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Mask restrictions lifted by governors in Texas, Mississippi; New Orleans calls J&J vaccine 'morally compromised': Live COVID-19 updates

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Defying warnings from federal health officials about the need to stay vigilant against the coronavirus, the Republican governors of Texas and Mississippi said Tuesday they’re lifting COVID-19 restrictions, including mask mandates. 

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said he’s moving to “open Texas 100%” and will issue a new executive order to take effect March 10 rescinding most of his earlier orders, including restrictions on business occupancy and the July 2 statewide mask order. 

“Texas is in a far better position now than when I issued my last executive order back in October,” Abbott said, referring to his order allowing bars to reopen under certain conditions. Cases spiked after he eased business restrictions in the fall.

Abbott said state residents have learned to avoid COVID-19 and “people and businesses don’t need the state telling them how to operate.”

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