Town Square

Texas Lifts Mask Mandate But Doctors And Shoppers Say They Are Keeping Them On

Also, the John Sealy Distinguished Chair in Innovations in Molecular Biology at the University of Texas Medical Branch offers some reassuring news regarding vaccines versus the new COVID-19 variants.


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Town Square with Ernie Manouse airs at 3 p.m. CT. Tune in on 88.7FM, listen online or subscribe to the podcast. Join the discussion at 888-486-9677, or @townsquaretalk.

Dr. Pei-Yong Shi, professor and John Sealy Distinguished Chair in Innovations in Molecular Biology at University of Texas Medical Branch, is the senior author of a new study that shows the Pfizer vaccine neutralizes the Brazilian variant.

Shi studied blood from the vaccinated and compared them against the variants.

“The results found from the U.K. and Brazilian variants, the vaccinated blood equally inhibit those two compared variants with the original virus, ” said Shi. “In contrast, the South African strain that the antibodies from the vaccinated individual dropped its the activity by two-thirds.”

As for the Moderna, Pfizer, and Johnson & Johnson vaccine, Shi considers the South African strain “a major concern,” but stresses that all three vaccines inhibit the virus below a dangerous threshold.

A Return To Normal?

Today is the first day that Texas businesses can open to 100% capacity and masks mandates are no longer in effect, per Governor Abbott's order. Businesses are now left to decide whether masks and social distancing policies will continue. The decision by Gov. Greg Abbott to drop the mandate has been met with resistance resulting in Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton declaring that he will sue the City of Austin and Travis County and if their officials continue to require masks. The news is a mixed blessing to businesses who have suffered major financial losses and closures during the pandemic. Opening to full capacity may mean the difference between surviving the pandemic or foreclosure but place front-line workers in potential exposure from COVID or harassment when attempting to ask customers to wear masks.

Listeners share their opinions and offer requests to businesses, such as specific hours for those who are higher at risk for the virus.


Jim Pillans:

Dr. Scott Weaver:


Houston Public Media reporter Matt Harab also joins Ernie with COVID updates and headlines, including:

  • The Texas Department of State Health Services announced that Texans at least 50 years old are now eligible to be vaccinated against COVID – 10 beginning on Monday, March 15th. Reducing the age requirement from age 65.

Town Square with Ernie Manouse is a gathering space for the community to come together and discuss the day's most important and pressing issues.

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This article is part of the Town Square with Ernie Manouse podcast

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