"I know that some people feel that wearing a mask is inconvenient or is like an infringement of freedom, but I also know that wearing a mask will help us to keep Texas open," Abbott said.
The Texas Medical Association echoed those comments after Abbott's press conference.
"As a physician, I’ve seen many patients reach that critical moment when the right actions make the difference between recovery or not. Texas is at that critical moment today. The governor told us all what we need to do. Wear a mask, Texas," said Dr. Diana L. Fite, president of the Texas Medical Association, in a statement. “We urge the governor to repeat his message over and over, everywhere he can, to anyone who will listen, through any medium possible.”
At the same time, Abbott continued to resist the idea of a statewide mask mandate, saying there needs to be flexibility for different parts of the vast state. He has restricted local governments from mandating that individuals wear masks but recently clarified that they can order business to require customers to wear masks.
Democrats panned Abbott's news conference for failing to offer any new solutions.
"Today, Gov. Abbott did a good job describing the COVID-19 crisis: Texas is seeing skyrocketing cases, rising hospitalizations and a doubling of our positivity rate," state Rep. Chris Turner of Grand Prairie, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, said in a statement. "He set the stage to finally take much-needed strong and decisive action---and then, predictably, backed away without doing anything."
Turner and other Democrats said Abbott continues to ignore their concerns that the state is reopening too quickly.
"Instead, the governor decided to listen to his fringe right-wing base over the advice of medical experts," state Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa said in a statement.
After Abbott's news conference, the governor received backup from state House Speaker Dennis Bonnen, R-Angleton, when it came to masks. Bonnen said in a statement he has been "increasingly infuriated with the so-called advocates" who have resisted wearing masks in the name of freedom, potentially endangering other liberties like being able to go back to work.
"It's time to mask up," Bonnen said. "It’s time to employ personal responsibility---a key tenet of ensuring liberty and freedom. It’s time to stand up to the mask naysayers who speak loudly but act irresponsibly as they destroy the liberty and freedom we ALL deserve."