Houston mayor Sylvester Turner is the many recent main to defy the governor’s order. He announced Monday that the city’s nearly 22,000 city employees will be required to mask up inside city structures where social distancing is no doable.

by Colleen DeGuzman Aug. 4, 202112 PM main


Houston market Sylvester Turner announced Monday that city employees will be forced to mask increase in locations inside city structures where society distancing is no doable, such as bathrooms, elevators and also conference rooms. Credit: mark Felix because that The Texas Tribune
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Local mask mandates are popping ago up across Texas — even as Gov. Greg Abbott has stressed that local officials who try to enforce constraints aimed in ~ reducing spread of COVID-19 will certainly be penalized.

Houston market Sylvester Turner is the many recent to defy the governor’s order. That announced Monday the the city’s almost 22,000 city employees will certainly be required to mask up inside city buildings where society distancing is not doable, such as bathrooms, elevators and conference rooms.

“The mayor has a right and also responsibility to ask city employee to wear face coverings indoors to aid stop the virus native spreading,” mary Benton, a Turner spokesperson, stated to the Houston Chronicle. “With the increase in the delta different cases and also high numbers of unvaccinated individuals, market Turner is doing what is necessary to store employees healthy.”

The seven-day typical of brand-new daily situations in Harris county is 1,761 together of Tuesday, contrasted with 59 instances in the an initial week the July.

Statewide, cases and also hospitalizations for COVID-19 have actually been skyrocketing. This week, hospitalizations for civilization with the virus hit an ext than 7,300 — i m sorry is approximately the number of people hospitalized a year earlier when Abbott very first implemented a statewide mask mandate.

Abbott’s July executive order claims “no government entity, including a county, city, college district and also public health and wellness authority” and also “any publicly or exclusive entity the is receiving or will receive public funds” can enforce mask or vaccine mandates. Offenses can lead to fines as much as $1,000. Private businesses, however, still deserve to require customers and also employees come wear masks.

President Joe Biden referred to as Abbott’s ban on masks and also vaccine mandates “the many extreme” of its kind across the nation in a explain Tuesday, noting the six other states have imposed similar restrictions.

Abbott’s office go not instantly respond come requests for comment. Last month, as the conditions worsened in Texas hospitals, Abbott stressed the he was not budging on his executive, management order and also said “that the course forward depends on personal responsibility fairly than federal government mandates.”

A grasp of courthouses have also implemented mask mandates, arguing that Abbott’s executive order doesn’t affect the judicial branch of government.

A Dallas administrative court judge ordered that everyone inside Dallas County’s courthouses — the George Allen courthouse, the open minded Crowley courthouse and also the Henry Wade structure — should be masked. This come as Dallas County referee Clay Jenkins announced Tuesday the the county has actually increased that is coronavirus danger level to red, the highest possible level of danger in its assessment system.

“People are required to pertained to court,” Jenkins said. “You may have a jury summons, you may have actually been subpoenaed as a witness, you may need come be there as part of your task — and also it’s essential that we save those people safe."

“We have to always remember that the adversary in COVID is no one another, the the virus. And if civilization are going come be compelled to concerned court, it’s my project to keep them safe.”

—Dallas County referee Clay Jenkins

Additionally, Jenkins forced attendees the a Tuesday meeting of the commissioners court come wear masks, and also commissioner J.J. Koch, a Republican, refused and was escorted the end of the room.

“We have actually to constantly remember that the foe in COVID is not one another, that the virus,” Jenkins said. “And if world are going to be required to concerned court, the my task to keep them safe.”

A referee in Williamson County likewise is inquiry visitors and also employees entering the Williamson county Justice center to stay masks as the ar recently entered its red COVID-19 risk level.

Last week, Austin mayor Steve Adler urged City Manager Spencer Cronk to enforce a vaccination necessity for city employees. Adler said if that could, he would impose a citywide mask mandate.

“But the legal question of whether or no a local health and wellness authority or local officials have actually the capability to embrace valid and also enforceable rules because that their regional communities, is other that seems to be an open question under Texas law,” Adler said KXAN-TV.

Austin is in stage 4 that its risk-based guidelines, urging everyone — consisting of those who are vaccinated — to wear masks indoors.

Texas Attorney basic Ken Paxton sued Travis County and also Austin public official in March because that imposing a neighborhood mask mandate despite Abbott"s order i beg your pardon prohibited such demands at the time. A ar judge denied Paxton’s inquiry to instantly block the neighborhood mandates, and the sue fizzled out after both next agreed come dismiss the situation after the local order expired and also Abbott authorize a new executive order.

“No one wants there to it is in litigation,” Adler said. “I would simply hope that the governor would take a look in ~ the exact same data right here from the same doctors we’re hear from and also know how important it is for civilization to acquire vaccinated.”

The seven-day average of hospitalizations in Texas in ~ the beginning of July to be 1,705. That number has due to the fact that jumped come 5,926.

In the exact same time period, the seven-day average for brand-new daily cases has increased ninefold, leaping indigenous 813 cases to 7,558.

Disclosure: Steve Adler, a former Texas Tribune board chair, has actually been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news company that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no function in the Tribune’s journalism. Find a complete list of castle here.

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