Texas Gov. Greg Abbott ordered residents of the state to wear masks in public Thursday, July 2. Abbott’s order takes effect Friday, July 3, at noon, and repeat offenders risk being fined $250.
“Wearing a face covering in public is proven to be one of the most effective ways we have to slow the spread of COVID-19,” Abbott said in a statement. “We have the ability to keep businesses open and move our economy forward so that Texans can continue to earn a paycheck, but it requires each of us to do our part to protect one another—and that means wearing a face covering in public spaces.”
Abbott famously overruled local authorities in Texas who tried to fine people for not wearing masks in their jurisdictions. Harris County Judge Linda Hidalgo issued a mask mandate in April 27 and threatened to fine scofflaws $1,000. Abbott said then that Hildago’s order was not really a mandate. “And we make clear that no jurisdiction can impose any type of penalty or fine. My executive order, it supersedes local orders, with regard to any type of fine or penalty for anyone not wearing a mask.”
Texas was one of the first states to reopen after a statewide stay-at-home order. Abbott allowed that stay-at-home order to expire April 30. Now, a little more than a month later, cases are skyrocketing in Texas, and Texas Medical Center hospitals have exceeded their ICU bed capacity.
“If Texans commit to wearing face coverings in public spaces and follow the best health and safety practices,” Abbot said in Thursday’s statement, “we can both slow the spread of COVID-19 and keep Texas open for business. I urge all Texans to wear a face covering in public, not just for their own health, but for the health of their families, friends, and for all our fellow Texans.”
The number of COVID-19 cases have also been rising in Louisiana, and though multiple parishes and municipalities in Louisiana have issued orders requiring masks, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said Tuesday that he didn’t believe a statewide mandate was the best strategy. “I will tell you the guidance that we’re receiving coming from the White House Coronavirus Task Force is asking that we consider mandatory mask usage not necessarily statewide but in political subdivisions that meet certain criteria,” Edwards said.
Edwards said he didn’t think that ordering a mandate would “produce the level of compliance that we need.” He also said there would be “issues related to the enforcement of such a mandate.”