By Gaige Davila
Texas Governor Greg Abbott has issued an executive order requiring all Texans to wear face coverings in counties with 20 or more positive COVID-19 cases.
The executive order, which can be read in full here, goes into effect 12:01 p.m. Friday, July 3.
“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,” said Governor Abbott in a press release announcing the order. “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.”
Children under ten-years-old are not required to wear face coverings. Persons exercising outdoors, driving alone, swimming, voting, going to a religious service or speaking for a broadcast are exempt from wearing face coverings.
Local law enforcement can enforce the face covering order, but cannot “detain, arrest or confine in jail any person for a violation” of the executive order, only fine a person for violating it a second time. Fines cannot exceed $250.
Abbott also extended the powers of mayors and county judges, allowing them to impose restrictions on outdoor gatherings of over ten people. In the new order, people cannot be in groups larger than ten, and each person must be six feet away from each other.
Abbott’s order comes as Texas COVID-19 cases continue to rise throughout the state. Last week, Abbott issued all bars to close and reduced restaurant occupancy to 50 percent, and issued a temporary pause to the state’s reopening phases.
Cameron County Judge Eddie Treviño, Jr., issued an order mandating businesses require employees and customers to wear face coverings while on the premises, going into effect on June 19. On June 29, Treviño made face coverings mandatory in public county-wide.
Cameron County, as of July 1, has 2,510 cases of COVID-19, with 1,637 recovering from the disease and 56 dying from it. Port Isabel has 24 confirmed cases of COVID-19, while South Padre Island has 10 cases. Neighboring Laguna Vista and Bayview have 5 and 2 cases, respectively.
As of July 2, Texas has 175,977 cases of COVID-19, with an estimated 90,720 recoveries and 2,525 deaths, according to data from Texas Health and Human Services.