Hobby School survey shows Texans wanted to keep mask mandate
As Texans continue to navigate the pandemic, a survey conducted by the Hobby School of Public Affairs reveals stark differences in reactions to Gov. Greg Abbott’s recent lifting of the mask mandate between people of various ethnicities, races and political parties.
Released to the public on March 25, the survey results showed 56 percent of Texans who took the survey are against the end of the mask mandate, while 37 percent support Abbott’s decision.
“COVID and reacting to COVID, has been an unprecedented and defining force in our lives,” said Hobby School dean Kirk Watson. “It’s important to know how people respond to it and the public policy actions related to it.”
The decision to lift the mandate was implemented when executive order GA-34 was signed by Abbott on March 2 and was effective as of March 10.
In addition to lifting the mandate on masks, the order allowed businesses to open at 100 percent capacity.
The survey shows 49 percent of its respondents opposed the plan to reopen businesses, around 42 percent supported the decision and the remaining respondents had no opinion.
The implementation of GA-34 is not an accurate representation of the public’s will, according to Watson.
“I worry that the decision creates a false sense and can create damage,” Watson said.
Political science junior Sonya Andrews echoed Watson’s sentiments.
“Although numbers may go down slightly, removing the mask mandate could make the numbers go back up, creating an even riskier environment while people are not as worried because the mask mandate is no longer in effect,” Andrews said.
In addition to showing general responses to Abbott’s decision, the survey results are categorized by various demographics.
When broken down by political party, 10 times as many Republicans support the end of the mask mandate than Democrats.
The trend is consistent when looking at opinions surrounding the reopening of businesses, with 77 percent of Republican respondents supporting the decision compared to only 12 percent of Democrats.
On top of that, when broken down by race and ethnicity, a larger percentage of Anglo-Americans support the order than Latinos and African Americans combined.
“The pandemic and how we address it have impacted the day-to-day life of people in unprecedented ways,” Watson said. “It has also resulted in unprecedented illness and death.”
As of April 7, almost 50,000 Texans have died due to the coronavirus. Experts say wearing a mask reduces transmission greatly and when more people wear them, the number of cases is less likely to increase dramatically.
“I will still be wearing a mask even though the mask mandate has been lifted because COVID case numbers are still high and relevant, and I would not be comfortable without wearing a mask in public spaces at this time,” Andrews said.
“I also plan on continuing to wear my mask after getting fully vaccinated for the safety of myself and others.”