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This week in Texas: Counties begin issuing mask orders for businesses

Highlights from what you need to know as Texas continues to reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic
Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto
Young woman with face mask using mobile phone and buying groceries in the supermarket during virus pandemic.

A number of states require residents to wear masks, at least in public.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has resisted a mandate, saying the government couldn’t and shouldn’t do it.

Local leaders tried to mandate masks early on, but were told they couldn’t supersede the governor’s orders.

This week, nine Texas mayors wrote Gov. Abbott a letter asking to restore their ability to require facial coverings.

He didn’t.

As the COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations spike in some bigger cities, local governments found new ways to mandate facial coverings.

County Judge Nelson Wolff in Bexar County was the first to order businesses to require customers and employees to wear masks.

"We believe that it is within the confines of his emergency order," Wolff said.

Dallas, Harris and other counties followed.

Also this week, Abbott told lawmakers schools are back in session in the fall.

The Texas Education Agency said the state will not require masks for staff students or teachers. But individual districts might have different policies.

“It feels a little premature at the moment as we’re seeing our state, certainly here in the Austin area, seeing increased positive IDs, seeing increased hospitalizations, a decrease in doubling time, which means that the spread is growing pretty quickly,” said Rep. Donna Howard, D-Austin.

A team of researchers from Texas A&M, UT and two universities in California found face masks are critical in preventing COVID-19. They looked at outbreaks in Italy, China and New York City.

They concluded wearing a face mask in public corresponds to the most effective means to prevent human transmission of COVID-19, according to the study.

“To me, there’s a real profound kind of statement made when you’re wearing a mask properly. It’s saying that, you know, you care that you are worried about the community, you want to make sure that those at a higher risk of infections don’t become sick,” said Dr. John Carlo with a Texas Medical Association COVID-19 Task Force.

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