Tx. Woman Who Lost Mom to COVID Slams Governor for Lifting Mask Mandate: We Are 'Collateral Damage'

A Texas woman, who lost her mother to COVID-19, is speaking out about her anguish after Gov. Greg Abbott reopened the state and ended its mask mandate.

In the wake of Abbott's announcement on Tuesday, Rosie Davis said she was infuriated by the decision, especially after the death of her mom, Mary Castro, in May.

"I'm very angry," Davis told NBC affiliate KXAS. "I'm angry because I feel like, as constituents, we're being treated like collateral damage."

"I feel like I lost my mom all over again today," Davis added. "All those emotions, they just came back today."

Prior to her mom's death — which occurred on May 17, according to her obituary — Davis recalled how they shared one final conversation.

"Her last words to me were, 'When you get to heaven, we'll look for each other,'" Davis told KXAS.

Since then, Davis has vowed to keep her mom's memory alive by bringing awareness to the virus — in part by starting the Yellow Heart Memorial, a tribute project to those who have died from COVID-19.

In Castro's obituary, Davis noted how her mom "should still be alive today" and that "her preventable death is due to the most craven, callous failures of the federal and state government."

"Mary had a heart of gold but she resided in a state where her leadership felt there were 'more important things than living,' as stated by Texas Lt. Governor Patrick," the obit reads. "Her beautiful life should have never been collateral damage in their rush to reopen the economy."

Texas has recorded the second-highest number of COVID-19 cases and third-highest number of deaths, behind California and New York, according to a New York Times tracker.

There have been at least 44,107 deaths caused by COVID-19 in the state, while more than 2.6 million have been infected with the virus, according to the Times. Most Texans have not received a COVID-19 vaccination yet.

When Abbott made his announcement on Tuesday, Davis told KXAS that she felt "like I lost my mom all over again."

"All those emotions, they just came back today," she explained to the outlet. "All the phone calls just started coming in. And people were like, 'Are you ok?' And I'm just like,' No, I'm not ok.'"

Davis went on to explain that she feels like Abbott isn't considering those whose loved ones died from the virus.

She also noted that she will continue to take safety precautions, like wearing a mask and social distancing, out of respect to her mom and the others who died from COVID-19.

"My mom's life, her memory is too important," she told KXAS. "And I'm not going to let her be treated like she's a number because she's not."

Along with Abbott, Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves also announced on Tuesday that his state would abandon its mask mandate and allow businesses to fully reopen this week.

Their announcement came less than 24 hours after The Houston Chronicle reported that Houston is the first U.S. city to discover all new major strains of the coronavirus — many that are more contagious than the initial strain discovered in 2019, the newspaper reports.

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, warned Monday that the U.S. could lose its progress in fighting COVID-19 if people become too relaxed about safety precautions.

"Please hear me clearly: At this level of cases with variants spreading, we stand to completely lose the hard-earned ground we have gained," said Walensky, speaking from the White House.

"These variants are a very real threat to our people and to our progress," the health official added. "Now is not the time to relax the critical safeguards that we know could stop the spread of COVID-19 in our communities, not when we are so close."

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