The governors of Mississippi and Texas announced Tuesday that COVID-19 restrictions would be lifted in their states, permitting businesses to operate at full capacity and eliminating mask mandates in the middle of a pandemic which has disproportionately affected Black and brown communities.
Black communities account for 14.7 percent of COVID-19 deaths in America, while Latino populations make up 12.2 percent according to the latest CDC data. The COVID-19 death rate shows just how large the death proportion is compared to the total population percentage. In the United States Black people make up 13.4 percent of the population, while Latinos make up 18.5 percent.
The mandates were lifted one day after CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky warned against moving forward as several variants of the virus continue to spread throughout the country. In total there has been a total of 28,456,860 cases, with 462,067 new infections over the last seven days. Over 513,000 people have died from the virus in the United States.
“Please hear me clearly,” she said according to USA Today. “At this level of cases with variants spreading, we stand to completely lose the hard-earned ground we have gained.”
Walensky shared that despite efforts being made in vaccination increases,the average number of infections and deaths increased by two percent over the last week.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott tweeted “Texas is OPEN 100% on Tuesday, informing Texans that the new executive order will take effect on March 10.
Texas is in the midst of an environmental and public health crisis, as residents in cities across the state begin their road to recovery after an unprecedented winter storm last month. Last year the state recorded high infection rates which is particularly concerning to Black and Latino communities. According to the U.S. Census, Black people comprise of 12.9 percent of the population in the state, while Latino communities make up 39.7 percent.
In Mississippi, another state that recently lifted social distancing restrictions, Black people make up 39.7percent of the population while Latinos account for 3.4 percent.
On Tuesday Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves tweeted the mandates will be lifted beginning Wednesday.
“Our hospitalizations and case numbers have plummeted, and the vaccine is being rapidly distributed. It is time!” read Reeves’ tweet.
Erasing the mandates could signal an even darker reality where states with conservative leadership continue to place the economy over the safety of their citizens.