West Virginia GOP Gov. Calls Out Texas Gov. Abbott For Playing “Political Football” With Mask Mandate
West Virginia GOP Gov. Jim Justice criticized Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s decision to remove his state’s mask mandate, warning it could be a “mistake” and accusing Republicans of playing “political football” with masks.
Justice questioned Abbott’s judgement, saying “I don’t know really what the big rush to get rid of the mask is because these masks have saved a lot, a lot of lives.”
Earlier this week, as only 6.57% of the Texas population was fully vaccinated against COVID-19, Abbott ignored the state’s public health officials and removed the state’s mask mandate and all pandemic safety restrictions on businesses. CDC officials warned Abbott’s move could put people at greater risk as COVID-19 variants spread across the U.S., and local health officials urged residents to still wear masks as recommended by CDC guidelines.
The Texas Tribune reported Abbott’s decision was politically motivated, saying the governor was ‘heading the call’ of his far-right critics, who might support a GOP primary challenger against Abbott in 2022.
Read more about Republican Gov. Justice’s response to Gov. Abbott’s poor decision-making below.
West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (R) expressed misgivings in an interview with CNN Thursday about fellow GOP governors in Texas and Mississippi eliminating mask mandates, saying the state would maintain its own restrictions for the time being.
“I’m not going to let this become a political football,” Justice told CNN’s John King. “In West Virginia, we want to be cautious, we want to be safe, we want to be respectful of everybody’s rights and everything, and we’ve done the right thing all through this thing.”
Throughout the pandemic, Justice said, “we’ve always listened to the experts and we’ve always let them lead us … we’ve been bold but we’ve been cautious.”
“If we continue to vaccinate more and more and more, we’ll get rid of the mask. But I don’t know really what the big rush to get rid of the mask is because these masks have saved a lot, a lot of lives,” he added. Justice added that he and his medical advisers have yet to discuss eliminating the mask mandate. “If we don’t watch out, we can make some mistakes.”
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves both announced this week that they will fully lift all state mask mandates and limits on business capacity. Major retailers such as Target, CVS Health and Aldi, however, have said they will keep their own mask requirements in place even in the states undoing mandates.