Eight months ago, Delia Ramos was unable to say goodbye to her husband, Ricardo, in person as he died in the hospital from COVID-19.
Now, after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced he was lifting the state’s mask mandate, she’s calling on her fellow Texans to continue masking up, so they don’t have to go through what her family has experienced.
“Why remove the masks right now?” Ramos said in an interview Friday with CNN’s Brianna Keilar, speaking from Brownsville, Texas.
“My children and myself have experienced tremendous, tremendous loss,” she said. “What we’re trying to avoid is for others to experience that loss. I don’t want other children in my community growing up without a father the way my children have to now.”
On Tuesday, Abbott announced an executive order doing away with requirements that Texans wear masks in public and allowing businesses to reopen at full capacity. But public health experts have criticized the decision, saying it’s too soon to do away with COVID-19 restrictions.
A spokesperson for the governor said in a statement Wednesday that Abbott was “clear in telling Texans that COVID hasn’t ended, and that all Texans should follow medical advice and safe practices to continue containing COVID.”
Ramos wished Abbott had thought more about the situation before lifting the mandate, but said she was hopeful others would continue to do the right thing and wear masks on their own. As an educator, she said she wants to serve her students and supported businesses reopening.
“But if we’re going to shop with you, if we’re going to support your business, support our lives, support our safety,” she said. “Wear a mask and wear it with honor, because you’re protecting your community members, your family members.”
Ramos pointed to the exhaustion of doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers on the frontlines in the fight against the pandemic as one reason to keep wearing masks. By wearing masks, she said, Texans could help prevent them from facing an “overload.”
But she also wanted her community to be able to return to normal, despite the fact she and others have been traumatized by the loss of their loved ones.
“Our life will never be normal again because of our loss,” she said. “But I want children, students, staff, everybody in the community to return to a big sense of normalcy … But the only way that’s going to be done is by wearing masks.”
“We can’t lift all the mandates, open up everything and then just hope everybody follows rules and hope for the best,” she said. “Unfortunately, that’s not the way it works.”