials to maintain some authority over their local situations — which vary widely from county to county — doctors and health officials cautioned that Texans should not take Abbott’s announcement as a signal to relax the behavior that has lead to a recent decrease in coronavirus case rates and hospitalizations.

That means continuing to stay home when possible, avoid large gatherings, stay separate from vulnerable family members, wash hands frequently, and wear masks in public or around others who don’t live in the same household.

Their advice mirrors that of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which still recommends that people wear masks, even as more people get vaccinated. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Disease, has also recently said that double-masking makes sense in light of highly contagious variants.

In a jubilant press conference, Abbott said the mask mandate and any business restrictions that limited customers would sunset next Wednesday. He added that people should still take the same precautions they have been taking for the past year.

“Removing state mandates does not end personal responsibility, or the importance of caring for your family members and caring for your friends and caring for others in your community,” he said. “Personal vigilance to follow the same standards is still needed to contain COVID. It’s just that now state mandates are no longer needed to stay safe.”

Need to stay updated on coronavirus news in Texas? Our evening roundup will help you stay on top of the day’s latest updates. Sign up here.

Dr. Ivan Melendez, Hidalgo County Health Authority, said it’s premature to abandon safety precautions and hopes Texans can stay patient even in the absence of statewide rules.

“I think that people have a lot more common sense than we give them credit for, but … it’s very hard for human beings not to start socializing and to stop wearing masks,” he said.”I understand they are looking for any sign they can go back to the old ways, but I would just remind them that we’re in the bottom of the ninth, two runs out, and we’re almost there. This isn’t the time to put the bench in. This is the time to continue with the A-Team. Very soon, we’ll be there.”

Dr. John Carlo, CEO of Prism Health North Texas and a member of the state medical association’s COVID-19 task force, agreed it was too soon for Texans to relax their safety practices, adding he is especially concerned about the increasing spread of the U.K. variant of COVID-19, which is thought to be more contagious and perhaps more deadly.

Researchers also say it’s possible that people who already got COVID-19 could be reinfected, and that while the vaccines appear to be effective enough against the variants, new ones that show up as the pandemic stretches on could be more resistant.

Carlo said allowing the variants to spread could undo all the progress that has been made by Texans’ careful behavior in recent months.

A recent study showed that all the variants that have been identified have been recorded in Houston, the first city in the nation where that has happened.

Although the effects of the vaccination effort on COVID-19 positivity rates and hospitalizations vary in different regions of the state and in different populations, only about 6% of Texans have been fully vaccinated against the disease. Experts have said that between 70% and 90% of the community should be vaccinated before the state achieves herd immunity.

Health experts say that continued caution is vital, particularly at a critical time when Texas is still vaccinating its most vulnerable residents first.

“Whatever the governor has recommended, it should not change what people do in terms of wearing masks or not,” Carlo said. “It’s very clear that we need to continue to wear masks in public places, period. Regardless of whether there’s an order from the governor or not. The bottom line is the individual decision making that has to take place that ultimately makes the outcomes.”

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