As it has done throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the Texas Medical Association continues to stress the importance of wearing masks, practicing social distancing, washing hands frequently, and receiving a vaccine when eligible as the most effective ways to stop the disease.
TMA recommends physicians also spread that message to patients after Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order Tuesday that lifts the state mandate on wearing masks and allows all businesses to open at 100% capacity. The order is set to take effect March 10.
“As the governor said, removing the mandates does not end personal responsibility, and personal vigilance is still needed to contain COVID-19,” TMA President Diana L. Fite, MD, said. “Physicians are strongly recommending that everyone continue to wear masks, socially distance, wash hands frequently, and for those who are eligible, get the vaccinations as soon as possible.”
TMA is encouraged that COVID-19 cases are decreasing in the state, and more Texans are getting vaccinated against the virus.
However, Dr. Fite said Texas is still a long way “from getting enough people vaccinated to establish herd immunity to hopefully get this under control.” Although the order means the state no longer requires Texans to wear masks, businesses – including medical practices – can require employees, patients, and visitors to wear masks.
Practices also should note that the governor’s order does not affect several COVID-19-related state and federal waivers and flexibilities, including payment for telephone- or audio-only telemedicine services, suspension of revalidation requirements, and elimination of cost-sharing for children enrolled in the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
Those flexibilities are in effect as part of the national public health emergency related to COVID-19, which has been extended until April 21, and likely will last through 2021, national public health officials have said.
To help you spread the message about COVID-19 protection, visit TMA’s COVID-19 Social Media Toolkit for items to share on your own social media pages.
As always, check the TMA COVID-19 Resource Center regularly for up-to-date news and the latest TMA materials for your practice.