Texas — Generation Z’s spirits fell when Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced ditching the mask mandate and opening the state to 100% capacity starting Wednesday.
For many, the decision came off as careless and irresponsible. After having spent nearly a year of their lives in a pandemic to have the restrictions that were put in place to protect them lifted felt like more salt being added to the wound.
Abbott said the "announcement doesn't abandon safe practices that Texans have mastered over the past year, instead, it's a reminder that each person has a role to play in their own personal safety and the safety of others."
Many used Twitter and TikTok to express their displeasure about the decision.
TikTok user frenchiefrite posted a video about “Getting ready to go to the grocery store after the Texas mask mandate is lifted,” showing her piling on several layers of masks for protection.
Although schools have safety precautions already in place, teachers, professors and students alike have expressed the trauma that attending school during a pandemic has brought. They now wonder how cases will increase under the new executive order.
"I have one face-to-face class and it is a little scary going into it because you never know what can happen, but it's usually just me and two other people and the teacher," Clarke Lott, a junior education major at Prairie View A&M University stated regarding in-person classes.
Some suggest that schools require the use of double masking.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) endorsed this course of action, noting that it was more effective at limiting the spread of COVID-19 than just wearing one mask. Schools should also add the coronavirus vaccine to their list of required shots and treatments to ensure the safety of students for the fall 2021 semester.
According to the New York Times’ Coronavirus case state tracker, as of March 4, the state of Texas has the second largest number of cases, totaling 2,677,626.
In a report by the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS), almost 4,000,000 citizens have received their first vaccine dose and out of that number, only around 2,000,000 have received their second dose. This means that not even 10% of the Texas population is fully vaccinated.
Many youths said they’ve missed out on pivotal moments in their lives such as graduations, proms and the celebration of their 21st birthdays because of the lack of leadership in cracking down on this pandemic.
Following a deadly winter storm that left millions of Texans without water and power for days, going back to how things were pre-pandemic comes as a hard blow to the trust between Gen Z and lawmakers.
With state gubernatorial elections approaching next year, Gen Z voters may try to make this Abbott’s last term in office.