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D-FW doctors urge people to continue wearing masks after Gov. Abbott's announcement to lift the mandate

Governor Greg Abbott is lifting the state's mask mandate, but many doctors are still recommending people continue to wear masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

DALLAS — Over the last few weeks, hospitals in North Texas have seen major improvements. The number of people hospitalized for COVID-19 is going down.

At Parkland Health and Hospital System in Dallas, there was a major surge after the holidays. Dr. Joseph Chang, Chief Medical Officer, is pleased to see the decline.

"We only have about 40 to 45 patients now typically daily with active COVID, which is a far sight from where we were just a few weeks ago near 200," he said.

But he is reminded that these numbers are all relative. In early March 2021, the COVID cases are about level with the numbers in Dallas County in Summer 2020. 

"In the summer, we felt these were terrible numbers, right?" asked Dr. Chang. 

He said the county is not yet where it needs to be in terms of ending the pandemic. That's why Dr. Chang is advising people to continue wearing masks, even though Governor Greg Abbott is lifting the state's mask mandate.

RELATED: VERIFY: COVID-19 data disproves Gov. Abbott’s claim that 'Texas is far better positioned' for reopening, ending mask mandate

Until more people get vaccinated, Dr. Chang said masks are a simple way to stop the spread of COVID-19. He also encourages everyone to get vaccinated.  

Dr. Kishor Gangani with Apogee Physicians agrees. He works at Texas Health Arlington Memorial Hospital, and sees patients with coronavirus every day.

"I do not think this is the right time to do complete lifting of the restrictions," said Dr. Gangani. 

He is worried that the upcoming spring break will bring another surge of COVID-19 cases. 

To Dr. Gangani, it's been an exhausting year of healing and losing patients. He spends more time at the hospital than he does at home. 

RELATED: Inside the hospital: A doctor's perspective of COVID-19

But for both doctors, they are proud of the progress that has been made with preventative measures like mask-wearing and vaccines. They say now is not the time to let up.