(Natural News) A recent study showed that Texas’s move to reopen did not affect the number of Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) cases and deaths there. Gov. Greg Abbott lifted the Lone Star State’s COVID-19 restrictions – including mask mandates – back in March. However, his decision to do so led President Joe Biden to call Abbott’s move “Neanderthal thinking.”
The May 2021 study published by the nonprofit National Bureau of Economic Research found that Abbott’s lifting of restrictions had no links to people contracting COVID-19 or dying from it. Three researchers conducted the study on Texas’s reopening – Bentley University‘s Dhaval Dave and San Diego State University‘s Joseph Sabia and Samuel Safford.
For their study, the three authors examined smartphone mobility data from data company SafeGraph and COVID-19 data collected by The New York Times. They then compared the data from before Texas lifted restrictions and after Abbott lifted restrictions on March 10.
Dave, Sabia and Safford wrote in their study that they found no evidence of Texas’s reopening causing “substantial changes in social mobility – including foot traffic at a wide set of business establishments.” They also found no evidence that Abbott’s move to lift restrictions “affected the rate of new COVID-19 cases” during the five-week period following March 10. Furthermore, the three authors also found that the reopening did not affect the state’s overall COVID-19 mortality rates.
The May 2021 paper appeared to debunk remarks by Biden in March of this year. During a March 3 White House press briefing, Biden was asked about Texas and Mississippi lifting their mask mandates. He said: “I hope everybody has realized by now [that] these masks make a difference. And the last thing … we need is Neanderthal thinking that, in the meantime, everything is fine [and you can] take off your mask.”
Abbott himself lauded the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions. He previously highlighted that Texas had no new Wuhan coronavirus cases on a particular day – save for Dallas County which did not report its figures. The governor said it was the first time the Lone Star State achieved this milestone in more than a year. (Related: Texas ends all coronavirus lockdowns, mask mandates, business occupancy restrictions.)
The study attributed the lack of new cases and deaths following the reopening to personal responsibility
The authors also noticed the same results when they compared urbanized areas and less-urbanized ones. The same findings were also observed in counties that voted for Biden and former President Donald Trump in the November 2020 elections. According to earlier research, Trump supporters are less likely to comply with mask-wearing orders and other public health and safety protocols.
Furthermore, an earlier study showed the same results as the May 2021 paper. However, this research did not zoom in on Travis County and the city of Austin – the county seat and the state capital. The areas imposed their own mask mandates after Abbott lifted statewide mask-wearing orders.
The recent study suggested that personal responsibility and risk assessment could be why government restrictions did not affect the spread of COVID-19 at all. It noted that Texans likely continued to follow previous safety measures or dropped them altogether before the restrictions were lifted on March 10. “As certain segments of the population may be responding to the reopening by reducing social distancing and increasing their external activities, others may be countering – especially if they perceive a higher infection risk,” the study said. (Related: Coronavirus cases continue to drop in Texas after lifting mask mandate and reopening businesses.)
Abbott cited personal responsibility as a key reason for rescinding mask mandates in the Lone Star State. In a March 2 press release announcing the new order, the governor said: “[It] is clear from the recoveries, vaccinations, reduced hospitalizations and safe practices that Texans are using that state mandates are no longer needed. Today’s announcement does not abandon safe practices that Texans have mastered over the past year. Instead, it is a reminder that each person has a role to play in their own personal safety and the safety of others.”
Aside from personal responsibility, the authors of the May 2021 study cited the increase in vaccinated Texans as another reason why the reopening barely impacted COVID-19 cases in the state. They also noted the “minor impact” of capacity limitations the state put in place to address the spread of COVID-19.
Ultimately, the authors concluded that Abbott’s March 10 order to reopen the state did not increase or decrease the chances of Texans contracting or dying from COVID-19. They remarked that their findings “underscore the limits of late-pandemic era COVID-19 reopening policies to alter private behavior.”
Visit Pandemic.news to read more articles about states such as Texas lifting their COVID-19 restrictions.