Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner is calling out Texas Governor Greg Abbott for lifting the mask mandate after reports reveal 771 new COVID cases and nine deaths.

“Today, Houston Health reports 771 new #COVID19 cases. This brings the city’s overall total to 172,743. Unfortunately, we add nine new deaths bringing #Houston‘s total number to 1,965. Please continue to practice the same measures that will help us combat this virus,” said Turner.

But Governor Abbott does not agree. In fact, he says he is actively containing COVID with vaccinations and that Texas can safely open to 100%.

“Today…Texas has the lowest COVID hospitalizations since October 24th. The positivity rate is the lowest since October 14th–and has steadily declined for 2 straight months,” Abbott said. “We gave a daily record of vaccinations: 229,490. In the last week, we gave 1,220,577 vaccine shots.”

Abbott announced Tuesday at the Lubbock Chamber of Commerce that businesses of any type will be allowed to open 100% beginning March 10.

“Too many Texans have been sidelined from employment opportunities. Too many small business owners have struggled to pay their bills. This must end. It is now time to open Texas 100%,” he said. “Removing state mandates does not end personal responsibility and caring for your family members, friends and others in your community. People and businesses don’t need the state telling them how to operate.”

It was later revealed that Abbott did not consult with three of his four medical advisors before making the announcement. Neither of them agreed with his decision.

The Governor’s Open Texas Strike Force consists of  Dr. John Hellerstedt, commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS); Dr. John Zerwas, a former state lawmaker and current executive vice chancellor for health affairs at the University of Texas System; Dr. Mark McClellan, director of the Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy; and Dr. Parker Hudson, assistant professor of internal medicine and infectious diseases at Dell Medical School at the University of Texas at Austin.

“I don’t think this is the right time,” McClellan said in a statement. “Texas has been making some real progress, but it’s too soon for full reopening and to stop masking around others.”

His colleague, Dr. Parker Hudson, said, “I was not involved in this decision.”

Abbott did, however, consult with Zerwas, but admits he was not aware that he was the only doctor that was contacted.

“I didn’t know that for any fact that I was necessarily the only person that the governor consulted on this, but he did reach out to me; I expressed to him my opinions and counsel,” Zerwas confirmed. “In my conversations with the governor, I said, ‘You know, I don’t think it’s a mandate from the state that is, you know, keeping people wearing masks and keeping people away from each other and keeping people washing their hands. That is a public health messaging success that has occurred over the months that we’ve been dealing with this.’”

Despite the efforts of Abbott to lift the mask mandate, Turner is continuing to ask Texas residents to continue practicing COVID safety precautions. He also said the Governor’s announcement was his attempt to distract Texans from the winter storm leadership failure.

“Is the Governor‘s statement today an attempt to deflect from the winter storm systemwide state leadership failure? Yes,” Turner cautioned. “Every time we start moving in the right direction the Governor steps in and sets us back and makes all of our jobs harder. He minimizes the sacrifices of people and businesses. I just don’t get it.” 

Over the past week, Turner has posted a series of tweets demanding action and criticizing the governor’s decisions.