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COVID-19

Texas, Mississippi lift COVID mask mandates

David Brancaccio and Nancy Marshall-Genzer Mar 3, 2021
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Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (right) issued an executive order lifting the state's mask mandate on Tuesday. Roberto Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images
COVID-19

Texas, Mississippi lift COVID mask mandates

David Brancaccio and Nancy Marshall-Genzer Mar 3, 2021
Heard on:
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (right) issued an executive order lifting the state's mask mandate on Tuesday. Roberto Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images
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The governors of Texas and Mississippi are ending requirements to wear masks, given a drop in COVID cases.

Marketplace’s Nancy Marshall-Genzer has the details. The following is an edited transcript of her conversation with “Marketplace Morning Report” host David Brancaccio.

David Brancaccio: Let’s start with Texas.

Nancy Marshall-Genzer: In Texas, all businesses can open at 100% capacity starting March 10. The executive order does say, though, that businesses can still limit capacity or implement safety procedures at their own discretion. And if COVID hospitalization rates rise above 15% of the hospital bed capacity in a region for a week, local judges can “use COVID-19 mitigation strategies.” But they can’t punish people for refusing to wear a face mask.

Brancaccio: And Mississippi?

Marshall-Genzer: The Mississippi governor’s executive order takes effect today. It lifts the mask mandate and replaces it with recommendations that people wear masks and social distance. Mississippi businesses are supposed to make good faith efforts to follow state and federal health guidelines, encouraging employees but not customers to wear masks.

Brancaccio: A key question on this is schools.

Marshall-Genzer: Mississippi is still requiring masks in schools, except for sports practices and games. The Texas executive order says schools should follow guidance from the Texas Education Agency, and its website says schools still have to comply with the mask mandate the governor just lifted. The agency said in a statement on Tuesday that “updated public health guidance from TEA will be coming this week.” Some of the state’s largest school districts have announced they’ll continue requiring masks.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

Can businesses deny you entry if you don’t have a vaccine passport?

As more Americans get vaccinated against COVID-19 and the economy begins reopening, some businesses are requiring proof of vaccination to enter their premises. The concept of a vaccine passport has raised ethical questions about data privacy and potential discrimination against the unvaccinated. However, legal experts say businesses have the right to deny entrance to those who can’t show proof.

Give me a snapshot of the labor market in the U.S.

U.S. job openings in February increased more than expected, according to the Labor Department. Also, the economy added over 900,000 jobs in March. For all of the good jobs news recently, there are still nearly 10 million people who are out of work, and more than 4 million of them have been unemployed for six months or longer. “So we still have a very long way to go until we get a full recovery,” said Elise Gould with the Economic Policy Institute. She said the industries that have the furthest to go are the ones you’d expect: “leisure and hospitality, accommodations, food services, restaurants” and the public sector, especially in education.

What do I need to know about tax season this year?

Glad you asked! We have a whole separate FAQ section on that. Some quick hits: The deadline has been extended from April 15 to May 17 for individuals. Also, millions of people received unemployment benefits in 2020 — up to $10,200 of which will now be tax-free for those with an adjusted gross income of less than $150,000. And, for those who filed before the American Rescue Plan passed, simply put, you do not need to file an amended return at the moment. Find answers to the rest of your questions here.

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