Some Hendrick Health officials surprised by lifting of state mask mandate, other restrictions

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ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – Hendrick officials are concerned that Abilene COVID-19 cases could rise now that Texas will soon be released from a statewide mask mandate.

In a Zoom interview Wednesday morning, Dr. Stephen Lowry and Dr. Rob Wiley with Hendrick said they were initially surprised by the governor rescinding the mask mandate.

Dr. Lowry expressed that perhaps the state should have opened in increments rather than all at once.

“Honestly I’m a little bit surprised that it was an immediate release of everything rather than a step-wise approach,” said Dr. Lowry. “That would’ve been my personal opinion.”

In a statement released Wednesday, Hendrick encouraged the public to continue following CDC guidelines, which include wearing masks and social distancing. The statement also shared that virus-reducing measures at all Hendrick campuses would remain unchanged, including for visitors.

The doctors said Hendrick was preparing for a possible fourth surge in the coming months following the spring break holiday.

Dr. Wiley expressed concern the surge could be made worse now that Texans can go unmasked.

“The last thing we want to see is another surge because we were irresponsible,” said Dr. Wiley. “I still encourage people to wear their masks when they’re in public, social distance as much as possible.”

Both doctors said the hospital system is doing better than it has in months, and has attributed the recent low number of virus hospitalizations to the public’s increased caution of spreading the virus – something Dr. Wiley hopes will continue.

“I think [if] we get through April there is going to be a time when we can seriously consider what it looks like maybe not requiring masks,” said Dr. Wiley.

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