Weeks after Texas reopened, health experts look for impact

Gov. Greg Abbott lifted a statewide mask mandate and allowed businesses to operate at full capacity, with no limits, starting March 10. “It is now the time to open Texas 100%,” the Republican said March 2 as he announced the changes. “State mandates are no longer needed.”

On the day restrictions were lifted, the state’s seven-day average of confirmed Covid-19 cases was around 4,900, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. The latest data shows a seven-day average of around 3,400 cases…

Public-health officials and epidemiologists say the depressed numbers could be attributable, in part, to the rollout of the vaccines and some level of immunity within the population. Others say it’s too soon to know. A rise in cases can take weeks to show up in testing data.

Complicating the picture, some cities and many major companies operating in the state, including retail, theater, hotel and restaurant chains, have continued to require masks and limits on capacity.