Local Mask Mandates Pop Up In Defiance Of Gov. Greg Abbott’s Executive Order Banning COVID-19 Restrictions

Local masks mandates are popping again up throughout Texas — at the same time as Gov. Greg Abbott has burdened that native officers who attempt to implement restrictions geared toward decreasing unfold of COVID-19 can be penalized.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner is the latest to defy the governor’s order. He introduced Monday that the town’s almost 22,000 metropolis staff can be required to masks up inside metropolis buildings the place social distancing is just not doable, reminiscent of bogs, elevators and convention rooms.

“The mayor has a right and responsibility to ask city employees to wear face coverings indoors to help stop the virus from spreading,” Mary Benton, a Turner spokesperson, mentioned to the Houston Chronicle. “With the rise in the delta variant cases and high numbers of unvaccinated individuals, Mayor Turner is doing what is necessary to keep [city] employees healthy.”

Local mask mandates pop up in defiance of Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order banning COVID-19 restrictions” was first printed by The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media group that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public coverage, politics, authorities and statewide points.

The seven-day common of recent every day circumstances in Harris County is 1,761 as of Tuesday, in contrast with 59 circumstances within the first week of July.

Statewide, circumstances and hospitalizations for COVID-19 have been skyrocketing. This week, hospitalizations for individuals with the virus hit greater than 7,300 — which is roughly the variety of individuals hospitalized a year in the past when Abbott first carried out a statewide masks mandate.

Abbott’s July executive order says “no government entity, including a county, city, school district and public health authority” and “any public or private entity that is receiving or will receive public funds” can implement masks or vaccine mandates. Offenses might result in fines as much as $1,000. Private companies, nonetheless, nonetheless have the fitting to require prospects and staff to put on masks.

President Joe Biden referred to as Abbott’s ban on masks and vaccine mandates “the most extreme” of its variety throughout the nation in a press release Tuesday, noting that six different states have imposed comparable restrictions.

Abbott’s office didn’t instantly reply to requests for remark. Last month, because the situations worsened in Texas hospitals, Abbott burdened that he was not budging on his government order and mentioned “that the path forward relies on personal responsibility rather than government mandates.”

A handful of courthouses have additionally carried out masks mandates, arguing that Abbott’s government order would not have an effect on the judicial department of presidency.

A Dallas administrative courtroom choose ordered that everybody inside Dallas County’s courthouses — the George Allen courthouse, the Frank Crowley courthouse and the Henry Wade constructing — have to be masked. This got here as Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins introduced Tuesday that the county has elevated its coronavirus menace degree to crimson, the very best degree of menace in its evaluation system.

“People are required to come to court,” Jenkins mentioned. “You may have a jury summons, you may have been subpoenaed as a witness, you may need to be there as part of your job — and it’s important that we keep those people safe.”

Additionally, Jenkins required attendees of a Tuesday meeting of the commissioners courtroom to put on masks, and commissioner J.J. Koch, a Republican, refused and was escorted out of the room.

“We have to always remember that the enemy in COVID is not one another, it’s the virus,” Jenkins mentioned. “And if people are going to be required to come to court, it’s my job to keep them safe.”

A choose in Williamson County is also requiring visitors and employees coming into the Williamson County Justice Center to put on masks because the county lately entered its crimson COVID-19 threat degree.

Last week, Austin Mayor Steve Adler urged City Manager Spencer Cronk to implement a vaccination requirement for metropolis staff. Adler mentioned if he might, he would impose a citywide masks mandate.

“But the legal question of whether or not a local health authority or local officials have the ability to adopt valid and enforceable rules for their local communities, is something that seems to be an open question under Texas law,” Adler informed KXAN-TV.

Austin is in Stage 4 of its risk-based tips, urging everybody — together with those that are vaccinated — to put on masks indoors.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton sued Travis County and Austin officers in March for imposing an area masks mandate regardless of Abbott’s order which prohibited such necessities on the time. A district choose denied Paxton’s request to right away block the native mandates, and the lawsuit fizzled out after each events agreed to dismiss the case after the native order expired and Abbott issued a brand new government order.

“No one wants there to be litigation,” Adler mentioned. “I would just hope that the governor would take a look at the same data here from the same doctors we’re hearing from and know how important it is for people to get vaccinated.”

The seven-day common of hospitalizations in Texas originally of July was 1,705. That quantity has since jumped to five,926.

In the identical time interval, the seven-day common for brand new every day circumstances has elevated ninefold, leaping from 813 circumstances to 7,558.

Disclosure: Steve Adler, a former Texas Tribune board chair, has been a monetary supporter of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan information group that’s funded partially by donations from members, foundations and company sponsors. Financial supporters play no position within the Tribune’s journalism. Find a whole listing of them here.

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This article initially appeared in The Texas Tribune at https://www.texastribune.org/2021/08/04/texas-mask-mandate-greg-abbott-covid/.

The Texas Tribune is a member-supported, nonpartisan newsroom informing and interesting Texans on state politics and coverage. Learn extra at texastribune.org.

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