TYLER, Texas — In about a week, the statewide mask mandate will come to an end after eight months.
Gov. Greg Abbott announced the news Tuesday the order will be lifted March 10 effective at midnight.
However, COVID-19 continues to spread and more than 65,000 East Texans have contracted it since the pandemic hit the area last year.
In the past George Roberts, the CEO of NET Health, has commended local hospitals for their response to the virus though. Now, it falls on health providers to choose if masks are required.
Two of the largest hospitals in East Texas, UT Health and CHRISTUS Health, plan to require everyone at their facilities to continue wearing a mask as well as following other social distancing guidelines.
In a statement UT Health explained the decision stating:
While we respect the Governor's decision, we believe masking continues to be necessary for patient, staff and visitor safety. The universal masking policy remains in effect at all our facilities. It applies to caregivers, patients and visitors. It is our duty to create the safest environment possible for those seeking care in our facilities and for our caregivers.
CHRISTUS officials also responded with a statement:
We are aware of the new order announced by Texas Governor Greg Abbott that would lift the statewide masking mandate for many establishments on March 10. However, that will not apply to our CHRISTUS facilities. We will continue to require masks for those visiting, working or receiving care in any of our CHRISTUS facilities, per CDC guidelines, as well as hand hygiene and social distancing where possible.
We are continuing to closely evaluate the Governor's executive order and will do the same for any additional guidance or requirements issued by the State Department of Health and Human Services or other entities. We understand that as more Texans are vaccinated, additional decisions will need to be made by the state, cities, and counties in which our ministries reside, and we are prepared to respond accordingly. In the meantime, we remain focused on safely providing the care our communities need (whether COVID-related or not) and fulfilling our mission to extend the healing ministry of Jesus Christ.