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Camp County judge files for exemption from Gov. Abbott's mask mandate

As of Friday, July 3, Camp County has 12 active COVID-19 cases.
Credit: JJ Maldonado
The Red Cross says to include face coverings in your emergency kits to protect yourself and others in a natural disaster.

CAMP COUNTY, Texas — Camp County Judge AJ Mason has filed exemption paperwork to keep the county from having to follow Gov. Greg Abbott's Executive Order.

The order is in place for all counties with 20 or more positive COVID-19 cases. 

RELATED: Gov. Abbott establishes statewide face covering requirement, issues proclamation to limit gatherings

"In the event the positive case number exceeds 20, Camp County will immediately become ineligible for this exemption and will become subject to the order," Judge Mason said.

The Texas Department of Emergency Management (TDEM) will maintain a list of counties that are not subject to the face-covering requirement. The list can be found here

The TDEM has promulgated the following criteria for a county to be exempt from the face-covering requirement: 

  •  The county must have 20 or less active COVID-19 cases.
  • The county judge of a county with 20 or less active cases must submit an exemption form affirmatively opting out.

The Texas Medical Association (TMA) applauded Gov. Abbott's order which they say will help stop the spread of COVID-19.

“The physicians of Texas are very pleased that Governor Abbott is following the science," TMA President Diana L. Fite, MD, said. "There is no question about it — face masks reduce the spread of COVID-19. They help protect the people wearing masks, and they help protect the people around them."

The TMA says five actions have proven effective at slowing the spread of COVID-19 and strongly believes Texans should follow the following guidelines: 

  • Stay home when possible
  • Wash hands frequently
  • Avoid large crowds
  • Keep six feet apart
  • Wear face masks or face coverings when around non-family members

"We support all efforts throughout Texas to reach the highest levels of compliance with these safe practices," Dr. Fite said.

The TMA is the largest state medical society in the nation, representing more than 53,000 physicians and medical student members. 

President of the Texas Oil and Gas Association (TXOGA) Todd Staples agreed with the order, as well.

"Gov. Abbott is striking the right balance in establishing policy that will keep our economy moving while slowing the spread of COVID-19," Staples said. "Hospitalization rates are increasing substantially, so it is absolutely imperative we heighten the measures to protect our citizens and promote growth of jobs simultaneously. As an industry that fuels our economy and protects our environment all while focusing on a culture of safety, we know firsthand that safety protocols are the foundation for productivity and success."

Founded in 1919, the TXOGA is the oldest and largest trade association in the state representing every facet of the Texas oil and natural gas industry.

Texas Speaker of the House Rep. Dennis Bonnen released a statement also praising Gov. Abbott for his actions:

"Leaders lead while others criticize. Today Governor Abbott continues to lead. I applaud his face covering requirement and stand firmly with him as he makes these tough decisions, working day in and day out to keep Texas strong in both the health of its citizens and its economic prosperity. Our state, nation, and world face one of the greatest crises in recent history and there is no room for partisan politics nor are there any easy answers. He continues to demonstrate fortitude and flexibility as he monitors and responds to an extremely dynamic situation based on fact-based data and scientific evidence. I am grateful for his efforts to keep Texas unified and moving forward."

Gov. Abbott's move comes just days after Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, stated the country was heading in the "wrong direction" regarding the rise in COVID-19 cases during a hearing before the U.S. Senate.

“It could get very bad,” Dr. Fauci said, warning that new cases “could go up to 100,000 a day” if people continue to defy advice on social distancing and face masks. He said states like Arizona, California, Florida and Texas have each had to roll back reopening plans as cases in those states climb, noting that half of the new cases nationwide have been reported in those states. The sharp increase of new infections and hospitalizations rates, he said, have also jeopardized reopening plans throughout the country. 

In response, Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said Tuesday evening he doesn’t need the advice of Dr. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease doctor.

“Fauci said today he’s concerned about states like Texas that ‘skipped over’ certain things. He doesn’t know what he’s talking about,” Patrick told Fox News host Laura Ingraham in an interview.  

However, Gov. Abbott says 91 Texas counties saw record COVID-19 case numbers this week.

According to the Texas Tribune, Texas is reporting 7,382 people are currently hospitalized for coronavirus, more than double the number from two weeks ago. 

For the latest information on the coronavirus, text "FACTS" to (903) 600-2600.