NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick says a lower prevalence of coronavirus case hospitalizations and higher numbers of people receiving the vaccine are why it’s time to end the mask mandate and open Texas 100%.

“By the end of this month, or maybe early April, everyone over the age of 65, or nearly everyone who wants a vaccination, we believe will have one,” said Patrick.

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A key factor in lowering the number of COVID cases, according to Patrick, was putting the focus on people 65 or older.

“They are the ones that make up a large number of those in hospitals. So once you focus on vaccinating that group of folks (we’re about half of people at and over) we’re not quite half of the 65 and over. But once you do that, then not only are you protecting that vulnerable group, but you’re also cutting down on the people who will need hospitalization long term or ICU,” said Patrick.

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In December 2020, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) included those who are 65 and older in its Phase 1cd designation for vaccine eligibility. It recommended federal, state, and local jurisdictions use the guidance for COVID-19 vaccination program planning and implementation.

“Where’s the vulnerable population? It’s 65+, and that’s what we focused on. And as we vaccinate that population, there will be less strain on the hospitals, which is really part of this issue,” explained Patrick.

In response to Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention saying on March 3, that it’s too early to lighten COVID restrictions, Patrick said it’s up for Texans to decide for themselves.

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“We’re not saying to people that ‘you shouldn’t wear a mask or you shouldn’t social distance,’ we’re leaving it up to people,” he said. “I’ve never been in favor of mandates, I believe. You give people information and let them make their decisions.”

CBSDFW.com Staff