Our Question of the Week over the past few weeks has resulted in an interesting and hopeful glimpse into the mindset of Galveston County residents around COVID-19, vaccines, masks and the like.
Our clearly off-the-cuff and unscientific survey found recently that:
• About 75 percent of those who responded said they would continue to wear masks everywhere they go, despite the statewide mask mandate and other pandemic-related restrictions being lifted by Gov. Greg Abbott on March 10; 12.8 percent said they would put on a mask in public if asked to.
• 67 percent of those who responded said it was too soon for the governor to lift those restrictions.
• And so far, in response to the Question of the Week that debuted on March 21, an overwhelming majority of respondents — 81 percent — believe police should be called in to handle situations where someone refuses to put on a mask or leave private property when asked to do so.
In his lifting of the pandemic mandate, Abbott gave private property owners the green light to make their own rules surrounding things like masks and social distancing.
We haven’t asked this question yet in our weekly polls, but it seems a majority of businesses in the county are upholding their masking requirements, and many seem to be voluntarily operating at less than 100 percent capacity and adhering to social distancing suggestions, if not requirements.
And finally, in Tuesday’s edition of The Daily News, we reported that three months after vaccinations began in Galveston County, more than half of its residents age 16 or older have received at least one COVID-19 shot.
The county officially reached the milestone Monday, according to a daily report from the Texas Department of State Health Services.
More than 18 percent of county residents — 9,957 people — are fully vaccinated and another 32 percent of residents — 87,866 — have received a first dose of vaccine. Thousands of people in the latter group are expected to receive second vaccinations and join the fully vaccinated group within weeks.
Along those lines, the state health department said Tuesday it open vaccinations to everyone 16 or older beginning Monday.
Galveston County ranks sixth among Texas’ 20 most populated counties in terms of vaccination rates and has the second-highest vaccination rate among Houston-area counties.
What this all points to is that Galveston County residents are choosing to err on the side of safety.
In this case, of course, there was the pandemic-ravaged economy to consider when Abbott made his decision to lift the restrictions. Whether he made the right decision for the right reasons is a debate that will take place over dinner tables, poker nights, church potlucks, teachers’ lounges, birthday parties, girls nights out and office water coolers for some time to come — and, for the first time in a long time, in person.
Despite the occasional hiccup, Galveston County has gotten it right more often than not in dealing with this pandemic from the start. There’s much to be proud of.
We agree with the assessment offered by Galveston County Judge Mark Henry, who, despite his own personal beliefs about pandemic restrictions, helped steer the ship that got us where we are now, along with the University of Texas Medical Branch and the Galveston County Health District, among others.
“We are proud that Galveston County has reached an important milestone in our vaccination efforts,” Henry said in a statement Monday. “Where we are today is a testament to the great things we can achieve as a community when we all work together towards a common goal.”
Yes, sir. The key now is to stay the course, stay masked, use common sense when it comes to hygiene and gatherings, and get vaccinated. We’ve got this.
• Margaret Battistelli Gardner